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Baseline Creative

Nathan Williams headshot

Nathan Williams Recognized as a 2021 Marketing Awards Honoree

By Blog

Nathan Williams honored as part of the Wichita Business Journal’s 2021 Marketing Awards

Owner and Principal of Baseline Creative, Nathan Williams, was recognized as an honoree of the Wichita Business Journal’s annual Marketing Awards. You can read Nathan’s full profile feature in the Wichita Business Journal.

The Wichita Business Journal’s Marketing Awards “honor Wichita-area senior marketing professionals who excel in making their company or organization look and perform its best.”

Client-focused service and support

Nathan brings an innovative approach to customer-first marketing at Baseline. He’s not afraid to do the work alongside his team, whether it be everyday fulfillment, high-level strategy, or developing a custom solution. Most importantly, he treats each client as the most important asset to our company, no matter the size of the account.

Nathan’s commitment to finding the best solution—or creating one—is always present in the day-to-day processes at Baseline Creative.

Vice President of Baseline Creative, Bridgette West-Williams says, “Nathan always ensures we provide clients with effective strategy, while being good stewards of their time and resources. His respect for honest and ethical business dealings ensures the success of our clients, and our own business.”

Servant leadership from the heart

Aside from providing exceptional client service, Nathan donates time, in-kind work, and resources to our local community in various ways. He is a longtime supporter of the Kansas Humane Society, Kansas K9 ResQ, Beauties & Beasts, Wichita Animal Action League, among many other regional and national animal rescues and shelters. In addition, Nathan is also a SCORE and SBA volunteer.

Each year, Nathan donates in-kind work to nonprofits and local organizations in need of marketing services, custom websites, and application solutions. For example, ICT SOS, Camp Sunflower, the Kansas Hispanic Education & Development Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association of Central & Western Kansas, the League of Women Voters of Wichita Metro, and the Wichita Grand Opera.

We are proud to be part of the team Nathan has established at Baseline Creative. We congratulate Nathan on his recognition as a 2021 Marketing Awards honoree!

a variety of icons indicating a broken website

Web Maintenance Keeps You Running

By Blog, Uncategorized

Just like a vehicle or a building, your website requires regular maintenance to keep functionality working correctly and to keep your website secure. Plugins are continually updated for security and performance and outdated plugins can pose a security risk. In addition, regular web maintenance ensures your site is running as quickly as possible and is optimized for search engine optimization (SEO). Below are some reasons to do regular, monthly web maintenance.

Reasons for Web Maintenance

  1. Security – Hackers are always looking for vulnerabilities and outdated plugins and versions of content management systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. When a hacker sees that plugins for these websites are not updated, they can either take advantage of a current exploit, or create a new one. Aside from plugins, it’s also important to keep your content management system updated to new versions. Developers for plugins and content management systems are continually working on creating new, more secure versions of their products and it’s vital to your web security to keep up to date.
  2. Performance – A website is a well-oiled digital machine, and when your plugins aren’t up to date, these plugins can become clunky and can break, which in turn, breaks the functionality on your website. Examples of broken plugins could include missing elements including maps, images, and forms. This creates a poor user experience, which effects your overall search engine ranking.
  3. Speed – Speed is part of the overall performance of your website, but it’s important enough to have its own bullet point because speed is a crucial factor in your search engine ranking. When developers push out new versions or updates to plugins or content management systems, it’s because they have improved these products, often optimizing for speed.
  4. Save money – When a website is not routinely maintained, it can cause more problems that require additional time and money to fix. Like ignoring regular oil changes, a website without maintenance can eventually come to a halt with a variety of broken functionalities, slow speed and poor user experience. Unfortunately, this can take more time for a company, like Baseline to fix. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Web Maintenance is Available

Baseline Creative offers regular, affordable, maintenance for websites that we’ve built, as well as sites we didn’t build. Our service includes regular plugin updates and security checks by a real, live developer! Our team will make updates, test, and make optimizations as needed. If you’re interested in regular updates, contact your account manager, email us, or call us at 316-260-5294 and we will answer questions and get you on our schedule.

