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If you asked 100 User Experience (UX) designers the question, “what is UX?”, you would likely get 100 unique answers. The fact that even the UX community has a hard time putting a precise definition on UX says a lot about this area in marketing. Simply put: what we do is complex because people are complex.

Jeremy Williams working on UX

UX design is a process where the user is at the center of the product development cycle. It takes into consideration a person’s thought pattern and decision-making process to create effective and functional website designs, advertisements, marketing materials and an endless variety of other applications.

In UX, we use what is called the Human Centered Design Process. This process starts with understanding the target audience we’re designing for, ending with discovering solutions and recommendations to meet their needs. This process consists of three phases, discovery, design and user-testing.

The discovery phase is where we find out what the business needs are. UX designers figure out who we are designing for, and research all we can about those users. In the design phase, we use what we learned in the discovery phase to identify design opportunities, and develop wireframes and prototypes around those ideas. In the user-testing phase, we test out prototypes to make sure we have satisfied the needs of the users and make changes or updates accordingly.

So now you have an idea of what UX is, you might think, “Why should I care about UX?”

Think of UX as an extension of customer service. UX is a form of customer service brought into the digital sphere. With the ubiquity of the internet and users having more choice now than ever, people have no tolerance for poor customer service or an online experience. Time News recently published an article showing that 55% of users spend fewer than 15 seconds. This means that for more than half of your users, you have 15 seconds to grab their attention and convince them to choose your company. This is not much time at all.

Developing a website, app or e-commerce site can be a major investment for many small to midsize businesses. In our current digital marketing landscape, successful UX is key to help generate leads, conversions and online purchases. Without understanding how online users navigate your website, view your advertising or marketing materials, you run the risk of losing potential business.

So what now? If you’re considering building a new business platform, choose a Tacoma marketing firm that implements UX design as the foundation for the design process. If you have an existing web site, e-commerce site or app, contact M Agency for more information on our UX services. We’re available to answer any questions you may have on UX.


Digital trends and social media have revolutionized the way businesses communicate with consumers. But with the ever growing list of platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, you may find yourself confused about how to best represent your business online. Contrary to popular belief, businesses do not need to have a presence on every social platform. But to stay relevant, companies and brands do have to become digital. In our current social media landscape, new users may find the sheer amount of platforms to be daunting.

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms on the market, with an estimated 400 million active users. Instagram essentially gave birth to what is known as influencer marketing, a 21st-century form of word-of-mouth. Companies and brands target popular key leaders in their niche to promote products or services.

In the mix of potential platforms to promote your business, one thing is for certain: Instagram is an effective and inexpensive way to boost your business. M Agency, in collaboration with Tacoma photographer and Instagram influencer Danny Owens, created this infographic to help businesses best utilize their Instagram accounts.

M Agency Instagram for Business infographic

Our tips and tricks follow two main categories: business and content. It’s important to keep in mind that audiences on Instagram are typically only interested in content that serves a purpose in their lives, as well as content that is visually pleasing and aesthetically consistent. Take #4, for example. While not inherent knowledge, it’s essential to create a profile of consistent image quality and filter use. Many companies choose to use secondary apps like VSCO or Snapseed to ease this process. Simply posting ads on the Instagram platform won’t draw audiences; the images have to be captivating and relevant.

On the business side, we recommend developing a clear business plan. What is your ROI? What audience are you targeting? Instagram provides access to your audience analytics, making it easier to create tangible business goals. With Instagram’s paid advertising tools, businesses are able to spend as little as $3 to see an increase in traffic.

Taking your business to trendy digital platforms may feel daunting at first. However Instagram is a powerful, impressionable platform, certainly one worth conquering. Follow our 8 steps to building your business’ Instagram and begin seeing the results in no time.

Follow Danny Owens on Instagram

Follow M Agency on Instagram


It’s clear to anyone outside of a cave that the world changes faster than ever these days—and for better or worse, these changes include search engines. As search giants like Google have countless staff members dedicated towards adapting to our changing world all the time by growing and evolving in service of its customers, small businesses trying to get noticed will have to keep up with the latest emergent technologies and trends in order to stay ahead.

The new landscape of SEO in 2016

To make sure that you’re on top of these trends, we’ve put together this helpful guide so that you can best optimize your site for search engines—because in case you haven’t noticed, search engine optimization means something significantly different today than it used to.

