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Abishek GM

Market Strategy with SEO

How to Support Your Go-To-Market Strategy with SEO.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

For early-stage startups, developing a robust go-to-market strategy and getting product-market fit on point is key. Here’s how SEO can help.

we’ll look at another key stage in the business lifecycle of an early-stage startup — developing your go-to-market strategy and initial product launch.

As Sean Ellis said, scaling growth before having product/market fit is the fastest way to kill your startup.

In your early days and as you plan your initial product launch, there are a lot of risks. You’re under pressure to meet deadlines from various stakeholders and achieve milestones that can be tied to investment.

Without a robust go-to-market strategy, blindly investing in growth can do more harm than good.

What you’re looking for is product-market fit, which means your product/solution effectively satisfies a certain market segment. Getting this fit is crucial for short-, and long-term growth, as well as short- and long-term monthly recurring revenue (MRR) generation.

Developing a Go-To-Market Strategy

There’s no shortage of blog posts on how to develop a viable GTM strategy, but the most successful ones I’ve seen all contain elements of:

  1. Customer interaction and interview-like interactions, with both leading and open-ended questions to help identify specific use cases and to identify the timing of your solution.
  2. A form of A/B testing with a group of potential users in order to validate the product and highlight any use issues (for edge cases, or compatibility with other systems being used by the target market).
  3. A feedback method from both of the aforementioned groups, to determine exactly how your potential audience sees your product, the value it brings to them, and their willingness to pay for that value.

From these three activities, you can better inform:

  • Your pricing strategy.
  • Your core market messaging.
  • An understanding of who your competitors are.
  • An idea of how your audience will use your product, and in conjunction with which other products.

More importantly, this process helps you do something that is vital to your success but can be hated on by other stakeholders within the business – it helps you reduce your initial audience and market so you know who to target first.

Targeting a Narrower Audience with SEO

Depending on your niche, trying to do SEO for a narrower audience can sometimes mean that third-party keyword research tools start to fall down.

This is particularly true in emerging tech markets, as search volumes will be lower or phrases may not even be picked up by tools due to low/non-existent PPC spend and advertising data.

This is where your GTM strategy (and common sense) can help you develop a targeted SEO strategy for your target launch audience segment.

It can help you take your SEO strategy from whack-a-mole keyword targeting to developing content and user journeys that create value propositions.

It’ll help users better forecast their experience of your product/service.

1. SEO Helps You Understand Your Real Competitors

Everyone who sells products online is competing with Amazon and eBay, at least in theory.

However, in reality, few companies are truly competing with them.

Everyone with a SaaS product has a narrow set of competitors, but they will most likely also overlap with other SaaS products. This is something you need to factor into your marketing, as your potential customers will be considering them as options when comparing.

2. Get Focused with Keyword Research

As mentioned, when targeting a new market segment or addressing problems from a different angle, the market might not be mature in terms of “search,” so there may be little data to go after.

This means you need to look to other sources to identify keywords. But more importantly, this will force you to look for the messaging your audience seeks around the problems they’re facing.

You need to refocus on the solutions your product offers to determine the problems your audience will be searching with, and then where they will be searching.

For most tech/SaaS products, places like Quora and StackOverflow are good places to start. This is especially true if your audience is more systems, infrastructure, and engineering-focused.

If your audience is a more general marketer, then places like Facebook groups, Slack communities, Reddit, and even product-specific forums are good places to go and mine data.

It is important, however, to remember to not enter these open forums and communities with a sales-first message. You’ll likely damage your brand before you’ve even launched.

3. Experience Forecasting Informs Conversion & Retention

A lot of marketing strategies focus heavily on initial user acquisition, and I’m not saying this is a bad thing.

But when you’re going to market with a new product or service that you hope to build your company – and future products and services off the back of – you also need to factor in retention strategies.

Retention is often condemned to post-conversion activities and elements like customer service.

However, when done right retention starts during the discovery, consideration, and conversion phases.

This is something I call experience forecasting. Essentially, there are a number of variables in the customer buying process we don’t control. In addition, all customers will be subject to a number of personal experiences, their own expectations, and estimations of “good,” as well as a number of other supposedly irrelevant factors.

Our messaging needs to highlight that the product/service can meet the user’s needs. And it needs to do so in a way that best enables the user to accurately estimate how closely the service delivery will meet their expectations.

When that forecasted experience is met (or closely met), the user will be happy and likely to either convert their trial into a subscription or extend their subscription with you.

Get Granular with an SEO-Informed Go-To-Market Strategy

SEO gives you the insight to develop your most successful go-to-market strategy.

Over the long term, it’ll support the longevity of your product and the brand as a whole, as well.

Operators for SEO

Google: How to Use Search Operators for SEO.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

New Google Advanced SEO support page shows how to use search operators for identifying errors and making improvements.

Google published an Advanced SEO Help page about using Google search operators to debug a website.

Google search operator search results are not tied to Google’s regular ranking algorithm and the index used is limited and not up to date.

Yet even with those limitations the search operators provide useful information that can be used for search engine optimization related purposes

They aren’t useful for trying to learn about Google’s algorithm. But the search operators are very useful for learning more about a website.

The new documentation contains a statement about the limitations of the data:

Search operators can however be used to discover interesting information about a site.

The new documentation covers the following search operators:

  • site:
  • cache:
  • related:
  • src:
  • imagesize:

Site: Search Operator:

The site search operator shows a sample of the pages in Google. It’s not all the pages, as Google’s caveat makes clear when it stated that the search operators “are bound by indexing and retrieval limits.

Site Search does not use Google’s regular ranking algorithm and only shows a SAMPLE of pages that are indexed.

There’s always been a random quality to all search operators and that make them unreliable in terms of completeness and especially for trying to find out ranking or algorithm related factors.

This has been true for all of the search operators.

I use site: search as a quick and dirty way to find pages with specific keywords in them but I do that with the understanding that there are pages that might be missing.

For example, I had an issue with Users Generated Content where members on Apple devices were cutting and pasting non-UTF letter characters into the web page, resulting in symbols instead of letters.

Using a site: search operator I was able to find many of them and have the site software rewrite the symbols back into letters sitewide.

Cache: Search Operator:

The cache: search operator shows you Google’s cache of a web page, a copy of what the page looked like when Googlebot last crawled it.

The cache is a great way to figure out if a site is hacked and showing different content to Google (cloaking).

Related: Search Operator:

The related: search operator is a nice one. It tells you what other sites Google identifies as related to the site being searched.

The related: search operator can be useful for telling you if there’s something wrong with the content relevance if Google shows wildly unrelated sites as being related.

Src: The Hotlink Finder:

The src: search operator finds pages that hotlink to an image.

Imagesize:

The imagesize: search operator finds images with a specific size and is typically used with a site: search operator.

The two image search operators also have limitations.

Use Google Search Operators.

Google’s search operators have many uses although not all of the uses might be apparent at first glance.

For example, I’ve never had a use for the imagesize: search operator but there may come a day when I need to know if Google has crawled or indexed an image with specific image dimensions.

long tail seo

Long-Tail SEO Strategy: Why & How to Target High-Intent Keywords.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Learn the benefits of highly targeted search terms packed with intent. Here’s how to find long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage.

Standalone broad keyword strategies belong to the past. In 2021, the combination of Google’s focus on user experience and intent, alongside the rise of conversational search and applications such as voice search, means that long-tail SEO strategies are more crucial than ever.

Years ago, hunting for long-tail keywords with low search volume might have seemed like a waste of time and effort.

If you don’t have a long-tail SEO strategy, you’re missing out.

It’s never been easier to research long-tail keyword opportunities, target low-competition keywords with high conversion rates, and use long-tail keywords to boost your content.

This guide will show you how to do just that.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

long-tail-seo-graphLong-tail keywords are highly targeted search phrases that specifically serve searcher intent. These keywords typically have low search volume, low competition, and high conversion rates.

We call these keywords long-tail because if you were to plot your keywords by their search volumes, these would be on the “long tail” end of the search demand curve, which means few people are searching for these terms each month.

However, despite the lack of search volume, long-tail keywords are often easier to rank for and result in higher conversions than seed keywords.

This is because long-tail keywords communicate a clear customer need that you can solve — they’re intent-driven.

When you understand search intent, you can create content that specifically addresses queries and converts.

For example, a user searching for [Nike Air Max 270] indicates a clear intent to purchase. Comparatively, a search for [shoes or trainers] is a lot less clear.

The user might be looking for more information about what’s on offer, searching for different brands, or just seeking out of interest.

Note that the actual length of these keywords technically doesn’t matter. Long-tail keywords tend to be at least three words long due to their specificity, but precise low-volume searches that are only one or two words long (such as many brand names) are also considered long-tail keywords.

Why Long-tail Keywords Are Important in SEO

Let’s do a social experiment: log into your Google Search Console account right now and scroll through the search terms. What do you see? I’m willing to bet that most of the terms you rank for are long-tail.

According to Backlinko’s analysis of 306 million keywords, 91.8% of all search queries are long-tail keywords.

Now imagine what you could do if all those highly-targeted queries funneled new leads directly to your high-converting assets.

There are three main benefits to targeting these precise keywords.

1. Less Competition

Long-tail keywords are specific to your business and your niche, and as a result, search volume is low.

The upside of this is that it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to rank well for your targeted long-tail keywords.

Some simple on-page SEO and link building should catapult your landing pages into a place of prominence if your targeted terms are specific enough.

2. Higher Conversions

A little long-tail keyword sleuthing will help you discover search intent.

With search intent, you’ll be able to identify queries that indicate buyer’s intent (e.g., [buy Canada 150 collector’s coins]) and a need for additional information (e.g. [how to target long-tail keywords]).

You can use this knowledge to usher highly qualified leads into your sales funnel and complement your content marketing efforts.

3. It Helps You Optimize for Semantic, Conversational & Voice Search

Long-tail keywords are an integral part of optimizing for semantic search.long-tail-seo-graph-1

We live in an age where 55% of millennials use voice search daily.

When these users query these platforms, they use long-tail keyword phrases such as questions ([what are the best sushi restaurants nearby?]) and commands with clear intent ([compare the price of the dresses from Blush and Sherri Hill]).

Try to predict the intent behind naturally spoken and voice search questions so that you can provide answers about your business and services and better target these long-tail keyword phrases.

Remember, if you target high-converting long-tail keywords even when search density is low, these keywords can still be incredibly valuable for your business.

How to Find Long-Tail Keywords

Ranking for the right long-tail keywords might be better than striking gold.

Discovering new long-tail keywords is easy, and you can create a substantial list in minutes.

First, grab the long-tail keywords that you know you rank from your Search Console.

Now download the same information for your PPC campaigns, Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube videos, Instagram, and any other metrics you can think of that might reveal new terms.

Next, try to discover new long-tail keywords in your niche that you could rank for. Here’s how to create a list of potential long-tails manually:

Prepare a list of seed keywords. Use a keyword planning tool to generate a list of seed keywords but try to stay away from Google AdWords. While this free tool is excellent for developing a list of commercial terms to target, it intentionally steers away from long-tail terms with lower search volume, making it not very useful for our purposes.

Look at Google’s autocomplete suggestions. Type each seed keyword into Google and write down its autocomplete suggestions.

Collate Google’s related search suggestions. Scroll to the bottom of each SERP and write down the related searches.

Rinse and repeat for Bing Search Suggestions and any other search engines you want to optimize for.

Add these potential long-tails to your target list. Group all your terms and get ready to start pruning your list.

Advancements in SEO technology make this entire research step easy!

  • The best programs will even sort through multiple search engines for you, and they may discover long-tails you overlooked. Many other programs intuitively discover and sort through long-tail keywords on your behalf.
  • Now that you have a comprehensive list of all of your potential keywords, it’s time to begin pruning your list. Weed out any terms that don’t clearly communicate user intent. For example, in the “long-tail keywords related search results” listed above, the query “short tail keywords” isn’t specific enough.

When you’ve trimmed your list down to the strongest candidates (anywhere from half a dozen to a few hundred long-tails), you’ll be ready to start optimizing your pages and adding them to your content.

How to Build Content Around Long-Tail Keywords

Now that you have a list of long-tail keywords you can optimize for, what do you do with that information? The answer depends on how many long-tails you’re targeting and how closely their topics intersect.

  • Conventional wisdom dictates that you need to create a dedicated page per long-tail if you can, great! But this isn’t always feasible.
  • When you have hundreds of long-tails to target, you need content other than dedicated landing pages that you can optimize for your long-tails.
  • Break down your list of potential long-tail keywords into an easy-to-understand list organized by searcher intent.

Organizing your keywords by topic allows you to find natural places for them to live.

If this content already exists on your site, you might be able to insert these long-tails into your copy naturally. If not, you now have ideas for what your following pieces of content should focus on.

Whenever you publish new content, don’t forget about internal links. These are some of the best places for you to include some of the long-tail terms you so thoroughly researched.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to discover long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage. But remember: Your long-tail targeting is only as strong as your content.

In 2021, if you aren’t recognized as an authority in your niche, it’s time to start creating high-value assets, blogging about your industry, and rewriting your web copy to communicate your unique value proposition (UVP) to your customers.

While you’re creating your content and optimizing your pages to include your new long-tail keywords, don’t forget to measure your rankings and traffic.

As you do so, you may discover even more keyword phrases you can target, and that will help you continue to build your reputation and improve your on-page SEO.

Google Analytics

Things Google Analytics Can’t Tell You & How to Get the Missing Info.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Google Analytics was not intended to do everything. Here are 5 things GA can’t tell you and how to get the missing information.

Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool offered by Google to track activity that occurs on your website.

With GA installed on a site, you can see how many visitors your website/app has, what pages receive the most traffic and, if configured, where actions occur.

For example, if you want to know how many users visit your site, Google Analytics can help you see the number of visits, what marketing channel they came from, and whether they were on a desktop or mobile device.

There’s no doubt that Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for marketers, but GA was not built to tell you everything.

What Google Analytics Can’t Tell You

It’s important for marketers to be aware of Google Analytics’ limitations. Once you know what you don’t have, you can figure out how to get it.

