I’ve Heard That: I Don’t Think Digital Marketing Means What You Think It Means

by | Last updated Feb 9, 2022 | Podcast

In the first episode of our I’ve Heard That podcast on the Hurrdat Media Network, host Meghan sits down with Digital Strategy Director Aaron Mackel and Creative Director Max Riffner to discuss why digital marketing matters for businesses, common misconceptions we’ve heard from clients, and more.

With new clients, what are some of the misconceptions that you hear or some of the things that make you cringe?

Mackel: One thing for sure is a misconception about timelines for results and really wanting to label that, especially depending on what type of project we’re talking about. SEO is a great example of that. If you’re thinking you’re going to get results within weeks or even within a couple of months, you’re already kind of expecting a little too much.

Riffner: Most people don’t realize how long some of this stuff takes. I’ve been doing this for 24 years professionally, and people still ask me to just Photoshop something. Photoshop is great in that it takes a lot of those physical tools and distills them down into a software version, but you have to know what those tools do, and I feel like it’s gotten worse in the last five or six years with the app economy. Apps allow people to be sort of good at design, but not really understand why something is working or how. The democratization of tools, which in essence is a good thing, has led to a lot of misconceptions about how easy or difficult something is to create.

When should a business move away from DIY tools to a professional service?

Mackel: Some of them make people think lightning can strike. A lot of people think they can set up a Shopify store, use drop shipping solutions, and start running Facebook ads, and all of the sudden they’re making millions. Sometimes, lightning strikes like that, but I think it’s important to think about it as this long-term play. Those are the rare instances, and what we want to get across is that you need to be thinking about digital marketing as a daily, ongoing thing where you’re building your brand and presence. Digital marketing is real marketing. It’s not the tools or the tactics that make it great. The tools are great, and they all have their place, but it has to be backed by real strategies and processes and be a long-term effort.

What are some of the things we’ve seen or things clients should be wary of when they’re going through that process?

Mackel: This one’s very common, but if anyone is promising positions on Google results or anything like that, that’s an instant red flag, and you need to run the other way. No one controls the way Google displays results. They’re changing on an ongoing basis. But a good strategy will make you visible in many different ways. It’s never going to be a guarantee that it’s Position One.

Riffner: From a creative standpoint, what I’ve run into is a client saying “We had a logo designed by somebody on Fiverr,” and that raises a lot of red flags. Not that everybody on Fiverr is bad, but there are a lot of scam artists who steal others’ artwork. I wouldn’t use Fiverr for that in the first place, but if you had, I would definitely ask to see that person’s work and their process and how that was developed over time. That’s always a little scary because that ties into their brand, trademark, and copyright. It’s a potentially very expensive fix. You pay for what you get. If you’re not willing to spend the money, you’re maybe going to get garbage.

What other advice do you have for small businesses when it comes to building a digital marketing strategy?

Mackel: Really look at your digital marketing plan comprehensively and long term. Anyone you’re working with, expect them to really get to know you and your business and work with you to build a strategy around that. Anyone who’s being really pushy around a certain tactic or really speaking up to something like that and how it can help you grow by significant percentages without actually doing the research to understand you and your industry and how you need to go about achieving those things, it’s kind of that red flag. It has to be a long-term, comprehensive plan that’s built out specifically for you. Plan on it being something you’re investing in regularly. It’s definitely not a set-it-and-forget-it type of area. If you’re not updating and monitoring and optimizing on a regular basis, someone else is and will surpass you, and that initial investment will stop working for you over time.

Riffner: I would ask to see any potential partner’s process. If they’re pushy on one particular aspect or they’re vague on how they’re going to accomplish any of these things that they’re promising, I’d be a little concerned. That’s always a red flag for me, and that’s what we hear from people that have been burned by other agencies that are less reputable. Unfortunately with digital marketing, it’s often easy to fake it. I’d ask to see processes, be wary of pushy people, and maybe even take a look at case studies or recommendations from their client list. That should be available.


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Read Full Transcription

Speaker 1 (00:03):

Welcome to I’ve Heard That, the podcast from Hurrdat Marketing that discusses digital marketing trends, tips and more.

Meghan (00:10):

Hi, welcome to the podcast. This is Megan, I’m agency Director of Hurrdat. I just want to welcome Aaron and Max to today’s show. Tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do at Hurrdat?

Aaron (00:20):

Yeah, Aaron Mackel, I’m the Director of agency strategy at Hurrdat. So I’m involved in projects all over the place from hearing what clients are trying to achieve, all the way through the execution of those projects, and making sure we achieve those strategies we set out.

Meghan (00:37):

Awesome. And welcome Max. Tell us what you do at Hurrdat.

