Compelling Website Elements Can Motivate Your Viewers to Take Action


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Have you ever clicked on a website to search for information about a company and found yourself not knowing where to go or what to do next to secure the solution you were looking for? The dilemma is not unusual. Many landing pages (first page of a website), while artfully constructed and visually pleasing, fail to adequately satisfy visitors’ desire for additional information and motivate them to take action.

While there may be numerous objectives of a website, the ultimate goal of any ecommerce site is to generate revenue and to sell a product, idea or service. Alterative objectives, such as email opt-ins, trial offers, attracting social media followers or sharing a piece of content, are also important and may require the visitor to take multiple, individual actions. Converting searchers into customers requires detailed attention to some basic compulsory elements of design and messaging in order to compel searchers to remain connected and take the desired next move.

A successful “call to action” (CTA) never leaves the first or next move up to the visitor. To be heard over all the background noise of the internet, the CTA must be persuasive, compelling, concise and focused on the action you want them to take. Jared Spool, founder of UIE, writes: “Trigger words are the words and phrases that trigger a user into clicking. They contain essential elements to provide the motivation to continue with the site.”

Messaging should be convincing, draw attention to a few important and specific details and be in first person. The use of first person in the content can result in a 90 percent increase in converting searchers into followers. Focus content on the high points and keep it simple. Too much information at this point can confuse and frustrate the visitor and push them leave the site in search of another. Minimize choices, as too many options will paralyze the reader. In short, make an offer and ask for the sale. The “call to action” is the most important content on a landing page!

Visual elements are critical to welcoming the visitor and encouraging them to advance in the direction you want them to go. Experienced chefs know that diners eat with their eyes first. If they find their meal visually pleasing, they then will move on to the tasting aspect. Action buttons should be bold, prominent, visually dominate and in a position on the page that the viewer would expect to find them. Contrasting colors will grab viewers’ attention and motivate them into making the next move. They should be large enough to command the most attention on the page. Even the most creative and compelling messaging will be lost to small, unnoticed action buttons. 

While the average conversion rate of websites vary across industry, the median conversion rate of landing pages is 2.35 percent. Websites that continuously optimize of the landing page achieve three to four times the average. Focusing on creating a landing page that utilizes a few compelling elements will make your site stand out above all the rest and increase the number of converts from visitors to customers. For more information about how Junction can help you create effective CTAs, call 678-686-1125.

Marriott is Positioning to Fend-Off a Challenge from Airbnb

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Typically, major players in an industry are not pioneers into uncharted and untested niche territories; territories that promise to disrupt the status quo of long proven performances and produce huge revenues and “cash-cow” models that make C-suite executives and stockholders giddy. An atmosphere of invulnerability supported by decades of dominance in an industry has torpedoed many once dominate brands. Does anyone remember Kodak? Likewise, tobacco companies dismissed burgeoning e-cigarette marketers until they realized the potential threat to their nicotine delivery dominance. Perhaps due to a similar perceived threat, Marriott International is announcing its entry into a home rental market niche that will feature 2,000 “premium and luxury homes” in more than 100 locations in the US, Europe, Caribbean, and Latin America.

The new brand effort, called “Homes and Villas by Marriott International”, will collaborate with property management companies around the world to make private residences available to customers seeking upscale residences for business and personal travel accommodations. The effort appears to be in response to Airbnb’s launch of Airbnb Plus, which features high-end listings with strict hotel-like benefits. Marriott’s new plan infringes on Airbnb efforts, but doesn’t completely compete with it in every way. Homes & Villas will have minimum three-night stays, with prices ranging from $200 – $10,000 per night.

Airbnb offers mostly single-room accommodations from a menu of 6 million listings, primarily privately-owned properties. Its target market is mostly budget-minded travelers who would prefer staying in a hotel but can’t afford the higher costs. In comparison, while Marriott operates 7,000 properties in 130 countries, its entry into Airbnb territory offers just 2,000 selections. Still, many industry experts see Marriott’s move as proof that the hospitality industry leader is feeling the heat from Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway. “People stay at different hotels for different trip purposes,” Stephanie Linnartz, the global chief commercial officer at Marriott. “Home sharing is another offering.”

