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Speaker Shares Advice:
How Companies Can Improve Their Websites And Email Marketing Programs To Reach More People

By Harrell Kerkhoff
Busline Magazine Editor

Carefully thought-out website content and design can help companies better tell “their stories” online, while providing a guide to available products and services. Email marketing, meanwhile, is another important part of communication in today’s technology-driven business world.

Offering options and advice on those subjects, during a recent presentation, was Fortune Web Marketing Founder/President Jennifer Stine (fortunewebmarketing.com). She explained a website’s content can take various forms, including blogs, videos, infographics, case studies, ebooks, white papers, checklists and interviews.

“With a blog, you become a subject matter’s expert. It allows you to do what you do best — provide solutions,” Stine said. “If you can do that, people will likely start doing business with your company.”

She also highlighted the value of producing website videos.

“You don’t have to be a professional videographer. Just take your smartphone, demonstrate a product on video and go live,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, whimsical company-produced videos can humanize your brand.”

Stine added there is true value when a company-produced video can be found through a YouTube search. She also spoke on the benefits of customized web banners, such as those that are promotional or product-specific in nature.

“There are companies that literally merchandize their websites. I guarantee that helps sell products,” Stine said.

Website developers should focus on improving three main areas of their sites to better connect with online visitors. They are: Responsivity, Simplicity and Navigability.

A responsive web design involves pages that look good, and can be properly displayed on all types of devices — smartphones, tablets and laptops. Stine said that is critical because: 

  • 48 percent of global page views are now done from mobile devices;
  • 93 percent of people leave a website because it doesn’t display properly on their specific device;
  • On a responsive site, content is automatically resized and reshuffled to fit the dimensions of whichever device a visitor is using; and,
  • Ultimately, it’s more important to provide a great experience across different devices than to look identical across those devices.

Website simplicity is also essential.  Stine’s simplicity tips are:

  • Colors — Don’t use a lot. A rule of thump is a maximum of five colors, plus or minus two, for a website design;
  • Typefaces Should be highly legible and not too “artsy.” Typefaces must also contrast with the website’s background color. It’s recommended to use no more than three typefaces and no more than three point sizes; and,
  • Graphics Use graphics when they help the user complete a task, perform a function and/or accurately represent a product or service. It’s also important to optimize a site’s images. Make sure to include key words when naming each image.

“Not many people realize that they can optimize their images in such a way that directs traffic to their website,” Stine said. 

Website images should be compressed, as non-compressed images can be large and may slow down the loading of a web page.

When improving a website’s navigability, it’s important to keep primary navigation tools simple and near the top of the page. Also include navigation tools in the footer of the site. Consider as well using breadcrumbs (navigational aids) and include a search bar near the top of the site that is “sticky” (remains in a fixed position on the screen). Also include links within copy and don’t make users “dig” too deep to find something.

Stine suggests website developers make a basic pyramid diagram where the homepage is at the top, and each linked page forms the next layer. In most cases, it’s best to keep the site no more than three levels down. 

Certain tools, such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console, can be used to determine how well a website is designed and received.

EMAIL MARKETING:
BY THE NUMBERS

Email marketing is another form of communication that remains in demand and works, according to Stine. She provided the following email-related information and tips:

Email Usage

  • Tuesdays see the highest email open and email unsubscribe rates of the week;
  • In the U.S., 21 percent of email opens happen between 9 a.m. and noon;
  • Roughly 80 percent of marketers have reported an increase in email engagement over the past 12 months;
  • From a study of 1,000 small business owners, email marketing was ranked as the second most effective medium for building brand awareness; and,
  • Email marketing has the highest return on investment for small businesses.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR)

  • 35 percent of marketers choose to send three to five emails per week per contact.
    “I personally don’t think a company has to send that many. Perhaps one or two per week is best. It might also be good to pull back the frequency of sent emails if your unsubscribe list is increasing,” Stine said;
  • Promotional emails are the most common email type that marketers are investing in;
  • “Message personalization” is the No. 1 tactic used by email marketers to improve performance; and,
  • The industry average email CTR is 2.13 percent.

“CTRs tend to be higher for retail and non-profit, but a solid average CTR is only slightly above 2 percent,” Stine said.

Email Copy

  • Over 20 percent of marketers surveyed said that a specific email design improved their engagement;
  • Email subject lines feature an average 43.85 characters;
  • 45 percent of small businesses with effective, or very effective, email copy report average open rates of 26 percent or higher; and,
  • Out of 1,000 analyzed emails, only 6.9 percent incorporated an emoji in the subject line.