Include More Video Content
People prefer watching to reading because it’s quicker, more engaging and allows them to multitask. In case you haven’t noticed, every traditionally text-focused site nowadays has video components—and for good reason! It’s not just people who prefer videos, search engines do too. The majority of Google searches are videos, and pages that include them are far more likely to get higher rankings and click-through rates. Moreover, the popularity of YouTube, Snapchat, Vine and other video apps or sites has proven that users’ appetite for video content is only increasing.

When making video content for your site, just remember these golden rules: 1) More short and sweet videos to allow for today’s short attention spans are always better than fewer long videos that may lose people, 2) Never post anything that you feel isn’t up to the caliber of the rest of your site—it’s probably not worth having video on your site if it means diminishing your overall brand.

 Prioritize Mobile-Optimization and Assist Digital Assistants
Given the exponential proliferation of smartphones and tablets, it’s not surprising that mobile searches finally surpassed desktop searches for the first time this year. This trend is bound to continue, to the extent that creating a more mobile-friendly site is arguably even more important than making your site desktop-friendly. In fact, search-giant Google has recently announced that desktop-specific sites are no longer necessary—and with digital assistants like Siri doing all the work for us these days, they could be right. To read more on this topic, check out our recent blog on the importance of mobile responsive websites here.

Why type in something yourself when your handy dandy digital assistant can do it for you? Siri, Cortana, Echo and Google Now are getting smarter all the time and more used than ever before. Now what does this mean for your site? Well, unless you want to completely miss out on this hugely growing marketing opportunity for your content, you’re going to need to make it easily searchable by Siri and friends.

The best way to do that is by using long-tail keywords, which people are more likely to speak than the kind of conventional keywords people often type. These are usually 3 to 4 keyword phrases that are very specifically targeted towards what people are searching. Fortunately, this usually just amounts to being descriptive—people are usually searching for exactly what it is they’re going to buy.

Aggregate Content
Ask yourself a question: when you’re researching a given topic on the internet, how many websites do you want to visit? Would you prefer to spend lots of time picking up scattered information from a variety of different sites, or would you rather find one thoroughly researched, definitive source that has already amassed all the information you could possibly ever want on a topic? The obvious answer to this question explains why Wikis have become so popular.

Aggregating content can be an incredibly powerful tool in that it is extremely efficient (because you’re effectively using or creating an algorithm or program to collect content for you) and has the potential to provide your website visitors with the resources of the entire internet, However, aggregation should never entirely substitute for curating content, because you’ll also want to make sure that your site has its own unique content attributes and because you won’t want your automated aggregator to accidentally pick up anything irrelevant, inappropriate, plagiarized, or unwanted in any other way.

Stay Connected on Social Media
Like everyone else, Google recognizes the value of social media—and already has deals with Twitter and Facebook to include social media posts with your search results. This increasing interconnection between search engines and social media means that you need to make sure to keep your accounts active and engaging in order to draw followers from search rankings and keep them by steadily providing quality content.

Write Longer Articles
The logic for this one is simple: longer articles mean more keywords to optimize for search engines. However, this doesn’t mean adding more filler. If your articles are longer but redundant, people will become bored and leave the site. After enough long and repetitive articles, your site may get a reputation for being depthless clickbait. On the other hand, if your articles are longer but still interesting, then it means that people will want to spend more time on your site reading these articles, and become more likely to engage with your other content. Thus, by including material that is both thoughtful and substantial, you can both gain and keep more new readers.

Localize Your Searches
Though people often think of the internet primarily as a means of facilitating global connections, it’s also useful and popular for its ability to easily connect a person to nearby people, products, services, or businesses that they may not have otherwise discovered (see: Yelp.) It follows then that a huge proportion (50%, according to business2community.com) of the searches people make on the internet are made in the hopes of finding local results.

Google (with its expanded local indexing) and Apple (with Apple Watch) are getting hip to this, and you should too—by including plenty of local keywords and making sure that your business is listed on Yelp, Google Maps and anything similar. Even if you’re not a business with a storefront or publicly-accessible office, these tools can help you to appear in these kinds of localized searches that are becoming more important every year. After all, the internet can’t help connect you to your local community if you don’t let it know that you exist.


