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Six years ago we started WebShare with the singular goal of passing on the knowledge and skills we had acquired in Internet marketing to our clients and partnering with them to take their digital strategy to the next level.Over the years we’ve been fortunate to experience tremendous growth that has allowed us to continue to add expertise and experience to the team, including a stable of experts in online advertising, conversion optimization, SEM, social media, and web design.  But the area we’re probably best known for has been our analytics expertise.  Offering a full range of services, from strategy to implementation and training to deep-dive analysis, our team includes thought leaders such as WAA Innovation Award finalists, industry authors, sought after speakers, seasoned trainers, and former Google employees.

Today we take a huge step forward with that growth as we combine the expertise of three of the industry’s top firms to create a world class organization featuring some of digital marketing’s finest minds.  WebShare, VKI Studios, and PublicInsite will be joining forces to give our clients a true one-stop shop for all of their digital needs.  This will provide clients access to a team with exceptional depth and expertise across a broad range of disciplines that include search marketing, usability and conversion testing, web design & development, training, business / competitive intelligence, and more.

Above all, we realize that we could not be where we are today without you – our clients, our team of employees, our partners, and our community.  We would like to sincerely thank you all for being a part of WebShare, and we look forward to what the future brings.

If you’d like to learn more about the merger, we’ve set up a FAQ page, and don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.  We’ll be blogging, tweeting, posting and conversing from Cardinal Path from here on out, so don’t forget to follow, friend, subscribe and friend.

We couldn’t be more thrilled about our future with Cardinal Path and what it will mean to our clients, partners and team — both current and future!

Signing off from the WebShare blog,

Corey & Dave

A guy walks into an airport bar and asks the bartender if he can just take a look at the phone.  “You don’t want to make a call?”  “Nope, just want to look at the phone.”  I know it sounds like the beginning of one, but this is not a joke, and I actually did this a while back.  Why?  Well, I needed to call Southwest Airlines to reschedule a flight – and I knew the number was 1-800 -I-FLY-SWA.  Which is great, except for the fact that at the time, I didn’t know how to figure out what numbers all those letters mapped to, and I was staring at a Blackberry dialpad full of numbers – not a letter in sight.

Fast forward a few years…

I spend a fair amount of time on airplanes, and every once in a while a past occupant of the seat I happen to be in leaves something interesting to look at between the all-electronics-better-be-off phase until 10,000 feet.  Recently, I picked up a copy of the in-flight duty free magazine and found this little gem:

image of macys alphanumeric phone number on duty free magazine page

See what’s going on here?  The person who scribbled this out on the in-flight magazine was desperately trying to figure out what the phone number for Macy’s shop by phone service was.  Yes, they knew it was “1-800-45-MACYS”, but without a phone that actually *has* the letters over the numbers of the dial pad, that phone number is pretty useless.  This person actually drew out a telephone dial pad and tried to put the letters where they thought they should be…and incorrectly at that (the “ABC” starts over the “2”, not the “1”).

Alphanumeric phone numbers are great in 30 second TV spots or 60 second radio ads – they’re easier to remember than a string of numbers, and since the ad will likely be over by the time you reach the telephone, these are helpful for getting the phone call response to the ad itself.  But if you’ve ever tried to actually call one, well, we all have to admit alphanumerics are just plain harder to dial than numbers.

The web is a different animal

If you’re looking at an ad or a website that entices you to call a phone number, it doesn’t just “end” after a matter of seconds.  You don’t have to engrain an alphanumeric phone number into someone’s head with a catchy jingle, because odds are they’re going to punch those numbers into the phone while those numbers are right in front of them…and it will be easier for them to dial without having to look for letters.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of abandoning alphanumeric phone numbers for your online marketing pursuits is that you can use either dedicated phone numbers or pools of phone numbers to track the performance of virtually any advertising campaigns you use to drive traffic or phone leads.  If a goal of your website or your online marketing strategy is to get your phone ringing, then you need to be able to source an offline conversion (like a phone call) back to the click, the ad, the keyword, the email, the site, the content, the version, or the campaign in order to focus your advertising dollars on profitable advertising efforts with measurable ROI.

Many phone tracking solutions out there integrate directly with your web analytics solution.  One very nice solution is Mongoose Metrics, which integrates with Google Analytics, Yahoo! Web Analytics, Omniture SiteCatalyst, WebTrends, Coremetrics, Unica, and more.  You can even use phone tracking with your conversion testing strategy – here’s a case study from a while back showing an integration between a phone tracking solution and Google Website Optimizer.

Summing it all up

Those easy-to-remember alphanumeric phone numbers do have their place, and they can provide some really nice advantages, especially in the offline world.  But online, not having to rely on a single, hard to dial number lets us gain so much from a measurability standpoint that you might want to think about leaving your alphanumerics off of your online initiatives.