“Honestly, I feel people love emojis, and believe they do perform well,” Stine said.

Performance

  • Almost 30 percent of marketers surveyed use audience segmentation tactics to improve email engagement;
  • Marketers who use segmented campaigns note as much as a 760 percent increase in revenue;
  • Mobile-friendly email is the second most-used tactic from email marketers to improve performance;
  • Mobile accounted for 42 percent of all email opens in 2019; and,
  • Of all emails opened on mobile devices, 66 percent were read for more than 8 seconds.

“When engaging in an email marketing strategy, look at how content is being displayed on Gmail, Outlook, your phone and your laptop,” Stine said. “They can all display differently.”

In Summary

Stine emphasized the following objectives to strengthen a company’s digital presence:

  • Create an informational and attractive website that is mobile and user friendly. Also improve page load times;
  • Begin an SEO (search engine optimization) strategy, develop a priority key word list, and use proper title and meta descriptions. Also, secure websites with HTTPS through an SSL certificate;
  • Create engaging content; and,
  • Send emails at least once per week and segment contact lists.

BYD: Ready When The Bell Rings

BYD stands hand-in-hand with those across the U.S. interested in combating climate change. Where better to start than schools?

“Through its Clean School Bus Program, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is funding the elimination of existing school buses that operate on fossil fuels and pollute the air with carbon emissions and other toxins,” according to BYD. “Assembled in California, BYD’s Type A, the Achiever, and Type D, the Dreamer, are among the battery electric school buses that qualify for this transformative program. In all, the EPA will provide $5 billion to school districts nationwide, over a five-year period.

“When it comes to zero-emission transportation, BYD brings innovation and cutting-edge technologies to forward-thinking communities and private enterprises. The only pure electric vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. to have an all-union workforce and a pioneering Community Benefits Agreement, BYD’s Lancaster, CA, manufacturing facility includes a growing number of second-chance employees, single parents and veterans. BYD has sold more than 80,000 electric buses worldwide. Its products can be found on streets from London to Indianapolis.

“We look forward to working together with school districts around the U.S., bringing better and safer conditions and clean air to our children and grandchildren — now and in the future.”

Visit en.byd.com/bus/ for more information.


Irizar Showcases Its i6S Efficient And i4 CNG During Autocar Expo

Irizar attended the recent Autocar Expo fair, in Lyon, France, showcasing its two latest generation vehicles: the new Irizar i6S Efficient and the Irizar i4 CNG on a Scania chassis.

“After two difficult pandemic years, Irizar is coming with the clear goal of tackling the new challenges of the future of mobility, and with the invariable goal of responding to the challenges of efficiency and sustainability that these times require,” according to a press release. “Proof of that is our complete range of products that includes all the technologies present on the market: Zero-emissions electric buses, and diesel, biofuel, natural gas (CNG and LNG), hybrid and biofuel coaches.

According to Irizar, with the new i6S, consumption and emissions have been reduced up to 13 percent, weight is down to 950 kg and the aerodynamic coefficient is 30 percent lower.

“That makes it a latest generation vehicle designed to provide maximum efficiency to operators, the best experience to passengers and a strong focus on sustainability,” according to Irizar
Excellent aerodynamic performance is the key to this new generation of coaches. Part of the front  and roof of the i6S Efficient has been modified. The curvature of the windscreen and the other front windows have also been reworked to reduce air resistance.

Furthermore, the Irizar i6S Efficient provides the option to replace the rear view mirrors with digital vision cameras with the two-fold goal of providing wide-angle vision in any weather conditions. These modifications provide improvements in the driver’s direct and indirect field of vision.

Another major challenge was reducing weight. The weight of every component was analyzed and reduced. And the weight of the vehicle has been redistributed, with the goal of improving weight distribution. Also, high strength steel and lighter composite materials were used instead of traditional structural materials.

“Thanks to those innovations, we’ve been able to increase the space for passengers to improve ergonomics and comfort. We’ve also reduced noise and vibrations to a minimum. The cockpit has likewise been redesigned to be more comfortable and ergonomic, and have a larger field of vision,” Irizar said. “The new line of Hispacold climate control devices is more compact, efficient and lighter. That lets us make the travelling experience in this new Irizar as comfortable as possible.”

