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Marketing Agency Since 1979

SMS, Ink

Colorful Tips for Serious Marketers

Project Spotlight: Drummond’s Plasma Gel Separator Tube Animation

Drummond Scientific Company has been an SMS client for over 25 years, and throughout our relationship we’ve produced a number of video projects for them. Drummond is a manufacturer of microdispensers, microinjectors, micropipettes, pipette controllers, and innovative liquid handling tools for the laboratory so most of these videos involved product demonstrations and all were shot using our in-studio lab counter setting. Most recently, however, we were asked to produce a video for an upcoming trade show of a product that was, quite literally, too small to shoot.

Enter animation! Animation is ideal for products and processes that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Drummond’s Plasma Gel Separate Tube is a capillary tube used for separating microliters of plasma and is itself situated inside a Mylar sheath. Highlighting the features of such a product required modifying existing artwork used for collateral materials and enlarging it by over 500%. This also meant redrawing some areas to exaggerate them so that certain details could be identified. Once that was accomplished, all the pieces were then animated for a minute long presentation. The entire project took approximately ten hours to produce.

See the video below:

– S. Norton

For more information on how your product can be demonstrated through animation, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

Buzz Word Watch: Conversion Rate Optimization

Helping industrial B-2-B marketers keep up with evolving digital marketing methods, terms and technology is mostly what this blog is about. Intermittently, I like to highlight certain SMS projects that I think are interesting or required solutions that some might find helpful, and every once in awhile there are announcements and musings about staff comings and goings. Today, I wanted to explain a few key concepts behind one the most important buzz words making the marketing rounds, but not before wishing a happy retirement to long-time client and friend of SMS, Chuck Locke.

Chuck is leaving the position of Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Drummond Scientific Company after 25 years and for all of them he’s partnered with SMS on a number of projects ranging from video and collateral to web development and AdWord campaigns. We’ll miss his strong sense of loyalty, professional exuberance and down-to-earth charm but wish him all the best going forward. Get at those fish, Chuck.

Now, Conversion Rate Optimization, or CRO. I’ve written previously about organic search optimization, a component of SEO that involves regularly adding useful content to a website in order to perform well in organic search rankings. The post was specifically about the power of meta descriptions and how they should be as engaging and relevant as ads in order to attract clicks. Applying effective CRO might be considered the next step – if converting leads to sales is a company’s primary objective. I think we can agree that it is.

Digital marketing acronyms seem to be multiplying like weeds lately, but we can’t talk about CRO without also talking about ROI (Return On Investment). I’m going to guess that most digital marketing managers have accepted the tenet that websites are never “done”,  and therefore understand that an increasingly greater portion of marketing resources are being allocated to website development and supporting digital tools like landing pages, banner ads, and social media platforms. As a result, they’re under a commensurate amount of pressure to prove that their favorite digital marketing tools are budget worthy. It’s something of a Catch-22: everyone knows they need them, but they can’t always prove that they work.

CRO involves many things, from properly organizing the elements of a homepage so that engagement is “above the fold” to the study of data and analytics which help determine where the digital sales cycle is getting caught up. The goal is to convert visitors into customers as opposed to simply increasing traffic. Among other things, effective CRO requires a deep understanding of the behavior of one’s buying audience or persona. Attention spans vary depending on markets, but we can all agree that they’re getting shorter overall so it’s vital to capture a visitor’s attention with a clear value proposition and have them interact with a “call to action” like a contact form or mailing list signup as soon as possible.

Optimizing for conversions involves a delicate balance between direct messaging and indirect selling that requires testing, and it can differ wildly from audience to audience. For an analogy, think about how teachers enter different rooms as they make their way around a school. Each environment calls for a specific demeanor, and each demands that you bring something engaging to offer. If you miss on either point, you’ll likely get tuned out. Teachers learn very early that, despite entering the profession to make a difference, they must first get their students’ attention. To do that, they must find a way to reach an audience who may or may not be aware that they need to improve, or even think that it’s necessary. If we design our websites as if they were us, standing in front of a room of children who challenge every second to be worthy of their time, we’re probably on the right track. If we imagine a situation where those children can get up and leave whenever they please, we’re definitely on the right track.

Optimizing one’s website for higher conversion rates need not be as difficult as winning over a classroom of kids, but there are standards and methods that can make them more cost-effective. Keeping up with them will ease the pressure, and improve investment returns.

