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Wordpress is one of my favorite development tools. It’s very easy to develop with and helps create a great experience for clients when they need to manage content or site settings. The biggest complaint I hear from some developers is that it’s a blogging platform, not a true Content Management System (CMS). While that may have been true in the early days of Wordpress, these days, it is the CMS behind all kinds of sites, from government and e-commerce to mobile apps. With a very small amount of work, any number of easily editable content types can be built.

Gone are the days of trying to wow your website visitors with over-the-top visuals that look nothing like anything their eyes have seen before. The visual web continues on its path of simplification, lead by minimalist design and the need to function well across multiple platforms. Instead of facing the challenge of creating a website design to knock your customers’ socks off, web designers are now tasked with making websites that are incredibly simple, yet somehow distinct. How can you design minimally while still giving your brand’s website distinction?

If pictures are worth 1,000 words, what are videos worth? Shorter attention spans, more digital platforms and an increased demand for information has driven the demand for video content.

Every year, emfluence hosts our Marketing Platform User Conference to share valuable marketing knowledge, best practices and tools.

Whether you love it or hate it, brands are bound to jump on the April Fools bandwagon every year. 2015 was no different. Some brands generate better jabs than others, but here is a roundup of the favorite April Fools pranks we found.

Google

Last week, emfluence and our wonderful clients won 13 KCDMA AMBIT awards for excellence in targeted, measurable marketing – 2 more than last year! emfluencers took home 6 gold and 7 silver awards in the Email, Social Media, Business-to-Consumer Marketing and Search Engine Optimization categories.

It’s no secret that meta descriptions don’t carry official weight when it comes to search engine algorithms, but that doesn’t mean you should stop caring about them.

In a digitally reliant society with screens on screens, are you sure you’re paying attention to the right information? As marketers, making sure the data being shown is actually the information that is relevant to our goal is crucial!

When your customers are already fans of your business, how do you turn them into fans online, too? How do you turn your offline brand loyalists into your online brand advocates?

The emfluence crew loves any occasion to celebrate great work, but was especially excited to attend the first-ever AMPS Awards -- an awards show put on by the Social Media Club of Kansas City, where awards were judged by fellow social media professionals on those points that mean the most when you're really in the business.

As a developer, I’m keenly focused on what goes out the door. Who will use my software, and what can they do to break it? How can I ensure the success of the client and their customers’ experiences? These things are pretty universal, regardless of the project. Over the last few years, I’ve come to realize that there are two different kinds of projects. The kind of project has a far greater impact on how I approach the work.

Thanks to the National Speakers Association Kansas City chapter for hosting me as their February presenter. I get to do a lot of social media for emfluence clients, but it's just as fun to talk to fellow professional speakers about how to use it for ourselves! A few of the tips?

Complex Drupal themes can quickly become unwieldy. Managing the pieces of your theme, and more importantly ensuring they are easily managed by those that come after you, requires a systematic approach. I’ve found that the easiest way to control an ever-increasing theme layer is to separate the components into entities, bundles, and view modes.

Facebook announced it will be implementing some major changes to their News Feed in 2015. Marketers for brands of all sizes will need to adapt their posting strategy to these new algorithm changes in order to continue to reach their owned Facebook audience.  The first step in a revised strategy is to understand the changes that coming. Here are the top 5 things you need to know to be prepared:

1. The Changes Facebook is Making and What Marketers Need to Know

October was positively stuffed full of marketing knowledge and valuable insights, thanks in large part to two conferences brought to the Kansas City area. The digiSTORY conference was first up on October 22nd, focusing on the power of digital storytelling. The following week, BMAKC hosted a half-day “Create / Curate” content marketing conference on October28th.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is a great way to target those searching for solutions and products like yours. In fact, at emfluence we often recommend PPC as a way for our clients to find new customers, leads or email subscribers, fast. On Google’s search results page, PPC ads are the listings at the top and down the right side, usually marked “Ad”. This is a pay-to-play game and the company that bids the most per click on a specified keyword usually gets the top spot.

