Site Speed Improvements

LoganCan.com site speed

Recently Logan Cantrell who blogs at LoganCan.com came to us with two issues – her site speed was slow and her theme was broken.

Theme:

We’re actually big fans of the Genesis theme she was using and quickly determined that the parent theme had not been updated before the most recent WordPress version came out. We ran a code change that disabled the change, updated the theme, and then took it back live. The site theme was fixed!

Site Speed:

Now, the next issue was the page load speed. We ran a site speed test on Google with the previous host to benchmark the results. After that, we moved the site to our hosting environment with WpEngine. This is where it gets good.

The site received a score of 49 from Google before moving. After enabling the content delivery network and object caching the score came up to a 92.

Here is the kicker – we’ve added an extra step that not every host will have. We’ve partnered WpEngine with WPRocket to enable even faster sites. And we are doing this for no additional costs for our current clients and future clients. Check out the results below:

The time to interactive dropped from 5.0 seconds to 0.9 seconds. 

Here are some benefits to having a fast site:

Google loves fast sites. Your search results will most likely go higher. Faster sites are part of a good search engine optimization strategy which is another tool we can help with too.

Your clients expect your site to load fast53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.

While this is a great example, we can’t promise site speed decreases to everyone. There are a lot of conditions involved based on where you are hosted now and with your site. That said, if you aren’t with us, the chances are pretty good that we can probably speed your site up. We’d love the opportunity to give it a shot!

Contact us today to get the conversation started!

Lauren House – Social Media Manager

We are excited to have Lauren House joining our staff as of April 22nd, 2019 as social media manager.

Lauren has worked with one of our clients for the past year and a half focused on social media and event management. We’ve watched her take the reins of their social media and do a great job. They’ve had consistent content that met their goals and objectives, and her design work and writing were all top notch.

Lauren began working with us at Dogwood back in January as a contractor writing blog content for several of our clients. Through both of these relationships, we knew when it was time to hire for this position, she was the first person we would be talking to.

Lauren will be working with several clients starting day 1. As she helps us develop better scheduling practices, she’ll be more and more involved with all of our clients. Plus, we are always looking for more clients to work with as our capacity for new projects just increased with her addition!

Lastly, Lauren is a resident of Montgomery and graduates from Troy University next month with a degree in English. She’s also very involved with her church in multiple ministries.

Help us welcome Lauren!

White Label Services from Dogwood

white label your logo here

Did you know we provide a white label service from Dogwood? A white label service is a service by one company that another company rebrands as if they had made it.

We are a digital marketing agency. Our focus is on building quality websites and guiding clients through a plethora of digital marketing tools.

Some of these include:

  • social media marketing
  • search engine marketing
  • search engine optimization
  • content management
  • graphic design
  • blog writing

We’ve found that some agencies aren’t focused in this direction. For example, you’ve worked with clients on print, radio, and tv campaigns. At one time, this was a full-service agency. In today’s age though you are missing out on opportunities to deepen your relationship with the client.

You’re left with a few choices:

  • Pretend everything’s ok.
  • Hire people for positions that you may not fully understand or without a current revenue stream to support.
  • Lose your clients to a larger full-service agency.
  • Partner with a digital marketing agency that will act on your behalf, white labeling their services under your brand.

How this works with us is you retain your clients. We partner with you under your brand to provide the services we are good at. You continue to provide the services you already have.

Part of our service is that we agree to not pursue your clients. After all, we are partners and that would just be weird. Plus, we don’t offer all the things you offer. We know we’re better together.

We offer our white label service rates at a level where there is still room for you to make a profit.

There are additional benefits that we can discuss in person with our partners including free services and market exclusivity based on our level involvement in your business.

So, the next step, just like any first date, let’s talk on the phone or grab a cup of coffee together. Contact us and we’ll work out the date and time together.

 

Matt Wheeler – Our Newest Employee

Matt Wheeler

As of Monday, March 18th, 2019, Dogwood Media Solutions will have employee #1 report to work – Matt Wheeler.

Since Thomas and I began talking about what this company could be back in September of 2018, we knew we wanted to surround ourselves with people we can trust.

Matt Wheeler is someone that we both have known for many years and fits the bill perfectly.

Matt is coming to Dogwood after serving at Goodwyn, Mills & Cawood in their marketing department managing print projects. While we definitely handle print projects, Matt will apply his project management experience into the digital world.

Matt’s focus will be onboarding new clients, project and digital content management. His official title is project manager which encompasses a lot and will allow him to grow with the company.

Matt and his wife Madeline live in Montgomery and are newlyweds. Even though he’s a naturalized US citizen as of 2018, he’s still a fan of Toronto FC. It’s something we had to look over ourselves as big fans of Atlanta United.

We’re excited to have him on board and even more excited to put him to work soon!

Help us welcome Matt!