Sources:

Six SEO Rules for 2016
The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2016
7 SEO Tricks To Improve Your 2016 SEO
Three Good Reason to Target Long Tail Keywords
How to Target Long Tail Keywords for Your SEO Campaign
SEO Trends to Look Out For In 2015
The Official Content Aggregation Definition


create a personal brand
What is a personal brand, and why is it important? Your personal brand is the combination of everything representing you – online and off. It’s important that your personal brand authentically represents you: who you are, what you do, and your M: your purpose, your passion, what drives you to do what you do.

Building an authentic personal brand will enable you to connect with people who share your passions, values, interests, and aspirations. A successful personal brand can become a platform for you to share knowledge, resources, and even generate revenue.

We recently created a personal brand and website for healthcare consultant, Deb Hagemann. Deb was looking for guidance on how she could stand out from other providers. Here’s what Deb had to say about working with M:

“Having an effective personal brand is critical to my professional success as my customers need to understand who I am…not just what services I provide. The feedback from my website regarding both style and content has been fantastic!  I consider the folks at M Agency to be key partners providing the needed support as my business grows.”
-Deb Hagemann

Here’s how we approached building Deb’s personal brand:

 

Step 1: Start with why
Why do you do what you do? What makes you get out of bed in the morning? Getting this fundamental question answered is the root of your personal brand. It’s the concept that will connect with the audience you’ve been yearning to attract. For Deb, the “why” was clear: to provide solutions to complex problems while focusing on patient advocacy.

Personal branding photography

Step 2: Define your goals

What do you hope to accomplish? Who are you trying to reach? Answering these questions will help you decide how to brand yourself. We decided on the name Hagemann Healthcare for Deb to allow for expansion of the business in the future.

Step 3: Find your voice

One of my favorite sayings is “action precedes inspiration” and I absolutely believe this to be true. Start writing, and let it flow – I promise that it will get easier once you just dive in and get started. Your voice should fit your audience and also sound like you – a good tip is to read what you’ve written out loud. If it’s too hard for you to read like a script, the language is probably more complicated than it needs to be. In working with Deb, she found exactly this – a talented speaker already, all she needed to do was sit down and get to writing!

Personal Brand Photography

Step 4: Get personal 

The final step is to use your personal brand to truly connect and put yourself out there for the world. It’s difficult, but that is what people crave online. Share your why. Have you known since you were 5 that this is what you were meant to do? Tell us. Did you experience a crushing life event that helped guide your journey to where you are today? We want to know. Getting personal is the first step to creating opportunities to make connections you never before thought possible.

 

Check out this personal brand in our portfolio!

 

Need help getting started on your personal brand in 2016? Send us an email today: hello@whatisyourm.com


We’ve been approached several times in the past few months from friends and colleagues asking us, “What’s new with MPS?”

And we would reply with a smile and, “Oh, you know, the same ol’, same ol’. Busy with lots of projects and awesome clients!”

FB-COMING-SOON-ORANGEBut something has been weighing heavy on our shoulders and, well, it’s confession time. Yes, we’ve been keeping a secret. Although we were careful with undercover meetings and worked feverishly in the quiet shadows, it was inevitable that the truth would soon reveal itself… and that the world would know what Marketing Puget Sound has really been up to.

Alas, today is not that day that we are ready to completely announce the big plans ahead. But rest assure – it’s coming soon…


snapSnapchat has become a top tier platform when it comes to social media, up there with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With the launch of Snapchat Discover and the “Stories” users have to opportunity to share and interact on a whole different level. A concept that brands can really capitalize on if done the right way. Before taking the plunge with your own company, there are a few things you need to consider.

Know Your Audience
It’s important to know the audience you’re trying to reach down to the very core. Just because Snapchat may be the new platform that everything is using, that may not mean it’s the perfect fit for your brand or business. Your target audience may be more inclined to use platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn and in that case, those are the ones you should be sticking to. Knowing your audience is the most important step to understanding whether or not Snapchat can be an asset to reaching your business goals.