The i6s Efficient is also connected, safe and designed for the sustainable transport of the future. It has a new multiplexed architecture, and communications protocol can provide self-diagnosis services in real time. Irizar technology makes preventive maintenance and online monitoring for remote diagnostics possible.

Irizar i4 CNG

The Irizar i4 is a versatile vehicle and a perfect intercity coach for school, company transport or discretionary use. The different versions of this vehicle (H, M, L) strike a perfect balance between accessibility and luggage compartment capacity, depending on the needs of each operator, according to Irizar. The floors, which can be flat or lowered, and the unobstructed aisles underline the concept of adaptability. In addition, the vehicle is presented in lengths from 10.8 m to 15 m.

“The new generation of the Irizar i4 coach, presented two years ago, incorporates new and important features mainly centered around significant weight reduction and optimal load distribution over the axles. The result is a lightened vehicle with a weight reduction of up to 955 kg, depending on the configuration chosen.

“Furthermore, the environmental benefits provided by coaches with natural gas (CNG and LNG) reduce CO2 emissions by between 20 and 25 percent, NOx by up to 60 percent and particle emissions by over 98 percent. In addition to higher thermal performance than diesel, vibrations and noise emissions are also minimized by between 4-5 dB. In relation to operating cost, it is estimated that the reduction may be as high as 35 percent, depending on the differential between the cost of gas and diesel.”

The vehicles have a range of up to 500 km in the CNG version, and twice as long using the LNG technology.

Visit irizar.com for more information.


ABC Companies Unveils New Turtle Top Model At National Limo Association Chauffeur Driven Show

ABC Companies, a leading provider of motorcoach, transit and specialty passenger transport equipment in the USA and Canada, continues to expand its equipment lineup with the unveiling of the Turtle Top Odyssey XL S2C, during NLA’s Chauffeur Driven Show.

The feature-rich, 41-passenger shuttle bus is available from ABC on both the Freightliner S2C and Ford F600 chassis, offering fully customizable options for exterior and interior components, as well as a variety of seating configurations.

“We’re seeing many operators diversify their fleets with more transport options to expand their service and better serve evolving customer bases,” ABC Companies President/CCO Roman Cornell said. “It’s a savvy move, and customers are extremely receptive to this premium product. They also appreciate the confidence of partnering with seasoned industry experts for all of their parts, service, support and technical needs — which full-size coach operators have enjoyed with ABC for decades.”

According to ABC Companies, business owners can expect high quality as well as generous passenger appointments aboard the 41 passenger Turtle Top Odyssey XL series, featuring:

  • Increased passenger capacity for churches, colleges, city or county transportation authorities, assisted living services, cross-country touring companies, excursion companies, and more;
  • High quality Ford F600 or Freightliner S2C chassis;
  • Aerodynamic automotive exterior;
  • Bi-fold or 29” plug door passenger entry option;
  • Wide interior with double row 19” luxury seating;
  • Custom audio-video packages available;
  • Large passenger windshield option;
  • 5-sided steel roll cage with rust inhibitor;
  • Drop floor rear luggage option;
  • Available restroom packages; and,
  • Standard white full body paint.

The Chauffer Driven show floor model was customized with executive livery “wow” factor features including a scenic view front windshield and side windows, onboard charge ports, color LED lighting package, sleek leather seating, parcel racks and rear luggage stowage.

“Additionally, optional wheelchair spaces make the Turtle Top Odyssey XL an ideal solution for a variety of operators, including those servicing ADA routes or requiring full accessibility,” ABC Companies said.

Available now, current inventory is listed at abc-companies.com.


New ABC Companies Vice President Of Technical Solutions Continues Focus On Innovation Through Technology

ABC Companies continues to demonstrate its leadership in the use of technology to advance the industry and give customers a competitive advantage.

“Utilizing leading technology-based solutions, ABC Companies has accelerated innovative solutions for the commercial passenger transportation industry,” according to a press release. “ABC’s Technical Solutions Team is comprised of engineers, technicians and support personnel who focus on sourcing and providing new and often unique technologies that improve customer operations and their experience in unexpected and groundbreaking ways.

“A key resource for ABC customers, the dedicated tech team is also deployed when existing solutions are not functioning or performing to a customers’ needs. The rapid growth of this resource for ABC Companies, and its customers, has resulted in the recent promotion of Brian Nelson, to vice president of technical solutions.”