Max (00:42):

I am the creative Director at Hurrdat, so that means I’m in charge of all creative aspects for clients and for our own brands.

Meghan (00:52):

So we’re going to start this podcast, we wanted to make sure that it’s going to be useful to listeners. So I know when we have potential clients come in, they really do start with you two strategy and design. What are some of the misconceptions that you hear or some of the things that make you cringe when clients ask for something? What are those things they’re asking for?

Aaron (01:12):

Yeah. I’d say one thing for sure is a misconception about timelines for results and wanting to really label that, especially depending on what type of project we’re talking about. But SEO is a great example of that, where if you’re thinking you’re going to get results within weeks or even a couple months, you’re already expecting a little too much from a tactic like that. So I’d say that’s one big one right off the bat, that’s important to discuss.

Meghan (01:47):

Yeah. Timeline is crucial. What about you Max? What kind of requests are you getting that make you cringe?

Max (01:52):

I don’t know so much about cringe, it’s I think most people don’t realize how long some of the stuff takes, to piggyback on what Aaron was saying. I’ve been doing this for 24 years professionally and people still ask me to just photoshop something, which is, photoshop’s great, it’s a set of tools. I mean, I came into the industry learning how to do paste up and for a big chunk of my early career, I was running film and getting stuff ready for press.

Max (02:31):

Photoshop’s great in the sense that it takes a lot of those physical tools and distills them into a software version, but you have to know what all those tools do. And I feel like it’s gotten worse the last, I don’t know, five, six years with the app economy and how apps now can let people be sort of good at design, but not really understand why something was working or how. So kind of the democratization of the tools, which in essence is a good thing, it has led to a lot of misconceptions about how easy or difficult something is to create.

Meghan (03:12):

Sure. There’s a lot of do it yourself first because of those apps that. I mean, I think about like Canvass is a business tool. Sure, small businesses can use it, but how does that compare to the design services that you do or like what we offer and why are they different? When should you use a Canva or use a service?

Max (03:34):

Yeah. In a lot of ways, those services are great, especially if you keep it simple. But if you’re trying to match your brand exactly or… A lot of people in the easy tests, when they’re laying out typography and something like Canva, if I say the word, “Hey, the letting is too tight,” and they don’t understand what that is, that may be a sign that you might need our services.

Max (04:01):

It’s just a level of professionalism that you’re not going to get from that. But like I said, I don’t want to discount those services because they do a lot of good, especially if you’re in a small business situation and you’re just trying to build some awareness for your brand, there’s nothing potentially wrong with that. It’s just, once you get to a certain level and you’ve seen some success, it might be time to start talking to a professional design team to help out with your social and branding efforts.

Meghan (04:32):

Yeah. Time to level up. What about you Aaron? What do you see, tools that are good, do it yourself tools and when do you move away from those tools to like a professional service?

Aaron (04:42):

Yeah. That’s an interesting question from the strategy standpoint. But I’d say one thing, just going back a little bit to the misconceptions that we’ve talked about and something we’ve been experiencing over the last year, I guess just the digital marketing world has been experiencing with COVID and some of these do it yourself options coming out is like some of them make people think lightning can strike. And-

Max (05:15):

Max.

Aaron (05:15):

… Max and I were talking about this the other day, where a lot of people think they can set up a Shopify store, use drop shipping solutions, and start running Facebook ads, and all of a sudden-

Max (05:30):

[crosstalk 00:05:30] business.

Aaron (05:30):

… they’re making millions, where sometimes lightning strikes like that. But I think it’s important to, when thinking about digital marketing, think of it as this comprehensive long term play.

Aaron (05:44):

Those are the rare instances, and what we want to get across is that you need to be thinking about digital marketing as a daily ongoing thing, where you’re building your brand, building your presence, and really thinking about it almost the way… Digital marketing’s becoming more of just real marketing, it’s not necessarily the tools or the tactics that make it great. So the tools are great and they all have their place, but it has to be backed by real strategies and processes, and be a long term effort.

Meghan (06:19):

Yeah, and I think to add onto that, some of the conversations I’ve had with clients, it’s having that light bulb moment where digital marketing isn’t a one and done, it’s not something you check the box for-

Aaron (06:30):

Definitely.

Meghan (06:30):

… and your strategy too, and your design, I guess, because user behavior is changing, like how are you meeting what that customer or helping that customer find what they’re looking for? And if you think it’s one and done, then you’re going to maybe hit the mark maybe for three months and then you’re going to be behind again.

Max (06:50):

Yeah, it’s not field of dreams. It’s not as simple as building it, [inaudible 00:06:54] it’s ongoing efforts constantly.

