Saturday, 22 July 2017

How to Increase Business Revenue with Marketing Automation Campaigns by @KunjalPanchal

Are you looking for ways to drive revenue to your business?

Meet today’s digital consumer: Kat. The web, social media, email, and other digital channels provide instant information at her fingertips.

She came across your awesome posts on social media and decided to check out your site. She loved your content and wanted more so she subscribed to your email newsletter.

You can’t win her only with old and traditional marketing tactics. These strategies have become less effective in this digital age.

If you want to convert Kat into a customer, you need to understand her needs and make your marketing more personalized. But as a marketer, you don’t have time to interact with each and every customer that comes your way.

Or can you? Enter marketing automation.

Why Marketing Automation Is Important

Marketing automation allows you to automate and measure your marketing tasks. It helps create a real-time and relationship-oriented approach to marketing campaigns. It improves your efficiency, productivity, lead generation, and revenue.

Here’s a concise definition from Marketo:

“Marketing automation is a category of technology that allows companies to streamline, automate, and measure marketing tasks and workflows, so they can increase operational efficiency and grow revenue faster.”

So why should you opt for marketing automation? Check out these stats:

Still not convinced? See what John McTigue, EVP of Kuno Creative, has to say:

Without marketing automation, you are just guessing – just hoping that people will take the bait and be ready to buy your products. Statistics show that buyers don’t do that. They want to learn at their own pace and be reached when they need more information or are ready to buy. A well-constructed marketing automation strategy makes that a reality.

Now that you’ve understood the importance of marketing automation, let’s explore how to automate your email campaigns to drive more revenue for your business.

How to Use Marketing Automation for Email Conversions

1. Welcome Series

Let’s get back to your customer, Kat. She subscribed to your email list. What’s the next step?

Send her a welcome email immediately. A welcome email isn’t about welcoming a new subscriber. It’s a first friendly conversation between you and your new subscriber.

A welcome email series will help create a positive impression of your business.

Meera Kothand, an email marketing specialist, shares her take on the welcome email series:

Every online marketer should have a welcome email sequence – a series of 3-5 emails that are sent out to a subscriber when they first join your email list. This is the most overlooked aspect of email marketing. A welcome email is good but what you want to do is ‘roll out the red carpet’ for your subscribers when they first sign up.

According to a study by Ciceron, the first 48 hours are when email subscribers are most engaged. You want to build a great first impression of you and your brand in this short period of time. A dedicated welcome email series will not only help you do that, but build trust as well.

Your welcome email should include something valuable for a new subscriber that lets them know what to do next. A welcome email series can then further educate your subscribers about your products or services.

Here’s an example of a welcome email series from SEMrush. In the first welcome email, they give a primer on next steps:

SEMrush Welcome Email

In the second email, they introduce some advanced features:

SEMrush Second Email

In the third email, they offer a free demo:

SEMrush Free Demo

2. Automated Follow-ups

Automation helps you send personalized follow-up emails to encourage customers to finish what they started.

Automated follow-ups help bring prospects back to your site, allowing you to build relationships with them which can lead to more numbers for you.

See how HubSpot Academy sent an automated follow-up email to one of my friends:

Hubspot Followup Email

3. Abandoned Carts

According to Baymard Institute, an average of 69.23 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned.

As marketers, we have to deal with the dreaded abandoned cart situation. People save products in their cart and abandon them before purchasing. They just aren’t ready to buy at that moment.

Automation will help you send a targeted email to these potential buyers (based on where they are in the customer purchasing journey) and ask them to complete their order. You can send an email series (up to three emails) with unique and creative subject lines.

4. Birthday or Anniversary Email

When you wish someone “Happy Birthday,” it makes them feel special. That’s why birthday emails have a 481 percent higher transaction rate than promotional emails.

We all expect gifts and presents on our birthday. So give your customers a special gift, free shipping, or incentives on their birthday. They will appreciate it.

Wondering how to remember their birthdays? You don’t have to. Automation will take care of it for you. It keeps track of every customer’s birthday and sends them a special offer email.

Check out this example:

Birthday Email

5. Product Suggestion

Use the power of personalized product suggestion emails to drive conversions. Write a creative subject line and create a sense of urgency in your email.

You can also gather all the data and information about a customer by doing surveys, as well as tracking customers’  website activity, recent purchase history, shopping cart, and more. Automation can then help you use these behavioral data to create personalized and targeted recommendations which your customers will find interesting.

Conclusion

Automation can be a game changer for your business. It can play a key role in converting a lead into a paying customer so start sending automated campaigns today.


Image Credits

Featured Image: a-image/Shutterstock.com
Screenshots taken by Author, July 2017.

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Author: Kunjal Panchal

The post How to Increase Business Revenue with Marketing Automation Campaigns by @KunjalPanchal appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.



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Friday, 21 July 2017

Accelerate your marketing with the MarTech Power Pack

Are you responsible for ensuring your organization thrives in this software-powered world? Then the MarTech Power Pack is for you. You’ll gain insights, ideas, and strategies you can use to accelerate your marketing and marketing organization.