In his new role, Nelson will be responsible for technical solutions and strategy that will continue to innovate by leveraging new and emerging technologies that can benefit customers.

“My department’s job is simple, we are here to serve the needs of our customers and bring back solutions, not excuses. We focus on getting resolutions to our customers, and as a distributor, we are not constrained by manufacturer limitations. We take great pride in bringing the voice of the customer to all of our manufacturers,” Nelson said. “The breadth of our projects, and the depth of the team, means we can bring solutions to our customers faster and more cost effectively, in a way that is almost impossible to achieve when the customer must personally address a challenge or specific need to manufacturers and service providers.”

A veteran of innovating solutions, Nelson has focused on fulfilling customer needs through team collaboration and a hands-on approach in his previous roles as a staff engineer and sales engineer. Most recently as an engineering director/manager, Nelson led a team of engineers and technicians providing full life cycle project handling to coordinate, validate and deploy best possible solutions based on the problems and details specified by users, clients, as well as market demands.

Since 2011, Nelson has been a key contributor to ABC Companies’ technical strategy. Working seamlessly with interdepartmental teams, he has provided pivotal engineering insights for several major technology projects including:

  • The introduction of ABC’s first 100 percent battery-electric zero-emissions vehicles, starting with the first diesel to electric motor coach project in the United States. Soon after this, a variety of EV’s arrived. Larger motorcoaches, such as the Van Hool TDX25E double decker, are capable of moving up to 75 riders. Both the TDX25E and CX45E models are currently used in service throughout the U.S. and Canada. Powered by the proven Proterra energy-dense battery system, these high-capacity vehicles offer ranges in excess of 260 miles between charges. The EV motorcoaches, transit buses, shuttles and vans are all compatible with public charging infrastructure, and feature a number of unique technology features such as solar-powered auxiliary systems, and regenerative braking systems to optimize battery performance and energy storage.
  • ABC’s ongoing Zero-Emissions Tour showcases and demonstrates the power and benefits of EVs in service today, while educating stakeholders and lawmakers about the critical role high-capacity passenger vehicles play in reducing greenhouse emissions in the transportation sector. Traveling the country utilizing public charging stations, tour stops in Florida, Texas, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, California and more, are bringing the future of sustainable, ZERO-EMISSIONS high-capacity passenger travel to cities nationwide.

“ABC has a commitment to providing our customers with a competitive advantage through innovative technology,” ABC Companies President/CCO Roman Cornell said. “Brian’s experience, teamwork, execution on product vision and his passion for serving our customers, is helping us change the future of our industry.”

For more information, contact ABC Companies at 800-222-2871 or visit www.abc-companies.com.


GILLIG To Equip 45 Communities Across America With Low And Zero Emission Buses

GILLIG LLC, a manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses in the U.S., announced that 45 transit agencies have chosen to partner with the company to utilize their federal awards, investing in GILLIG’s clean-energy buses.

These awards were made possible through Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) annual Buses and Bus Facilities and Low- and No-Emission (Low-No) Vehicle programs. These dovetailed programs were developed in 2016 to support upgrading and expanding public mass transit fleets, improving bus facilities, and for the Low-No program specifically, funding the transition from older higher-emissions vehicles to more efficient, less polluting fleets.

With $1.66 billion available, FTA’s competitive grant process selected 150 projects across 48 states and territories. Out of the 115 projects that include the acquisition of new vehicles, 1,100 new zero-emissions vehicles will join America’s transit systems, nearly doubling the current no-emission transit buses in-service. This historic level of funding was made possible by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, as well as through other federal investments aimed at increasing access to public transit and decreasing overall carbon emissions.

“Selected by nearly half of all bus-acquisition projects, GILLIG plays a crucial role in fulfilling the goals of these FTA programs. GILLIG’s portfolio of clean-tech buses provides transit agencies with a range of solutions that align with the purposes of FTA’s Low-No Emissions program,” according to GILLIG. “With GILLIG’s proven platform supporting CNG, Hybrid-Electric, Clean Diesel, and Battery Electric options, customers can utilize their funding as it best serves their unique transit system’s needs.”

“We are honored to be the trusted partner for each of these awarded agencies, and we look forward to celebrating the impact these new buses will have in their communities,” GILLIG Vice President of Sales Bill Fay said. “GILLIG buses have long set the standard of quality and reliability for American public transit. This historic funding will allow GILLIG and our partners throughout America to shape a greener, cleaner future of our nation’s public transit systems.”