So back to the in-flight magazine scribbles… even if Macy’s did eventually get that phone call, I’ll bet they’ll never know what ad campaign was responsible for it!

By the way, if YOU were the one who drew that picture in the airplane magazine, I’d love to hear from you in the comments 😉

We help answer questions like this all the time! And with this simple method, you can too.

With WebShare redesign projects, we do more than just build pretty websites. A truly good website is a combination of being aesthetically pleasing, functional and highly measurable. The purpose of the site has to be clearly defined and the results must be tracked, tested and analyzed in order to make informed decisions to better serve its purpose. Testing, measuring, analyzing: This is what we do.

We recently completed development on the new C3 Concerts website (www.c3concerts.com) and have configured some very common additional Google Analytics tracking to provide the necessary insights to make better decisions about the site. After collecting enough data, seeing how effective various design elements are on the site is a snap!

Example: There are two banners on the home page to showcase various events, promotions or news articles. An internal debate exists over the necessity and/or effectiveness of these banners.

Enter WebShare and Google Analytics. In their native state, these banners are simply links to other pages within the website. Clicks on these banners send the user to the expected page and GA records a standard pageview of that resulting page. However, while this shows how many visitors are viewing a particular page, the method doesn’t provide the insights of how I got to that page (other than knowing I came from the home page). For C3 Concerts, we add virtual pageviews to the onclick event of the anchor tag that links to the target page.

Using an organized naming convention for virtual pageviews makes it very easy to see in the Content Drilldown reports:

  • A banner was clicked
  • Which banner was clicked (1 or 2)
  • What type of announcement (event, news, promotion)
  • Info about the specific announcement

For example, Banner 1 links to a specific event:

<a onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackPageview', '/vpv/banners/banner1/event/name-of-event']);"
href="event.html" >BANNER</a>

Note the “vpv” that leads it off…by putting all virtual pageviews that we create in this base “folder”, we can easily create profiles in Google Analytics that filter this “fake” data out so as not to throw off our true pageview counts, bounce rates, etc…

In Google Analytics, a few clicks through the Content Drilldown report provides the answers needed to make decisions:

  • How many banners were clicked?
  • Which banner was clicked more often?
  • How many events, news or promotions were clicked via banners?
  • How many click-thrus per promotion?

About C3 Concerts

C3 creates, books, markets, and produces live experiences, concerts, events, and just about anything that makes people stand up and cheer. Among others, C3 produces the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Lollapalooza, as well as more than 800 shows nationwide. In additon, C3 offers representation services and publicity to artist and entertainers.

One of our most popular services at WebShare is to critique ecommerce sites, and one concept that comes up often is perceptual blindness.  This is the tendency to overlook something that is right in front of you because it’s not where you expect it to be.  Think of the internal site search box on a website.  If you moved this to the very bottom some customers may conclude the site is missing the ability to search because they are not used to looking for the search box at the bottom of the page.  This is why we say it’s often better to “Dare not to be different” in certain areas of website design.

I just recently experienced the perfect example that illustrates our point.  A friend of mine in Germany found out she is pregnant, and so I just had to send her two books right away.

I logged on to Amazon.com like I always do, entered her address and was about to pay when I saw that Amazon was estimating it would take over a month for her to receive the books, plus the shipping was more than the cost of one of the books!  At this point I was beginning to rethink buying these books from Amazon.  On a whim I decided to check out Amazon.de (the German version of Amazon).

One thing to point out is that I don’t speak a lick of German, but with Amazon you don’t have to!  I searched for the titles in English, the pictures of the covers confirmed I was ordering the right books.  So now it was time to add them to my cart.  While the text on the “add to cart” button was in German, the buttons and checkout process was so intuitive that I knew exactly what to do without even reading the text.  Since the spelling of the months are extremely similar to English, I was easily able to see that the delivery time was much more appropriate and since I was buying on the German site and shipping to Germany I was able to get Free shipping!  (which I knew because the location of the shipping charges are in the same place as on the US site—right where you would expect them).

Checkout Usability US Amazon

Checkout Usability Germany Amazon

By now you should be picking up on a consistent theme.  I was able to make this purchase without knowing any German because Amazon understood the value of consistency and meeting expectations.  While it is important to make your company stand out from the rest, be careful to ensure that you don’t actually make it harder for people to do business with you.  People abandon shopping carts for lots of reasons—don’t let a frustrating UI be one of them.

When improving the user experience of your site or just fine tuning elements to improve conversion, it’s important to understand your user types first before you make any rash decisions. When we work with clients on designing a site, one of the first questions to ask is who will be using the site? Specifically a user’s age plays a huge role in what people like and how people think. In this post I’ll generally talk about how users cognitively look at interactive mediums (not just the web).

