What Can Marketers Learn from the Common Pitfalls of Product Design?

Andrew Chen, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz and former Head of Growth at Uber, recently had a great thread on Twitter about how over-exposure to your product can negatively affect your ability to evolve that product over time.

“When you work on the same product every day for years, it’s easy to assume that everyone uses the product the same as you do,” wrote Chen. “Of course that’s not true!”

In fact, as Chen notes, the users a product designer is most similar to — core users who use your product or service to the fullest extent — are not the ones she should be focused on. “When you do the analysis, the most important user perspectives aren’t just your core users, but all the folks out on the edges who are casual, churned, or blocked somehow,” he wrote.

We experience a very similar problem in marketing. Marketers are more familiar with their brand than anyone else, and they often forget that not everyone is as exposed to the brand as they are. (In fact, most marketers would be horrified if they thought hard about how little consumers think about their business.) They grow fatigued with creative, or create complex, even convoluted communications that prospective customers have neither the time nor attention to decipher. Product designers are taught to keep it simple — marketers would be wise to do the same.

Marketers also focus too much of their attention on the “core users” that Chen mentions, when the bigger opportunity is on the edges of their business, i.e. the millions of people who have yet to try your product or service. One of the least true but most commonly believed marketing truisms is that 20% of your customers will make up 80% of your sales. For countless businesses — Ford, Coca-Cola, Crest, Unilever, and Chen’s former employer Uber — this is not nor will ever be the case. Growth will always be reliant on high volumes of people purchasing a product somewhat regularly. (For a car, that’s every few years. For tooth paste, every few weeks.)

Does that mean core users or your most loyal customers aren’t important? No, they are vital and should be highly valued. But if your goal is to grow your business, the opportunity does not lie with those you’ve already convinced to click the buy button. The opportunity is to convince and convert the countless individuals who’ve never used your product or service in the first place.

That opportunity reminds me of a quote from another figure at Chen’s firm, founder Ben Horowitz. He’s fond of saying, “your story is your strategy.” You can’t be focused on growth if you aren’t telling a story to that speaks directly to the wants and needs of those who will help you grow: prospective customers. Oftentimes companies claim they are focused on growth, but the story they are telling is fundamentally about retention. They are speaking to their current audience, and developing products and services for loyal customers and power users.

The story your marketing organization is telling will betray your true strategy. Make sure it enables growth instead of getting in the way of it.

Written by on June 12th, 2018 in Insight

Meet the FortyFour Team: T.R. Wilhoit Edition

Meet our senior marketing manager

From breaking into the marketing industry to his feelings regarding pineapple on pizza, read on to find out what our senior marketing manager, T.R. Wilhoit, has to say.

What brought you to FortyFour?

I had worked at my prior agency for around 4 years, which makes me ancient in “agency years” so it was about time for a change. Coming from a more strategy and planning background, I was interested in learning E-commerce and developing new programs for clients in this industry.

What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?

I really enjoy working on Case-Mate’s ongoing marketing. We’re able to see the results of marketing efforts quickly since we’re focused on the E-commerce site, which is rewarding. Plus the target market is something I’m not as familiar with (more fashion-focused), so I learn something new about their audience almost weekly.

Tell us one of your secret talents.

Not sure how much of a secret it is, but I have been a musician my entire life. I mostly play electric guitar but I also play bass, drums, trombone, and baritone. I’ve also put out electronic music a few times, which is featured in the background of this fun Vietnamese makeup tutorial video.

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Written by on June 7th, 2018 in Uncategorized

What Does Adobe’s Acquisition of Magento Mean for E-Commerce?

At the end of May, the e-commerce community was abuzz with the news that Adode would be acquiring Magento. For those who are entrenched in the community, the news should come as no surprise. This has been the plan since Permira acquired Magento from Ebay in 2015. But whether or not this was expected doesn’t answer the most important question: Is the acquisition good for Magento and its customers?

Here at FortyFour, we believe the answer is yes.

The e-commerce platform market has seen a great deal of consolidation over the last few years. The most notable acquisitions were SAP’s purchase of Hybris and Salesforce’s purchase of Demandware. These platforms, which already had good penetration into the enterprise market, were further strengthened by their new parent company’s broad suite of offerings.