Brought to you by the Martech conferences, the Power Pack includes:

  • An exclusive webinar presentation of “5 Disruptions Reshaping Marketing As We Know It”, hosted by leading martech authority Scott Brinker
  • A 20-page companion e-book to the webinar
  • A high-resolution MarTech Landscape graphic, open-sourced MarTech landscape database, and a behind the scenes podcast with Scott and Anand Thaker
  • More than 200 MarTech conference speaker presentations and videos from previous MarTech Conferences.

Click here to access the MarTech Power Pack today!


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Author: Marketing Technology

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Daily Search Forum Recap: July 21, 2017

Here is a recap of what happened in the search forums today, through the eyes of the Search Engine Roundtable and other search forums on the web.

Search Engine Roundtable Stories:

Other Great Search Forum Threads:

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Author: barry@rustybrick.com (Barry Schwartz)

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SearchCap: YouTube redirects, Bing search ad growth & expanded text ads

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:

Search News From Around The Web:

Industry

Searching

SEO

SEM / Paid Search

Search Marketing

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Author: Barry Schwartz

The post SearchCap: YouTube redirects, Bing search ad growth & expanded text ads appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.



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Marketing Day: Chatbots, content production models & Microsoft’s earnings report

Here’s our recap of what happened in online marketing today, as reported on Marketing Land and other places across the web.

From Marketing Land:

Online Marketing News From Around The Web:

Analytics

Content Marketing

E-Commerce

Email Marketing

General Internet Marketing

Internet Marketing Industry

MarTech

Mobile/Local Marketing

Social Media

Video


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Author: Amy Gesenhues

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Building an Amazon Alexa Skill is so easy, Grandma can do it

Amazon devices with the Alexa agent.

Amazon devices with the Alexa agent

Last holiday season, the Amazon Echo was at the top of everyone’s wish list. Amazon sold a lot more than they had expected, and they had difficulty keeping the product in stock. Estimates place the number of devices sold at over 9 million, about nine times what they sold the year before!

And this year’s Prime Day yielded similar, impressive success. With those kinds of numbers, as marketers, we really ought to be thinking about ways to capitalize on that momentum. One way is by building our own Amazon Alexa apps, known as “Skills.”

When I first got my Echo, I was excited to start programming my first Alexa Skill. I soon came to realize that although you can certainly build some awesome, more advanced skills with some programming chops, it isn’t necessary to write a single line of code if you just want to get your feet wet with Alexa Skill creation. It was so easy to make my first Skill, in fact, that I’m fairly certain my not-so-technically-savvy grandma could do it.

Oh, and here’s an SNL skit about Grandmas and Alexa.

Before we get into how to create our first codeless Skill, let’s briefly examine the different types of Alexa Skills you can create:

Types of skills

There are four main types of Alexa Skills:

  1. Custom Skills
  2. Video Skills
  3. Smart Home Skills
  4. Flash Briefing Skills

Custom Skills

The Custom Skill type is probably what comes to mind first when you think of an Alexa Skill. The sky is the limit when it comes to the Custom Skills type. As the name implies, it allows for a custom interaction model, enabling some of the more robust Skills like Jeopardy and Domino’s. This Skill type requires programming expertise. But the documentation is pretty robust, and there are plenty of code examples to reference in the wild or via Amazon.

Video Skills

Video Skills are a recent addition to the type of Skills you can develop. It focuses on control of video. In Amazon’s words, “Video skills target content and video services, which can include changing the channel, but also enables customers to search for content and choose content to play from search results.” So, you wouldn’t use this Skill type to raise the volume on your WiFi-enabled TV. If your intention is to interact with a video device, it will be easier to use the video API than to build a fully custom Skill.

Smart Home Skills

Smart Home Skills are for controlling connected home and home automation devices such as the Nest or Phillips Hue light bulbs. If your goal is to control these type of devices, it’s easier to leverage this Skill type, due to an associated API, rather than creating a fully custom Skill.

Flash Briefing Skills

Lastly, there is the Flash Briefing Skill type, the one we will be discussing.

A common activity for Amazon Echo device owners is asking Alexa about the news. Users are able to assign different news sources to be included, and news items are read out upon asking Alexa, “What’s my Flash Briefing?” or “What’s in the news?”

If you’re a publisher, it’s an absolute no-brainer to set up your own Flash Briefing Skill. It’s also very easy to set up this type of Skill, as it requires zero programming. Let’s explore how to do this.

Creating your Flash Briefing Skill

Awesome. You’re ready to create a Flash Briefing Skill. The first thing you need to do is set up an Amazon Developer account:

https://developer.amazon.com/

Once you’ve set up your Developer account, sign in and select the Alexa tab at the top of the Developer Console:

Click the “Get Started” button nested under “Alexa Skills Kit”:

Now, choose the “Add a New Skill” on the right side of the screen.