Here are the five main things Google Analytics can’t tell you and how to get the missing information, so you can make the right marketing decisions.

1. Historical Data

Historical data is what happened prior to installing the Google Analytics tracking code to your website.

Think of the tracking code as a fishing net. Once in the water, you can look and see how many fish were caught.

But before the net is in place, you can only assume or guess as to how many fish passed through.

This is why I highly recommend setting Google Analytics up before your site launch. And, if you have yet to set up GA4, you should definitely make that a priority.

Another way you may be missing data is because Google Analytics (standard) does not automatically collect what actions users take on-site. It only tells you how many, where from, and what pages they view.

GA4 automatically tags some actions (known as events) but is missing some really important touchpoints for SEO pros, like submitting a form.

A good friend introduced me to a new analytics software, HockeyStack, which does not provide “historical data” per se but provides retroactive event tracking.

The moment you place the HockeyStack script, it automatically begins collecting all event data. No event tagging required.

I chatted with the co-founder, Emir Atli, who explained that even if it takes you months to get around to setting up goals and funnels, that historical event data will be there.

Here is a screenshot of what retroactive event tracking looks like in HockeyStack:

2. Sampling

The second thing Google Analytics can’t tell you is another instance where you may be missing out on information about your site traffic: sampling.

Data sampling means that a smaller portion of data was analyzed in order to quickly identify patterns and trends.

Seer Interactive shared a great data sampling example years ago so rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I’m going to share a paraphrased version.

Imagine your kids dump out 10,000 Lego pieces on the floor. For one reason or another, you wonder how many red Lego pieces there are.

Now, you could spend hours counting proverbial Legos – or you could select one section and count just 1,000 pieces.

If there were 200 red Legos in that 1,000 sample (this is a data “subset”), it’s reasonable to assume that 2,000 red legos were dumped out.

Obviously, sampling is significantly quicker. But at what expense?

In our Lego example, we assume that the red Legos are evenly distributed throughout the room. If the red Legos are not evenly distributed (as with business seasonality, for example) then your sampling may be way off.

So, what can we do about data sampling?

The first step is to know if your data is being sampled. If you are using the free Google Analytics account, data sampling kicks in at around 500,000 sessions within the specified date range.

When sampling is in effect, you will see a yellow shield with a checkmark at the top of the report. The message reads, “This report is based on N% of sessions.”

If you want to stop your data from being sampled, simply update to GA4. Google Analytics 4 is still free and has no hit limits.

There is one catch. Your data may not be “sampled” but thresholds are applied to protect user privacy.

When a report contains age, gender, or interest categories, a threshold may be applied and some data may be kept hidden (unknown) from the report.

The green checkmark in a GA4 default report indicates that it is 100% non-sampled data.

3. Heat Mapping

Now that we have covered the ways Google Analytics may not be providing the entire data picture, it’s time to talk about where GA falls short in onsite analysis.

Heat mapping is a data visualization technique using bright colors (red) to represent larger values and cool colors (blue) to represent smaller values.

Simply put, it is a quick and easy way to see how customers interact with your web pages, as in what they click – or don’t.

Website heatmaps come in three types:

  • Click maps show where users click or don’t click.
  • Scroll maps show how far users scroll, by the percentage of all users.
  • Hover maps show the location and movement of a user’s cursor.

Digital marketers use heatmaps to understand a user’s behavior on a webpage. These insights are essential when you’re tasked with optimizing a page layout, improving UX, or increasing conversions.

While Google Analytics has a heat map (kinda), it is lacking all the bells and whistles paid services features. However, it will tell you where users are clicking and where they are not.

The thing is, you won’t find a heat map in your Google Analytics account. It’s actually a chrome extension called Page Analytics.

The product has been deprecated and is no longer receiving updates as of March 08, 2019. At the date of publication, Page Analytics Chrome Extension is still working for Google Analytics (standard) users. I have yet to find an easy solution for GA4 users.

There are just a few quick steps to seeing the Google Analytics real-time heatmap. First, you need to download Page Analytics by Google to your Extensions toolbar.

Next, log in to your Google Analytics and open a webpage associated with your GA account.

Lastly, don’t forget to enable (turn on) Page Analytics.

Google Analytics: Heatmap Extension

  1. Customize view metrics.
  2. Select Date Range.
  3. Select what action you want visualized: Clicks vs Goals.
  4. Select the minimum ratio to display.
  5. Select heatmap or annotation.

4. Social Media Monitoring

The last two things on this list are going to be about users’ interactions and conversations off-site that are really essential to successful marketing campaigns.

Social media monitoring is tracking information relevant to your business on social platforms; things like brand mentions, relevant hashtags, shared articles, and posts, etc.

Google Analytics can track actions and behavior on your website such as which social network users are referred from, which of your pages they land on, and whether they triggered an event.

GA can not tell you about user activity on social platforms like Facebook, IG, and Twitter.

If you’re handy with APIs, SharedCount provides social share analytics and insights. A free account can use up to 500 API calls per day.

This SharedCount screenshot shows my getting started with GA4 guide has 185 shares and 1.7k reactions on Facebook.

5. Lead Quality

Lead quality is the most difficult type of behavior to track because it generally happens offline. Things like sales calls and the content within form submissions are essential for determining the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

When it comes to quantifying lead quality, despite how essential this metric is, business owners rely on an overall “feeling” they get.

For offline interactions like sales calls and in-store visits, the best thing you can do as a marketer is to sit in on those calls to fully understand the customer.

For lead submissions, there are ways to “score” fields using Google Tag Manager. But unless you’re an Analytics wiz, you’re likely to find this confusing and time-consuming.

Maybe one day, we’ll see a tool that combines online and offline lead quality scoring that is more accessible to small business owners and provides better data for marketing professionals.

Final Thoughts

Google Analytics (GA) is an incredible free tool for marketers. Understanding how many visitors go to which pages and what actions take place are the building blocks of a successful digital marketing plan.

Just keep in mind that GA was not intended to do everything.

Google Analytics data is not retroactive, data may be sampled, there’s no heat mapping, and we can’t score offsite conversations such as social media mentions and sales calls.

With some tweaks and adjustments, it is possible to transform Google Analytics into a much more robust tool that can power some seriously great digital marketing campaigns.

I strongly encourage you to dig in and learn more about how to get, analyze and act on your digital marketing data.

Algorithm Update Rolling

Google’s June 2021 Core Algorithm Update Rolling Out Now

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Google is releasing a broad core algorithm update today on June 2, 2021. This will be followed by another core update in July.

Google originally intended to pack more into today’s update, but couldn’t get everything ready in time. That’s the reason for releasing two core updates one month after another.

It’s exceedingly rare for Google to roll out separate updates so close together. However, the company says most sites are unlikely to notice the impact of either of them.

We’ll see over the coming weeks if that holds true, as it typically takes that long for a core update to fully roll out.

Google’s guidance on recovering from a broad core algorithm update remain the same.

With that said, try not to panic if your site is negatively impacted by the June update.

Don’t be too quick to celebrate if you see positive changes either, because it’s possible the impact of this month’s update will be reversed next month.

Sullivan elaborates on these statements in an article on Google’s blog explaining the why’s and how’s of core algorithm updates.

In it, he reminds site owners that updates aiming to improve the quality of search results are made thousands of times per year.

Not all updates are equal, however, and the impact of a core update is likely to be more noticeable than others.

What’s the difference between a core update and other updates?

Many updates to Google Search are focused on improving specific categories of results. An example would be the recent update to search results for product reviews.

What makes core updates different from the thousands of other updates is they involve broad improvements to Google Search.

When a core update is rolled out, which only happens a few times a year, substantial changes are made to Google’s ranking processes. Rather than targeting specific categories of sites, core updates target search overall.

To site owners who are impacted by a core update, Sullivan says it’s not because of anything they’ve done. It’s due to changes in how Google evaluates content to meet evolving user expectations.

Being negatively impacted by a core algorithm update isn’t necessarily a sign that a site has done something wrong, or that it’s producing bad content. It’s more a sign that what was considered relevant before may not be as relevant to today’s searchers.

Oftentimes refreshing existing content to improve its relevancy can turn a site’s rankings around. The changes will likely not be felt until the next core update, but recovery is possible.

What should I do if I’m impacted by this core update?

The June 2021 Google core update puts site owners in a situation they’ve never been in before.

A core algorithm update is currently rolling out, and another one is already confirmed for next month.

There’s no precedent for this, which makes it difficult to recommend taking any specific action until we see what next month brings.

Instead of reacting to any changes from this month’s update, look ahead to next month and focus on making your site the best it can be before the July core update.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about the page experience update rolling out in mid-June.

It’s going to be a tumultuous couple of months in search, to say the least.

 

Aspiring & New SEO Professionals: Tips for Success

Aspiring & New SEO Professionals: Tips for Success.

By | Networking Bizz News, Online Entrepreneur News

First, I want to say that embarking on an SEO career is exciting. It’s a profession that is fast-paced and always evolving.

While taking courses is a great idea to get started, there is a lot more you can do to learn the ropes.

Don’t worry, I’ll still answer the question about courses, but will give some extra tips, too.

1. Complete SEO Courses & Related Certifications

There are a lot of free SEO courses that will give you a foundation of knowledge. Below are a handful for you to consider:

  • Search Engine Journal’s SEO Guides: Search Engine Journal has two guides designed specifically for beginners, and they’re are packed with information from industry experts. If you haven’t already, get both of the ebooks SEO for Beginners: An Introduction to SEO Basics and A Complete Guide to SEO: What You Need to Know.
  • HubSpot SEO Certification Course: This one is free and includes 6 lessons and 23 videos. It covers a lot of the fundamentals, such as on-page optimization, keyword research, link building, and reporting.
  • Semrush Academy – SEO Fundamentals Course with Greg Gifford: This is a free course offered through Semrush Academy and taught by Greg Gifford. It includes 8 modules that incorporate videos, readings, and quizzes.
  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification: As an SEO, you are going to be spending a lot of time in Google Analytics and must be able to use it efficiently. To get certified, take the Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics courses. Then you can take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. It’s well worth it!

Here is a more comprehensive list of SEO courses to check out: Best Free Online SEO Training Courses in 2021.

As you grow in your SEO career and learn more advanced tactics, you may find a specific area you want to focus on — Technical SEO, Link Building, or On-Page SEO, for example.

2. Create a Website You Can Use as Practice

Once you feel as though you have a good grasp on SEO practices, try out your new knowledge.

When I wanted to get more experience with SEO, I built my own site so that I could test the things I was learning.

Now, it was not the most aesthetically pleasing website, but it gave me hands-on experience understanding the basic and technical aspects of SEO. It also allowed me to test different techniques and was a great learning tool.

I recommend using WordPress as your CMS and to make it easy, find an existing theme you can implement.

Then, start applying your newfound SEO knowledge. Doing so will help you become familiar with HTML, optimization, and technical SEO.

If you are wondering what the website should be about, consider a blog on a topic you’re already interested in.

3. Watch Webinars & Listen to Podcasts

What I love about the SEO community is everyone’s willingness to share their knowledge and expertise.

There is no shortage of webinars and podcasts on a range of SEO topics. Even though I have been in SEO for a long time, I still tune in to learn from other experts in the field. Below is just a sample:

  • Search Engine Journal Webinars.
  • The Search Engine Journal Show.
  • Voices of Search.
  • SEO 101.
  • Bright Edge Webinars.

The following are not necessarily webinars or podcasts, but you will learn a ton!

  • Online Webmasters Office Hours Hangout.
  • Search Engine Roundtable Vlog.

Don’t Stop the Learning Process

In SEO, you are constantly learning. Continue to watch videos and listen to podcasts. Read daily, follow experts, and attend conferences.

You might even want to consider joining SEO groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Clubhouse.

Be sure to read How to Become an SEO Expert for even more success tips and cheers to your path in becoming an SEO professional!

Improve SEO With User Experience Factors

Improve SEO With User Experience Factors.

By | Networking Bizz News, seo advice for business

Focus on User Experience to meet the needs of searchers. It improves organic search marketing performance, helping websites rank well on the SERPs.

Google’s algorithm has consistently taken the user experience into account. For example, Google doesn’t rank directories because sending users from a page of 10 links to a page of 20 links is a poor user experience.

Thinking in terms of user experience can help with SEO because resultant strategies tend to align with how Google ranks websites.

Here are a few specific ways you can improve your SEO performance with user experience factors including Natural Language Processing, content creation, web design, and more.

Natural Language Processing.

Google’s recent technological breakthroughs like RankBrain and BERT are designed to help Google better understand what people expect to see when they type a search query. They also help Google understand what web pages mean.

An example is a shortcoming of their algorithm that was recently addressed. Google recently introduced their Passages algorithm that allows them to refer searchers straight to a relevant section of a long web page that contains the answer.

Previous to this update Google was unable to adequately rank long web pages.

This is an example of Google using machine learning to provide better answers based on what a web page is about. This is a huge step away from sending users to web pages that contain the keywords in a search query.

Google is understanding web pages in order to match the content as an answer to a search query that poses a question.

It’s not matching questions to keywords. Google is matching questions to answers.

Content Creation for User Experience

This has a profound impact on how web content is planned, with the focus shifting from focusing on creating content around keywords to creating content for users.

This is an example of imposing a user experience point of view on the content creation process.

One has to ask, “What does a site visitor want from this page? What are they trying to accomplish? What is it that they aspire to do?”

Literally, ask those questions and the answers become your content. This will then line up with how Google understands web pages and ranks those pages.

Of course, it’s important to first look at the top one to three positions in the search results and read the content to tease out what question those pages are answering.

Once you find a pattern, you can begin to understand what users mean when they type a particular search query. Once you know that, you can begin the process of writing content.

Content writing that extracts the meaning from the top ten to the top thirty of the search results is going to result in an irrelevant analysis because there will be too many mixed search intents.

Analysis of the top ten with a subsequent segmentation of the positions by search intent is a better way to understand what users mean when they type a search query.

Don’t try to mimic the words on search results. Remember, Google is only ranking the best of what it feels satisfies a query.

