Get Ready to Rebound

June 4, 2020

Why would anybody invest in their website at a time like this! We hear that a lot and our response is the same: Now is the perfect time to re-focus on your website.

Make the moves others are pausing on and use this downtime to get your web presence in order. Start with what has the highest impact and refocus on the core objectives of your business.

Sales Pages – How Long Since You Really Reviewed These?

Sales pages are the high stakes pages that turn viewers in to leads. Review them, prioritize them and identify what needs to be updated or cleaned up. Is the language still current? Are there links to collatoral or reference docs? Do the headlines or talking points read as good as they should?

Start to update the pages that are most important or impactful to your business. Maybe consider a brand new landing page or start from scratch if things are really bad.


Almost everyone has more time then they like on their hands right now, including your best customers. Take the time to reach out to them and get an updated testimonial. They’ll appreciate you’re thinking of them and should have the time to get back to you fast. If you don’t have testimonials on your site then now is the time to add them.


You finally have time to take better photos. Do it now and get rid of that old stuff you rushed on your website. It will look fresh and you won’t have to worry about it when things get busy again.

Old Blog posts & old pages

Start pruning and be merciless. Of course you’ll want to check your traffic or GA to make sure you don’t lose any valuable pages first. Let’s be real – nobody cares about that 2015 post you wrote about tech trends, old product pages that are still published even if you removed them from the menu and other clunky content. It will feel good to get rid of this stuff and might even motivate you to update or replace some of it. You won’t get the time to do this for awhile so do it now.

Don’t let bad times stall a good move. Now might be the best time to dust the cobwebs of your website, prune your old content or get the housekeeping done while things are slow. Business and commerce will continue, like it always has, and it will favor those that are ready when the doors bust back open.

It’s easy to hit the pause button, freeze up or panic right now. Resist that urge, take deep breath and seize this opportunity. Somebody is going to take advantage of the situation we find ourselves in right now and for a lot of businesses everything has changed. The real question is how your business will come out the other side of this.

VWM can help you redesign pages, improve your website or take advantage of this time to better position your website.

About the Author:

Travis Melvin is a digital marketing professional. He currently works for VWM and lives in New York City.

O Canada – Attendee Takeaways from Unbounce CTA Conference 2016

July 7, 2016

When my CEO suggested a free trip to Vancouver attending the Unbounce Call-to-Action Conference 2016, I quickly emphasized how valuable this would be. It had been more than 15 years since I had been to Vancouver and, truth be told, any excuse to get back would work. Luckily, it turns out the conference was awesome! Below are a few personal takeaways I found valuable and wanted to share for anyone interested in conversion optimization or digital marketing.

1) Behind every click is a human being.

human websites are better

Often times we marketers are so caught up in the weeds of conversion metrics, data trends, ranking signals, traffic volume… etc. that it gets really easy to forget this basic truth – humans are behind all clicks. There are many paths to choose when implementing a digital strategy and lots of shiny flashy bells and whistles that might work in the short-term. It’s hard to go wrong in the long run when you stay focused on providing value to humans and not just bots or algorithms.

2) Jargon litters the internet like plastic litters our oceans.

no more jargon

Loved this Unbounce Dejargonator Chrome Extension and fun and useful way to detect lame copy too many companies use far too often. Even our agency is guilty in this regard on a few pages, and it was a good reminder to streamline our copy and keep it 100.

3) Try Twitter Cards.

Maybe the social media specialists out there were aware of this, and I definitely needed a refresher. Twitter Cards seem like an easy thing to setup for any client using Twitter. More on Twitter cards can be found here.

4) Raise User Motivation to help conversion.

motivate me

Personally, my favorite speaker at the conference was André Morys both in form and substance. I can’t do justice to the depth of what he touched on, but the takeaway is that raising user motivation is really undervalued in terms of improving conversion/performance. Like many marketers, I tend to get caught up in removing obstacles, improving design, and driving more traffic or exposure, etc. Sometimes the “carrot-on-a-stick” approach to motivating a user is just as – or even more – effective. This is a very undervalued area of focus in digital marketing, in my opinion.

5) Actionable data doesn’t care about your opinions.

