ANWR: What’s at Stake?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) evokes stirring, iconic imagery in our minds: polar bears, glaciers, foraging herds of caribou on wind-swept plains.

The prospect of oil and gas companies entering the region’s landscape leaves many people unsettled and, to no surprise, proposals to open a portion of ANWR for energy exploration have faced fierce opposition.

But we need to recognize that those imagined scenes and our fears of defacing them do not comport with the reality of the territory under consideration. Developing ANWR’s energy resources—by some estimates more than 10 billion barrels of technically-recoverable oil—is actually a relatively low-risk proposal. And it’s one with local and state support.

The area with the potential to be opened to development is known as the 1002 area—so named for the section of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that designated it for development consideration upon its passing in 1980. The 1002 area is a roughly 8-percent slice of ANWR, registering just 1.5 million acres out of a total of 19 million. The slice lies along the coastal plain abutting the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Sea.

Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Risk vs. Reward

Human activity necessarily entails impacting the non-human world. But the costs of that impact should be evaluated from a humanity-focused framework. Energy development is a high-leverage activity that can continue to have a massive influence on the global population’s standard of living. Analyses of the long-term effect of development invariably show that wealth, as would be created by exploring ANWR, begets health. I’ll describe some of the benefits that will accrue from ANWR exploration below, but first allow me to address and hopefully allay some concerns people might have.

Though risks to the natural world of course exist, modern drilling is not an indubitable threat to the region’s ecology. ANWR’s frigid winter would serve as a safeguard of sorts, reducing the ecological impact of drilling. Arctic areas’ deep freezes, snow, and ice minimize potential impacts to tundra vegetation and conflicts with wildlife during the long winters by allowing the use of ice roads and ice pads on exploration sites, as BP and Conoco have demonstrated in other Arctic regions.

Forty years of drilling just to ANWR’s west in the Prudhoe Bay area show that energy exploration and a flourishing ecology are not mutually exclusive. To the chagrin of alarmists who warn that energy development harms critical wildlife, the population of the Central Arctic Caribou Herd that roams the area grew from 5,000 when drilling began in 1977 to a peak of nearly 70,000 around 2010 when a late-arriving spring caused a halving of the population, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Information on drilling techniques and wildlife populations is unlikely to sway the environmentalist fringe whose standard of judgment is our preservation of a supposedly divine natural Earth, but it may give pause to the humanity-focused middle.

The Alaskan Perspective

Despite not being serviced by any permanent roads connecting it with the rest of Alaska, ANWR’s 1002 area includes the village of Kaktovik, which is home to around 250 people.

Source: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/

Contrary to what observers may expect given the media’s portrayal of rancor at the Dakota Access Pipeline site in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the people who live closest to the proposed exploratory areas are strong proponents of liberalizing our economic lockdown of ANWR. Kaktovik local administrator Matthew Rexford testified before the Senate regarding the pending ANWR proposal in early November offering emphatic support. His full written testimony deserves reading, but here is the most poignant excerpt:

The Arctic Iñupiat will not become conservation refugees. We do not approve of efforts to turn our homeland into one giant national park, which literally guarantees us a fate with no economy, no jobs, reduced subsistence and no hope for the future of our people. We are already being impacted by restrictions of access to the federal lands for subsistence purposes – this is really disturbing to us since we have lived here long before there ever was a refuge designated.

As ANWR debates occur, the views of the Iñupiat who call the area home are oftentimes left out. The wishes of the people who live in and around the refuge’s coastal plain frequently are drowned out…My fellow Iñupiat and I firmly believe in a social license to operate, and perhaps no other potential project in the history of America has called for such a blessing from local indigenous peoples more than this one. Attempts to permanently block development in the 1002 – an area intentionally NOT designated as wilderness because of its oil and gas potential – is a slap in the face to our region and its people.

Furthermore, development has the unanimous support of Alaska’s Congressional delegation.

Senior Senator Lisa Murkowski has spearheaded the recent push on Capitol Hill. “Opening the 1002 Area to responsible oil and gas development will create thousands of new jobs, and those jobs will pay the types of wages that support families and put our kids through college,” said Murkowski earlier this month. “It will also generate tens of billions of dollars in revenues over the life of the fields for every level of government.”

Governor Bill Walker is a proponent of development as well. In a January press statement he wrote:

The state will do everything it can to provide the infrastructure needed to responsibly access the 1002 section of ANWR. Alaska has developed the seismic technology needed to focus on the most resource-rich portion of the area, allowing us to limit the footprint of activity in the region. With an oil pipeline that is three-quarters empty and an over $3 billion budget deficit, drilling in the 1002 would fill TAPS and bring much needed revenue to our state coffers.

To anyone familiar with the successes of energy development in other parts of Alaska and the state’s financial history, this unanimous advocacy for more leasing will come as no surprise.

Broad Economic Benefits

For Kaktovik and for the state the benefits are obvious. For the rest of the country the benefits aren’t as readily apparent. Fortunately, we have the December 2015 IER-commissioned study on the economic effects of opening federal lands to energy leasing to give us some insight.


 

According to the study’s findings, opening ANWR would have long-run benefits of nearly $40 billion to our economy and would result in an addition of over 77,000 jobs.

From an economic perspective energy exploration in ANWR is an open-and-shut case. But, of course, it isn’t economics that’s holding us back.

Nature for Nature’s Sake

As I wrote in an op-ed for Real Clear Energy, the economic flourishing of human beings isn’t the chief consideration of ANWR naysayers. They want to preserve nature for nature’s sake alone. The naysayers view humanity as an aspect of the terrestrial ecosystem, but not a superseding concern. Consider the words of the Alaska Wilderness League’s Kristen Miller, “Some places in our nation are simply too special, too sacred to drill—and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them. This exhausted debate needs to end, once and for all.”

As the statement makes clear, from the perspective of the Alaska Wilderness League and its fellow travelers human beings simply do not have the moral license to utilize Earth’s natural endowment of resources. This vision is starkly at odds with human advancement.

Conclusion

ANWR is one of nature’s most generous endowments to us. By opening ANWR’s 1002 area to energy exploration, we would put that endowment to its best use. The benefits to our economy would be substantial and the risks are smaller than popularly imagined. The people of Alaska are already behind the idea—and have been for a long while. It’s time for the rest of us to catch up.

The post ANWR: What’s at Stake? appeared first on IER.

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ANWR: What’s at Stake?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) evokes stirring, iconic imagery in our minds: polar bears, glaciers, foraging herds of caribou on wind-swept plains.

