Website Awards

Maggie Gallagher

Recent Posts

Hard Work Pays Off for Stevie Award Winner Klein Steel

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, May 01, 2015 @ 03:51 PM

Klein Steel Services, Inc., in Rochester, New York, won a Gold Stevie® Award for its company website in  the Website Awards categories of The 2014 American Business Awards.  Finalists in the 2015 competition will be announced on May 7.

ABA-Chair-WEB-15-1Laura Ribas, the VP of Marketing at Klein Steel Services, Inc., has been appointed Chair of The 2015 American Business Awards Final Judging Committee for the Website Awards categories. We asked her for her thoughts on what winning a Stevie® Award has meant to her, what she is looking forward to in judging the 2015 Website Awards, and more.

On winning the Gold Stevie® Award for the Klein Steel website in 2014, Laura Ribas had this to say:Our team was thrilled to win a Stevie Award,” Laura told us. “We put a lot of time and effort into our website, from the high-level strategy to the navigation and content. While we were certainly proud of our results, the external validation from The American Business Awards judging panel was cause for celebration.”

Meeting Objectives

The Klein Steel website was updated in 2014 using the design services of Dumbwaiter Design in Rochester, New York. According to Laura, the main objectives in doing this were to:

a) differentiate Klein Steel from the competition (i.e., it’s not about the metal--it’s about you);

b) de-commoditize the company’s services and elevate the conversation (i.e., Klein Steel can help you meet your critical needs: speed to market, process control, availability, on-time delivery, quality, cost reduction);

c) better reflect the Klein Steel brand (i.e. highly professional, values-based company; the team you want on your team; winner of prestigious Industry Week and Rochester ethics awards; ongoing investment in processing equipment); and to

d) drive leads and engage the audience using bold images and stronger copy.

Strong Results

The website showed a 50% increase in monthly unique visitors within the first two months of its launch. Visitors found the site friendly, easy-to-navigate, intuitive, and visually pleasing. The new site had a scale-able, maintainable foundation; and it maximized search engine optimization.

New Marketing Tools

We asked Laura what new technology or services she has found most useful in getting the news about her company out to into the world. She told us that she maintains the traditional marketing and PR channels, but that, over the years, there have been changes. “Our company has incorporated greater marketing automation tools and a more robust social media strategy—including frequent blog feeds to LinkedIn—to get the news out about Klein Steel,” she explained.


Laura relishes her work. I work at a well-run, highly driven organization that places a strong emphasis on values, culture, and teamwork,” she explained. “I hit the ground running every day because it’s a pleasure to come to the office and work hand-in-hand with my team members to accomplish our goals.”

The team is justifiably proud of its new website. Adds Laura: “It was quite an honor for Klein Steel to be recognized among such highly esteemed, global organizations.” She is looking forward to reviewing the 2015 Finalists in her role as Chair of the Website Final Judging Committee.

About Laura Ribas:

Laura Ribas is the Vice President of Marketing at Klein Steel Service Inc., in Rochester, New York. She has over 25 years of progressive and diversified experience in management consulting and marketing strategy. Laura is a leader and mentor who thrives in team- and values-based environments which are professional, motivating, and fun. With an ethical foundation and positive attitude, she brings a focus on delivering results with fiscal responsibility. She is passionate about bringing brands to life by using data-driven insights to derive strategy, employing killer creative, and engaging storytelling to bring the right, actionable message to the correct target audience. Her mission: the betterment of people, processes, organizations, and brands.

About Klein Steel:
Klein Steel strives to be the premier supplier of metals by providing solutions to meet its partners’ needs. The company aims to attract and engage the best teammates, suppliers, and customers while embracing innovation and continuous process improvement. Klein Steel carries >3K SKUs in a state-of-the-art 210,000 square feet facility. It is NQA-1 (nuclear) compliant and offers processing (e.g., laser, drill), kitting, and component manufacturing. For more information, go to

Using Social Media to Handle Bad Press, from Stevie Awards Winner Zendesk

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Wed, Apr 08, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

Zendesk, a customer service software provider in San Francisco, California, won a Gold Stevie Award for its Zendesk Blog in the Website Awards categories of The 2014 American Business Awards.

The final entry deadline for The 2015 American Business Awards is April 22.


1503ZendeskZendesk’s mission is to help organizations deliver better service and get closer to their customers with help from the Zendesk customer service platform. As part of this mission, Zendesk publishes content ranging from blog posts to webinars to detailed articles—all with the ultimate goal of helping companies and professionals pick up information, tips, and best practices to help their organizations become more successful.