If Marriott is to be successful in its attempt to stall Airbnb’s progress into its territory, it will need to figure out a way to ensure delivery of the same high-end quality of product and service that the company is known for. Working with outside property managers who represent independent property owners poses a challenge to maintaining the brand image. Will Marriott’s management be able to effectively enforce the demanding processes that have resulted in the brand’s lofty image?

Perhaps a better question is whether Airbnb, best known for its credibility in low-cost, hostel-type accommodations, will be able to make inroads into an upscale hospitality environment dominated by a long-standing leader in the high-end market niche. Either way, it is refreshing to see an accomplished industry player respond to a credible challenge to its market dominance. Experience has demonstrated that size, market position and dominance is not guaranteed to any player.

Location Based Marketing: How Much Loss of Privacy will Consumers be Willing to Tolerate?

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Location-based marketing provides advertisers the ability to connect with consumers through their mobile devices based on location. While the technology and the marketing practice is not new, the practice of location-based marketing has, until now, been tempered by concerns over personal data collection and sharing. Consumers who receive ad messages while walking or driving past an advertiser’s location often tell of an uneasy sense of having their movements watched or monitored. A sense of paranoia is heightened and initial experiences with the practice leave many with a “creepy feeling”.

But a recent survey by RIS News and global research and advisory firm IHL Group indicates that 58% of retailers in North America say that they plan to invest in proximity or location-based marketing in 2019. The report indicated that 85% of the high performing respondents to the survey view performance-based location tracking as very important to their marketing strategy. However, concerns about the trafficking and sharing of personal location data remains a large concern amongst consumers and many marketers. In an early 2019 survey, 59% of respondents said overreaching concerns about consumer privacy was one of the three leading factors that prevented them from implementing location-based initiatives.

Going forward, responsible companies will avoid connecting with audiences around personally sensitive locations and adapt and evolve to new federal and state legislation. Adhering to three basic fundamental elements: regulation, a proliferation of new data sources, and attribution will be critical to a successful location-based marketing campaign. Restaurants, grocery vendors, sponsors of special events, automobile sellers and seasonal brands can benefit the most from geotargeting campaigns. What is next for location-based marketing?

The rollout of 5G will create massive sources of highly accurate location data, coupled with billions of new sensors being deployed in every device imaginable. The utilization of geographical tracking and mapping apps like Waze is allowing for marketers to not only see where consumer targets are currently located, but also where they are going. The team at Waze refers to this newest solution as “destination-based marketing.” Waze will use driver navigation data to help advertisers anticipate where consumers are going and ultimately attempt to influence decision-making through mobile marketing.

“Destination-based marketing is about driving people to a store, curbside, drive thru. It is about getting them there. It is about impacting people on the go. Location-based marketing is about the consumer’s current geographic location, not their next one,” says Suzie Reider, managing director of Waze Ads. “Waze Ads is shifting to destination-based marketing as a newer industry term to describe the next step beyond location-based marketing, which is more common in the industry at the moment.”

Ultimately, geographically-based marketing utilization and success will be determined by consumers’ concerns about the free market trading of their data and the diminishing effect it has on personal privacy. Consumers beware! Sellers are watching. They now know where you live and where you are, and soon will be able to predict, with accuracy, where you are going next. Scary?

Junction Reaches Its 10 Year Anniversary

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Starting a business is the dream of many. The vision of creating an environment where unrestrained creativity, innovation, and personal opportunity abounds is too much for hundreds of thousands of dreamers to resist each year. It is estimated that by 2020, 27 million Americans will leave the workforce every year to pursue the dream of self-employment. While a vast majority of new businesses survive the first year, the longer-range outlook is a bit more sobering. On average, nearly half of all businesses will fail to survive their fifth-year anniversary and 30% will survive 10 years.  These statistics routinely fail to staunch the inherent optimism of budding entrepreneurs.