The prospect of oil and gas companies entering the region’s landscape leaves many people unsettled and, to no surprise, proposals to open a portion of ANWR for energy exploration have faced fierce opposition.

But we need to recognize that those imagined scenes and our fears of defacing them do not comport with the reality of the territory under consideration. Developing ANWR’s energy resources—by some estimates more than 10 billion barrels of technically-recoverable oil—is actually a relatively low-risk proposal. And it’s one with local and state support.

The area with the potential to be opened to development is known as the 1002 area—so named for the section of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that designated it for development consideration upon its passing in 1980. The 1002 area is a roughly 8-percent slice of ANWR, registering just 1.5 million acres out of a total of 19 million. The slice lies along the coastal plain abutting the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Sea.

Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Risk vs. Reward

Human activity necessarily entails impacting the non-human world. But the costs of that impact should be evaluated from a humanity-focused framework. Energy development is a high-leverage activity that can continue to have a massive influence on the global population’s standard of living. Analyses of the long-term effect of development invariably show that wealth, as would be created by exploring ANWR, begets health. I’ll describe some of the benefits that will accrue from ANWR exploration below, but first allow me to address and hopefully allay some concerns people might have.

Though risks to the natural world of course exist, modern drilling is not an indubitable threat to the region’s ecology. ANWR’s frigid winter would serve as a safeguard of sorts, reducing the ecological impact of drilling. Arctic areas’ deep freezes, snow, and ice minimize potential impacts to tundra vegetation and conflicts with wildlife during the long winters by allowing the use of ice roads and ice pads on exploration sites, as BP and Conoco have demonstrated in other Arctic regions.

Forty years of drilling just to ANWR’s west in the Prudhoe Bay area show that energy exploration and a flourishing ecology are not mutually exclusive. To the chagrin of alarmists who warn that energy development harms critical wildlife, the population of the Central Arctic Caribou Herd that roams the area grew from 5,000 when drilling began in 1977 to a peak of nearly 70,000 around 2010 when a late-arriving spring caused a halving of the population, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Information on drilling techniques and wildlife populations is unlikely to sway the environmentalist fringe whose standard of judgment is our preservation of a supposedly divine natural Earth, but it may give pause to the humanity-focused middle.

The Alaskan Perspective

Despite not being serviced by any permanent roads connecting it with the rest of Alaska, ANWR’s 1002 area includes the village of Kaktovik, which is home to around 250 people.

Source: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/

Contrary to what observers may expect given the media’s portrayal of rancor at the Dakota Access Pipeline site in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the people who live closest to the proposed exploratory areas are strong proponents of liberalizing our economic lockdown of ANWR. Kaktovik local administrator Matthew Rexford testified before the Senate regarding the pending ANWR proposal in early November offering emphatic support. His full written testimony deserves reading, but here is the most poignant excerpt:

The Arctic Iñupiat will not become conservation refugees. We do not approve of efforts to turn our homeland into one giant national park, which literally guarantees us a fate with no economy, no jobs, reduced subsistence and no hope for the future of our people. We are already being impacted by restrictions of access to the federal lands for subsistence purposes – this is really disturbing to us since we have lived here long before there ever was a refuge designated.

As ANWR debates occur, the views of the Iñupiat who call the area home are oftentimes left out. The wishes of the people who live in and around the refuge’s coastal plain frequently are drowned out…My fellow Iñupiat and I firmly believe in a social license to operate, and perhaps no other potential project in the history of America has called for such a blessing from local indigenous peoples more than this one. Attempts to permanently block development in the 1002 – an area intentionally NOT designated as wilderness because of its oil and gas potential – is a slap in the face to our region and its people.

Furthermore, development has the unanimous support of Alaska’s Congressional delegation.

Senior Senator Lisa Murkowski has spearheaded the recent push on Capitol Hill. “Opening the 1002 Area to responsible oil and gas development will create thousands of new jobs, and those jobs will pay the types of wages that support families and put our kids through college,” said Murkowski earlier this month. “It will also generate tens of billions of dollars in revenues over the life of the fields for every level of government.”

Governor Bill Walker is a proponent of development as well. In a January press statement he wrote:

The state will do everything it can to provide the infrastructure needed to responsibly access the 1002 section of ANWR. Alaska has developed the seismic technology needed to focus on the most resource-rich portion of the area, allowing us to limit the footprint of activity in the region. With an oil pipeline that is three-quarters empty and an over $3 billion budget deficit, drilling in the 1002 would fill TAPS and bring much needed revenue to our state coffers.

To anyone familiar with the successes of energy development in other parts of Alaska and the state’s financial history, this unanimous advocacy for more leasing will come as no surprise.

Broad Economic Benefits

For Kaktovik and for the state the benefits are obvious. For the rest of the country the benefits aren’t as readily apparent. Fortunately, we have the December 2015 IER-commissioned study on the economic effects of opening federal lands to energy leasing to give us some insight.

 

According to the study’s findings, opening ANWR would have long-run benefits of nearly $40 billion to our economy and would result in an addition of over 77,000 jobs.

From an economic perspective energy exploration in ANWR is an open-and-shut case. But, of course, it isn’t economics that’s holding us back.

Nature for Nature’s Sake

As I wrote in an op-ed for Real Clear Energy, the economic flourishing of human beings isn’t the chief consideration of ANWR naysayers. They want to preserve nature for nature’s sake alone. The naysayers view humanity as an aspect of the terrestrial ecosystem, but not a superseding concern. Consider the words of the Alaska Wilderness League’s Kristen Miller, “Some places in our nation are simply too special, too sacred to drill—and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them. This exhausted debate needs to end, once and for all.”

As the statement makes clear, from the perspective of the Alaska Wilderness League and its fellow travelers human beings simply do not have the moral license to utilize Earth’s natural endowment of resources. This vision is starkly at odds with human advancement.

Conclusion

ANWR is one of nature’s most generous endowments to us. By opening ANWR’s 1002 area to energy exploration, we would put that endowment to its best use. The benefits to our economy would be substantial and the risks are smaller than popularly imagined. The people of Alaska are already behind the idea—and have been for a long while. It’s time for the rest of us to catch up.

The post ANWR: What’s at Stake? appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/11/anwr-whats-at-stake.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

The Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics

Posted by tombennet

When it comes to direct traffic in Analytics, there are two deeply entrenched misconceptions.

The first is that it’s caused almost exclusively by users typing an address into their browser (or clicking on a bookmark). The second is that it’s a Bad Thing, not because it has any overt negative impact on your site’s performance, but rather because it’s somehow immune to further analysis. The prevailing attitude amongst digital marketers is that direct traffic is an unavoidable inconvenience; as a result, discussion of direct is typically limited to ways of attributing it to other channels, or side-stepping the issues associated with it.