By copying the keywords used in a top-ranked webpage, you’re missing out on the opportunity to find a better way to satisfy a search query.

  • Old Way:
    Research top-ranked sites to extract keywords and write content with those keywords.
  • New Way:
    Research top-ranked sites to understand the latent question being asked and then provide a better answer.

What’s a Better Answer

The better answer is the one that tells and shows the user the how, why, what or when that they are looking for.

Sometimes that means creating custom images to illustrate your message. Sometimes that means communicating the message with a graph that gives a visual presentation to the data.

Use your imagination and ask yourself: How can I make this message any clearer to people visiting my site?

That’s the process of creating content with the user experience in mind.

Web Page Experience

Web Page ExperienceGoogle is introducing a small ranking boost for pages that can pass their Core Vitals Test. Core Web Vitals (CWV) measure a site visitor’s user experience.

In an ideal world, most publishers would already be optimizing web pages for a fast user experience.

But in the real world, publishers are limited by the bloated content management systems available to them.

Providing a fast user experience takes more than a fast server, too. The page speed bottleneck happens on the site visitor’s end where they’re downloading your page on a mobile phone through a 4G wireless network with limited bandwidth.

Creating a site with a fast download is good for users and better for publishers. More conversions, more page views, and higher earnings happen when a website optimizes its web pages for speed.

What can you do to create a better user experience on the page?

The first thing to do is visit your own site and read your articles in one sitting all the way through.

Then ask yourself if you feel like clicking through to read some more. If there’s a feeling of fatigue, there are reasons for that and they all relate to user experience.

How to Create a Better Web Page Experience

  • Break up your content into smaller paragraphs.
  • Use meaningful Heading Tags (accurately describe the content that follows).
  • Use bullet points and ordered lists.
  • Use more images that illustrate what you’re trying to say.
  • Choose images that are inherently lightweight (light shades, less colors, fewer micro details like gravel or leaves).
  • Optimize your images.
  • Replace images that cannot squeeze down to less than 50 kilobytes (or at least no higher than 100 kb).
  • Do not require a minimum word count from your writers.
  • Write content that provides useful answers.
  • Use graphs.
  • Test your pages on different mobile devices.
  • Minimize CSS and JavaScript, especially third-party scripts.
  • Remove CSS and JavaScript that provide functionality for things like sliders and contact forms when those features are not on the page.
  • If possible, reconsider the use of sliders.
  • Consider using fonts that are already on visitor’s computers or simply update your font to sans-serif.
  • Run your URLs through the PageSpeed Insights tool and follow directions for improvements.

Acknowledge & Mirror Your Site Visitors

Always seek out the opportunity to mirror your customer and site visitor in the images that you use.

Be diverse in your image choice. If your visitors tend to skew older and middle-aged, use images that reflect those users.

Do not make the mistake of mirroring yourself or those within your cultural bubble. Make your web pages welcoming for every segment of society that needs your information.

People tend to see themselves in the images that you use and it makes them comfortable to see themselves or people like themselves reflected in the images used in your web page (if it’s appropriate to use images of people!).

How Does User Experience Impact SEO?

Your Site VisitorsGoogle tends to rank sites that are relevant to user queries.

Google also tends to rank popular webpages that users expect to see because the goal is to satisfy users.

Creating a site that is frictionless and that people enjoy is one of the fundamental ways of building popularity with users. When people share about a site, what they’re really sharing is the experience they had with that site.

And those are the kinds of pages that people tend to feel enthusiastic about enough to tell their friends about, link to, and recommend. Sites that rank well naturally are the kinds of sites that users feel enthusiastic enough to link to and recommend.

Creating a positive user experience is one of the building blocks of creating good search performance.

From attracting links, increasing page views, improving conversion rates and earnings, a site can’t lose by focusing on the user experience.

 

Dynamically in Real Time Impact SEO

How Does a Page Built Dynamically in Real Time Impact SEO?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Dynamically generated pages, regardless of the platform, have been a challenge for SEO professionals for a couple of decades now.

How do you get pages indexed that don’t exist until they are needed?

New content management systems bring some new tricks to how pages are created but in the end, dynamic content is nothing new.

And there are several ways to handle dynamic content from an SEO perspective.

Dynamic Rendering:

The official word from Mountain View on how to create SEO value from dynamic content is a technique knows as dynamic rendering.

Dynamic rendering detects the user-agent of a browser or bot and serves up content specifically for that bot.

This allows webmasters to show Googlebot and other crawlers fully-rendered pages rather than an empty dynamic template.

Some of you may sense red flags here – is this cloaking?

Dynamic rendering is not cloaking.

It’s a completely white hat technique recommended by Google for dynamically generated content; specifically, single-page apps and progressive web apps.

However, if dynamic rendering is abused, it can be considered cloaking.

For example, if you use dynamic rendering to serve up content that is not the same or very similar to the content that a regular visitor would see, you could end up in violation of Google’s terms of service.

The best practice is to make sure the content served to specific crawlers is the same as the content seen by your typical visitors.

When you implement dynamic rendering, make sure to check the speed of the site on different user agents.

A common mistake many make when implementing this technique is creating slow-loading pages, particularly mobile versions of these pages.

Always check the page speed of your alternate, dynamically rendered pages.

I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of setting up dynamic rendering in the column, but Google’s Martin Splitt has an excellent video on the subject that you can see here.

Cannonball: An Alternative to Dynamic Rendering:

If you don’t want to mess with dynamic rendering, you can go “old school” and create what I call a cannonball.

A cannonball is when you create static HTML pages to represent the pages that would normally be dynamically generated.

Creating a cannonball can be very time-consuming, especially for sites with many dynamically generated pages.

But cannonballs work for getting content indexed that otherwise might not show up if the crawler can’t access the dynamically generated pages.

Typically, when using a cannonball approach, the dynamically generated content is hidden from the crawlers.

This approach makes sense when using heavy personalization on a site.

For example, a site where users log in and have personal account information dynamically generated while shopping or surfing would use a cannonball approach to show the crawler the pages without any personalized information.

You can also use a cannonball approach in conjunction with dynamic rendering if you just have a few dynamically generated pages that need to be indexed.

The downside to a cannonball approach is it can be very resource-intensive to maintain.

It’s easy for the content in the cannonball to be out of date, especially on a site where things change rapidly.

For example, if your pricing changes, you must make sure that the pricing changes on the cannonball pages, as well.

There are numerous software solutions that will help you to maintain your cannonball pages. However, be aware that not every tool works with every platform.

In Conclusion:

Dynamically generated pages can be a powerful part of the overall user experience.

But they do create some headaches for SEO pros.

Thankfully, workarounds like dynamic rendering and cannonballs can help ensure we can have dynamically generated content and show up well in the search results.

Ways SEO User Intent Can Drive Higher Lead Quality.

Ways SEO User Intent Can Drive Higher Lead Quality.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

Driving organic traffic to your site but not seeing enough conversions? Learn how user intent can help you drive more qualified leads.

To drive conversions, you need to know what your leads are searching for and deliver engaging content that resonates.

They shared how to leverage user intent to drive more qualified, high-converting leads.

Effective and engaging content addresses a searcher’s intent – but some businesses miss the mark in this area.

User intent is the main goal a user has when typing a query into a search engine.

For example, your AC cuts out in the middle of the summer, you search [24/7 HVAC repair] while your partner searches [AC repair near me].

While the keywords used for the queries differ, they have the same intent, or end goal, which is to have an HVAC unit repaired.

There are four common types of user intent, namely:

  • Informational.
  • Commercial.
  • Navigational.
  • Transactional.

But why does user intent matter?

Simply put: meeting a customer’s user (search) intent is Google’s #1 goal.

The results that Google returns for a particular search query mirrors the intent for that given keyword.

User intent needs is a crucial part of a successful SEO and content strategy.

Here are ways businesses can leverage user intent to inform their marketing.

1.Improve Customer Experience.

Customer-ExperienceIt’s great to rank for a query, but if users click on your content from the search results and fail to find the answers to their questions immediately, then there’s a high chance they’ll bounce from the page.

This translates to a lost opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead or a customer.

If Google sees that more users are leaving the page than staying to read and engage with your content, you might even see your rankings begin to drop.

This is what happened with a client of Bachmann and his team – a dental office that provides full-service and urgent care.

To address this issue, they decided to cut through the fluff in their website content and get to the most important answers.

They geared the messaging and content to answer questions and provide the next steps for a specific type of user – people in need of emergency dental care.

The adjustments led to great rankings, including the #1 position for “emergency dentist in Philadelphia.”

Not only did they find success in the SERPs, but it also brought them a consistent stream of highly qualified leads.

2.Leverage Data to Make Informed, Data-Driven Content Updates.

Generating new content isn’t the only way to meet users’ needs.

If you have a lot of content on your website that’s already gaining traction, being indexed by search engines, and ranking in the top 30-50 positions, it might be best to expand your content and make them better.

A variety of data sources can help you uncover insights on user intent and make informed decisions when it comes to your content – Google Search Console (GSC) is one of them.

Using GSC is a great way to:

  • Uncover what queries your site (or a particular page you want to rank) are getting impressions and clicks for.
  • Decide if your page actually does a good job of answering those user’s needs.

Segmenting your Google Search Console data to be question-focused will help you see what questions your users are searching that may be tied to your industry.

If you want to better rank in the future, you should aim to provide a clear, concise answer to those questions.

Looking at Google Analytics can also tell you a lot about whether your page is meeting people’s intent.

Does your page have a low time on page and high bounce rate?

This is another area you should investigate.

You may be ranking for something but when users get to your page they leave immediately because they are not getting what they thought your content has.

This is a big indicator that you need to make updates on your content.

Bachmann and his team encounter this issue often with several of their clients.

One client in the gambling niche saw the huge shift to mobile and online gambling as an opportunity to educate users who were trying to justify online gambling due to it seeming less dangerous than visiting an actual casino.

So they laid out tons of great stats, sources, videos, and infographics into one all-encompassing blog.

They ended up taking the #1 position for relevant terms such as “is online gambling dangerous”.

The client was able to get ahead of the curve and answer a lot of relevant questions that also contributed to boosting awareness of their brand.

This strategy also worked well for another client in the HVAC sector.

A lot of companies trying to rank for terms related to common HVAC problems tend to lean too heavily on the call to action “Call us today” instead of educating users on what may actually be happening.

Going against the norm, they put together a blog post that discussed multiple different kinds of smells for different problems with the aim to address everyone’s concerns.

The blog post has amassed nearly 100,000 visits since its inception, targeting a specific type of user intent.

The best part?

It ranks at the top of Page 1 with a featured snippet and converts at over 3% – which for a blog post for a local company is pretty unheard of.

3. Increase Time on Site & Conversion Rates

Increase Time on SiteUsers are skimmers – they’re coming to your site to get an answer or a need met.

It’s essential to be aware of how your users are seeing, engaging, and behaving when they’re on your website.

This is why you need to optimize your webpages to deliver the best experiences for real users, not just search engines.

You can gauge your web performance by tracking your Core Web Vitals metrics.

Another way to keep users engaged and increase the likelihood of conversion is to take advantage of proper page structure and layout.

By laying out your page in an organized and succinct manner, you not only make it easy to understand for users but also for bots crawling your site.

Using subheadings correctly and creating a nice flow of information will ultimately help the page rank and perform stronger.

Digital Marketing completely changed how companies

6 Online Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Digital Marketing completely changed how companies fight for the audience’s attention in the last years. Investing in online marketing for small businesses is democratic and brings a lot of benefits. With the right tools, you can create a low-cost strategy that demands only a small team to work, and have a big return in reach and awareness.

However, if promoting a brand on the internet is easy, it also means that there is a lot of competition. In this article, you will know more about:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

One of the most powerful ways of bringing constant visibility to your brand isn’t paid. This might sound a bit strange since mass media advertisement has been the main way of being seen for so long. But no paid ad today is as strong as seeing your website, product, or content at the top results when a consumer googles a related keyword.

Being well positioned in search engines is a way of getting organic traffic and building trust — since it is the first contact a person has with your brand.

After all, if your website is there, it means it is worth it, right?

Being at the top in search results isn’t paid, but SEO itself demands some investment, especially in the effort.

If you are small, the best thing to do is to work with a reduced scope and grow from there.

Your main approach will be getting smart about keyword planning. SEO is about user intention, content production, and link building — all of that around the words that are most likely to be searched by your buyer persona.

With a lower budget, you can begin with less common and more specific keywords. If you sell phones, for example, betting in the word “phones” isn’t the best strategy.

There will be a lot of companies, some of them really big, fighting for that spot. So how about finding more specific terms to work with?

Learn more about your persona and try to think like them. How would they search for a product they are interested in? What would they type?

Data intelligence can be the key to finding your niche.

2. Content Marketing

content marketingUsing content to promote your company is always part of a great SEO strategy. But it is much more than using the right keywords. Producing relevant, useful, and attractive content is how your brand builds identity, personality, and authority.

For those companies that can’t invest in sheer volume, the center of the strategy should be a blog.

There, you can share how-to guides, tips, ebooks, and everything useful to help a lead consider a product you sell. Frequency is important, so try to have at least 2/3 blog posts a week. You can use social media to boost your content’s reach and mix new pieces with reposts to keep your persona engaged.

3. Social Media Marketing

We talked about social media as an amplifier, but it should not be treated simply as a way to share and boost visibility. As everyone in those networks, your company is there to build relationships too.

It is always good to have someone dedicated to this role in the company — either an employee or an outsourced professional. Social networks demand constant interactions and following of trends.

But it is never that easy. Maybe you don’t have the team or the budget for it. What to do then? Again, it is time to be strategic. Investing in tools that automate and aggregate social interaction can be a good solution. Separating small intervals throughout the day to check profiles is also a great idea.

4. Local Search

local SEOIf your business has a physical attendance, Google my Business has become a great channel for your brand. You can use this tool as a location-based marketing effort.

Adding information about your company on Google my Business is easy and simple. There, you can share your contact information, your website, and even info about what you sell.

But the main focus here should be on user-created content: ratings, opinions, and photos. When a client posts those on Maps, they are included in your profile and shared with everyone searching for something in the area.

