Friday, 18 August 2017

4 Mistakes I Learned About Marketing and Data While Working at a Fortune 50 Company

For the past nearly 3 years, I’ve been in charge of Audience Development for one of the largest media companies in the US.

I learned a LOT during that time. Even more important, I learned a lot about what NOT to do.

Not all of these things were personal ‘mistakes’ per se. Some were top down decisions that were influenced by lack of foresight, knowledge or budget. Others were due to an industry that is undergoing rapid change.

As John Powell said, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”

To that end, here are the top 4 mistakes I learned during my tenure. I hope sharing these and their learnings will spark some good discussion – either internally or in the comments below.

1. Not Investing in Building User Data

This one definitely took me by surprise.

When I arrived, I had big plans to leverage CRM data to build remarketing pools, lookalike audiences, email campaigns, etc.

But there was no CRM database.

One thing not often considered about media companies is the fact the consumer data is controlled by the cable provider. The cable company collects the payment and therefore have all the associated consumer data:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • Email
  • Credit Card Info
  • Purchase history
  • Login Username/Password
  • Etc.

In it’s simplest form, the media company simply provides the content the cable provider sells to the consumer. For the longest period of time, the value of collecting this data had been overlooked.

Plan of Action:

To access ‘free’ content within an app from the likes of NBC, CBS, Fox and others, you must go through an authentication process. This is done using the same credentials you would login to pay your cable bill.

In one of these apps, you’ve likely come across a login page that looks like this:

This poses two challenges:

  1. Many consumers don’t know or remember this login. As a result, a lot of potential video consumption is lost.
  2. As mentioned above, this is an interstitial page that drives to the cable provider as they own the username and password information.

In collaboration with the product team, a strategy was developed to implement a ‘free trial’ in exchange for the user’s email address. This would allow the user to forego the authentication requirement.

This was the minimal piece of information required for us to begin building a CRM and the beginning of a customer match marketing program across Google, Facebook and Twitter.

It also provided us with the initial piece of consumer data that we could subsequently build on with supplemental offers in exchange for profile completion.

The overarching lesson here is – invest in CRM. Even if you have to start with just a database of email addresses. Start somewhere.

2. Not Understanding the Nuances of Mobile Tracking

As you might imagine, much of our marketing strategy and budget focused on the mobile space. Interestingly enough, this is also a space where ad-blockers are not working.

That said, with mobile advertising comes tracking nuances that I was initially unaware of.

When I joined the team, we were full-steam into launching the first ever marketing campaign. In our haste to launch, we did not take the time to fully understand the impact of not solidifying our mobile tracking solution.

Our primary mobile advertising consisted of:

Desktop & Mobile Banner and Social Ads:

The standard process for attribution is based on the use of cookies.

When a user visits a website via their desktop or mobile device, your banner displays and a cookie is dropped on the visitor’s computers  – regardless of whether or not they click through to your website.

Depending on the ad-server being used, this cookie can remain active for up to 2 years.

Eventually, if the user performs the desired action, that same cookie fires sending the proper attribution for your campaign. All is well in the world.

Apple’s Safari browser blocks 3rd party cookies by default which makes this ‘standard’ tracking more complicated. Among other things, this means your app cannot read the cookie data stored by Mobile Safari.

This presents a challenge to advertisers as Safari’s market share is around 33% globally.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our brand websites):

I’m sure you’ve noticed when you open a link in an app, it doesn’t open a new browser window. Rather, it opens an “in-app browser”.

This makes perfect sense for UX as it allows you to quickly return to the app.

The issue lies in the cookie drop on your phone. This naturally occurs with the click, however, it only drops a cookie for the in-app browser session. Unless the conversion happens immediately within that session, the attribution is lost.

In-App Advertising (sending users to our apps):

Quite simply, cookies are not used ‘in-app’. This left us with zero attribution or cross-device tracking.

The lack of attention to these details was quickly evident. At the end of the campaign, we were left pointing to engagement metrics like impressions, CTR and social shares as a measure of success.

Not at all what a consumer acquisition campaign should be reporting.

Plan of Action:

The quickest change to a leaky attribution bucket that we could make was to tackle the Safari issue. We simply updated our social and display targeting to remove Safari browsers.

While Google struggles with mobile and socially-driven demographic/interest targeting, Facebook provides the ability to target (or exclude) users by Web browser.

While not foolproof, for the likes of Twitter and Google, we targeted only older operating systems in an effort to capture users who were still using legacy browsers.

Considering our audience was US based, we estimated that we would only be missing out on approximately 15-18% of the overall market.

The other two challenges were a bit more complicated and required a mobile attribution solution that established the match between the user’s advertising ID and the publisher.

While there are many companies available for this, after evaluation, we landed on Kochava as our solution provider.

Pro tip: if you’re on a budget, Branch.io is a completely free solution that provides many of the same features.

3. Focusing on Sexy vs. Efficient

The programmatic display and mobile space is filled with shiny new tools, ad placements, and even ad units.

Combine that with the traditional types of advertising done by media companies (think big billboards, bus sides, etc) and these quickly become distractions from tactics that are proven to work.

I think it’s fair to say we spread our tactics far too wide in the early years in hopes of capitalizing on that sexy new ad-unit or the hot new ad targeting. This was, unfortunately, at the expense of tried and true tactics like traditional paid search.

A smarter approach would have been to test into these tactics rather than build a comprehensive media plan that included them.

Plan of Action:

I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. And Apple in general. One of my favorite quotes from him is:

Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

With more data and proper attribution in place, we were more empowered to direct the media plans across the brands.

We focused on tried and true channels that significantly outperformed the “shiny objects” that had resulted in wasted spend and higher costs for creative development.

This paid off in a big way:

  • Total impressions declined significantly, however, clicks increased just as dramatically
  • Average click costs also declined
  • Cost per app install decreased nearly 200%
  • Cost per video start decreased 230%

Sometimes the ‘simple’ things just work better.

Ultimately, after seeing the data, I took away a few lessons that can be applied to almost any campaign:

Programmatic display isn’t the end all, be all. It’s an industry buzzword. I could even say ‘buzztactic’. It’s rife with click fraud and vendors with non-transparent ‘private networks’. It’s susceptible to ad blockers and comes with many privacy issues.

Don’t get me wrong. It can work.

But, test into programmatic options ONLY after you’ve exhausted the below tactics.

Focus on channels where a consumer is actively searching for you. They’re already self-qualified based on their actions. The most applicable here is paid search across Bing or Google.

Remarket your way to lower cost per acquisitions. You’ve already paid the premium CPC or CPM to get that user to your website. Typically, remarketing campaigns come with much lower costs. Why not re-engage a warm lead for less?

Image Source

#Hashtags are inherently social, but leave them out of social ad copy. Through our trimming of tactics, we also trimmed areas where consumers might be tempted to leave the topic at hand.

In this case, we removed any hashtag mentions in our ad copy so consumers would focus instead on the ‘install’. Our conversion rates improved as a result.

When pushing mobile installs, leverage a device in your creative. When you think about it, of course. It makes sense. But we proved it out via testing. Showing consumers an image of their device in the creative they’re being served improved conversion rates.

4. Not Leveraging an Always on Strategy

Consumers, myself included, are always on. Always plugged in. It’s a bad, addicting habit.