April 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of Junction Creative Solutions (Junction). An explosive combination of passion and grit, Junction has grown to serve more than 325 brands since its launch and has become an award-winning strategic agency committed to creating high-impact solutions for SMB’s and Fortune 500 companies. While rankings and recognition are important in this highly-competitive industry, Junction’s persistent focus is on delivering superior performance. The Junction team is passionate about driving exceptional results for clients. An unrelenting pride in our work has resulted in Junction being recognized as a top design firm with industry awards on the shelf.

“It feels like just yesterday we had reached the 7-year mark! As we achieve this 10-year anniversary, I reflect on the path that we have taken to arrive at this milestone,” commented Julie Gareleck, founder, CEO and Managing Partner of Junction. “The path to success isn’t a straight line. We’ve navigated and thrived in what was considered the worst economic climate, adapted to changes in technology, and tirelessly worked to deliver a positive impact to our clients.”  

It is imperative to remain passionate about the work and to implement the lessons learned along the way to ensure future growth for any organization.  “Regardless of the circumstance, I continue to learn from the challenges and triumphs.  We are a better organization today as a result of those lessons.”

When asked about the growing team at Junction, Gareleck feels very fortunate to have amazing individuals and team players on her team. “I am humbled by the efforts of the Junction team for without them, this business would not operate.  As a CEO, I strive to surround myself with individuals who drive greater value in the areas that I am the weakest.  Their unwavering dedication to our clients and this business are what propels this business forward,” says Gareleck. “I also have gratitude for our clients who have trusted us with their business and initiatives.  It’s rewarding to see that our work has impacted more than 325 companies, each with unique needs that give us the opportunity to drive value.”

The challenges for businesses in this competitive and disruptive environment are unrelenting. As Junction’s portfolio continues to expand, the breadth of our expertise managing and executing multi-faceted, integrated strategies and solutions expands. For those organizations that continue to innovate and focus their efforts on building a long-term, customer-centric culture, the future can promise to be bright for decades to come.

To learn more about what is happening across industry, visit our notebook to reference  thought leadership that Junction’s team has been publishing for the last decade!

Carefully Managing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy Can Pay Big Dividends

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With more than half of the world’s population now using social media platforms to communicate, marketing via these platforms is no longer optional for brands looking to expand their reach. Ninety-five percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 34 years of age are most likely to follow brands via one or more social media outlets. Global penetration rates for mobile devices are exceeding 42 percent as nearly one-million new people each day use their mobile social media devices. With high return on investment (ROI), marketers are rapidly ramping up social media marketing spend. However, achieving long-term success with social media marketing requires building partnerships and relationships with prospective consumers. The process of identifying which platform performs the best for each product and service can be complex and expensive if not managed effectively.   

Roberto Blake, owner of digital agency Create Awesome Media believes brands need to understand how to translate the relationships they’ve built and the lessons they’ve learned using a platform into the larger platform ecosystem. As many of these social media networks mature, they focus more on a one-to-one “small group” connection with users. “People are realizing you don’t have to be super big; you can just have influence on a smaller group and have a wonderful business,” says Andrea Vahl. With a platform now available for nearly every demographic, social media marketing can no longer be ignored regardless of business size, but risk must be managed carefully in order to make the best use of content marketing spend.

Planning is at the forefront of any digital marketing strategy. Efficient and effective content must be timely and targeted to specific segments with messaging that builds brand recognition and drives sales. Having a calendar of content for each platform will greatly improve performance by having the right messages ready to go at the right time. Social media management tools from HubSpot, Buffer and HootSuite can be particularly useful. In general, Images still trump prose when communicating lengthy or complicated messages. Bite-sized chunks of information that are concise and to the point work better than lengthy script considering the audience’s usually short attention span and the fact that most conversations are taking place across mobile devices. Measure the effectiveness of the marketing plan and strategy on an ongoing basis and make necessary adjustments as necessary across all platforms.