This is the bane of my professional existence in countless situations – internally and client facing – and something I’ve wrestled with since I first started working in the web world. Data never lies. If you have the right data you don’t need to convince anybody how good your idea is or isn’t – let the data do it. The challenge naturally is setting up your data collection correctly and being able to trust that what you are collecting is accurate. (I was lucky enough to meet Annie Cushing at the conference, so check out her site if you want to learn how to collect and analyze data the right way.) I can’t even count how many times things are done because someone thinks it is a good idea or looks they way they want. I always go back to the old saying here – an ugly website that performs well is better than a pretty website that nobody uses.

Unbounce Conference Summary:

Unbounce makes a really cool (and technically rock solid) product for conversion optimization and testing. We’re working to grow and expand the way our agency uses this tool on behalf of clients and the CTA Conference 2016 was a great place to learn more about industry best practices in this space and just have some fun. I look forward to talking my boss into another paid vacation attending the Unbounce CTA Conference 2017.


About the Author:

Travis Melvin works and writes for Van West Media (VWM) in New York City. VWM has been using Unbounce for the past year with a few clients in different ways and has been really impressed so far. This was our first Unbounce CTA Conference, but we’re already looking forward to next year.

Tips for Crafting Sexy, Effective Landing Pages

February 14, 2016

Red-Little-Hearts-Wallpaper-1920x1080With it being Valentine’s Day, we’re all naturally thinking of how to create a sexy, effective landing page. As marketers, we know how vital these landing pages are to successful online marketing. The section of your website that is accessed by clicking a hyperlink on another web page should have as perfect of a layout as you can get it for your specific brand.

SEO landing pages especially, are meant for two specific things: to persuade users to take a desired action and to drive organic traffic. Landing pages are wanted to not just get clicks but to successfully generate conversions. The following are some tips to help get the most effective landing pages for your brand:

Have the most creative copy for persuasive landing pages

Your landing page is where you get to tell the story of what your brand is all about. The story you tell has to be enticing and unique. Before getting started, it is helpful to break down the different aspects of the features that your product(s) or service’s encompass. Think about the way that this will impact your customers in terms of results, opportunities, problems solved and emotional benefits. Once you have the exact ideas of what you can provide your customers to it is a lot easier to get started on writing the unique elements to highlight in your landing page. The end result should be hyper-targeted copy that is mindful of your end goal with what you want users to see, feel, and do when clicking.

Keep your design clean and organized

Landing_Page_Examples_From_Companies_That_Just_Get_ItThe actual structure of your landing page plays a direct role in the effectiveness of how well your landing page lands conversions. The main goal of a landing page should be to make it easy for users to convert so the look and feel of the page should only help with this process. Whether that is filling out a form, making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc, the elements of the overall structure should work well together. This includes things such as appealing and impactful images, colors, fonts, placements, and sizing that can all be altered and tested to see which combinations are most effective with your specific target audience and goal.

Use a specific structure for solutions-oriented SEO landing pages

The foundation for a solutions-oriented landing page includes the following five components:

  1. The headline – The attention grabbing line, this is where some sort of implication or promise is made to the audience.
  2. The set-up – This introductory copy is where you engage the audience by trying to build trust and define the topic while also basically explaining the benefits for the intended audience.
  3. The problem – Here, a user’s problem or question is addressed. You can use subheadings to break up the copy into easy to read chunks that further show the user’s why they landed (or clicked) on your page.
  4. The solution – This component offers a solution to the user’s problem or question, which is your product or service. Mention your unique value recommendation, and what makes you special or set your apart from other sites with similar products or services.
  5. The Call to Action – Often referred to as the CTA, One of the most important aspects of your landing page is the call to action where you prompt a user to take a desired action.

The most important thing to remember about landing pages is that they are ever changing and can always be altered. The trick is to keep testing them. By constantly testing the structure, copy, offers, and other methods used, you can keep getting a better picture of what is working best in effectively converting users.

Ready to get started? Contact the Van West Media team today!

How to Improve Your Email Marketing

January 22, 2016
These days email marketing is often thought of as the least effective way to get consumer attention – but that’s very much so incorrect. All too often, our inboxes are filled with dry and impersonal emails, subject lines lacking creativity or persuasion, and design layouts that look rushed and aesthetically challenged. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Email campaigns can be an incredibly effective tool to drive brand visibility, customer interaction, and ultimately sales. The trick is having a marketing initiative and strategy that makes your email campaigns stand out from all the others.