The Zendesk blog aims to capture the news, trends, stories, tips, and content that are relevant to the customer service industry. Over 40 Zendesk employees contribute to the blog: each is credited in the byline for the individual entry. Following is an example of a blog entry from earlier this year:

How to bounce back from a bad headline: Lessons for 2015

by Charles Cooper

Old habits, new technologies, and changing expectations have reshaped the customer service landscape in recent years. Let’s take a look back at the headline themes that made 2014 a pivotal year for customer service—as well as at one that offered signposts about how to provide even better customer service in 2015.

The Move to Mobile and Multi-channel

The big picture for 2014 was once again dominated by a rapid move away from the desktop to a more mobile, app-centric world. And with global smartphone use soon to reach two billion, the number of people tapping customer support using mobile devices grew exponentially.

Indeed, 2014 marked the first time that Web self-service surpassed the phone as the most widely used communication channel for customer service. A Zendesk survey of some 7,000 consumers found that 67 percent of online shoppers made purchases that involved multiple channels, a percentage that’s only going to climb in 2015 and beyond.

Horror Stories

Not surprisingly, these transitions left an indelible mark on customer service, as companies found themselves face-to-face—in a manner of speaking—with customers who had more ways than ever before to share personal horror stories or lavish praise on the ways companies handled their interactions.

2014 marked an end to that bygone era when companies were reachable only during “business hours”—and confirmed that customer service has never been more social.

Social Media

Social support used to be a nice-to-have component for companies; nowadays, it’s a must-have part of the total business. Today, customers frustrated with a company’s service can leave messages or videos on sites like Yelp, YouTube, Facebook, Tumblr, and so on. In fact, a Microsoft poll found that 35% of consumers said they had used social media in the past year to complain about a brand or a company’s customer service. At the same time, 52% said they had used social media to praise a company or its brand.

Smooth(er) Sailing on the Rough Seas of Social Media

This emerging era of two-way conversation requires careful navigation. It also offers organizations new ways to pursue the larger goal of forging long-term relationships with customers. Companies are still trying to wrap their arms around this new world, albeit with mixed success.

Let’s consider a few real-life examples:

In April, a U.S. airline found itself on the defensive after someone in support responded to a customer complaint on Twitter with an inappropriate picture. But what could have been a PR disaster actually wound up playing to the airline’s advantage. After deleting the image and apologizing, the airline released the chronology of an internal investigation which found that the image was accidentally copied and pasted into the customer service tweet after someone had flagged it.

So, instead of blaming the episode on a mischievous hack or firing the employee, the airline won fans online for its honesty and for standing by an employee who was only guilty, the company said, of “an honest mistake.”

Speedy Response

A major fast food chain offered another way that companies can use social media to get ahead of a news cycle and prevent damage to its reputation. Earlier in the year, a three-year-old with severe injuries to her face visited a location in Jackson, Mississippi with her family, and the store manager had asked them to leave, explaining that the child’s appearance scared other diners. News of the incident spread quickly and the company opened an immediate probe—all the while interacting with customers on Twitter and Facebook. They also posted an apology on a Facebook page set up for the girl, and offered $30,000 to help the family pay for the child’s medical bills.

While cynics may scoff at the check and apology, the company’s speedy response to the crisis over social media helped avoid a potentially massive public relations dent to the brand’s reputation.

Social Missteps

An example of how NOT to handle social media-empowered customers came when a food company attempted to delete comments on its Facebook page. The comments were critical of the company’s stance against labeling genetically modified organisms, but deleting comments only made a bad situation worse, as the headlines then focused on the company’s censorship policy rather than on its jams and jellies.

Then there’s the case of the conversation with a cable/Internet company rep that would later be described on social media as both “Kafkaesque” and “hellish.” When a customer attempted to cancel his Internet service, the company’s representative fought the customer tooth and nail, at times acting condescendingly, at others combatively, but always unhelpfully. This went on for about 10 minutes before the service rep finally relented and disconnected the service. That wasn’t the end of it, however. The now-former customer had recorded the entire conversation and promptly posted it on the Internet.

The result wasn’t pretty. The corporation subsequently apologized and pledged to prevent future similar occurrences, but the damage to its reputation was done.

Don’t be a Cautionary Tale

These contrasting stories underscore the learning curve companies have had to climb as they crossed a digital Rubicon that has left customers in control of public brand perception. And now there’s no going back.

All companies make mistakes at one time or another, but these days they have new tools to help rebound—and quickly. Deleting or ignoring customer comments won’t deter customers from venting online: It will only wind up getting spun as an example of how not to connect.

About Charles Cooper:
Charles Cooper is a technology blogger, tech media strategist, and former executive editor at CNET News.

About Zendesk:

Zendesk provides a customer service platform designed to bring organizations and their customers closer together. With more than 40,000 customer accounts, Zendesk is used by organizations in 140 countries to provide support in more than 40 languages. Founded in 2007 and headquartered in San Francisco, Zendesk has operations in the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America.