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Written by on June 5th, 2018 in Insight

Design We Love: May Edition

This month, our design team was all about good vibes, clean lines, and using colors and shapes in new ways.

A little over a year ago, the design team at FortyFour incorporated “Stumps and Dumps” into our weekly design sync. What are “Stumps and Dumps,” you ask?

“Stumps” are the problems we’re facing with current projects. More importantly, it’s an open invitation for critical feedback and creative insights from our teammates.

“Dumps” are the show-and-tell portion. It’s an opportunity for us to talk all things inspiring, unusual, and thought-provoking within the design world.

We’ve amassed a considerable list of design portfolios, websites, Instagram accounts, films, artists, animations, and design tools over the last year. We come back to this list time and time again for inspiration, so we thought we should share it with the world. Here’s the space where each month we’ll share with you the things we’ve loved lately. Without further ado, here’s a few things we loved in May!

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Written by on May 30th, 2018 in Culture, Design

Meet the FortyFour team: Carson Britt edition

Get to know our senior software engineer

This week we sat down with Carson Britt, our Senior Software Engineer. Hear what this front-end pro has to say about growing up in Georgia, riding his bike through the city, and why you shouldn’t limit your own skillset.

Where are you from?

I’m from Atlanta. I grew up in the ‘burbs and moved to north Georgia at 14, but then I went to Georgia Tech and stayed here since.

What brought you to FortyFour?

Before this I was at 22squared, which handles more traditional advertising, and we weren’t really getting into digital the way I wanted to. I wanted to go into something more digital-focused, where I could feel more challenged. I wanted to do bigger, more intimidating projects from a dev perspective.

What has been your favorite client project so far and why are you proud of it?

I’ve worked on nearly every project here but a favorite has been CREDO Mobile. I got to work on a couple of microsites for them, and I liked the style of it. It’s very front-end heavy stuff which is really interesting on Drupal.

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Written by on May 15th, 2018 in Culture, Work

Disseminating On-Brand Decision-Making through Corporate Values

How the right corporate messaging can help your team do their job

Over the years we’ve had several clients ask for help with high-level corporate messaging — things like their corporate values. I’m excited every time the opportunity comes up because I’m a believer that corporate values can be more than pleasant sayings on a poster in a conference room: they can generate real business value. I also believe that many organizations miss out on that opportunity by misunderstanding the true purpose of corporate values.

Like any piece of internal or external messaging, crafting compelling, effective values depends upon understanding both the audience and the medium via which the content will be delivered. What’s fascinating about internal communications like values is that, sometimes, the audience and the medium are the same: yes, you want your employees to read your corporate values, but you also want them to ingest and evangelize them. Your employees—not a poster, internal email, or speech at an all-staff meeting—are the vehicle by which values are implemented at scale.

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Written by on May 9th, 2018 in Insight, Resources, Work

Meet the FortyFour Team: Katherine Wilmot Edition

An interview with FortyFour's director of project management

This week, we sat down with our director of project management Katherine Wilmot to chat about her agency experience, where she buys horseradish pickles, and what she wants to name her future doggo. Check out her answers below!

Where are you from?

Ridgefield, CT

What brought you to FortyFour?

Thomas, [one of our Managing Partners]. I had been working at larger agencies, but I wanted the opportunity to make a bigger impact. It seemed like the best way to do that was to get in at the ground level of a startup agency, so when Thomas reached out, I went for it. I’ve been here 3 years in May. 

What’s been your favorite client project so far? Why are you proud of it?

Phobio, because they share the same startup mentality that we have. Being a software/tech company, we share a lot of ideals. We’ve helped them with a couple iterations of their website. The first was a re-skin, and now we’re re-platforming them onto a CMS while implementing additional branding and messaging updates. Giving complex technology products a tone and voice that makes you want to work with the people behind them is always a challenge, but working with the Phobio team has been fun.

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Written by on April 9th, 2018 in Culture, Work

Our work with CREDO Mobile to create anti-gun violence posters featured in Fast Company

We helped our client empower activists at the March for Our Lives

Can a brand drive more change and direct the future of philanthropy? As a recent article in Fast Company notes, our client CREDO Mobile is exploring how to do exactly that.