The key to a successful email marketing campaign? Personalization.

Make Emails Interactive

There are many possibilities for making an email more interactive. For example, using a feed of top stories or products gives the reader multiple opportunities to engage and take further action. You can also use mouseover effects or, even simpler, rotate images using a carousel within the email. Providing a change in visuals usually contributes to a more effective user experience. Stay away from flat white backgrounds filled with incessant copy. Instead, entice the user to get involved and take action.

Segment Your List

Segmenting your list can provide tremendous insights into consumer behavior and help you increase the success of your email campaigns.For example, even just by separating those who subscribed from your e-commerce site from those who subscribed from your blog can provide valuable insight into your consumer. It may indicate what stage of the consumer journey they are in or what other marketing initiatives that you have implemented are working correctly. Once your list is segmented, you can begin to communicate in a more concerted, targeted, and effective way. Slightly different copy, different visuals, different calls-to-action, etc. Remember that not everyone of your customers is interested in your products or services for the same reason. Email campaigns should think about these reasons and then be built out accordingly using content to engage specific segments of the list.

Incorporate Engaging Copy

Snooze alert! Don’t let boring, generic copy be the downfall of your email marketing campaign! Depending on your brand and the consumers you are engaging, you have ultimate control over how creative your content can be. Don’t hold back, be bold, and stand out from the crowd by creating targeted emails that resonate with your potential customer’s emotions, tastes, and needs.

Are you ready to revamp or start a new email marketing program? Just give Van West Media a call!

What Retailers Can Learn From Cyber Monday 2015

December 16, 2015

Cyber Monday 2015 was a hit for many online retailers – setting a record at $3.07 Billion and becoming the largest online sales day ever (Source: Adobe).

One of the biggest surprises this Holiday season was how many shoppers were not ‘feeling it’ when it came to Black Friday and even Thanksgiving Day shopping participation. Many big names in retail even opted out of opening their doors on Thanksgiving, choosing instead to keep the day about the tradition of spending quality time with loved ones.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest shopping trend this year seems to be shopping from a mobile device or computer. According to ShopperTrak, there was a little over 10 percent decrease in in-store sales over Black Friday weekend, but Cyber Monday saw at least a 16 percent increase in sales from last year’s numbers.


There are some facts and trends that we should be keeping in mind. For starters, Black Friday through Cyber Monday, in previous years, has been one of the busiest regarding holiday sales. Yet in 2014, we saw the day before Christmas Eve be the biggest shopping day of the year. Not to mention the fact that during the 2015 season, some major retailers had began promoting  their holiday sales as early as November 1.

So what we’re seeing is a trend of consumers whom are now expecting holiday sales way before Thanksgiving and even more so after that Thursday. Cyber Monday is now a decade-long aspect of the holiday season – something for retailers to keep in mind as a lot has changed in 10 years. This includes the number of people who now have mobile devices, and the way that consumers are buying items.

Let’s face it, it’s a lot more convenient to sit behind a screen and shop for sales rather than go to a crowded mall and have to deal with huge crowds and never ending lines. It’s evident that Cyber Monday is a huge opportunity for e-commerce retailers both big and small, however, these same retailers need to understand that the traditional holiday retail calendar has ceased to exist.

What does this mean for retailers during the holiday season? It doesn’t necessarily mean the end of Cyber Monday. But what it does mean is a different approach to the retail season – one that extends it to allow for consumers to get a chance to buy goods way before the holiday season, pays extra attention to the peak season (mid-November to mid-December), and does not forget about the post-holiday time when consumers are out and about making gift exchanges and/or returns.

Ultimately, every holiday season is different when it comes to buying and selling. But altering the next season(s) to the ever changing technological advancements and consumer habits is the best way for retailers to successfully keep customers coming their way!

Conversion Optimization and Lead Generation

August 24, 2015

Conversion optimization is the system of continually improving a website or landing page in order to increase the percentage of visitors to a site that will convert into leads or customers. Also known as conversion rate optimization (CRO), this system is necessary to keep marketing campaigns continually successful, as simply monitoring landing page conversion rates is not enough.

