• A Primer for Progressive Web Design

    Progressive Web Design (PWD), or Progressive Enhancement, is a way of designing web pages so that they will work for 100% of users, no matter what browser they are using or in what manner they are interacting with the page. It’s a contentious topic for some people – usually designers. For marketers, it’s an important method for ensuring every possible audience encounters an experience that leads to conversions.

    Progressive Versus Responsive

    Progressive Web Design is not the same thing as Responsive Web Design.

    It is a core fundamental of web development that the design must be elastic and be appealing at all viewport aspect ratios. However, it’s not an either or decision between Progressive and Responsive. Both standards should be used together to ensure an optimal experience for all users.

    Responsive Web Design uses design elements that respond to changes in the size of the viewport – desktop, tablet or mobile phone. This is done by rearranging the components of the page, changing the top nav into a “hamburger menu,” and other techniques. The motto of Responsive Web Design is “mobile-first”, meaning that if a site works on mobile, it will work on desktop but not vice-versa.

    Progressive Web Design takes this same elastic approach toward browser functionality and context. However, the Progressive Web Design workflow is based on the idea of layering. At first pass, a page is designed for the least common denominator, i.e., a small screen with no CSS, no JavaScript and HTML4. Then, the enhanced features are layered on. Consequently, this also enhances the SEO performance of the website since the underlying content is easier to crawl by search engines. 

    Why Is This Important for Designing Websites?

    From the beginning, the Web was designed to be platform-agnostic, which is a fancy way to say that a page will work on any computer and in any browser that implements the HTML standard. Progressive Web Design embraces this goal of accessibility by ensuring that a page is functional in any context.

    Modern web browsers provide powerful styling and scripting abilities for web designers and developers using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. However, only a certain percentage of users interact with a design with all these features enabled.

    Some common contexts in which a user may be interacting with a site are:

    The Whole Enchilada – Using the latest desktop version of Chrome, Edge or Safari with all features enabled.

    The Smart Phone – Using a touch interface on a modern smartphone with the latest version of a major browser and fully enabled.

    The Old Browser – There are still a sizable number of users who use outdated browsers like Internet Explorer that do not implement the newest features of CSS and JavaScript. This often happens in large corporations or organizations with strict IT policies.

    The Snail – A user is in a rural setting where broadband is not available.

    Reader Mode – There are a number of applications in which a user may read a version of a page that has all CSS and JavaScript stripped away such as when subscribing via RSS, using sites like InstaPaper and Pocket, or reading a page in offline mode.

    Speech Mode – Screen readers for the visually-impaired and voice-interactive devices like Alexa, Google Home, etc.

    What Design Features Are Actually Used?

    Current analysis shows that the following features are available for the percentage of audience shown. This is only a small portion of features listed as an example. A full reference for the use of features can be found at https://CanIUse.com.

    CSS

    • Grid Layout: 91.54%
    • Sticky (prefixed) – Header stays at top: 90.36%
    • Sticky (not-prefixed): 76.74%
    • Shapes: 89.23%
    • Filter Effects: 93.19%
    • Scroll Positioning: 86.73%
    • CSS Calc: 95.83%
    • Rounded Corners: 96.48%

    HTML5

    • Audio: 96.46%
    • Canvas Blend Modes: 92.86%
    • Custom Tags: 86.59%
    • Dialog Element: 72.22%
    • HTML Imports: 72.17%
    • PNG Favicons: 85.07%

    JavaScript

    • Accelerometer: 62.22%
    • Promises: 92.74%
    • Push API: 78.06%
    • ECMAScript6 Classes: 90.83%

    Other

    • WAI-ARIA Accessibility: 94.20%
    • WebP Image Format: 78.13%
    • Ogg Audio Format: 79.79%
    • FLAC Audio Format: 89.97%
    • WebAssembly (wasm): 84.62%
    • Animated PNG: 84.42%
    • theme-color Meta Tag: 36.42%

    Basic Techniques

    Know your user. Site audiences will skew toward more or less feature availability depending on the site’s user base. A site made for techies will likely have The Whole Enchilada, whereas less technical users who tend to live in rural areas will have less functionality.