CREDO Mobile has always stood for progressive change and regularly engages its customers to support worthy causes. As millions of activists across the globe prepared for the March for Our Lives this past weekend, CREDO Mobile wanted to support those activists with anti-gun violence rallying cries. CREDO Mobile partnered with our design and content teams to create 12 unique posters decrying gun violence and the weapons lobby in the US. All twelve free posters are available for download here.

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Written by on March 26th, 2018 in News, Work

We’ve got something to chat about

Why group chat is more efficient and effective for our dev team

Love it or hate it, group chat has a place in the day-to-day life of every agency. No more sitting in a pod with a designer, a UX lead, a project manager, and a developer to make decisions: newly available tools are changing the development process for the better. Group communication tools have increased transparency, improved efficiency, and strengthened collaboration with our clients.

Here at FortyFour, we have group channels for everything: for projects, for teams, for favorite TV shows, for random thoughts (and there are a lot of random thoughts). Catching up daily on the kitten and Nicholas Cage memes can be time consuming, but distractions aside, we’ve found that private and public chat rooms have enabled us to make decisions without losing momentum.

Breaking Concentration

Before we sing the praises of group chat, it’s worth noting that it has its own drawbacks. According to research that I found online (it must be true), every distraction costs somewhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours of productivity. On top of having an open floor plan and a highly collaborative environment at FortyFour, our group chat never goes away. Everyone has to learn to manage the distractions in their own way.

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Written by on March 22nd, 2018 in Culture, Insight, Resources

Meet the FortyFour team: Graydon Gordian edition

Get to know our Director of Content & Editorial

This week we sat down with Graydon Gordian, FortyFour’s director of content & editorial, to talk about his past as an amateur boxer, his love of basketball, and even a little bit about life at the agency.

Where are you from?

Austin, Texas–keep Austin weird!

What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been here?

I had been working at Turner, which is where I’d been since I first moved to Atlanta from New York. But I’d always been intrigued by the agency world, so I called a friend of mine who ran an agency, Thomas Frank [Founder and Executive Creative Director of FortyFour]. We talked, and I started as contractor before coming on full time as the Director of Content and Editorial. It’s been almost 2 years to the month.

What’s been your favorite client project so far?

My favorite project has been Phobio. Phobio is a software company that makes device trade-in and workforce communication platforms. We have a close relationship with the executive team–we’re not just their agency, we’re a strategic advisor to their organization, which is what we always seek to be. Our work has included a multi-phase website redesign. A big part of that effort has been developing a broader corporate messaging strategy for the organization. We’re adding value in a lot of ways and framing the future of their business–it’s fun.

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Written by on March 13th, 2018 in Culture, Work

What is a business analyst, and why do agencies need one?

FortyFour's Director of Business Analysis Andreu Harris explains

FortyFour has been growing quickly, and this past year, we officially added business analysis to our competencies. But you might be wondering: what is a business analyst, and why did we need one here?

Business Analysis Defined 

The business analyst (BA) acts as a bridge between the cultural and technological sides of a digital agency. From the UX designers to content strategists to technology directors, various agency teams have a difficult time integrating the myriad projects and platforms in which they’re working. That’s where the BA comes in.

At the beginning of any project, the BA gathers all the requirements and develops a game plan. Through consumer research, design thinking, customer journey mapping, user flows, prototypes, and user stories, BAs are able to round-up all the requirements a new project will bring with it. Their goal is to ensure a consistent product vision, from the initial client discovery phase to the product release and through ongoing maintenance.

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Written by on March 1st, 2018 in Insight, News

Meet the FortyFour team: Paul Landon edition

Get to know our user experience principal

Was Thomas Jefferson a prototypical UX designer? According to Paul Landon, a user experience principal here at FortyFour, the answer is yes. Read on to learn about his interesting theory–and what else he loves about UX, life at FortyFour, and Atlanta in general.

Where are you from?

Hampton, VA

What brought you to FortyFour?

Before becoming a user experience designer, I worked in architecture for several years. But I’d had a longtime interest in digital, so it seemed like the right trajectory to move out of architecture and into UX. I started working at an agency. One of FortyFour’s managing partners had worked at the same agency, and our networks overlapped. I could see that FortyFour had a great creative team, plus more structure and leadership, which was important to me. So I joined the team, and now I’ve been here two and a half years–Taylor and I started the same day, actually.

