5 Obvious Things you Should be Doing on your Website


By Sue Brady


It’s easy to overlook the obvious. So here are a few helpful hints to remind you of some basics to make sure your website starts the New Year on the right foot.

  1. Ask customers to take the action you want them to take.

Buy now. Learn more. Add to Cart. Checkout.

If you don’t tell your customers what to do, they might not do it. Here’s a post on this subject.

2. Make it easy for your visitors to take an action. The harder they have to work for it, the less likely they are to do it. I was on a well-known site yesterday and really wanted to add a photo book I’d created to my shopping cart. I couldn’t do it. I could clearly see the quantity button and the price (I drew the green arrow in the picture), but there was no ‘add to cart’ button. I had to completely exit out and come back in through a different set of commands before I was shown the ‘add to cart’ button.

Make it easy

3. Make your action buttons large enough so that they stand out on the page.

4. Don’t use reversed out white type in your body copy. Yes, this is one of my pet peeves, but it should be yours as well! Reversed out white type is hard on the eyes when used on more than a line or two of type. And if your web pages are hard to read, your potential customers won’t read them.

5. Have a mobile version of your website. Seriously, you should have done this a few years ago, but if you somehow haven’t, make it your next project. The time spent on the Internet via a mobile phone has now surpassed the time spent on the Internet on a desktop computer (Mary Meeker KPBC Internet Trends Report). Consumers now expect sites to be mobile friendly and will leave your site if it’s not (latest research from Google shows 29% will bounce immediately!). Plus, having a mobile friendly site helps you with your Google organic search. When a user is on a mobile phone, Google gives preference to mobile friendly sites over non-mobile friendly sites when it returns search results.

Obvious tips, but so often overlooked. Get your website into the best shape you can so that you start 2016 off right!

5 Compelling Reasons to Take Marketing Risks


By Sue Brady

Taking Risk

If you have financial investments, you know that deciding the level of risk you are comfortable with defines your strategy. A young adult will have a higher risk tolerance than someone approaching retirement for instance, because they have longer to recover from mistakes.

But how does that translate to the business world? Risk taking when you’re spending someone else’s money is decidedly different from when you are spending your own. A former boss once told me to spend the company money as if it were my own. His point was that it’s okay to take risk, but make sure it’s calculated and you understand how much is being risked.

The really successful marketers that I know have all been risk takers.

Take Jan Brandt for example. She was the person in charge of marketing at AOL when AOL was just starting out as a young brand. She was able to convince Steve Case that spending a bunch of money to mail the AOL software on CD roms was going to be the key to their success. She told the guy in charge of the network to get ready, the fire hose was about to open. He was skeptical…for about 5 days. And then the mail started to hit homes… and the rest is history.

There are plenty of other historical examples of how risk taking drove a company to success. And that’s the number one reason to take risk in your marketing:

  1. Taking risks can yield large returns. In the AOL example above, Jan knew that to use AOL, you needed the software. The Internet was new enough that only a small portion of the population was connected. She needed the software to be readily available so that when someone made the decision that it was time to connect, they had an AOL rom handy. So while she took a huge risk, it was a calculated one, and the payoff was huge.

2. Taking a risk can help you create compelling content that prospects want to read. How? By writing something that gets folks thinking. Maybe in your corporate blog you offer a suggestion for how the government should be (or shouldn’t be) regulating your industry. Or perhaps you ask your audience how they feel about a certain topic to get them talking. You can use that conversation to help drive your next action, and then tell your readers the outcome of your efforts.

3. Taking risks can create success in ways you haven’t thought of. I found an old article in Ad Age that talked about the Doritos campaign from 2007. Doritos launched a contest for consumers to create an ad for the Super Bowl that the public would vote on. The Super Bowl! The granddaddy of all advertising opportunities! No one had tried that before. And it worked for them, and still works to this day. It’s a great early example of using user-generated content to drive views (Youtube hits total in the millions for these ads) and certainly engagement and press coverage. Doritos took a risk with that campaign, and it certainly seems to have paid off.

4. Risk-taking helps you stand-out from the competition. Taking a unique approach that differentiates your brand from everyone else’s carries risk, but if it works, creates awareness and buzz. Doing the same thing rarely gets press attention, but stepping out of your comfort-zone does. K-mart ‘Ship my Pants’ is a great example of this. That new and edgy ad campaign has over 22 million YouTube views! It got people talking!

