Archive for August, 2017

8 Great Conversion Rate Optimization Tools & Services

by Jenna Scaglione on 08/30/2017

Getting traffic to your website is necessary to sustain online business growth, but traffic alone is worthless. Traffic is not what drives sales. Without the ability to leverage and convert that traffic, your website will be nothing more than a revolving door–with visitors leaving as fast as they came.


via GIPHY

To increase your conversions and keep your customers from leaving, you need to first look under the hood and discover what it is your visitors want. Once you understand their behavior and where you can improve, you can apply changes and test them to determine which ones result in the highest conversions.

To do this successfully, take advantage of the many helpful tools out there as they will automate your tasks and provide valuable data to help you get the most success from your conversion rate optimization campaigns. Below, I listed eight of these tools, and to help you identify which ones to use, I broke them down into three categories: analytics, behavioral research, and testing.

Let’s get to it!

Analytics

Analytics tools provide quantitative data you can use to track and report what is happening on your site. Analyzing this data will help you isolate potential problems in your funnels and look for opportunities on where to start optimizing for best results. Here are some ways analytics programs can assist with conversion rate optimization:

  • Bounce rates – Where are people dropping off your site? Isolate these pages and optimize them to increase bounce rates and keep people on your site longer.
  • Time on page – Optimize the pages where users are spending the shortest duration of time. Tip: Sometimes a shorter time on page is a good thing if you have an opt-in where users are taken away after opting in. Match the right metrics with the right pages.
  • Demographics – Knowing your visitors’ demographics can help you with optimizing your pages to better meet their needs.
  • Browser issues – Slow page load time decrease conversions. Analytics programs can show you when a browser may not be loading a page on your website.
  • Segmentation – Segmentation allows you to track how many people convert through various channels such as PPC, organic search, direct traffic and social. Use these segments and test within these channels to optimize your pages.
  • Funnel tracking – Review where people stop in your conversion funnels and track which ones converted and which visitors stopped along the way. Identify these leaks in your funnel so you can optimize it and move more people through.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) is one of the more popular analytics tools. It provides numerous insights and also allows you to set up conversion goals to track rates directly from the platform. It also offers conversion experiments where you can run split tests on different page variations to determine which page converts the highest.

Pricing:

Free and Enterprise solutions available. The Enterprise solution offers more robust, advanced features and fewer limitations than the free version.

Mixpanel

Mixpanel is similar to Google Analytics in that it allows you to extract user data to figure out what is happening on your site. However, one major difference between Mixpanel and GA is that instead of tracking page views, Mixpanel tracks users’ actions (engagement) on your website or mobile application. Mixpanel also offers additional features such as autotracking, customer email and push notifications, and A/B testing.

Pricing:

Free plans are offered with limited features. Paid plans are offered in two categories – Engagement (Analytics data and reporting) and People Plans (customizable profiles, activity feed, predictive analytics, notifications and messaging). Engagement plans start at $99 / month and People Plans start at $150 / month.

Kissmetrics

Similar to MixPanel, Kissmetrics also tracks user behavior instead of pageviews to help you identify roadblocks. Track how your users behave while entering and leaving your funnel and gather insights along the way to improve your conversions. Kissmetrics also offers email campaign automation based on user behavior, and A/B testing.

Pricing:

Plans start at $500 / month with a 20% discount for annual billing.

Behavioral Research

While analytics provide data on your users’ actions, it does not provide real-time user feedback nor allow you to watch your visitors interact with your site. This is where real-time research and behavioral tools come into play. These tools can provide behavioral feedback to show you where you can improve your website pages and thereby increase conversions by giving your visitors exactly what they want.

Hotjar

Hotjar is an all-in-one platform that provides data on exactly how users interact with your site to help you get inside the minds of your website visitors. Use this data to find out what your visitors do not like about your site so you can improve these areas and increase conversions. Features include heatmaps, real-time video recordings, conversion funnels (discover where your visitors are leaving), form analysis (discover when and why visitors abandon your forms), feedback polls, surveys and user test recruitment (recruit users for one-on-one testing and interviews).

Pricing:

Free plans are offered for personal use with an upgrade for $29 / month. Business plans start at $89 / month while Agency plan prices depend on the number of clients. Fifteen-day free trials are offered.

UserTesting

UserTesting is a unique user feedback service that offers video feedback from users who comprise your exact target market. You give users instructions on what to do on your site and they talk through their every move and what issues they face as they execute your wishes and browse your website. You receive notes and the transcript as well as answers to questions you ask the users. This service is valuable because it allows you to get as close to your target as possible, audibly hearing their issues/concerns/ likes and dislikes with your website and its user experience.

Pricing:

Pricing starts at $49 each for the first 10 videos. Enterprise options are also available.

Testing Platforms

Now that you have analytics and behavioral data, the next step is to test your hypotheses. You can do this with testing software. Note that some of the tools above include A/B testing along with their feature suite. However, the tools below are more robust testing platforms as testing is the tool’s main feature. I recommend you start with a free trial to these tools as most offer them. Here are a few of the most popular testing platforms.

Optimizely

Optimizely is an experimentation platform that facilitates desktop and mobile A/B and multivariate testing. Other features include personalized recommendations that allow marketers to show different content to visitors depending on their browsing behavior, demographics, contextual clues, and other 3rd-party data. Optimizely has been touted as an industry leader of testing, however, its prices have increased over the years crowding out small business who do not have the budget to substantiate the high costs.

Pricing:

Optimizely offers a 30-day free trial. Annual pricing and pay-as-you-go is also offered for three separate plans. The only pricing listed on its website is the premium pay-as-you-go plan for $49 / month; however, industry chatter mentions a $995 / month price tag for the standard plan.

Convert Experiences

Convert Experiments is a similar platform to Optimizely but offered at a lower price tag. Convert is known to seamlessly integrate with Google Analytics and it is priced mid-range for testing tools while including some of the most robust features available.

Pricing:

Free 15-day trial offered. Plans start at $449 / month billed annually and $599 / month billed monthly.

ABTasty

ABTasty is the lowest-priced option of this group. While it does not offer as many add-ons as its higher-priced competitors, it still offers some robust testing features. Similar to its competitors, it offers A/B, multivariate and multipage testing and an easy-to-use visual editor. It also offers mobile testing, personalization and engagement features. Experts recommend ABTasty for companies that are just starting out with conversion testing as they may not need all the bells and whistles of the higher-priced software. This tool is also valuable for companies that want to invest more of their conversion budget into research, rather than software add-ons they may or may not need.