A cell phone shows the Instagram Reels splash screen

Instagram Update

By Blog

Instagram, the visual social media platform recently announced that they are “no longer a photo-sharing app.” Instead, Instagram is shifting its focus over to compensating creators, video, shopping, and messaging. This doesn’t mean that users won’t be able to share photos anymore, because that functionality will still exist. However, what has changed is what content users see first including content from accounts the user doesn’t currently follow. We break down the Instagram update happening now below.

Four New Areas of Focus

  • Instagram’s research showed that users come to the platform to be entertained. Instagram believes that a big part of entertainment will include video. Instagram is experimenting over the next few months by recommending videos to users from accounts the user doesn’t follow yet. This is similar to the way both TikTok and YouTube suggest content to users. Instagram’s video format is called “Reels” and has been criticized for imitating many of the same features as TikTok. Reels are now the preferred format for the Instagram algorithm.

  • In addition to pushing out more video content, Instagram is updating monetization features to compensate creators. Creator shops allow Instagram users to set up a shop directly in the app or connect their personal and business profiles more easily. Affiliate commerce allows creators to be compensated by brands for their recommendations based on the number of sales the creator pushes through. The Brand Content Marketplace allows brands to partner with creators that match up with their brand values.

  • The pandemic brought online purchasing into the spotlight and Instagram is looking to capitalize on that with expanded shopping options. Instagram hasn’t revealed any specifics on this area, but with 131 million users clicking on shopping posts per month, they are looking to capitalize on this trend.

  • Finally, Instagram is focusing on messaging. More users are using messaging features on social platforms and Instagram is updating its messaging to include a visual component in which the user can reply to a DM with a photo. More updates to messaging are planned.

How Does the Instagram Update Affect You?

What does this mean for businesses that advertise on Instagram? For retail businesses, the new shopping platform will make it easier to sell their products. Brands interested in collaborating with influencers will also benefit from these changes. For businesses that have Instagram accounts, the biggest change will be switching over to more video content. Creating more video content will take more time than posting photos. Businesses should budget more time for content strategy, creation, and implementation.

If your business needs help with social media management or paid social media ads, Baseline Creative can help! We have a team of strategists who stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends and best practices. Contact us today.

Bridgette West-Williams is a Woman Who Leads

By Blog

Bridgette West-Williams Recognized as a Woman Who Leads by the Wichita Business Journal

Baseline Creative’s Vice President, Bridgette West-Williams, was honored and recognized by the Wichita Business Journal for her leadership in the professional services sector. The Wichita Business Journal featured Bridgette including her career path and advice for other women in the profession alongside other leaders.

Serving and supporting employees and clients

Bridgette’s commitment to the safety, wellbeing and security of the Baseline Creative team is always present, especially during the pandemic. In her position as Vice President, she developed policies to accommodate every employee’s work style while supporting client needs and expectations.

In addition, her leadership helped employees thrive throughout the pandemic. Among her many responsibilities, she regularly checked in on employees’ mental health and well-being. She also mentored other business owners, providing them with guidance on how to create effective practices, policies, and boundaries.

A passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion

Bridgette’s volunteer work speaks to her core values, passion, and commitment to social justice. Through her leadership, in-kind contributions, and donating her time and resources, she supports a number of organizations. Above all, she demonstrates her commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in her everyday actions.

She serves as a board member and co-chair of the Membership Committee for the League of Women Voters, Wichita Metro. Bridgette was also recently appointed as the DEI Chair for the League of Women Voters Kansas.  In addition to her role as a board member, donor, and volunteer for ICT SOS, she also supports Camp Sunflower through in-kind contributions.