Transitioning Leadership at Stevie® Awards Winner, Moz

Posted by Maggie Gallagher on Fri, Feb 28, 2014 @ 01:36 PM

Moz, a leading industry provider of search engine and social optimization software based in Seattle, Washington, USA won a Gold Stevie® Award for Best Web Writing/Content in the website awards categories of The 2013 American Business Awards, America's premier business awards program. (The entry deadline for The 2014 American Business Awards is March 26.  Get your entry kit here.) We looked at the refreshingly honest way Rand Fisher, the self-styled 'Wizard of Moz', announced a leadership transition at his company on his Stevie® Award-winning blog in December 2013.


Picture for MozWhy am I posting this? Mostly, because I’d hate for the news to leak out some other way and have it make people on our team feel uncomfortable or put upon.

2013 was a really hard year for me. What made it so hard was partly attributable to the less-than-what-I’d-hoped-for results the business achieved, brought about by our artificially constrained acquisition funnel from June to October, between our re-brand (from SEOmoz to Moz) and the launch of Moz Analytics; but a greater portion was due to the challenges of scale.

Being a CEO at a 10-person startup, a 30-person startup, or even up to 75 people at Moz was a truly enjoyable experience. But the growth from 75 to around135 by 2013 was less fun for me. I’m still learning a tremendous amount, but I was being challenged to such a degree on issues like organizational development, HR, conflict resolution, process building, and morale that I felt out of my depth, and poorly suited—especially from an emotional-resiliency perspective—to meeting my obligations.

When these feelings started getting stronger, I talked with Sarah Bird about potentially taking over the CEO role one day, in order to let me focus more on my strengths and passions. At a Moz board meeting we had a more serious conversation on that topic, and last December, in an impromptu Allhands session at the Mozplex, we talked about it with the company as well.

Swapping Drivers on this Long Road Trip Together

Sarah likes to describe the last six years at Moz as a road trip. I’ve been driving and she’s been in the passenger seat, navigating. But while I really loved having the wheel for most of the journey, we’re getting into tougher terrain, and I really feel it might be time for Sarah and I to switch positions. She’s a different kind of driver and I’m a different kind of navigator, but we—the vehicle, and the passengers—will all be fine.

There’s a lot of nuance and complexity around a potential new CEO, but neither nuance nor complexity are how people interpret a leadership change. We human beings like simple stories, and this story isn’t simple. So, I’d like to share with you an email I sent to the Moz team at the time that helped to lay out where we were at:

Hey gang,

Thanks so much for taking an hour out of what I know are very busy and important schedules. As promised, I wanted to follow up for those of you who couldn’t make the Allhands session in person—and for anyone who wants a refresher.

Quick Recap: For the last year, the board, eteam, Sarah, and I have been talking about changing my role/title and making Sarah our CEO. A lot of that stems from my personal passion around being an individual contributor more than a people manager, and in wanting to spend more time focusing on my strengths (marketing, product, evangelism, etc.) and less on my weaknesses (organizational development, financing, board/analyst management, etc.).

At the last board meeting, we chatted about potentially making that move as soon as January. There’s a board call to follow up on that topic next week. Nothing is set in stone, but given that I’ve written about this a bit in 15Five and talked about it on occasion with Mozzers, we wanted to have a more formal discussion with a chance for Q+A.

Questions that came up today and some answers to them:

A) When will this happen?

It’s still up in the air, but we’ll know more after the board call next week. Brad and I are also discussing this privately in a call on Wednesday morning.

B) What will Rand’s new role be?

My role will actually be very similar. I’ll likely be spending more time in the weeds with product design, marketing initiatives, and evangelism (blogging/speaking). I’ll continue to represent Moz externally quite a bit. But I won’t be doing much people managing, working on our finances and organizational development stuff, or the recruiting/hiring of senior staff. I’ve also promised to write a book next year on startup marketing.

I want to change my title to “individual contributor,” mostly because it reflects my belief that you don’t need to manage people in order to have influence. I love and want to promote the IC track/concept, and titles are kinda BS, so I will continue to be on the eteam and on the board of directors, representing internal shareholders like y’all.

C) Can we share this news?

NOTE FROM RAND: This was part of the original email to the team, but obviously (now that this post is published) is no longer applicable, but is preserved here for posterity.

No! Please don’t.

While we love to be transparent, this is a sensitive topic that requires a lot of input and care. It’s going to be hard to convey the transition correctly and not send the message that it is just because of a slowing growth rate this year (which isn’t the truth, though some of the emotional challenges I’m dealing with may have been accelerated). We also don’t yet have the full details on a plan, and it’s hard to capture the nuance effectively.