So you can ask for this kind of engagement on your website and via social media. You can also offer a reward in exchange, such as a dessert on their next visit if you are a restaurant.

5. Email Marketing

email marketingEven being invented in the 1970s, email is still one of the most prominent and used communication channels on the planet.

The great thing about email marketing is: it is almost solely based on automation. Unlike Social Media, you don’t need to have someone dedicated to it every day.

But it demands a lot of planning. The ideal Email Marketing campaign takes the buyer’s journey into account and anticipates the lead’s moves from interest to purchase decision.

6. Marketing Solutions and Services

Marketing solutions are technological platforms, automation tools, data analyzers, and social media monitors that help small teams with small budgets. So, they can manage campaigns way bigger than what they could do by themselves.

Marketing services are offered by companies with specialized talent and tools to help your business plan, execute, and measure the success of your strategies.

 

How to Write Content that Converts

How to Write Content that Converts

By | E Commerce Business News

Marketers leverage content for a number of reasons, from increasing website traffic to growing brand awareness and generating engagement.

But one of the main reasons is, quite simply, to get more of their audience to convert into customers. However, that’s easier said than done, especially in a very crowded marketplace where it seems (and rightly so) like there’s a sea of content to compete with.

  • So, how do you write content that converts?
  • How can you get people to take action after reading your content?
  • And ultimately, how do you generate a positive ROI from your content marketing strategy?

In this blog post, discover 7 essential tips to help you write content that converts:

Step 1: Know your audience

Are you writing content for your audience, based on their needs and wants? Or are you writing content based on what you think they need and want?

Because there’s a big difference between the two and it’s so easy to forego this important step when creating content.

Your goal as a content marketer is to find out what issues and pain points your audience has – then, you can use that to create powerful content that helps them achieve the results they want and therefore:

  • Increase trust in your brand
  • Give readers a reason to come back to you for more content
  • Give them a reason to subscribe to your newsletter and engage with you on other channels as well and ultimately, give them a reason to convert

Step 2: It’s all in the headline

You’ve probably heard this time and time again – but your headlines are so incredibly important, it really bears repeating.

After all, it’s as simple as this: if your headline isn’t getting people’s attention and interest, then they’re not going to read it. And if they’re not going to read it, then you’re not going to increase your conversions either.

So, don’t leave your headline as an afterthought because it has a massive impact on your click-through rate and traffic, as well as on your conversion rate.

Step 3: Learn to structure your content and increase readability

While online content has definitely improved a lot over the last few years, I still often see content that’s simply not readable enough – even if the information provided in them is good.

The thing is, it’s not just about providing value; it’s also about creating content that’s easy to read through and makes you want to keep reading.

Considering that, here is a checklist to use every time you write content, in order to increase its readability:

  • Use the introduction to relate to your reader’s problems and/or clearly explain what the content is about and what they’ll get out of it.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs, as well as bullet points and lists.
  • Break down your content with subheadings.
  • Use more visuals throughout your content.
  • Avoid using jargon: Always use language that your audience will understand.

Step 4: Include content upgrades to generate more leads

An easy “trick” to increase lead generation from your content is to include content upgrades. It’s probably one of the most effective ways to grow your email list quickly.

But first, what exactly is a content upgrade?

  • It’s a lead magnet created specifically for a blog post or piece of content.
  • And what this means is that you’re essentially creating highly-targeted lead magnets.
  • And because they’re so well-targeted, it means that readers are more likely to opt-in.

Here are some of the best-performing types of upgrades you can include in your content:

  • PDF versions of your content (particularly for high-value, long pieces of content, such as how-to guides)
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Cheat sheets
  • Reports
  • Worksheets
  • Case studies
  • Formulas
  • Courses
  • Infographics

Step 5: Track and measure your results consistently to increase your conversion rate

marketing strategiesIn order to increase your conversions from your content, you need to closely track your content marketing results so that you can understand:

  • Which content generates the most conversions
  • What types of content generate the most conversions (listicles, how-to guides, content with interactive content and so on)
  • What common traits there are between your best performing pieces of content
  • Which headlines get the most clicks and traffic
  • Which content doesn’t generate enough results
  • You can find all this out by using your web analytics.

Conclusion

  • Writing content for the sake of it – a.k.a. filler content – can’t get you the results you want and need.
  • Instead, you need to create carefully-crafted content that’s highly targeted and offers huge value.
  • That’s how you grow your traffic, engagement, and perhaps most importantly, conversions.

 

Why Is Internet Marketing for Local Businesses so Important?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

An attractive storefront on a heavily-traveled street used to be the enough to build a loyal customer base. These days, people walking down the street are too busy looking at their smartphones to notice your business. The customers who have bought from you for years already trust you to deliver a superior experience, but non-customers need more convincing. Internet marketing can help.

Maybe that buyer knew about your business but trusted one of your competitors because of how that business presented itself online. Unlike traditional marketing, which is all about driving sales, online marketing is also focused on gaining trust and making consumers feel good about buying from your business. Hard selling techniques still work on occasion, but consumers are more likely to notice businesses that appeal to them with free advice, useful tools or entertaining distractions.

They’re also more likely to gravitate towards businesses that interact with them as people and not revenue streams. Social media, mobile, email and other online marketing channels make these interactions possible, which is why local businesses that market online perform better than those that don’t.

Now that you understand why internet marketing is so important, it’s time to start using it. So how can you generate more sales, attract more customers and stand out from local competitors online? Here are some ideas that may result in a larger local following:

1. Claim your local listings

Consumers who want information about local businesses often look to sites like Google and Yelp, because they provide reviews from other consumers. In order to make the most of this, and to keep tabs on what people are saying, make sure to claim your listings on those sites. Be sure that your company’s address, phone number, email, and website are all correct, and then add a few photos of your business and offerings.

2. Create a mobile-friendly site

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that many consumers use their smartphones to find businesses to patronize. But if you hope to catch their attention (and their business), they need to be able to easily find and browse your site. That can only happen if your site is mobile-friendly.

If your site isn’t accessible on whatever device a potential customer is using, they’re likely to get frustrated and leave it. Because of this, you may want to consider using responsive design, which will make your site usable on all devices. Responsive design is also seen as mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes—and now that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor, that could potentially mean increased visibility for your site.

3. Provide useful content

Today’s consumers expect more than great products and services from the businesses they buy from. Many of them look to brands and companies for advice and useful information. For example, a frequent customer at a boutique may want employees to tell them what’s in style.

The best way to do this is by providing the information online. You may think it’s a bad idea to give away knowledge for free, but look at it this way: if you’re an accountant, your potential customers may use the Internet to search for things like “how to do taxes” or “real estate planning advice.” Information about these topics is probably online. But if you are able to provide an answer, and one that’s better than all the others, those potential customers will see you as a valuable source of information—and may even call you when it comes time to hire an accountant.

4. Do local SEO

While some users go to local directories to find the products and service they need, many others rely on with Google and other search engines to provide them names of local businesses. So, for example, let’s say that your own a shoe store in Memphis. It would clearly be in your best interest to show up in the results whenever someone searches for, “shoe stores in Memphis.”

In order to do that, you need to do local SEO. By optimizing your site to rank well for both your business type (restaurant, bar, shopping, etc.) and your neighborhood, town, or city, you can increase the chances that the people who are actively looking for businesses like yours have no trouble finding you.

Mobile Site Experience Matters Now More than Ever

Mobile Site Experience Matters Now More than Ever

By | Website Design Advice

Mobile website experience has mattered for quite some time now, but the importance of a strong mobile experience only continues to rise. What is mobile site experience, exactly? Your site needs to be:

  • Mobile-friendly – Can the site be navigated without needing to pinch to zoom or scroll sideways?
  • Fast to load – Will your site load before users are compelled to click back to their search?
  • Easy to use – Can users find what they’re looking for?

Good mobile site experience is no longer a competitive advantage, it’s essential to your performance in search.

Mobile Is the New Desktop

It’s no surprise with as much as we’re all connected to our phones that a lot of searches occur from mobile devices. As early as 2015, desktop traffic was surpassed by mobile device traffic, and it hasn’t slowed down since. As of February 2021, mobile devices make up over 54% of traffic worldwide:

In 2015, 61% of mobile device users were more likely to contact a local business if their site was mobile-friendly. Nowadays, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, not only are you less likely to get leads, you’re less likely to appear in search to begin with.

From Mobile-Friendly to Mobile-First

Google first clearly indicated that mobile experience impacted search results with their mobile-friendly update that rolled out in April 2015. At this point in time, users began to see different search results on desktop and mobile devices to cater to users’ needs. Site content was still number one, so sites with poor mobile performance could still rank well, even number one, without a mobile-friendly site.

Taking it to the next level, Google began experimenting with mobile-first indexing in 2016. That essentially means Google looks at the mobile version of sites when evaluating content to rank and appear on Google. By December 2018, half of the pages shown in results globally used mobile-first indexing. Prior to this shift, Google was looking at the desktop version of sites when ranking content, but because the majority of Google users were now accessing Google search on a mobile device, the mobile experience became a priority.

The default for new sites switched to mobile-first indexing in July 2019, but the transition for existing sites was significantly less immediate. Switching the entirety of the web to mobile-first indexing has taken years. In mid-2020, Google announced they experienced setbacks from their original goal of mobile-first indexing for all sites across the web by September 2020. As of the end of March 2021, Google’s rollout should be complete, and desktop-only sites will be dropped from Google’s index.

So, What Makes a Good Mobile Site Experience?

Having a mobile site is not enough anymore. Instead, you have to have a site that is truly optimized for mobile devices. Many elements contribute to the overall experience on your mobile site:

Content Is Key

When mobile sites first gained popularity, it wasn’t uncommon to provide users different (or less) content on mobile compared to desktop to keep mobile sites simple. But with the complete rollout of mobile-first indexing, your mobile site’s content now needs to take precedence.

Google’s John Mueller has made it clear that Google is indexing only the content that exists on the mobile version of a site, and desktop content will essentially be ignored. Want your site’s content to rank in Google search? Ensure the mobile version of your site reflects that content, or Google will gloss over it.

If you employ less content on your mobile site and your site has made the switch to mobile-first indexing, you may have seen a decline in rankings or overall site performance, as Google is no longer seeing the additional content on your desktop site. Essentially, your mobile site is now the primary version of your site, and you should treat it as such.

Mobile-First Design

Sites optimized for mobile come in different shapes and sizes. Both mobile-friendly and responsive site designs are characterized by the ease with which one can use them from a mobile device. A mobile-friendly site functions the exact same on desktop and mobile devices. While you may be able to click on elements easily, sites that are only mobile-friendly aren’t designed with the mobile user in mind. These sites meet Google’s standards and can be less time-consuming to build.

Social mediaResponsive site design varies the appearance of a site based on the size of the browser or device it is viewed on. Responsive sites reformat the content on a desktop site to accommodate the needs of mobile device users because the behavior of mobile device users is different than that of desktop users. Responsive sites not only meet Google’s standards for mobile sites, but they utilize their layout to appeal to mobile users. With today’s shifting landscape, many design teams have started to employ a “mobile-first” approach to designing websites, focusing on elements like conversion rate.

Flash plugins, pop-ups, and elements that are too hard to reach on a mobile device can ruin your site’s mobile experience for a user. Not convinced your mobile experience matters? 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate information while using their smartphone. If your site doesn’t measure up or is too difficult to navigate, users are likely to hit “back” and choose your competitor instead.

Marketing with Mobile in Mind.

B2B Lead Generation – 6 Tips and Strategies for 2021

B2B Lead Generation – 6 Tips and Strategies for 2021

By | Networking Bizz News, Online Entrepreneur News

A lead is not just a random potential client. It’s the one that is only a step away from you. All you need is to grab their attention, provide value and prove that your service will solve their problem.

Generating quality leads is the backbone of a good B2B marketing strategy, and establishing a strong pipeline will ensure you maintain a steady growth rate. And B2B marketing is a lot different compared to B2C.

We’ve found that using a combination of inbound and outbound is generally the best way to go about establishing this pipeline – while outbound is a more immediate way of connecting with leads, your inbound can be used to establish your credibility, resulting in more qualified leads coming to you. Here are the most effective lead generation strategies in B2B marketing.

Search engines can be one of the best tools for marketing any business. If you have success with SEO, you’ll gain new customers faster and essentially for free. To win the SEO game, you should have a strong content marketing strategy that provides information that your target audience will find value in.

1. Content Marketing

content marketingThis is an amazing option for companies that have interesting content to share: articles, videos and so on. To make it work you should do very profound research to know what kind of language you should use; what content your clients would enjoy; whom they listen to etc.

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media lets you refine your lead generation process as it allows for a more targeted approach. 62% of marketers believe that social networks like LinkedIn are proven to be effective in generating leads. It gives businesses and brands a platform where they can engage with potential customers.

Also, social media advertising is very effective, especially nowadays that it’s very rare to meet someone who doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Ads placed on these sites are highly targeted because you can set up the location, age, gender, and interests among many others.

You can generate lots of leads through social media but it’s not easy and takes a well thought out strategy.

3. PPC – Pay-Per-Click

digital adsSEO and content marketing definitely takes time. PPC is of the easiest ways to get results quickly. It can be super effective if you know who your target audience is. However, it can also be very expensive depending on the industry you’re in.

It’s also important to remember that a lot of people are using Adblock (or other programs) nowadays, so there is a possibility that they won’t even see banners or other clickable ads. Or because of the GDPR laws, they might simply opt-out of your advertising altogether.

4. Build Your Email List

Old pitches like “Sign up for our newsletter” just don’t work anymore because the truth is that nobody reads newsletters anymore. They want content personalized to them. Laser-focused, point-solving, specific content that meets their interests and needs.

Cold emailing is hard because you have no prior relationship with the company or person you’re sending it to. So you have to make a good first impression to get results. Here are a few things we recommend to see more leads from cold emails:

  • Be creative to stand out from the crowd. Include things like animated GIFs or memes to catch people’s attention.
  • Be funny! Life is boring enough as it is. Sometimes humor can go a long way.
  • Get straight to the point and don’t spam people with marketing lingo. Many simply ignore this.
  • Send at least 2 follow-up emails. Just like social media, things tend to get lost in people’s inboxes. Sending two or three emails gives you a better chance of getting seen.