Bridgette also serves as a leader, volunteer, and donor for several community organizations, including Rise Up For Youth, Progeny, Beauties & Beasts, WAAL, Kansas Humane Society, Lawrence Humane Society, KMUW, KPTS, and Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams.

Cultivating a positive company culture

Most importantly, Bridgette has developed and cultivated a positive company culture and work environment at Baseline Creative, Inc. She uses her strengths to serve and support her company and community.

When asked what advice she has for young professionals, Bridgette says, “Find mentors with seniority and experience who hold roles or positions you envision yourself in, as well as peer mentors. Make time for yourself along the way, and don’t be afraid to set boundaries in your professional life and seek a workplace with a culture that best serves you.”

We are incredibly proud to be a part of the team Bridgette has helped create and the work that Baseline does for clients and in the community. Our team congratulates her for being named a Woman Who Leads in our community!

A cell phone is compromised in a phishing attach

Don’t Click That Link – How to Avoid Phishing Attempts

By Blog

We received a call from a concerned client the other day because they had received an email through their website contact form that claimed that they were using copyrighted images on their website. The emailer claimed that they would sue our client if they didn’t remove the images, and the copyright proof could be accessed via a link. Once I assured the client that we only use images that we create, or that we pull from our stock photo subscription, he was relieved. However, this type of phishing scheme is happening more often. We thought it was a good time to remind our clients about the types of schemes that we frequently see, how they can avoid them, and the importance of website security.

Copyright Infringement Scheme

This is a common type of phishing scheme. After creating panic in the website owner about copyrighted images, and the emailer claiming they were going to sue and involve the website hosting company. The hacker will then demand that the user clicks a link to see evidence of their copyright. Once the user clicks the link, they can one of several things:

  • Hold your device hostage and demand a ransom.
  • Access your other accounts and compromise your financial information.
  • They can upload viruses and worms onto your device.

As a preventative measure, Baseline Creative uses advanced captchas and honeypots to help deter, and track, users who are attempting to access websites. These tools also help limit the amount of spam on website contact forms.

A new version of this scheme has popped up on Instagram. Instagram users may receive a direct message or an email claiming that Instagram has found that they’ve used copyrighted images on their account. They cleverly add, “If you think we’ve made a mistake, please fill out the copyright objection form below,” which of course, will provide the hacker with access they need to take over your Instagram account.

You can avoid these types of phishing schemes by remaining vigilant and suspicious of emails that want you to click on a link, or download an attachment. Some signs that an email is a phishing scam are more obvious, such as, the email has poor grammar or misspelled words, or if the name shows up as someone you know, but the email address itself isn’t correct. However, scammers are becoming more sophisticated every day, so don’t drop your guard.

Domain Slamming Schemes

These types of schemes involve the claim that you must renew your domain. Usually they are marked “URGENT” and can come via email or regular mail. The scheme requires the business owner to fill out a form and pay for the domain renewal, which is quite often much more expensive than it should be.

Unfortunately, when the user completes this, they have unwittingly transferred their domain registration to someone with ill intent. These bad actors can then turn off your website, hold it hostage, or access the private information contained on your website.

If you’re unsure that your domain is about to expire, log into your domain host directly, and not from a link provided in an email. You should be able to log into your GoDaddy, BlueHost or another domain registration provider and see when your domain is set to expire. You can set up autorenewal so that you never have to worry about an expiration. If you are a Baseline Creative client, and we’ve set up your domain, we make sure that renewals occur each year so you don’t have to add that to your already full plate.

Avoiding Phishing Scams & Website Hacking

Baseline Creative is always vigilant when it comes to website security. We use tools to help us detect hacking attempts, as well as preventative firewalls and security measures to keep websites and data safe. If you receive an unsolicited email claiming copyright infringement or the need for a domain renewal, feel free to contact us. We can help you stay safe in the digital space and assist with website security needs.