To keep performance thriving, continuous testing and tweaking should be done in order to deploy methods that increase performance and improve conversion.

An explanation of CRO in a nutshell sounds simple, however, conversion optimization is more complex than you might think. It’s an elaborate system that requires understanding and analysis of other substantial topics such as A/B testing, user behavior, design, intent, and landing page optimization.

This past June, Unbounce  held a multi-city event called The Unbounce Conversion Road Trip that focused on the best practices related to conversion and marketing. The event featured talented pros sharing knowledge and strategies to improve online performance. Of course our team wanted to attend, and we did! Below are some highlights and expert insight that were included at the event:

NSAMCWADLP – This acronym, according to Oli Gardner, Co-Founder of Unbounce, is a key component to any marketing campaign. It stands for Never Start A Marketing Campaign Without A Dedicated Landing Page and is essentially meant to remind you to stay focused on the intended action for your page.

Creating an effective landing page requires several important factors. First and foremost, make sure you figure out exactly what you want people to do once they get to your page. Then, make sure to keep the most important information in the best place. Taking a tip from journalism tactics, make sure not to “bury the lead.” Always put the information in logical order and get rid of any extra details that may create too many paths for the user to take.

Keep the design eye-catching, and on-brand but not cluttered. Too many images on the page may distract from the user’s path. Additionally, the copy should be informative but not excessive.  When copy writing for a page, we should clearly address the user and allow them to identify with a form. John Bonini, Marketing Director at IMPACT, advised the audience to always remember that it’s not about us, it’s about the user. Users tend to rely on what is initially presented, which leads us to…

WYSIATI – This acronym stands for What You See Is All There Is, and is based on knowing your customer.  Michael Aargaard, Founder of Content Verve, suggested using this concept to avoid confusing the audience. Users typically don’t dig around for more details; they tend to stick to what they see right in front of them. So, if we follow this theme, our goal is to get a user to click on our page, read our copy, and then proceed to fill out a form. Don’t forget about using an effective call to action! The path a user has within a page should lead to the button that takes a user to the form you want filled out.

Getting that form filled out is what this is all about. As marketers, we want to be targeting potential customers, not just visitors. To do this, once a landing page or site has been created, methods such as A/B testing are necessary to  follow the data, both quantitative and qualitative, to figure out who your audience is and what could be improved. Dan McGaw, Founder of Effin Amazing, suggests using survey tools at drop-off points to pinpoint specific problems and to only change one element at a time when A/B testing.

Ultimately, marketers want to present something that will resonate with the user while convincing them to take a desired action. To succeed in doing this, visitors need to be able to do two things effectively: answer the question “What is this page about?” and think as the audience, not for the audience.

Don’t lose sight of the page’s actual purpose, but be aware of who your audience is and how they think in order to continue improving your numbers.

For more in-depth highlights, schedule a visit with our team at Van West Media! We’re now offering specialized services in conversion optimization and lead generation.

Facebook’s Shopping Feature: Good News for Retailers

July 29, 2015

Earlier this year, we shared five things to expect from digital marketing in 2015 – and so far, every item on the list has been implemented in some way across all popular social media sites.

Number five on our list was “online advertising budgets will increase,” which allows room for more hyper-local consumer targeting and increased online spending by consumers.

According to a company representative, Facebook’s shopping feature is currently being tested and will allow retailers to essentially have a mini e-commerce site within their Page enabling a whole shopping experience to occur within the site.

That’s right, soon users will be able to buy items straight from retailer’s Facebook Pages. The shopping features will be under a new “Shopping” section where currently existing tabs for Timeline, About, and Photos are located. Within the shopping section, companies are able to choose whether to keep the transaction within Facebook or redirect to the company’s website.

Facebook already has ads that include a call-to-action “Buy” button, allowing desktop and mobile users to click on ads and brand Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without ever having to leave Facebook, however, until now these have been limited to small and mid-size businesses solely within the U.S.

With Pinterest adding buy-able pins for all brands in June 2015, Facebook is just the latest social media site to join the party. Pinterest is currently not charging for the buy-able pins, and it’s highly likely Facebook will also start off the same.