Meghan (06:56):

Well, and it’s a not a solution for solving customer service issues, I think a lot of times when we have brands that maybe are consulting with, they say, “Hey, I have this issue.” And for me sometimes I’m like, “Well, do you answer your phone when it rings?” Okay. Well, that’s also why or is the person on the other end of that phone able to book appointments, or you’re already too full, or they’re rude to your customers, or your voicemail’s full?

Meghan (07:22):

All of those issues are business issues that the greatest digital marketing plan in the world can’t solve for. Yes, we can help you book appointments online, but if someone calls with a question and that person can’t answer that, then how do we solve that online? But they’re not a one for one solution, you have to have both customer experience and service in person, and that should translate to your brand and your site online.

Aaron (07:48):

Absolutely. And to continue on with that too, I think a lot of thought around digital marketing is very focused on growing traffic, where the processes you’ve talked about with those in-person interactions, if that’s what that business needs to do to kind of convert that extra visibility or even building out the strategy on the site, sometimes converting isn’t always a purchase, sometimes it’s getting information from them so that you can continue to market to them and things along those lines.

Aaron (08:24):

And I think sometimes those things get overlooked and it just really looking at, is traffic growing and are transactions growing, or whatever that final outcome is. But there’s a lot that goes on in between that, that I think it’s overlooked by many.

Meghan (08:41):

Yeah. For both of you, I guess this stands for both of your areas of expertise, when a client comes to us and says, “Hey, how can you help me?” What are the areas you look at? Or where should our business owners be looking to find those areas of opportunity? If you can break that down into where are you auditing, I guess.

Aaron (08:59):

Yeah. That’s really very much client by client, and industry by industry, but I definitely think we start with the website, that’s the home for all your digital marketing efforts. And we’re going to make sure that that is in a good place to perform based on whatever the goals are even if we’re talking about paid campaigns as the thing that they want to push forward and grow their company through.

Aaron (09:30):

If the website’s not right, those campaigns aren’t going to convert if it’s loading slow or just really isn’t easy to find the next step to take, the best paid campaigns with the best CPAs that are driving traffic at affordable rate, could fail once they get to the site. So for me, that’s always the starting point.

Meghan (09:54):

I know that breaks my digital marketing heart to seeing clients born paid spend, and it’s like a stiff arm, their website is like literally stiff arming customers. You get there and it’s not loading, or you can’t find what you need.

Meghan (10:07):

And it’s just like your paid campaign just went down the toilet because your clients got to your site. You paid for them to bring them to your door and then you stiff arm them. What about you Max? Where do you look?

Max (10:22):

I always ask first, what hurts? What’s their pain point? And that… Usually whatever they say is systemic throughout their business, and can be solved, but it just, you have to start with a conversation and really get to know their business, and where they’re at as a business owner and/or internal marketing department or whatever. And then we can help solve for that either by supplementing or taking control of the marketing efforts, just seeing where we can help out.

Meghan (11:02):

Yeah. I think that’s a good point too, that it doesn’t have, it can be anything from a supplement like, “Hey, how can we help support or amplify the efforts that you already have going to, okay. You want to focus on your business? Hand us the keys to castle and we’ll build what we’ve discussed.” So I think it’s anywhere in between and yeah, having that conversation up front is really critical so that we can design a strategy around what their objectives are.

Aaron (11:30):

Yeah. And I’d say-

Max (11:30):

That’s also, oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Aaron (11:32):

I’d say the pain points are crucial. And then knowing what they feel like are their strengths too. And amplifying those, is always huge for us. Just the competitive advantages companies have can take them so far, but sometimes they’re not, the customers don’t know what those are, so figuring those out and really weaving those into the entire strategy we build out is crucial as well.

Max (11:58):

I was just going to say, you’d be surprised at how many people, or clients, or companies are doing something right and they don’t realize it. And they come to us thinking that they’re doing something wrong and when they get told, “Well, actually this is what we would recommend, and then here’s where we would tweak it slightly. So I think it would be more successful to you.”

Max (12:21):

That’s important too. And it’s always nice to see that wave of relief across the face, like, “Oh, I’m doing something right.” And a lot of them do, it’s just sometimes they just need to have their strategy tweaked slightly, and that’s where we come in, and just help guide them on the path a little bit.

Aaron (12:42):

Those are exciting. Those are exciting conversations too. When you do get to look through a client’s site and you see so much positive or a client’s digital marketing presence and see so how much positive, we had a-

Max (12:55):

And they just assumed they’re doing everything wrong in some cases.

Aaron (12:59):

We had a discovery call-

Max (13:00):

Actually, this is good.

Aaron (13:02):

We had a discovery call a week or two ago, and looking at the site, it was just so exciting to see how much was going right, but yet how much opportunity there was within that site too, to make small adjustments that could have such a massive impact for them, so that’s a really great point, Max.