Choose “Flash Briefing Skill AP” for Skill Type, choose a language, and give it a name:

Hit “Next” until you reach the Configuration Stage.

Set an error message in case something goes wrong.

Mine is set to “Uh oh. The Search Wilderness skill got broke-ed broke-ed broke-ed.

Click the “Listen” button to ensure that Alexa will read your error message correctly.

Then, click the “Add new feed” button:

Add a preamble. For mine, the field is set to “From the Search Wilderness blog.

Give your feed a name. Mine is “The Search Wilderness Blog.

Set your content update frequency. Mine is set to daily, since I don’t update my blog that frequently. A publisher like Marketing Land that publishes articles multiple times per day would probably want to set this to hourly.

Choose your content type as “text” — although you can choose “audio” and opt to record mini-podcast audio files that it would play instead.

Select the most appropriate content genre. Mine is set to “other.”

Your feed

Now for URL, set the destination to your blog feed. You might be inclined to simply input your blog’s existing RSS feed for this. This process is easy, but unfortunately, it’s not that easy.

You need to ensure that the content on the RSS feed is (a) short enough for a quick news update, and (b) 100 percent pronounceable by Alexa.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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Author: Paul Shapiro

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The name is Bot, Chatbot: How to shake up conversions with stirring conversations

Think back to five short years ago: Facebook IPO’d; Oxford American Dictionary named “gif” its word of the year; and your only options to order pizza were by phone or on a website.

Five years! It seems like forever ago.

Now, Facebook stock has only gone up since its much-decried stock market debut, gifs are old hat (though the “jif” vs. “gif” pronunciation debate rages on), and you can order pizza by text, chatbot, Alexa, Google Assistant, Cortana and more.

It’s not just pizza. New technology is changing the way we behave as consumers and marketers. The landing page, once the internet’s gatekeeper and conversion hotspot, is becoming unessential. It’s a middleman that’s growing middle-aged and might not know what “the cool thing” is anymore.

The new conversion platform for brands and commerce?

Conversation.

From AI with love

Where the conversation happens matters.

According to a 2016 Ovum study, 53 percent of American and German respondents stated that they favor talking with businesses through chat apps versus the phone, mainly because of speed and convenience.

Meanwhile, 50.6 percent of consumers responding to a 2016 Ubisend survey said they believed that a business should be able to respond to their queries 24/7.

So, we have soaring usage of messaging apps, and a considerable number of our customers who believe we should be contactable 24/7. But staffing a customer service center 24/7 is costly and expends human capital by the bucketload.

Enter stage left: chatbots.

Take stage center for explanation purposes: XiaoIce, sometimes dubbed “Cortana’s little sister.”

Created by Microsoft (my employer) in 2014, XiaoIce is an AI chatbot that is based in part on Bing’s search technology. She’s designed to have a high IQ, as well as high EQ (Emotional Quotient, or emotional intelligence), to help her build strong bonds and connections with humans.

She’s able to remember and learn from previous conversations, and she is sensitive to emotions. For example, if you chat with her about a relationship ending, she’ll put you on a 33-day break-up recovery plan, checking in with you throughout.

To say she is popular would be an understatement. In just her first three days, XiaoIce was added to 1.5 million conversations on WeChat. On Weibo, she’s one of the most popular celebrity accounts. Can you imagine a bot having celebrity status? She has approximately 40 million users in China, with incredible engagement stats. The average conversation with her lasts 26 turns, and one out of four users has even said “I love you” to her!

What we learned from Xiaoice is that people want their tech to be approachable and to adjust to the way we communicate.

WeChat has proven just how profitable that can be.

Did you know, over half of WeChat’s 938 million monthly active users have linked their bank cards to the app? They can easily do a staggering number of tasks — from booking a flight to booking a doctor’s appointment to ordering a new pair of shoes — all without leaving the app.

That’s got to be worth a lot of money, right?

According to estimates by Nomura, WeChat’s average annual revenue per user is $7, compared to $1 per user on WhatsApp.

Clearly, conversation pays off.

License to chat

There are three key steps you need to take to bring your bot from being a twinkle in your eye to the online version of your best salesperson.

1. Identify the problem

You can’t solve world peace with your bot (at least, not yet).

What you can do is consult with your customer service teams, conduct surveys and read customer feedback from as many avenues as possible in order to pinpoint key customer issues. Can a bot address any of these?

If not, then other options include building a bot whose purpose is solely to engage in a fresh new way with customers, or save time and resources relating to customer service.

Let’s think about a bank, for example. It’s quite likely that they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each month handling repetitive calls like a balance inquiry.

Now, even though it’s a quick question, it usually takes three or four minutes, with the security questions and hold time factored in. It’s not the best customer service experience, and it costs the business a lot of money.

But what if the bank had a chatbot? It would be easy to just use the phone verification (fingerprint in iPhone, for example) and answer the question via a bot.

That’s so easy that a kindergarten bot could do it. More complex questions are well within bots’ capabilities, such as, “Hey, bank, how much did I spend on Uber in May?”

