Your website is the face of your business. Often, it’s the first point of contact potential customers will have with your brand. Even if you operate a traditional brick and mortar storefront, customer engagement with your website occurs when they search for your contact information, operating hours, location, or details about specific products and services. More and more frequently, this is also where customers go to make purchases or payments on their account.

The problem is many websites can be one dimensional and generally look the same and this makes it difficult for customers to distinguish you from your competition. Think about your favorite restaurants or coffee shops that you might recommend to someone. The first ones that come to mind are those that are doing something different to set them apart. These businesses are likely innovators thinking outside of the box about unique ways to improve the customer experience. They also seem to make a habit of going out of their way to create compelling opportunities that drive customers to interact with their brand.

What a successful website engagement strategy looks like for your brand will greatly depend on what you hope to gain from increased interaction with your customers. Here’s a few ideas to help you get started with increasing website engagement for your business in 2020.

Gamification and Interactive Doodles

Play to Win! Gamification is a great way to reward customers that play games with winnable discounts, loyalty points, or exclusive offers. Don’t want to give away the kitchen sink? Offering non-monetary rewards such as personal recognition through badges, special mention on social media platforms, newsletters, etc. can offer your customers the same gratification.

By adding a layer of interaction that could be as simple as moving around puzzle pieces, spinning a wheel, or popping a balloon, you create a connection with your customer.  They have a chance to get a benefit to something they wouldn’t normally have access to. Not to mention, this is all while having some fun.


Enter to win! Win big when you organize a contest, giveaways, drawings, or sweepstakes. Who doesn’t love free stuff? Despite outward appearances, contests can be a very cost-effective method to help your business. For instance, giveaways can drive traffic to your website, generate leads, segment email lists, grow brand awareness, promote products, improve brand loyalty, and grow your social following.

After all, nothing really comes for free. Potential and returning customers are required to perform certain measurable activities like visiting your website and inputting personal information such as receipt number or email address. Where your competition might be asking for this same information, are they offering a chance to win in return?


Create an emotional connection with your customer. Do you have an emotionally compelling product success story or an exciting service use case? If so, storytelling might be for you!

Stories give your customers the opportunity to relate personal experiences and values to your brand. A great example of using storytelling to drive online engagement is revamping your About section with compelling media. Customers want to  visualize the early beginnings of your brand story and follow along your road to success. This will create a rare connection that allows you to highlight your company values and relate to your customers on a deeper level.

Push Notifications

When used in concert with other website engagement metrics, direct customer messaging (push notifications) can be a powerful customer communication tool. Instant contact with customers is a privilege so be mindful of your messaging and it’s value to your customers. Here’s some great ways to leverage push notifications to strengthen your customer relationships.


Connect with your customers anytime from anywhere. LiveChat offers a wide array of customer centric value propositions. From anticipating customer needs, to addressing pain points – when you respond to customers in real time, you increase conversions. Businesses that use the chat function, boost productivity and minimize phone support costs by creating automated workflows triggered by specific activities.

Here are some initial examples of ways to best utilize live chat: Build rapport through positive scripting, up sell bundles and add-ons, offer personalized discounts, and give relevant product information.

Website Design UX/UI

Catch them off guard! Your website paints a picture and sets the tone for sales conversions. With hundreds of design layouts to choose from and customize, why would you want a cookie cutter template? While we encourage you to keep the structure simple and consistent, that doesn’t mean that you can’t change it up a bit with your design. Think about what makes sense for your customers. Below you can find some common designs to help you decide which is right for your business.

The list goes on and ultimately you can work with a designer to create a custom design that speaks to your customers in a way only you can.

Consumer Education Tools

Figure it out! Website engagement statistics show that roughly 70% of consumers want to learn from your website before taking additional action. In today’s day and age consumers like to make informed purchases. Whether you’re involved in high-end technology sales or in the business of selling common goods you can’t go wrong when you add value to your website.

With the information superhighway at their fingertips it’s important that you establish yourself as a trusted advisor and an authority in your market.