Let’s not forget, with all of the demographic and behavioral data Facebook gathers, the social platform will now be able to collect data on completed purchases. Talk about valuable information for advertisers!

The new shopping feature is still being tested, but start prepping now; the roll-out can be expected anytime. Contact Van West Media today to get a strategy in place for your brand. Our experts are here to help you make the most of Facebook’s newest feature!

Mobilegeddon: Is Your Site Ready for this Google Update?

April 20, 2015

Mobilegeddon: Coming for Your Site on April 21, 2015

It’s no secret that Google plans to launch an update to its mobile search algorithm this month. Google has essentially warned the web that sites who do not follow their mobile-friendly guidelines will be greatly affected by the update. This change will impact mobile searches worldwide in all languages and it is certain that sites unprepared for the mobile announcement of the year will feel its impact.

How will the update affect my website?

Here’s a scenario: You’re an owner of a very popular retail company in New York City that sells custom menswear. Let’s pretend your current website ranks well in search engines, especially Google. With awesome SEO combined with marketing efforts you’ve been implementing for years, the company has secured the ever-coveted spot of number five (5) for the search term “NYC Custom Menswear.” This is great, but when “Mobilegeddon” happens on April 21, you realize you’re no longer ranked number five (5) on in mobile searches. In fact, you’re three pages into Google, and the likelihood of leads, visitors and sales will surely depreciate – UNLESS your custom menswear website is mobile-friendly.

Why will my site be impacted?

As previously mentioned, essentially, it all boils down to whether or not your website is mobile-friendly (or better yet, fully-responsive). If your website is NOT responsive, we can alleviate the issue for you. Contact us today.

Okay, I need a responsive website – but what are the pros?

  • Responsive designs are extremely flexible – one responsive website works on all devices, thus making site maintenance and management easier for all involved.
  • Google actually recommends responsive design.
  • Responsive sites are much more likely to increase user engagement, reduce bounce rate and improve conversion rate.

Why does mobile marketing matter?

A few stats:

  • 80 percent of all internet users access search engines via their smartphones (via Smart Insights)
  • 50.3 percent of eCommerce site traffic come through a mobile device (via Shopify)
  • 60 percent of global mobile consumers use their mobile devices as their primary or exclusive Internet source (via Internet Retailer)
  • 64 percent of subscribed consumers via mobile are more likely to make a purchase as a result of receiving a highly-relevant mobile message (via IPSOS Observer Survey)
  • Nearly 61 percent of searches result in phone calls inquiring about your product or service (Via Search Engine Watch)

It’s time. Let’s get your website updated before Google Mobilegeddon strikes. Contact Van West Media today!

The Tao of Marketing, Part II: Three Business Philosophies

February 25, 2015

Marketing Philosophy

This is Part II of Van West Media’s series of blog posts “The Tao of Marketing.” If you’re just joining us, be sure to start with Part I.

I’d like to discuss three business philosophies– three possible attitudes to a customer, three mental priorities that directly impact the success (or failure) of a business enterprise.

Marketing Philosophy of Van West Media

These three attitudes or priorities are production, sales, and marketing. To the degree to which your business is production – or sales-oriented, it’s forfeiting on the marketing, and as mentioned in Part I, lack of a properly focused marketing effort is what undermines the best effort of business owners and managers to keep their ventures successful.

Even though most businesses would insist that they are marketing-oriented, it’s usually not the case.

First, let’s take a look at production-focused business. It’s a noble business paradigm, inherited from small crafts shop of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries. Production philosophy prides itself in putting quality first: “build the best product possible, and the customer will come.”

For example: If Van West Media was a production-oriented agency (we could be because we do strive to achieve the highest attainable quality of all our products and services), we would simply focus on making great websites and web applications (and possibly on creating great online content). We wouldn’t care much about promoting ourselves – and I wouldn’t be writing this blog post. The quality of our work would speak for itself, and we’d be famous for it.

Production-type of businesses don’t care if the customer says, “no,” because the product is so good that another customer will step in and buy it.

It’s an interesting approach, but not for the modern age. It lacks the essential part of any healthy system: fast feedback. In our overpopulated world, there is abundance of competition. Superior quality is not recognized until after it has been experienced for a prolonged period of time. By the time the customer begins to think warmly of the high-quality product or service he purchased from the production-oriented company and is ready to buy again, that company is out of business, and the former owner now works for his competitor, who delivers at a lower quality, but knows how to sell.