Closed captioning for videos is important for accessibility

Accessibility and Social Media

By Blog

Accessibility has become increasingly important in website development and companies like Baseline Creative are using WCAG 2.1 standards to build ADA-compliant websites. Social media platforms are also working toward more accessibility, especially for those who are visually impaired and the Deaf and Hard Of Hearing community.

Instagram recently launched a new automated caption feature for Stories. In September 2020, Instagram added captioning capability to IGTV available in 16 languages. Automated captioning for Stories starts with English and English-speaking countries, but Instagram is looking to expand to other languages. In addition to captioning for Stories and IGTV, Instagram is working on bringing the same technology to their “Reels” product, which is a similar format to TikTok. While third-party apps have been helpful to creators to add captions in multiple platforms, the ability to caption natively is ideal.

As a primarily visual platform, Instagram can be difficult for those with visual impairments to navigate. If a user who is visually impaired clicks on a post and there is no alt-text, they won’t know what the image is supposed to be—especially if the caption doesn’t describe the image. However, creators can manually add alt-text to Instagram posts by editing their photos as usual and then click on Advanced and Accessibility. This is an extra step, but it’s critical to connect with your followers who experience vision loss.

Instagram creators can also make posts more accessible by using more descriptive language in IG Stories or with IGTV and in the captions of the posts. Hashtagging is essential on Instagram but be sure to use CamelCase when you post. This means instead of a hashtag like this, #itsgonnabemay the creator capitalizes the first letter of each word, like this, #ItsGonnaBeMay. This allows screen readers to read the hashtag as intended.

Other social media platforms have implemented captioning or are rolling out similar features. TikTok has announced an auto-captions feature that automatically generates subtitles on videos. Creators can then edit the captions as necessary for clarity before uploading a finished video. Twitter also allows users to add alt-text to the images and gifs used in tweets. Facebook has had closed captions on videos for several years and allows users to edit photos in posts to include alt-text.

Social media is meant to create a community for its users. If a group of people such as those with visual impairments or those who are Deaf or Hard Of Hearing is left out, it’s not a true representation of the whole community. Adding captions, being descriptive in captions and posts, creating accessible hashtags, and adding alt-text to visuals used in social media help create a more accessible and inclusive experience for all users.

Baseline Creative is committed to inclusivity and accessibility in the work we do. From creating websites compliant with WCAG 2.1 standards to using accessibility features in social media, Baseline is working toward creating a more accessible experience for all users. If you’re looking for a digital company to help you with accessibility efforts, contact us.

Word-of-mouth marketing helps attract customers to your brand

The Importance of Word-of-Mouth Marketing

By Uncategorized

Word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps the oldest and one of the most effective forms of marketing. When consumers get a recommendation from someone they trust—or even another consumer—it carries more weight than any paid ads. In today’s world of social media, word-of-mouth marketing is still important. A HubSpot report indicated that 71% of people are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals.

Why is Word-of-Mouth Marketing So Effective?

Trust. Consumers trust other consumers. When someone asks for a recommendation, people they trust will respond. Family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances will provide their good (and bad) experiences. People trust feedback from other consumers over paid ads. Is your company using positive reviews in your marketing materials? Are you tracking and responding to all reviews? If not, you’re missing an important piece of your word-of-mouth marketing.

Why Should You Care About Word-of-Mouth Marketing?

Customer loyalty. It is much more cost-effective to keep a current customer than to find a new one. Keep your customers happy and they will help reduce the need for other types of marketing. If you can make your current customers brand ambassadors, you not only retain their business, but they will enthusiastically tell others.

How Can You Generate Great Reviews?

Providing a great customer experience is key. And it really has to be great. Go above and beyond for your customers. An example of this is the online pet retailer, Chewy.com. This brand is known for going above and beyond for customers in all kinds of ways. From sending commissioned paintings of pets to respectfully and compassionately reaching out to people whose pets have recently passed away.