– S. Norton

For more information on how your website can be better optimized for conversions, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage

 

 

 

 

Content: Defining the King

For the past several years, whenever anyone was in a serious discussion about web or digital marketing, eventually someone would exclaim, “Content is king!”. All sides would nod sharply in agreement, and often the discussion would peter out. What more was there to say about successfully marketing your website? You could have the most glorious slider photos, clever headlines, and irresistible interactive elements, but first impressions only last for so long. It stood to unanimous reason that unless you were at least regularly supplying fresh content to your website, it was doomed to fail.

There are very good reasons why this content tenet withstands and prevails. One of them involves how search engines work and continue to work. Crawlers are programmed with ever-evolving algorithms that seek out the freshest and most useful content available that matches a specific search word or term. The thinking is that users want the latest and greatest all the time, and in the incessant manner in which information requires updating, who can blame them?

But it’s not only accuracy that drives this thinking; often it’s simply that the information is perceived as “old”, or “stale”. In the case of B-2-B websites, for example, products and services may need to be presented with a new coat of paint despite remaining constant in their benefits and message. The reason is that, when we market, regardless of our forthrightness, the perception is that that which doesn’t appear to stay current loses value. For those of us well ensconced in middle age, no point could be pointier.

So what does all of this mean? Well, for starters, outside of how search engines work and in the enduring sense that perception is reality, we need to add fresh content to our website and keep its design looking current, if not modern. It’s been the SMS experience that the length of time a company needs to refresh and polish their website grows increasingly shorter. Like most things, the speed with which our lives are changed by technology places us in a permanent kind of evolutionary warp. One day our mobile devices are state of the art, the next they’re obsolete. Some of us like to think we live independent of technology’s clutches, but it’s becoming pretty clear pretty quickly that it’s not the case for anyone. We’re all connected, all the time, and sometimes it feels like if we don’t keep our speed on the wheel it will spin us around and spit us out.

Okay, the king grows more powerful and demands more coin – how do we keep him fat and happy? The good news is that we’re all creating content – or at least sowing the seeds of useful content creation – all the time. Every day in our workplaces we’re having conversations about improving our products and services and thinking of new ways to compete. Sure, we talk about other things too, but at any given moment pockets of staff are hashing out the minutiae of their daily professional existence and arriving at problems and solutions, questions and answers. Sometimes our conversations are concrete, sometimes they remain in the abstract. But we communicate constantly and communication is the very essence of marketing.

The trick is collecting these bits of communication, organizing them, and identifying the best way to deliver them to your audience. A quick photo of a new system component accompanied by a honed explanation of how it will benefit your customers works great as a blog post that can then be shared on social media. Same goes for a quick summary of how a company is structured and why it keeps them competitive. What’s happening in one’s industry that has the office abuzz can also be very interesting with a relevant spin.

Content need not be all about business, either. Personalizing your company adds warmth and keeps visitors engaged. Maybe someone in your plant is having a birthday, and wouldn’t mind sharing a few words about the colleagues or customers that have helped make it special. There’s also a better than average chance that there are pieces of literature or photos stuck on shelves or in filing cabinets that can be fashioned into a story – or history – of sorts. The key is to fashion all content to support your core messages as best you can. Everything within the walls of your business somehow relates to why you’re there. Following the threads can be interesting and illuminating.

As a final thought, SMS values our client relationships because we believe in their products and services. We primarily address the high-tech, industrial and manufacturing markets for many reasons and chief among them is that we take great pride in what our clients are proud of. We don’t need to find ways to dig out marketable value in what our clients do; our clients exist to make things that keep the world running. All we have to do is listen and spend as much time as we can learning about their markets and learning their language. We’ve been doing it for almost 40 years and maybe that’s why we ‘re confident we can help them serve the king.

-S. Norton

For more information on adding fresh content to your website, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

 

Digital Marketing is Still Marketing

An odd title this week, but what I’m seeing in the web marketing universe is giving me pause. One might think it’s obvious to most that tools such as social media platforms, Google AdWord campaigns, organic optimization programs, email marketing blasts and a variety of other variably effective electronic methods still require a base knowledge of client markets, a working understanding of their market language, and thorough research of market behavior and competitor activity. I’m finding that’s rarely the case.

Online marketing services with catchy domains quite often put a primary emphasis on the evolving wonders of technology like alluring apps, flexible software, and quick-start templates. These colorful bells and whistles are frequently sold with compelling graphics that tout their affordability, power and reach, but precious little shrift is given to how they might best be used by an individual client or company – a statement that also suggests that ambitious digital marketing mavens seek to not only blur the lines between B-2-C and B-2-B marketing, but eradicate them altogether.