This brings us to the second possible attitude: focus on sales.

Whoever came up with this first, had the right idea: a customer has many products or services to choose from, and the final choice and commitment to make a purchase is typically emotional rather than rational. If we can influence the emotions of a prospective buyer, we can trigger a “buying reflex” with sheer emotional persuasion and make profit. Sales orientation is all about overcoming the customer’s inherent resistance to buy a product while motivating the customer to say “yes”… even if he doesn’t really need the product.

A sales-oriented business relies on a strong sales team, thus building and maintaining such a team becomes the business’ top priority. This is really effective. Classic, old-school advertising is all based on this, and so is telemarketing. Selling is a difficult and noble art. Selling makes the world go round. Progress would stop without sales. So as soon as you feel the impulse to hire Van West Media – ACT ON IT. Hire Van West Media to make all your online dreams COME TRUE .

(That’s me selling you the sales attitude. Notice I’m not appealing to your rational left-brain hemisphere, but creating an emotional response in the right one – I even go as far as resorting the the most vicious sales tactic: humor. That is really a punch below the belt.)

Seriously though, you should make Van West Media your sole web services provider, because when Van West Media works for you, you’re a superstar. (That was a double-punch combo. Learned it from Jordan Belfort.)

And before I wrap this up, our sales techniques certainly works for us, so when you hire us, we’ll make these techniques work for you, too. We’ll make you rich, and you’ll move to the South of France. That’s it. Hire us.

Okay, enough of that.

There is something not quite right with the aforementioned sales model. It’s archaic and not sustainable for long-term strategy. Sure, the customer made a buy, but they will have buyer’s remorse, and many customers will never be back again.

Now, let’s take a look at the third, most promising attitude a business can have toward a customer: marketing approach.

Some time ago I had the privilege to collaborate with a skilled, mid-level entrepreneur (I’ll refer to him here as Mr. Miyagi – not his real name). Mr. Miyagi loved to ask everyone who worked for him the same question: “Who’s your boss? Who pays your salary?” A rookie employee would answer, “Well… why – you, Mr. Miyagi!” – to which Mr. Miyagi chuckled and replied, “No, not me. I’m just managing the cash flow. The customer is your boss who pays your salary. Make the customer happy.”

That is marketing philosophy in a nutshell.

Satisfaction of customers’ needs and wants is the priority and the rationale for everything a marketing-oriented company does.

For example, as I mentioned in the first blog post from this series, Van West Media prides itself on being a marketing-oriented shop. We find our clients through focused marketing efforts, serve as our clients’ go-to people, and craft marketing campaigns and ongoing strategies for our clients that bring them new customers and help fulfill their customer needs. To be effective, we must understand not only the needs of our customers, but the in-depth needs of our customers’ customers.

Marketing is the healthiest business philosophy and the Golden Rule in business. The goal is to epitomize value and quality in the eyes of customers.

Marketing integrates and absorbs both production and sales-oriented approaches, assigning them to their proper places in strategic hierarchy. Quality – the key concept of production philosophy – is defined as something that helps our clients serve their clients in the most successful and effective manner. We implement effective online sales techniques for our clients to help them gauge their customers’ needs, and sell products and services that truly satisfy.

We rely on our clients’ feedback to give them high-quality websites and web applications, mobile apps – or our ultimate service: an overall digital marketing strategy that elevates their businesses above others in their field.

Here’s the marketing model:

1. Identify needs and wants of the target markets, chosen based on our resources and speculated ability to satisfy these needs and wants (adjust the choice as needed).

2. Focus the research, production, and sales effort on certain segments of the target market (satisfying not all, but the most important selected needs and wants).

3. Create products and services of value that meet prospective customers’ needs, test them and modify, if necessary.

4. Succeed in business though customer satisfaction, and request customer feedback.

5. Repeat as many times as possible, widening (or in some cases, tightening) the scope.

Ready to take advantage of skilled, talented, result-oriented marketing experts of Van West Media? Let us know how we can help!


Stand by for The Tao of Marketing, Part III: The Battle for Marketing… coming soon!