In this article, we’ll be taking a fresh look at direct traffic in modern Google Analytics. As well as exploring the myriad ways in which referrer data can be lost, we’ll look at some tools and tactics you can start using immediately to reduce levels of direct traffic in your reports. Finally, we’ll discover how advanced analysis and segmentation can unlock the mysteries of direct traffic and shed light on what might actually be your most valuable users.

What is direct traffic?

In short, Google Analytics will report a traffic source of “direct” when it has no data on how the session arrived at your website, or when the referring source has been configured to be ignored. You can think of direct as GA’s fall-back option for when its processing logic has failed to attribute a session to a particular source.

To properly understand the causes and fixes for direct traffic, it’s important to understand exactly how GA processes traffic sources. The following flow-chart illustrates how sessions are bucketed — note that direct sits right at the end as a final “catch-all” group.

Broadly speaking, and disregarding user-configured overrides, GA’s processing follows this sequence of checks:

AdWords parameters > Campaign overrides > UTM campaign parameters > Referred by a search engine > Referred by another website > Previous campaign within timeout period > Direct

Note the penultimate processing step (previous campaign within timeout), which has a significant impact on the direct channel. Consider a user who discovers your site via organic search, then returns via direct a week later. Both sessions would be attributed to organic search. In fact, campaign data persists for up to six months by default. The key point here is that Google Analytics is already trying to minimize the impact of direct traffic for you.

What causes direct traffic?

Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many reasons why a session might be missing campaign and traffic source data. Here we will run through some of the most common.

1. Manual address entry and bookmarks

The classic direct-traffic scenario, this one is largely unavoidable. If a user types a URL into their browser’s address bar or clicks on a browser bookmark, that session will appear as direct traffic.

Simple as that.

2. HTTPS > HTTP

When a user follows a link on a secure (HTTPS) page to a non-secure (HTTP) page, no referrer data is passed, meaning the session appears as direct traffic instead of as a referral. Note that this is intended behavior. It’s part of how the secure protocol was designed, and it does not affect other scenarios: HTTP to HTTP, HTTPS to HTTPS, and even HTTP to HTTPS all pass referrer data.

So, if your referral traffic has tanked but direct has spiked, it could be that one of your major referrers has migrated to HTTPS. The inverse is also true: If you’ve migrated to HTTPS and are linking to HTTP websites, the traffic you’re driving to them will appear in their Analytics as direct.

If your referrers have moved to HTTPS and you’re stuck on HTTP, you really ought to consider migrating to HTTPS. Doing so (and updating your backlinks to point to HTTPS URLs) will bring back any referrer data which is being stripped from cross-protocol traffic. SSL certificates can now be obtained for free thanks to automated authorities like LetsEncrypt, but that’s not to say you should neglect to explore the potentially-significant SEO implications of site migrations. Remember, HTTPS and HTTP/2 are the future of the web.

If, on the other hand, you’ve already migrated to HTTPS and are concerned about your users appearing to partner websites as direct traffic, you can implement the meta referrer tag. Cyrus Shepard has written about this on Moz before, so I won’t delve into it now. Suffice to say, it’s a way of telling browsers to pass some referrer data to non-secure sites, and can be implemented as a <meta> element or HTTP header.

3. Missing or broken tracking code

Let’s say you’ve launched a new landing page template and forgotten to include the GA tracking code. Or, to use a scenario I’m encountering more and more frequently, imagine your GTM container is a horrible mess of poorly configured triggers, and your tracking code is simply failing to fire.

Users land on this page without tracking code. They click on a link to a deeper page which does have tracking code. From GA’s perspective, the first hit of the session is the second page visited, meaning that the referrer appears as your own website (i.e. a self-referral). If your domain is on the referral exclusion list (as per default configuration), the session is bucketed as direct. This will happen even if the first URL is tagged with UTM campaign parameters.

As a short-term fix, you can try to repair the damage by simply adding the missing tracking code. To prevent it happening again, carry out a thorough Analytics audit, move to a GTM-based tracking implementation, and promote a culture of data-driven marketing.

4. Improper redirection

This is an easy one. Don’t use meta refreshes or JavaScript-based redirects — these can wipe or replace referrer data, leading to direct traffic in Analytics. You should also be meticulous with your server-side redirects, and — as is often recommended by SEOs — audit your redirect file frequently. Complex chains are more likely to result in a loss of referrer data, and you run the risk of UTM parameters getting stripped out.

Once again, control what you can: use carefully mapped (i.e. non-chained) code 301 server-side redirects to preserve referrer data wherever possible.

5. Non-web documents

Links in Microsoft Word documents, slide decks, or PDFs do not pass referrer information. By default, users who click these links will appear in your reports as direct traffic. Clicks from native mobile apps (particularly those with embedded “in-app” browsers) are similarly prone to stripping out referrer data.

To a degree, this is unavoidable. Much like so-called “dark social” visits (discussed in detail below), non-web links will inevitably result in some quantity of direct traffic. However, you also have an opportunity here to control the controllables.

If you publish whitepapers or offer downloadable PDF guides, for example, you should be tagging the embedded hyperlinks with UTM campaign parameters. You’d never even contemplate launching an email marketing campaign without campaign tracking (I hope), so why would you distribute any other kind of freebie without similarly tracking its success? In some ways this is even more important, since these kinds of downloadables often have a longevity not seen in a single email campaign. Here’s an example of a properly tagged URL which we would embed as a link:

https://builtvisible.com/embedded-whitepaper-url/?…_medium=offline_document&utm_campaign=201711_utm_whitepaper

The same goes for URLs in your offline marketing materials. For major campaigns it’s common practice to select a short, memorable URL (e.g. moz.com/tv/) and design an entirely new landing page. It’s possible to bypass page creation altogether: simply redirect the vanity URL to an existing page URL which is properly tagged with UTM parameters.

So, whether you tag your URLs directly, use redirected vanity URLs, or — if you think UTM parameters are ugly — opt for some crazy-ass hash-fragment solution with GTM (read more here), the takeaway is the same: use campaign parameters wherever it’s appropriate to do so.

6. “Dark social”

This is a big one, and probably the least well understood by marketers.