Pricing:

Packages start at $249 a month.

It’s Your Turn

Looking for some ideas on how and what to test? Check out The Definitive Checklist for Conversion Optimization. In it you will find a tips checklist and test examples to help you start and improve your conversion campaigns. You can also get information on what conversion rates you should be getting for your industry so you can effectively set goals. Now get out there and start converting!

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Expert Interview: Anuja Lath of RedAlkemi on Creating a Digital Marketing Strategy

by Chris Martin on 08/28/2017

Anuja Lath

Anuja Lath, co-founder and COO of RedAlkemi, is an expert in end-to-end online solutions for small businesses and publishes relevant blogs.

We recently interviewed Anuja about best practices for creating a digital marketing strategy. She says that one piece of advice she finds herself repeating to clients over and over again is to be consistent and be patient. “SEO and Social Media both take time, build that brand to the right audience slowly but surely, and you will see the benefits in time,” she adds.

Read on for more of her insight:

Tell us about the mission at RedAlkemi. How are you hoping to impact the world of web development?

Our mission is to deliver measurable online success. RedAlkemi helps small businesses with end-to-end online solutions. Any business needs a few basics, i.e. a website, search engine optimization, online brand building and social media management. RedAlkemi tries to take the pain of all this management away from a client by proposing the best-suited activities that their business needs for online presence and promotion. Over the past few years we developed a very SEO friendly content management system that allows us to build and maintain websites very easily and quickly for our clients. Over and above this all the other services we provide are cohesive and inter-linked in a way that helps a client’s brand online. With our suite of services, we hope to make it super easy for a small business to have a professional and strong online presence.

How has the way you coach your clients on finding the best online strategy evolved since your company was founded?

When our company was founded we began with offering services in web design and development. Later we added SEO services and link building as an off-page SEO service. While these services existed, they were standalone offerings, with little interaction between the people who designed and the people who optimized. The client was not too aware of the importance of technicalities in SEO or online strategies. As we progressed to the present day, we ourselves have firstly evolved to a point where nothing is done without keeping the other in mind. So development impacts SEO impacts blogs impacts Social media, etc. Because of this clarity, we are also able to define the strategy very clearly and logically to our clients and they understand the need and requirement of doing what we suggest as strategy. Everything is supported by a clear logic and therefore makes sense to everyone.

Where should an organization begin when developing an online strategy? What considerations should they make?

An online strategy will take quite a few parameters into consideration, and since everything we do online has to have a clear objective, there are a lot of considerations to make. Firstly, development of a proper digital brand and style guide is critical. There is a basic protocol of voice, tone, colors, logo, language and layout that needs to be developed and then adhered to.

Second, defining the target audience, who we are targeting, and where are they present online. Since different audiences use different social media channels, we figure out which are the best platforms to promote on.

Additionally, having a cohesiveness between everything that we do online is important, nothing can be disjointed and all aspects of the online strategy have to be interlinked and supportive of each other. When developing an online strategy, the most important thing for an organization is to have clarity of objective. We typically ask our clients to fill in a detailed questionnaire to help them define their online business objectives, which further helps us define their online strategy.

What are the major challenges facing businesses today in building a strong digital presence?

In my view these are some of the major challenges businesses are facing today:

1. Social Media Management: Choosing the correct social platforms to promote their brand online is a toughie. Even if a business is happy allocating a huge budget to social media, there is always the skepticism of the ROI, the type of content required, accountability, effectiveness, conversion, etc. Everyone wants to be on social media, but is not sure how it is helping them in a measurable manner.

2. Multi-device usage and keeping up with technology: Since users today are browsing on all devices, it is getting tougher to track where the conversions are coming from, therefore businesses feel the challenge of decision making on where to be or not to be in the digital world.

3. Inadequate budget: SMB’s don’t have very large budgets to allocate to their digital presence, and as a result often end up spending it on incorrect marketing strategies, therefore they need a good team to develop a strong and budget-specific strategy. Apart from inadequacies in budgets, businesses are not able to tell where they’re getting the loudest bang for their buck. It’s a trial and error initiative, which often dies down.

4. Crowded spaces and competition: Since everyone wants to be in the game, the space is getting crowded and it is getting more and more difficult to stand apart and beat the competition. Marketing strategies need to become more and more specific and focused, and consistently producing high-quality, engaging content for viewers is a challenge.

5. Low attention span: With so much good and poor quality content out there, it is getting tougher to retain viewers’ attention. Viewers move from one page to the other, one device to the other, and even if they like what they see, sometimes it is impossible for them to find the same content again. Retaining attention and converting to a call to action is becoming a big challenge.

What tools are essential for growing a brand online today? What tools or methods have you found are outdated on obsolete?

Some of the tools we use very actively are Canva, Mention and Hootsuite. We also believe in carrying out a lot of the work manually, and not automating everything for social media. More than tools and methods, it is the tactics that were previously employed that have now become obsolete. Businesses are realizing the value of adding value, sharing and engaging as against constantly self-promoting. Winning and building trust is important, and I see that as being one of the best things to emerge from social media promotion today.

What brands do you believe have done an especially innovative and noteworthy job of consistently standing out online? What can we learn from them?

My favorite would be GoPro, they’ve done a marvelous job in empowering users to share and post their own experiences with the camera. Their campaigns encourage users to send in their photos, thereby getting great content for their product as well as showing it off. They’re hit the nail on the head by engaging users, showcasing great content, featuring their product in an indirect manner and never being sale oriented. These are all great lessons for social media management.

What trends or innovations in the world of web development or digital marketing are you following today? Why do they interest you?

I am interested in the trends and innovation of content marketing, Internet of Things, web and mobile design.

Mobile marketing SEO techniques are specifically important this year with Google’s announcements of the mobile index and accelerated mobile pages. These interest me as being directly related to our sphere of work and I am fascinated by how eventually everything comes together and one can connect the dots.

Find out how your business measure up in conversion optimization. Click here to download the report.

5 Ways American Express is Winning at Content Marketing

by Susan Guillory on 08/25/2017

If you’re looking for a fine example of content marketing, look no further than American Express’ OPEN Forum. This community content platform is 10 years old, and offers a lot of lessons for the rest of us in terms of how to succeed with content.