Meghan (13:18):

Yeah. It’s the equivalent of when you find that hole in the wall, gem of like a restaurant and you’re like, “Why doesn’t everybody know about this?” That’s how I feel when we have those client moments, because you’re like, I just can’t wait to share this, amplify it with our strategies, drive that traffic.

Max (13:34):

Well, even that example, what’s their GMB presence?

Meghan (13:36):

Exactly. Yeah. Why doesn’t everyone know about this place?

Max (13:40):

Because they’re not on Google.

Meghan (13:41):

Digital marketing, right?

Max (13:43):

Yeah.

Meghan (13:44):

So what are some of the other things, as we go through this discovery process, obviously a lot of our clients have either done it themselves or they’ve worked with someone else. What are some of the things that we’ve come across that obviously at Hurrdat we pride ourselves in doing things the white hat way.

Meghan (14:00):

So like the way that’s going to have long term lasting effects, the way that’s not a quick fix necessarily. So what are some of the things we’ve seen or what are some of the things that our clients should be wary of when they’re going through that process of trying to figure out, should they themselves, or should they pick somebody to assist them?

Aaron (14:20):

I’d say, this one’s very common and, but if anyone’s promising positions on Google search results or anything like that, that’s an instant red flag and you just need to run the other way. No one controls the way Google displays results, they’re changing on an ongoing basis, but a great strategy will get you visible in many different ways.

Aaron (14:47):

A large group of keywords, it’s never going to be a guarantee that it’s position one, some of them will be some of them won’t. So for me, that’s definitely one big red flag, if you’re talking to an agency or a consultant that you should know to start looking elsewhere, if you hear that.

Meghan (15:07):

Can they promise traffic? What about if they’re promising like X amount of visits to your site or of certain volume of traffic?

Aaron (15:13):

I would say it’s certain, putting exact numbers on it’s very difficult, but definitely if they’re talking about growth over time, that’s a reasonable thing to expect, that’s why you’re hiring someone in the first place. But yeah, labeling exact numbers would be tough, but I think those are important goals to set but maybe not guarantees necessarily.

Meghan (15:35):

Sure, of course. What about you Max?

Max (15:39):

A lot of the same with Aaron. I would say probably from a creative standpoint, what I’ve run into is maybe a client saying, “Yeah, our logo, we had a design by somebody on Fiber.” And that raises a lot of red flags. Not that everybody on Fiber is bad, but there are a lot of scam artists who steal others artwork.

Max (16:01):

So I wouldn’t use Fiber for that, in the first place, but if you had, I would definitely ask to see that person’s work, and their process, and how that was developed over time. That’s always a little scary because then that ties into their brand, that ties into their trademark, ties into the copyright.

Max (16:26):

It’s a potentially very expensive fix to get that, so it’s unique, and right, and legal, and there’s not much recourse for you if you are not on the right side of the law on that. So those are the ones that kind of worry me a little bit, whenever somebody has done anything through crowd funding or crowdsourcing, either through a contest or from cheap services like Fiber. You pay what you get or pay for what you get. So it’s, if you’re not willing to spend the money, you’re going to maybe get garbage.

Meghan (17:03):

Yeah. And how awful to build your brand on something that your logo, your brand recognition, and then if you have to change that or pivot, it’s almost like starting from ground zero, because again, you’re starting with a new logo, or a new identity, or something and yeah, that’s a really important thing to get right out of the gate.

Max (17:24):

And it’s all the little tangible things that you don’t think about like letterhead, and business cards, and everything else. I mean that all adds up, not to mention the website and everything else. I mean, it’s expensive. It’s expensive to just…. Even if you were able to pivot quickly is still expensive to the man hours to go through and change all your social profiles and to get stuff reprinted and yeah. That makes me nervous when you have that conversation with the client and you’re like, oh, fingers crossed.

Meghan (18:03):

So obviously many clients, mostly small, medium size businesses, even in our enterprise clients, everyone has a budget, right? So how do we work backwards into planning a strategy and where should clients spend their budget when they’re trying to think about what to tackle first?

Aaron (18:19):

Yeah. I think that goes back to what we were talking about with really figuring out what their pain points are and then what their goals are too going forward? If they have a pretty limited budget and they really need to maximize it, we’re going to be looking at the best long term strategies that we can set into place early on. And then those continue to benefit them with the ongoing maintenance going forward.

Aaron (18:49):

But if a client has a small budget and we pitch to them paid campaigns in a super competitive space where they could blow through that monthly budget in two days or something like that, that’s not going to work, that’s not going to work well for them. And so it really depends on what they’re going for, but… So yeah, I guess-

Meghan (19:18):

It’s a hard question to answer?