What’s been your favorite client project so far and why?

On my first day, we kicked off Exide’s website redesign project. It was a great opportunity to impact their brand globally and tackle a very complex set of website challenges. The architecture had to provide a more organized framework for very diverse business units, appease internal stakeholders, and speak across industries. We created a strong, scalable solution. It was the largest website I’d worked on at that point, too, so it was cool to work on every stage of the process. I learned a lot.

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Written by on February 27th, 2018 in Culture, Insight, Resources

Where retailers are going

FortyFour's Ryan Anderson analyzes recent moves by Walmart & Amazon to predict the future of retail

The retail industry is in a state of flux. Legacy companies are still trying to navigate the move to ecommerce, and the new upstarts are learning why a physical presence is useful. Out of that turmoil, the retail landscape has come to be dominated by two firms: Walmart and Amazon.

Walmart has done a fantastic job of rebooting their ecommerce strategy in recent years. Marc Lore, who has run the ecommerce business unit since Walmart bought his company Jet.com for $3 billion in 2016, has taken what Walmart Labs was supposed to do and super-charged it with acquisitions and a laser-focused strategy.

Walmart has built out a brand strategy through the acquisition of companies like Bonobos, ModCloth, and Moosejaw. This lets them offer unique products that can’t be directly price shopped across retailers (Bonobos) while also leaning in to premium brands (through Moosejaw and ModCloth) for the customers who don’t consider themselves “Walmart shoppers.”

With that work underway and performing well, Walmart is focusing on additional customer experience points. Recode writes of two such projects, focused on a personal shopper experience for “high net worth urban consumers” as well as a rethinking of the in-store shopping experience. We’ll leave the latter alone for now because “fixing in-store shopping” could be a book’s worth of thoughts.

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Written by on February 20th, 2018 in Insight, News

Meet the FortyFour team: Taylor Daniel edition

Get to know our senior designer

We recently sat down with the talented Taylor Daniel, senior designer here at FortyFour, to learn more about what inspires her work, what she loves about Atlanta, and what she drinks at 4:30pm on Fridays.

Where are you from?

Snellville, GA

What brought you to FortyFour, and how long have you been working here?

I heard about FortyFour when I was making a move from Birmingham, and I was wanting to grow my skill set in digital & UI. FortyFour was attractive because it’s independently owned and run–a place where you could get your hands dirty and learn faster because you could work on both large and small accounts. The creative leadership came from big agencies and companies, so I knew I could learn from those experiences on a more personal level. And 2.5 years later, here I am! 

What’s been your favorite client project so far, and why are you proud of it? 

I’ve learned the most and done the most with CREDO Mobile. They came to us for help with digital marketing and e-commerce, but as we’ve built a relationship with them, we’ve helped them with their whole brand. The opportunity to define a brand and create the look feel has been awesome. Then, working on the UI of the donations and e-commerce sites–it feels rewarding to be part of a project from start to end.

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Written by on February 13th, 2018 in Culture, Uncategorized, Work

Making Phobio’s website & messaging more awesome

Leader in device trade-in and collaboration platforms recruits FortyFour for website redesign & messaging refresh

Phobio is known as a leader in the device trade-in space, but they’re more than a brick & mortar retail service–and they needed some help communicating that on their website. In partnership with the Phobio team, we’ve embarked on a two-phase effort to elevate their brand with updated designs and refreshed messaging. We’re proud of our hard work so far, so we wanted to take the opportunity to share the results of phase one and to congratulate our teams.

Phase one of the project began with discovery sessions to uncover what makes Phobio so great at what they do. Over the course of several conversations, we learned that they’re innovative and entrepreneurial, continually setting and resetting the bar for device trade-in. Their team is serious about software, but they also have vibrant personalities and a warm culture. So we realized that a pretty simple question seems to drive the Phobio team: what if we make device trade-in awesome?