1. It Understands Its Community

While many brands stumble with content marketing simply because they can’t seem to get away from self-promotion, OPEN Forum has, from the start, been about its community. You won’t find self-aggrandizing articles about credit cards and financial products. Instead, you find thoughtfully-written articles on subjects that community members and customers have expressed interest in.

Rather than coming off as a marketing platform, OPEN Forum is more branded content. The material is insanely valuable to small business owners, but the fact sticks in their minds: it’s all thanks to American Express.

2. It Highlights Customers

While contributors to the site are not required to be American Express customers, those influencers that are get more play.  Customers are often featured in stories about their businesses, which gives them more exposure, and possibly increases sales.

OPEN Forum’s catering to American Express customers gives them the feeling of being in a special club. And who doesn’t want access to that?

3. It Tells Stories That People Want to Read

With so much noise out there, even in the small business advice category, OPEN Forum stands out with truly unique content. The brand spends a ton of time listening to customers and members to understand what topics they care about, and constantly tweaks the categories and topics they cover.

The site covers the gamut from customer relations to growth opportunities, and every article is worth reading. You can’t say that for all content marketing out there.

4. It Has a Mission

Another way some brands fail with content marketing is in having no aim. They’re creating content simply to do it, or to boost sales, but they really have no idea what their mission is. OPEN Forum, on the other hand, has always had the same mission: helping members do more business. While the tactics and approaches may change, everything the brand does stays true to that goal.

5. It’s Adaptive to Its Audience

OPEN Forum pays attention to what it’s doing. In an interview, Courtney Colwell, director of content marketing, said that previously, the brand invested little in video because it didn’t garner strong results. But as that changed, the brand reinvested in the medium.

The site has also heavily invested in (and perfected, some would say) long form content, going so far as to spend three months observing a small business to write about it thoroughly. By paying attention to metrics and response, OPEN Forum has successfully stayed in front of what works best for reaching its audience.

We don’t all have the deep pockets of American Express, but the reasons for its success with content marketing go beyond budget. The brand pays attention to its audience, and strives to deliver valuable and insightful content that is unique from everything else out there. Do that, and you’ll parallel the brand’s success.

Let MediaShower help you take your content marketing to new heights. Get a free trial.

Ready to Build Your Brand? You Need Content Marketing

by Laura College on 08/23/2017

Nearly 90 percent of both B2B and B2C marketers use content marketing. It’s that pervasive. If you’re not using content marketing to build your brand, you’re missing out.

Even more tellingly, 75 percent of brands are investing more money in content marketing in 2017. That means that your competitors are producing more content — and you should, too.

Extend Your Organic Reach


Track your SEO efforts to find ways to increase your organic reach.

If you’ve taken a look at your Google Analytics reports lately, you might have realized that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to rank highly in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). There’s lots of competition.

That doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. Clearly, consumers want to hear more from brands, and creating more content can help you attract those leads naturally.

Optimizing your content for SEO, including lots of hard facts in your content, and consistently providing value for the reader can help you convert visitors into leads and leads into customers. If you’re not using content marketing, though, you’re leaving money on the proverbial table.

Build a Larger Online Platform


Content marketing builds your audience from the screen instead of the podium.

It’s true that you have more competition than ever online. Regardless of your industry, there are plenty of other brands that want to steal your market share.

Don’t let them. If you build a large online platform, you can keep building visibility as well as consumer engagement.

Share your content on social media and find new ways to repurpose your content for email marketing, slide decks, and other mediums so you reach more people.

For instance, a consumer might never visit your blog. But what if he or she stumbled across one of your in-depth responses on Quora? Content marketing doesn’t just exist on blogs anymore. You can find it everywhere, so branch out in as many directions as possible to expand your online platform.

However, don’t spread yourself too thin. It’s better to produce fantastic, consistent content on two social media channels than to post sporadically on 15 channels. Figure out how many platforms you can reasonably handle, then focus on making sure that each post has a specific goal behind it.

Work With a Team


Field marketing teams can accomplish more in a shorter period of time.

When you send marketers out into the field, they make direct contact with current and prospective consumers. While content marketing is undeniably effective, you still must bolster your brand with a human component.

Using tools like Repsly can help you manage field marketers more effectively and generate more data about your marketing efforts. Without data, you won’t know how well your various marketing channels perform.

Additionally, as in all industries, every marketer has certain strengths and weaknesses. When you build a team, you allow people to combine their strengths for your brand’s benefit.

You need a tool that allows your field team to communicate on the go and to access the system from their mobile devices. Otherwise, your field team will feel disconnected as they work their various territories. That’s the last thing you want.

Create Measurable Goals

Content marketing works best when you have a specific goal that you want to reach, such as:

  • Generate 50 percent more leads
  • Create 10 pieces of content per week
  • Increase Twitter followers by 20 percent
  • Reduce bounce rates by 10 percent

Each of these goals can help you achieve a different objective. For instance, generating more leads will give you more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.

Your goals shouldn’t be arbitrary, though. Content marketing goals should line up with the goals you’ve set for your business. Otherwise, your marketing team can’t work in concert with the rest of your organization.

Let’s say that you’re struggling to generate leads. You might use content marketing and lead magnets to get more prospects to hand over their contact information. Your sales team can take over from there while you pursue an effective email drip campaign.

Generate More Content

You can’t achieve significant progress in content marketing without producing a lot of content. That’s just a fact.

If you don’t have the in-house manpower to produce the level of content required to reach your goals, you might need to partner with an agency to help you set yourself apart from the competition.

Keep in mind that content marketing has gotten more competitive, as mentioned earlier. It doesn’t just take more content; it takes higher quality content.

Data-rich, valuable content converts. Boring, repetitive content doesn’t.

That’s where we come in. Get a free trial to discover how Media Shower can help your brand become more visible online through content marketing.

5 Conversion Rate Case Studies Resulting in Double and Triple-Digit Increases

by Jenna Scaglione on 08/21/2017

Let’s face it. Traffic can be super expensive, and advertising can be a money suck if you don’t know what you are doing. Big corporations have large budgets to sink into these strategies to ensure they get results, but not every business has the luxury of spending millions of dollars on marketing to test what works and what doesn’t.