Comprehensive management will take time but the rewards of a successful process can be considerable and very cost effective. If you don’t have the time or experienced staff to dedicate to the process, it can be beneficial in time and quality to form a working relationship with an outside social media specialist.

To learn more about how Junction Creative Solutions’ team of professionals and partners can help you create an impactful social media campaign to advance your brand reputation, call 678.686.1125 today.

The State of Capital Markets for Expanding and Emerging Businesses

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The economic turn-around is bringing more than competitive disruptions to independent start-ups and existing businesses that are looking to expand and grow. Funding options are expanding to include venture capital, angel investing, private equity markets as well as traditional bank lending. Each funding option comes with its own set of requirements, costs and performance characteristics. This year’s Pepperdine Private Capital Markets Report (PPCMR) specifically examines the behavior of senior lenders, asset-based lenders, mezzanine funds, private equity groups, venture capital firms, angel investors, privately-held businesses, investment bankers, business brokers, limited partners, and business appraisers.

The Pepperdine Private Cost of Capital (PCOC) survey is conducted each year by Pepperdine University Libraries  and investigates each private capital market segment, the important benchmarks that must be met in order to qualify for each particular capital type, how much capital is typically accessible, what the required returns are for extending capital in today’s economic environment, and outlooks on demand for various capital types, interest rates, and the economy in general. Originally launched in 2007, the report was the first comprehensive and simultaneous investigation of the major private capital market segments.

The report findings indicate that the cost of business capital varies depending on the size of the funding, the type and the level of risk. “The data reveal that bank loans have the lowest average rates while capital obtained from angels has the highest average rates”. Other sources reveal that 2018 turned out to be a boom year for non-bank business lending as a reported 80 percent of small bank business loans were rejected.

The accepted thought among a majority of business soothsayers is that 2019 will be a good year for optimistic entrepreneurs to engage plans to open or expand their business. However, 39 percent of the responders to the PCOC survey believe that general business conditions will worsen over the next 24 months and that nearly 44 percent of predicted loan demands would increase. A third of the lenders responding to the survey thought domestic economic uncertainty was a leading issue for independent businesses that sought to expand in the coming year. Labor availability and access to capital were also seen as complicating issues.

Refinancing, expansion and acquisition was the most commonly described financing motivation and concern for debt-service coverage ratio remains the most important factor when deciding whether or not to invest. Loans between $1 million to $10 million require the greater amount of personal guarantee and collateral. The survey reports that 31% of cash flow applications were declined; 34% of applications were declined due to poor quality of earnings and/or cash flow and 19% were declined due to insufficient collateral.

Despite all the preponderance of predictions, funding an independent business comes with significant risk both for the borrower and lender. Regardless of the source, spending investment dollars wisely remains an important factor for success. While most organizations are applying their investment dollars responsibly, it is important to be reminded that there is no such thing as “free” money. Gaining the best information on the available sources and the cost and requirements associated with each is critical to the success of any start-up or expansion plan.

Securing a Website with an SSL Certificate is More Important than Ever Before

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More than a billion web users’ personal information was stolen by cyber hackers in 2018. While large companies appear to be the victim of the vast majority of attacks, small business websites are proving to be an attractive target for cyber criminals looking to find an easy pathway to the riches that can come from the fraudulent use of everyday consumers’ personal financial information. While the level of illegal intrusion leveled-off last year, security experts are warning that recent advancements in website security measures may be doomed to the insistent and persistent improvement in hackers’ ability to adapt to the new security improvements.

Not unlike burglars who pass by homes with obvious security systems for an unprotected target, cyber criminals are turning to small business websites that fail to take even the most basic security actions to protect customer data. While the past two years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of websites taking actions to protect customers’ personal information, more remains to be done. The number of websites supporting HTTPS over encrypted Secure Socket Layer (SSL)/TLS connections has skyrocketed over the past year. Recent studies reveal that over 50 percent of web traffic is now encrypted. “Many sites need to catch up to avoid the ‘Not Secure’ warnings,” said DigiCert chief product officer Jeremy Rowley. “We urge IT administrators to check the sites they look after and deploy the appropriate TLS certificates.”