But, that also means running a campaign for a TV show only when that show is in-season leaves opportunity on the table.

There are a few challenges with being able to do this:

First, media companies are selling off the rights to their shows to the likes of Netflix and Hulu. In some cases, the ability to create a show is solely dependent on the revenue coming from these transactions.

This means an always on strategy will never be an option once the rights are sold.

Second, when we first launched our campaigns, we were spending large portions of our budget on fancy creative and higher cost CPMs trying to capture the next big thing.

This left us without budget pacing that would allow for an always on strategy.

Plan of Action:

We tackled the second issue as part of our streamlining of tactics. This enabled our budgets to stretch farther and for longer periods of time both pre-premier and post-finale.

The matter of rights was more complicated and is probably worth a completely separate post. That said, as a test, we decided to focus on a core set of shows where the rights had been retained for several years.

The hope was, if we could show a series with multiple seasons resulted in larger average views per user, we could start to build a case for investing in the rights for the more popular shows.

It worked.

We found not only were the average views per user up, but these campaigns were far outperforming pilot shows and series with limited rights.

This resulted in overall efficiencies for the campaign.

Wrapping Up

There’s no question the digital space can provide lots of opportunity for growth and learning. I have certainly learned a ton.

Hopefully sharing some of these insights will help you better streamline your digital marketing efforts, focus on what works, get your tracking in order and ultimately drive increased performance.

About the Author: Jon Clark is the founder of Fuze SEO, a boutique digital marketing company in New York. He writes regularly on SEO tactics, analytics and social media best practices. You can connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter. When not working or writing, Jon enjoys documenting his travels on Instagram.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/4-mistakes-i-learned-about-marketing/

3 Tips to Successfully Integrate Your Paid and Organic Social Media

When it comes to high growth areas, social media marketing fits the definition in terms of both the percentage of your budget it consumes and in the ROI it generates. But the path isn’t smooth or simple.

All too often, marketing teams are drawn to paid or organic social media strategies based on past successes or failures rather than as part of a comprehensive social strategy. The control of each channel might even rest with separate departments, which sets you on a potentially dangerous path where the messaging isn’t coordinated. Many companies fail to properly integrate their social media marketing strategies.

As investment bankers are often fond of saying, past performance is no guarantee of future success. While a single channel strategy might have worked for you in the past, modern social strategies experience greater social media amplification and ROI benefits because they utilize multiple channels and communication styles. The key to success in your social media marketing is to strike a balance between paid and organic social media efforts.

In this blog, you’ll find three actionable items to help you integrate your paid and organic social strategies successfully.

Know the Purpose Each Channel has for Your Marketing Efforts

Paid social has incredibly powerful targeting options, and it is an amazing tool to have in your lead generation toolbox. However, paid social media alone does not let you maximize the ROI that you can generate from your social media efforts.

On the other hand, organic social media can be an equally powerful tool for reaching your audience and building a community. While not as straightforward as paid social media, organic conversations can lead to deeper engagement and social media amplification with clients and influencers that money can’t buy.

Paid and organic social media both have advantages and drawbacks. Achieving the greatest benefit while minimizing disadvantages requires you to integrate both approaches into a larger, comprehensive social media marketing strategy.

Align Your Messaging

While paid and organic social have different purposes and different advantages, they are still both aspects of social media marketing, and they share the same end goal of growing your business. It is entirely possible that potential clients will encounter both your paid and organic messaging in their customer journey.

Look at social media from the customer’s perspective: While your message may come in the form of an advertisement or in a conversation, your audience is likely to come across varying communications across multiple channels. Your messages should be consistent enough to reflect that they come from a single company.

If your messages conflict, you might undermine your own marketing efforts on one or multiple social media channels. Even if there is no conflict across platforms, failure to align paid and organic social media efforts will waste time, opportunity, and marketing dollars.

Make Your Messages Complement Each Other

Aligning your paid and organic social media efforts is the first step to garnering the maximum advantage from your online efforts. However, the work does not stop there.

Knowing that paid and organic media have their own advantages, you should craft a marketing strategy and messaging for the two methods so that they complement each other. This does not need to be complex—it can be as simple as ma the ching tone and then having complementary messages on paid and organic posts.

This can pay additional dividends, as successful organic posts can be cheaper to promote on social media channels like Facebook because they have been proven to have a higher engagement rate. This makes it easier and more cost effective to achieve the social media amplification you desire.

While paid and organic social media are fundamentally different tools, your prospects should experience each of them as a smooth step in your overall social media marketing funnel.

Integrating your organic and paid social media strategies can help you generate increased social media amplification, fill your marketing funnel, and increase your ROI. Don’t do one or the other. They are both needed for success. I’d love to hear about how you’re integrating organic and paid social media strategies in your own business. Tell me about it in the comments!

The post 3 Tips to Successfully Integrate Your Paid and Organic Social Media appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.



from Marketo Marketing Blog http://blog.marketo.com/2017/08/3-tips-successfully-integrate-paid-organic-social-media.html

8 Writing Tips I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

I wrote my first blog post two summers ago. And I wish I could erase it from the internet. Reading it is like looking at my middle school Facebook pictures -- it’s almost too cringe-inducing.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, though. I had just finished my freshman year of college, and the last paper I wrote was about the Odyssey. I didn’t know what I was doing.

But after completing several content marketing internships and taking classes like business writing, electronic journalism, and creative writing, I’ve learned how to write for an audience. Blogging is almost second nature to me now.

If you're just starting out with blogging and struggling to produce something you're truly proud of, don't get discouraged. You don’t need to enroll in a bunch of writing classes or join a content marketing team to become a good blogger (although it certainly doesn't hurt). You can hone your writing skills online -- and this blog post can be one of your bookmarkable resources.

Listed below are eight essential writing tips I’ve gleaned from all my classes and content marketing experience. Check them out to learn how to engage your audience with clear, concise, and compelling content -- and make me even more embarrassed about the first blog post I ever wrote.

8 Essential Writing Tips for Crafting Clear, Concise, and Compelling Content

1) Trim the fat.

The more unnecessary words your trim from your writing, the easier it is to understand. Concise writing is lean. And readers can zip through it with little effort. To sharpen your writing, follow the four pointers below:

  • Avoid linking verb phrases like “Sam was writing about his van.” “Sam wrote about his van.” sounds more forceful. Linking verbs have a passive effect, which is why they can’t pack much of a punch.
  • Change prepositional phrases like “The decision of the board was final.” to “The board’s decision was final.” Prepositional phrases make sentences longer and harder to follow.
  • When a noun ends in -tion, change the noun to a verb. For example, “They will collaborate to create a new style guide.” sounds cleaner than “They will collaborate in the creation of a new style guide.”
  • Reduce verb phrases like “The results are suggestive to the fact that on-page SEO still works.” to simple verb phrases like “The results suggest that on-page SEO still works.” The latter sounds much smoother.

2) One sentence should only cover one idea.

A clear sentence that’s easy to understand covers one main idea. But sometimes writers focus too much on sounding smart rather than conveying information in a simple way. This can lead to complex sentences that confuse readers.

You must remember your readers don’t care about your writing prowess. They want to quickly understand the solutions to their own problems, and simple sentences can fulfill that need.