5. Risk-taking can create a successful product, even when consumers don’t realize they need it. Steve Jobs is the most well known person to take this approach. He famously said that ”a lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Most brands don’t have the stomach to trust their gut so fully and in the face of so little research, but for Apple, the approach paid off, at least eventually.

Think about risk when you are designing your next campaign. Hopefully your next bet will be the one that pays off. Fear not.

No Fear

Verbs are Your Friends – The Importance of Call-to-Action Buttons


By Sue Brady

Red Button

Call-to-action buttons, or CTAs for those in the know, are the buttons a user clicks on from your website to complete an action. Typically, it’s to complete an action you want the user to complete, like ‘BUY NOW,’ and that’s why they are so important. Most importantly, test your CTAs to figure out what will work best best for your site.

Elements Worth Testing:

Message – Does it call on the user to do something specific?

Appearance – Does it blend in or stand out?

Size – Again, does it blend in or stand out?

Color – Hmm, does it blend in or stand out?

The message. Text can be short or long, but make sure you include a verb. Action words will get users to take action. Funny how that works. Most experts who write about button text will say that shorter is better, and they are probably right. But you won’t know until you test it yourself, on your particular pages.

And make sure you are directing the user to do something you want them to do. For instance, if your CTA is simply ‘Learn,’ a user might not understand why he should click. Retailers seem to have figured out that a button that says ‘Add to Cart’ is universally understood as the next step needed when someone wants to make an actual purchase. Your own CTA should be just as clear.

Appearance. It’s a mistake to make the user have to work to figure out where they are supposed to click. If your button blends in too nicely with the look and feel of your site, it will be difficult to find. Test something bold and different. Make sure the button is ‘findable’ without having to scroll. And also, reversed out white type works just fine against a bold button background.

Size. Big and bold. This relates back to my previous statement about making sure the user doesn’t have to work to know where to click. With a big and bold CTA button, the direction to the user should be obvious. If someone sees nothing else on your page, you want them to notice that CTA button.

Color choice. Way back when I first started working with direct response websites, I remember someone telling me that I shouldn’t use red on my CTA buttons. That advice makes sense. Red means stop and has a negative ‘feel,’ but the truth is, won’t know until you test. When I worked at AOL, where we tested everything often, orange was frequently a clear winner in this type of testing. That was many years ago, and I still see orange used a lot, but I also frequently see green and blue.


  1. Test, test, test
    2. Verbs are your friends!

Twitter Chats – What, Why, How and Who


By Sue Brady

First a definition. A Twitter Chat is an online gathering of a variety of folks who are interested in discussing a particular topic. The successful Chats are regularly held so that someone interested in your topic knows that every Tuesday at noon for instance, they should tune in. The conversation is tied together through the use of a unique hashtag that makes the chat trackable (by participants).

In a Twitter Chat, the conversation is ongoing, meaning that a question is posed and multiple people will send through tweets that answer that question. You’ll see side conversations as well. My favorite Twitter Chat is #cmworld. If you do a search for that on Twitter, you’ll be able to see some of the chats.



Twitter chats are useful on a number of levels:

They are a great way to learn about a particular topic.

They can position you as a thought leader.

They are a great way to identify potential prospects for your company.

If you are in need of a product related to the chat, it’s a way to connect with others who might be able to help you with recommendations.

Setup Steps

  1. Decide on your topic.
  2. Create a hashtag to identify your chat. Short and easy is best. This hashtag is used by the chat participants so that their answers/questions are viewable by those participating, so you want the hashtag to be easy to type and also unique to you.
  3. Figure out when to host it, keeping all time zones in mind. And also check that there isn’t a similar chat happening at the same time. You’ll want to do some research to try to find other chats that already occur on similar topics so that you can avoid those times.
  4. Post the chat on a Twitter Chat schedule. This one is a good source: http://tweetreports.com/twitter-chat-schedule/
  5. Write 8 – 10 pre-determined questions and post them in advance.
  6. Ask someone to be a subject matter expert (this can be you, someone else in your company, or someone else entirely). They should have the questions in advance and have pre-written answers.
  7. Make sure you know how to find your audience to invite them to the chat.
  • Search for related hashtags, find folks using them and send them a Twitter message about your chat.
  • Reach out to others in your field to see if they can help you spread the word.