Conversion rate optimization has leveled the playing field, however, and allowed companies of all sizes to get in on the sales-boosting game. And since CRO is less about the size of your budget and more about your problem-solving abilities, if you have the ability to creatively think about how your visitors interact with your site, you can boost your conversions–and do so on a large scale.

Below are five examples of companies of all sizes that have experienced double and triple-digit conversion rate increases by changing up and testing some elements on their website pages.

Package selection layout – 246% increase in clicks

Verizon Wireless conducted an in-house study on its plan selection web page. The cell phone provider wanted to find the best layout that would make it easier for users to select a plan.

The company performed multivariate testing on three new versions that each had different layouts than the original. Here are the versions:

Original

Version 1 – Added red “Total Data” column

Version 2 – Placed CTA lower and added callout for autopay feature

Version 3 – Horizontal layout

Version 4 – Vertical layout with additional details

Version 4 was the clear winner with double and triple digit increases in click-through rates. As reported by Behave, here are the results:

  • 50% increase to the Smartphone gridwall
  • 47% increase to Basic Phone gridwall
  • 201% increase to the Tablet gridwall
  • 246% increase to Jetpack gridwall

Version 4 also increased prepaid phone plan purchase conversion rates by 19% over the original.

Version 4 was the most concise, easy-to-digest format, and it is suggested that this is the reason for the conversion lifts. Internet users have short attention spans and they switch frequently from web page to web page. The layout that required the least amount of work to analyze and interact with was the clear winner.

In version 4 the bonus also stands out. It is also visible in Version 3 but, in this version, you have to read more to understand the incentive.

When creating your layouts for plan-focused pages or pages with a lot of content, consider layouts that require the least amount of work to digest. Your eye should gravitate to the most important information right away and it shouldn’t take more than a few seconds for you to understand exactly what is being offered.

Pop-up color design – 63% increase in signups

The MECLabs team conducted an A/B test on a signup form for a company offering debt consolidation services. The popup collects leads who are interested in a free debt consultation.

Here is the original popup design:

You may not even be able to spot the popup right away. That’s because the colors are close to the website design and it does not stand out from the page. The analysts noticed this and tested a new version below:

Notice the gray background added behind the popup to darken the website. This places more emphasis on the popup and makes it more noticeable. The popup background was also changed from white to blue with white font added to pop against the dark blue background. Notice some of the other subtle changes such as the addition of trust logos, the different text on the CTA button calling out FREE, and some additional copy added to the top to specify “there is no commitment required.” Adding the “no commitment required” phrasing answers a prospect’s objection right away and removes friction, thereby increasing conversions.

Selection page layout – 84% increase in clicks; $1.72 million increase in annual registration value

BlastAM conducted an experiment for Blurb, a book creation site, to help increase registrations and revenue on its “Choose a Bookmarking Tool” page.

BlastAM conducted nine A/B tests with variations including changes such as the addition of images, removal of offer links, clearer headings, sub-headings and options, and more descriptive product information. With the results from the various tests, the company created this layout below which ultimately won above the rest.

The winning page resulted in 84% more visitors clicking to register and another 5% using the compare tool. Overall, as a result of implementing the new layout, Blurb was able to achieve a 19.8% increase in sales conversions and a $1.72 million increase in annual registration value.

The winning layout was simple and concise, and also highlighted the benefits in bullet form. The page also included descriptive images for additional emphasis. Images paint a visual picture for website visitors and make what is intangible seem more real. Increasing conversions can sometimes be as simple as adding images to make your products and offers more real to your visitors.

Landing page image – 100% increase in leads

You may think that listing the price on your lead generation forms will deter users. But, in this case, it actually resulted in a significant increase in leads. VWO reported on a test run by one of its customers, SafeSoft Solutions. It was able to double the number of incoming leads from its landing page by adding a simple image.

The purpose of the landing page was to funnel PPC traffic to fill out a form to start a free trial for its Market Dialer product.

Here is the original:

The company added the price in a prominent position ($75 per seat) and changed the button text from “Start Free Trial” to “Start Today.”

 

Why did the latter page show an increase in leads? VWO hypothesized that consumers who were price shopping and looking for the best deals were not interested in talking to a sales representative. They were simply looking for a good value.

This is a prime example of how best practices do not always lead to the best outcomes. Each scenario is different and each company’s visitors’ intents may be different as well depending on where they are coming from and what they are looking for.

Conversion rate optimization is not just about applying best practices but also about reviewing the customer journey before they reach your website. Where did they start the conversation with you? In this case, the landing page hailed from a PPC ad, which means consumers were using Google. This tells us they have access to many different results on the Google interface so they will likely be comparison shopping and want the answer to their questions the fastest. In this case, that question was, “How much does it cost?”

Personalizing website text – 32.6% increase in opt-ins

Have you ever been told to use the word FREE in your marketing copy to increase conversions? It’s a best practice but it doesn’t always result in the highest conversions.

Behave conducted a test for Secret Escapes, a website that hand picks hotels for members. The company wanted to increase email opt-ins by promoting a special offer on its homepage.

Version A used personalization to encourage signups. It emphasized the word “luxury” in the copy and the image because this matched the keyword search visitors used to get to this landing page.


The 2nd version emphasized that signup was free and showed a more generic image

The first version won because it offered users a personalized experience that was more relevant to their search. These visitors were coming from a keyword search that included phrasing around “luxury.” This is why Version 1 tested higher, even though Version 2 included the word “free.”

When conducting A/B tests, in addition to thinking about your users’ desires, also consider where your visitors came from and their actions before reaching your pages. Relevancy is a key to high conversions. Don’t give your visitors what you think they want. Give them exactly what they would expect.

You Can Achieve The Same Results

With a little tweaking and testing, you too can increase your conversions and revenue as a result. If you would like more information on how to boost your conversions, head over to our Definitive Checklist for Conversion Optimization. We compiled some tips on how to get the most out of your conversion rate campaigns. We also offer industry conversion rates to use as benchmarks so you can not only set the right conversion goals, but achieve them quickly and easily.

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Expert Interview: Ronald Dod on SEM Marketing for eCommerce

by Chris Martin on 08/18/2017

Ron Dod

Ronald Dod is the CEO and Cofounder of Visiture, where he oversees Visiture’s search engine marketing program and drives results for their clients. We recently had the chance to talk shop with Ronald and glean some great insights about eCommerce, what makes a good keyword, and more:

Visiture specializes in search engine marketing (SEM) for eCommerce. First of all, how did you get started as in the field? What need did you perceive that you set out to fill with Visiture?