Aaron (19:18):

… case by case really.

Meghan (19:19):

Trick question? What about you Max specifically for a website? What are the things you would want to invest in or what are some of the areas you could maybe leave on a back burner?

Max (19:30):

Well, it depends on the size, what they predict, maybe future growth is going to be. A lot of times that means getting them on a good content management system, probably WordPress, something that’s open source and cheap for them to maintain. And then also getting the right team framework in place.

Max (20:02):

That makes it easy for them to update the site if they can and want to do that themselves, which we always promote, and we always set up to training for at the end of a project. Yeah. It just depends. We do everything from one page websites to several 100 page websites, and if they are on a budget, it’s like Aaron said, let’s try to focus in on what’s really going to be important and going to help them in the long term.

Max (20:34):

And then once we see some success with that, maybe we can reinvest some dollars back into marketing and upgrade the site a little bit or upgrade their marketing efforts a little bit more, and just, we’ll work with them.

Meghan (20:49):

Yeah. So amen to that. I think one of the things that you just said Max, brought me back to earlier part of our conversation about CMS. So your content management system, having the keys to your own site and feeling comfortable like, yeah, you may have Lamborghini, so do you know to drive it? Can you make updates easily quickly again to support what your customers are looking for? What’s happening inside your business? Or anything that’s relevant, that’s happening in your industry? How quickly can you adapt? Can you do it on your own?

Meghan (21:21):

I think that’s where we see clients that have come to us for maybe a website redesign or their hands have been tied and they’re like, I can’t even update this photo. We don’t even have this employee anymore, or hey, we want to run a special, but we need to get it up there quickly, and we don’t even know where to start.

Meghan (21:38):

So having the ability to make those content adjustments and knowing how to do it comfortably is super important. And to your point, that’s why we build a site, but we also hand over the keys and do some supplemental training and have that support there so that we can assist either execute ourselves or assist clients that need that.

Max (22:02):

And on top of that too, we’re also available for additional training, which I think they appreciate because they might not make an update for a year and then they need to, and they’ve forgotten, which is fine. We’re more than happy to sit back down with them again and go through it all up with them again.

Max (22:21):

And that happens, it’s just, it’s a case by case basis. Sometimes the company is super active and making updates from day one and sometimes they never make updates and just ask us to do it. But whatever I build, I try to make it so they can easily update it, and there’s no… They don’t have to go through code, they don’t have to sift through anything, they can just easily find where it’s at, make a quick text change and it’s done. So I think that’s very important.

Aaron (22:54):

I think one thing too, thinking about fitting a strategy within a budget is just really getting down to what the process looks like for a client to achieve their goals, and starting with that, and then building into the tactics, and the things that make that happen.

Aaron (23:15):

Sometimes we’ll hear, even though this doesn’t get thought about necessarily in a digital marketing sense, it’s digital conversions and things like that that get focused on a lot is, “Hey, we just need to get someone on the phone with us. And once we do that, we’re going to close out that sale.” That’s what we need.

Aaron (23:31):

So if we hear that, then it’s okay, how do we take your budget and funnel it into this thing that you need to have happen that brings you new business? So just one more thought there. Really it depends on what’s going to get the clients, the results they need that maximizes that budget that they’re working with.

Meghan (23:53):

I think some of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with our clients is hearing them, of course, because they’re the experts in their industry or in their business, hearing how their customers do business with them or how they think about their customer’s journey. I know when we’re talking about it, there’s a lot of jargon that happens.

Meghan (24:10):

But when we’re talking about the customer journey with their clients, about how their clients find them, we sometimes see it’s a lot more simple, like you just said, “No, we just have to get them on the phone.” So how do we support that through digital marketing? I’m thinking some of our most B2B complex type clients actually could be those strategies are actually some of the most simple because it’s like, hey, we just need to get, connect the dots between customer and business.

Meghan (24:44):

They just need someone to schedule a demo or watch a tutorial or pick up the phone and call. And it’s like, how do we drive that action? That’s what your site needs to do. You may have had a huge, huge site that explained everything, but your customers aren’t reading that, they just want to talk to someone in that case.

Aaron (25:03):

Yeah, absolutely. And like you said, it’s really fascinating when you really get to understand a client’s business, and how the processes work. We’ve had conversations lately with a cable company in another state where cable and internet out there don’t work the way it works here in Omaha.

Aaron (25:24):

It’s not winning households one by one, it’s winning entire neighborhoods at a time. And when those come up for renewal being ready to strike and having a campaign built for that short timeframe, to be able to maximize that opportunity and things along those lines. So those conversations are so fascinating and so important to the whole digital marketing process.