At the risk of sounding like an old marketing goat, for those who have been in the marketing game long before this thing we call the Internet, pitches to prospects were prepared around large tables full of qualified people taking lots of notes. Experience reaching both general and niche targets was not only appreciated, it was a requirement. Creative and tactical was established hand-in-hand, one informing the other. For industrial marketers, it wasn’t unusual to see spec sheets laying around or even CAD drawings. Publications were ripped to pieces, with fragments of ads passed left to right as marketing teams nodded and absorbed the information for percolation. Budgets were tight, even when they were big, and the agency that got most of those dollars in the marketplace in the right way so they would be seen and understood by the right people built strong and fruitful relationships with their clients.

Today, through the relative ease of Internet visibility, companies offering design and marketing services can quickly get the eye and ear of confused and often overwhelmed marketing managers and convince them that the steps detailed above aren’t remotely necessary. They’ll imply through clever graphics and mysterious buzz words that all marketing looks the same these days regardless of industry, and that customer behavior is virtually homogeneous. It’s true that for a great many industries, the Internet has functioned as a leveler of fields of sorts and in many ways allowed smaller, younger players to get in the game with their larger, more seasoned competitors. But in even more ways, modern marketers have treated the Internet like a big, bouncy toy that anyone can use with almost no practice. It takes very little homework to make the “little” guys feel like they’re playing – until it’s time to count up conversions and leads. Before long, if they’re lucky, they realize one only gets to compete if they engage in digital marketing methods that display a comprehensive knowledge of their markets, their language, and a studied understanding of what their competitors are doing.

As the years pass and digital marketing becomes more advanced and complex, the maintenance of websites and the corresponding activities that drive traffic will become an increasingly ongoing process. Regular monitoring of website performance and reevaluating the methods of reaching your customers will become a daily chore as opposed to a conversation that happens once or twice a year when marketing budgets are set. A company’s best bet is to build a relationship with an agency that does the research and truly understands the demands and obstacles of marketing their products and services. While it’s possible to net plenty of leads through pure luck and fancy graphics, there are no magic buttons, virtual or otherwise, that one can push to maintain consistent market growth.

– S. Norton

For more info on how to better manage your marketing mix, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

SEO’s Secret Weapon: The Meta Description

Most web marketers have accepted that getting a website seen and engaged is an ongoing, uphill battle. At some point in the past, simply having a clean and professional website meant you had done enough to appear current and viable in your marketplace. Your shiny new marketing tool boasted your capabilities and every employee was tasked with saluting it for the first few weeks. And because market territory was still fairly spacious, for the most part it got found when someone searched for your products and services.

Then the game changed. Things got crowded and competition stiffened. Recognizing an opportunity, Google developed their AdWords program. In short, companies bid for popular industry keywords to jockey for ad position on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). These ads earned swanky screen real estate and Google did what they could to make them stand out. However, over time, the demand for keywords grew increasingly high, and small to mid-size companies lost their edge in the fight. They simply couldn’t afford to funnel the same kinds of resources into their campaigns as their larger, richer competitors.

Then something interesting happened: companies that ruled the game began to see diminishing returns. The prevailing SMS theory is that ads became untrustworthy for desired content. The PPC kings had simply oversold their usefulness by buying up keywords and frustrating users who clicked on their ads and wound up down the wrong rabbit holes. As a result, an old habit returned: users began immediately scanning organic results and clicking eye-catching meta descriptions that could only have appeared through closely matching content. Again, this is just a theory as many users still prioritize ads, but even Google seemed to notice and subtly changed their approach. Not wanting to temper lucrative AdWord bidding wars, they continued giving big spenders top rankings but began dressing their ads in organic clothing. Gone were the shaded backgrounds and swank real estate. In their place were more organic looking listings separated by fine lines. In fact, even on a desktop screen you have to look pretty closely to even see the word “ad”.

This means a more level SERP playing field for those companies on tighter budgets. One way to take advantage is through strong meta descriptions that have been given the attention usually reserved for ad copy. For those still catching up, a meta description is the block of text that appears below the search result title. It’s what we read when we’re trying to determine if a result is worth clicking. Sharp developers address the code of these descriptions individually and make them sound enticing, sometimes with irresistible calls to action. If left alone, Google will simply grab up to 160 characters of copy from the page so that users get some idea of what they might find, often at random. This can make for a weak message and gift traffic to competing results.