When you utilize website engagement tools, they need calculate the value and/or functionality of your product or perform side-by-side product comparisons you equip yourself with valuable product feedback and create trust between you and your customer. This can lead to fewer customer service issues, and faster sales cycles. The bottom line is an informed customer is a happy customer.

Effects and Animations

Wow visitors with responsive interactive design sets to showcase your offerings and your ability to innovate in style. Fluid effects, transition animations, 3D models or scanning, map pins, drag and drop shopping carts, hover effects, timeline markers, music bars, and so many more!

Choose the right combination effects and animations to create micro interactions.

Remember, you only get one chance to create a memorable first impression. A positive perception can bring additional opportunities to interact and engage with your customer. These key factors lead to an increased customer lifetime value. However, it is important that you engage with your audience in a meaningful, exciting way.

Will Website Engagement Ideas Work?

Clearly defined and measurable objectives are critical in the success of any website engagement plan. When website engagement ideas are implemented, individual goals may vary. It’s important not to initiate multiple website changes at once to measure specific outcomes of website engagement models.

These tips will help you engage your clientele throughout your website in 2020!

As marketers, it is commonly known that what works today, may not work tomorrow. The field is constantly evolving and sometimes it is hard to stay on top of current trends. Now, in the social media era, this ever-changing environment is even more relevant. 

Social media has taken over and is now an integral part of everyday life for many people.  Of course, it only makes sense that social media is now used for marketing, selling products, etc.. However, utilizing these platforms can be tricky for many reasons. Among some of them are that new apps emerge, some become obsolete, and how they are used change as users or the apps evolve. This can make social media marketing hard to always use to its highest potential. 

Although there are many ways to better utilize social media marketing. Here are some of the top trends for 2020. 

Start Using Influencer Marketing


Influencer marketing is key for a new age business. Across all platforms, Facebook to Youtube to even Linkedin, there are influencers for different niche groups. Influencers are useful across so many diverse industries. These individuals have varied reach depending on followers, but they can offer amazing benefits to companies.  

Of course, influencer marketing is not a new way to market and has ultimately changed recently. The most important part of influencer marketing is finding someone who is trustworthy. Traffic is much more important than likes for a page. According to a HYPR study, in 2018, 64% of influencers admitted to buying likes. More importantly, an August 2019 study by GlobalWebIndex indicates that social media users are more interested in the type of content that influencers share rather than how many likes they get.  

That being said, trustworthiness for celebrities and other high paid influencers has gone down since they are making so much money. Their posts and recommendations do not seem genuine anymore. Companies should begin utilizing smaller, maybe local, influencers that have better relationships with their followers. These individuals do not cost as much money and are likely to help sell your products, service, and brand. 

There is more detail about Influencer Marketing on our other blog

Social Groups and Communities 


Similar to influencer marketing, social media groups and communities are not a new feature. However, they are more popular than ever–especially Facebook groups. These social communities are made by brands, local communities,  music fans, political parties and everything in between. Individuals can express their beliefs, ideas, or opinions and share it with like-minded individuals. These communities have really become more niche and unique as time has gone on–it seems as though there is a group for anything. 

Brands can utilize these groups by creating a new one specifically for their company or joining existing groups that align with the products or services that they offer. This can increase exposure to the precise target audience any brand is looking for. Then, once the traffic is there, brands can release new products and get real time customer feedback.

Use as Customer Service


This brings the next point. In this age, immediate responses are expected by consumers. Not to mention, friends and family. 

Customers look to social media to write reviews, good or bad, to ask questions, among many other things. According to Conversocial’s 2018 report, 37% of people expect a response within 30 minutes, 31% want one in two hours, 26% in four hours and only 6% do not expect a response. Great customer service is clearly judged on a fast response time. Facebook even lets consumers know what the expected wait time is based on the average response time of the company. 

This form of customer service is sometimes the first interaction an individual has with a company. And, of course, you want to make a good first impression. In 2020, it is important to utilize this feature of social media to better present your brand and offer the same kind of service that someone would get if they picked up the phone or came into the store/office.