5. Asking Questions to Get a 50% Conversion Rate

Except for Facebook Messenger, quizzes are the latest fad in lead generation strategies. And the best part is that it’s not a mainstream strategy – yet.

Surveys are inexpensive to run, are flexible when it comes to the types of questions you ask and are more dependable thanks to anonymity and your customers like them!

We recommend setting up easy to use multiple choice based questions, this will not only make it easy for the customer to fill out but will also take the guesswork out of the equation.

6. Gain Trusted Backlinks

We all know a word of mouth referrals are the best customer! When you have someone raving about your business you’ll gain immediate trust and confidence in your product.

The second best referral is a trusted website sending their clients your way. This is called a backlink – when a trusted website is referring customers back to your website.

There are numerous ways to build backlinks and gain trust from other websites. You can:

  • Write blogs for other companies.
  • Have other websites share your content.
  • Get on a websites resource page.
  • Provide infographics other businesses will share.
  • Get free backlinks if people copy your images.
  • Write amazing content that people actually want to link to.

Summary

B2B lead generation is hard because you can’t just copy and paste a strategy that works for someone else. Stuff that works like crazy for one business might fall completely on its face in another business.

The key is finding a strategy that works for you, and in most cases, the foundation of effective lead generation is some form of content. It all comes down to knowing your audience and how they interact with your business.

Digital Marketing Strategies

2021 B2B Digital Marketing Strategies That Will Grow Your Business

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

The digital era has revolutionized how B2B digital marketing and communication work. Today, every corporate must adopt a fluid approach and work on digital marketing strategies that will exceed customers’ expectations. When it comes to businesses being your audience, you have to have a different approach to promotions and advertisements.

What do you mean by B2B digital marketing strategy?

All the digital marketing strategies, campaigns, and content creation for businesses and organizations is known as B2B marketing. It is a fluid approach that an organization uses to sell services and products to other businesses. In a B2B digital marketing strategy, one does not focus on an individual consumer but a whole organization for desirable outcomes.

Successful B2B digital marketing strategies for your business

A marketing approach varies from audience to audience. B2C marketing is definitely different from B2B marketing and every B2B digital marketing campaign is different. Reaching your target audience requires the use of business-appropriate strategies that work for you, not others.

Let’s take note of different effective B2B digital marketing strategies:

Targeting Demographics

If you do not have the audience segmented, you are doing it wrong. The first and foremost, step is to focus on the right audience. Your digital marketing campaign is a waste if you are not prioritizing potential buyers over the general audience.

With a strong B2B digital marketing strategy, it’s possible to concentrate and target the core audience and limit your premium marketing material to potential buyers. Try creating buyer personas, jot down their likes, dislikes, keep track of their buying habits, and see how they respond on social media platforms.

Invest in a responsive and credible website

Any business with no website in this era seems skeptical. A website is more than presenting the audience with information. It’s a visual presentation of your personality, your business’s selling approach, your product’s quality, and your customer service.

An unresponsive and blank website scares the customers away. An engaging and interactive website is one with compelling content, visual graphics, positive reviews, testimonials, your address, service info, the story behind the business, and so on.

Allocating budget for pay-per-click (PPC) Campaigns

PPC campaigns target a new audience and utilize different platforms to advertise your website and to spread your content to new users. Of course, you have to have a budget for it but it is a digital marketing strategy B2B that we can vouch for. PPC campaign is an effective tool when it comes to generating leads, increasing conversion rates, and building business awareness.

What can you get out of using social media platforms?

Here are some useful things you get out of maintaining an active social media presence:

Current industry Trends

Want to know what’s working out and failing for your competitors? Use social media platforms to prosper your business in the industry. Eventually, you will learn to go by rules and current trends.

Information about new-ins in the industry

People talk about everything on social media. Search for relevant keywords to know all about hot topics/products in the industry.

Get to know the current buyers’ issues

People are social enough to address their problems on social media. Observe all the problems that people are addressing. A close inspection of buyers’ issues allows you to work towards a pain point solution.

The marketplace of your service/product

Want to know your product’s worth and place in the market? Head over to social media platforms and read all the reviews thoroughly. Get valuable feedback and updates from customers. You can also observe complaints regarding your product/service and improve in the time being.

Get positive feedback

One good thing about Facebook is that you can get all the feedback you want in terms of reviews. All the reviews are mentioned on your page. Thus, making it easy for you to read them.

Make whitepapers and case studies accessible to the audience

Social media platforms allow you to publish case studies, in-depth reports, and whitepapers on your page so that future buyers can see how you work professionally and carry out document work. Posting case studies provide evidence that you provide each customer with a solution pertaining to their problem.

Improve credibility through video testimonials

Your marketing strategy is outdated if it does not include video marketing. Product videos, client testimonials, and demonstration videos have become an integral part of marketing for every business. It improves an organization’s credibility and builds trust among the audience.

Easy access to demonstration videos

Reading book-long instructions and losing oneself in demonstration manuals is what the customers hate. Nowadays, customers want easy demonstration videos to get started with the product right away. Social media allows you to provide links that redirect a buyer straight to short instructional and demonstration videos.

Survey buyers and audience

B2B digital marketing strategy is data-driven. The only way to target the right audience is to review and survey them. How can you know accurately a buyer’s interests, likes, and dislikes without reading their opinions on your product or service?

You gather tons of data and new information through review applications and surveys. Other than that, surveying your buyers means you are insightful and serious about your product’s marketplace and the audience’s feedback.

Video marketing

Videos go more viral than pictures. More than 65% of the internet audience claims to be visual learners. Videos are inspiring and incorporate an organization’s story better than text. It urges the audience to take immediate action.

Online referrals

Gone are those times when people spent hours sharing promotions. It is a digital era where referrals come from strangers and clients. A business must not stop at reviews and testimonials. Providing social proof of one’s reputation can make you a thought leader of the industry. Online referrals by strangers increase brand recognition.

Redefining target audience mid-campaign

You can observe analytics to fine-tune your digital marketing campaigns. For instance, the Google analytics tool lets you find out the results of the campaign. If the results are not desirable, you can change the target audience mid-campaign.

Content of email newsletter

Email newsletters provide users with information on general topics relevant to the industry. Subscription to the email newsletter is free and you can even add the element of advertising to promote your brand.

Conclusion

Unless you keep your target audience in mind, your B2B digital marketing strategy can’t produce results. Your marketing should reflect how you can help other businesses and provide them with viable solutions.

 

4 Ways You Can Use Landing Pages as Your Digital Storefront

4 Ways You Can Use Landing Pages as Your Digital Storefront

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Most people don’t go out shopping just to shop. They typically have a product in mind with the intent to buy. So when faced with an empty store with no signs in the windows, or a well-designed store with a huge sale sign in the window for the exact product they’re looking for–they’re most likely to enter the latter.

First impressions are everything, even in the digital era where sales are transitioning online. Yet, while every customer is unique and requires different offers and engagement, it’s unrealistic to expect brands to create entire websites for every user.

They can, however, create unique digital storefronts for each one.

What is a digital storefront?

In the digital world, your landing page serves as your storefront–your main avenue to making a great first impression, and a vital contact point for a customer, setting the tone for the entire relationship and transaction.

For example, online shoppers often search Google by keywords to find the specific product or service they’re looking for. Searching for exact terms indicates high intent, which helps brands target interested buyers.

The problem: a brand could have the perfect product or service to meet that consumer’s needs, but if it’s not advertised properly, a good relationship won’t form and a transaction will never happen.

Using post-click landing pages as your online storefront offers an opportunity to provide a unique value proposition to highly segmented personas in a professional and credible way. It allows you to present your brand as an authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy source within your industry.

Remember, though, a digital storefront is a direct representation of your business–for better or worse. If your landing page is cluttered, unorganized, and unprofessional, the visitor will likely bounce immediately. If it’s conversion-optimized, you’re more likely to capture their attention and convince them to convert.

It’s important to take a look at your electronic storefront to see what it says about your business. As inspiration, here are four ways brands use various landing pages to attract consumers’ attention, entice them to engage with the page, and pursue the offer.

4 Ways to use landing pages as your digital storefront

Squeeze pages

Squeeze pages provide good reason and an irresistible offer to visitors in exchange for their information. Here’s one that PaintShop Pro uses to capture visitors’ attention and show them why they should purchase before they leave the website:

The page serves as a digital storefront because:

  • “New version available” let’s visitors know they don’t currently have the best/newest option and entices them to upgrade.
  • Bulleted lists and bold copy provide important information in an organized, easily-digestible way.
  • Only one offer keeps visitors focused and on track toward conversion.
  • No exit links makes it less likely that visitors will bounce, and more likely they’ll redeem the offer.
  • The blue CTA button contrasts well with the orange, black, and white page.
  • A click-through format makes the form non-intimidating for prospects to complete on the next page.

Sales pages

  • A strong headline explaining exactly what the offer is and what visitors are supposed to do.
  • The image slideshow showing exactly what the magazines look like.
  • A contrasting CTA button so visitors can easily find it and order a subscription.
  • 1:1 conversion ratio so visitors are focused only on one goal.

Lead capture pages

Lead capture pages are a third way to use post-click landing pages as a storefront by focusing primarily on the lead capture form like Drip does:

  • A straightforward headline that highlights exactly how the company can help prospects.
  • A bulleted list expanding on how Drip can improve customers’ email marketing.
  • A lead capture form above the fold and surrounded by white space to entice visitors to convert.
  • Testimonials to show that other customers have seen success with Drip.
  • G2 awards to show credibility and trustworthiness.

Retargeting landing pages

Freshly uses a retargeting landing page with an exclusive offer as their digital storefront, to entice prospects who have already shown interest in starting a subscription and might need a little incentive:

Elements that make this post-click page a great storefront include:

  • An attention grabbing headline and subheadline announcing an exclusive discount offer for prospects who may need extra convincing.
  • High-quality images of Freshly meals.
  • Time and quantity scarcity, letting visitors know they must redeem the offer before meals are sold out, and before the “limited time offer” expires.
  • A short form and enticing CTA button, so prospects can quickly and easily claim their discounted meals.
  • Numbered benefits of Freshly to persuade visitors why they should convert.
  • Ratings and testimonials to prove that others are satisfied with their subscriptions.

Create an attractive digital storefront with every landing page

With online shoppers’ high intent to buy, it’s important you make a great first impression with your digital storefront. By taking a customer-first, hyper-personalized approach to your landing pages, you can turn them into attractive, enticing storefronts to guide traffic in the direction you want and drive higher returns for your business.

 

How to Use Facebook Reactions in your Digital Marketing Campaigns

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Just as the “like” button features into Facebook’s algorithm, reactions are also vital to social media campaigns. Facebook measures all reactions equally when evaluating posts. What this means for marketers is that Reactions are just another way to engage with customers. These icons are a hub of useful information. Reactions are much more descriptive than a simple “like” and allow marketers to see how customers “feel” about their posts. Facebook gives companies access to a clearer picture of what their customers like and what they love. Adverse reactions also help brands to overcome consumer problems and protect their reputation. With Reactions, brands can adapt and refine their messaging to evoke the desired emotions they most want to see.

facebook marketingFacebook Reactions represents a unique engagement metric for companies, as emotions are the key driver behind most purchasing decisions. For digital marketing and social media campaigns, Facebook Reactions can:

1. Show which emotions promote the most conversions

There are countless emotions involved that drive customers, both positive and negative. Anger can be a powerful motivator, particularly in certain industries and non-profit organizations.

2. Highlight potential advocates

People who regularly react with the “love” reaction may be ideal for evangelism and influencer campaigns.

3. Support optimization

Measuring negative or “angry” reactions allows you to create a list of topics and content to avoid. Facebook Reactions can be a powerful addition to a reputation management strategy.

By adjusting a common engagement metric, the “like” into something more nuanced, Facebook makes it easier for you to analyze how your customers feel about your brand. With Facebook Reactions and the right social media tools, companies can dive deeper into each campaign’s successes and failures.

seo pasadena website design

As Reactions continue to evolve, the real question for marketers will be how to best use the new data streams, and even whether to separate them at all. Are all Reactions just likes that have been sorted? Or should some of the Reactions be worth more than others (like loves vs. likes)? Personally, I think one of the most intriguing opportunities Reactions will present marketers is targeting specific emojis with their posts, and analyzing whether such attempts are successful.

Brand Resources for Facebook Reactions

Reactions are an extension of the Like Button to give people quick and easy ways to share their reaction to a post.

To ensure consistent and accurate use, never alter, rotate, embellish, or attempt to recreate the Reactions. Never alter the shape and proportion of the Reactions (and surrounding UI) for any reason. Reactions are not emojis or individual icons, and they cannot be used in this way. It is important to show these reactions in the same way as they are intended to be used on Facebook – as a quick and easy way to express how you feel. Use Reactions only as they appear and exactly how they function within the context of Facebook UI. Reactions cannot be used for creative purposes. Only use Reactions as a collection – do not use them as individual icons or as the most prominent feature of your marketing.

New Reactions for COVID-19

In March 2020, Facebook added a new Care emoji reaction as an additional option in response to COVID-19. It is displayed similarly to a hugging face holding a red love heart. This Care emoji is not available as a standardized Unicode emoji and can only be used in reactions to Facebook posts.

 

4 tips to help you succeed with Instagram SEO

4 tips to help you succeed with Instagram SEO

By | seo advice for business

Instagram SEO is the process of optimizing your content in order to rank your profile higher in the Instagram search results. And though it may not have the same appeal as live streams or carousel ads, it’s as worthy of your time as anything else. By following Instagram SEO best practices — which we’ll discuss shortly — you improve your chances of being discovered by users who are searching keywords related to your business.

Why is Instagram SEO important?

It is important because it enables you to connect with people who are actively searching for content related to your business.

Think of it this way: Each time a user types in a keyword that’s related to your business, you have an opportunity to make a positive impression and drive high-quality traffic to your profile (and your website). Instagram SEO is the key to capitalizing on these opportunities — the key to engaging prospective customers who are more likely than others to convert.