Use the Hemingway App to gauge whether your sentences are bold and clear.

3) Sentences don’t live in isolation.

If you want to craft a compelling sentence, you need to account for its surrounding sentences first. Using the same word in consecutive sentences or covering similar ideas in two different sentences is redundant. To create a more stimulating experience for your readers, vary your language and cut repeat information.

Use Power Thesaurus to replace overused words with dynamic synonyms.

4) Vary sentence length and structure.

I saw a graphic called “How to Write” on Twitter about a year ago, and it took my writing skills to the next level. Take a look.

How to Write.jpg

Humans crave variety. And just like how short, medium, and long sentences complement each other, simple and compound sentences complement each other too.

Your writing becomes repetitive and boring when your sentences have the same structure or length. Diverse sentences make your writing pleasant to read.

5) Scrap the cliches.

Would it be cliche to begin this paragraph with a cliche? I thought so. That’s why I didn’t do it. Cliches sap your content’s originality.

People use these phrases so much that they lose their true meaning. Some studies even claim that figures of speech like “hungry as a horse” or buzzwords like “leverage” can’t activate the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for experiencing emotions. They’re too stale to impact you.

A good way to test cliches is by asking yourself if you’ve heard the term before. If so, aim to express your idea in a new, fresh way. You can also nix cliches by filtering your content through a cliche finder tool.

6) Appeal to the senses.

Good fiction writers can make their readers experience the stories they write. By using concrete details that appeal to their reader’s senses, they can paint vivid pictures with only words.

Skeptical? Well, in a 2012 study at Emory University, researchers monitored participants’ brain activity when they read metaphors involving texture. Metaphors like “He had leathery hands,” lit up their sensory cortex, which is responsible for perceiving texture through touch. When they read a similar phrase like “he had strong hands,” their sensory cortex didn’t activate.

“Leathery” is a concrete detail that appeals to touch. And it places readers into the exact scene the writer described. Metaphors and similes also help people visualize things by comparing a concrete picture with an abstract idea.

Business writing definitely differs from creative writing, but you can still harness the power of sensory language in your blog posts. If your readers can see, hear, touch, smell, or taste your ideas, then they’ll be hooked on your content.

Having trouble grasping this concept? Here are some examples:

  • Visual: “You immediately glue your eyes to the skip button's countdown clock and wait … until those lingering seconds finally slug by.” - Can you see how long this ad is?
  • Auditory: “But the 20 pen slips below were so hilarious and shocking that my laughter pierced through all my colleagues' noise-canceling headphones.” - Can you hear his obnoxious laugh?
  • Touch: “Let your well-formatted paragraphs put her attention in a guillotine hold.” - Can you feel how captivated she is?"
  • Smell and taste: “Turn bland writing into zesty sound bites.” - How strong was that quip’s flavor?

7) Let things go.

When you write an elegant paragraph or sentence, your inner author latches onto it. But even if it doesn’t fit within the scope of your content, you still might try to force it in there. You can get too attached to let it go.

Paragraphs or sentences that don’t deepen your readers’ understanding of the topic, provide new information, or spark interest in the next section are just fluff. And all fluff does is muddle your writing.

Instead of building around fluff, strip it away and start something new from scratch. Abandoning beautiful writing is always hard, but if it doesn’t provide value to your readers, let it go.

8) Take a break.

Have you ever reread your final draft so much that you can’t determine whether it’s Neil Patel good or high school essay bad? You can even convince yourself that a lousy draft looks great if you’ve worked on it for long enough.

Before you submit your final draft, it’s crucial to walk away from it. Forgetting about your work will help you develop fresh editing eyes that can discover overlooked errors and new creative opportunities.

Eddie Shleyner, copywriter and content marketer at Workforce Software, follows "The Rule of 12" when he edits his blog posts. After writing his final draft, he walks away for 12 hours. Then he makes his final round of edits, where he always finds a mistake or a better way to polish his copy.

What writing tips do you find useful? Let us know on Twitter!

free guide to writing well



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/8-essential-writing-tips

10 Ways to Distribute One Piece of Content (Besides Social Shares)

Long gone are the days of the old publish-and-pray method of content distribution. And even if it ever did work -- it was far from effective.

Today, planning the actual distribution of the content you've spent so many hours and resources expertly creating is just as critical to your marketing strategy as the quality of the content itself.

Unfortunately -- for audiences and marketers alike -- too many would-be content marketing rockstars give themselves a nice pat on the back for sharing content on Twitter and Facebook and calling it a day. So before you toast to your status as a progressive marketer who also publishes on LinkedIn and posts on Reddit, consider this: There are dozens, if not hundreds, of methods for content distribution beyond social that you might be overlooking.

But we’re not about to leave you empty-handed. Below you’ll find 10 creative ways to distribute your content -- with a little bit of background to set the stage.

The Content Distribution Strategy Experiment

A few months ago, my team -- the marketing department at Influence & Co. -- sat down for a meeting to accomplish one mission: to come up with more than 50 ways to distribute one piece of content, which was our latest industry research report, "The State of Digital Media."

We spent a lot of time surveying editors. We analyzed millions of pieces of published content and pored over the results, before we created, designed, and edited this report. We knew our findings were valuable to our audience, so the last thing we wanted to do was publish this report, share it on Twitter a few times, and let it collect dust.

So we gave ourselves one hour, four cups of coffee, and a huge whiteboard -- and got to work brainstorming creative ways to distribute this content.

First, we divided our distribution tactics into different categories, based on the departments they benefited, the goals they achieved, and the extra resources they required. For example, the tactics that leveraged our publication relationships would fall under marketing and sales enablement categories. Those with a more educational perspective, on the other hand, were a better fit for HR, because they complemented that department’s recruiting and training efforts.

With a whiteboard full of over 50 ideas, we began executing our new distribution strategy -- and just four months after the launch of the report, we already saw impressive results. When we compared that to the performance of a whitepaper we previously published, we found that this experiment resulted in a nearly 150% increase in page views, and a nearly 40% increase in submissions.

To help you get more creative — and effective — in your content distribution, here are 10 unique ways to distribute content, broken down by department.

10 Ways to Distribute Content Beyond Social Shares

Marketing

As marketers, many of us frequently think about content distribution tactics that fit within -- and give a boost to -- our marketing goals. Among them are the obvious and necessary tactics like social sharing, but there are others that can help you achieve greater brand awareness, influencer relationships, industry leadership, audience engagement, and more.

1) Personalized emails

Segment your email list down to the exact audience that would benefit most from your piece of content. Write a custom email to each of these audience members to add a level of personalization to your message. Explain what the content is, and why you think he or she will enjoy it. Personalized emails have shown a 6.2% higher open rate than those that aren’t.

2) Guest posting

Write an article that discusses -- in a non-promotional way -- the key findings or points within your content, and send it to the editor of an online publication that reaches your target audience. But be strategic about it. Make sure the publication not only helps you achieve your own reach goals, but also, has something to gain by sharing your insights, from your particular brand.

3) Influencer outreach

Reach out to relevant influencers in your industry for quotes to include in your content, and send them the piece once it's published for them to share with their networks. Remember, personalization plays a role here, too -- being able to personalize and segment emails is one of the most effective tactics for about 50% of marketing influencers.