This bot saves the bank money and improves the customer experience. It’s a win-win. Think about how this could apply to your own business.

2. Plan the overall experience

Your users already have multiple options to interact with you, such as your website or app, so how can your bot compete for attention? Good planning is the key, especially when it comes to the user experience.

The experience needs to make sense to them and appear seamless. The most important consideration is making interaction as easy as possible for your customer. Look at the two options below. Which one do you think is easier?

Example 2 is easier because the user doesn’t have to type anything, and the options are foreshadowed and one tap away. A combination of typing, talking and tapping can make the interaction a lot easier for your customer.

In all of this, remember to make it feel as personal as possible. When the bot addresses the user with, “Hello, Anonymous,” it comes across as rude and impersonal, like an uninterested shop assistant. The bot should ask the user their name, creating a rapport.

[Read the full article on MarTech Today.]


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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Author: Purna Virji

The post The name is Bot, Chatbot: How to shake up conversions with stirring conversations appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.



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After Windows 10 bump & Yahoo deal, Microsoft’s search revenue growth looks stagnant

Microsoft reported search advertising revenue increased 8 percent year over year, growing by $124 million, in its quarterly earnings report released Thursday.

Taking traffic acquisition costs (TAC) out of the equation, search advertising revenue was up 10 percent year over year in the fourth quarter of its fiscal year, which ended June 30, 2017.

The company said the bump in search revenue was the result of higher search volume and improved revenue per search on Bing.

That’s been the growth message for a year now, a switch after noting the “continued benefit from Windows 10 usage” for several quarters. However, Bing’s ad growth rate has now been stagnant for several quarters.

On the Q2 FY17 earnings call in January 2017, Microsoft CFO Amy Hood reminded investors that “total search revenue growth will slow now that we’ve passed the one year anniversary of our Yahoo deal and the associated change in revenue recognition.” (Bolding added.)

The two companies reworked their rocky search partnership in April 2015, five years into the 10-year deal. Yahoo can serve up to 49 percent of ads from its own Gemini platform or through other partnership deals.

Here is what the growth trend for Microsoft’s search advertising revenue since Q2 FY15, which ended December 31, 2014.

Microsoft continues to struggle with gaining any meaningful mobile market share in search where Google dominates. The approach of developing Bing and Cortana apps for iOS and Android, for example, has done little to dent that lead.

Despite the slower growth, however, in Q1 FY 17, which ended September 30, Microsoft announced that Bing had crossed the threshold to profitability, generating a reported $1 billion in search ad revenue for the quarter.

As for LinkedIn, advertisers are still waiting in the wings to see what kinds of integrations might come about on that front. Bing Ads’ GM, Steve Sirich, told the audience at SMX Advanced last month that they are looking at things like enhancing what advertisers can understand about users for targeting and attribution, for example.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted on the earnings call yesterday that sessions on LinkedIn were up more than 20 percent for the third consecutive quarter. Hood later added that LinkedIn revenue for the quarter was a bit better than the company had expected, at approximately $1.1 billion. The revenue was driven by LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions for recruiters.

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Author: Ginny Marvin

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Comparing content production models: Which is right for your business?

If you’ve been in content marketing for a while, you’re probably familiar with different content production and development models. Two common ones are hub-and-spoke and skyscraper content. It should be noted that there are other models as well, but these are two of the more popular approaches people take.

How do you determine which one is right for your business? As with all marketing, it’s important to start with your goal in mind. What outcome do you hope to achieve from this content marketing program?

Starting with the end in mind helps us zero in on which strategy will help us the most. You also need to think about the resources you have on hand, the budget available and how much content you can produce in a specific time.

The hub-and-spoke model

The first model is often referred to as the hub-and-spoke model. In this model, you focus on producing big, in-depth content pieces that are often gated and used as an opt-in for your business. These in-depth pieces are your “hub.”

Hub content should address a potential customer’s most pressing needs. It should be in-depth enough to provide value and help them with the issues they’re facing today (or very soon).

The strategy behind hub content is like that of content customer service. You’re focused on your customer and their needs. You create content that addresses their needs.

Examples of hub content can be webinars, e-books, white papers, videos and more. They’re not one-minute teaser videos or 500-word blog posts. Hub content takes time to produce. It may involve a research study.

Hub content should align with a content pillar. In most cases, you’ll want one great piece of hub content for each pillar. Then, you create lots of smaller pieces of content that support your hub content piece.

You might have quick videos, blog posts, infographics or website content that serves as spoke content. Spoke content is generally not gated and shared freely. It’s designed to drive traffic to a site, build links or push a reader to a piece of hub content that’s gated and serves as an opt-in, where the company can get your email address.

The email address is still a very valuable commodity to a marketer. Once an email address is shared via the opt-in content, you’re often added to the customer list and may be greeted by a nurturing campaign.