That’s all well and good, but there’s a crucial question we need to address: Do people actually use Instagram to interact with businesses in this fashion? Is it really worthwhile to optimize your content in order to rank higher in the search results?

Yes and yes. According to AdEspresso, more than 200 million Instagram users visit a business profile on a daily basis. 66% of those visits come from users who do not yet follow the profiles they’re visiting. Plus, 60% of all Instagram users say they’ve learned about new products through the platform.

Evidently, many people — your prospects included — see Instagram as a way to discover new businesses, new brands, and new products.

To be fair, searching for specific keywords is only one of several ways that users discover new businesses. Instagram ads drive discovery, and the Explore tab does, too. Instagram SEO, in other words, is not the be-all and end-all.

It is, however, the only way to organically connect with prospects who show an active interest in your content/business. Ads are not organic, and they do not connect you with proactive prospects. Discovery via the Explore tab is organic, but, again, there is no element of proactivity.

Now that we understand the value that Instagram SEO presents to marketers, here are four tips to help you successfully execute it at your company.

As we walk through these tips, keep in mind the ultimate goal: Getting your profile and individual posts to rank as high as possible for the keywords you care about.

1. Identify and prioritize your keywords

keywordsWhich keywords do you want to rank for? An answer to this question is absolutely necessary before you make a single change. Head terms (e.g., gardening) are searched frequently, and they typically indicate low commercial intent in the mind of the user. Long-tail keywords (e.g., gardening ideas) are searched infrequently, and they typically indicate high commercial intent in the mind of the user.

Which is more important to you: increasing traffic to your profile, or driving more conversions? If it’s the former, you’re probably going to prioritize head terms over long-tail keywords. If it’s the latter, you’ll likely do the reverse.

You could argue that these two objectives go hand-in-hand— i.e., you want to increase traffic to your profile in order to drive more conversions. It’s a fair point, and most of you will end up optimizing your profile/content for both head terms and long-tail keywords. As we’ll discuss shortly, however, not all optimizations carry the same weight — and that’s why it’s important to establish your priorities from the jump.

2. Establish KPIs to measure impact

There’s one more question you need to answer before you start optimizing: How are you going to measure the impact of your Instagram SEO efforts? Measuring impact is an essential part of the process, as it enables you to determine which optimizations are (un)successful.

To set yourself up for success, make sure to establish a few key performance indicators (KPIs). With Instagram Insights — the native analytics tool that comes with your business profile — you can track KPIs such as these (both at the profile level and the individual post level):

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Profile visits
  • Followers
  • Website clicks
  • instagram-seo-metrics
  • Via Social Media Examiner.

Once you know which KPIs you’re going to track, you’ll be able to measure the impact yielded by your optimizations.

3. Optimize your profile (username & bio)

Now that you know (1) which keywords you’re going to target and (2) how you’re going to track your ROI, it’s time to optimize both your profile as a whole and your individual posts.

Let’s begin with your profile as a whole — we’re going to optimize your username and your bio. (Remember when we said not all optimizations carry the same weight? Well, your username and your bio are the heavy hitters; optimizing these two assets can make a huge impact). Your username is straightforward: You need to incorporate the keyword you consider most valuable. Clearly, the person who owns a profile wants to rank for the similar keywords

Optimizing your Instagram bio is equally straightforward: This is your opportunity to target any high-value keywords that didn’t quite make the cut for your username.

4. Optimize your individual posts (captions & hashtags)

  • Use the main body of the caption to target a specific high-value keyword
  • Use hashtags to reinforce that keyword and target ancillary keywords

Don’t neglect Instagram SEO!

Instagram SEO is a no-cost, high-impact tactic for anyone who wants to grow their reach, increase traffic to their profile/website, and drive more conversions. It may not yield the same volume of results as paid advertising, but the potential ROI is staggering. If you’re committed to using social media as an engine of growth for your business, Instagram SEO is a no-brainer.

The SEO Blueprint That Every Business Should Use

The SEO Blueprint That Every Business Should Use

By | seo advice for business

Every week this year I’ve been talking 1-on-1 with business owners, marketing managers, and marketing consultants about their SEO strategy. My key takeaway?

There is still a lot of confusion out there about SEO.

Here are just a handful of the frequently asked questions I hear:

  • Where should I start if I’m new to SEO?
  • What should I do after my site is “optimized”?
  • Should I be making edits each month to the same pages or is that “over optimizing”?

How many words need to be on a page in order for it to rank?

After walking through the same step-by-step process over and over again on calls, I’ve decided to publish this article in an attempt to clear the air once and for all.

You see, there is a proven SEO blueprint that literally every business should use. Sure, the nitty gritty details will change depending on your business and your situation, but the blueprint remains the same.

It’s similar to the basic blueprint for building a house. You know you need a strong foundation, walls, a door, windows, and a roof. The architecture and design may vary widely across homes, but the basic elements and process stay the same. And that’s true for SEO as well.

Before we dive into the blueprint, it’s important to take a step back and review a marketing concept I’m sure you’re familiar with…

The Marketing Funnel

The classic marketing funnel that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Something like this:

At the top of the funnel you have prospective customers that aren’t quite ready to buy; They are researching or browsing online to learn more in order to eventually become ready. Then at the bottom of the funnel you have your prospective customers that are ready to buy; They have done their homework and they’re now searching in order to pull the trigger.

Now let’s tie this back to SEO…

At the top of the funnel (ToFu), searchers are researching. They are looking for information that will allow them to make an informed buying decision. In other words, they are searching using research-intent keywords.

At the bottom of the funnel (BoFu), searchers are looking to buy. In other words, they are searching using buying-intent keywords.

And that leads us to the first key takeaway of this article…

SEO Is All About Search Intent: ToFu vs. BoFu Keywords

SEO mobileResearch-intent keywords are phrases searched by prospective customers at the top of the funnel (ToFu). Buying-intent keywords are phrases searched by prospective customers at the bottom of the funnel (BoFu).

Unfortunately, there is no tool that will tell you if a keyword has research-intent or buying-intent. To determine the search intent of a keyword you need to ask yourself, “Is a person more likely to be researching or looking to buy when searching this keyword?”

For many keywords, the answer will be obvious. For example, “what is a dental implant” is a clear research-intent keyword. Alternatively, “implant dentist near me” is a clear buying-intent keyword. Easy enough right?

Well, some keywords are not so obvious and when that’s the case I recommend you search in Google to see what’s being highlighted. Google is constantly testing and altering their search results to give searchers exactly what they want. So if Google is showing a lot of informational articles at the top of the search results, then chances are good the keyword has more research intent. If Google is showing businesses and products at the top of the results, then you’ve typed in a buying-intent keyword.

OK, now that you understand search intent, we can move on to the second key takeaway…

Your Pages Must Match the Search Intent

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s worth repeating. You must match the content on your pages with the search intent of the keyword.

In practice, that means you’ll optimize a product or service page for buying-intent (BoFu) keywords and you’ll optimize informational articles or blogs for research-intent (ToFu) keywords.

To take this a step further, the amount of content and the layout of these pages should also match the search intent. Ah, I can see the lightbulbs going off! Google knows that when someone searches “massage therapist near me,” then that person doesn’t need a 2,000 word article. However, if that same person searches “massage techniques for back pain” then a 2,000 word informational guide makes sense and deserves to rank higher than a 200 word service page.

At this point, you have the basic SEO knowledge to dive into the SEO Blueprint…

Phase 1: The Foundation

Like building a house, you must start by laying a strong foundation for SEO. And it starts by optimizing for the buying-intent (BoFu) keywords.

For many (probably most) businesses, this will require building new product, service, and category pages that you may not already have on your website. For example, if people are searching for a specific service and you don’t currently have a page dedicated for that service, then you’ll need to build that page.

You’ll know you’ve completed phase 1 when you have built and optimized pages for all of the relevant buying-intent keywords for your business.

Many people I talk to mistakenly believe this is the end of the road for SEO work… However, the reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Phase 2: Building Up and Up and Up…

As mentioned above, Phase 1 work has a start and finish because you likely have a finite number of product and service pages to optimize. Of course, when you introduce a new product or service, you’ll need to restart at Phase 1 each time.

In contrast, Phase 2 can likely go on forever. To understand why, we need to take a closer look at the pages you’ll optimize for research-intent keywords. The informational pages you’ll need to build fall into two distinct groups:

Evergreen pages – This is information that does not change much over time. For example, a guide highlighting massage techniques for back pain would be an evergreen page. The content will not need to be updated much every year unless a brand new technique is introduced.

Generally I recommend building a “Resource Center” section on your website where these pages will be published.

Time-sensitive pages – This is information that will only be relevant for a specific period of time. For example, an article about an upcoming massage class you’ll be teaching will only be relevant before the class starts. Blog articles work well for this type of content.

The sheer volume of relevant research-intent keywords (remember the large top of the funnel) means most businesses will never create all the evergreen opportunities, which is one reason Phase 2 lasts so long. Plus, there will always be opportunities to publish time-sensitive content.

As you build more and more of these pages, you’ll have more opportunities to rank in the search results and also more opportunities for other websites to link to your pages. This is how SEO traffic can start to snowball over time.

Now you may be wondering, how do you convert research-intent traffic into leads and sales? The reality is that those prospective customers aren’t ready to buy and an informational article isn’t going to do a great job selling.

That brings us to the final key takeaway of this article…

Your Offer Must Match the Search Intent

When you’re in Phase 1 optimizing product and service pages for buying-intent (BoFu) keywords, then your offer is going to be to buy or inquire about your product or service. In this case you know the prospective customer is ready to buy, so it makes sense to present your sales offer.

However, when you’re in Phase 2 optimizing informational pages for research-intent (ToFu) keywords, then you’re not likely going to convert with the same offer. Remember, these prospective customers aren’t ready to pull the trigger and buy yet. That means you’re better off presenting a free offer in exchange for an email address.

For e-commerce businesses, coupons are a great option to collect email addresses. For other businesses, you may need to be more creative by offering a guide, checklist, demo, or something else with enough perceived value that a prospective customer will happily give you her email address in exchange. From there, you can use email marketing to follow up, educate, and nurture until those prospective customers are ready to buy. And who do you think they’ll go to when they’re ready to buy?

Scroll up and take another look at the marketing funnel. The largest part of the funnel is at the top where prospective customers are searching research-intent keywords. If you’re only optimizing for buying-intent keywords, then you’re missing the largest part of your market!

To cast the widest net, you need to complete both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of SEO. Start by optimizing your product and service pages. Then build relevant informational pages, a compelling free offer, and an email marketing program.

The 4-Part Framework for Digital Marketing Success

The 4-Part Framework for Digital Marketing Success

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Did you know there are 4 parts, or pieces, that every successful digital marketing campaign must have?

If you’re missing or deficient in any of these 4 areas, then your marketing will fail. It’s really that simple.

That leads us to the first key concept here…

Digital Marketing Is A Lot Like Assembling A Puzzle

That’s right, digital marketing is just one big puzzle waiting to be assembled one piece at a time. But there’s one big difference. With marketing, you don’t have the finished picture on the box to show you where and how the different pieces will eventually fit together! That certainly makes marketing a lot harder, doesn’t it?

That’s why in this article I’m going to give you that finished picture. I’ll walk through the proven digital marketing framework so you can see how all of the marketing options available fit together to create a successful marketing plan.

First, The Foundation

Before we dive into the framework, I need to highlight how digital marketing actually works. If you break it all down to the individual pieces, then digital marketing follows a very basic formula:

(Revenue) = (Website Traffic) x (Conversion Rate) x (Customer Value)

In other words, revenue from digital marketing is directly proportional to how many people visit your website, how many of those people convert into customers, and how much those customers are worth to your business.

Or to put it another way, there are 3 ways to increase your revenue from digital marketing: increase your traffic, increase your conversion rate, and/or increase your customer value.

Also, before we move on it’s important to remember that your revenue will be zero if any one of those 3 variables is zero. That’s just basic math. It doesn’t matter if you drive millions of visitors to your website if your conversion rate is zero. You’ll still end up with zero revenue!

Now that you understand this formula, it’s time to introduce the framework, which I call the 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. These are the 4 Pillars every business must continually try to improve to compete online.

Pillars of Digital Marketing Success

1. Website Traffic

The first Pillar is website traffic. Obviously, if you don’t get any traffic to your website, then you’re not going to be very successful with digital marketing. If you’re just getting started, then this is where you need to focus.

Think of website traffic like fuel.

You need a constant supply of “fuel” or else your marketing will come to a screeching halt.

2. Website Conversions

As I mentioned above, all the traffic in the world does nothing for your business unless you can actually convert it into leads and sales. For established businesses that already have a steady stream of visitors, improving website conversion is likely the biggest leverage point to increase sales.

Here’s a quick example to highlight this point…

Let’s say your website gets about 1,000 visits per month and of those visitors 5 of them convert into sales. That’s a 0.5% conversion rate. What happens if you can increase your conversion rate to 1%?

You’ll double your sales with the same traffic you’re already getting to your site! That means you would double your sales with no more investment in traffic tactics like advertising, SEO, social media, etc.

3. Customer Value

Customer value is often the X-factor in digital marketing, yet many businesses ignore it. Again, I’ll use an example so you can see how your customer value plays a role in your marketing.

Let’s say your conversion rate is 0.5% and your average customer value is $100. That means, on average one visitor to your website is worth $0.50.

That also means you can not afford to pay more than $0.50 to drive a visitor to your website. If you pay more than 50 cents, then you’ll lose money.

What happens if one of your competitors has the same conversion rate, but a slightly higher customer value of $150? Well, this competitor can afford to pay $0.75 and will inevitably be able to buy more traffic than you. Even though the competitor may have the same offer, a similar website, and the same conversion rate, they’ll dominate the market due to their higher customer value.

Options for increasing your customer value include raising your prices, offering recurring/monthly offerings rather than just one-time purchases, and offering additional complementary products/services after the sale (upsells and cross-sells).

4. Tracking

The final Pillar is tracking. Without proper tracking in place, then you’ll be flying blind with very little hope to improve the other 3 Pillars.