Perhaps the greatest incentive for website owners to gravitate to HTTPS protocol is coming soon from Google. With the release of Chrome 68 later this year, the search engine leader will mark all sites that haven’t adopted HTTPS as “Not Secure”. All other secured sites will continue to be displayed with green https letters in the URL, which means they are secured by an SSL certificate. Google will also give websites with encrypted connections a slight rankings boost. Imagine the number of website visitors who will be reluctant to frequent a company’s site when they are confronted with an “unsecure” warning. The consumer demands for increased web security is on the rise and consumer awareness of cyber security victimizations is heightened. It has been predicted that the Microsoft, Apple and Mozilla search engines will likely follow Google’s direction.

Research conducted by Ipsos, a global market research and consulting firm, found that 87% of internet users will not complete a transaction if they see a browser warning on a web page and more than half of respondents indicated they would seek to complete the purchase on a competitor’s secured website. SSL certificates have been available for decades but many website owners have delayed activation due to the perceived high cost and complications of implementation.

The cost associated with migrating to HTTPS and its significant benefits to a web owner is quickly becoming more affordable. Many hosting providers are offering free SSL certificates to clients. With “trust” becoming an important factor in the marketer/consumer relationship, a “secure” banner across the top of a company’s website is an indication that the site’s owner shares their customers’ concern for data security.

It’s Time to Play the March Madness Advertising Game

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Unlike 2018, the big NCAA 2019 basketball tournament event is not burdened with the pressure of battling clean-up. March Madness 2019 is predicted to set a new record of $1.36 billion in advertising spend, continuing an upward tradition since 2013. The NCAA Men’s Division I Final Four will be hosted by the city of Minneapolis, and is predicted to generate $142 million in economic impact for the area and attract 94,000 visitors to the U.S. Bank Stadium.  “In terms of impact, visitor spending is only one way to think about success,” says CEO Kate Mortenson, NCAA Final Four Minneapolis Organizing Committee. While the city looks forward to the promise of an economic windfall, a list of international brands is gearing up for an opportunity to promote their wares to the millions of college basketball fans who will be tuning in to the weeks-long event leading up to the big game.

The NCAA has announced that this year’s tournament will be streaming across 15 platforms in an effort to keep pace with a more mobile viewing audience. Mobile experiences will be very important to fans and advertisers will need to heed the viewers’ continued gravitational pull away from traditional cable and broadcast channels. The most successful brands will be those that connect all the channels into one cohesive campaign that brings basketball fans together with the brand.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will continue to build relationships between fans and brands. Official March Madness social media handles generated 26 million social engagements across these popular channels last year. Marketers will need to prepare ahead in order to capture prolonged customer attention.  “It’s about speaking to the audience, whether they’re preparing for their bracket or starting a competition with friends and family. And it’s about thinking of the length of time you’re spending with consumers,” says Courtney McKlveen, VP and Industry Lead of Retail, Travel and QSR at Yahoo. “ The word ‘loyalty’ is fun to throw around, but it still exists. In order to build loyalty, it takes time, and it means being there throughout the shopping cycle, and having the confidence to think about your ROI differently.”

Casual-dining brand Buffalo Wild Wings is launching its “That’s March Madness” TV spots and digital ads urging viewers to visit its restaurants to watch the tournament. In addition to their usual broad selection of brew and spicy wings, the 1,200-unit Buffalo Wild Wings chain is rolling out custom-designed “Jewel Stools” in Los Angeles and New York City. “Man caves and technology have divided us, conquered us and allowed a part of our herd to be divided,” says Scot Crooker, associate creative director at The Martin Agency, Buffalo Wild Wings’ advertising agency. “Sports is about finding your tribe.”