Utilize Alternative Services


For typical B2C companies, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have long been the most popular platforms for advertising. LinkedIn has shown to be great for B2B tactics. However, as time moves on, more apps are created and can have their own advantages in social media marketing. Not to mention, Facebook has lost 15 million users in the past two years, especially those in younger generations.

This year, it will be important to explore all platform options to find the best representation. Target audience will depict which alternative services are best for each brand. For example, TikTok, which was launched in 2016, has a huge following of people ages 16-24.  Also, Pinterest has become a great place for e-commerce as 75% of users say they are interested in buying new products compared to other digital platforms. 

What Kind of Content Should We Be Creating?

Ephemeral Content 


One other trend that is dominating is ephemeral content. Attention spans are not what they used to be. The everyday individual, for personal or commercial use, wants quality, fast content. Instagram stories, snap chat stories, tiktok videos, etc. are all great examples of this type of content. These features and apps have also gained so much popularity due to the engaging, short content. Social media users can spend hours clicking through 10 second videos. 

Video Content


According to a Cisco Study, by 2022 82% of online content will be video. This can be compared to Cisco’s 2016 study that predicted that videos would make up 75% of all online content in 2020. Clearly, video content is beginning to have control of media and it should be included in a content schedule and strategy. 

Short stories on Snapchat or Instagram is  a great way to get started utilizing ephemeral, video content. 

There are many ways to utilize social media to gain brand recognition or sell products and services. This year, these are the trends that will help your company the most. 



As we all know, a successful business model includes a strong and multifaceted marketing strategy. When we talk with clients there is often confusion about different types of marketing efforts, and their relative value and purpose. The most common misconceptions clients communicate have to do with influencers and media. For that reason, we’ve put together some valuable information to help clear things up. 

Let’s start from the beginning. 

What is marketing media?

Media in marketing is broken down into four parts: owned, shared, paid, and earned. These parts are not mutually exclusive. A comprehensive marketing strategy will encompass a combination to meet specific campaign objectives. 

Types of media and differences table

Owned Media

Owned media is paid for, owned, and distributed by you. This includes business assets such as your website, blogs, white papers, case studies, brochures, signage, email, newsletters, staff uniforms, company vehicle markers, other promotional materials and so on. Owned media is considered an investment in business and is best kept evergreen.

Shared Media 

Shared media is paid by you, owned by a third party, and distributed by you. It encompasses social networks and Brand Channels like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Yelp, et. al. While most networks are free, they should not be taken lightly. Social media is said to influence some of the most intimate of consumer decisions and most of them have come under fire for unethically manipulating both network control and reach. 

We like social media because it offers channel diversity for your customer and further strengthens that bond and more broadly your brand presence when you’re able to meet your customers where they are.

Some consider “shared media” as “owned media” but in the recent past, we’ve seen companies involved in controversial industries lose Brand Channels despite massive following.

Paid Media

Paid media is paid by you and owned and distributed by a third party. Commonly referred to as advertising, this includes any media you pay for on various mediums such as; billboards, radio, print, video, and banner ads. Other paid media might include product placement, sponsorship, teleshopping, and affiliate networking.

Paid media is attractive because it is the most direct path to get your products and offerings in front of customers. Digital giants like Google and Facebook have become experts at reaching targeted demographics. They’ve made it their business on making quality connections between advertisers and consumers.  

Earned Media 

Earned media is considered the most esteemed media and usually falls under public relations. You can’t purchase good earned media; it is voluntarily given. This includes media you are not directly responsible for, such as news coverage, broadcasts, press releases, radio talk show mentions, magazines, digital and print publications, ratings, reviews, word of mouth, referrals, and endorsements. 

These types of media coverage are accomplished through any reputable media outlet. It’s verifiable and consistent. For this reason, coverage is of extremely high value. 

Convergence Media

There’s a segment of industry professionals that will call any combination of the above media types “Convergence Media”. Due to the complexity in variables and highly specific nature of convergence media we aren’t going to dive too deeply into this type of media.

A great example of convergence media is to do with influencers. Depending on the influencer, there might be an unspecified combination of paid, earned, shared, and owned media, to meet specific objectives or contract terms. While it’s impossible to clearly define convergence media, it’s important that you know it exists and that it is not in itself actually a type of media. 