Think of tracking like the dashboard of your car. Could you imagine driving if you didn’t have a speedometer or a fuel gauge? That would be pretty stressful because you wouldn’t know if you needed to slow down or speed up. Plus, you would likely run out of fuel with no warning signs.

Proper tacking will guide your marketing decisions by telling you exactly where you need to focus.

 

2 Questions to Find Your Best Sources of Website Traffic

2 Questions to Find Your Best Sources of Website Traffic

By | seo advice for business

With digital marketing, there is certainly no shortage of hype about all the different tactics to drive traffic to your website. There’s SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, YouTube, email marketing…

My point is, there’s a lot to evaluate and determine what’s best for your business. One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is that they are simply overwhelmed. Understandably, they don’t know where to focus their time and resources to maximize their marketing budget. And unfortunately, that often leads to inaction.

To create a successful digital marketing plan, you need to be strong in the following 4 areas:

  • Website Traffic: Getting prospects to your website.
  • Website Conversion: Converting website visitors into paying customers.
  • Customer Value: Increasing the lifetime value of your customers.
  • Tracking: Tracking your marketing channels so you know what’s working and what needs to be improved.

You might want to write those down on a notepad. I call these the 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success because they establish the foundation for your marketing. If you’re weak in any one of those areas, then you’ll struggle to create profitable marketing campaigns. There’s no way around it, you need to focus on all 4.

In this article, I’m going to address the first Pillar, website traffic. More specifically, how to determine your best traffic opportunities.

And there are 2 questions…

Question #1. Where’s My Prospect?

The first question is where are your ideal prospects hanging out online? Are they searching in Google and Bing? Are they watching videos on YouTube? Do they spend a lot of time on Facebook or are they more active on LinkedIn? Are they reading articles on news sites?

Put yourself in your ideal prospect’s shoes. What would you do if you were in need of your particular product or service?

This is important because not every source of traffic is a good opportunity for your business. For example, I worked with a medical device company that sold a product that most people do not know exists. Since few people know it exists, very few people go to Google to search for it. Logically, that means search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising are not good options for that business. They are simply not going to drive any sales.

It’s obvious once you ask this first question, but that’s not often where we start. I catch myself doing this all the time. I listen to the media and get caught up in all the hype about a certain tactic and instantly believe it’s where I need to be focused. Fight that urge! Always ask first where your ideal prospects are, and make sure the tactic will, in fact, reach them.

Question #2. Are You Offering Catnip or Cat Food?

Have you ever seen a cat go crazy after just a few licks of catnip? It’s hilarious. Reminds me of scenes from Dazed and Confused.

What’s most interesting about catnip is that it only affects cats. If you have both dogs and cats and you open up a container of catnip, then your cats will come scurrying from all corners of your house. Your dogs may look up curiously, but then they’ll go right back to whatever they were doing.

Round puzzle table

In other words, catnip is the absolute perfect bait if all you want to do is attract nearby cats. If you compare that to cat food, then you clearly see the difference. When you open up a can of cat food, then any hungry animals nearby (cats, dogs, and even rodents) will come to check it out.

What does this have to do with marketing? A lot actually. When you’re considering a source of website traffic, then you need to ask this question: how can you create a bait like catnip that only attracts your ideal customer, rather than cat food that could attract a flurry of unqualified prospects?

For example, I recently talked to a business owner that caters to parents of children about to go to college. Her prospects are going to Google searching for information so search advertising makes sense. However, there’s a big problem. There is no guarantee the person searching is the parent — so a lot of the ad budget could be wasted on children clicking on the ads.

Does that mean search ads are a bad idea?

Not necessarily. Sure, advertising a general “cat food” type ad that would attract both parents and children would be a mistake. But you could also create a “catnip” ad that speaks directly to parents (and even repels children) so that you do not waste money on irrelevant clicks.

 

3 Key Factors to Be Successful With SEO

3 Key Factors to Be Successful With SEO

By | seo advice for business

I have a distinct memory in high school when one of my friends held up a wrapper that had the company’s website printed on it and we all thought it was so funny for a company to have a website. I mean, what was the point? Who was going to visit a company’s website?

Granted, this was way back in the 90’s when our understanding of the Internet was that it was only good for school research, instant messaging with friends, and downloading all the music you could ever want from Napster (sorry, not sorry, Metallica!) Little did I know we were about to experience a huge shift in how businesses would market their products and services.

One result of this shift is the growing importance of search engine optimization, or SEO. Another result is increased competition because the barrier to entry, to create a website, is now so low.

It’s a lot like the running boom in the 70’s. In 1970, the first New York City marathon had a whopping 127 registrants. In recent years, there have been more than 50,000 finishers!

To put that into perspective, even if I came in dead last in 1970, I would have placed 127th. To place 127th now, I’d need to be among some of the best marathon runners in the world.

And that brings me to the first key takeaway in this article…

SEO Gets Harder Every Day

Ranking on the first page of Google gets harder and harder every day. Just like how it’s harder to rank among the top 100 marathoners simply because there are so many more competitors today than there were decades ago.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that just because more businesses have websites doesn’t mean they are all actually competing in SEO. Sure, they are “in the race,” but in my experience auditing hundreds of client websites, the majority of businesses aren’t really “in the race.”

Bear with me because I’m about to reveal the second key takeaway…

The Difference Between Running and Racing

Since 2011, I’ve completed 9 marathons, but if I’m honest with myself, I’ve only raced 2 of them. The other 7 I was just trying to finish. I didn’t realize this until after I trained for racing a marathon and then actually raced one. The difference is night and day. This was a huge revelation for me and it parallels how I see most businesses approaching SEO.

The most obvious difference is the sheer volume of running it takes to race a marathon. If you want to just finish, then 25 to 30 miles per week is enough. Heck, I’ve even heard of people who didn’t train much at all and they still managed to cross the finish line.

But if you want to race, then you’ll need to get up to 50+ miles per week. That’s just what it takes to get your body prepared for 26.2 miles of running hard the entire course.

With SEO, as I said earlier, a lot of businesses simply can’t compete because they aren’t investing enough time and resources. It’s the equivalent of running 25 miles per week and thinking you’re training hard. Without running more miles each week, the result is that you’ll hit what’s called “the wall” around mile 20 and you’ll be shuffling or walking or some combination of both for the next 6.2 miles.

Same is true with SEO. Without enough resources invested, you’ll hit “the wall” and never get on to the first page.

Intuitively that makes sense, but the next logical question is, “Where should you invest your resources?”

Great question! Let’s take a look…

Variation Keeps You Healthy

SEOI’ve studied training programs for several professional marathoners and, in addition to higher weekly mileage, they vary their workouts day-to-day and week-to-week. One day they’ll focus on speed, the next day they’ll slow way down and focus on recovery, then the next day they’ll focus on endurance, and on and on they go with different types of workouts designed to improve one area that’s important for running marathons.

Studies have shown that alternating different types of hard workouts and recovery is the recipe for success with marathon training. Alternatively, overly focusing on one area like speed or endurance is the recipe for injury.

And the same can be said about success with SEO – you must use a mix of tactics, such as meta tag edits, website structure, site speed, schema, mobile optimization, content development, outreach, guest blogging, citations, online reviews, and so on. Overly focusing on just one area at the expense of the others will not likely lead to positive results.

There’s one last takeaway before we conclude…

Injuries Are Inevitable

Research has shown that up to 50% of runners get injured each year. The reality is that if you’re pushing your body, you’ll inevitably wind up injured at some point.

With SEO, drops in keyword rankings are also inevitable. When this happens, it’s important to assess the “injury” and determine the root cause. Have you taken your foot off the pedal with blogging? Have you ignored online reviews recently and let the door open for a competitor to sneak in?

Once you determine the root cause, then it’s time to start rehabbing. As long as you’re serious about your SEO and willing to put in the work, then there’s no “injury” you can’t overcome. It just takes dedication and a little bit of patience.

By now, I hope it’s clear what it takes to be successful with SEO…

Website Is Not Converting Traffic Into Sales

3 Reasons Why Your Website Is Not Converting Traffic Into Sales.

By | E Commerce Business News

In business, every position has a defined role. Salespeople sell. Customer service ensures customers are happy. The product development team improves the product. And the list goes on and on…

But what about your website? Have you clearly defined the role of your website in your business?

I would argue your website is simply another member of the sales team. That means it’s responsible for selling or converting website traffic into leads and sales. That also means you should analyze your website’s performance like you would review a salesperson’s performance.

If someone, or in our case your website, is struggling in sales, then here are 3 key questions to ask that will help you pinpoint the problem.

1. Are You Talking To The Wrong People?

In sales, it’s absolutely critical that you focus your time and attention on qualified prospects. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get frustrated and burnt out talking to people who never end up buying from you.

The same thing happens with your website every single day. If you’re getting 1,000 visitors to your website each month and no one is turning into leads and sales, then the first question to answer is, “Are these visitors really qualified prospects?”

If you dig into Google Analytics and see that half the traffic is international and you only sell in the US, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that your conversion rates are low. Or if you see that the majority of your traffic is from a funny, mostly unrelated video that was shared on social media, then again, you shouldn’t expect that traffic to be converting.

In other words, the first step to assess low conversion rates is to confirm you’re talking to the right people. If you’re not, then there’s no sales trick in the world that will help you.

2. Are You Presenting The Wrong Message?

OK, let’s assume we know your website visitors are in fact qualified prospects. Next, we need to check your message.

A great salesperson knows there is no one-size-fits-all sales presentation. Instead, you must match your presentation to your audience. If you’re selling to a room full of mothers, then your presentation will be different than if you’re selling to a room full of college boys. You may even dress differently in order to connect more closely with each audience.

Now take a look at your website. Are your webpages presenting a message that matches each type of visitor? With digital advertising, you can control this more easily using unique landing pages that precisely match the targeting of your ads.

With your organic traffic, I recommend offering options for your visitors to self-select so you can then direct them to unique pages that match the audience. For example, you could add buttons on your website that say, “Click here for women’s XYZ” and “Click here for men’s XYZ” so you can tailor the next page for each gender.

3. Are You Confusing Your Prospects?

Finally, if you know you’re talking to your ideal prospects and you’re presenting the right message, then it’s possible you’re overly complicating the sale. This is especially true with digital marketing where your prospects can click away in a split second if they ever get confused.

When you’re selling face-to-face, it’s easier to pick up on clues (like glossed-over eyes) and then switch course to get the sale back on track. But with your website, your clues are not as obvious. In fact, they are buried in Google Analytics.

One clue is to review the top Exit Pages on your website by going to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. Those are the pages where your visitors are exiting your website.

Why are they exiting? Again, if you know the visitors are qualified prospects and you’re presenting the right message, then chances are good those visitors are exiting your website because they are confused. Take a close look at those pages and wherever possible, simplify the layout and copy.

Remember, your website’s role in your business is to generate leads and sales. If you’re not happy with your website’s results to-date, then it’s time for a performance review using the 3 questions above. When you fix these issues, then all of your other digital marketing results will, in turn, improve as well.

7 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

7 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It is undeniable that social media is a must-have marketing strategy across all businesses and industries. This is not surprising as 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their businesses.

Brands are continuing to include social media in their marketing strategy – and for all the right reasons.

Let’s take a look into some of the most common reasons why companies invest in social media.

1. Brand awareness

brand awarenessFor many business, social media channels are used to increase brand awareness and build trust among prospects and existing customers. According to research, 44% of local businesses say they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41% depend on it to drive revenue.

2. Website traffic

Social media platforms are one of the leading sources of website traffic. According to 90% of marketers, their social media marketing efforts have increased the exposure of their business, and 75% say they’ve increased website traffic.

3. SEO

Social media engagement is one of the off-site SEO components of the Google’s Ranking Algorithm. In other words, more engagement on your social media profiles can go a long way in improving your SEO and organic rankings on search engines.

4. Sales

Managing salesFor some businesses, social media is the most efficient source of new leads and customers. This is especially true for B2C companies. Moreover, 21% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that they can reach on social media, and according to GlobalWebIndex, 54% use social media to research products.

5. Customer loyalty and advocacy

According to another research, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to their friends and family. Therefore, many organizations use social media to build a base of loyal customers and brand advocates.

6. Conversion rates

Some social networks have great conversion rates which is why they are used for lead generation. HubSpot analyzed more than 5,000 businesses that use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to generate leads. The results were astonishing.

LinkedIn dominated the visitor-to-lead conversion rate with an impressive 2.74%. Facebook and Twitter were far behind with rates below 1%.

Therefore, marketing and social selling on LinkedIn are considered some of the most powerful B2B tactics for generating new leads and closing new customers.

7. Cost effectiveness

Social media advertising can be much more cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising such as Google Ads. According to research, cost per lead on LinkedIn is 28% lower compared to Google Ads, and it offers incredible targeting capabilities that are particularly useful for B2B businesses.

7 Simple Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

7 Simple Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

By | Social Media News

1. Take a good, long look at your posts.

People are busy, and they check their social accounts on the go. For now, Twitter’s character limit forces marketers to be brief, but brevity is just as important on Facebook and LinkedIn. But it’s not enough to just think about what you’re communicating on social media — you have to think just as critically about when you say it.

In general, B2B customers are on social media in the early afternoon, and weekdays are the best days to catch them. There’s a lot of research on the best days and times to post on social media platforms, but you ultimately need to stay attuned to when your audience engages most often.

2. Use visuals.

Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social than other types of content, so including it in your social posts is a must. And as Millennials continue moving into positions of greater purchasing power and decision-making within companies, using visuals to appeal to them will be critical.

3. Give a shout-out to clients and partners.

Spread the love when you share content on social by tagging clients or partners in your posts. If you mention a client or a partner’s business in an article, tag the client or company in your post to give a shout-out, increase your reach, and improve your chances for engagement. If your team uses and loves a product or service, let others know you find it valuable, and tag the business in your post.

4. Facilitate and engage in conversations.

The idea behind social media is to encourage social interaction, establish trust, and build relationships with others, and that can only happen when you and your audience actually engage in meaningful conversations. Use social media for more than just general updates. Add value to your followers, and start conversations with them. By doing this, you’re humanizing your brand and your company, which makes trusting relationships come more naturally.