Fitting the trends of transit agencies shifting to cleaner, lower-emission technology, nearly half of GILLIG’s partnerships are utilizing Low-No funding to purchase GILLIG’s zero-emissions Battery Electric Bus.

“This third-generation iteration of GILLIG’s Battery Electric Bus, dubbed the Gen3, is built on the same proven platform durability as previous generations, but now has a battery capacity of up to 686 kWh, as well as increased compatibility with depot and opportunity modular charging solutions. That includes plug-in, overhead conductive, and wireless inductive charging options,” according to GILLIG.

The company added: “The Gen 3 Battery Electric bus is built on the industry-proven Low-Floor platform shared across all GILLIG’s bus products, ensuring a high degree of operator and mechanic familiarity and part commonality. But with the all-new battery capacity, this next generation offers a 32 percent increase from previous models, ensuring customers do not have ‘range anxiety’ as they work to reduce their fleet’s emissions.”

The advancement in capacity and range is a result of GILLIG’s new partnership with AKASOL, the modular lithium-ion battery manufacturer.

“AKASOL’s ultra-high energy batteries have industry-leading proprietary safety features, and offer various scalable capacity configurations,” according to GILLIG. “Alongside the new batteries reducing concerns about range, GILLIG offers customers further support by creating customized charging solutions to be fulfilled with their new Battery Electric Buses.

“The GILLIG team works with each customer to tailor their charging solution to the optimal equipment, based on their duty cycle and operational needs. They offer a variety of GILLIG-compatible chargers supplied by the largest and most experienced electric vehicle supply manufacturers in the U.S. Every product meets the latest SAE International standards, and GILLIG independently validates each charger to ensure compatibility.”

According to GILLIG, the FTA allows awardees to utilize funds for supportive Zero-Emissions infrastructure. By choosing GILLIG’s charging solutions, the awardees have the peace of mind that their new Battery Electric Buses can start serving the public from day one.

“Coupled with our legacy of quality and durability, customers can be confident in their stewardship of this historic investment into a cleaner future for America’s mass transit systems,” GILLIG said.

Visit www.gillig.com for more information.


Laketran Honors Veterans With Free Rides On Veterans Day/Week


U.S. Army veteran Ralph Carter, assisted by Laketran driver Ashley Gmitra,
boards Laketran for an appointment at the Cleveland VA Medical Center.
Laketran is the regional public transit system in Lake County, OH.

Laketran, the regional public transit system in Lake County, OH, offered free rides to veterans during the week of November 7-12, in honor of Veterans Day. That included Lake Tran’s local routes as well as Park-n-Ride and Dial-a-Ride programs.  

“Each year, Laketran provides nearly 5,000 Dial-a-Ride trips for Lake County veterans to access healthcare appointments,” Laketran CEO Ben Capelle said. “We wanted to show our support and appreciation during the Veterans Day week, by offering free rides to veterans on all of our services. It was the least we could do for the sacrifice that veterans have given to our country.”

For over 25 years, Laketran has operated a special Veterans Medical Transportation service, in partnership with Lake County Veterans Service Commission and Lake County Commissioners. The Veterans Medical Transportation provides free door-to-door, Dial-a-Ride transportation for Lake County veterans, and their spouses, to the county’s VA outpatient clinic, administration office, and the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center in University Circle.

Laketran expanded the program, subsidizing free Dial-a-Ride transportation to any adult day care or medical appointment for Lake County veterans, either in Lake County or to University Circle hospitals.
Ralph Carter is a regular rider who uses Laketran’s Veterans Medical Transportation. The 20-year resident of Eastlake, OH, served in the U.S. Army from 1969-1971. He has been riding Laketran for nearly 20 years, taking Dial-a-Ride trips to his medical appointments in Cleveland and Lake County. Like many veterans, to Carter the service is integral to his well-being.

“I wouldn’t be able to get to my medical appointments, especially downtown, without Laketran,” he says. “I don’t drive. I use Laketran to get to all my appointments.”

For more information on Laketran’s Veterans Medical Transportation program, call 1-888-LAKETRAN or visit https://laketran.com/dial-a-ride/veterans-medical-transportation/.


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Coming in the Nov/Dec 2022 print issue of
Busline

. . . . . . . . .

UMA EXPO 2023
Preview

Busworld North America 2023
Preview


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