Integrated communication marketing and PR diagram and chart

Who are influencers?

An influencer can be defined as any person with a measurable influence over a substantial audience that is typically identified by industry focus. This is a broad definition that might include political lobbyists, activists, market analysts, journalists, editors, authors, bloggers, thought leaders, public speakers, comedians, athletes, musicians, celebrities, reality TV stars, models, entrepreneurs and niche industry experts.

Influencers come in all shapes and sizes. They are best categorized by the size of their following, how they achieved it, and whether or not they are monetizing it. 

Celebrity – 5M+ Following

Celebrity influencers extend brand reach exponentially with 5 Million+ active followers. Think of A-list celebs such as Adam Sandler, LeBron James, or Elon Musk. These influencers are household names, and because of that many have leveraged their reach to grow their own Brand Channels. Some excellent example of this is Jessica Alba’s all-natural product line, Honest Company. These stars can cost, on average, in the neighborhood of $1 million dollars for a single social media post.

Mega Influencers – 1M -5M Followers

Mega Influencers are content creating machines that usually have a team of people helping to manage their channels. These influencers have refined their personal branding and are capable of earning a noteworthy income from their influencer status and may or may not already be considered B-list celebs on the red carpet. These influencers make an estimated $50k per post.

Macro Influencers – 500K – 1M Followers

The Macro influencer category is loaded with social media stars that earned their claim to fame by generating shareable content.  They are almost certainly monetizing their following and looking to move onto the next level. This tier can make six-figures and consist of a montage of influencer types, niches, and personalities. These influencers are estimated to make an average of $15k per post.

Mid-Tier – 50K – 500K Followers 

Mid-Tier influencers are working hard to engage and grow their target audience. They are the bread and butter of the influencer world driving the highest ROI for brand and channel partners. Maybe that’s because mid-tier influencers are likely working hard to increase their influencer revenue which can average $5k per post.

Micro Influencers – 10K – 50K Followers 

These influencers aren’t usually getting photographed in the supermarket and may not be a universally recognized authority in their market, but they pack a healthy punch and know their value. With a loyal and dedicated following we see many micro influencers helping brands bring products to market. Micro influencers have earned the trust of their audience over time and are likely monetizing their following as they can earn up to $5k per post.

Nano Influencers – 1K – 10K Followers 

If nano influencers have a notable reach but have not likely clearly defined their influence. They are usually looking to monetize, which for obvious reasons, and can make up to $1,500 per post depending on a variety of other factors such as niche, platform, and the personality of the influencer. These are the influencers to watch, you likely have a few in your own network.

Now that we understand what marketing media consist of and who influencers are, we can clear the air we can dissuade confusion. 

Key differences between influencers and media

Media is content. Whether it’s physical, digital, word-of-mouth, or ad copy – it’s content that requires distribution channel to reach an audience.

Influencers are individuals (usually people, but sometimes animals). Brand Channels are frequently mistaken as influencers. It might be tempting to think of the New York Times or Facebook as an “influencer” the reality is, they are media outlets that allow their users to create brand channels. 

A key point to remember is that while you may produce media for specific Brand Channels, media outlets, or influencers, the media itself, does not embody a single distribution channel. A perfect example of this would be a cross-channel marketing campaign to promote an instore sale. That campaign would likely produce a combination of media, such as: flyers, emails, social media posts, influencer video requests, and pay-per-click ads. All the marketing deliverables in this scenario are types of media with varied methods of distribution. 

Components and Purpose of Public Relations

Our clients visualize their success daily. They utilize our marketing expertise as their vehicle of choice to help get them to the finish line. If we think of various marketing media initiatives and influencer engagement models we deploy as drivers of success for that vehicle, we recognize that some drivers maneuver the road more gracefully than others, while some put the pedal to the metal but at the cost of the car. We notice that a few might have impeccable night vision, and maybe a even let you roll the windows down to take in the view. 

Now, I want you think specifically about public relations. In this scenario, PR is the road your traveling on and your customers are the landscape on which that road exist. It controls, monitors, and guides brand messages across multiple channels, ultimately paving the way for customers to interact with your brand. 