Baptist Media Specialist Meeting

Recently Thomas and I were invited to attend and participate in the annual Baptist Media Specialist meeting that was held in Prattville, Alabama this year. 

The group was originally formed many years ago with more of a focus on videography. As times have changed, the group has evolved and grown to include those focused on web and social media also. 

The format is simple in that it’s 100% round table discussion with no specific agendas to accomplish while there. 

During the meeting we were able to talk about and show some of the projects we have worked on in the past year along with sharing about tools that we used. 

Here is a sample of some of those tools that may benefit you also and that you may see integrated into future sites that we will be working on!

Egnyte If your site is loaded down with files that multiple people manage – this is an easy tool that you can setup to allow clients to upload documents. They can replace documents easily without breaking links. Once it’s uploaded, the client provides the web manager the link once. Not to mention, it’s being stored not on your website!

Huzzaz Does your site need a way to collect videos under common topics? It doesn’t matter if they are loaded to YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, etc., you can create groups and embed them into your site.

Mandrill WordPress doesn’t do email. Well, it does…kinda. But that’s not what it was made to handle. Enter using this tool from MailChimp that you can setup to handle the transactional emails in your site. We’ve already added this to one clients site that runs shopping carts, donations, and deals with a lot of contacts have already seen a major improvement in deliverability. 

Transmit by Panic – This is a great tool for accessing and uploading files to your site using SFTP. Not everyone needs to do this, but it’s extremely user friendly and easy to set up.

Paste 2 – Imagine being able to copy multiple items for pasting later. I’ve personally used notes to do this, but not anymore with this easy to use app. 

SIP – Need a color from a site so you can match your graphic, your social media, post, etc.? Enter sip. It’s also great for storing palettes of colors that match your branding for easy access.

Magnet – I’m constantly resizing windows on my desktop so I can see two or three at the same time. Magent helps you organize your desktop better!

Siteimprove – This is a tool you can use to analyze your site to make sure it is accessible. 

Some of these do have a cost involved but the return in productivity can help tremendously. 

Hope these help you like they have helped us. As always, have questions? Get in contact with us!

Digital Content: Common Misconceptions

digital content

In lieu of a frequently asked questions blog, I’m writing about three common things people should ask but most of the time don’t in regards to digital content.

This can be a touchy subject as we are all about some free content, even me. But…it’s still not an excuse. We have to play by the rules. Let me explain.

Images –

If you tell me you got the image on your website from Google images an angel loses its wings. You can’t do that in 99.5% of the cases. You must assume that the image is protected by copyright laws.

Check out Pexels.comUnsplash.com, and FreelyPhotos.com – these are sites that let you use their pictures, for free. That’s commercial and non-commercial use. In most cases, no attribution is required and you are allowed to modify them.

You can also pay for pics at istockphoto.comshutterstock.com, and stock.adobe.com to name a few. They aren’t cheap but you’ll find a wider variety of subjects along with the chance that it’s less likely to have been used versus the free images.

Blog Posts –

If you post a blog post that someone else wrote, you can’t take credit it for it. This would be copyright infringement.

Ask permission of the author. If you like a lot of the content they are writing, ask for blanket permission.

Bloggers love their content to be shared and it’s even part of a search engine optimization strategy to have your content syndicated out to multiple blogs so that you build links back to your site.

All that said, you still must ask. I prefer via email so that I have a written and documented “permission slip”.

Another option is to be inspired by the post to add more. Just like when you write a research report, create your own thoughts compiled from multiple sources and then link to the source content.

Email –

Email doesn’t have to be tricky. Here are some examples of if you should use an email marketing service such as MailChimp, or send the email from your personal account.

  • Is money being exchanged (for-profit or non-profit)? Then you need to use an email marketing service.
  • Are you emailing a lot of people, especially ones that may not know you well? Then you need to use an email marketing service.
  • Are you emailing 10 people about Timmy’s birthday party this weekend? Send an email but use blind copy (BCC:) so that you don’t create an email chain discussion.
  • Are you planning a potluck dinner in your office? Email away from your personal account.

Benefits of an email marketing service are that it meets all the compliance guidelines for a business that are outlined in the CAN-SPAM act.

Plus you’ll gain some great analytics tools and integrations to help grow your list and customer database.

Digital Content Conclusion –

Hopefully, that can help and give you some new tools to use going forward! Make sure you contact us for help when you need it!

Facebook Pages Were Never Free

Here’s a fact: Your Facebook page was never free. If you aren’t paying to use a service, you as an individual are what advertisers are paying to reach. This is pretty much the case for all for-profit businesses.

With Facebook, the content that your business is creating and trying to get out in front of its customers – aka. Facebook users, is now going to cost you more.

On Thursday, January 11, Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, made a sweeping announcement to what content you will freely see on your Facebook feed.