Sales Enablement

The Influence & Co. sales team uses content just about as much as -- if not more than -- our marketing department. Our reps use it at every stage of the buyer’s journey to educate, nurture, and engage leads, and overcome objections with prospective clients. Use one of these distribution methods to do the same for your team.

4) Follow-up emails

Encourage your sales team to include a link to your content in their follow-up emails to prospective clients, to answer their questions and position your company as a resource they can trust. Note: This tactic works best when the content you create is educational and addresses specific questions or concerns your leads have -- and is actionable enough for them to immediately apply it to their own plans or strategies.

5) Lead interviews

Work with your sales reps to identify prospective clients you can interview for your content. Include a quote in your content, and share it with them once it's published. Not only can that keep your leads engaged over time, but they'll appreciate the opportunity to be featured -- and you benefit from the additional exposure to their networks when the content is shared with that audience.

6) Proposal references

The best proposals are often supported with relevant data that corroborates the solutions you’re suggesting to a prospect. And while we suggest citing a variety of authentic, reliable sources -- otherwise, you might look biased -- referencing your own research content can be effective. Not only is it another way to distribute your work, but also, it illustrates the time and thought your company has invested in this school of thought.

That said, some prospective clients like proposals to be brief. In these cases, if you preemptively anticipate additional questions, you can amend your proposal with a link to the content as a source of further reading and information.

Client Retention

Marketers who overlook their current customers in favor of prospective ones risk missing out on a major opportunity. Keeping in touch with your current clients and helping your customer service teams do the same can have a positive impact on both the customer lifetime and the potential for referrals -- so don't forget these internal distribution methods.

7) Client drip campaigns

If your content is related to your clients’ respective industries, or products and services, sharing it with them can enhance your collaborations and further nurture that relationship. Remember, it’s called client retention for a reason -- you want to continue being a valued resource and partner for your existing customers. Consider creating something like an email campaign that uses your content, to continually educate and engage your clients.

8) Email signatures

Encourage your customer service reps or account management teams to feature your content in their email signatures. That can help to keep those cornerstone pieces of content top of mind for both current and prospective clients each time they receive an email from someone on your team.

Recruitment

People want to work with trustworthy companies that are true leaders within their industries. Content can communicate expertise and build trust. In fact, we used content to hire more than 30 people in one year.

But for many teams, unfortunately, content is often most underutilized in the areas of employer branding and recruitment marketing. Take advantage of content in HR with these tactics.

9) Content-rich job listings

Include your content in job postings. HubSpot, for example, links to its Culture Code at the end of every job description. By providing educational content up front, applicants can gain a more comprehensive understanding of your industry and how your company approaches it -- directly from you.

10) Interview materials

When a job candidate progresses to the next step in the hiring process, share your content with her prior to the following interview, and ask her to come prepared to discuss it. That helps to get your content in front of qualified people in your industry -- plus, it gives you the chance to talk in-depth about the concepts and ideas behind your marketing strategy. Even better: It can help you weed out candidates who don't follow directions.

Whatever tactics your team uses, the most important thing to remember is that content distribution shouldn't be an afterthought. With the right distribution strategy in place from the beginning, your team can more effectively put your content to work for you, reach more of the right audiences, and drive results for your company.



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/content-distribution-ideas

Thursday, 17 August 2017

What Personalized Search Results Mean for SEO

Google first introduced personalized search results in 2005 for signed in users with Google accounts. In 2009, personalized search was expanded to all users. However, new research on consumer sentiment on Google shows that 43.5% of respondents do not realize that their search results are personalized.

In this blog, I’ll cover the key factors you need to succeed with personalized SEO results as well as the best way to optimize.

Personalization Factors

In reality, it has been almost ten years since all search results were the same for everyone. There are a number of factors that influence a user’s search engine results page (SERP).

  • Country: Location is a major factor. Users from different countries will see different results for the same search terms. One example often given here is that if a user searches for “football” in the U.K., they will be shown results that relate to what the United States refers to as soccer and the English Premier League. If a person in the United States searches for “football”, they will be presented with results that relate to American Football and the NFL.
  • Locality: Google goes much deeper than simply country level. Results are tailored to the user’s location right down to local city level. Most people will be familiar with searches like “best pizza near me” making it somewhat surprising that our recent research showed nearly half of respondents were unaware that Google personalizes their search results.
  • Web History: The goal of Google’s personalized search results is to provide users with the most relevant and useful information possible. By factoring previous searches and viewing history into account, Google can present users with results from their preferred sites which they are most likely to visit.
  • Device: People who use Google to search on their mobile device will see different results than the same search on desktop. Google uses a different algorithm for mobile ranking with increased focus on user location.

Keyword Tracking

One way personalization has changed SEO is that it makes keyword rank tracking more difficult. Personalized search results mean that tracking where your site ranks for keyword search terms is not always crystal clear. Depending on the personalizing factors we have outlined above, users will see different results for the same search terms. That means you can never really get a 100% accurate representation of your keyword ranking.

Rank tracking your non-personalized search can help you establish a baseline, and this data can help you see how changes on your site have impacted your ranking. However, it is not advisable to spend too much time obsessing over keyword rankings. Your site traffic is a much more important data point than your keyword rankings.

How to Optimize for Personalized Search Results

The fact that 43.5% of respondents to our survey didn’t realize their search results were personalized leads us to believe that many businesses are not optimizing their sites for personalized searches. There are some steps companies can take to give them the best chance of ranking today.

  • Think Local: Make Google’s location settings work in your favor. Take care as you compose your meta descriptions and title tags. If you get onto page one of Google, you have one chance to impress so make it count by using your allotted characters wisely. If you want to dominate the local market, it is a best practice to put the name of your locality into your meta descriptions and/or title tags. You should also make sure that the most up to date and accurate business details are added to all online directories like Yelp and, most importantly, Google My Business (GMB). Claiming your GMB page is easy, but the business owner must claim it. Simply log on and verify your business. Remember to make sure your details are added to all online directories and not just the major players like GMB and Yelp. Bing Places for Business and others are low hanging fruit that can really help your site’s performance in local search rankings.
  • Focus on Long-Tail Keywords: It is estimated that up to 80% of searches are long-tail keywords. The reason that SMBs should focus on long-tail keywords is that competition is lower so they are easier to rank for and user intent is much more targeted. By working out the long-tail keywords that can drive conversions and revenue, you can start to see real ROI from your SEO efforts.
  • Mobile Optimize: It goes without saying that you need to optimize your site for mobile visitors in 2017 and learn to thrive in Google’s mobile search index. Having a low click through rate can harm your ranking. If you manage to get onto page one, you don’t want to undo all your good work with a site that does not meet user expectation on mobile.

How have you used personalization to appeal to your target audience? What do you plan on adding to your SEO to improve your personalization? Tell me about it in the comments!

The post What Personalized Search Results Mean for SEO appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog - Best Practices and Thought Leadership.



from Marketo Marketing Blog http://blog.marketo.com/2017/08/personalized-search-results-mean-seo.html

9 Testimonial Page Examples You'll Want to Copy in 2017

When potential customers are researching you online, they're getting to know you by way of the content of your website. Understandably, many of them might be skeptical or hesitant to trust you right away.

To prove the value of what you have to offer, why not let your happy customers do the talking?