Aaron (25:46):

And as we’re talking about things that should raise red flags or things that are digital marketing, there’s no one size fits all solution, it’s really case by case basis. And if agencies are coming, starting with tactics without knowing your processes, they’re going about it the wrong way.

Meghan (26:09):

I think on that note too, when we’re talking about not one size fits all, it all goes back for me, to have that discovery call, knowing what their objectives are, knowing how their customers do business with them, and then how do we replicate what their identity is in the real world, online. If they’re really visual brand, what does that mean for design? How do we translate that on site?

Meghan (26:33):

If they’re really customer service focused, how do we connect them and make it a really personalized experience online? How do we draw this out of our customers? That’s part of our challenge, is getting to what they want, because I feel like if we’ve ever missed the mark it’s because we didn’t get that information up front.

Meghan (26:56):

Thinking about some of the work that Max has done recently, like, “Oh, we designed a site.” This is not what we’re looking for, we had to re design. Well, why, we were missing something in our initial conversation. And I mean, things change of course, but Max, can you tell us a little bit more about your design process? What do you need to know up front?

Max (27:18):

Well, everybody has subjective taste as far as their aesthetic and what they’re looking for. So that’s probably the hardest part, and that I think is really in that particular instance, what changed. A lot was, clients saw something else new and shiny, and so they wanted to look more like that.

Meghan (27:39):

That happens.

Max (27:41):

But everything’s subjective, and so as far as the design aesthetics and what creative looks like, and so you just really… Again, it goes back to conversations and talking through it with them and finding out what they like, what they don’t like, turn ons, turn offs, what needs to be on the page in order for it to function correctly for users, what doesn’t need to be on the page.

Max (28:13):

And so, and everything that I do is I try to get it as simple as possible and try to strip it down to the quickest story for a potential customer to learn and interact with, and then trying to make that aesthetically pleasing for the client, and also to make sure that it works in the sense, this is where Aaron and I work a lot on is looking at heat maps and making sure that functionally it’s all going to work right for their users’ expected behavior. But yeah, it’s a dance like anything.

Aaron (28:54):

Max, one thing I’d be curious to hear you talk more about is design elements that are really commonplace. And to me, the big homepage video, right? Is one of them where people love it and it looks great, but it creates issues on the site. Obviously, site speed is so important, so maybe we could talk about that one, but are there any others too, that stand out where things people might not think will be an issue are actually really hurting them?

Meghan (29:26):

Yeah. How do you balance all this?

Max (29:29):

Yeah, it depends. So let’s go to a big Hero background, video, very popular. I don’t know, I’d say, seven years ago, it’s fallen out of favor in the last year or so as everybody’s figured out, “Hey, I’m taking a huge performance, hit on Google or Google’s telling me, I’m taking a huge performance set, especially on mobile.”

Max (29:57):

So we’ve been recommending people to move away from that. And you can still have video on your homepage, but make it do something, make it work for you, maybe it’s a little, the beginning of a [inaudible 00:30:12] series that we produce or something that helps explain your business a little bit more, versus a background video, which is neat.

Max (30:23):

That’s something I’ve been really fighting against. Well, pretty much my whole career, but why is this here? And it’s always a question you need to ask, why is this video here? What is it doing for you? Is it worth the sacrifice you’re going to get on page speed? If it is, then fine. If it isn’t though, or if you can’t give me a good answer, it probably shouldn’t be there.

Max (30:48):

Some other things we look at are if the user base for the website is older, don’t do a lot of animation, make sure the type is large enough to read. Maybe get some accessibility plugins put in play where they can adjust the type size easily without having to go through the browser controls.

Max (31:13):

That’s oftentimes a sticking point where you might have a marketing department that wants really flashy cool animation, but their user basis not going to support that and they’re going to lose customers. And trying to balance those expectations out can be difficult, but that’s also a reason why you could do AB testing and just see how it plays out.

Meghan (31:38):

Yeah. That’s so important. Again, do test, pivot, test, pivot, lock in what works and then don’t assume that that’s going to work forever. That’s why you continue testing. I think you brought up [crosstalk 00:31:52].

Max (31:51):

Even on our end, we shouldn’t assume that the new, latest technology is going to alienate the older user base potentially, they could be fine with it. It’s hard to say. I mean, we’re constantly learning, so that’s why testing is important.

Meghan (32:08):

Yeah. I think that’s one of the benefit. [crosstalk 00:32:09] No, that’s one of the benefits too, that I feel like in working with a variety of clients, we’re able to have this collective knowledge of what’s working in different industries, what’s worked in the past.

Meghan (32:22):

One of the things you mentioned that I think is probably can go on the top misconceptions list is when we’re designing sites, we’re looking at them on really large screens, huge desktops, but is that how your customers are using it? If your customers are using mobile to transact with you or to at least fill out a lead form and you want to collect like a 10 page questionnaire, that may work on desktop, that’s not necessarily great for a user experience on mobile.