How It Fits Into Your Social Media Strategy
If you decide that marketing with Snapchat can be beneficial to your business, you need to decide on how you see it fitting into you social media strategy. There are so many different platforms, so you have to consider what other aspect Snapchats can bring. The app itself allows for brands to connect with consumers on a more personal level and since users are in control of which stories they watch, businesses are forced to think outside the box. Snapchat can allow you to reach younger audiences and provide interesting video content that may not be accessible otherwise.

Connect Authentically
Snapchat is a platform where the focus isn’t about selling your product, but more about building a brand. People choose to follow a company’s story because they are providing interesting experiences that can’t be seen anywhere else. If you are consistently pushing a product through Snapachat, the platform won’t be of any benefit to your business. Today’s consumers want to connect on a more personal level and are interested in the values and goals of the brands they interact with, so content that makes them laugh, think and wonder will go a long way.

Snapchat is continuing to grow and it’s a great way to bring another element into you social media strategy. It allows you to create new and interesting content that can help to give your brand a voice. Take into consideration the aspects above as you start exploring this new platformopprtunity.

Source: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/snapchat-a-beginners-guide-for-brands/


Countless scientific studies have proven that playing a sport can add many benefits to one’s life. One unexpected benefit for an athletic enthusiast is a leg up when it comes to scoring that dream job! More and more employers are finding that applicants with a sports background make great employees. Does that mean you have to be a former Olympian or a retired professional football player to be first on the hiring list? Absolutely not! The Cornell Chronicle of Cornell University says, “Research with current workers and with retirees tell us: Participation in competitive youth sports ‘spills over’ to occupationally advantageous traits that persist across a person’s life”.

So what are these sought after traits that employers are looking for? Well, according to Elizabeth Covay Minor, Research Director at Michigan State University, in an interview with Fortune Magazine says, “persistence, attentiveness, organization and flexibility” are soft social skills that are important to employers. Other qualities that student athletes possess are: leadership ability, self-confidence and self-respect — also greatly valued by employers. Playing sports teaches future employees essential lessons in teamwork, reaching goals and even learning to cope with failure! Learning from these lessons will prepare former athletes for future professional workplace success.

Trent Gibson, Multimedia Engineer at MPSHere at Marketing Puget Sound, a great example of how playing sports has spilled over to benefit our team of professionals is through our Multimedia Engineer, Trent Gibson. Trent brings his semi-pro baseball skills with him to the office every day. His “team-first” attitude and competitive nature have added to our professional growth at MPS. Trent understands that teamwork is essential to reaching our goals, and our clients’ goals. As a key player of our Multimedia Marketing team in Tacoma, Trent uses his competitive nature off the field to guarantee every design we produce at MPS is a marketing masterpiece!


 

Sources:
http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2014/06/youth-sports-spill-over-career-success
http://fortune.com/2014/06/19/high-school-sports-business-cornell-job-market/


Microsoft Dropping the Browser Brand of Internet Explorer in Order to Compete is Great News for Website Designers

By: Trang Nguyen | MPS Blogger

Internet Explorer is like the last kid to be picked in gym class when it comes to Internet browsers. For years now, it has taken a back seat to Safari, Firefox, and Chrome to just name a few. If you really think about it, when was the last time you used Internet Explorer by choice? So it was no surprise when Microsoft recently announced that it would be dropping the Internet Explorer brand and moving in a different direction for its next browser release.

Internet-Explorer-600x390There have been numerous rumors swirling that Microsoft would be eliminating Internet Explorer, but the official confirmation has created a lot of buzz. Specifically, from web designers and developers who are excited to see the browser go. Internet Explorer has been a headache inducing program and is stigmatized for being buggy, making coding a website immensely difficult. Broken pages and having to deal with the same issues occurring over and over again are only a few of the issues. It doesn’t seem like the public is very sad to see Internet Explorer kicked to the curb, Microsoft included. There has been so much negative feedback in the past that the company looks to move on.

Although Microsoft is choosing to drop the brand, the process won’t be happening immediately. Some version of Internet Explorer will still be programmed into the new Windows operating system, but the new browser, currently labeled Project Spartan will be the default way for users to gain access to the web. Eventually Internet Explorer will be phased out completely. This new browser, Project Spartan is said to be faster, sleeker and more user friendly, very similar to its competitive counterparts.

Here at Marketing Puget Sound, custom websites are a major aspect of our business. We are excited to see how Project Spartan will affect web development and design when it is released. What are your thoughts on Microsoft cutting the ties?

