Understanding Site Traffic Critical to Business Development

You have spent so much time over the years getting the right product mix in your store, setting up displays to produce an effective flow, having Sales Associates there to greet and engage your customers. Are you thinking about the same things for your website? Well, you should since three out of four shoppers who find online, local information helpful are more likely to visit stores. Once in the store, 46% are conducting research on the retailer’s site/app. *Think with Google

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Understanding the Path to Conversion

The decision to buy may be long (a home, a car, travel) or short (tonight’s dinner, a new top), but has the same steps. From awareness to advocacy, you know that your customers learn of your brand, research or engage with it, and decide to buy or not to buy through your website.

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Employ Digital Analytics to Track, Test
& Measure a Customer’s Journey

Watch entry and exit points.

Watch what’s happening carefully. Does traffic enter your site on your home page every time? Do they all take the same path through your content to the point of purchase? If they do, you have an extremely linear experience—which is rare (if not unheard of). Sites should have enough content to educate and inform, but also a clear call to action. Where your visitors exit can also be telling. Do they “get lost” within a particular area of your site, and leave before taking action? What steps can be taken to prevent this from happening, and shorten the number of clicks from the first to the last page?

Average Page Views

If the average of pages viewed per visit is three or more, the path to conversion may be too long. For instance: if your doctor’s office site has been created to generate new patients, those brand new patients might want to explore the credentials of the staff, the treatment types they offer, and whether or not the office is accepting new patients. All of these pieces of content could be contained on the home page. A click to call feature or click to see available appointments would provide instant gratification for any new patient.

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This orthopedic specialist has a popup click to make an appointment. It isn’t intrusive, but it allows for new patients to immediately connect.

Time on Site

If your site is intended to simplify a purchase, the faster you can close a transaction the better. Take Sheplers’ Mackinac Island Ferry, for instance. This site was built to change the Shepler’s model from a labor intensive, manual purchase through an in-person ticket window to a seamless, online experience using a mobile device. The customer should be able to complete their transaction in less than 3 minutes. Returning customers, less than 2 minutes. Rather than 20 minutes in a ticket line, a 3-minute smartphone exchange is significantly better. But knowing that optimizations can be made over time by carefully monitoring the areas of the transaction that take the most time can further decrease friction in the purchase process.

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Top Visited Pages

Like a magician that invites you to “pick a card,” you should know what selections your viewers will choose most frequently. Pieces of content that introduce a new program or product, or offer a “featured” feel will likely draw more attention than a blog posted 10 months ago. The more prominent the placement, the more relevant it should be to the user. Think about both frequency and recency. How often does your client transact on your site? If monthly, perhaps you change content features once each month. More frequently? Match the frequency and recency of your average (not the most valuable) client, and you’ll capture their attention with the content you provide.

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The Check In Michigan home page features the nearest upcoming events, and the most recent news and industry updates. Both are dynamic, keeping up to date without manual maintenance needed.

Organic versus Paid Traffic

A certain percentage of your traffic will know and visit you because they are already aligned with your brand. While it’s important to maintain a current customer, it’s also important to foster new business. Is your search budget generating a healthy percentage of your site traffic? How about display? Measuring how your customers are reaching you, and then taking steps to amplify or modify that traffic purposefully is among the best ways to use your knowledge of site traffic to benefit your business.

Geography, Demography

Where your traffic originates as well as the age or characteristics of your traffic can tell you so much. Knowing that your average site visitor is 50 means the messages that will influence him or her should be very different. Perhaps you are looking to diversify the age ranges of the clientele your serve. Measuring the mix of these individuals will help you identify when your marketing activities are successful.

Regardless of the goal, understanding who is on your site, how they convert, and what they consume while in your digital footprint will make tomorrow’s marketing activities smarter than today’s. Consider analytics as the foundation of a marketing strategy, rather than the way to measure it, and you’ll be more successful at launch.

Local Real Estate Professionals Rebrand Under New LARA Guidelines

Not every client of Advance 360 brands within rigid guidelines, but in the real estate industry, Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs dictates what’s possible. Add to that the branding guides for their real estate affiliate partner and you have a highly regulated system for your brand. Such was the case with Steve Volkers Group of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Michigan.

“When we first began refreshing our brand identity we vetted a few local creative agencies for the project. We were impressed by Advance 360’s professionalism and strategic approach and we decided to jump into this crazy journey with their team leading the charge,” said Steve Volkers. But more important were the guidelines the brand was required to follow. The Advance 360 team spent time with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ staff, to ensure the end designs would align with corporate policy.

The Group Sets the Tone

Research must come first, and that means that the feelings and ideas of the team and how their brand is viewed is paramount. The group, together in a room, must articulate the aspirational vision for their brand. With guidance from the Advance 360 team, these concepts are harnessed and consensus formed, crafting a shared language around the purpose of the brand.

Of this process, the Group’s Director of Marketing, Amber Gray, had this to say. “Our project started with a full team working session. It was a great way for our entire group to level-set on how we see our brand, what we want for it in the future and why those pieces are important. The outcome of that working session was a strategic chart that was shared every time we regrouped so that we all knew how we got to where we are.”