    Check usage. Each property should be checked for usage. Many firms elect to consider 98% and above as global and ignore those users who don’t have the feature. Although that seems to cover most or all of the bases, it could very well leave out important segments of your customer base.

    CSS overrides. This is a simple technique of writing CSS code that is geared toward all browsers and then adding on code for more sophisticated browsers to the end of the CSS. This method replaces the previously declared code if the browser supports the new feature. Otherwise, it’s ignored.

    CSS feature queries. This is a tool in CSS to check to see if a feature is available and only parse the designated code if it is.

    Fail gracefully. Manage feature failures proactively.

    Write for tests. Design code with functionality to easily test the site in less-advanced contexts.

    Test by touch and by click. Interaction on touchscreens may be very different for the user than by clicking with a mouse. Be sure the page works easily for both contexts.

    Think about content-only. Knowing that your page may be read by a screen-reader or in reader mode, layout the code with the intention of feeding content to these readers in a logical order and omitting elements that do not apply in that context.

    Test without JavaScript. Make sure nothing breaks when JavaScript is turned off. For example, employ post-back methods for when AJAX is not available.

    Need a full-service team to take your business to the next level? Contact us today. We’re here to help.

  • 5 Digital Marketing Methods to Help Upstream Oil & Gas Companies

    The energy industry has seen some tough times. Now that a recovery appears to be upon us, many upstream oil and gas companies are trying to redefine themselves in a new marketing era. Although it’s only been a couple of years since many companies reserved respectable portions of budget for marketing, the marketing landscape has changed – and keeps changing.

    Although conferences and trade shows still dominate oil and gas marketing budgets (somewhere around 30%-40%), many enterprising operators are redirecting sizable chunks of budget that was previously dedicated to print, brochures, collateral, and traditional media. Consumer media consumption has changed significantly over the last 10 years, which is especially true for B2B buyers. Your buyers don’t take off their business hats when they switch to their own personal consumption, and now that they’ve adapted to digital media guess where they spend all of their time doing professional research?

    Digital marketing for upstream oil & gas doesn’t have to be complicated. Think of it like raising awareness about your company, establishing your brand, and driving buyers to your door. By using your website and social media to connect with B2B buyers, you can share your story and deliver technical information to the people who want it most. Below are 5 digital marketing methods that upstream oil and gas companies can develop an online marketing strategy.

    1. Improve Your Website

    By now you know how important your website is to the sales process. Your website is the first comprehensive experience potential buyers will have with your company. Over 80% of people look up a company online before contacting the business or deciding to buy. This applies to the energy industry, too. No matter if you’re selling miles of rebar or barrels of crude, your business must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your site.

    If you’ve had the same website for a couple of years, it’s time for an update, especially to implement a mobile responsive design. People in the oil and gas industry understand that mobile is crucial to growth and they’re investing in it heavily: $8 billion was projected to be spent on mobile oil and gas apps in 2015, and according to Oil & Gas IQ, 71% of workers use mobile devices for work purposes, especially those in field operations, technical roles, and senior decision makers. As you can see, the emphasis on mobile technology is strong and will continue to grow as more industry professionals start using their smartphones and tablets in the field. If you want your site to be accessed by your ideal clients, make sure that it’s designed to adapt to their usage and provides the info they’re seeking. It should be designed to tell your company’s story and provide meaningful ungated content (aka: freely available reading material) so that your visitor doesn’t immediately bounce from the page. If you make it easy for buyers to view your site no matter the device, and find helpful information, they’ll be more likely to pick up the phone and contact you with questions.