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Written by on February 7th, 2018 in Insight, News, Work

FortyFour certified as a Google Partner in search advertising

Agency recognized for demonstrated knowledge and sustained client performance

We’re excited to announce that Google has recognized FortyFour as a leader in digital marketing and paid search advertising. Earlier this week, FortyFour received the shiny new badge that proves it: our agency is a certified Google Partner with a specialization in search advertising.

Google Partners are agencies who have proven to be both knowledgeable and successful in various advertising specializations. To become a paid search Partner, FortyFour had to pass Google AdWords product certification exams and demonstrate six months of sustained client performance in search advertising. Some of our most impactful work has come with partners such as Case-Mate, where we more than doubled paid search activity year over year, and Manhattan Associates, where we saw cost per conversion drop by 25% after taking over their program.

“Digital marketing, and search marketing in particular, remains an important pillar for brands,” says Director of Digital Marketing Ryan Anderson. “It’s an opportunity for companies to develop and deliver messages that resonate with their audiences. I’m proud that we’ve worked with our clients to do exactly that.” And FortyFour is proud of our digital marketing team for earning this certification–congratulations!

Written by on February 1st, 2018 in News, Work

FortyFour gives back

This holiday, we raised money for three Atlanta charities

This holiday season, we decided to give back to Atlanta, the city that made us. We divided the office into three teams, and each team chose a local charity to support: the Atlanta chapter of the International Rescue Committee, The Giving Kitchen, and The Atlanta Children’s Shelter.

In a little over one month, 57 donors helped our teams raise $2,500 to benefit those charities. But it gets better–the partners at FortyFour generously matched every penny donated to each cause, which brought our grand donation total to $5,000. We announced the final numbers at our belated holiday party, giving everyone that much more reason to celebrate.

We’re thrilled to be a part of this community and thankful for the opportunity to give back. Thank you so much to everyone who helped us make a difference this year!

Written by on January 30th, 2018 in Culture, News

Coke ranked as 9th favorite brand among millennials

Recent study attributes success to "Share a Coke" program

Brands are eager to capture the attention of millennials: the generation that came of age around the 2000s, was the first to adopt social media, and has driven consumer culture since it began gaining purchasing power in the mid-aughts. Famously picky and equally loyal, millennials are an audience every brand strives to be on the good side of.

Our longstanding partner Coca-Cola has done just that. According to Business Insider’s recent study of millennial brand loyalty, the most refreshing drink on the shelves is also millennials’ most beloved beverage. Out of a hundred iconic brands—including Apple, Nike and Amazon—the study ranked Coke as millennials’ ninth favorite.

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Written by on January 25th, 2018 in Insight, News, Work

Typography in UX

Elements of typography we want our clients to consider during the UX phase of our projects

At FortyFour, collaboration is at our core. Working closely with our clients keeps us aligned on the goals and objectives of our work, and for each step of the process, it allows us to explain why we make the choices we do and what impact they have on the overall outcome.

For example, typography is often considered an aesthetic component of the designed end product, but today, it’s as important to the overall user experience as ever. Using only type, we can guide a user to take a specific action, help them prioritize certain bits of information over others, or prime them to anticipate what comes next. That’s powerful stuff that we want our clients to understand so they can engage with us in a conversation that results in the best work possible.

What other elements of typography do we want our clients to consider during the UX phase? Let’s discuss.

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Written by on November 21st, 2017 in Insight, Resources

Building a Design System from the Foundation

Why starting with the broad strokes delivers a better end product

Building from the foundation

When a new website design project kicks off, a common practice is to start designing a page to explore the visual direction for the site. This makes sense in some ways: clients like seeing pages because it’s the most obvious way to visualize what a site is going to look like—and, after all, that’s what they’re paying for. Typically this means starting with the homepage and exploring the design system through the context of that page.

The problem with designing the homepage first

The homepage is the first thing a user see on the site. It’s the foyer, with doors leading to all the other areas of the site. The problem is, homepages tend to be the most unique page on the site. Elements on the homepage often only serve one purpose: to drive a user to another area of the site. These homepage elements are some of the least reusable elements on the site. So why do we start with a page that does so little to inform the rest of the site? Why start with pages at all?

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Written by on November 7th, 2017 in Resources, Work

What is User Experience Design, Anyway?

The architects building brands behind the scenes

That common question: “So, what do you do?”

