Author Archives: Lis

Caps off to you

“The President of the College will speak to Law Students Tuesday about Health Care issues.”

Many people would breeze through that sentence without a second glance. As grammar guardians, though, my fellow editors and I read it and wince.

Improper capitalization is one of the most common grammar mistakes we see at The Simons Group. For some reason, people love to hit the caps lock when it comes to certain words and phrases (although we almost never see the opposite problem, where writers lowercase words that should be capitalized).

In general, the only words you need to capitalize in a sentence are the first word and proper nouns, or nouns that denote a specific person, place or thing (Alexandra, France, Ford Motor Co.). Yet some argue that capitalization underscores a term’s importance, while others claim certain words and phrases just “look right” when they’re capitalized. The truth is, though, that willy-nilly capitalization makes your writing confusing — and writers who pepper their prose with uppercase words run the risk of sounding like a lost chapter from “The Canterbury Tales.”

Below are some of the most frequent marketing-related capitalization mix-ups. Master these, and you’ll be well on your way to keeping your caps where they belong.  

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3 reasons why no one’s completing your online form

Signing up for your e-newsletter, requesting a product quote, snagging your latest white paper – no matter what visitors want to do on your website, chances are good they need to complete a form first. But what’s a company to do when no one’s filling out that form?

We recently worked with a client to make some improvements to his website, and his customer inquiry form was one of our major targets. The company wanted more site visitors to submit the form to request product information, which is the first step in its sales process for new customers.

We recommended a few tweaks, including linking to the form from the site’s home page. The site also featured different, lengthy versions of the form for each product line, and we suggested creating a streamlined universal form to make the process easier for visitors. Within a couple of weeks of implementing the changes, our client saw a marked increase in the number of visitors filling out and submitting the customer inquiry form.

The lesson? A few simple changes can yield big results when it comes to optimizing your website forms. If you’re not getting the response you want from your form, consider these three common pitfalls:

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Let’s get started (the right way)

Every project begins with the first step – and it’s tough to overstate that first step’s importance.

Many marketers are all too familiar with the perils of diving into a new initiative unprepared. Companies pull the trigger too early on projects for lots of reasons – they’re pressed for time, they figure the details will fall into place as they go along, they don’t understand the elements critical to the project’s success. Whatever the reason, the results can be bleak: astronomical costs, blown deadlines and squabbling team members.

Never fear, though. Taking the time to prep goes a long way toward avoiding these mid-project woes. To start your initiative on the right foot, consider these factors first. 

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Use short- and long-tail keywords for the biggest SEO splash

“Show, don’t tell.” It’s a rule writers know by heart; specifics make your writing more persuasive and compelling. And that lesson doesn’t just apply to copywriting – details count when it comes to keywords, too.

Keywords generally fall into two categories: short-tail and long-tail, also known as broad and narrow keywords. Short-tail keywords are single words or short phrases that generally describe a topic, such as “Web design.” Long-tail keywords are longer phrases (typically between three and six words) that provide more specifics, such as “Chicago website design.”

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Pinterest: It’s more than pretty pictures

I have a confession to make: I can’t stop using Pinterest. Since I signed up, I barely go on Facebook anymore. Instead, I spend hours filling my pinboards with photos of cute dresses, Crock-Pot® recipes and kitchen cabinets made from reclaimed wood. It’s become an obsession.

According to recent stats, my Pinterest addiction is totally normal. The startup hit the 10 million user mark faster than any social media site in history, digital business analytics source comScore reports, and is rapidly approaching 20 million users.

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Get marketing mileage from your business’ birthday

Remember counting down the days until your birthday as a kid? Exciting things awaited, like the cake with your favorite cartoon character, the party with all your classmates, maybe even a new bike from your parents. For 24 hours, you were on top of the world.

While you may have eaten your last slice of Bugs Bunny-themed dessert, there’s still plenty of room for birthday celebration at your business.

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Going mobile

When it comes to websites, small is in. Thanks to the proliferation of smartphones, most people spend more time cruising the Internet on their phones than they do making calls. Companies are responding by creating mobile versions of their websites, making it easy to check your credit card balance, order dinner or book a vacation from your phone.

So, should your business create a mobile site? If so, what should the site include and, more importantly, how much will it cost? Read on for our crash course on all things mobile.

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CMS vs. non-CMS websites: Finding your perfect match

When we create a new website for a client, one of the first questions we ask is whether the company wants a content management system (CMS) site or a non-CMS (also called a traditional HTML) site. The right choice depends on a number of factors, including the client’s budget and how much control the company needs over the site once it’s completed. While a growing number of our clients are requesting CMS  sites, some still prefer to go the traditional route.

Not sure what the difference is? You’re in the right place. We’ve put together a primer on the basics of CMS and non-CMS sites to help you find the right fit for your company.

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Why SEO isn’t a magic pill

One pill a day is guaranteed to make you drop pounds fast without diet or exercise – at least, that’s what those slick banner ads want you to believe. You know the ones – a hot mom in a bikini, a tape measure wrapped around her whittled waist, vaguely alarming side effects listed in the fine print underneath her.

Thanks to common sense (and high school health class), most of us realize that downing a cocktail of questionable-sounding chemicals won’t guarantee weight loss. Yet some marketing companies lure in prospects with an equally dubious promise:

“Your site will be in the first page of search engine rankings if you hire us for search engine optimization, guaranteed.”

If an agency says this to you, run. Anyone who promises you a specific ranking is, well, lying.

Without a doubt, SEO is a valuable tool that you can and should use to boost your website’s rankings on Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines. SEO is not the magic bullet some agencies want you to believe it is, however.

First of all, it’s impossible to crack the codes that search engines use to generate their rankings. They’re complex, fiercely guarded and constantly changing. Google, for example, uses more than 200 factors to rank pages – and unless you’re Matt Cutts, there’s no way to know the exact formula. While you can take cues from what’s worked in the past, how can you be sure you’re going to win the rankings game when you don’t even know what the rules are?

In addition, traditional SEO techniques, such as incorporating keywords and inbound links into a site, are just part of the puzzle when it comes to nabbing a high search ranking. When Google revamped its ranking formula last year, the Internet giant revealed that the way users interact with a website would factor into the site’s search rankings. The search engine also considers whether a site’s content is trustworthy, substantive and grammatically correct when assessing its rank, according to this blog.

The lesson? Companies need to have quality content on their site, and they need to update it often to keep visitors coming back. It’s not enough to pepper your site with keywords once – giving your readers valuable and timely information, whether it’s a how-to article on your blog or posting a newsletter, is essential for breaking the first-page ranking ceiling. Of course, you also need to incorporate appropriate keywords into that quality content and review your keywords regularly to make sure they’re still relevant.

Sound difficult to you? Maybe, but it’s the best way to land and maintain a high search ranking. Instead of thinking of SEO as a magic pill – one that guarantees you that coveted top spot in the rankings – think of it as part of your overall diet and exercise regimen. With some time and effort, you’ll get the results you want.