    1. Invest In SEO

    SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In a nutshell, it’s the act of making your website perform better to bring higher quality traffic to your site from search engines. It is pretty well established that engineers and C-level executives read tons of research and market news. Regardless if they read online periodicals or search for information using Google or Bing, your company must claim top ranking at every stop along the way.

    As an owner of an oil and gas company, you’re trying to position yourself as a leader in your field. In the spirit of leadership, you can reach your clients when they seek to answer questions online. To optimize your site’s SEO, your goal is to identify the most likely keywords and long-tail search terms your buyers use to seek out products and services like yours. Using these keywords, your marketing partners can create blog posts, white papers, or articles that bring these engineers and executives to your site. It’s not enough to just optimize on your website, your off-site SEO activities must inspire your buyers to explore your site further.

    1. Bid For PPC

    Pay-per-click (PPC) represents an effective shift in the way B2B companies handle advertising. Instead of pumping tons of money into print advertising, you can now compete for who sees your ads once they’ve searched for terms that are relevant to your industry. This represents a more efficient model to conserve your budget, potentially, since you only pay for the interest you’ve generated from your ads, i.e., the number of people who click your ad.

    For example, if someone searches for “remote monitoring for oil and gas”, you can present an ad that highlights your company’s SCADA solutions for integrating dispersed assets across the oilfield. Once clicked, you can direct the visitor directly to the landing page on your website to lead them further into the funnel. Because PPC allows you to specify which keywords will prompt your ad to show, it won’t show up when someone searches for something like, “remote baby monitor.”

    1. Capture More Leads With Gated Content

    Gated content is highly-valuable data or information for which a visitor to your website is willing to trade their contact information. Putting it simply, in order for the visitor to gain access to this materials they have to pass through a “gate,” such as a contact form, where they provide their name, email, number, and company information. This allows you to capture information about who is visiting your site and generates leads for your sales team to field. Additionally, the gated content sets you up as a thought leader in your industry. The better your gated content, the more likely your ideal client will put their trust and faith in you.

    Gated content, like whitepapers and survey results, is an ideal way to collect info on potential leads. But, before you start requiring all site visitors to fill out a form, grow their trust and appreciation. You can do this by giving away high-quality content that is NOT gated, such as industry-oriented blogs, useful market news, or even special announcements about your company. If your followers see that you offer quality free content they will be more willing to provide their personal details in order to get your gated content.

    1. Social Media

    Nothing confuses oil and gas companies quite like social media. Social media is the place where relationships happen. A research paper by International Data Corporation stated that 84% of B2B C-level and VP-level buyers use social media for purchasing. And, overall, 75% of B2B buyers consult social media when making purchasing decisions. The key to using social media for upstream oil and gas is to choose the right platform. If you’re the CEO, you might use LinkedIn to post a job opening for a rig engineer or share news about your newest drilling rigs. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with other professionals in the industry to share your knowledge. By joining LinkedIn’s Groups, you can answer questions about the upstream market and establish yourself, and your company, as a thought leader.

    Facebook, on the other hand, is a good platform for providing insight into how your company operates, sharing news about your company culture, job openings, announcing recent hires or photos/videos of your product. Beyond updates about your company, Facebook also makes it easy to share interesting articles about the upstream industry or to re-share posts from your clients, partners, and vendors. Finally, Facebook’s advertising platform is as robust as Google’s pay-per-click Adwords. The vast amount of user data and advanced ads manager make it easy to directly target your potential buyers and decision makers using well-crafted ads and messaging.

    Putting It All Together

    The Upstream Oil & Gas industry is competitive and fast-moving. To grow your business and gain new buyers, your marketing strategy has got to put you at the forefront of the industry. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy will not only grow your brand online, it will also help you target the right people at a time when they’re looking to be informed, educated and entertained.

    We speak “Engineer” here and would welcome the opportunity to launch your digital marketing strategy. Our client roster includes numerous B2B companies, from engineer to tech, and we’ve helped each one develop a unique plan for implementing and optimizing their marketing efforts. Next time you’re making a long drive out to a drilling rig, we invite you to take a few minutes and give us a call.