It’s one we’re all faced with often but for the user experience designer, it’s a surprisingly difficult question to answer. If I simply say, “I’m a user experience designer,” I’m often met with a glazed expression and an awkward silence. I sometimes say, “I design websites and mobile applications,” but then people tend to think I’m a developer or a graphic designer.

In our defense, the entire field of user experience design has difficulty defining exactly what it is we do and the role we play. As a standalone discipline, the role of UX is still fresh and, quite frankly, a little controversial.

On one hand, we’re investigators. We interview, analyze, and sort out the who, what, why, and how of a project. We establish the foundation upon which the team designs and builds the site or app. On the other hand, we’re planners and problem solvers. We create site maps, information architectures, content outlines, user stories, and various other tools that serve as a roadmap for what users encounter. These define how they navigate the site, and how they accomplish their goals. But the fun doesn’t end there. Once the practicalities are sorted out, we slip into the creative role and explore the visual manifestation of this information through wireframes and prototypes. These are the blueprints that visually describe what we’re building.

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Written by on July 6th, 2017 in Insight

How to Talk About Your Agency

What you say matters

Years ago, while on vacation in California, I had the fortunate — albeit slightly overwhelming — experience of sharing a cab over the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge with the VP of Marketing for a very large home goods company. The conversation inevitably veered toward what I do and, upon discovering I worked for an advertising agency, what my agency was like.

Secretly hoping to get a foot in the door for some new digital business, I quickly set to giving her the list of amazing things our agency could do and the attributes that set us apart from the rest. There was only one problem: My explanation, while factual, wasn’t amazing or very compelling. Long story short, I got the business card, but not the follow up.  

So while the business deal wasn’t struck, I came away with the discovery of a monumental problem: I didn’t know how to sell the company I so enjoyed being a part of.

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Written by on June 27th, 2017 in Uncategorized

MailChimp Highlights FortyFour Director of Analytics

Ryan Anderson talks with the email marketing service about metrics

Fellow Atlanta biz MailChimp invited FortyFour Director of Analytics Ryan Anderson to chat data. In marketing it’s tempting to collect an endless bounty of data and attempt to pull conclusions from there, Anderson says — but that isn’t necessarily the best practice. Read the whole MailChimp interview here and don’t forget to check out Anderson’s blog post (also about data! What a guy) here.

Written by on June 8th, 2017 in News

Fast Company Highlights FortyFour’s Work with CREDO Mobile

Our copy, design, and video work gets a shout out

We’re so excited to see our partner CREDO get recognized for all the great work it’s doing supporting progressive causes. We’re not the only ones impressed, either. Fast Company published a piece applauding the company’s philanthropic efforts, as directed by its clientele. FortyFour’s contributions — including content, design, and video work — also appear in the article. We’re proud our contributions could help propel this brand’s growth, especially when paired with such good causes.

Written by on May 26th, 2017 in News, Work

How Many KPIs Should a Smart Company Track?

Three, in this case, isn't the magic number

The promise of digital centers around just how measurable everything is.

A marketer can go into an analytics platform and instantly see impressions, clicks, and spend by different audiences, times, and creative treatments. With on-site tracking, they can measure performance down to the individual marketing channel. The operations team is able to see how order volume changes during sales and by time of day. Finance departments can tie back every cent of revenue and cost directly to its source.

In theory, this data makes it easier to run an effective business. The marketing team can optimize around the best performing tactics, operations can forecast and plan for labor spikes, and finance has a clear view over how all of this impacts the company’s profitability. More conversions are good, less spend is good, on-time orders are good, and this is where most of our revenue comes from.

Digital platforms have become more sophisticated. The amount of data they collect and can report on has increased exponentially. This has been celebrated by many people in the business world. We agree — having that data available to a business is great. But companies should be diligent in how they consume data.
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Written by on May 26th, 2017 in Insight

3 New Features for Magento

The open-source platform rolls out more helpful tools

The internet is synonymous with two things — shopping and something that rhymes with “corn.” Today I’m going to focus on shopping.