Meghan (32:52):

So considering how they’re using your site. And when we’re going through the design process, making sure that you’re looking it in that context, not just reviewing the site on your desktop. I think that’s where a lot of times at least from what I’ve seen is we get requests like, “Hey, I want it to look like this.” And we’re designing for desktop when the user is primarily mobile.

Meghan (33:13):

And using that data that you’ve already collected, I’m talking to Aaron, using that data that you’ve collected to make those strategic recommendations. How are people using your site? Can you tell us a little bit about what you may use for tools or how we make that assessment?

Aaron (33:30):

Yeah. I think the more information we’re getting from clients up front, the better. Max referenced using heat maps to really understand the way people are using the site and seeing that behavior on mobile is definitely a big part of that and understanding how to maximize the real estate, where people are spending the most time and where their eyes are going is huge.

Aaron (33:55):

And getting into their analytics and seeing what percentage of their traffic is desktop and mobile. And the world’s definitely moving mobile and Google’s made that clear too, that they look at your mobile site first and base the way they rank you off of that and not desktop. So, but yeah, it’s critical and you’re right.

Aaron (34:21):

A lot of people when they evaluate their website, it’s on a desktop, and that’s probably not the way outside of certain industries where people are… A lot of B2B, but industries might be a little bit different because people are researching these topics while they’re at work at their computer or something along those lines. But it has to be a strong consideration, and building from mobile, and then making it work great on desktop is definitely where the world is going.

Meghan (34:50):

Yeah. The who, what, where, when, who’s using this, when are they using this, at home at work? On the go, are they using their mobile in front of the TV? There’s so many pieces that can fit together. But again, why I love digital marketing, we can totally geek out.

Meghan (35:07):

We can look at those heat maps, look at the analytics, again, even test AB testing after we’ve launched a new site, what’s working, what’s not, where do people go once they’ve hit your homepage and how do we connect them with the information they’re looking for? So at the end, they are choosing you to do business with, because they’ve had that experience, they found what they need, they know how to contact you, they’re finally ready and we make it easy at that moment of truth to connect them with your business so…

Aaron (35:32):

Yeah. And it’s just the process to identify those things is so important. And you might think you’ve placed something on your site in a super visible area, and it’s the most important thing to you, and it’s the action you want people to take, and then you put a heat map on there and you find out 15% of people that visit that page, make it to that section. So it’s just a process, and the testing is really important to sift through it and keep optimizing.

Meghan (36:00):

My favorite and Max, correct me if I’m wrong, interstitials, right? Pop-ups, that cracks me up because it’s perfect for some use cases and it’s horrible. If you say pop-ups to me, I’m like, “Whoa, yuck.” And then I’m like, wait, no, actually they do their place in the world or forms or there’s chat bots, there’s so many of these pieces that I feel like some of our clients are like, “I must have a chat bot, I must have a FAQs, I must…” And it’s like, maybe. Does that meet help your customers find the information they need at the right time, the right way or is it a complete annoyance? Sometimes I get on a site and my like, “Chat bot go away, I just want to read.”

Aaron (36:40):

And other times you’re like, “I need someone to help me.” Yeah. And yeah, the pop-ups are a great point. And I think people generally consider them a negative. At least probably in the digital marketing while you see them as an annoyance. But we have had clients in, one e-commerce client in the past where, the pop-ups that they had on their site made a big difference for them as far as capturing email addresses, and then taking that, and turning those people into customers, because it was an industry and a product that required a lot of education, a very new product that a lot of people were learning about for the first time. So converting them the first time they hit the website was possible, but…

Meghan (37:27):

Improbable?

Aaron (37:27):

Yeah.

Meghan (37:28):

You needed that long, that was second touch.

Aaron (37:29):

Yeah. You needed to keep in touch with them. So that pop-up did a lot for them in that regard to allow them to establish relationships and even with the pop-up, we were testing it nonstop. We were changing our design elements, changing the copy to optimize that too. So it was convert at the highest rate possible. So yeah, it’s all very fun.

Meghan (37:52):

I know, I’m getting so excited, I’m like, oh yeah, well, that brings up the point of like, yeah, not a everyone’s experienced on your site is the same, and that’s where we can push the envelope is like, “Hey, how is it different when Aaron uses a site, versus when I use the site, versus when Max uses a site?” We can now use different tools, just different methods and tactics to make that a different experience.