There are many different types of users out there, especially when you think of how they learn and digest information.  So to quickly categorize them, they are: kids, teens, and adults. Many of these people use technology every day and are accustomed to make certain decisions based on their device of choice, their way of looking at the world, and most importantly what matters to them.

Kids
Kids are click o’ holics. They’re very visual and will click on virtually anything regardless of whether or not it’s a button (their favorite color, character, etc). This is why the majority of kid’s interfaces are created in Adobe Flash. It’s the visual/interaction engagement factor (animation, games, etc) that gets kids attention. Kids are sponges and generally absorb everything and learn through visuals, audio, and interaction (kinesthetic learning). Kids will spend 2 seconds on a screen with just text, but will spend a great deal of time on a page with visuals and interaction.

Without experience with different types of interfaces, kids don’t know any better. Kids are more likely to click on elements that have nothing to do with the content or that lead them to a dead end. They except what they see and generally don’t make a lot of criticisms (like we do) on how an interface could be better.

Teens
Teenagers spend a great amount of time online through a home computer, but more than likely a wireless device (cell/smart phone, iTouch, etc). Their fixated on what and how other people see them, so their online presence with friends is important, especially social networks. They’re not adults yet, but would like to be considered one.

Like I said before kids are sponges, but as kids get older the ways they learn and take in information change or tend to favor one vs. the other (visually, auditory, or kinesthetically). A teen is more likely to read more about what a peer thought of something than an adult and more so what their friends thought of it.

Adults
As we get older, we get stingier about our interface decisions. We know what we want and we want it now. At this point we know what feels wrong in an interface but maybe not able to express why or how it could be better. More than likely if an interface is hard to use, the business wasn’t thinking about their users and those users have long since went somewhere else, or struggled through the process of using that interface if they couldn’t go anywhere else.

Generally adults with interfaces or on the web are looking for information or services, selling/buying items, businesses, people (friends), basically anything you can think of. So based on the user’s needs, interfaces work out best when choices are user centric, unlike kids or teens who don’t mind being told what to do or having things already done/filled out for them. Left brain, right brain, the learning aspect continues and tends to stick. If a person learns a certain way (say, visually), it’s more than likely that the person will always learn things that way.

So what kind of learner are you? When I say “fire truck”, what comes to mind?

If you’re a visual learner like me, you would say red. If you’re an auditory learner, you might be thinking about the siren that it makes or that you actually saw one or heard one this morning.

Here’s another example, for the next time you get gas for your vehicle. At the gas pump you swipe your debit card and type in your pin, if that numeric pad didn’t beep while you were pressing the buttons then I bet you’ll look at the screen to see how many asterisks are shown. Plus if the numeric pad didn’t ‘feel’ like it was being pressed, it would have the same effect, you looking at the screen to verify.

Regardless, it’s important to understand how users think vs. what actions you’re asking them to do. That way you can apply various techniques to your interactive mediums and create a holistic experience that’s intuitive. Your users will thank you for it.

Website Design

Goodbye WebShare, Hello Cardinal Path!

Cardinal Path blog post

Six years ago we started WebShare with the singular goal of passing on the knowledge and skills we had acquired in Internet marketing to our clients and partnering with them to take their digital strategy to the next level.Over the years we’ve been fortunate to experience tremendous growth that has allowed us to continue to … Read Full Post

Alphanumeric Phone Numbers Online

Cardinal Path blog post

A guy walks into an airport bar and asks the bartender if he can just take a look at the phone.  “You don’t want to make a call?”  “Nope, just want to look at the phone.”  I know it sounds like the beginning of one, but this is not a joke, and I actually did … Read Full Post

Are These Design Elements Providing the Expected Value Add?

Cardinal Path blog post

We help answer questions like this all the time! And with this simple method, you can too. With WebShare redesign projects, we do more than just build pretty websites. A truly good website is a combination of being aesthetically pleasing, functional and highly measurable. The purpose of the site has to be clearly defined and … Read Full Post

How to deal with perceptual blindness – Dare to not be different

Cardinal Path blog post

One of our most popular services at WebShare is to critique ecommerce sites, and one concept that comes up often is perceptual blindness.  This is the tendency to overlook something that is right in front of you because it’s not where you expect it to be.  Think of the internal site search box on a … Read Full Post

User types and cognitive learning

Cardinal Path blog post

When improving the user experience of your site or just fine tuning elements to improve conversion, it’s important to understand your user types first before you make any rash decisions. When we work with clients on designing a site, one of the first questions to ask is who will be using the site? Specifically a … Read Full Post

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