SMS developers have been polishing meta descriptions for our clients by starting with their most important, high-traffic pages. It allows these companies to “punch up” at the competition with smaller budgets and take advantage of “devolving” search behaviors. We usually recommend a carefully considered combination of PPC and organic SEO practices, one where important keywords and/or long tail keywords are given the portion of the marketing budget required to stay competitive but where site content is equally targeted. This allows well-written PPC ads to be almost duplicated in the meta description code where they’ll be seen and evaluated in the same space as a competitor’s expensive AdWord results.

– S. Norton

For more info on optimizing your website for better organic performance, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

 

SMS Bids Fond Farewell to Cheryl Scott

For those SMS clients that have been part of our family since 1981 (we’re proud to say there are still a few), you’ve likely identified the agency with the sharp and enthusiastic demeanor of our Cheryl. She’s been the “voice” of SMS production for over 37 years and has always kept in tireless contact with the many important accounts she services. Her consistency and reliability sets an SMS standard that we work hard to maintain to this day.

Now residing in Cape Coral, Florida with her husband Neil, Cheryl is closing her remote SMS office and focusing on living life to its fullest and while we will miss her terribly, we’re also happy for her. We wouldn’t be who we are without her, and she deserves our stiffest upper lips as we say goodbye.

Cheryl will still be monitoring her email so feel free to contact her if you like, as she promises to reply to each and every one. To the end and as expected, you can count on her to be there. Taking her example, SMS has you covered with the familiar voice of our Vice President of Operations, Anita Nicolo – another all-star that will keep the transition seamless.

Enjoy your new chapter, Cheryl. You may be leaving our team, but you will never leave our grateful hearts.

– S. Norton

 

James Corbett Joins SMS Rep Team

When you consider his mobile app development expertise, web marketing nous and advanced knowledge of social network and team building, it’s safe to say James Corbett is a marketing pro who knows the digital landscape from the ground up. Add a passion for contacting and bringing people together and you have a unique account representative that brings a variety of important contemporary skillsets to any project.

James will be helping SMS reach out to clients and prospects throughout our core high-tech, industrial and manufacturing marketplaces and beyond. He’ll assist in strategizing the most cost-effective approaches to building brand recognition, increasing market share through SEO optimization programs and content creation, and advising on every aspect of a project, from creative to content to implementation.

Corbett is also the founder and driving force behind Project Refit, a non-profit video chat platform that connects military veterans in an effort spread awareness about PTSD and provide communal support.

S. Norton

 

 

Project Spotlight: Heirzoom Bakery Website

While our name “Scientific Marketing Services” might imply that we only work with scientific companies, we have helped many clients in a variety of industries. In fact, we recently completed a new website design for a local online bakery. Heirzoom Bakery, a small family-owned bakery that offers authentic, ethnic baked goods, needed an online presence to sell and distribute their fresh homemade pastries. Already established in some niche markets, they were looking for a way to reach the masses. SMS knew that a new e-commerce website was the best way to do that.

Heirzoom Bakery prides itself in its Hungarian inspired pastry, branded as fennome®. This buttery, light treat is a spiral-rolled pastry filled with a selection of fruits. The focus had to be on their quality, taste and freshness. Photography was extremely important to convey this message.

The main functional feature of the site was to be its online sales capabilities, and an important aspect of online sales is the shopping cart tool. We guided the client through the merchant account process so the set up was seamless and easy. The site also features a Google map which directs consumers to the locations where Heirzoom Bakery products are sold. With some fine-tuning of the copy and a design to reflect their traditional bakery aesthetic, the site was ready to go live.

Heirzoom Bakery has found success in their pastries and is continuing to identify their target audience. SMS helped make this possible and already sales are starting to grow. Need a tasty treat for yourself or your company? Visit www.heirzoombakery.com and check out their phenomenal fennome pastries.

No matter your budget or your product, SMS can help you reach the audience you need.

– A. Nolfi

For more info on how you can affordably develop your company’s website, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

Landing Pages: What You NEED to Know

By now, most marketers are familiar with the concept of landing pages and what they do. But being familiar doesn’t necessarily equate to having an effective understanding of why designing them correctly is vitally important to your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns, and any other marketing initiatives a company may be running to drive traffic to them.