When you’re following the hub-and-spoke model, you’ll create significantly more spoke content than hub. You may only create a few pieces of hub content each year but multiple spokes monthly.

Advantages of the hub-and-spoke model

Hub-and-spoke works exceptionally well for business development goals. If you’re trying to generate qualified leads for your sales team, this type of content can help. If your spoke content is well-done and addresses your potential client’s needs, people will likely share their email address to receive the hub piece.

If someone is willing to part with their contact information in exchange for a piece of content, it’s likely they feel the content is valuable and will help them in their job or with their business. They’ve essentially selected themselves as a warm lead and are showing that they may be interested in your product.

You may also be able to attract links through your spoke content. If you’re creating content that addresses your customers’ questions and solves their problems, they’ll be more likely to share it with others.

Disadvantages of the hub-and-spoke model

This is a time-consuming content production technique that can require a sizable investment in content production. It’s often used by bigger brands with marketing agency partners or large marketing departments. These are the companies that can really think like a publisher and focus on creating great in-depth pieces that help their readers or potential customers.

It’s going to be harder to employ hub-and-spoke within a small department or one without creative resources to help with the hub content development.

Skyscraper technique

With the skyscraper content technique, the focus is on building a bigger or better piece of content. This technique is used more for link attraction than lead generation.

That’s not to say that skyscraper content won’t generate leads — because it can and will. However, the focus here is often building links to a website, which we know raises the domain authority, making it easier to rank for core keywords, and thus, driving SEO traffic.

When your content production model focuses on skyscraper content, you will spend more time analyzing the content that appears on your competitors’ websites, looking for those pieces that attract lots of backlinks.

While the name implies creating more content, it’s not necessary to just add words and make a piece longer. The key here is to provide more value to the reader. If there’s a great piece on “50 tools to use to grow your business” that’s doing well, the skyscraper piece might include 75, 100, or even 150 tools.

Advantages to skyscraper content

With the skyscraper technique, you start the process knowing the content you’re producing is relevant and helpful. You’re choosing content pieces that are already popular and have a lot of links to improve upon. If you can truly enhance the content and create something better, there’s a good chance that the sites that published the original piece would be interested in your updated piece, too.

If you target them specifically, you may find yourself quickly building a lot of links because these sites have already shown interest in this topic by posting the original piece. Some of the initial research is ready for you in the form of the original post.

Disadvantages to skyscraper content

One big question here is: Are you really adding value with the new piece of content you’re producing? Is there a true need for an update or refresh, or are you just trying to outdo someone else?

Some pieces of skyscraper content feel like they’re just trying to be wordy for the sake of being longer. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to make a good piece better, and sometimes, that original piece is good as is. It doesn’t need to be improved upon.

How do you determine which content model is right for you?

As you determine your next steps in your content marketing program, you need to make sure the production model you choose is one that you can sustain. It’s also important to make sure it can help you achieve your goals.

If you can’t create enough content to generate strong spokes, your hub content won’t perform up to its full potential. Conversely, if you create a great spoke system but don’t have the resources for the hub pieces, you’re missing an opportunity.

And, if you go after skyscraper pieces but find it’s hard to provide more value or information, it’s not going to work as well as it could. Making a piece longer isn’t the only requirement. You must make it significantly better for it to work.

Either model could work well for your business if you have the right resources in place to fully execute on a plan.

Do you have to choose only one plan? No. You don’t. You could potentially combine the two. What if your hub content was a great skyscraper piece? Now, you might not be able to gate that piece if you’re going to use it for heavy link attraction, so think about the pros and cons of your decisions before committing.

In the end, it’s up to you to decide the best model for your business. And remember, these are not the only two models you can employ. There are other options out there.

Take time, do your research, and then determine what will best help you achieve your goals. The good news is that just having a plan and a documented content strategy puts you ahead of many of your competitors and is a known factor in content marketing success.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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Author: Rachel Lindteigen

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Survey results: Here’s what 376 marketers say is working in online marketing

For entrepreneurs and startup founders looking for new ways to grow their businesses, there’s no shortage of information on the “whats” and “hows” of digital marketing.

For the past decade, I’ve done my best to provide even more information in those categories, helping entrepreneurs with everything from the basics of building an online presence to advanced tactics in categories like SEO.

But it’s also important to zoom out, beyond the strategies and tactics, so we can understand the “whys” behind marketing — as well as where it’s headed and when.

Last year, I attempted to answer these questions with an original survey I called “What Works in Online Marketing,” and I walked away with some interesting revelations about the state of the industry. Now that it’s a year old, I figured it was time to redistribute the survey and find out exactly where we stand today.

You can download the entire report here (registration required), but below, I’d like to highlight some of the most interesting findings from the survey and discuss what they mean for your business.

Survey methods

The survey itself was fairly simple. It comprised a number of questions regarding the use and effectiveness of multiple different online marketing strategies, including content marketing, SEO, social media marketing and link building.

We distributed the survey to 376 people, most of whom are professional marketers or business owners, and collected the results for analysis. There was a fairly equal distribution of participants by age, gender and position.