Meghan (38:21):

Like, “Hey, it’s my first visit. And here’s what I’m going to see. Now it’s my second visit and here’s what I’m looking for this time.” And supplementing, of course, we’re just talking about the site, but we’re going to get into it on another episode. But with social media, paid advertising the top of the funnel efforts, when we’re funneling someone down, what is that experience like on your site for first visit, second visit, and what are people looking for? It’s different, it’s again, not the one size fits all.

Aaron (38:48):

I’d say that’s a common thing that needs to be considered by clients. And an agency like us, who’s working on the same site day in and day out, is we start to see the site so much differently than a customer ever would. And we think, you can fall into some of these kind of traps where it’s, oh that exists on the homepage, why does it need to exist on a location page?

Aaron (39:14):

It doesn’t need to exist twice but for any given customer, the location page could be their landing page and they never see the homepage. So if that’s important and someone needs to see that no matter what page they land on, it’s got to be there. So it’s kind of some of those things where you do have to back out and think, okay, how would a customer who’s never been to the site before experience this? And that can be hard to do for clients and anyone who’s working on a site every single day.

Meghan (39:46):

Sure. Max, what are some of the things that you see clients requesting because you mentioned that they’ve seen them on other sites? I know that’s where a lot of clients draw inspiration from, like the Nike’s, Apples of the world. What are some of the things that you’re getting common requests for? And when do they fit? When do they not fit?

Max (40:07):

I would say probably animation is the maybe number one thing right now, or just a little bit more interactivity than we’ve seen probably in the last few years.

Meghan (40:20):

Any advice you guys have for small, medium size businesses? We’ve talked about what they can watch out for when they’re trying to decide if they should do it themselves, or interviewing agencies, or potential partners as they go through the discovery process, what that should feel like. A lot of questions getting through what the customer journey’s like, what their objectives and end goals are for the side or for their marketing plan. What other advice do you have for small businesses when it comes to building a digital marketing strategy?

Aaron (40:54):

I Would say, to recap some of the things we’ve been talking about is to really be looking out and thinking about your digital marketing plan comprehensively and long term, and anyone you’re working with, expect them to really get to know you and your business, and work with you to build a strategy around that.

Aaron (41:21):

Anyone who’s being really pushy about a specific tactic or really speaking up to something like that and how it can help you grow by significant percentages and help your business grow without actually doing the research to understand you and your industry and how you do need to go about achieving those things, is kind of that red flag.

Aaron (41:53):

So it’s just got to be a long term comprehensive plan, that’s really built out specifically for you. And plan on it being something you’re investing in regularly. It’s definitely not the set it and forget it type of area if you’re not updating, and monitoring, and optimizing on a regular basis, someone else is and will surpass you, and that initial investment will stop working for you over time.

Meghan (42:28):

Yeah, and that was great advice. What about for you Max?

Max (42:29):

I’d piggyback on that. I would ask to see a potential partners process along the same lines with Aaron if they’re pushy on one particular aspect, or if they’re vague describing how they’re going to accomplish any of these things that they’re promising, or promising anything at all, I’d be a little concerned.

Max (42:54):

That’s always a red flag for me, that’s what we hear back from people that have been burned by other agencies that are less reputable that come to us and say they promised this, this, and this. And that’s always a heartbreaking conversation to say, well, they should know that’s not possible.

Max (43:15):

Unfortunately, with digital marketing it’s often easy to fake it. So I’d ask to see process, beware of pushy people, and maybe even take a look at case studies or recommendations from their client list, they should to be available.

Meghan (43:36):

Or past work?

Max (43:36):

Or past work. So, yeah.

Meghan (43:40):

I think it’s helpful. Yeah. I think that’s a good point because somebody that’s really pushy or promising these results… Yeah. I’ve seen that too, it’s very scary, it’s like, how did they achieve… One, if they got those results, how did they achieve those results? Are they going to be long lasting? Was that the healthy way to do it?

Meghan (43:52):

And two, digital market is so much more than just your website or just… When someone’s really pushy, it’s usually over a specific tactic, like you have to do this, you have to do that. And digital marketing is not a one size fits all. So you can’t just push one tactic and expect it to work for everyone.

Meghan (44:09):

So something we didn’t even talk about Max, like in site design, compliance, ADA. I mean, there’s so much that goes into developing a strategy that needs to be considered that if you’re just pushing one tactic, we know you’re not going to check the box. You’re trying to check a box you shouldn’t check, so…

Meghan (44:30):

Well, all good advice. I really appreciate you guys joining me today. Thanks for listening today, make sure you subscribe to our podcast wherever you get your podcast, and we’re super excited to share more insights from the rest of our team.

Speaker 1 (44:46):

I’ve Heard That is a part of the Hurrdat Media Network. For more information follow Hurrdat on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram, or visit hurrdatmarketing.com.

Speaker 5 (44:54):

A Hurrdat media production.

 

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