In my eight years in email marketing, there are a few questions I hear about once a week:

1. What works in email subject lines?
2. What is the best day of week or time of day to send? (Short answer: test it!)
3. How often should I be sending? Monthly vs. weekly?

Jason White from DragonSearch.net provided a great synopsis of earning authority via link acquisition at SMX East 2014. Below is a collection of the actionable insights I took away from his presentation.

“Downtime” may seem like a foreign concept to us busy bee marketers, but let’s face it. There are extra pockets of time in all of our schedules that we can capitalize on to make ourselves better at our jobs (or better job candidates). When you find yourself twiddling your thumbs in-between meetings or find that rare opportunity of free time before bed, consider checking out these apps and sites to inspire you and make you a better marketer.

Google Trends

It's October 1st. Sure, we still have Halloween to look forward to, but many of you are likely planning your holiday promotions calendar, working up your ideas for email and social media campaigns. What are the benchmark dates this year (2014)? Take a peek:

Taking the stage on the first day of SMX East is Marshall Simmonds, famed CEO of Define MG and longtime SEO professional. I am excited to be reporting from New York all of the excitement and adventure surrounding this years Search Marketing Expo!

Technology might have thrown the traditional publishing industry into turmoil, but BookDaily.com is thriving—and helping authors succeed—thanks to a digital marketing strategy, that emphasizes Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.

The connectivity of the digital world has transformed how we seek out and build our relationships online and offline. (Tinder, anyone?) It goes beyond our interactions with peers. Now, brands also have to maintain online relationships with their audience. Just as a customer pays money for a brand’s product, a brand’s marketing should also offer a give-and-take relationship with its audience that exchanges value for audience interaction and exposure. This trend is called “utility marketing” and here are some ways to integrate this concept into your marketing game plan: 

Back in July, Alyssa posted about one of Twitter’s newest marketing tools, Twitter Lead Gen Cards, that can help convert social media connections into email contacts.

As a marketer, the goal for Twitter Lead Gen Cards is to do away with traditional landing page email sign-ups that take consumers out of their native browsing experience all together, and instead capture it seamlessly within the social platform.

The content management system for your website allows you to easily create new webpages and modify existing content on your website without knowing a programming language. Before content management systems, even simple copy and image updates had to be requested from a web developer, making it very challenging to keep sites up-to-date and add new content regularly.

How do you define your brand? Trick question! It doesn’t matter what you’re thinking. More importantly, how does your audience think of your brand? I’m referring to the collective social audience that consumes and interacts with your brand messaging. They judge how your brand’s content is received and they shape how it is communicated between peers. So, they define your brand. This is the (relatively) new reality for all brands that want to survive in a consumer-driven world.

You're using first name personalization and maybe even location in your email marketing campaigns, but are you wondering how far you can take personalization? One of my favorite examples is from Huttig.

In 2013, Twitter announced that it would be testing an exciting new addition to its suite of marketing tools. Realizing that marketers saw value in converting social media connections to email contacts, Twitter introduced Lead Generation Cards. Think of these cards as mini lead generation forms that you can attach to tweets. Twitter Lead Gen Cards are free and easy to set up via ads.twitter.com.

Over the last few months, something very exciting has been happening at emfluence. For years, our Marketing Platform developers have been slaving away at improving our online Marketing Platform. Recently, they’ve unveiled a feature that promises to multiply their efforts and rapidly increase the potential of the platform. 

At the 2014 emfluence Marketing Platform User Conference -- dubbed "RE:one-to-one" -- I shared the big trends I see in my day-to-day work in email marketing. (Check out the full Prezi "Trends Email Marketing in 2014" to see all 17 trends!)

First, I revisited some of the trends I called in 2013 that are still growing or finally hitting. For example:

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