This year’s most important takeaways

So, what did we learn about the state of online marketing? These were some of the biggest takeaways:

  1. Attitudes haven’t changed dramatically. Compared to last year, attitudes about marketing haven’t changed much one way or another. As you’ll see, marketers still feel good about the strategies they’re using, and they are investing in different tactics (such as SEO, content marketing and social media marketing) in similar patterns. There haven’t been many disruptive events to force people into new paradigms and new strategies, nor have there been any big scares or economic disruptions to curb the power of marketing.
  2. People are ready to spend more on marketing. Nearly 45 percent of marketers are planning to increase their marketing budgets this year, with another 30 percent of responders planning to keep their budgets the same. That means 75 percent of respondents are keeping their budgets the same or increasing them, compared to less than 25 percent who are planning to decrease their budgets. This is a sign of overall economic growth, potentially, but it’s also important to recognize it as a sign that most marketers are finding success.
  3. Marketers are clueless when it comes to ROI. But how are those marketers defining success? Return on investment (ROI), arguably the single most important metric for gauging the profitability of a campaign, remains elusive for many marketers to measure. For each core online marketing strategy, we asked marketers what type of ROI they were seeing—and the top answer for nearly every strategy was “not sure.” The only strong exception to this rule was social media marketing, which 44 percent of marketers saw a positive ROI for. Otherwise, either marketers aren’t measuring their ROI rates consistently, or they don’t know how to do it.
  4. Facebook is king, but Instagram is rising. As you might have predicted, Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, both in terms of the number of marketers using it and in terms of the ROI those marketers are seeing from it. Over 88 percent of respondents are using Facebook, and 53 list it as their top-ROI platform. However, Instagram is also rising in importance, jumping to become the second-most popular social platform for marketers (excepting YouTube). With 95 percent of marketers planning to keep or increase their social media budgets, social media marketing is likely to stay around for a while.
  5.  Optimism reigns. Finally, optimism in the online marketing community is high. Overall, marketers are increasing budgets, but they’re also increasing budgets for most specific strategies, including SEO, content marketing, link building, influencer marketing and social media. They’re happy with the results they’re getting, and they’re predicting that the strategies they use are going to stick around for a long time. For example, when asked if they thought SEO would ever become universally impractical, unprofitable or otherwise useless, 32 percent said “maybe, but it’s unlikely,” making it the top response. Only 22 percent gave some kind of “yes” answer, and 17 percent said “no, never.”

Where are we headed?

Between any two points, you can draw a straight line. With the information from this year’s survey in conjunction with information from last year’s survey, we can predict what’s going to unfold over the course of the next year.

Personally, I look forward to seeing more enthusiasm and more investment in online marketing overall. The more people we have working in the industry, the more innovation we’ll collectively drive, and the more information we’ll have to collectively work with.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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Author: Jayson DeMers

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How to navigate the somewhat rocky transition to expanded text ads

Google has been transitioning advertisers to larger text ads for about a year now. And, as of February 2017, it became impossible to create, copy and paste or edit the old style (or “standard”) text ads. You can pause and unpause them, but that’s about all you can do with them.

This has really accelerated the push to the new format; even if all you’re doing is changing a landing page URL, you have little choice at this point but to write a brand-new ad to go with it.

I have seen many expanded text ads perform better than standard text ads — and many perform worse. Based on other published articles, clearly some advertisers have struggled with the process somewhat and seen mixed results. In retrospect, I think a slightly rocky road for this transition should have been predictable.

This article runs through why I think some have struggled and details my recommendations for overcoming these difficulties with ad writing.

First: What I think is behind the move to expanded text ads

The traditional 25-character Headline, 35-character Description 1 and 35-character Description 2 limits have been replaced by the much larger 30/30/80 (Headline 1/Headline 2/Description) size, often resulting in the ad appearing one line longer in the search results. If you really dig into it and do some math, it’s pretty easy to show that simply making most ads one line longer will result in a significantly higher click-through rate, just on the basis of screen area covered.

Click-through rate studies have pretty consistently shown a decline by a factor of two in each position. (Here’s a link to a review I did of some CTR studies. It’s fairly old, but it illustrates the principles.) Agencies publish these studies from time to time (usually oriented toward organic CTR), but if you look in Richard Stokes’s excellent book, “The Ultimate Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising,” he shows very similar curves for paid search.

Here’s a quick back-of-the-envelope scenario that shows how we can use these studies to analyze the effect of expanded text ads.

Assume for this exercise that 4 percent of searchers click on the top ad on average, 2 percent click on the second ad, and 1 percent click on the third ad. (It doesn’t matter what percentage you start with, really, as long as you assume the percentage drops by half each time — which the CTR studies have consistently shown).

For Ad #1, assume that it’s a four-line ad, with each line attracting 25 percent of the action, i.e., 1 percent of searchers will click on the ad based on each line. Also note that not all lines are actually clickable; the click usually happens on the headline, but additional lines contribute to that line being clicked on (increasing the ad’s CTR).