Your testimonial page serves as a platform to show off how others have benefited from your product or service, making it a powerful tool for establishing trust and encouraging potential buyers to take action. Plus, having a testimonial page serves as yet another indexed page on your website containing content covering product features, pain points, and keywords you're trying to rank for.

Read on for a closer look at what makes a great testimonial.

What Is a Testimonial?

First, let's have a little vocabulary lesson. Google's dictionary definition of testimonial is "a formal statement testifying to someone's character and qualifications." In the realm of marketing, that usually comes from clients, colleagues, or peers who have benefitted from or experienced success as a result of the work you did for them.

But effective testimonials go beyond a simple quote that proclaims your greatness. They need to resonate with your targeted audience, and the people who could also potentially benefit from the work you do in the future. That's why great testimonials also tell a story -- one that inspires and motivates the people reading it.

What does that look like in practice? Check out the examples below to find your own inspiration, to help you start building a great testimonial page today.

9 Examples of Awesome Testimonial Pages

1) Codecademy

Codecademy has nailed down the testimonials section of their website, which they call "Codecademy Stories." They've even included a few customer quotes (along with pictures, names, and locations) right on their homepage above a link to the testimonial page.

We love the approachable format and the fact that they chose to feature customers that users can really relate to. When you click into any story, you can read the whole case study in a Q&A format. 


2) BlueBeam

Many companies struggle to grab people's attention using their testimonial pages, but BlueBeam does a great job of catching your eye as soon as you arrive on the page. While it's technically called a Case Studies page, the first thing you see is a set of project examples in the form of large, bold images that rotate on a carousel. Scroll down and you can also click on video case studies, as well as view customer panels.

3) ChowNow

ChowNow does a lot right on its testimonial page, but the bread and butter is its collection of production-quality "client stories" videos. There's a handful of these awesome, 2–3-minute videos that cover everything from the clients' life before and after ChowNow, to how easy the platform is to use. The videos feature some great footage of the clients, their offices, and their food.

4) Decadent Cakes

There are times when you're leaving an online review and, for whatever reason, just don't want to include photos with it -- like when it's for something kind of personal, like your son's birthday party.

Decadent Cakes knew that and wanted to respect its customers' privacy, while also highlighting their positive feedback. To solve for that, the bakery showcases its customer testimonials on a whimsically designed webpage along with names, locations, and sometimes pictures of the cakes made for those people. We love that that customers are referred to as "friends," too.

decadent-cakes-testimonials-page.png

5) mHelpDesk

Visit mHelpDesk's testimonial page, and the first thing you'll see is powerful header text set over a large, faded graphic showing where in the world its customers are located -- a great way to show it's a global brand. Below the header text and call-to-action for a trial, they offer videos and text testimonials equipped with pictures.

The testimonial videos aren't production quality, but they get the message across and cover useful and relevant information -- which goes to show you don't need to invest thousands in production to get some testimonial videos up. Finally, in the theme of earning trust, we love that mHelpDesk closes out its testimonial page with awards and badges of recognition.

6) Clear Slide

One of the first things we noticed about Clear Slide's testimonial page is how creatively it's named -- "What They're Saying." It includes a smattering of quotes from customers, topped with client logos from big names like The Economist and Starwood. If you have users that are celebrities or influencers within their community, be sure to include and even highlight their testimonials on your page.

7) FreeAgent

The folks at FreeAgent did a great job formatting its testimonial page with emphasized text quotations along with pictures, names, and companies to add credibility. But what we really love about it is the "Twitter love" banner on the right-hand side of the page.

Social media is a great source of real-time proof of customer satisfaction -- after all, that's why it's called "social proof" -- and many customers turn to places like Twitter and Facebook to informally review businesses they buy from. Be sure to monitor your social media presence regularly to find tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram posts, and so on that positively reflect your brand, and see where you can embed them on your website.

8) Focus Lab

Focus Lab took a unique and very cool-looking design approach to its testimonial page -- which is fitting, seeing as its trade is in creating visual branding systems. Again, it's technically a visual catalog of both previous projects and works-in-progress, but instead of just listing out client quotes, the page opts for a card-like design with interactive, rectangular elements you can click on to see the full case study -- with quotes occasionally appearing in-between.

What's even cooler is what's included in each individual case study. Not only does FocusLab cover the challenges faced by clients and how FocusLab helped solve them, but the case studies also include some of the steps in the design process between conception and final product. In some instances, they included the evolution of the logo during the design process.

Finally, we love the aforementioned view of works in progress section below the case studies. These cards aren't clickable, but they give viewers a glimpse into the firm's current projects.

9) 99designs

99designs takes a bit of an unconventional approach to its testimonial page. Using a star-rating system not usually seen in the B2B sector (read: Yelp and TripAdvisor), the page is headlined with an eye-catching video, with customer reviews below it. Plus, it gives users the ability to sort through customer reviews by category so they can read the ones most relevant to them.

Spread the Love

Once you've created a testimonial page, don't forget to promote it. Send it to the customer(s) you featured, your sales staff, and even to your other customers if you think they'd be interested. And don't forget to add a link to your testimonial page on your homepage, in your "About Us" page, or as part of your overall navigation.



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/testimonial-page-examples

How to Automate Your Client KPI Reporting Process: The 11 Step Guide

Picture this: it’s the end of the month, and some poor soul at your agency needs to put together the monthly marketing report for each client.

He or she embarks on this mind-numbing journey by logging into every digital marketing service you use, copying the key data points, and entering them into your clunky marketing KPI spreadsheet.

For other metrics that are too complicated to duplicate in a spreadsheet, they cut and paste graphs from different software into powerpoint, and try to craft a cohesive story even though each graph's format is different. Finally, it gets pdf’d and sent over to the account manager who forwards it along to the client or presents it live.

What a pain in the keister.

But your client needs to know what you're doing with their money. All those grueling hours are necessary ... right?

Most agencies see this type of manual reporting as a necessity, but, unforunately, the process is usually a negative experience for everyone involved:

  • The account manager probably spent 4-5 hours creating the client's presentation.
  • As a result, your agency wasted hundreds of dollars making a report that's hard to analyze.
  • The client has a hard time understanding how your services contributed to their business.

As you can see, a monthly metrics spreadsheet and powerpoint presentation is more hassle than it’s worth. It's not a viable solution.

You need to stop the madness!

If you’re still cutting and pasting data and graphs into spreadsheets and presentation decks, there's a better way. It's called client KPI reporting automation.

To step up your analytics and reporting game, you need to automate the busy work. Leveraging a process that can gather data for you will allow more time for analysis and less time on data collection.

Fortunately, there are now a number of automated reporting tools in the market. And regardless of the one you choose and the digital services you provide, your rollout strategy will still be similar.

Read on to learn the 11 steps for automating your client's KPI reporting.

Step 1) Identify your clients' most important marketing tools.

Make a list of digital marketing services across all client accounts. Then, decide which services and software hold the most crucial data for your agency’s and clients’ success.

For example, if you offer inbound marketing services, you'll probably need to track data from HubSpot Marketing, HubSpot CRM, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, and Adwords.

Since most agencies use a wide variety of tools, you probably won't find an automated reporting software that pulls data from all your services in every single clients’ marketing stack. But you should be able to find one that covers about 80% of their tools.