Cliff notes version:

  • Posts from businesses, brands, and media are crowding our personal moments.
  • The news feed will be changed to show more from your friends, family, and groups.
  • Live videos will be weighted higher than recorded.
  • Time spent on Facebook and engagement are expected to be reduced.

Mark gave us big clues in his post of how we as business marketers can increase our likeliness of our content being seen and here are my suggestions – the same suggestions I have given already to clients that this will affect the most.

Suggestions:

  • Keep one Facebook page for your business, church, etc. Shut down the rest.
  • Create groups focused on common interests that are tied to the main Facebook page. If you have an email database already broken down by specific interest – use this to connect with people who may want to be a part of this new group.
  • If you have events – create events in the event section of your Facebook page and budget appropriately to promote them.
  • Use your Facebook page to promote the big events, resources and news – expect to pay to boost these super important (not often posted) posts. Emphasize quality versus quantity of these posts.
  • Be open to allowing more staff access to your Facebook page as live video contributors along with specific rules and tips on how to use and not abuse this new found freedom.

Example:

The kid’s ministry at Vaughn Forest Church wanted to create a new page. Even under previous algorithms, I knew their content was unlikely to be seen on a page. Instead, I created them a closed group under the churches main Facebook page so there would be freedom to share pictures and videos of the kids at church.

I used the church email database to invite users with kids that fit this ministry. 187 invitations were sent. At the time of this writing 89 accepted an invite to the group. As new people come, they are invited to the group. If people leave the church, they are removed. People can request access to the group, but they are checked against the church database.

The most recent post in the group received 6 likes and was seen by 62 of the 89 people in the group. On the same day as that post, one was made to our main Facebook page that has 2,647 likes. It was seen by 342 people and received 4 likes.

Conclusion

This is a huge change to how your page will need to be run going forward. It’s going to create more work. Using Facebook to reach a targeted audience has proven to be highly successful and will be worth the extra effort. We all have to adapt to increase our quality and provide a better community for Facebook users. If we do this, I believe we will see the reward of reaching our audiences.

What’s In a Domain Name?

To say I’ve anguished over picking domain names would be an understatement. Countless hours searching what’s available, looking for the perfect destination that’s short, memorable and hopefully not confusing.

In our digital world – picking a domain name is the equivalent to a storefront location. We all know that location isn’t the end all. We’ve all driven across town for a specific pizza or even a popsicle. They’re the oddities that we all aspire to be.

For the rest of us, we’ve got to pick a good location before someone else does.

In this post, I’ll tell you two guerrilla marketing stories involving domains plus I’ll give you some tips on picking your domain and how to protect your digital asset!

Traffic Redirection

A competitor announced a new initiative with plans for it to be launched in 2-3 months. A competitor checked to see what domain they were using. The first company had purchased the .net but not the .com or .org addresses. The .com, on the other hand, was for sale. The company bought the domain that their competitor should have bought before they launched their new product.

I don’t agree with going out and buying domains that your competitors should own. For example, the new extension .rocks came out. Don’t grab mycompetitor.rocks as a means of blocking them on day one. Give them the opportunity, but, if they don’t protect themselves, it’s free game.

If they’ve started promoting a new product, I would assume that in their marketing plan, domains would have been part of the discussion. They’ve left the door open and have basically said they weren’t interested in the domain by their actions.

This can get super expensive too if you start snatching domains up everywhere so make sure that you can prove that buying the domain will result in a positive move for your business as in increased sales or brand awareness. There is definitely a potential for a lot more negativity and bad will so be careful!

Roy Moore

This isn’t a place for a political conversation – this is marketing talk, so let’s leave it at that.

That said Judge Roy Moore has been traveling the state in a bus. Said bus had a wrapper made for it with his own website misspelled on the side – “AlabamaDerservesMoore.com”.

This could have been genius as a marketing tactic to get people to visit his site and bring attention to his bus, but Judge Moore’s team didn’t do this on purpose. This becomes obvious when you go to the misspelled domain that leads to his democratic competitor’s website. Try it.

I would have liked to have seen his competitor seize the opportunity to welcome Roy Moore supporters to his site and explain how they are similar on some stances in order to convince people to vote for him over Roy Moore in the upcoming election. It kinda does this but doesn’t tackle Moore directly – and maybe it will if Moore wins the runoff taking place this week.

Right now the emphasis is email, buttons that get lost above a donation form and then a personal letter from the candidate introducing himself.

Suggestions

  • Find the shortest domain possible.
    It’s getting harder, but if you are looking to sell products on a site – a shorter, easy to remember and not confuse domain is needed.
  • Protect your domain!
    Don’t buy just one address. A .com is the standard, I recommend at the least buying the .net and .org and redirect them to your primary domain.
  • Use the right extension.
    If you are not a non-profit, don’t use a .org address as it implies you are a non-profit. Same for non-profits – you can get away using a .com, but I suggest using the .org while still owning the .com. Redirect it to your .org address.
  • Be willing to spend some money.
    You’re kinda late to the game. A lot of the good domains are gone. Start thinking about how much your name is worth. Remember there are a lot of variations you can try, but the more complex it gets, the more confusing and less memorable it is to your customer.