I got started in 2013 in SEO and then found my calling with eCommerce. We were able to see results, in the form of increased sales, and this made it much easier to measure results. This made it where you had to be good to be in the eCommerce space, which I liked a lot. In 2015, I merged my company with Visiture so we could do both SEO and PPC for eCommerce clients.

The need that we fulfill with Visiture is helping online retailers acquire new customers using search engines. We are a perfect fit for online retailers who want top SEM talent on their side, helping them gain new customers.

What are some things that are particular for conducting SEM for eCommerce? And how does SEM for eCommerce overlap with traditional digital marketing methods, like SEO?

eCommerce is a very different beast – it’s difficult and competitive. It also requires totally different strategies as compared to lead generation. Instead of focusing on paid ads and landing page creation, which works well for lead generation, we focus on data optimization for Google Shopping, dynamic re-targeting, and content creation and promotion, which together help eCommerce businesses separate themselves from their competitors.

SEM tends to overlap a lot with other digital marketing methods. SEM is just one more step in the multiple touches that it takes to convert a customer. SEM cannot really be looked at as a standalone marketing initiative – it is part of the digital marketing mix.

Visiture also regularly sees your clients grow an average of 46%, annually, in keyword rankings. What are some methods you’d recommend for increasing keyword rankings, and why are they so effective?

A lot of companies just focus on the content ranking factor in the three most important ranking factors. They work on their site speed, canonical links, and other content factors while they completely ignore links and RankBrain, the other two ranking factors. The ones who focus on those two factors generally see more impact from their efforts because no one else is really optimizing for it.

What are some keyword research tools or resources you’d recommend, to identify potentially profitable SEO keywords and phrases?

Google AdWords Tool and SEMRush are the two keyword research tools that we use. SEMRush is a great tool for a competitor’s analysis and looking into related phrases. Honestly, there are a ton of good keyword research tools out there, and for the most part, you cannot go wrong with the majority of them.

Thanks to the proliferation of unsolicited advertising and unethical marketing, content and inbound marketing are becoming increasingly important for eCommerce. If a company’s not already hosting some sort of blog, what are some reasons they might want to do so, in terms of SEM for eCommerce?

In my professional opinion, it is mind blowing to me when anyone in the eCommerce space doesn’t have a working blog. It’s like not having a mobile website today. Maybe it’s just because I am a mile deep into SEO, but I think it’s crazy that they are not creating amazing content for their target markets because that is how tons of eCommerce brands are winning online.

Consumers are much more likely to buy from brands which show in organic positions in Google when they are researching what to buy. Creating content enables you to be there when they are researching online and capture them as a customer, either initially or later through other marketing tactics.

Once a business owner has identified some potentially profitable SEO keywords and phrases, how might they leverage those insights into an actionable, profitable content strategy?

You want to create the keyword matrix of what keywords are being targeted per page. You want a similar group of phrases targeting one webpage, whether it be a category page, blog, or resource page. Then, you want those pages categorized correctly and linked on the navigational bar. You also want to build links to your website (links to the homepage are great) because it will build authority to your pages linked to on the navigational bar, then they will rank higher, and you will get more traffic and revenue. You can also link to your blog page on the navigational bar and then that blog page links to your blogs, naturally.

It’s tempting to go after the elusive ‘viral content’, as it can produce hundreds of thousands if not millions of views when you strike gold, but it’s also pretty much impossible to predict. What are some ways SEM marketers could construct content strategies with long-tail search terms, and then fill in the gaps or augment the strategy with more topical or trending posts?

Creating virial content is really like throwing spaghetti on a wall. This one company produced over 140,000 Facebook shares in 3 months with this post but they also wrote hundreds of other articles which didn’t produce anywhere near the same results.

You can always do content research with long-tailed phrases. Say you want to rank for [The Best Link Building Strategies], you can see what was popular in the past with Buzzsumo with the phrase [link building strategies] to see what worked in the past based on social media shares or backlinks and then make better content than what is existing.

Using tools like Ahrefs or Buzzsumo is critical because otherwise you are guessing on what works and that can cost a ton of resources in the long term.

Local search is becoming increasingly important, as people are returning to brick-and-mortar storefronts in search of experiences and convenience. What are some useful keywords and phrases that a business might try ranking for, to show up in local searches? And what are some industries that local search is going to be particularly important for?

Any online retailer that also has brick and mortar locations need to be doing local SEO for their storefronts. It can be as easy as a local page focusing on local keyword phrases. For instance, if you sell skateboards, you can target phrases such as “[Insert City Name] Skateboards” with your local pages. Anything that uses your main phrases plus the city is a good starting point. Generally, people do not search for counties, zip codes, states, etc. The city is the most important focal point.

Visiture regularly helps customers and clients return an average of 120%, annually, on advertising expenses. What are some SEM methods Visiture employs to see such a high ROI?

As I eluded to earlier, Google Shopping optimization is key in eCommerce. Google releases so many updates, such as similar audiences, for Google Shopping, so focusing on the changes and how to best use them as quick as you can is a good recipe for success when it comes to PPC.

For SEO, it is really just creating the best experience for your customers – from the right words on the page so that they know what it is about, to a fast loading site, both desktop and mobile, and great content that your users will enjoy and get value from. One big problem that you want to keep in mind – what you think is good content is not necessarily good content. Sometimes you can be too deep in your industry, or not really understand what your customers really want.

Unlike PPC, which disappears as soon as you stop paying for it, SEM is forever, or as long as there are search engines. What are some other reasons eCommerce businesses should focus on SEO and SEM if they want to truly rise in their niche or industry?

Well they should do it all (haha). They should be doing email marketing, retargeting, SEO, PPC, etc. SEM (SEO and PPC) really get the first-time visitors to the website. SEM might not get you the greatest return, but they can produce customers that you can later re-target with display advertising, social media, email marketing and more. SEO and PPC are just two parts of the digital marketing mix and the key is to use all of the pieces of digital marketing together to make them stronger. If you do not do SEM (SEO and PPC) you will not be able to acquire customers as quick as your competitors and you might be left in the dust!

Media Shower can help you improve your search engine marketing. Get a free trial today!