6. Take a look at the various tools you can use to keep track of your chat when it’s in progress. You can use Twitter, but it can be hard to follow the conversation only there. I like Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck allows you to see all posts on your hashtag, alongside notifications that you might want to respond to. Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter and you use your Twitter account to sign in. You might also think about having someone help you to monitor a few different screens, because chats can be fast and furious.

 What to remember when starting your chat:

At the start of the chat, remind participants of the general format:

Question mark

  1. State the number of questions.
  2. Remind participants that when answering a question, they should precede their answer with A1, A2 etc. (meaning Answer for question 1, 2 etc.).
  3. Remind participants to always use the identified hashtag in their tweets.
  4. Introduce your host and mention their credentials.
  5. Ask participants to introduce themselves.
  6. It’s nice to acknowledge some of your participants with either a ‘thank you for joining our chat today’ or ‘hope you aren’t getting too much snow today.’ You get the idea.
  7. Post the first question. Make sure you give a few seconds for participants to start responding before the host posts their response.
  8. Have the host respond to questions that pop-up. The community will chime in, but your host should be able to chime it too.
  9. When you see answers to the first question start to slow, or to get a derailed chat back on track, post the next question.
  10. At the end of the chat, thank everyone for attending.

After it’s over, post a transcript from the chat on your website or blog (it’s great for SEO too!). Before your next chat, send reminders via Twitter to those that participated. Happy chatting!

5 Key Marketing Lessons I Learned from the Baseball Diamond


By Sue Brady

Sometimes life’s (well, marketing’s) lessons come when you least expect them. I spent the last three Baseballdays attending a number of minor league baseball games. Minor league teams have very little money so they need to be creative to generate revenue. There are lots of games for kids, mid-inning entertainment, and of course, opportunities for attendees to spend money.

While I watched the shtick, I realized that in the minors, the Marketing Department needs to be creative. And they need to be able to stretch the dollar. At the park I was at, they had Marketing 101 down. Specifically, they know how to:

Engage Your Audience

  • This team uses Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to post pics during the game. During one particularly gorgeous sunset, their social media maven took a picture and tweeted it. She noticed that others starting posting their own sunset pics from the ballpark so she encouraged everyone to send in their pics and she tweeted those.
  • They also have a ‘smile cam.’ The roving staff member snaps random photos that not only appear on the big screen in the outfield, but also appear after the game on their Facebook page.
  • They host a sleepover in the outfield once a season. What baseball loving kid wouldn’t jump at the chance? And of course, all those kids, and their parents, have to buy tickets to that night’s game.

Give a human face to Your Organization

During all of the games, the Marketing/Promotions staff gets involved with the fans. They walk the stadium throughout the game, giving high fives, chatting it up with the crowd, and basically, being human. The team mascots also stroll the stands to kiss babies and fist bump the fans.

Know Your Brand Champions and Treat Them Well

This ball club made their season-ticket holders feel special. I saw several season ticket holders come up to staff members just for a chat. And they greeted each other by name. They truly feel a part of the ballpark. Talk about figuring out how to make your best customers continue to spend money with you!

Use Creative <Grass-Roots> Marketing

No surprise that with limited budgets, grass-roots marketing is critical. Being local makes it makes it perhaps a little bit easier.

  • Before the season starts, all staff are given boxes of team schedules. Everyone is expected to visit as many local businesses as possible to drop off handfuls for distribution to their customers.
  • Everyone is responsible for ad sales and ticket sales. That seems to be a rite of passage for baseball staff. And because everyone has quotas, employees are incented to talk to local business owners in their own community, to try to sell ad space in the team roster, a poster for the concourse, an exhibit table for just inside the entrance, or a giveaway during the game. One of the games I attended had a pizza parlor highlighted, a dog treat product giveaway, a burger joint coupon given if the ballplayers hit a certain number of home-runs, and free tacos coupons after the pitcher threw a certain number of strike-outs.
  • They sometimes have guest baseball players from the Majors sign autographs. The adults are as excited as the kids!

Consider non-Typical Forms of Promotion

  • This club hosts events at area schools where they give out some free tickets. Not only does it generate excitement for the kids at the schools, but the kids come home begging mom and dad to take them to a game.
  • I strolled through the on-site retail shop. They had tons of T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps, almost all offered at fairly low prices. The impact of this is that probably 50% of the attendees on most nights I was there, were wearing team logos. And you know that means they wear their shirts, caps etc. when they aren’t at the ballpark too. It’s free advertising! Who doesn’t want that?

All basic marketing techniques, and all effective!