The climate of public relations offers unique and sometimes unexpected challenges. It heavily impacts brand viability and can dramatically increase awareness of leadership and your company. The purpose of PR is to maintain, enhance, or adapt a company’s public image based on deliberate objectives in support of your brand schema. 

Without public relations, it would be impossible to unify brand messages regardless of the amount of money paid to influencers or third-party advertisers. That’s precisely why PR experts are the people brands turn to when facing negative publicity. Hopefully this helps clarify a few things, for a few people. 

“The outside perception and inside perception of Microsoft are so different. The view of Microsoft inside Microsoft is always kind of an underdog thing.” Bill Gates

Three Small Business Owners Will Be Awarded $10,000, $5,000 and $3,000 in Recognition of Their Commitment to Metro Denver


DENVER, CO — March 7, 2019 — OnDeck® (NYSE: ONDK), the leading online lender to small business, today announced the debut of its OnDeck ONWARD Denver Challenge, where small businesses in Metro Denver can enter to win a cash prize of up to $10,000.

To participate in the OnDeck ONWARD Denver Challenge, small business owners are asked to submit responses to several questions, including why they chose Denver to start their small business and what owning a business in the Mile High City means to them. Based on their answers, a panel of local judges will select the top three finalists, who will be awarded $10,000, $5,000 or $3,000, respectively, to help them grow their business.

To qualify, the small business must have been in operation for at least a year, headquartered in the Metro Denver, Colorado area and have generated at least $100,000 in revenue in the last year. Business owners can enter to win any time before April 3, 2019. To enter and see the complete list of rules, visit

On Monday, April 8, OnDeck will announce the OnDeck ONWARD Denver Challenge finalists. The finalists will then present their submission to judges at a special ceremony at OnDeck’s downtown Denver office at 101 W. Colfax Avenue on Wednesday, April 24, 2019, where three winners will be selected.

Important Dates to Know:

The local judges for the OnDeck ONWARD Denver Challenge include:

“Denver boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the country, and small business owners are the backbone of this explosive growth,” said Cory Kampfer, chief operations officer and general counsel, OnDeck. “Our Denver office is a hub of OnDeck business activity, employing over 200 people and our company has lent over $267 million to Colorado small businesses. With the debut of the ONWARD Denver Challenge, we are strengthening our commitment to help local small business owners continue their tremendous contributions to Denver’s economy.”

About OnDeck

OnDeck (NYSE: ONDK) is the proven leader in transparent and responsible online lending to small business. Founded in 2006, the company pioneered the use of data analytics and digital technology to make real-time lending decisions and deliver capital rapidly to small businesses online.  Today, OnDeck offers a wide range of term loans and lines of credit customized for the needs of small business owners. The company also offers bank clients a comprehensive technology and services platform that facilitates online lending to small business customers through ODX, a wholly-owned subsidiary. OnDeck has provided over $10 billion in loans to customers in 700 different industries across the United States, Canada and Australia. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is rated 5 stars by Trustpilot. For more information, visit

Media Contact: Cast Influence for OnDeck;


The importance of blogs is to have an effective content marketing and SEO strategy. I would even say that it’s required. Blogs provide a medium for you to distribute thoughts, statistics, promotions, content, and collect leads. All of which is at the core of marketing today.


Check out some of these stats:

What is the purpose of blogging?

Thought Leadership and Education

Your blog needs to provide relevant information and links to further information. What information should it provide you ask? Well, it is a matter of identifying who you want to target and at what stage in the buyer journey the audience is. If they are just conducting research on a topic, you want to provide valuable information on topics they may be searching for. If they are closer to buying, you may want to provide a solution to a problem article. Just make sure that blogs don’t just stand alone. Offer ways for them to get more information via a download or connect them with another article providing them with more answers.


Blogging is one of the largest components to a successful SEO strategy. As stated in the stats above, websites with blogs have 434% more pages indexed. That increases your ability to rank dramatically. Additionally, blogs can be picked up and linked to by other relevant blogs and sites. This type of back linking is some of the most powerful you can receive.