Whether you choose one or all of the available channels, there are more ways than ever for a brand to engage with an audience during March Madness. While the digital play provides social analytics that can generate immediate message effectiveness, display and sponsorship advertising often requires an incubation period following the performance to measure success or failure. It’s time to establish a strategy and tip off your best effort to connect with our nation’s college basketball fans.

The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security Leads the Industry with Value and Forward-Thinking Expertise

Formed shortly after the terrorist attacks on our Nation in September of 2001, The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) serves as the leader in policy development and legal analysis in the field of homeland security. Through its association with the University of Maryland, Baltimore, CHHS has grown to include partnerships with the Middle Atlantic Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefence and Emerging Infectious Diseases to bring together top experts from the scientific, emergency management, and public health communities.  Today, CHHS is home to a powerhouse of knowledge and expertise dedicated to the advancement of emergency management training, public health security, safety, and disaster recovery planning to public and private agencies across the United States.

CHHS’s forward-thinking expertise, led by Michael Greenberger, JD, includes academic programs and comprehensive consulting services that encompass community resilience, continuity of operations, cybersecurity, emergency management, exercise and training, health security, public safety technology, and recovery planning.  CHHS works with governmental and institutional organizations but maintains a focus on developing future emergency management leaders through Graduate degree programs and externships/internships.

“For organizations, both in the private sector and in the government, it’s critical to be prepared in the event of an emergency, from pandemics to government shutdowns.  The need for business continuity planning is often a low priority unless the threat is imminent.  The expert team at CHHS can assist your organization in preparing and planning to mitigate risk and limit the devastation in the event that a tragedy strikes,” comments Eric Oddo, Continuity Program Director, CHHS.

“The CHHS mission is critical for advancing our Nation’s security efforts. Their vast experience in emergency response, crisis management, cyber security and continuity of operations is a key resource for government and institutional organizations throughout the country. We are proud to have been selected to create a new online experience that effectively presents their comprehensive menu of services in a way that compliments the quality of their expertise,” comments Julie Gareleck, CEO & Managing Partner, Junction Creative Solutions. With more than 60 professionals on staff, CHHS continues to expand its client base in the Washington D.C., D.C. Metro, and Baltimore areas.  For those institutional and government organizations looking for tailored, holistic programs in emergency management and homeland security, contact us to learn more or call 410-706-1014.

Valentine’s Day Isn’t Just for Lovers Anymore

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Hallmark holidays have always been an opportunity for retailers to rack-up some additional sales. Valentine’s Day, once a day reserved for romance and couples, is trending in some interesting directions. With more than 50 percent of Americans identifying themselves as single and not fully committed to a love relationship, the dynamics of the once romantic holiday are changing.

The changing social norms are not slowing the momentum of spending. This year consumers are expected to spend nearly $20 billion dollars on gifts for their sweetheart, co-worker or favorite pet. Consumers plan to spend just over $26 on pets for Valentine’s Day. But the tradition has not totally gone to the dogs.

The traditional winners in the loving gift department will continue to be candy, flowers and jewelry but gifts of experience are beginning to find favor among consumers.  People aged 25 to 34 will be spending the most on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, dropping an average of $202.76 per person. A poll conducted by the National Retail Federation found “the top reasons consumers chose not to celebrate Valentine’s Day were that they considered it over-commercialized, didn’t have anyone to celebrate with or simply weren’t interested anymore.” Sellers spend less time planning their campaigns in advance of Valentine’s Day than other holidays throughout the year, and most consumers wait longer to shop for their gifts. 

The origins of the lovers’ holiday has been traced back to the second century when Emperor Claudius II executed two religious Martyrs named St Valentine. The original February 14 holiday doesn’t appear to have been about romance or love. It wasn’t until the early 20th century that Hallmark Greeting Card Company’s forbearer started distributing Valentine’s Day cards. By the start of the 21st century, more than 60 percent of Americans celebrated the holiday. Despite the falling popularity of Valentine’s Day, total spending during the holiday continues to rise and the bulk of the spending will be for significant others and spouses. Co-workers, family members, classmates and pets will join the rank of favorite relationships in 2019.