  • “Marketing Doesn’t Work” and 5 Other Lies

     

    Digital marketing has been a boon for success and growth within many different B2B industries. However, there are still companies unsure if it will work for them. It will! We’ve identified 5 “marketing myths” that we hear all the time from clients. Whether they’re an engineer, architect or in another professional services industry, we’ve found that – once they embrace digital marketing – their business grows by leaps and bounds.

    Read the following the myths. Do any sound familiar? If you’ve caught yourself saying one of these lies, give us a call and let’s chat. We’d be happy to share the reasons why we think they’re untrue and holding you back.

  • 9 Clues It’s Time For a Website Redesign

    Your website is the first step in closing a sale. The products and services you sell and the promises you make must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your homepage.

    Research supports this, but intuitively we all follow the same behavior. When was the last time you hired a company without looking at their website first? Probably in the ‘90s, right? We all do our Google research. We even visit social media to continue our research. Over 80% of people look up a company online before visiting the business or deciding to buy.

    Have you been drifting along with the same website you launched when you started your company 10 years ago? Well, there have been a lot of marketing changes in the past decade and the majority of those have happened in the digital world. If it’s been a few years since your last website update, or if you took a “get-it-done-yesterday” approach to the last redesign, then there’s a good chance your site exhibits some of these clues.

    Ready to redesign your website? Let’s talk.

  • How Much Should You Spend on Marketing?

    We often get asked, “How much should I spend on marketing?” It’d be nice if the answer was easy, but it’s not. There is no predetermined percentage of revenue that applies to all businesses. The ideal number takes into account what you’re offering, where you’re offering it, and who you’re competing against. We’ve probably all heard, “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” and this certainly applies to digital marketing. The trick is knowing how to make your expenditures generate returns.

    Industry Spending

    Traditionally, the amount to spend on marketing usually depended on the offering and industry. For a company selling a product, it’s recommended that no less than 15% of revenue be spent on marketing just to maintain market share. However, a consumer goods company could spend up to 25% or higher, depending on goals. For professional services, typically no less than 10% of revenue should be spent to maintain market share, and up to 20% or more to increase growth.

    For more conservative numbers, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recommends businesses invest 7% to 8% of gross revenue for marketing and advertising if they are generating more $5 million a year in sales with a net profit margin between 10% – 12%.

    The SBA says that B2B firms typically invest 6-7% of revenue in marketing, but businesses with less than $25 million per year in revenue ordinarily spend more than 10% on marketing on average.

    In a 2017 survey, Deloitte and Duke University asked CMOs what percentage of their budget is spent on marketing. The results are below:

    As you can see above, professional services companies – tech software, mining, construction, etc. – are spending the industry average, or more, on marketing. But, SaaS Companies don’t always stick to the rules. Here are some examples of companies who spent way more on their 2016/2017 marketing budget and experienced great results .

    • MindBody – 40% of revenue invested in marketing, 37% revenue growth year-over-year
    • Salesforce – 49% of revenue invested in sales and marketing, 24% revenue growth year-over-year
    • Tableau – 58% of revenue invested in sales and marketing, 27% revenue growth year-over-year

     

    We’re not suggesting that you drop nearly half of your annual revenue on marketing. But increasing your investment in your marketing strategy will be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. It is your secret weapon to get ahead.

    For professional services, you have to dig a little deeper. The cost of easily consumable content for your website can really vary depending on the complexity of the subject matter and the length of the topic. A short blog post could be as low as a few hundred dollars, whereas an e-book or white paper could run you a few thousand dollars. Social media marketing that is guaranteed to drive traffic to your website typically starts at no less than $2,500 per month – with some robust, national campaigns coming in between $10,000-$20,000 per month. A strong SEO strategy with both onsite and offsite ordinarily runs between $1,500-$5,000 per month, with some companies spending double those amounts monthly.