Sometimes you need to ask! It’s well-known that more people are likely to share a negative experience than a positive one. And many times, consumers don’t write positive reviews because they don’t think about it. When you ask your customers for a review or prompt them, you have taken the first step to increase your word-of-mouth marketing.

Referral programs can also help you capture new customers by tapping into your current fans with an incentive for them. One example of this might be a certain percentage off of the price of your products or service with every referral. You can reward your current customers with special offers, loyalty points, etc., and gain new leads and potential customers.

Need Help?

Baseline Creative can help you develop a strategy for word-of-mouth marketing through public relations, digital marketing, and web development. Contact us today to learn more.

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Page Experience is the next algorithm focus

Google’s Next Algorithm Update

By Blog

Anytime Google launches a new update to their algorithm, it makes marketers sit up and take notice. Coming up in June, Google is launching an update that will focus on Page Experience. As this rollout happens it’s a great time to make sure that your website is optimized for the new Google focus.

What is Page Experience?

The key to any website is user experience. If your website isn’t user-friendly or doesn’t meet security standards, many potential customers will drop off, and may not return. These are the features that Google is focusing on in this latest update.

Core Web Vitals – Your website needs to load quickly and links need to work. Google will label the pages on your website as Good, Needs Improvement or Poor.

Mobile Usability – Google has made mobile responsiveness a key ranking factor for several years now so it’s no surprise that this is part of the Page Experience update. Most people now access the internet on their mobile devices so it’s vital that your website appear and function well on those smaller screens. Errors for mobile usability can include content that is wider than the screen, or text that is too small to read. Enabling Google Search Console can help determine these issues so they can be fixed.

Security Issues – Google doesn’t want to send users to websites that could have security issues. This includes having Hyper Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) on your website. You may notice when you click on a website if it doesn’t have a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate because, in the address bar, the site may say, “Not Secure”. If you own a website that collects any kind of information—from contact information to e-commerce, having an SSL is vital. If you don’t have it, Google will determine it’s a Poor page experience.

Ad Experience – If your website serves up ads in addition to your content, Google wants to ensure that your users are having a positive experience. If your ads are distracting, interrupting, or creating a poor user experience, Google will fail your website in Page Experience.

Ensuring a Good User Experience

Sometimes it’s easy to think that once a website is built, you’re done. Building a site that is user-friendly and is secure is important. However, maintaining the website with security updates and monitoring the Page Experience reports is also important. If you would like to see how your website stands up, contact us!

A yellow change ahead sign with blue sky and cloud behind it

How Covid-19 Changed Marketing

By Uncategorized

It’s officially been one year since Covid-19 caused quarantines and lockdowns and began to change the way we do things in both the short term and the long term. One of the industries most affected by Covid is marketing. In March 2020 marketers and businesses immediately began reassessing marketing strategies and business models to make the changes needed to succeed in a world engulfed in a global pandemic.

Messaging Matters

One of the first major shifts in marketing involved messaging. Covid is scary and turned the world upside down, so any messaging that was too “sales-y” was just wrong. Brands created marketing messages conveying empathy for what their customers were experiencing and messages of solidarity in the face of adversity. This type of branding, however, could turn off consumers if it was too generic or inauthentic. In addition, consumers grew weary of hearing brands talk about “in these unprecedented times” and reading about how important it is to “pivot”.  However, brands that delivered value with their empathetic messaging were more successful. A good example of this is Zoom. Zoom offered free accounts with limited minutes which helped keep families connected virtually. The result? The company’s stock rose 67%from the beginning of February to the end of in March in 2020.

Along with Covid came a tumultuous summer of civil rights protests and a contentious election season. In previous years, brands were often leery of taking a stand on social issues, but the change in the collective mindset, and the ability for people to focus on the issues due to lockdowns, gave brands the encouragement to communicate their corporate stance on issues. This kind of messaging is effective particularly with Gen Z, as long as the support isn’t performative.  One brand that has an authentic and consistent stance on social issues is Ben & Jerry’s. They have stances on climate change, racial justice, and more. Because these values are present in all aspects of their business, Ben & Jerry’s is an example of the best kind of social justice marketing.