The term “dark social” was first coined back in 2012 by Alexis Madrigal in an article for The Atlantic. Essentially it refers to methods of social sharing which cannot easily be attributed to a particular source, like email, instant messaging, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Recent studies have found that upwards of 80% of consumers’ outbound sharing from publishers’ and marketers’ websites now occurs via these private channels. In terms of numbers of active users, messaging apps are outpacing social networking apps. All the activity driven by these thriving platforms is typically bucketed as direct traffic by web analytics software.

People who use the ambiguous phrase “social media marketing” are typically referring to advertising: you broadcast your message and hope people will listen. Even if you overcome consumer indifference with a well-targeted campaign, any subsequent interactions are affected by their very public nature. The privacy of dark social, by contrast, represents a potential goldmine of intimate, targeted, and relevant interactions with high conversion potential. Nebulous and difficult-to-track though it may be, dark social has the potential to let marketers tap into elusive power of word of mouth.

So, how can we minimize the amount of dark social traffic which is bucketed under direct? The unfortunate truth is that there is no magic bullet: proper attribution of dark social requires rigorous campaign tracking. The optimal approach will vary greatly based on your industry, audience, proposition, and so on. For many websites, however, a good first step is to provide convenient and properly configured sharing buttons for private platforms like email, WhatsApp, and Slack, thereby ensuring that users share URLs appended with UTM parameters (or vanity/shortened URLs which redirect to the same). This will go some way towards shining a light on part of your dark social traffic.

Checklist: Minimizing direct traffic

To summarize what we’ve already discussed, here are the steps you can take to minimize the level of unnecessary direct traffic in your reports:

  1. Migrate to HTTPS: Not only is the secure protocol your gateway to HTTP/2 and the future of the web, it will also have an enormously positive effect on your ability to track referral traffic.
  2. Manage your use of redirects: Avoid chains and eliminate client-side redirection in favour of carefully-mapped, single-hop, server-side 301s. If you use vanity URLs to redirect to pages with UTM parameters, be meticulous.
  3. Get really good at campaign tagging: Even amongst data-driven marketers I encounter the belief that UTM begins and ends with switching on automatic tagging in your email marketing software. Others go to the other extreme, doing silly things like tagging internal links. Control what you can, and your ability to carry out meaningful attribution will markedly improve.
  4. Conduct an Analytics audit: Data integrity is vital, so consider this essential when assessing the success of your marketing. It’s not simply a case of checking for missing track code: good audits involve a review of your measurement plan and rigorous testing at page and property-level.

Adhere to these principles, and it’s often possible to achieve a dramatic reduction in the level of direct traffic reported in Analytics. The following example involved an HTTPS migration, GTM migration (as part of an Analytics review), and an overhaul of internal campaign tracking processes over the course of about 6 months:

But the saga of direct traffic doesn’t end there! Once this channel is “clean” — that is, once you’ve minimized the number of avoidable pollutants — what remains might actually be one of your most valuable traffic segments.

Analyze! Or: why direct traffic can actually be pretty cool

For reasons we’ve already discussed, traffic from bookmarks and dark social is an enormously valuable segment to analyze. These are likely to be some of your most loyal and engaged users, and it’s not uncommon to see a notably higher conversion rate for a clean direct channel compared to the site average. You should make the effort to get to know them.

The number of potential avenues to explore is infinite, but here are some good starting points:

  • Build meaningful custom segments, defining a subset of your direct traffic based on their landing page, location, device, repeat visit or purchase behavior, or even enhanced e-commerce interactions.
  • Track meaningful engagement metrics using modern GTM triggers such as element visibility and native scroll tracking. Measure how your direct users are using and viewing your content.
  • Watch for correlations with your other marketing activities, and use it as an opportunity to refine your tagging practices and segment definitions. Create a custom alert which watches for spikes in direct traffic.
  • Familiarize yourself with flow reports to get an understanding of how your direct traffic is converting. By using Goal Flow and Behavior Flow reports with segmentation, it’s often possible to glean actionable insights which can be applied to the site as a whole.
  • Ask your users for help! If you’ve isolated a valuable segment of traffic which eludes deeper analysis, add a button to the page offering visitors a free downloadable ebook if they tell you how they discovered your page.
  • Start thinking about lifetime value, if you haven’t already — overhauling your attribution model or implementing User ID are good steps towards overcoming the indifference or frustration felt by marketers towards direct traffic.

I hope this guide has been useful. With any luck, you arrived looking for ways to reduce the level of direct traffic in your reports, and left with some new ideas for how to better analyze this valuable segment of users.

Thanks for reading!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-complete-guide-to-direct-traffic-in.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

ANWR: What’s at Stake?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) evokes stirring, iconic imagery in our minds: polar bears, glaciers, foraging herds of caribou on wind-swept plains.

The prospect of oil and gas companies entering the region’s landscape leaves many people unsettled and, to no surprise, proposals to open a portion of ANWR for energy exploration have faced fierce opposition.

But we need to recognize that those imagined scenes and our fears of defacing them do not comport with the reality of the territory under consideration. Developing ANWR’s energy resources—by some estimates more than 10 billion barrels of technically-recoverable oil—is actually a relatively low-risk proposal. And it’s one with local and state support.

The area with the potential to be opened to development is known as the 1002 area—so named for the section of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act that designated it for development consideration upon its passing in 1980. The 1002 area is a roughly 8-percent slice of ANWR, registering just 1.5 million acres out of a total of 19 million. The slice lies along the coastal plain abutting the Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Sea.

Source: Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Risk vs. Reward

Human activity necessarily entails impacting the non-human world. But the costs of that impact should be evaluated from a humanity-focused framework. Energy development is a high-leverage activity that can continue to have a massive influence on the global population’s standard of living. Analyses of the long-term effect of development invariably show that wealth, as would be created by exploring ANWR, begets health. I’ll describe some of the benefits that will accrue from ANWR exploration below, but first allow me to address and hopefully allay some concerns people might have.

Though risks to the natural world of course exist, modern drilling is not an indubitable threat to the region’s ecology. ANWR’s frigid winter would serve as a safeguard of sorts, reducing the ecological impact of drilling. Arctic areas’ deep freezes, snow, and ice minimize potential impacts to tundra vegetation and conflicts with wildlife during the long winters by allowing the use of ice roads and ice pads on exploration sites, as BP and Conoco have demonstrated in other Arctic regions.

Forty years of drilling just to ANWR’s west in the Prudhoe Bay area show that energy exploration and a flourishing ecology are not mutually exclusive. To the chagrin of alarmists who warn that energy development harms critical wildlife, the population of the Central Arctic Caribou Herd that roams the area grew from 5,000 when drilling began in 1977 to a peak of nearly 70,000 around 2010 when a late-arriving spring caused a halving of the population, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Information on drilling techniques and wildlife populations is unlikely to sway the environmentalist fringe whose standard of judgment is our preservation of a supposedly divine natural Earth, but it may give pause to the humanity-focused middle.