Conclusion

The big takeaway in all this – if you aren’t buying the right domains to protect yourself, your competitor could be buying them. Let’s take a few minutes to go over your domain strategy and come up with a plan to protect your business. Contact us today.

 

Photo credit: Greg Buddell

Build Brand Awareness at Your Next Event

Recently we completed another successful Snapchat Geofilter campaign at a large youth oriented event here in Montgomery, Alabama called “Speak”.  This was the second year running this awareness campaign with the goal of using those attending to build buzz for next years event. You can read about the first time in an article posted earlier.

It’s hard to compare apples to apples with this event as the location changes yearly along with the speakers and musicians. Throwing that information out, there was an increase in attendance from 2016 to 2017 by nearly 25%. 770 attended last year, approximately 1000 this year. To say that this is because of Snapchat last year would be a stretch, but the conference name “Speak” is what we are trying to make familiar at this time.

2017 Results
682 swipes
349 uses
17128 views

2016 Results
670 swipes
293 uses
14036 views

Here’s how to understand these numbers:

  • Swipes – Users swipe right to find filters in Snapchat. It does not mean they will choose to use it though. It’s standard to have more swipes than actual uses.
  • Uses – When a user chooses to use a filter and creates a snap.
  • Views – If a user uses the filter, then sends a snap to their friends or their story, Snapchat counts the. Most likely, people who view the story are outside the area where the geo-filter was being used thus creating a larger brand awareness.

Conclusion – Our usage rate was up especially when compared to a similar rate of swipes to last year. The views of those uses were also up meaning this campaign reached even more people. Total spent was $26.61 not including our fees to cover the meeting space. The cost to increase brand awareness was $0.0015 per view.

Are you ready to get this setup for your next event? Contact us so we can get to work for you!

Four Reasons You Don’t Need An App

Do you really need an app for that?

I’m not going to rain on your app parade…but I do want you to think about that shiny new app you’ve had your eye on. The business down the road just spent major bucks on one and you saw them marketing it in your community. Everyone’s downloading it right?? It’s the cool thing to do.

But wait. Let’s think about this more. I want to give you 4 reasons why you don’t need one. Yes, you most likely really don’t need one. At the same time, if these 4 reasons don’t apply to you…it’s 4 reasons why you might need one. Funny how that goes right?

For the sake of being clear, I believe that for the majority of businesses investing the time and money in an app is not needed. Some people will definitely disagree with my assessment on this subject, but from my own investigation, it appears that a majority of these people have a personal investment in building and selling apps. It’s the equivalent of going to a car dealership and asking, “Do you think I really need a new car?” Of course, you do.

Take a moment to think about the apps you use on a daily basis. For me personally, they fall into three categories…social media, news, and games in that order. Each of these has one thing in common, money. You either purchased the app, or you’re the product, i.e. you’ve downloaded a free app in exchange for advertising.

1.    Your site is responsive, right?

Hopefully, your site is already built to be responsive. If it is, it’s mobile ready. If someone is on their phone they have the ability to access your site and whatever you need them to see.

In fact, back on April 21, 2015, Google began rewarding sites that are built to be responsive via their search algorithm. Don’t know if your site meets these guidelines? Google provided a nice tool to check it out: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

2.    You need a purpose

Every site has a purpose. Some are replacements for old yellow page ads. Some are used to promote events. Some are all about resourcing people with useful information. Some have all of the above.

What purpose would your app serve that your site doesn’t already accomplish? Why would someone continue to revisit it? Basically, what’s the compelling reason to download your app and then use it regularly? If you can answer those questions, then build an app. Most can’t. 

3.    App development costs

Apps aren’t free. To build your app you will have to most likely work with a company that knows how to build apps. I can’t tell you specifically how much this will cost…a lot depends on how custom it will need to be. I’ve seen template-based apps start at $50 a month. Some have upfront fees on top of that.

Will your app only be built for Apple devices or will you go after all the devices? They don’t speak the same language and have different specifications, aka. extra costs!

4.    Ongoing app maintenance

In addition to your website, you will also now have to maintain your app. It will need information updated to it. You weren’t thinking you could just throw it out there and never worry about it again, were you? Think about the time investment. Also what happens every time a larger interface comes out? Do you have to go back in and redesign the app?

Now that I’ve stated my four reasons why you don’t need an app, do you have any examples of cases where I am wrong? I’d love to hear some stories that could change my mind.

Maybe you’ve developed an app and saw zero return on investment. Share that story too so we can help others to save a few bucks!