Creating Communities

The pandemic isolated many people so the importance of online communities began to grow. Chipotle experimented with Zoom to create a “Chipotle Together” campaign which was a Zoom series that featured daily sessions with celebrities.

Facebook groups have been around since 2016, but the tech giant began promoting groups more heavily during the early days of quarantine. Curating a group of your brand’s fans is a good way to stay connected to them and promote content, especially through video. According to a Facebook study, 86% of people whose most important community group primarily online says they will continue to engage with that group at the same level (48%) or more frequently (39%).

The Power of Video

Livestreaming, video conferencing, and video, in general, are tactics that saw a tremendous increase in 2020, that likely will stay relevant. As people continue to connect digitally due to Covid, it’s more important now to engage with your customers where they’re at on social media. This includes YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, even Snapchat and TikTok. Creating good videos has never been easier with smartphone cameras and simple editing apps. Webinars are another great way to educate consumers and stay relevant.

E-Commerce on Websites

For retailers and restaurants, having e-commerce available on their websites became a matter of survival. While some businesses initially didn’t see value in e-commerce, the ability to sell goods and services online during lockdowns and quarantines caused a boom in e-commerce—up 32.4% from the previous year. The top four categories for online sales in 2020 included:

  • Food and beverage – up 100.1%
  • Toys/Hobbies – up 63.1%
  • Consumer Electronics – up 61.5%
  • Hardware/Home – up 52%

Now that consumers have experienced the convenience of e-commerce, this is a trend that is predicted to stay relevant for years to come.

Change is Good

While the reason that these changes in marketing occurred is tragic, the changes themselves are good. The world will never be the same post-Covid and many of the ways in which we now connect with our audiences will remain pertinent. If you’re interested in finding new ways to connect to your customers, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us for a conversation.

A smartphone displays Instagram Stories

The Power of Instagram Stories

By Blog

Instagram stories made their debut in 2016, giving users a chance to highlight and capture experiences and share everyday moments. Since that time the popularity of Stories has grown, and there is good evidence that creating Instagram stories should be part of your social media strategy.

Why choose stories over posts?

There are several reasons to choose Instagram stories over regular posts. First, 500 million Instagrammers use stories daily, which translates to more than 1 billion stories posted every day. While the number of stories increases each year, the number of posts decreases.

  1. Stories relieve pressure from thinking of a carefully-crafted post, and how it fits into your Instagram grid.
  2. Stories are a more authentic and organic way of sharing the highlights of your business.
  3. Stories are a quick and easy way to share daily content to your profile.

A great marketing tool for your business

Stories provide businesses an opportunity to connect with customers—both new and existing.

Whether you’re using stories to spark engagement with your current audience, or pique the interest of potential customers, there are several tools to use to your advantage. For instance, you can use stickers, music, effects, and GIFs to animate your stories.

Brands like Starbucks use stories to share new products and post interactive content. For example, Starbucks utilizes polls and open-ended questions to gauge its audience’s interest in food and drink preferences. This is a great way to generate engagement and to learn more about their audience.

Brands can use stories to receive feedback from the public on new ideas and product launches, and then pin their favorites to the highlights section on their account.

Benefits of Instagram stories

To really utilize the benefits of Instagram stories, you should be posting stories at least a few times a week—or daily, depending on your industry.

Stories are a great way to create and build trust with your following, generate engagement, and to promote general brand awareness.

Are you ready to utilize Instagram stories for your business?

If you’re looking to tap into the world of Instagram stories but aren’t sure where to start, we can help! Baseline Creative has a solid team of digital marketers that are equipped to develop the best strategy for your business. We’d love to learn more about your goals and how we can help you achieve them. Contact us to get started!