Marketing Stack.png

Step 2) Choose a client reporting tool that integrates deeply with your key services.

After talking to hundreds of digital agencies about reporting tools, we’ve found there’s no perfect solution. The biggest issues? Being able to report the key metrics your clients need.

With the boom in marketing and sales software, no single dashboard can pull all the data from every known system. But you should look for a tool that allows you to pull a variety of metrics from the services you use.

For example, if you use HubSpot, there’s a big difference between a reporting tool that pulls 145+ metrics from HubSpot versus one that pulls just 11.

You need to be really careful here.

If a business intelligence software vendor doesn't offer a full-feature trial that showcases its reporting capabilities, stay away.

A free trial can also help you gauge the software's user experience. Some of these tools can be really hard to setup and use.

There are even tools that require developers, data analysts, and marketing wizards for it to work. That'd be a tall order for anyone to fill, especially if you work at a small agency.

Here’s a list of important criteria to look for in a reporting automation tool:

  • Do they automatically import data from your marketing software or do you have to figure out how to upload your data?
  • Do they offer standard reporting templates for the tools you use?
  • How easily can you build custom reports?
  • How often do they refresh the data? Hourly? Daily?
  • Do they offer special pricing for agencies?
  • Can you brand the reports with your or your clients’ colors and logos? Can you change the domain name where your reports will be hosted?
  • Do you need the tool to spit out a monthly report or offer real-time reporting, or both?
  • Can you add your interpretations and recommendations next to the data?
  • Do you want to view the data on your desktop, a TV in your offices, and your mobile phone? How will your clients prefer to view the data?
  • Can you create separate accounts for each client?
  • How long does it take to fully set up a new client account?

I also recommend using B2B software review sites like AlternativeTo, Capterra, and G2 Crowd to add on to your list of criteria.

Step 3) Make sure you and your client agree upon the most important KPIs.

If you haven't had an in-depth conversation with your clients on the KPIs that drive their business, now is the time. You do not want to build out a series of reports that get ignored.

We recommend starting with their revenue goals and working backwards.

This conversation should be an interview with the client. Start it by saying, “We’re revamping our reporting processes to be more focused on what’s really important.” This is a good time to show that you’re putting in the extra effort to drive their business forward.

And by pursuing top-line revenue goals first, your clients will always look forward to seeing your reporting results.

Step 4) Make sure your reporting tool pulls the metrics you need.

This can’t be stressed enough.

Imagine you want to increase your client's leads from organic traffic. Think about all the metrics you need to track to support this goal. That list might include metrics from a Google Analytics segment for organic traffic, combined with contacts generated from search, which is measured by a smart list or a lifecycle stage from HubSpot.

To really show your client progress, you should also report search data from MOZ, SEMRush, or Google Search Console.

Now, think about if your chosen reporting tool can pull all these metrics?

Your client may not be an expert in digital marketing terminology, so it depends on you to determine the metrics you pull.

You should list out all the client’s KPIs, and form a hypothesis around the specific metrics you need from each service. This does not need to be presented to the client, but it will help you create a set of reporting templates that you can reuse with different clients.

AutomateClientReportingIntegrations.png

Step 5) Create standardized reports you can use for multiple clients.

Be careful of creating customized reports for each of your clients. Creating templates that are reusable across a group of clients is a lot more efficient. You only have to build one and then you can reuse it as many times as you want.

Every time you create a new template, ask yourself, “What other clients could benefit from looking at their data this way?”

You can keep this process simple by grouping your clients based on their reporting needs and serving a customized template to each group.

Usually, agencies show their clients top-of-the-funnel results first, then drill down further. If your client just needs reporting, though, stick to a high-level overview. If they need a deeper dive, go more in-depth.

AutomateClientReportingGroups.png

Step 6) Design metric-specific visualizations for each dashboard.

Most reporting tools offer a selection of data visualizations like a number block, a line chart, a gauge chart, or a table. It's crucial to choose the best way to visualize your data.

For example, marketers should use a funnel or pipeline visualization to analyze a marketing and sales funnel.

You should also think about how to categorize specific data. For example, you might want to group a line chart of keywords Google's Top 3 from SEMrush, organic search traffic from Google Analytics, and leads from search from HubSpot onto one dashboard.

Or you could display follower and comment counts from different social services like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Youtube in another dashboard.

This is the beauty of reporting tools: you can batch data from multiple services and compare them to each other. However, as an agency it's your job, to formulate your reports in a clear way. Be careful not to overload your client with complex metrics.

With automated reporting, weekly, monthly, and annual numbers are always available and you’ll be able to introduce all kinds of metrics that might confuse your clients.

Remember, if the client can’t understand your data, you must present it in a simpler way.

Step 7) Roll out your reports internally.

Before you roll out your marketing reports to clients, show them to your account managers and service team. Some agencies make their account managers build reports. However, we’ve found agencies are much more successful when one of their team members builds out reports and then sends them to the account managers for review.

Even though you should standardize your reports as much as possible, each client report requires some customization. Your account managers will most likely know what your client wants to see, so letting them approve the reports is crucial.

Step 8) Position automated reporting as a benefit for your clients.

Automated reporting saves you time, which might be the primary reason why you're implementing it. Your clients also benefit from your ability to reallocate saved time towards analyzing and improving their numbers.

You shouldn't position its value proposition this way, though. Position it in a way that will help them understand how automate reporting directly benefits their business, rather than describing how benefiting yourself will benefit them too.

A way you can do this is by positioning to clients as “real time reporting. Why is this effective? Being able to instantly access their campaign's performance data is a benefit to them. And by transitioning to real-time reporting, they can:

  • Monitor their results more closely.
  • Ensure you’re achieving daily progress towards goals.
  • Adapt your plan more frequently based on what’s working.
  • Catch any issues (like getting zero clicks from a PPC campaign you just set up) before they affect the sales funnel.

For more advanced clients who have larger traffic and lead volume, you can also position your new reporting process as a launching pad for more in-depth analysis of their marketing and sales funnels.

Since you can analyze new data more consistently, you can teach all your employees (and clients) how to identify new opportunities for improvement from the data you already have or by using new tools.

If you’re going to position it this way, make sure you can follow through on your promise. Consider proactively rolling out a new report to every client each month -- like a “report of the month” update.

Lastly, you can position your new reporting system as a better way to visualize data. Often times, agencies use a mix of KPI spreadsheets and cut-and-paste graphs from multiple tools, so each graph has its own color scheme, x and y-axis, terminology, and formatting.

Scanning a deck with 30 unique graphs is cognitively draining for your client. Consistent visualization makes it easy for your clients to understand and draw conclusions from your reports.

By using a centralized tool to view all your data, you can also synchronize data from different services to different time periods, as you can see below.

Dashboard-2.png

Step 9) Determine a plan to regularly share results.

Your reporting strategy should aim to update your clients, not overwhelm them with every little thing that happens over the month.

If your client is pretty new to online marketing and doesn't have a lot of marketing assets, anything more than a monthly review would inundate them. But if your clients have a large amount of traffic, leads, or ad budget, a daily review might be the right call.