Honey Nut Cheerios Just Made Me a Mixtape

by Sam Jordan on 08/16/2017

So I start up Spotify the other day and see this big ad for Honey Nut Cheerios:

Spotify marketing example

Now for us free-version users of the streaming music service, this is the normal spot for ads–nothing new there. But then I saw the friendly little bee (does that thing even have a name?) was encouraging me to “Spread some goodness with a feel-good playlist.” Naturally, enjoying both cereal and music – sometimes simultaneously – I clicked to learn more.

cheerios spotify

I was then prompted to choose a feel-good message from one of the handful available. I chose “Spread Some Good Around” because I’m totally in favor of more goodness in the world. But I was still a couple of clicks away from getting his (hold up… I just found out his name! It’s “Buzz”) choice music cuts for me. I then needed to connect again to Spotify:

cheerios spotify

Once that was set up, my playlist was revealed! Each letter of the phrase “Spread Some Good Around” was represented by a song, which I then could listen to or share on the app.

cheerios spotify

The songs were actually quite diverse, with a number of artists I had never heard of, along with mainstays like Billy Joel (“Uptown Girl”), Justin Timberlake (“Rock Your Body”), and Britney Spears (“Oops.. I Did It Again”). And that’s the trade: some recommended songs by Buzz for me, and my Spotify account data for General Mills. Would I have taken the bait had I not been a curious member of the marketing industry? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean plenty of other people won’t be willing to connect their breakfast choice with their music delivery choice.

By the way, Honey Nut Cheerios has been America’s #1-selling cereal for years now. Factor in fun content marketing campaigns like this one and I predict that popularity will only strengthen.

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Australia’s 360-Degree Videos Take You Down Under, Up, and Over

by Laura College on 08/14/2017


Dying to travel Down Under? Now you can do so virtually.

We’ve covered interactive content marketing before. Remember the beautiful interactive tour of Switzerland? Australia has created a similar piece of interactive content that proves just as engrossing.

Take a 360-Degree Tour of Australia


If this doesn’t make you want to see Australia, I don’t know what will.

Many people travel to Australia specifically because of its beautiful, unspoiled beaches. The official Australia website created several videos that are connected in an interactive way, each depicting a different popular beach in the country.  Even people who don’t suffer from wanderlust might start packing their bags after they see this content.

And that’s what makes it so effective.

We’re big proponents of written content at Media Shower. It’s the most SEO-friendly way to get noticed, and it provides your followers with important information. However, we don’t turn up our noses at other forms of content, especially when it offers such a visceral experience.

Australia’s 360-degree videos make you feel like you’re already Down Under, soaking up the sun, cruising across the water in a speedboat, or dipping your toes in the surf.

But anyone can create a beautiful video. What makes this so amazing?

Interactive Content Puts the User in the Driver’s Seat


Click and point to become your own travel guide.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the Australia 360-degree videos give the user complete control. You can click and drag on the screen to change your viewpoint or pause the video to explore a destination in more detail.

This level of interactivity and depth creates a profound experience for the user. He or she doesn’t have to simply watch content unfold; the viewer can control the experience and decide what part of Australia proves most interesting.

How Can You Benefit from Australia’s Example?

If you want to create a similar experience for your customers and prospects, you don’t have to take it as far as Australia did. The project probably costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to pull off.

However, you can learn from this content’s example.

First, give people choices. Let them decide what type of content they want to consume. For instance, if you send out an email blast, include links to a few of your top-performing blog posts.

Second, don’t be afraid to experiment with other types of content. For instance, an infographic can provide an engaging experience for the viewer (and get shared more times than most other content forms). However, above the infographic, write a detailed introduction. Cover its main points in text so the user can decide how to consume the content.

Some people like to read. Others like visual content. Why not give them both?

Lastly, try to deliver the unexpected. We’re used to seeing typical blog articles and how-to pieces. Changing up your content to feature something you’ve never shown your audience before can boost engagement and increase conversions.

Do you want to publish content that wows your audience and keeps them coming back for more? We have good news. You can get a free trial right now!

The Definitive Checklist for Conversion Optimization

by Jenna Scaglione on 08/11/2017

What if I told you that you could potentially double your leads and sales without getting any more traffic simply by implementing conversion strategies? How would that affect your revenue and your business?

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers:

As an example, if you currently get 10,000 visitors to your website a month and you convert 2% of them as leads, your monthly lead count is 200.

If you increase your conversion rate just 1%, your lead count jumps to 300 (+100 leads). If you increase your conversion rate to 4%, your lead count doubles (+200 leads).

Doubling your conversion rates to get a 100% return is not unreasonable, especially if you are converting leads which always convert at a higher rate than sales. In this one lead form re-design, Marketing Experiments received a lift of 188.46%.

While larger changes like this (page re-design) may lead to larger conversion returns than simpler changes (call-to-action button color change), every lift you get translates into higher revenue.

Don’t waste money on more traffic if you haven’t optimized the traffic you already have. Focusing on conversions is an effective way to leverage your existing traffic without spending any more money.

Let’s take a look at some conversion best practices you can start using and testing right away:

1. Clear, Concise and Compelling Offers

Your offers should be clear, concise and compelling if you want to convert users.

Clear

What is it you are offering? Make it clear so your users know exactly why they are spending time on your website.

The online marketing agency, Distilled, includes this call to action on its homepage.

The offer is at the top of the page where it is highly visible and after reading it, users knows exactly what to expect when they opt-in. The copy outlines what Distilled does and provides links if people want to visit more pages before opting in. The call to action allows people to sign up to connect with the company and get access to the valuable content the company distills (pun intended).

Concise 

Just because your product offers 15 benefits for users doesn’t mean you should list every one in the copy around your call to action. Focus only on one or two of your top benefits so you don’t clutter your call to action (CTA). This is especially important if you have a more complex sales funnel.

If you have a complex sales process, your only goal with your CTA is to get users to the next step of the process. For example, Hubspot sells software to businesses and offers free trials and demonstrations. But, you don’t see any mention of this on its homepage.

Hubspot does not want to overwhelm people with too much information and pressure to commit at once. The next step for people would be to learn more about the company’s offerings. To that end, Hubspot includes a call to action to “Get Started” which is flanked by a few of its top features (generate leads, close deals, manage pipeline) and benefits (grow like a company twice your size while connecting…).

When your sales process includes several steps, your only goal with each step is to convert users to get to the next step, not close the sale. Avoid offering too much to your prospects all at once and focus on the next step only.