The Alaskan Perspective

Despite not being serviced by any permanent roads connecting it with the rest of Alaska, ANWR’s 1002 area includes the village of Kaktovik, which is home to around 250 people.

Source: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/

Contrary to what observers may expect given the media’s portrayal of rancor at the Dakota Access Pipeline site in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, the people who live closest to the proposed exploratory areas are strong proponents of liberalizing our economic lockdown of ANWR. Kaktovik local administrator Matthew Rexford testified before the Senate regarding the pending ANWR proposal in early November offering emphatic support. His full written testimony deserves reading, but here is the most poignant excerpt:

The Arctic Iñupiat will not become conservation refugees. We do not approve of efforts to turn our homeland into one giant national park, which literally guarantees us a fate with no economy, no jobs, reduced subsistence and no hope for the future of our people. We are already being impacted by restrictions of access to the federal lands for subsistence purposes – this is really disturbing to us since we have lived here long before there ever was a refuge designated.

As ANWR debates occur, the views of the Iñupiat who call the area home are oftentimes left out. The wishes of the people who live in and around the refuge’s coastal plain frequently are drowned out…My fellow Iñupiat and I firmly believe in a social license to operate, and perhaps no other potential project in the history of America has called for such a blessing from local indigenous peoples more than this one. Attempts to permanently block development in the 1002 – an area intentionally NOT designated as wilderness because of its oil and gas potential – is a slap in the face to our region and its people.

Furthermore, development has the unanimous support of Alaska’s Congressional delegation.

Senior Senator Lisa Murkowski has spearheaded the recent push on Capitol Hill. “Opening the 1002 Area to responsible oil and gas development will create thousands of new jobs, and those jobs will pay the types of wages that support families and put our kids through college,” said Murkowski earlier this month. “It will also generate tens of billions of dollars in revenues over the life of the fields for every level of government.”

Governor Bill Walker is a proponent of development as well. In a January press statement he wrote:

The state will do everything it can to provide the infrastructure needed to responsibly access the 1002 section of ANWR. Alaska has developed the seismic technology needed to focus on the most resource-rich portion of the area, allowing us to limit the footprint of activity in the region. With an oil pipeline that is three-quarters empty and an over $3 billion budget deficit, drilling in the 1002 would fill TAPS and bring much needed revenue to our state coffers.

To anyone familiar with the successes of energy development in other parts of Alaska and the state’s financial history, this unanimous advocacy for more leasing will come as no surprise.

Broad Economic Benefits

For Kaktovik and for the state the benefits are obvious. For the rest of the country the benefits aren’t as readily apparent. Fortunately, we have the December 2015 IER-commissioned study on the economic effects of opening federal lands to energy leasing to give us some insight.


 

According to the study’s findings, opening ANWR would have long-run benefits of nearly $40 billion to our economy and would result in an addition of over 77,000 jobs.

From an economic perspective energy exploration in ANWR is an open-and-shut case. But, of course, it isn’t economics that’s holding us back.

Nature for Nature’s Sake

As I wrote in an op-ed for Real Clear Energy, the economic flourishing of human beings isn’t the chief consideration of ANWR naysayers. They want to preserve nature for nature’s sake alone. The naysayers view humanity as an aspect of the terrestrial ecosystem, but not a superseding concern. Consider the words of the Alaska Wilderness League’s Kristen Miller, “Some places in our nation are simply too special, too sacred to drill—and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of them. This exhausted debate needs to end, once and for all.”

As the statement makes clear, from the perspective of the Alaska Wilderness League and its fellow travelers human beings simply do not have the moral license to utilize Earth’s natural endowment of resources. This vision is starkly at odds with human advancement.

Conclusion

ANWR is one of nature’s most generous endowments to us. By opening ANWR’s 1002 area to energy exploration, we would put that endowment to its best use. The benefits to our economy would be substantial and the risks are smaller than popularly imagined. The people of Alaska are already behind the idea—and have been for a long while. It’s time for the rest of us to catch up.

The post ANWR: What’s at Stake? appeared first on IER.

How to Write Marketing Case Studies That Convert

Posted by kerryjones

In my last post, I discussed why your top funnel content shouldn’t be all about your brand. Today I’m making a 180-degree turn and covering the value of content at the opposite end of the spectrum: content that’s directly about your business and offers proof of your effectiveness.

Specifically, I’m talking about case studies.

I’m a big believer in investing in case studies because I’ve seen firsthand what happened once we started doing so at Fractl. Case studies were a huge game changer for our B2B marketing efforts. For one, our case studies portfolio page brings in a lot of traffic – it’s the second most-visited page on our site, aside from our home page. It also brings in a significant volume of organic traffic, being our fourth most-visited page from organic searches. Most importantly, our case studies are highly effective at converting visitors to leads – about half of our leads view at least one of our case studies before contacting us.

Assuming anyone who reads the Moz Blog is performing some type of marketing function, I’m zeroing in on how to write a compelling marketing case study that differentiates your service offering and pulls prospects down the sales funnel. However, what I’m sharing can be used as a framework for creating case studies in any industry.

Get your client on board with a case study

Marketers shy away from creating case studies for a few reasons:

  1. They’re too busy “in the weeds” with deliverables.
  2. They don’t think their results are impressive enough.
  3. They don’t have clients’ permission to create case studies.

While I can’t help you with #1 and #2 (it’s up to you to make the time and to get the results deserving of a case study!), I do have some advice on #3.

In a perfect world, clients would encourage you to share every little detail of your time working together. In reality, most clients expect you to remain tight-lipped about the work you’ve done for them.

cobert-gif.gif

Understandably, this might discourage you from creating any case studies. But it shouldn’t.

With some compromising, chances are your client will be game for a case study. We’ve noticed the following two objections are common regarding case studies.

Client objection 1: “We don’t want to share specific numbers.”

At first it you may think, “Why bother?” if a client tells you this, but don’t let it hold you back. (Truth is, the majority of your clients will probably feel this way).

In this instance, you’ll want your case study to focus on highlighting the strategy and describing projects, while steering away from showing specific numbers regarding short and long-term results. Believe it or not, the solution part of the case study can be just as, or more, compelling than the results. (I’ll get to that shortly.)

And don’t worry, you don’t have to completely leave out the results. One way to get around not sharing actual numbers but still showing results is to use growth percentages.

