In The Circle

SevenTwenty Strategies is an award-winning firm staffed with innovative thought-leaders at the forefront of digital advocacy.

SevenTwenty’s Chris Monnat on building a responsive, one-stop website

By Ginger Gibson

Editor's note: SevenTwenty Strategies is launching a new feature. We will begin regularly featuring some of the cutting edge and exciting work being done by our employees and offering you a chance to get to know the people behind the solutions. Check back for more exciting updates about the work being done at SevenTwenty.


Chris Monnat, chief technology officer at SevenTwenty Strategies, likens his job to that of a fire fighter - without the life-threatening task of putting out fires, of course.

Not only does he juggle the every day evolving needs of clients - from website creation to database production - but he's also thinking strategically about how to put out - or prevent - the next fire.

"The day-to-day is mostly finding the best way to take technology and mold and shape it to meet our clients needs," Monnat said. "It's looking at technology and things like responsive design and finding ways that it can benefit our clients." 

Responsive design is one of the newest ways that Monnat and his team are working to create websites that provide clients with a strong and creative first impression for their supporters.

What is responsive design? Monnat breaks it down simply: One website that is viewable in every browser and on every type of device.

Before, web designers would have to produce multiple websites so that if users surfed from home on their PC or on the road from their smartphone, the site would always look nice.

But now responsive websites detect what type of device and browser the visitor is using and adapt.  Users are viewing the same website, but pieces of it may change so that it adapts for their device.

"It's one stop, one source to serve all devices," Monnat said.

Having a well designed website is important, Monnat explains. If someone puts a lot of time into designing the site that users on a computer sees, but disregards the mobile version, there could be real repercussions.

He points to a study that found that the web surfing experience has a real impact on how people see the brand.

"Fifty seven percent, over half of users say they would not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site," Monnat explains.

And when trying to get visitors to our website to sign on to a campaign, that response becomes more important.

"We're dealing with advocacy," Monnat said. "You're counting on people's goodwill to spread the word. If you don't make it as simple and accessible as possible, you're shooting yourself in the foot."

He added, "When it's not accessible on their phone, they could be losing 50 percent of those going to take action, not spreading the world or spreading the word negatively."

There are lots of advantages to designing websites using responsive design, Monnat explains.

No matter what topic a website is addressing, eventually the content is going to need to be changed or updated. A responsive website only has to be changed in one place and then all versions of the site are adjusted. When dealing with the traditional setup - multiple sites for different browsers and devices - the content has to be changed several times. Trying to coordinate multiple changes is where errors and inconsistencies start to get introduced.

Is a responsive website always the best choice? Monnat said for most situations it is. Any site that is dealing with content - the written word, photos or videos - or is going to be updated frequently benefits from a responsive website.

The only exception Monnat finds are websites that are intended more as an experience than an information hub, particularly those that rely heavily on Flash or other interactive elements. 


Get to know Chris Monnat quickly:

When he joined SevenTwenty? September 2010

Where is he from? Rochester, NY

What's is favorite app? Microsoft's new One Note app for Apple products. He uses it to take notes in meetings and keep track of all the work that is going on. 

"I'm finally back in my note taking Nirvana," he said.

If Monnat could have an app to do anything? Clean his apartment.

One thing he isn't willing to give up for technology? Printed copies of magazines.



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Happy Halloween from SevenTwenty Strategies

By Pam Fielding

Boo! Did we scare you? A Message to SevenTwenty Strategies clients and friends from our CFO (Chief Fright Officer)

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New FEC Ruling Paves the Way for Text-to-Donate Strategy

By Vlad Cartwright

160 characters ... That's the limit of a standard text sent over Short Message Service (SMS). And those 160 characters can have significant influence on political operations. Since the 2008 election, campaigns and candidates have been using text messaging to engage their supporters to mobilize in support of shared causes with increasing frequency and success. Now, the text messaging game is changing in a new and potentially explosive way: fundraising.

An August ruling by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) cleared the way for campaign contributions to be sent via text message, adding a new and powerful arrow to the fundraising quiver. There's little doubt that fundraising via SMS has the potential to play an important role in identifying, growing and mobilizing a stronger donor and advocate base for those that take advantage of it. As seen in the wake of natural disasters, people can be quickly engaged and vast sums can be raised in short periods, such as $43 million in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake. And we are excited about the new possibilities it presents for the organizations with whom we work.

For many potential donors, sending a pledge over text is far more convenient than filling out a form and entering payment details. And, for the organizations that leverage SMS, they are interacting through a technology that most of their donors and stakeholders use on a daily basis. Stakeholders and donors can now simply text "GIVE" to a designated number to donate to a campaign or PAC. Strategies such as this can help an organization successfully raise money and expand their contact lists.

According to Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer at Arent Fox LLP, who worked to convince the FEC to allow contributions by text message, "Text message contributions have the potential to truly revolutionize the way PACs raise funds."

While the FEC ruling on texting unleashes a powerful new set of possibilities that can prove to be a game-changer to many candidates and organizations, there are still issues to work out with regard to the cost of overhead and collection of accurate donor information. However, smart organizations seeking thoughtful and intelligent application of this new tool will quickly find ways to perfect the process. Some may even seek to convert text donors to more traditional methods of engagement, while continuing to take advantage of the power of SMS to identify new donors and mobilize the grassroots.

As with any new opportunity, there are kinks to work out. However, supporters of the ruling, including both 2012 Presidential campaigns, which launched text-to-donate efforts in late August, lobbied the FEC to move on this for one reason: this technology can play a strong role in expanding their donor base and growing their grassroots advocacy missions. And we here at SevenTwenty Strategies certainly agree!

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When It Comes to Engagement Videos, Shorter is Better

By Bear Baker

Think the length of an engagement video doesn't make much difference? Think again. In a recent study conducted by a video hosting service, it was found that a video's run time has a dramatic impact on how many people stick around past the first few seconds.

The study examined two videos - one 30 seconds in length, and one 90 seconds. The graph below reveals the "engagement rate" of the two videos. The top line represents the shorter video, while the bottom line shows the longer video. The content of each video was virtually the same - in fact, the first 30 seconds of the 90-second video IS the 30-second video - however the rate of decline is vastly different. By about 10-15 seconds in, viewers were much more likely to turn off the longer video than they were the shorter one.


Engagement decreases as time increases



Why? The average viewer is now beginning to look at the timeline at the bottom of the video to see how long the video is, and then quickly decide whether they want to invest their time watching your message.

When the study was drawn out to include videos of greater lengths, the metrics show that a steady drop off accompanies the growing length of videos studied. While a 1-2 minute video garners an engagement rate of over 65%, a 2-3 minute video only keeps a little over 50%.


Engagement decreases as time increases


Statistically, this has a profound effect on your communications strategy. While we'd like to say it all with one video, that's not the most-effective messaging solution. Aside from watering down the core message (contribute, participate, etc.), we're also losing viewers. If we can get the message out in less than 1 minute, we are most likely reaching close to 30% more people with that message than we would with a 3-minute video.

Now, if we make that video compelling, or fun to watch, then viewers are far more likely to watch an additional short video or click on a link to a webpage designed to take the viewer further into varying facets of the core message.

Today's technology has come a long way from the corporate video playing on a DVD/VHS combo TV on an A/V cart in the lunchroom. The days of the captive audience are over. Your communications strategy needs to take into account that viewers can now simply bounce off the webpage hosting your video without anyone noticing. At SevenTwenty Strategies we are continuously honing the craft of modern, digital communications for our clients. Let us help you with yours.



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