Sarah and I have talked about potentially having me write a blog post on this sooner rather than later to at least bring up the idea externally. We’d hate to have it leak.

D) Will Moz’s mission/vision/values change?

No. We’ve been aligned on that stuff for many years. TAGFEE is here to stay. Helping people do better marketing is here to stay. Powering the shift from interruption to inbound is here to stay.

Even when it comes to strategy, there will likely be very little difference to how we tackle initiatives. In fact, as Nicci and I were chatting today, I remarked that having the CEO title has, in my opinion, not helped me win any arguments with Sarah over the years. We’ve always needed to be on the same page or at least be comfortable with each other’s decisions to move forward—and I strongly suspect that will remain the case in the future.

What may change are some organizational elements. For example, as Sarah noted today, she’d like to have more regular company-wide town hall Q+A sessions where anyone/everyone on the team can ask questions to the eteam and expect a direct response.

E) Why does Rand want to be something other than CEO?

There are three big reasons (and lots of smaller ones):

#1 – As Moz has grown in numbers of people, I’ve often felt overwhelmed, out-of-my-depth, and emotionally challenged to handle the complexities of intra-team conflicts, morale, and organizational development issues. I want to do what I love and what I’m good at, and I believe I’ll be healthier and happier, and Moz will be better served, by me taking that role.

#2 – I don’t really want to be CEO of a public company, and someday we hope Moz can reach the metrics that would give us eligibility for a public offering. Given that, I’d eventually have wanted to step aside and let someone else take the reigns. Getting to do that now, years before an IPO, is a blessing: It gives us time to get comfortable and means that external investors won’t be shaken by a leadership change.

#3 – I believe Sarah will be a fantastic CEO. She’s stepped up to every challenge that ever come her way at Moz, and I believe this one will be no different. I honestly believe she can do this job better than I can, and that means good things for all of us and for the value of our shares, too.

(Plus I love the idea of Moz positively contributing to the awful inequality of women in leadership roles at technology startup companies.)

F) Does this mean Rand will leave in the near future?

Hell no. It’s impossible to describe how much of my personal identity and ego and heart are connected to this company. You’d have to push me out kicking and screaming. I plan to be here for a long time to come.

G) Is this because Moz’s performance in 2013 wasn’t as good as past years?


The tough year we’ve had has weighed more heavily on me than it probably should have, and that’s part of the reason we’ve been thinking about doing this sooner rather than waiting a little longer. (We’d originally wanted to do some more hiring so Sarah would have fewer direct reports and sorted out some other issues first, but we may bias to action on this one). Even if we’d had the best year ever, we’d probably still be discussing this for some time in 2014.

H) What kind of CEO will Sarah be?
A great one—and probably a better one than me. In all seriousness, it’s hard to say for certain, but it will likely feel very familiar. Sarah is already doing a lot of CEO-type things today. I’ll let her tackle this question more, but she did so quite eloquently today at the Town Hall, talking about where her strengths lie (much more on the people/operations/financing/scaling side vs. my product/marketing/industry strengths).

I) What if things don’t go well with Sarah at the helm?

We’ll figure out a plan. We’re certainly aware of many times in a startup’s life when a CEO transitions out or back in. I’ve gotten to talk to a number of CEOs who’ve made this transition and we’re doing all we can to prepare. To be honest, I feel very confident as Sarah’s been much more like a co-CEO these past 6 years than most people know. If she weren’t a good fit, we’d have known a long time ago.

That said, the board will talk about it, and I will most certainly be here to help in whatever way needed, including filling back in should Moz need me in that role.


Read the full transcript of this article at Rand’s blog; and about Moz, how to improve SEO, and the company’s progress at The Moz Blog.

About Rand Fishkin:

Rand Fishkin uses the ludicrous title Wizard of Moz. He co-authored/co-founded the Art of, and Moz because he likes doing stuff with other people. Rand is an addict of all things related to content, search, and social on the web, from his multiple blogs to TwitterGoogle+FacebookLinkedIn, and FourSquare. In his minuscule spare time, Rand enjoys the company of his amazing wife, whose serendipitous travel blog chronicles their journeys.

About Moz

Moz provides software to track all of a website's inbound marketing efforts on one platform, conduct SEO and social media research, and provide in-depth competitive analysis over time, with custom reporting. Dedicated to helping people do better marketing, Moz also creates free tools, tutorials, and educational resources for learning inbound marketing—and fosters the web’s most vibrant online marketing community. With offices in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon, Moz supports over 25,000 customers and 300,000 community members worldwide.

Topics: award winning websites, excellent websites, business awards, website awards, American business awards, blog awards, stevie awards, web awards