    What are average rates for digital marketing? A survey conducted by Moz, a leading SEO website, of over 600 agencies resulted in the following summary:

    • Digital Marketing hourly rates range from $76–$200/hr
    • Project-specific pricing ranges from $1,000–$7,500
    • Most monthly retainers cost between $2,500-$5,000/month

     

    And, using a mean value between what’s recommended by the SBA (10%) and what we recommend (15%), your overall marketing budget should probably be about 12.5% annual revenue. Breaking that down even further, multiple sources, including Forrester Research, have indicated that digital marketing currently averages about 30% of total marketing spend. So, in a very general sense, your digital marketing budget should be about 3.75% of your annual revenue (30% of 12.5% = 3.75%) .

    Here’s an example:

    A B2B firm providing technology services to other businesses with $8M in annual sales might budget $300,000 (3.75% x $8,000,000) ($25,000/month), which would likely include website, conversion rate optimization, SEO, social media management and a mix of paid advertising campaigns with Google AdWords, Facebook and LinkedIn – including ad spend.

    How to Spend It

    After settling on a number for your marketing budget, the next big challenge is deciding how to spend it. Another CMO survey from Forrester Research and eMarketer show the estimated allocation of marketing funds offline vs. online and across the digital channels.

    Here are some conclusions from that report [source: WebStrategies]:

    • In 2018, the average firm was expected to allocate 41% of their marketing budget to online, and this rate is expected to grow to 45% by 2020
    • Search engine marketing will capture the largest share of online spend with online display (banner ads, online video, etc.) taking the second largest share
    • Social media advertising investments will continue to grow, with a 17% compound annual growth rate from 2016 to 2021, and is expected to represent 25% of total online spending in 2018.
    • Mobile marketing has grown to a point that it’s no longer tracked in the forecast and it’s presumed to be considered across all channels
    • Digital marketing is pacing at an 11% compound annual growth rate between 2016 and 2021 with the biggest growth occurring in online video.
    • Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing is predicted to account for 46% of all advertising by 2021.

     

    Why are companies investing in social media and other online channels? A recent survey of 2,500 digital marketers showed that the most effective marketing tactics (email marketing, organic search, social media marketing and content marketing) generated better ROI than traditional (brochures, trade shows, etc) [source: GetResponse].

    A Home For Your Brand

    However, before any social media or content marketing is launched, a company must have a fully developed brand that is clearly defined on a website with a user-friendly experience. The products and services you sell and the promises you make must be explained in a compelling way that engages the visitor from the moment they arrive at your homepage. Your website is the entry point to the sales funnel. You must lure people in instead of turning them away.

    Research supports this, but intuitively we all follow the same behavior. When was the last time you hired a company without looking at their website first? Probably in the ‘90s, right? We all do our Google research. We even visit social media to continue our research. Over 80% of people look up a company online before visiting the business or deciding to buy.

    Before visitors become your customers, they have to know that you exist and what you do. Does your homepage make it clear what you’re offering? Is there an obvious action they should take – “Call Us Today!” – or an email sign-up? Of your potential customers, most are looking at your website on their mobile device. Is your site optimized for a smartphone? What’s their first impression of your company?

    The value of the investment in your site cannot be underestimated. You may be able to get by with a basic website with little to no brand messaging and conversion methods, but you’ll cap the potential for revenue growth.

    Invest In Success

    If you don’t set aside a large chunk of your budget for an excellent online presence, you can count on your customers going to a company that does. Under-investment in your digital marketing strategy results in “leaving money on the table,” because your customers are going to work with your competitors with a great website and engaging online presence.

    Have questions about budget or what strategy your company should use? For professional services and technical companies, it can be frustrating knowing just how much to spend on marketing and where to spend it. At Divining Point we specialize in working with companies who promise quality service as a part of their business model. Give us a call and we’ll get you on track.

     

    Want to move forward with your business? Let’s talk.