Social Media

You have blogs and social media is a wide open audience. Blogging gives you valuable content and attracts more followers of you and your brand. It pushes people to your website where they may find additional resources that will help them in their quest for relevant information. Without a blog your social media will often just include other company or news blogs. Great as that is, wouldn’t you rather they were going to your website?!

Lead Generation

Last and certainly not least, generating leads is the most alluring part of blogs. Combining all the other reasons brings us to producing leads. It is one of the focal points on attracting people to your brand and thus finding ways for them to engage with you. Depending on how your website and blog is set up, you can offer almost unlimited ways of interaction. Signing up to a newsletter, listening to a Podcast, joining a webinar, announcing an upcoming event, and downloading a white paper are just a few.

Determining cost per sale and cost per lead. Establishing your marketing goals 


Download the marketing goal template here

One of the biggest complaints I hear from business owners and marketers is not having the capability to show the value and impact of marketing efforts. Core to this problem is understanding how marketing is defined. Marketing is a science and because of that, not everything will work the way you want it to—results can be unexpected. Marketing requires making multiple assumptions, rapid iteration based on results of those assumptions and a thesis of results. Until the first step (and investment) has been taken, further optimization of actions will be delayed until you fully determine the next best step forward. Each product, service, app and brand caters to a different demographic at varying points in time. There is no marketing quick fix to boost sales and you should be skeptical if someone promises you something that “just works.”

Where do you start?

You MUST paint a picture of where you are and where you want to be. This should be done in a way that can be visualized and easy to edit as key metrics or KPIs change. The metric that matters most is the cost per sale or overall sales resulting from the support of marketing.

I use the word ‘support’ because it’s nearly impossible to determine where someone heard about your company originally or how they initially engaged. It could have been an ad on the radio, over conversation with a friend, in a product review or a podcast interview. You want to prove value by showing that marketing support helped to push sales to the end goal.

How can I create a visualization of my data?

Here’s the good news: I have a free spreadsheet template to help you with this. It has been created to give you a way to show how budgets and conversion percentages can change the cost of sales. I explain a little more about this in the video. You can download the Marketing KPI Visualizer Template here.

If you need help determining where to find data or how to build your marketing strategy using a metric analysis, we can help. This can involve anything from measuring your website traffic to helping you build content programs. You may also want to look into CRM tools such as Hatchbuck or HubSpot that can dramatically increase your ability to track results.  

Top business and marketing tools (Issue 1)

Welcome to my first post in an ongoing effort to help you cast positive influence to your audience! Each month, I’ll share Justin’s Musts clueing you into the latest digital technologies and marketing tools I’m obsessing over.

In a 100% uptime world, you need tools that automate, track, report, and communicate your brand message while streamlining operational process. And don’t worry, cost friendly options are right at the top of the list. These are useful for all organizations from SMBs to large enterprises.

Keep in mind some of these tools may still be in beta, but are worth exploring to help them gain adoption.

Without further delay, here are a few tools I think are worth taking a look at. 

Pablo by Buffer (

Pablo allows you to use free high resolution stock images and quickly edit and size them for your social media posts. I use this religiously when I need to create an attractive image quickly.

TeamGantt (

TeamGantt is a paid service but it’s worth it to create easy to use Gantt charts. It has the ability to prioritize tasks in real time as they change in urgency and allows you to step out of list prioritization, giving you the ability to give your project teams relevant status and transparency to your clients. In the example, you will see how we use it for our website projects. This is a project manager dream.

Dashlane (

In a time of heightened security around passwords, take advantage of Dashlane. Dashlane securely remembers all of your passwords and auto fills forms for you. IT’S FREE for one device and super easy to use. You couldn’t ask for more. (

There are many calendar tools on the market, my favorite is This handy tool allows you to sync your calendar to automatically let others see when you’re free. No more back and forth trying to herd cats! also lets you create team events for scheduling and specify the time durations for scheduling. We have even incorporated the embed code into our own website.

Make sure you subscribe to our blog. We will be giving you a monthly list of the new technologies that you can utilize to help propel your success.