Magento 2 has been out for over a year now. If you’re not familiar with the Magento platform, it is a powerful, open-source (read: free) e-commerce solution that offers users an impressive suite of features to help their business in a highly competitive online market. As of today, the current version number is 2.1.3. There have been significant improvements to the codebase since it first released November 2015. Let’s take a look at just a few of those, in no particular order.Continue reading

Written by on May 22nd, 2017 in Work

How to Develop a Brand Style Guide

Rules matter when it comes to all communication under a brand umbrella

Clear, consistent communication helps build trust between brands and customers. If a brand doesn’t seriously embrace a hard-lined style guide, it can come across as sloppy or unprofessional. Get your message across by establishing a defined, concise brand style guide and disperse it throughout the company to maintain compelling copy. Teach everyone from junior marketers to senior executives to follow the same rules, and your brand’s voice will be recognizable in all company communications.

FortyFour has a standard approach for developing brand style guides. Our rules include:

Pick a base style

It’s an unnecessary headache and time-suck to create a brand style guide from scratch, so lay a foundation with a pre-existing, somewhat common style. No one style is superior to the rest, just make sure you’re consistent. If you go with Chicago Manual Style, that means serial commas are standard. If you go Associated Press Style (which is industry standard in journalism), they are not. This ensures all content under the brand umbrella, including promotional materials as well as external and internal communication, is consistent.
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Written by on May 19th, 2017 in Insight, Resources

The Elegant Intersection of Architecture and User Experience Design

How architectural training can inform agency and client work

Shifting careers is often hard to explain. Whether you’re moving departments or starting over in an entirely different field, you’re likely to face a litany of retorts.

At first, I had trouble explaining my jump from the well-defined architect trajectory to the comparably young field of user experience design. Initial attempts to communicate parallels between the design of website interfaces and the construction of buildings were still lacking.

But after five years and trial-by-fire agency experience, however, I like to think I’ve refined my story. Below is a version of that, highlighting the exciting correlations between my former Architectural employment and current Experience Designer role.

Context is crucial

Understanding and operating within contexts is still essential to great work — all of the best architects and experience designers do it. They examine physical factors like the building site or device screen size and adjust design decisions to accommodate for these influences. Great designers also recognize and execute against non-physical determinants such as office politics, project budgets. All of these factors have a hand in shaping context-driven solutions. Moreover, a finished building or marketing website never stands alone; they’re one element in a collage of multifaceted contexts, a collage that affords architectural and experience design professionals an opportunistic medium through which to creatively work.

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Written by on May 17th, 2017 in Insight

The Art and Science of Minimum Viable SEO Strategy

Part 1 of the Epic Tale: Establishing long-term excellence

If you’ve worked in marketing in some capacity in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with a certain syndrome. It’s called “bright, shiny object” syndrome, and it affects marketers all over the world as they become distracted by the latest fad or trend in the marketing world. Whether it’s Snapchat for your B2B financial firm or Instagram for a funeral home, you may have been the victim or carrier of the syndrome (and that’s OK). With all of the new channels and marketing opportunities developing almost daily, it’s increasingly difficult to stay on top of the digital marketing world.

This is why few channels have lasted with the development of the internet as a more lower cost sales vehicle.Continue reading

Written by on May 10th, 2017 in Insight, Resources, Work

FortyFour Continues to Build an E-Commerce Capability

Our agency expands with Magento

Our agency is excited to announce further growth efforts in the e-commerce sphere. We now employ 10 developers specifically certified with the leading, enterprise-class e-commerce platform, Magento. Magento is written in PHP (hypertext preprocessor), a popular open-source, general-purpose scripting language malleable for web development. One in every four online businesses operate on Magento, making our team’s finesse all the more valuable. With so many developers on staff well-versed on this crucial platform, we can tend to clients’ needs even better, while keeping their brands’ practice as modern as possible.

Written by on April 27th, 2017 in News

Shoney’s Gets a Refresh

Reinvigorating a classic American dining institution

The top casual dining destination asked FortyFour to revitalize its 70-year-old brand. We were so excited to breathe fresh life into the Americana favorite and attract new customers in the process. We worked closely to modernize Shoney’s across social media channels, as well as outside the digital realm with in-store menus, to-go cups, and billboard treatments. Read more about our work with Shoney’s here.

Written by on February 1st, 2017 in News, Work