Now assume, instead of a four-line ad, a five-line ad. OK, so if each line previously got 1 percent of searchers to click, for a total of 4 percent, then you would now have a 5 percent CTR. What is that? It’s a 25 percent increase. This is not far from what Google usually announces with every new extension, and Google cited an average CTR bump for expanded text ads of 20 percent in early tests last year.

Because screen area or number of lines (same thing, really) can account for a 20-25 percent CTR increase, it seems pretty clear to me that the increase is likely simply because all the other lines on the page are pushed down, including an organic line just above the fold.

So, I’m pretty skeptical about the real value-add of this whole massive effort across the industry, beyond simply pushing organic down another line. The AdWords team is probably mandated by their management to stick to three ads at the top (now four for “highly commercial” queries), so they have a huge incentive to constantly roll out new extensions, larger ad formats… anything to make ads larger and take up more real estate within those constraints.

That said, let’s go ahead and rewrite all our ads!

OK, I rewrote all my ads. Why are so many of them doing worse?

I think a major tactical mistake early on was encouraging advertisers to rewrite their ads — and many advertisers have a lot of them — but not emphasizing ad testing enough. After all, many advertisers have ads that have been tested and optimized over a period of years.

Think about it: Because these new ads are much bigger, they require a lot of new text, so the rewriting process is really stimulating a lot of rethinking of messaging. So many of the rewritten ads are actually completely new ads (maybe even written by different, newer account managers, since the people who wrote the old ads moved on years ago).

But these new ads are going up against many ads that are proven winners —  ads that have beaten lots of other ads in tests previously. So on average, they’re really quite unlikely to do as well as the old ads right out the gate. This, I believe, explains the mixed results reported by others previously on early tests of expanded text ads.

If you’re up against proven winners, you need lots of challengers

Since you’re writing a lot of brand-new ads with new messaging, and you really have no idea how they’re going to do, your best bet is to write several ads for each ad group. I am recommending people write four, done this way:

Ad #1: Create a small-looking ad that is as close as possible to the standard text ad with the highest CTR in the ad group.

Why highest CTR? Obviously, focusing on higher conversions (or even better, as Brad Geddes rightly preaches here, highest profit/impression) would be better. But usually highest CTR is a reasonable, quick choice — you don’t have to do much calculating, and there’s more data available on CTR than conversions.

Note that with everyone trying to take advantage of all the larger character limits, having a very short ad may actually make your ad stand out and get a higher CTR relative to everyone else! So trying to mimic the old ad as much as possible in at least one version is an approach you should try.

Ad #2: Create a second ad that is based on totally new messaging.

Examine your competition, and think way outside the box to try to stand out. If everyone is saying “storage container” in their ads, maybe you should say “shipping container.” Or use your brand name as the headline if everyone else is showing headlines that match the keywords. Be different!

Ad #3: Copy the first ad, and swap Headline 1 with Headline 2.

Ad #4: Copy the second ad, and swap Headline 1 with Headline 2.

If swapping headlines makes no sense messaging-wise, then swap one of them with a portion of the description. The point is to try several approaches to see what works best for each ad group.

The benefits of this approach are threefold:

  1. You end up with four ads, making the likelihood of finding a winner that can match the old ad much higher than if you just create one.
  2. You are preserving elements that succeeded previously.
  3. You have some testing going on in the account, particularly with Headline 2. After all, it’s really a new element versus the other pieces. My feeling is that calls to action perhaps belong there now, but I’m not far enough along in my thinking to be able to say so definitively.

Also, I am recommending that people leave their old ads on, for now, for comparison purposes — and also because there hasn’t been a whole lot of transparency as to how inventory in search is being allocated. Are old or new ads favored in some way? Who knows? I’m more comfortable leaving everything on until I see data proving winners, or until Google sunsets the old format for good.

In conclusion

I have to say I yearn for the old “Headline/Benefit/Call-to-Action” formula that the old ads easily fell into. This “Headline 1 – Headline 2 – Really Long Description” has been a real struggle for me to get used to.

However, it’s a healthy exercise. Even in paid search, ads get stale. Display advertisers change their creatives sometimes in a matter of weeks; I’ve seen search ad performance drop over time simply due to ad fatigue.

Keeping your ads fresh, looking at your competition (particularly since they are rewriting all their ads right now), and making sure your ads are in top form is a worthy exercise.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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Author: Ted Ives

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YouTube using Redirect Method technology to fight terrorist video content in search results

In its continued fight against terrorist video content, YouTube announced it has rolled out a new search feature based on the Redirect Method technology designed by the Google tech incubator Jigsaw.

According to the announcement, YouTube will now display a playlist of videos aimed at debunking “violent extremist recruiting” content when people search for certain keywords.