“It was not only helpful but humbling to know that our voices and opinions were heard and taken into account along the way.”

“Once the creative output started coming in, we were beyond thrilled. Andrew Olson, Creative Strategist, nailed it with the overall design theory of our new brand identity.”

Previous Logo

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New Logo

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Co-branded Logos

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Now in the process of web development/programming, the Steve Volkers Group is putting into action Advance 360 designs for their digital footprint. The team, including Senior Account Manager Kristin Hartwig, “took an immense amount of care and effort to propose a user experience based on our analytics and, of course that initial team working session,” said Gray.

This effort included content architecture recommendations for the numerous sites in the Steve Volkers Group portfolio: GR Downtown Condos, Steve Volkers Group, Alger Heights and West Michigan New Homes. The end result: a content stream that would be easily navigable, intuitive for the user, and preserve the SEO quality previously established by years of exceptional content generation. The look and navigation of these sites is under construction (hidden from view of the public) until its official launch summer, 2018.

“We are confident that the final result will exceed our performance expectations. Not to mention, it’s so pretty! This group of creative and talented individuals has been a dream to work with. Their knowledge and hard work shines in every step of the way.”

Creative Tells the Story

Tideline Ocean Resort and Spa is a unique client. They have a strong sense of self, understanding what niche they want to fill for their clientele: a chic, boutique hotel experience with exceptional amenities, offering ocean view banquets and weddings and al fresco dining in West Palm Beach. Unfortunately, their changing ownership and management companies, along with a deflagging from a franchise hotelier left them without a usable logo, identity system or creative assets.

In addition, they needed a web presence worthy of the property itself. The vast majority of their reservations were taking place with online travel agents (OTA’s), and unnecessarily sacrificing margin to those third party entities. The return on marketing investment was untraceable, as the technology was not being used to its potential. In short, this resort needed an identity and a campaign, quickly.

Our team first performed a market analysis of competitive properties in the area. Our review included all that would appeal to the core customer of Tideline Resort, rather than focus on like-sized or properties with similar entities. What we discovered: The property’s beach was exceptional, better than the competition in space and size. The dining offerings were fresh and desirable, with a credible sushi chef and sought after brunch buffet. The spa offered traditional services, specializing in bridal groups. All of the pieces were in existence, the hotel simply needed to generate the creative assets to tell the story.

The Advance 360 Creative Team then came on site to collect video and still photo assets, staging hotel spaces, vignettes, and amenities in order to capture just the right pieces of the story.

From there, a new website/digital environment was produced and launched, as well as a campaign to generate lift in brand awareness and site visits, and reduce third party booking agents.

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Creative Examples

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Peter & Company Jewelers Increases Awareness and Revenue with Strategic Marketing

By all accounts, Peter & Company was a successful Cleveland jeweler. With their concentration on special occasion jewelry, diamonds and engagement, and specialty brands, they had all the devices to gain and keep their clients’ attention.

But at Advance 360, we knew that with a strategy centered around events and special occasions, true gains could be made. We built for them a layered campaign with evergreen, event, and other segments, targeted at those that could be most influenced.

Marketing Challenge

Peter & Co. is a single point customer service oriented jewelry retailer that has been in business for 30 years. They have/had partnered with jewelry specific agencies over the past decade. Peter & Co. wanted to understand how their marketing efforts were performing, have a better knowledge of their customer base, and be able to better leverage the digital space.

Our Solutions

  • We proposed becoming their Agency of Record to handle ALL marketing efforts
  • A full CRM and POS data analysis was performed
  • Custom reporting was created to track both web analytics and POS performance in one place
  • We built them a 12 month media calendar including digital, video, print, radio, signage, etc.
  • Our team coordinates and/or activates and optimizes all of the media plans
  • Our creative team initially designed campaigns for Always On, Mother’s Day, Spring, and Summer


  • Display impressions
  • Campaign management
  • Design
  • Video
  • Photography
  • Responsive rich media
  • Social media marketing
  • Print advertising
  • Email
  • Direct mail
  • Blog
  • Exterior signage
  • Store collateral & signage
  • Swag items
  • Catalogs
  • Holiday website
  • Campaign analytics
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Creative Samples

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Reducing the Cost Per Acquisition in the Education Space

In 2015, private four year institutions spent $2,000 per new student acquisition. Two year public institutions used fewer staff for their recruitment and admissions operations, using a ratio of 225 students to 1 full time equivalent. With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever. What can be done to shrink the cost of marketing dollars while simultaneously increasing yield of those already in your CRM? One area to take a closer look is the user experience or UX.

Perform a  User Experience (UX) Audit

The best audits are highly detailed, with more than one user studying the performance and usability of a site. Consider using a group of individuals with complementary strengths: one who is a “visual learner,” another data-driven. One male, one female, one a traditional student, one non-traditional. However you choose to mix the users, let diversity do what it does best – informing you about the perspectives of different types of people. Translate their feedback to guide improvements for your UX.

Areas To Examine

How does the user enter the eco-system? Regardless of entry point, a clear path to finding more information or applying online should be visible. This means an established hierarchy of visuals that includes type size, colors, button shapes and sizes, and other graphic visuals.  If the user is on a mobile device, especially a smartphone, are they able to reach those areas upon entry, and within each scrollable area of the page?