Most tools allow you to set up different reporting timeframes:

  • Real-time or Daily: In addition to reviewing your data on your desktop or wall-mounted TVs, if your reporting tool has a mobile app, email or Slack notifications, you can send automated updates more frequently to internal team members and/or clients.
  • Weekly: Weekly updates can also be mobile or email-based. Use this to make sure you’re not falling too far behind any monthly goals you’ve set.
  • Monthly: This is your full monthly report. Use it for analysis, making recommendations, and interpreting your data.
  • Quarterly: Use this report to propose new, big initiatives. Recap the progress from the last 3 months (or longer) and show your client how you can deliver even more value if they invest more in your agency.

Step 10) Figure out which devices each client uses to view their reports.

Some of your clients will be more excited about automated reporting than others. If they’re very data-driven, you can display their reports on an office TV. Or, you can allow clients to view reports on their smartphones. This allows them to constantly monitor their data wherever they go.

We actually know of one agency who purchases a TV for their clients and actually hangs it up on their CEO's wall.

Other clients might want you to do all the analysis and prefer only monthly updates. In that case, just send them a URL to their report, tell them to bookmark it, and continue your monthly meeting cadence.

Step 11) Set concrete goals with your clients.

We’ve spoken with many agencies that set goals in the sales process but don't revisit them with the client until contract renewal time.

As a result, month six rolls around and neither the client nor the agency remembers what goal they set or why they set it. Don't risk losing a client because you either found out you never actually hit the goal or the original goal became unimportant to them.

Set goals inside your visualization tool, so that it plots your current performance against your goals.

By entering your goals into your reporting software, it becomes significantly easier to review your progress during monthly meetings and adapt the goal or monthly plan with clear agreement between you and your client.

Goals superimposed over performance data provides a monthly reference point. If you’re consistently hitting goals, you’re much more likely to upsell clients on new services or more of your current work. But, if your outstanding overachievement isn’t clear and obvious, it’s a lot harder to retain business.

You can also use goals to hold your client's sales team accountable too. You could be generating a ton of demand for your client, but without concrete goals, a dip in sales will likely get you the axe first and not their sales team.

Closing Thoughts

With the crap-work eliminated, your agency can spend more time combing through your client’s data for growth opportunities, impress them with careful analysis and data-driven recommendations, and become the trusted partners you aim to be.

Ultimately, automated reporting will help your agency retain clients, upsell them, and boost employee satisfaction.



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/how-to-automate-your-client-kpi-reporting-process-the-11-step-guide

How to Make Your Google AdWords Ads More Impactful Without Spending More

A simple question: would you rather have a bigger AdWords ad or a smaller AdWords ad for the same cost?

Of course the answer is obvious -- when it comes to advertising bigger is always better. So how can you go about making your Google AdWords ads bigger for the same (or maybe even a lower) cost?

This is where ad extensions come in. In this article, we’ll review why these extensions are important, and how you can start incorporating them into your Google AdWords strategy.

What is a Google AdWords Ad Extension?

A Google AdWords ad extension is piece of additional content that expands your ads with additional information. There are many different types of extensions and they each offer different relevant information for potential customers to choose your business.

While most extensions require a little bit of setup, the additional work is worth it because in general you will see an improvement in the ads' performance with respect to clicks, cost per click (CPC), page position, and ad rank.

Why You Should Use Ad Extensions

Ad extensions expand your existing ads by offering the reader more ways to interact with your company. They are appended to your ad and can offer additional pages on your site where the reader can find more or different information. They can highlight additional benefits to working with your company, e.g.: Free Shipping, 90 day return policy, Sale now in process. They can provide a phone number to call or a location site to visit. They can even point directly to a place to download your app.

In addition, using extensions can increase the click-through rate of your ads and even your conversion rate.

And using extensions will usually raise the ad rank of your ad which can result in a higher position on the page and a lower cost per click and higher likelihood of your ad being shown. As Google says "ad extensions typically improve click-through rate and overall campaign performance because they make ads more useful."

What kinds of ad extensions are available?

There are many types of extensions available to you in Google AdWords:

  • Sitelink extensions
  • Call extensions
  • Location extensions
  • Callout extensions
  • Message extensions
  • Structured snippet extensions
  • Price extensions
  • Review extensions
  • App extensions

To help you find the best type for your company's ad strategy, we'll explore a few of the most useful extensions below. 

Callout Extensions

To make your ads larger and provide useful information to your potential customers, consider the simple but powerful callout extension. Callout extensions add an additional line of text to your ad directly beneath the headline:

 

The text in a callout is limited to 25 characters, so you should try to keep the text short, specific, and compelling. You can set up callout extensions at the account, campaign, or ad group level. And you can schedule when you want the specific callouts to appear. You need to create at least two callouts for any of them to show up -- so try to create at least four callouts. 

 

Sitelink Extensions

Sitelinks allow you to direct users to additional pages on your site, beyond just the page they would land on by clicking on the ad itself. You can provide up to six additional links that direct people to relevant information about your company -- such as details about a new product, your business hours, a video, a webinar, or even an offer.

The links appear under your ad headline, and can be accompanied by an added description -- which I would highly recommend. Why is an added description better? Size truly matters! Each description you add makes your ad that much bigger for the same cost.

nike ad w sitelinks.png

Each link you include can be accompanied by an 80 character description, as seen in the above screenshot. In this description you can include keywords and micro-copy to encourage clicks -- but more importantly, your ad becomes bigger and more relevant!

 

Call Extensions

Regardless of the size of your business -- big or small -- you likely want to encourage people to call your business to ask questions, get more info, place orders, and just to make yourself available to solve their problems -- after all, that’s why you're in business!

A call extension will encourage people to call your company by adding a phone number or call button to your ads. The phone number can be assigned by Google and is separately trackable. 

 

Location Extensions

Location extensions are a great move for businesses focusing their targeting efforts in a particular area. If your business is looking to attract local attention, consider using this type of extension in your next campaign to highlight your convenient proximity to potential customers. 

Need additional help with extensions? Schedule a free session with me or one of my colleagues at HubSpot’s Center for Inbound Advertising.

Businesses with multiple locations can even use location extensions to display the location nearest to the user, as seen in the Starbucks ad above.

 

Ad Extension Best Practices

Adding extensions to your ads will make them more targeted, relevant, and clickable -- not to mention, much more noticable at the top of the search results page. 

The good news is that these extensions are free to add. Yes, you will pay the same price per click that you would pay if someone just clicked on your ad -- but think about it -- you are communicating much more information about your business for no increease in price.

Google will only show the extensions if Google believes that they will improve your ads performance, so be sure to keep the information hyper-relevant to potential customers.

Don't stuff in information just for the sake of making your ads bigger -- make sure the information actually improves the search experiece and helps customers pick your business.

Extensions can be created at any level of your AdWords account -- they can be shown at the account level, campaign level, or at the ad group level.

Keep Conversions In Mind

Remember to create specific landing pages for each of the site links that you create. That way, instead of just passing customers to an ordinary page on your website, you can send them to a targeted page where they can easily become a lead. 

HubSpot Marketing Free



from Marketing https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-adwords-ad-extensions

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Conversion Rate Conundrum: Common Mistakes and What to Do Instead

In real estate, the axiom is location, location, location. It’s first and foremost. The number one consideration.