Specific numbers: “Grew organic traffic from 5,000 to 7,500 visitors per month”

Growth percentage: “Increased organic traffic by 150%”

We do this for most of our case studies at Fractl, and our clients are totally fine with it.

Client objection 2: “We don’t want to reveal our marketing strategy to competitors.”

A fear of giving away too much intel to competitors is especially common in highly competitive niches.

So how do you get around this?

Keep it anonymous. Don’t reveal who the client is and keep it vague about what niche they’re in. This can be as ambiguous as referring to the client as “Client A” or slightly more specific (“our client in the auto industry”). Instead, the case study will focus on the process and results – this is what your prospects care about, anyway.

Gather different perspectives

Unless you were directly working with the client who you are writing the case study about, you will need to conduct a few interviews to get a full picture of the who, what, how, and why of the engagement. At Fractl, our marketing team puts together case studies based on interviews with clients and the internal team who worked on the client’s account.

The client

Arrange an interview with the client, either on a call or via email. If you have multiple contacts within the client’s team, interview the main point of contact who has been the most involved in the engagement.

What to ask:

  • What challenge were you facing that you hired us to help with?
  • Had you previously tried to solve this challenge (working with another vendor, using internal resources, etc.)?
  • What were your goals for the engagement?
  • How did you benefit from the engagement (short-term and long-term results, unexpected wins, etc.)?

You’ll also want to run the case study draft by the client before publishing it, which offers another chance for their feedback.

The project team

Who was responsible for this client’s account? Speak with the team behind the strategy and execution.

What to ask:

  • How was the strategy formed? Were strategic decisions made based on your experience and expertise, competitive research, etc.?
  • What project(s) were launched as part of the strategy? What was the most successful project?
  • Were there any unexpected issues that you overcame?
  • Did you refine the strategy to improve results?
  • How did you and the client work together? Was there a lot of collaboration or was the client more hands-off? (Many prospective clients are curious about what their level of involvement in your process would look like.)
  • What did you learn during the engagement? Any takeaways?

Include the three crucial elements of a case study

There’s more than one way to package case studies, but the most convincing ones all have something in common: great storytelling. To ensure you’re telling a proper narrative, your case study should include the conflict, the resolution, and the happy ending (but not necessarily in this order).

We find a case study is most compelling when you get straight to the point, rather than making someone read the entire case study before seeing the results. To grab readers’ attention, we begin with a quick overview of conflict-resolution-happy ending right in the introduction.

For example, in our Fanatics case study, we summarized the most pertinent details in the first three paragraphs. The rest of the case study focused on the resolution and examples of specific projects.

fanatics-case-study.png

Let’s take a look at what the conflict, resolution, and happy ending of your case study should include.

The Conflict: What goal did the client want to accomplish?

Typically serving as the introduction of the case study, “the conflict” should briefly describe the client’s business, the problem they hired you to work on, and what was keeping them from fixing this problem (ex. lack of internal resources or internal expertise). This helps readers identify with the problem the client faced and empathize with them – which can help them envision coming to you for help with this problem, too.

Here are a few examples of “conflicts” from our case studies:

  • “Movoto engaged Fractl to showcase its authority on local markets by increasing brand recognition, driving traffic to its website, and earning links back to on-site content.”
  • “Alexa came to us looking to increase awareness – not just around the Alexa name but also its resources. Many people had known Alexa as the site-ranking destination; however, Alexa also provides SEO tools that are invaluable to marketers.”
  • “While they already had strong brand recognition within the link building and SEO communities, Buzzstream came to Fractl for help with launching large-scale campaigns that would position them as thought leaders and provide long-term value for their brand.”

The Resolution: How did you solve the conflict?

Case studies are obviously great for showing proof of results you’ve achieved for clients. But perhaps more importantly, case studies give prospective clients a glimpse into your processes and how you approach problems. A great case study paints a picture of what it’s like to work with you.

For this reason, the bulk of your case study should detail the resolution, sharing as much specific information as you and your client are comfortable with; the more you’re able to share, the more you can highlight your strategic thinking and problem solving abilities.

The following snippets from our case studies are examples of details you may want to include as part of your solution section:

What our strategy encompassed:

“Mixing evergreen content and timely content helped usher new and existing audience members to the We Are Fanatics blog in record numbers. We focused on presenting interesting data through evergreen content that appealed to a variety of sports fans as well as content that capitalized on current interest around major sporting events.” – from Fanatics case study

How strategy was decided:

“We began by forming our ideation process around Movoto’s key real estate themes. Buying, selling, or renting a home is an inherently emotional experience, so we turned to our research on viral emotions to figure out how to identify with and engage the audience and Movoto’s prospective clients. Based on this, we decided to build on the high-arousal feelings of curiosity, interest, and trust that would be part of the experience of moving.

We tapped into familiar cultural references and topics that would pique interest in the regions consumers were considering. Comic book characters served us well in this regard, as did combining publicly available data (such as high school graduation rates or IQ averages) with our own original research.” – from Movoto case study

Why strategy was changed based on initial results:

“After analyzing the initial campaigns, we determined the most effective strategy included a combination of the following content types designed to achieve different goals [case study then lists the three types of content and goals]…

This strategy yielded even better results, with some campaigns achieving up to 4 times the amount of featured stories and social engagement that we achieved in earlier campaigns.” – from BuzzStream case study

How our approach was tailored to the client’s niche:

“In general, when our promotions team starts its outreach, they’ll email writers and editors who they think would be a good fit for the content. If the writer or editor responds, they often ask for more information or say they’re going to do a write-up that incorporates our project. From there, the story is up to publishers – they pick and choose which visual assets they want to incorporate in their post, and they shape the narrative.

What we discovered was that, in the marketing niche, publishers preferred to feature other experts’ opinions in the form of guest posts rather than using our assets in a piece they were already working on. We had suspected this (as our Fractl marketing team often contributes guest columns to marketing publications), but we confirmed that guest posts were going to make up the majority of our outreach efforts after performing outreach for Alexa’s campaigns.” – from Alexa case study

Who worked on the project:

Since the interviews you conduct with your internal team will inform the solution section of the case study, you may want to give individuals credit via quotes or anecdotes as a means to humanize the people behind the work. In the example below, one of our case studies featured a Q&A section with one of the project leads.

The Happy Ending: What did your resolution achieve?

Obviously, this is the part where you share your results. As I mentioned previously, we like to feature the results at the beginning of the case study, rather than buried at the end.

In our Superdrug Online Doctor case study, we summarized the overall results our campaigns achieved over 16 months:

But the happy ending isn’t finished here.