Source: Hello Giggles  & Site Point
Photo Credit: Beta News

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Why it is Important to Market your Website’s Patient Portal

By: MPS Writer

Patient Portal Marketing | Marketing Puget SoundClients we work with are in healthcare, from chiropractors to dentists and even facial surgeons. As we work to build new websites and redesign old ones for these specific clients, we find that requests for patient portals are becoming more and more common. Patient Portals vary in their functionality, but some allow patients to view their information, request appointments, view test results, make payments and overall have greater access to all of their health information. The concept is to engage people to be more involved and aware of their health.

This is not just a trendy new online feature; it’s actually a law, which states that not only are medical offices required to have a patient portal on their website, but there must be a log in rate of at least 5% by patients or the medical office is charged with a fee. This last requirement is where some healthcare businesses run into problems. Many patients are not even aware that their medical office has on online patient portal, or even how to access to it or what it has to offer, which where our team can help.

There are a number of strategic techniques that MPS can put into play, from the design of collateral to a strategically planned campaign. Each medical practice has a different target audience, so when you are thinking about how to engage activity for your practice’s Patient Portal, always consider the demographics, age, and needs of your audience in order to make the greatest impact.

If you need any ideas or help with getting a higher conversion rate for your Patient Portal, we are here to help! Give us a call today or use our online chat feature to schedule a consultation and learn how Marketing Puget Sound can add a patient portal and improve your business.


Sources: http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/236857/helping-patients-get-the-most-from-patient-portals.html
photo credit: In The Zone – DSC_5073 via photopin (license)


Today, digital marketing is an essential part of running a business. When running a company it is important to have a steady customer base and know that there is a consumer base awareness. Many people (business owners included) are under the impression that effective digital marketing is a costly affair. No matter what your business is, digital marketing can help drive your sales.
Contrary to popular belief, there are many free techniques that can be utilized for digital marketing – you just need to know how. Below, we will outline a list of tools that are at your disposal and that have a successful, proven track record for helping online marketers. But don’t get too excited yet; before you begin thinking about implementing any of these techniques you must have a clear understanding of whom you are targeting and what the main message of your campaign is. Here are some tips to help your business on its digital marketing journey without breaking the bank.

Have a Plan
Like any successful project, goals need to be set. Decide what you want to achieve from this marketing campaign, what and why are you promoting, and if you want to develop brand awareness. When you have decided what you want from the campaign it will be easier to implement relevant strategies.

Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization is the technique of structuring your presence online and defining where your website will rank in different search engines for different keywords. When starting off, ensure you know what people are searching for in relation to your product or service and how they are searching for it. You can find out this information through Google Analytics and Google Ad words – both of these tools are free and there are plenty of resources online that can help you understand how to use them. When you are aware and informed of the SEO techniques that you can implement you will successfully be able to start providing content related to what customers are searching for by including relevant key words.

Fresh Content
It is important to make visitors want to return to your website. In many cases a customer will visit your site once and never return because they have attained whatever information they were looking for. In order to engage visitors and encourage them to return to the site it is essential that you update your site with fresh, interesting and relevant content. This will increase traffic to your website and in turn, drive sales.

Blog
Fresh content will keep your site ranking in various search engines. A good way to update content on your site is by blogging. A blog will allow you to express your voice and opinion on relevant topics or issues in your industry. By incorporating keywords it is a practical way of improving your search engine optimization as well as gaining a regular user base for your website.

Social Media
Social media is now more than ever an essential part of running any business. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and Google + can all be used to connect with customers as well as to broaden your audience. Companies can effectively use social media to build and maintain relationships with their customer base. Many businesses now use Facebook and Twitter as the main point of contact with customers to help with any queries, problems, or suggestions. Social media can also be used as a point of self-promotion to spread the business name to the wider social media community.

Monitor
As you start implementing digital marketing practices to your business it is key to monitor results. You can manage and keep track of results using tools such as Google Analytics, and Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to monitor social media work. If you monitor the results of your work it will be easier to see what is working well and what isn’t. Knowing this information will assist you in further development to utilize the most effective marketing techniques for your business.

If you are serious about improving your business’ digital marketing to spread awareness about your company and in turn drive sales, the above techniques will give you the power to do so.