For your digital efforts – email, web pages, eCommerce platforms – an argument could be made for a few different ones: search engine optimization (SEO), the user experience (UX), conversion rate optimization (CRO), or perhaps something else entirely.

Ask five experts and you’ll probably end up with five different answers. But what’s really the end goal? Why are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?

Conversion, conversion, conversion.

Whether that means signing up, downloading, opting in, subscribing, or purchasing, you want your target to do something. Ultimately, everything else should be assisting that one objective.

With apologies to Meghan Trainor, I’m going to suggest it’s all about that CRO. SEO is obviously necessary, but traffic alone is meaningless. And the UX? A happy and satisfied user is imperative, but try paying your rent with one.

So, at the risk of drawing the wrath of the SEO and UX camps, they both fall under the CRO umbrella (they’re all very, very important, though). But – and this is a big but – it’s a massive mistake to believe that SEO and/or UX alone will do much for your CVR.

Start with the end in mind. You need to focus on specific ways to improve your conversion rate.

CRO: An Uphill Battle

Consider this: a couple of years ago, 80% left a site without doing anything. No conversion. That figure is up to 96% in 2017. The global average CVR of online shoppers early this year was 2.48%. Those stats are a bit scary.

The good news? With numbers like that, things can only get better. It just takes time, effort, and a systematic, active approach.

But don’t fall victim to these traps, pitfalls, and mistakes.

Your Mistake: Focusing On the Wrong Things

Quick question: would you rather have something beautiful, or something functional? Would you rather be clever, or understood?

I’ll be blunt…beautiful things are nice, but functional things are essential. And that goes double for your email marketing, website, eCommerce portal, or app.

And clever? Don’t get me started. Clever headlines and subject lines don’t mean a thing if no one clicks or opens them. Consumers want to know what it’s about immediately. They don’t want to have to guess or click or open before finding out (and most won’t anyway).

Be functional. Be clear. Full stop.

Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a good looking website. Nor should your headline be boring and the first dull thing that pops into your head. Quite the contrary. But if you’re putting beauty over function and cleverness over clarity, you’re doing it wrong.

A breathtaking site that’s confusing and awkward to navigate but bursting with clever puns, wordplay, and double entendres may win you fans, but few or no conversions. Which do you want?

Do this instead…

Put your customers first. Consider their wants and needs. Use every available data source – analytics (Kissmetrics goes much deeper than Google…just sayin’), industry studies, surveys, polls, etc. – to identify and create detailed buyer personas. Then, create a site for them.

But don’t stop there. Once you have it where you think it should be, have others take it out for a spin. Try an impartial and third-party service like UserTesting to get invaluable video of real people using your site. Where did it fail them? Take that insight and tweak.

Next, turn to the old standby: A/B testing. You’d be surprised by the big results you can get from tiny changes. Use a testing tool like Optimizely or Visual Website Optimizer to confirm your theories about colors, placement, copy, design, images, and more.

One site saw a conversion lift of 304% simply by moving the CTA button from above-the-fold to below it.

Don’t make it look pretty. Make it practical.

Having said that, a cheap, outdated design with grainy stock photos isn’t going to cut it, either. People won’t trust it – or you – and if they don’t believe you’re trustworthy, they won’t convert. Keep your design clean and modern, and use high quality images of your products and people.

Finally, always opt for clear – Get Your Free Trial – over clever – Click or I Kill This Puppy.

Your Mistake: You’re Targeting Just One Platform

Desktop. Tablet. Mobile. Which one is most important?

It’s a trick question. You’ve no doubt heard a lot about the increasing role of mobile devices when it comes to the online world. Chances are virtually everyone around you is staring at their smartphone screen.

Google announced a change to its algorithm in mid-2015 that made mobile-readiness a ranking factor. Since then, more people access the internet on a mobile device than a desktop computer.

Like any good webmaster, you’ve dutifully checked the mobile-friendly tool and made sure your pages passed the mobile test. Kudos.

But the desktop is not dead. Far from it.

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More people shop weekly online using their desktop than a mobile phone, and the same number shop daily using both.

Traditional desktop computers still boast a higher conversion rate than both tablets and mobile phones. In fact, desktops had a CVR that was more than 3x higher than smartphones for American shoppers in 2016 (3.55% vs 1.15% respectively).

Mobile at the expense of desktop? Bad idea.

So how about desktop over mobile?

We’ve already mentioned that more people head online using a mobile device than desktop computers, so you’d be waving goodbye to a huge chunk of potential.

And when it comes to your local market, you’re missing out if your platform isn’t mobile-ready. More local searches result in a purchase when made on a smartphone than those made on a desktop (78% vs 61% respectively).

Finally, 59% of smartphone users expect a website to be mobile-friendly and feel frustrated when it’s not. They’ll leave and likely never return.

No mobile? No way.

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Do this instead…

The solution should be obvious. Desktop or mobile? You need both. And tablets, too. Create a website or portal that looks and functions equally well on all three, and you’re ahead of the curve.

In big markets like the United States, Canada, China, and the United Kingdom, the vast majority are multi-platform people.

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Try a tool like Screenfly or WhatIsMyScreenResolution to see for yourself. Is everything legible? Are the buttons and links spread out and big enough to be easily tapped on a touchscreen? Do you use more scrolling than clicking?

Google recommends you use a responsive site design rather than dynamic content or a separate mobile URL. And it’s best to follow their advice. Of course, there’s a lot more to mobile optimization, but this is enough to get you started.

The key takeaway: Don’t sacrifice one for the other. Design and optimize for desktop, tablet, and mobile, and watch that CVR head north.

Your Mistake: You Don’t Care About Speed

This can’t get any simpler: speed matters. For your customers and the search engines. So be fast.

As you beef your site up with tools, HD images, videos, and more, your speed suffers. If you believe that a practical, responsive site and good products are enough, you’re wrong. Why?

Because if your page takes too long to load, they’ll leave before even experiencing any of that.

Nearly half of web users expect a page to load in under 2 seconds, and 79% won’t return to a site with performance issues like slow load times.

As much as 83% of users expect a page to load in under 3 seconds, and a 1 second improvement in your load time can produce a 7% increase in conversions. That’s right.

The godfather of eCommerce – Amazon – experiences a 1% loss in revenue for every 100ms delay…that’s just one-tenth of a second.

Do this instead…

Care about speed and load time. A lot. Actively work to make your pages faster and more streamlined.

Google suggests that your site take no more than 2-3 seconds to load. At most. How do you measure up?

There are other mistakes that negatively affect your CVR: you give up too easily (solution: retargeting, cart abandonment emails, etc.), no social proof (solution: add social proof), weak call-to-action (solution: make it active, make it clear, test, and optimize), and more.

Check out some of the great tutorials by Neil Patel, Glide, Kissmetrics, and HubSpot if you want to dig deeper and go further. In the meantime, find and fix these three mistakes to shift your CRO into overdrive.

Because online, it’s conversion, conversion, conversion.

About the Author: Daniel Kohn is the CEO and co-founder of SmartMail, a company that helps E-commerce stores and online retailers increase sales, average order value, and lifetime customer value through email. Download SmartMail’s 4 highest converting email templates to help jumpstart your E-commerce email marketing program.



from The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog https://blog.kissmetrics.com/conversion-rate-conundrum/