A lot of case studies fail to answer an important question: What impact did the results have on the client’s business? Be sure to tie in how the results you achieved had a bottom-line impact.

In the case of Superdrug Online Doctor, the results from our campaigns lead to a 238% increase in organic traffic. This type of outcome has tangible value for the client.

You can also share secondary benefits in addition to the primary goals the client hired you for.

In the case of our client Busbud, who hired us for SEO-oriented goals, we included examples of secondary results.

Busbud saw positive impacts beyond SEO, though, including the following:

  • Increased blog traffic
  • New partnerships as a result of more brands reaching out to work with the site
  • Brand recognition at large industry events
  • An uptick in hiring
  • Featured as a “best practice” case study at an SEO conference

Similarly, in our Fractl brand marketing case study, which focused on lead generation, we listed all of the additional benefits resulting from our strategy.

How to get the most out of your case studies

You’ve published your case study, now what should you do with it?

Build a case study page on your site

Once you’ve created several case studies, I recommend housing them all on the same page. This makes it easy to show off your results in a single snapshot and saves visitors from searching through your blog or clicking on a category tag to find all of your case studies in one place. Make this page easy to find through your site navigation and internal links.

While it probably goes without saying, make sure to optimize this page for search. When we initially created our case study portfolio page, we underestimated its potential to bring in search traffic and assumed it would mostly be accessed from our site navigation. Because of this, we were previously using a generic URL to house our case study portfolio. Since updating the URL from “frac.tl/our-work” to “frac.tl/content-marketing-case-studies,” we’ve jumped from page 2 to the top #1–3 positions for a specific phrase we wanted to rank for (“content marketing case studies”), which attracts highly relevant search traffic.

Use case studies as concrete proof in blog posts and off-site content

Case studies can serve as tangible examples that back up your claims. Did you state that creating original content for six months can double your organic traffic? On its own, this assertion may not be believable to some, but a case study showing these results will make your claim credible.

In a post on the Curata blog, my colleague Andrea Lehr used our BuzzStream case study to back up her assertion that in order to attract links, social shares, and traffic, your off-site content should appeal to an audience beyond your target customer. Showing the results this strategy earned for a client gives a lot more weight to her advice.

On the same note, case studies have high linking potential. Not only do they make a credible citation for your own off-site content, they can also be cited by others writing about your service/product vertical. Making industry publishers aware that you publish case studies by reaching out when you’ve released a new case study can lead to links down the road.

Repurpose your case studies into multiple content formats

Creating a case study takes a lot of time, but fortunately it can be reused again and again in various applications.

Long-form case studies

While a case study featured on your site may only be a few hundred words, creating a more in-depth version is a chance to reveal more details. If you want to get your case study featured on other sites, consider writing a long-form version as a guest post.

Most of the case studies you’ll find on the Moz Blog are extremely detailed:

Video

HubSpot has hundreds of case studieson its site, dozens of which also feature supplemental video case studies, such as the one below for Eyeota.

Don’t feel like you have to create flashy videos with impressive production value, even no-frills videos can work. Within its short case study summaries, PR That Converts embeds videos of clients talking about its service. These videos are simple and short, featuring the client speaking to their webcam for a few minutes.

Speaking engagements

Marketing conferences love case studies. Look on any conference agenda, and you’re sure to notice at least a handful of speaker presentations focused on case studies. If you’re looking to secure more speaking gigs, including case studies in your speaking pitch can give you a leg up over other submissions – after all, your case studies are original data no one else can offer.

My colleague Kelsey Libert centered her MozCon presentation a few years ago around some of our viral campaign case studies.

Sales collateral

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, many of our leads view the case studies on our site right before contacting us about working together. Once that initial contact is made, we don’t stop showing off our case studies.

We keep a running “best of” list of stats from our case studies, which allows us to quickly pull compelling stats to share in written and verbal conversations. Our pitch and proposal decks feature bite-sized versions of our case studies.

Consider how you can incorporate case studies into various touch points throughout your sales process and make sure the case studies you share align with the industry and goals of whoever you’re speaking with.

I’ve shared a few of my favorite ways to repurpose case studies here but there are at least a dozen other applications, from email marketing to webinars to gated content to printed marketing materials. I even link to our case studies page in my email signature.

case study email.png

My last bit of advice: Don’t expect immediate results. Case studies typically pay off over time. The good news is it’s worth the wait, because case studies retain their value – we’re still seeing leads come in and getting links to case studies we created three or more years ago. By extending their lifespan through repurposing, the case studies you create today can remain an essential part of your marketing strategy for years to come.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/11/how-to-write-marketing-case-studies.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

Knowledge Graph Eats Featured Snippets, Jumps +30%

Posted by Dr-Pete

Over the past two years, we’ve seen a steady and substantial increase in Featured Snippets on Google SERPs. In our 10,000-keyword daily tracking set, Featured Snippets have gone from about 5.5% of queries in November 2015 to a recent high of just over 16% (roughly tripling). Other data sets, with longer tail searches, have shown even higher prevalence.

Near the end of October (far-right of the graph), we saw our first significant dip (spotted by Brian Patterson on SEL). This dip occurred over about a 4-day period, and represents roughly a 10% drop in searches with Featured Snippets. Here’s an enhanced, 2-week view (note: Y-axis is expanded to show the day-over-day changes more clearly):

Given the up-and-to-the-right history of Featured Snippets and the investments people have been making optimizing for these results, a 10% drop is worthy of our attention.

What happened, exactly?

To be honest, when we investigate changes like this, the best we can usually do is produce a list of keywords that lost Featured Snippets. Usually, we focus on high-volume keywords, which tend to be more interesting. Here’s a list of keywords that lost Featured Snippets during that time period:

  • CRM
  • ERP
  • MBA
  • buddhism
  • web design
  • anger management
  • hosting
  • DSL
  • ActiveX
  • ovulation

From an explanatory standpoint, this list isn’t usually very helpful – what exactly do “web design”, “buddhism”, and “ovulation” have in common (please, don’t answer that)? In this case, though, there was a clear and interesting pattern. Almost all of the queries that lost Featured Snippets gained Knowledge Panels that look something like this one:

These new panels account for the vast majority of the lost Featured Snippets I’ve spot-checked, and all of them are general Knowledge Panels coming directly from Wikipedia. In some cases, Google is using a more generic Knowledge Graph entry. For example, “HDMI cables”, which used to show a Featured Snippet (dominated by Amazon, last I checked), now shows no snippet and a generic panel for “HDMI”:

In very rare cases, a SERP added the new Knowledge Panel but retained the Featured Snippet, such as the top of this search for “credit score”:

These situations seemed to be the exceptions to the rule.