Compelling

Have you stated the benefit clearly? Have you hit a pain point or deep need? Make your offer emotionally compelling.

For example, in Hubspot’s offer copy above, it mentions this benefit:

Grow like a company twice your size while connecting like a real human being.

Mentioning this benefit makes the offer more compelling because it digs deep to hit the user right where he is suffering.

Hubspot could have just mentioned a benefit like “Grow your business.” But instead it mentioned “like a company twice your size” because Hubspot knows business owners struggle with growth in the wake of large businesses with big budgets.

It also mentions “connecting like a real human being” because small businesses have a greater ability to connect with customers due to their small size.

When putting together copy around a call to action, to increase conversions, think beyond the perceived benefits of your products and services and target the deeper need.

For example, if you sell training on how to start and build an ecommerce business, you aren’t just selling an informational course on how to be successful online. You are selling financial and emotional freedom.

Even if you are selling something as simple as ice cream, you are not just selling a great-tasting, sweet treat. You are selling an emotional, sensory experience that translates your customer back to that childlike feeling when life was much simpler and more fun. On a hot day, you are selling a cold, refreshing, satisfying sweet escape from the scorching clenches of a treacherous summer.

Excuse me while I go grab some ice cream…

2. CTA buttons: Replace the Action with a Benefit

If you have ever studied conversion optimization, you may have read that your call-to-action buttons should tell a user what to do. For example, if you are offering a free eBook or guide, your call-to-action button text should prompt the user to take an action such as “Get It Now” instead of something generic like “Submit.”

This is a good best practice, however, simply telling your users what to do may not be enough to snag the highest conversion rates on your call-to-action buttons.

Consider intertwining a benefit in with your CTA text. First, consider the benefit the user will receive when he clicks on the CTA. Let’s say you are offering a free eBook on how to build a profitable blog. Instead of using boring text such as “Download Now,” try something that reiterates the benefit in the CTA like “Get My Free eBook.” This reinforces that subscribers are receiving an eBook, for free. Or, try something more specific like this, “Get My Free Blogging eBook.”

When you sign up for our 30-day free trial here at Media Shower, our button text is “Start free trial.”

We do this so you are fully aware that when you click that button and give us your information, there is no commitment required. You are reminded that you are receiving a free trial and you are assured that when you click that button, that is exactly what you will receive. Get a little creative with your CTAs and don’t leave any unanswered questions for your users.

3. CTA buttons: Tone Down the Commitment

Have you ever seen the infamous “Buy Now” call to action? Though it promotes action, it may lower your conversions.

Using a phrase like “Buy Now” may be too much of a commitment for users and as a result, they may psychologically resist it. If your button text infers that a user will have to spend more money and time after they click, it could deter them.

Orbit Media ran a test on two CTAs and found that the less commitment-centric call to action received 124% more clicks:

“Start testing” implied that there was “work” ahead and an immediate commitment; however, “Read our overview” was perceived as requiring less commitment.

4. Create Urgency without Being “In Your Face”

You may hear marketers tout the benefits of creating urgency with their calls to action and how beneficial it can be… but not when it wreaks like an infomercial.


This could be you UNLESS you buy our handy-dandy, super-duper carving knife 3000.

 

Urgency is a strong motivator because people do not want to miss out on good deals. But, too much of a good thing can derail the conversion.

If you are running a limited-time promotion or sale, use language that stresses the urgency without coming off like a sleazy salesman. Nobody likes walking into a car dealership during a month-end sale when the dealerships are trying to make their monthly quotas. Don’t make your users feel like they walked into a high-pressure situation.

When using urgency to increase conversions, add the time limit to the conversion, without laying it on too strong.

Here are some examples:

Before

Get 20% off

After (Good)

Get 20% off until Tuesday at 9pm

Don’t Do This

Get 20% Off. Act Now Or Lose Out!!

Before

Access it now

After (Good)

Access it now for a limited time only

Don’t Do This

Access it now for a limited time. Don’t Wait! Call Now!

5. Establish Credibility

Worked with any prominent companies? Have any testimonials or reviews?

The unbiased words and proof of others can boost your credibility and lead to higher conversions. Credibility features can add proof to your website and landing pages that your products and services are worth a look.

On its homepage, Buzzsumo prominently displays the logos of well-known companies that use its tool.

Chartbeat also lists prominent clients as well as a testimonial from one of its case studies:

 

 

Haven’t worked with any big-time clients just yet? No problem. Include the logos and testimonies of whomever you have worked with. Even if your website visitors do not know the brands you are mentioning, you will still add some credibility to your brand and increase conversions by mentioning them.

Tip: Skip the over-the-top reviews for the more realistic ones. A review that touts how amazingly great you are may look contrived. Reviews that mention the benefits of your product or service and how they have helped customers may perform the best.

So, go ahead and add your clients and reviews to your website to establish trust and credibility.

 

Not so fast…

Behave published the results of a study in which it removed the client mentions and testimonials from an offer page and conversions increased by 16.34%. Huh?

The first version included customer logos as well as other brand-boosting elements such as testimonials and video tutorials. You can see the brand’s clients outlined in the red box and the call to action was located on the top of the page (orange button).

 

The second version, the winner, was a clear, concise form with minimal copy and no credibility.

 

Credibility may not always be the right strategy depending on your offer page. According to Behave, the sparser page won because it has less visual clutter and the call to action form was clear and obvious. Remember how we talked about the importance of clear CTAs in checklist item #1?  Clarity trumps credibility in this case. The extra visual information on the first version took attention away from the main call to action.

Should you add credibility features to your website? Yes, and they will help to increase conversions since trust is an important factor. But, when you are working with a landing page that has one clear message, don’t crowd out your calls to action with too much information, even if that information is valuable. Even better, test both versions to see which one performs the best. Your audience will always give you the right answer.

6. Know Your Audience

You can dress up your website and landing pages as much as you like, but if your target is not interested in what you are offering, you won’t convert at a high rate.

What content does your target deeply desire?

What are their burning questions?

What solutions are they looking for?

What do they really care about?

What do they not care about?

What language do they use?

What does their daily lives look like?

Do you know the answers to any of these questions? If not, you may have a little research to do.

Relevancy is key when it comes to conversions. The more intimately you know your target, the more it will be evident in every campaign you run and your website and offerings will connect to your prospects at a deeper level.