Clear and useful should be the goal for every user interaction. Special attention should be paid to areas that attract the highest traffic, and also those that you wish to be your conversion points on the site.

Begin by determining your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A question to ask yourself: what interactions can I measure? Perhaps the metric is signups for campus visits, a request for more information, or a gated download. The path to conversion for a first time student is 9 months or more, so remember that these measurements should be made as the student progresses through the system, not upon entry. Google Analytics offers custom dashboards and reports, and can track visitor behaviors for you, making gathering data for your decision even easier.

If you have access to heatmaps or other materials that describe page interactions, there’s even more insights at your disposal! What images are most compelling to your visitors, where does the cursor absentmindedly hover? There are so many ways to measure engagement and each can tell you something more about your audience.

In the education space, the goal is and will always be finding the right-fit student, and enticing them to apply and ultimately enroll. How you interact with them and on what device they can access your information will dramatically impact the conversions on your website and the ultimate yield your institution experiences.

With the rising costs of tuition increasingly in the public eye, and colleges insisting on more return for less spend, marketers with goals tied to admissions are under more pressure than ever. 

Digital Healthcare Marketing Strategies that Really Work

Constant change has become the norm for healthcare marketers these days, and that trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down as a new administration will inevitably mean changes to the healthcare system. That being said, there is one trend that isn’t going away in digital healthcare marketing, and that’s the focus on the patient. Healthcare has made the shift towards a value-based system, and healthcare organizations depend on patient satisfaction to not only maintain their current patients but to get referrals and gain new ones.

The good news is that organizations that promote themselves digitally will benefit from the increasing consumer involvement in healthcare. Providers are at an advantage, because health is one of the most important topics in people’s lives, and digital marketing is facilitating an exchange of information between these providers and their patients. But what are the best strategies for reaching patients? We’ve outlined some of the most effective ones below:


The goal of many healthcare organizations should be to focus on brand awareness, as well as gaining and retaining patients. The best way to do this is to draw patients in by framing your healthcare facility as a caring and engaged organization. Your story needs to be about putting the patients first. These days, patients are turning to the internet to research their healthcare. By consistently providing them with up-to-date information about diseases and conditions, treatments and procedures, and the doctors and health care professionals in your organization, you can engage the patients that are out there researching. In addition, healthcare marketing is cyclical and should focus on what the patients are experiencing throughout the year. During Mother’s Day, you can run maternity stories, weight loss after the holidays, flu shot information in the winter, and men’s health around Father’s Day. Of course, healthcare organizations need to keep in accordance with HIPAA, so focusing on general and educational information should be the priority.


Don’t forget – content doesn’t just mean the written word. Video marketing is extremely effective for healthcare organizations. Creating videos to post along with your content can greatly enhance your content marketing strategy: according to a study by Moz, posts with videos receive nearly 300% more inbound links. Consider creating patient education videos that explain a complex subject in a short but compelling way, or interview doctors in your office to bring the human factor to your healthcare organization. Make sure to post these videos on your website and share through social platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

Social Media

Engaging with patients means that healthcare organizations need to take it one step further than just posting information on a website. That being said, social media is an important component of healthcare marketing. In fact, 90% of adults 18-24 say they would trust medical information shared by others in their social networks, while 41% of all patients say social media impacts their choice of healthcare providers. Replying to patient concerns in a timely manner is important for healthcare organizations, and encouraging patients to provide feedback on their experience can be an effective social strategy. Healthcare providers should be using social media as one channel to amplify their story. Another great way to use social media to the benefit of a healthcare organization is by creating groups and forums where patients can discuss various aspects of the healthcare field. Keep in mind though, that social media is only effective if it is consistently managed.

Website and Search Engine Optimization

All websites these days are at the mercy of search engine algorithms, and healthcare organizations are no different. If you want your organization to be discovered online, you need to have your website content optimized for that purpose. So what does that mean? In terms of Google specifically, there are two primary metrics: relevance and authority. Relevance is a measure of how relevant your website content is to your business. This used to only be measured through content related to keywords and back-end tags and meta descriptions, but the algorithm has gotten much more sophisticated and can now understand the content as it is related to the intent of the search. Authority is the measure of how trustworthy and valuable a page is based on rankings that include how many times people share or link back to content, how well the site runs, and if it is optimized for mobile usage. In basic terms, the best way to optimize your website is to make sure the content you create to tell your story is valuable, up-to-date, and of good quality.

Email Marketing

The truth is, email marketing is still the standard for business reaching their audience, it just needs to be done in the right way. The best email strategy is a targeted and personalized one that reaches the right audience with the right message. Use personalization techniques that enter in recipient’s names when sending, include a catchy subject line, fill the email with relevant and useful content for the readers. It always goes back to the story and making sure that the patient is getting quality information that aligns with your brand.

By using digital tools to communicate relevant information and educate your patients, you will inevitably build relationships that will help you retain your current patient base and build a community of well-informed and engaged patients that are loyal to your organization.