What about other SERPs?

The SERPs that lost Featured Snippets were only one part of this story. Over the same time period, we saw an explosion (about +30%) in Knowledge Panels:

This Y-axis has not been magnified – the jump in Knowledge Panels is clearly visible even at normal scale. Other tracking sites saw similar, dramatic increases, including this data from RankRanger. This jump appears to be a similar type of descriptive panel, ranging from commercial keywords, like “wedding dresses” and “Halloween costumes”…

…to brand keywords, like “Ray-Ban”…

Unlike definition boxes, many of these new panels appear on words and phrases that appear to be common knowledge and add little value. Here’s a panel on “job search”…

I suspect that most people searching for “job search” or “job hunting” don’t need it defined. Likewise, people searching for “travel” probably weren’t confused about what travel actually is…

Thanks for clearing that up, Google. I’ve decided to spare you all and leave out a screenshot for “toilet” (go ahead and Google it). Almost all of these new panels appear to be driven by Wikipedia (or Wikidata), and most of them are single-paragraph definitions of terms.

Were there other changes?

During the exact same period, we also noticed a drop in SERPs with inline image results. Here’s a graph of the same 2-week period reported for the other features:

This drop almost exactly mirrors the increase in Knowledge Panels. In cases where the new panels were added, those panels almost always contain a block of images at the top. This block seems to have replaced inline image results. It’s interesting to note that, because image blocks in the left-hand column consume an organic position, this change freed up an organic spot on the first page of results for those terms.

Why did Google do this?

It’s likely that Google is trying to standardize answers for common terms, and perhaps they were seeing quality or consistency issues in Featured Snippets. In some cases, like “HDMI cables”, Featured Snippets were often coming from top e-commerce sites, which are trying to sell products. These aren’t always a good fit for unbiased definitions. Its also likely that Google would like to beef up the Knowledge Graph and rely less, where possible, on outside sites for answers.

Unfortunately, this also means that the answers are coming from a much less diverse pool (and, from what we’ve seen, almost entirely from Wikipedia), and it reduces the organic opportunity for sites that were previously ranking for or trying to compete for Featured Snippets. In many cases, these new panels also seem to add very little. Someone searching for “ERP” might be helped by a brief definition, but someone searching for “travel” is unlikely looking to have it explained to them.

As always, there’s not much we can do but monitor the situation and adapt. Featured Snippets are still at historically high levels and represent a legitimate organic opportunity. There’s also win-win, since efforts invested in winning Featured Snippets tend to improve organic ranking and, done right, can produce a better user experience for both search and website visitors.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/11/knowledge-graph-eats-featured-snippets.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

Colorado Gives Day: Help us give back to our home state!

An International Renewable Energy Leader, and the Rural Valley it Calls Home

Solar Energy International (SEI) believes in a world powered by renewable energy, so it is only fitting that our mission begins at our homebase in Delta County, and in the surrounding communities in Colorado. Students who have visited SEI’s campus in Paonia know how special it is: the snow-capped mountains, the patchwork of orchards across the valley, and the resilient and kind-hearted community that works to sustain the success of the region. SEI is proud to support local solar initiatives that encourage economic development in the valley that we call home.

Energy Producing Communities in Transition

In the past few years, two of three major coal mines in Delta County have shut down and the surrounding community has suffered from nearly a thousand lost jobs. In the wake of the coal mine closures, SEI sought out a solution to aid in economic revitalization for the Valley, and the Solarize: Economic Revitalization Through Solar Program was born.  Solarize is an outreach model that includes a driving organization, partnered solar installers, and a streamlined process for community members to go solar with a tiered rebate system as an incentive. Combined with a 13-week outreach period, the model aims to inspire people to go solar together.

The project started in the North Fork Valley in 2015, and as a result of community interest in solar, expanded to include all of Delta County in 2016.  The final campaign, Solarize Delta County Farms, fell in line with the County’s adoption of C-PACE (Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy) financing, and in addition to the typical Solarize model,  it focused on bringing resources to farms and rural businesses on energy efficiency and renewable energy financing opportunities. Over the past three years SEI has reached over 1,200 people in the County through educational outreach on solar, and as a result of all three campaigns, there have been nearly 60 new solar installs equaling over 400kW, nine new jobs, and over $1.5 million invested by community members in solar energy in Delta County!

Our local initiatives also lead us into regional high school classrooms with the creation of the high school (Solar for Schools High School Solar Career and Technical Pathway) program. Through this program, we can offer SEI’s industry-leading technical training in solar to local students, providing a pathway to one of the fastest growing industries in America.

Our latest project is an extension of our Solar in Schools high school program. In partnership with our rural electric cooperative, Delta-Montrose Electric Association, and the Montrose and Delta County School Districts, we are installing 10kW of solar PV systems on six local high schools during the spring of 2018. Our objective is to include 200 high school students in the installation of these solar arrays at their high schools and have over 200 students a year learn about solar in their science or math classrooms. Additionally, a teacher training is in the works to help teachers include more hands on solar engineering projects in their curriculum specifically math and science classes. These systems will lower energy costs for schools, introduce students to the fastest growing industry in America, and start conversations about energy diversification in the community. We are not only creating a marketplace for solar in Rural America, but we are also working to educate and train the future leaders of a world powered by renewable energy.

Propelling Rural Solar Initiatives Forward
SEI now plans to take these Delta County initiatives and offer them throughout Colorado in a new program, Solar Forward. Through the program, SEI will work as a local solar development adviser, working within communities to host Solarize, SIS and even C-PACE outreach programs.

Communities Need You: Colorado Gives Day

These initiatives demonstrate that as the country, and the world transitions to adopting more renewable energy practices, rural America doesn’t have to be left in the dust, it can lead the way, and Delta County has been an example. SEI hopes to continue fostering the growth of local solar markets in rural Colorado, and we need your help to support these programs.

Now YOU can help SEI help rural communities in Colorado. This year Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 5, and features a $1 million Incentive Fund. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day will receive a portion of the fund, increasing the value of every dollar donated. Colorado Gives Day has grown to be the state’s largest one-day online giving event, raising more than $200 million since it began in 2010. All proceeds will go to SEI’s Colorado initiatives: Solar in Schools and Solar Forward. This is an opportunity to double your impact by making your gift on December 5 on the Colorado Gives Website!

The post Colorado Gives Day: Help us give back to our home state! appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2017/11/colorado-gives-day-help-us-give-back-to.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com