The announcement did not include specifics on what the “certain keywords” are, but Jigsaw’s site covering its Redirect Method project listed the following statement explaining how it worked with Moonshot CVE (an initiative that uses data to counter violent extremism messaging) to determine relevant keywords:

For the English campaign, Moonshot CVE created 30 ad campaigns comprising 95 unique ads and over 1,000 keywords. The keyword generation was focused on terms suggesting positive sentiment towards ISIS.

YouTube says the goal is to offer more resources and content that may be able to “change the minds” of people at risk of being radicalized by terrorist organizations — directing them to video content that debunks extremist propaganda.

During the past months, YouTube has struggled to keep terrorist content from plaguing its site and showing up in connection with advertiser content — a crisis that has resulted in weakened relationships with brands. You can read more about the latest steps it has taken to manage brand safety for advertisers on our partner site at Marketing Land: YouTube quietly pauses search ads to implement brand safety measures.

Over the coming weeks, YouTube says it will expand the functionality to include a wider set of search queries in multiple languages, and use machine learning to update query terms. There are also plans to expand the Redirect Method tech in Europe.

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Author: Amy Gesenhues

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The impact of intermediaries: How brands can close the gap between themselves and consumers

The very concept of how people buy has fundamentally changed, due to the emergence of digital platforms like search engines, online reviews, social media and e-commerce marketplaces. This new online landscape has led to a rapidly expanding gap between consumers and the brands they shop for.

To better understand this widening disconnect, we first need to examine the core of this shift in shopping: a change in the consumer profile. Mobile-conscious digital natives, particularly millennials and Generation Z shoppers, are becoming the trendsetters and tastemakers in our society.

Not only has Pew Research reported that millennials have surpassed other generations — even baby boomers — in total numbers, but they also spend about $600 billion a year in the US, according to Accenture. “Gen BuY” authors Kit Yarrow and Jayne O’Donnell say millennial, or Generation Y, shoppers spend 25 percent to 40 percent more than the average consumer and will spend $10 trillion in their lifetimes.

Digital platforms reshaping retail

This collective buying power demands that brands and agencies adapt to the shopping preferences of millennials and members of Gen Z or run the risk of being left behind, as digitally savvy consumers are disconnected from brands when they turn to digital platforms. Consumers now say, “I’ll Google it,” or “I’ll buy it on Amazon” when they talk about products, establishing platform loyalty instead of brand loyalty.

There’s no better proof of this than the current conversation going on in the retail world over the impact of Amazon. Much of this conversation focuses on the issue of competition between brick-and-mortar retail stores and the e-commerce giant; take the showdown happening with Walmart now, for example.

The change in how consumers become informed and make purchase decisions is ultimately leaving brands out of the conversation — and out of the minds of the buying population.

Digital platforms offer great sales reach for brands, but such platforms have vested-interest problems. The sites organize and display their results through algorithms, and it’s these very algorithms that represent a double-edged sword for brands. Brands get a powerful avenue to sell products, but at the cost of greatly reducing their unique quality and value when filtered through algorithms. In this system, brands lose the ability to “speak” directly to customers.

Additionally, a brand runs a greater risk of becoming a “face in the crowd” when it becomes one of dozens of online search results, as opposed to one of only a handful of options on physical store shelves. If brands want to perform well on the algorithms that fuel these digital platforms, they’ll have to pay handsomely for it.

Even if a brand has the top spot on e-commerce marketplaces, the core issue remains: The brand does not control the message. The algorithms — and therefore digital platforms — are still controlling what consumers see.

Mobile millennials

Brands that want to control the message must meet consumers where they are: their smartphones. Pew Research says 72 percent of Americans have a smartphone, and that number is only going to increase as more people rely on them every day for more and more tasks, including shopping. And 34 percent of shoppers believe their phone will become their main purchasing tool, according to PWC.

Millennial shoppers, in particular, are looking for interactive ways to shop. When they’re not shopping online and visiting a brick-and-mortar retail store, they’re using their phone to reference reviews, coupons and price comparisons. In fact, 57 percent of millennial shoppers use their phones or mobile devices to price compare while in-store, according to AIMIA.

To reach this increasingly lucrative demographic, brands will need to create personalized digital experiences through the mobile device that shoppers already carry with them.

Bridging the digital gap

For brands grappling with how to utilize the smartphone connection to consumers, several technologies — like in-store Bluetooth, near field communications (NFC) and augmented reality (AR) — offer the promise of bridging the digital gap between brand and consumer.

NFC, in particular, allows brands to do this through technology already found in smartphones, as most mobile devices are already NFC-capable. With a simple tap of their smartphones, consumers can be taken to personalized content created by the brand, such as videos, coupons and product use information.

Shopping moves at the breakneck pace of always-on mobile devices today, and if brands don’t move now to keep up, they’re going to be lost in the widening gulf forming between them and consumers created by intermediary digital platforms. Only the nimblest and most technology-forward firms will avoid the fate of lost brand identity.


Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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Author: Davor Sutija

The post The impact of intermediaries: How brands can close the gap between themselves and consumers appeared first on On Page SEO Checker.



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