How do you learn more about your potential customers? Here are a few ideas:

  • Get outside – Talk to your ideal customers one-on one and ask them these questions directly. Go where they hang out and feel what it is like to be inside their shoes.
  • Monitor their conversations – Review what they talk about on social sites and Q & A sites like Quora and Yahoo Answers.
  • Run surveys – If you already have customers, send them a survey and ask them questions about your product and what they liked, didn’t like and what they would improve.
  • Ask your team –  Ask the people who interface with your potential customers such as the customer service or sales team, what questions or concerns people have.

Knowing this information provides the foundation for your conversion campaigns or essentially any marketing strategy you execute.

7. Test, Test and Test Some More

I may have given you some good conversion strategies to try but please do not trust me 100%. Seriously, I am okay with it.

Your audience is the only one you can trust. And the way you find out what makes them convert is to test.

Year ago, marketers were urging people to use green call-to-action buttons instead of red because consumers naturally think green means “go” and red means “stop.” But, there have been numerous studies disproving this since, including this one for Hubspot where the red button outperformed the green one.

Does that mean that red call-to-action buttons perform better than green ones? Not at all. There are multiple variables that go into why certain colors outperform others. In the Hubspot example, there was a lot of green on the page already so the button didn’t stand out as much. Maybe your audience responds to a different color because of psychological reasons. With so many variables to consider, use these conversion best practices as guides, but test them and other variations for best results.

8. What is a Good Conversion Rate?

Where should your conversion rates be? Are you performing better or worse than industry averages? Are your conversion rates good or bad?

If you don’t know what conversion rates you are striving to achieve, your website may never reach its true potential, since you have no benchmarks to iterate against. Don’t run your conversion rate campaigns blindly. To help you, we created a Conversion Optimization Benchmark Report that lists the conversion rates your competitors are getting for strategies such as lead-generating landing pages, Google Adwords and more.

Did we mention it’s totally FREE? The only thing that stands between you and a mega-blast of marketing knowledge is some basic info:

Click here to download the report.

Why Net Neutrality is Crucial for the Future of Content Marketing

by Laura College on 08/09/2017

At a Glance

  • Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers and governments regulating the internet must treat all data the same
  • With a new chairman appointed by President Trump, the FCC is threatening to overturn current net neutrality rules
  • Content marketing could suffer as ISPs would have much greater power to create an uneven playing field

 

What if a government authority or your mobile phone provider told you that you could only make phone calls on Wednesdays? Or that you could only contact people whose names start with the letter “C”?

That’s an oversimplification of the concept of net neutrality, but it drives an important point home. Net neutrality is crucial for the future of content marketing.

Net Neutrality Could Be Reversed

Think about your current content marketing strategy. You produce and publish the content not because it’s fun, but because you know that you can attract new customers with it. Content marketing, whether free or paid, exposes your brand to more people and helps you attain more visibility.

Net neutrality allows that process to unfold naturally. Anyone who wants to find your content can do so. But what if the situation changes?

Recently, an FCC vote put net neutrality at risk. President Barrack Obama’s administration created a law that made the internet a public utility, which meant that internet service providers (ISPs) had to allow consumers access to whatever websites and content they wanted. But there’s a new administration in charge now, and net neutrality’s future is in serious jeopardy.

ajit pai
President Trump named Ajit Pai – an opponent of net neutralityand former Verizon laywer – as FCC Commissioner.

So, if the law that protects net neutrality gets reversed, what might happen to content marketing as we know it?

No Net Neutrality, No Even Playing Field

Without net neutrality, ISPs could dictate the websites and other content that their customers consume.  It would effectively eliminate the state of free competition that allows businesses large and small to vie for consumers’ eyes and dollars.

If ISPs can control which websites that consumers visit, they could provide an unfair advantage for certain companies, while completely negating the potential for other companies to attract consumers through internet marketing.

Currently, you probably depend on both paid and organic traffic to attract, convert, and close customers. You post on social media, publish on your blog, buy paid social and search ads, and respond to reviews on aggregate sites like Yelp.

Without net neutrality, you might find yourself pushing content into a vacuum — one in which no customers can see or hear what you say.

Like Cable TV for the Internet–Eesh

In a Whiteboard Friday, Rand Fishkin sets up a scenario in which ISPs separate internet services into tiers. Customers who pay one price might get access to a certain set of sites, while those who pay more get privileges to visit a wider variety of sites.

It’s like cable television, but for the internet. However, it wouldn’t just punish consumers. It would also severely hamper content marketing as we know it.

Unfortunately, the issue of net neutrality has become buried under a slew of other political issues that have dominated the media as well as citizens’ minds. This doesn’t mean we should ignore it.


Content marketers depend on equal access to consumers.

ISPs Could Have a Say in Your Marketing Strategies

Could Media Shower thrive if net neutrality did not? What about your other favorite businesses?

The answers are uncomfortably unclear.

If businesses cannot compete fairly on the internet, there’s no incentive for entrepreneurs to bring their ideas into the open, innovate within their teams, and create more options for consumers.

The ISPs could potentially charge entrepreneurs who want their content to appear before consumers. What if you had to incorporate fees to Comcast, Verizon, and other telecom companies into your overhead? How unstable would those extra fees make your business?

Worse, what if you couldn’t afford the fees? You’d lose the ability to compete entirely.

Content Marketing Is About Ideas

Here at Media Shower, we operate under a set of core values.  One of the most important of these values is that we strive, with every piece of content we create, to provide unprecedented value to our customers.

We want our customers to achieve success, regardless of their goals. We help them improve their brand visibility, drive more traffic to their sites, and urge consumers toward conversions.

Without net neutrality, our ability to observe that core value would be compromised. If our customers could no longer compete in the content-marketing landscape, we would have no reason to create compelling content for them.

Of course, Media Shower and its customers aren’t the only potential casualties of a post-net neutrality world.

Ultimately, the absence of net neutrality could bring e-commerce to a halt, restrict consumers from making informed decisions, and deplete internet businesses’ resources. That’s the last thing we want — for us, for our customers, or for you.

We’re still creating great content for our customers. We believe in a net-neutral future in which all entrepreneurs can compete fairly and in an open marketplace. If you embrace that same vision, get a free Media Shower trial. We’ll bring our same passion for net neutrality to your business’s goals and objectives.

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