Most everyone understands that a good looking design with relevent imagery and well-written, engaging copy means good marketing. The problem is that too many people stop there. Just because an ad or landing page is beautiful, sexy and/or clever doesn’t mean it will convert to contacts and sales. There are key steps to designing an effective landing page that will not only engage the visitor, but more importantly, convert them.

So what are the most important elements? At SMS, we believe that every good landing page must satisfy three basic demands:

1 – The landing page must match the ad or campaign seamlessly. In other words, don’t just sprinkle popular keywords into your campaign or run an ad in front of as many eyes as possible in order to snare the widest possible audience. If a user clicks your online ad or enters your print ad’s listed URL and they’re taken to a landing page that strays even slightly from its core message, they’ll “check out”. Not only that, they are likely to recall a negative experience with your brand which will affect future interactions. It’s also a fact of human nature that negative experiences are more likely to be shared. Not good. Be specific in your campaigns, as the adverse is also true: a user who gets exactly what they’re looking for will keep their eyes open for your brand in the future.

2 – The landing page must have call to action “buttons” spread throughout the page that are easy to find. Laboring over accurate and compelling copy is worthwhile, but most users will skim looking for a way to get the exact info they’re looking for once they feel they’re at the right place. The harder you make that to do, or the longer it takes for them to find a way to click on their needs, the more conversions you’re likely to lose. Shoppers like to reach out and grab what they want when they make up their minds. Be their helping hands.

3 – The landing page must have a separate and trackable URL that demonstrates the brand or ad campaign. For a company selling through PPC ads, this is less important because marketing pros can more easily trace where their traffic originated and how the ad is performing. But for those companies still maintaining an offline presence with tools like print ads and billboards, a more distinct path marker is required to differentiate between direct and organic traffic and traffic generated by a landing page-driven initiative. An accurate account of traffic is important for apportioning marketing budgets so that good money isn’t left floundering in the marketplace due to misjudged efforts.

Remember that marketing is a dynamic science that requires real-time alterations and reevaluations. There are very few hard-fast rules, and even the ones set here will require testing. The best one can do is to continue to monitor customer behavior and direct their marketing efforts as specifically to it as possible.

– S. Norton

For more info on how you can affordably produce your company’s landing pages and run an effective PPC or ad campaign, feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.

Project Spotlight: CU Maurice River Website

Scientific Marketing Services has recently gone live on a long anticipated project. Citizens United to Protect the Maurice River and Its Tributaries, Inc. (CU Maurice River) now has a new and improved website that has been in the works for over a year. CU Maurice River’s mission is to protect the watershed of the Maurice River and the region for current and future generations to enjoy the environmental, recreational, and cultural resources of this global treasure for years to come. As a nonprofit organization, they are volunteer oriented and do a great job at empowering individuals, corporations, and neighboring communities to promote the well-being of the area and the wildlife within, so they needed a site to encourage excitement and support. Education, wildlife management and volunteerism are hallmarks of the organization.

While first assessing the old site and determining what the new site should focus on, a main component was realizing how interactive the site can be, and should be. With such a heavy reliance on technology and mobile devices, it was very important to ensure that the site was just as mobile friendly as it was desktop friendly. It needed to be interactive, while also being informative. CU Maurice River hosts a number of events which depend on volunteer and community members. The events needed to be displayed easily, so SMS created a real-time event calendar. Information concerning the event, contact details, as well as volunteer opportunities are included with the ability to sign up and pay for events in just one click.

The new site boasts colorful photos and easy navigation which encourages further exploration of its extensive content. The Maurice River and its tributaries are considered a national treasure. Portions of the Maurice, Menantico, Muskee Creek and Menantico Rivers are designated by the National Park Service as National Wild and Scenic Rivers. You can find detailed descriptions and pictures in the Flora and Fauna sections. Having difficulty identifying a Southern NJ plant? The local flora section will narrow your search more swiftly than larger guides to the Northeastern US or North America. Discover the great work that CU Maurice River does by visiting the Avian or Fieldwork sections. Or explore the rich culture resources of the Maurice River on an interactive map called, “River Recollections.”

With the site completed and live, it is not only CU Maurice River’s goal, but SMS’ as well, that people get involved. Perhaps you would like to become a member, make a donation or volunteer? The new site has something for everyone, so maybe it’s time to take a second look at www.cumauriceriver.org.

– Angela Nolfi

To see additional work produced by SMS go to www.SMSmktg.com/portfolio and feel free to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. Or, simply fill out the short form on our homepage.