5. Use polls and surveys.

Not only do the results from polls and surveys give you valuable information about pain points and problems, but they also give your audiences the chance to give their feedback and feel heard. This communicates to them that you’re interested in what their needs and interests are. And if you offer an incentive, such a discount or a piece of gated content that’s worth the download, you can gather even more useful information.

6. Get creative with hashtags.

If you can come up with clever word combinations, use them as often as possible. Ask your audience members to use your hashtags, and you can also use theirs in your posts.

7. Don’t ignore analytics — dig deep into them.

The administrator of any social media account has access to analytics. When you access the data and comb through reports, you can gather critical information, including who is connecting with you, when your followers are most engaged, and what types of posts perform better. Use that insight to tailor your social strategy and optimize your efforts. Track your efforts, analyze your successes, and, above all, listen to your audience.

A social media strategy should increase not only the number of followers your business has, but also the quality of those followers. Your goal should be to attract the people who are most likely to find your message valuable and continually engage with them. A strategy like this takes effort, but if you set aside time each week and concentrate your efforts on your most active, valuable platforms, you can increase your social engagement.

Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Five Ways to Innovate Your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

By | E Commerce Business News

As more and more small businesses are going through digital transformation, there’s an emerging demand for new ways to attract and engage customers. As online shopping is becoming a norm, both the competition and customers’ expectations are quickly growing.

How to create a more effective ecommerce sales funnel? Here are few fresh ideas:

1. Revamp your product recommendations

Cross-selling (that is, showing related products on all stages of the sales funnel) is one the most important – yet often neglected – components of the sales funnel.

Did you know that cross-selling accounts for more than a third of Amazon’s revenue? Based on the public company’s data, 35 percent of what people buy on Amazon comes from product recommendations based on AI-driven algorithms.

No wonder Amazon is using cross-selling all over the site – from product pages. All of these cross-selling blocks are included on a single product page.

Cross-selling comes in many forms, including:

  • Personalized upsells: These usually show up on product pages to urge the customer to buy something they didn’t initially intend. These can be driven by the customer’s prior buying habits or the buying habits of other customers who have bought the current product
  • Product bumps: Showing matching products right on the checkout page
  • Email-driven upsells: Automated emails sent immediately after you pay encouraging you to buy more to add to the same delivery

2. Make your customer support part of the sales funnel

customer care repThe ideal buyer’s journey looks like this: They land on a product page, add it to a shopping cart, submit their payment details and wait for the product to arrive.

Obviously, it doesn’t always look like that. Customers’ journeys are often interrupted, and in many cases, they are interrupted by customers themselves who get distracted or come up with questions they need answers to before completing the purchase.

The truth is, no matter how well you set up your knowledge base, many people will still want to contact your customer support team before buying. This is where lots of buying journeys may be interrupted unless you set things up properly.

Set up email follow-ups

Any customer interactions should be recorded and there always need to be personalized follow-up based on the customer’s action (i.e. whether they ended up completing the purchase or not).

Depending on your current CMS platform, you may already have access to email automation that would allow personalized follow-ups.

Brand your customer support team’s emails

Remember – Your emails mean to bring your customer back to your site. It needs to revive the interrupted buying journey, so links to your site are essential. At the bare minimum, add a clickable logo and a detailed email signature prompting your customer to take an action.

3. Mind your brand-driven search query

What is it that tends to interrupt your buyers’ journey? If it’s not reaching out to your customer support, it is usually:

  • Checking your product reviews
  • Looking for your coupon codes or special deals

To better understand your customers’ journeys outside of your site, research your branded keywords (i.e. those keywords that contain your or your product name). Google Suggest is a good place to start:

These are all as-you-type search suggestions that may impact your customers’ journey. Make sure your pages and off-site assets rank #1 for all of these.

Start viewing all of these queries as part of your sales funnel. Do you have a landing page (or landing pages) that would do a good job getting people to continue their journey on your site? Or do you rely on third-party sites to do that? The latter is not the wisest decision. Remember that these queries are often used in the middle of the funnel (right before your customer completes their purchase), so this should also be reflected in the copy.

4. Create search intent-driven copy

Whether your landing (i.e. product) page relies on organic traffic or not, using search intent to drive your copy creation is a good idea. Semantic-analysis-driven search intent analysis is the only method we have to predict customers’ expectations prior to being able to analyze the actual user on-site behavior.

Semantic analysis will help you understand your customers’ journeys better:

  • What is it they may be looking for and where may their research take them?
  • Which products may they also be interested in?
  • How to catch their attention better?

All of these questions can be answered by semantic research. Text Optimizer is the easiest tool to use here: It will grab Google’s search snippets returned for your target search query and return underlying concepts that will help you create a better-targeted copy or copies:

It is also a good way to rank your pages higher in Google, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

5. Analyze your sales funnel

Finally, monitoring your sales funnel is a must, obviously. While conversion monitoring is not usually included in SEO metrics, most SEO analytics platforms can provide sales funnel analysis. As such, Google Analytics provides a comprehensive conversion tracking that includes sales funnel visualization.

To start, use this guide to set up conversion tracking in your Google Analytics

Then, proceed to Conversions -> Goals -> Funnel Visualizations to analyze your sales funnel:

Google Analytics will show where your customers are heading instead of completing their buying journeys.

Don’t forget the basics!

Fundamentally, it all comes to providing a user experience that customers want to return to. That being said, the more happy customers, the better!

So while working on your sales funnel, don’t overlook the basics: Keep an eye on your customers’ feedback, monitor your brand mentions, and always strive to optimize a better customer experience.

Conclusion

Innovation is an integral part of digital marketing. Global lockdowns have changed shopping behaviors dramatically and increased demand for digital transformation and innovation. Hopefully, the above steps will help you make your eCommerce sales funnel more effective.

3 Simple Ways to Boost E-Commerce Sales

3 Simple Ways to Boost E-Commerce Sales.

By | E Commerce Business News

Your website may look great… but it may also be hurting your sales.

Why? Because it wasn’t build with your audience in mind.

Here were three fixes:

1. Website speed.

Speed matters. Up to 40% of people will leave a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. Lots of things may slow a website down—including widgets, videos, and invisible problems like excess coding. These are things you can work with your developer to solve for.

2. Content that answers questions.

Your website may describe your products—but does it answer your customers’ most pressing questions? A FAQ page is great, but that’s just the start. When you create blog-like content that answers the questions your customers wonder the most, your site will come up in their search engine results—leading to more interest, and more sales.

3. Constant calls to action.

Every page on your site, and every piece of content, should drive a customer to take some action. Maybe it’s a sale—or maybe it’s simply signing up for an email list, or engaging with a customer service representative via chat. You always want to think, ‘What’s the next action I want [a user] to take?’ And then lead them down that path.

Pricing Objectives What They Are and Why You Need One

Pricing Objectives: What They Are and Why You Need One

By | E Commerce Business News

Pricing objectives are an essential component to consider when pinning down an ideal price point. What you charge for a product or service can’t be chosen indiscriminately. Having no idea why you’re choosing a certain price point makes that point, well, pointless.

It means you don’t have a clear idea of what to expect from your pricing strategy or what your company stands to gain from it. Without an objective, you’re throwing prices at the wall and seeing what sticks — and that’s no way to do business.

That said, landing on a pricing objective isn’t always straightforward. And the one you go with typically rests on a variety of factors — elements like timing, broader business goals, market position, and financial circumstances can all have a place in making that decision.

Ultimately, your pricing objective will be specific to your company’s needs and interests — but there’s a good chance it will revolve around some common ends. Here are some of the more prominent examples of pricing objectives.

1. Improving Retention

customerCustomer retention — the sum of a company’s efforts to keep its existing customers on board — is an essential, cost-effective process that any growing business needs to prioritize. And successfully implementing a strategy to improve yours often has a lot of layers.

Doing the practice right involves aspects like providing exemplary customer service, investing in a solid customer success team, or creating customer loyalty programs. But the avenues you can take to improve customer retention aren’t limited to those more directly interpersonal elements — and the effect pricing can have on retention is a testament to that.

Maximizing retention is a popular pricing objective. If you elect to go this road, your prices will probably be tailored to retain the prestige of your product without raising prices to the point of alienating current customers — that generally translates to keeping prices relatively consistent.

2. Maximizing Profit

Maximizing profit is one of the most popular, conventional pricing objectives. And that makes sense — it’s not exactly revolutionary to point out that businesses that don’t make money generally don’t survive.

Businesses who typically go this road do so by raising prices and cutting costs wherever possible — ideally to see significant improvements on return on investment (ROI). Pursuing this particular pricing objective often comes at the expense of sales volume or general revenue.

This pricing objective tends to manifest itself in a couple of different ways. In some cases, a business might be interested in maximizing short-term profit, acquiring users without being too mindful of potential churn down the line. Or, a company will make long-term profit their objective — In which case, it will price with more careful intention.

3. Increasing Sales Volume

costSome companies set and modify their pricing strategies to maximize sales, setting prices specifically dedicated to fostering immediate, meaningful growth. In some cases, the endgame is getting a business off the ground — carving out a piece of a market and settling in.

In other cases, an already-established business might be interested in claiming or maintaining a specific share of its competitive landscape — strategically adjusting its prices to account for shifts and fluctuations that could alter its place in its market.

And sometimes, companies might adjust their prices to make concentrated pushes to maximize their market share. In these cases, their pricing objectives are still set with intention — but are a bit more indiscriminate than they’d be otherwise.

4. Matching Competitors’ Prices

Sometimes a business needs to make a product or service more competitive within its broader market. Maybe, the sales volume that company is raking in isn’t what they’d like it to be — it could be losing out to lower or higher priced options.

In that case, simply matching competitors’ prices is one of the more effective pricing objectives a business can pursue. This goal’s underlying premise is relatively straightforward.

It doesn’t take much guesswork and effort to identify and mirror what a competitor charges. But its simplicity doesn’t necessarily undermine its efficacy — it can be an excellent way for businesses to gain a competitive edge within their industries.

5. Shifting Brand Image

brand awarenessPricing has a significant impact on how consumers perceive a business. Ideally, higher prices create an air of prestige and luxury, while lower ones signal value. But public perception doesn’t always shake out how companies want it to.

Certain prices or pricing models might leave a business with an image it’s not particularly happy with. In those instances, companies might look to raise or lower prices to capture and project fresh brand identities — ones that they believe their target consumers will be receptive to.

At the end of the day, you can’t gauge the effectiveness or legitimately understand the nature of your pricing strategy without a clear goal for it in mind.

How to Start a Side Hustle Take the First Step

How to Start a Side Hustle: Take the First Step

By | Online Entrepreneur News

The answer is so simple that it’ll sound stupid: You make the decision to begin. Everything stems from a commitment to take the first steps. You can make excuses all day — too busy, too tired, too cash-strapped — but remember that nearly half of U.S. workers already have some kind of side hustle. They have struggles, too. But they’re pushing ahead. Here are the steps that helped me get going, and that can help you, too.

Step 1: Ask these questions.

It’s important to find a side hustle that is a good fit for your skills and lifestyle. Ask yourself this…

  • How much time can I dedicate to this? Establish this upfront and commit to it.
  • How much income do I need to make this worthwhile? This isn’t a goal; this is a reality check. Be realistic about it, write it down, and refer to it often. You’ll want to know if your time is being well-spent.
  • What skills do I have that can make this work? Don’t know? Ask a friend what they think you’re good at. Shoot to create a list of three.

Step 2: Create a structure.

Some people hate structure. Maybe they dream of being an entrepreneur so they can escape the structure of their jobs! But I’m telling you: Structure is freedom. It’s the ground that you build upon. Here’s how to create it:

  • Set a goal. I like to make SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Each element is critical. You need goals you can work toward, and that you can track your progress on. Once you know this, you’ll start to have a sense of what’s required to get there.
  • Create a schedule. If you’re committing 10 weekly hours, put them in your calendar and stick to it.
  • Find your tools. There are many platforms and services that can help you launch. Take a look at places like Upwork, eBay, Etsy. Start offering your product or service, and learn your marketplace at low risk.

Step 3: Foster great relationships.

  • When starting anything new, it’s helpful to surround yourself with people who have walked in your shoes—and even better if they are a few miles ahead of you! Search for two kinds of people:
  • Mentors. A mentor isn’t a job description; you don’t need people who agree to some formalized role. Instead, build a network of mini-mentors — friends or former colleagues who have expertise and insights.
  • Accountability partners. Find someone who’s on a similar path as you, and buddy up. You can help each other stay on track. When you’re your own boss, it’s helpful to keep up with other bosses.

Now comes the most important part: Instead of questioning yourself or waiting for the perfect moment, it’s time to go. Everything that comes next will help you grow.

How Blockchain Will Dominate the Digital Advertising Industry in 2021

How Blockchain Will Dominate the Digital Advertising Industry in 2021?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Every day we read data breach scandals by ad tech vendors. We are getting tracked every day with hidden cookies, and permissions we give unconsciously. According to Juniper research, advertising losses were to reach $42 billion in 2019 and were predicted to be driven to reach $100 billion by 2023. Blockchain came into action to provide transparency while serving ads and paying for the real human interactions on the ads, not automated traffic.

Blockchain is emerging into the technology market these days and transforming the way we have been doing the online transactions lately. This technology is not only limited to the finance market, but it is also impacting the advertising and marketing industry too.

So, what exactly is blockchain?

Blockchain is the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) which contains the record of multiple distributed transactions between different people. It doesn’t require any central control, because the data is not located in any local server, it’s stored in a secured server distributed globally.

The application of blockchain in digital advertising is very significant. From the last few decades advertising firms using user’s personal data to understand their buying habits and designing campaigns by invading their personal space.

Why is blockchain technology entering into digital advertising?

The industry space opened up for blockchain recently when data inflation and data discrepancy news surfaced online – advertisers and publishers started looking for a better alternative for transparency.

Advertising platforms like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and others, were enjoying the monopoly in the digital advertising place since the last decade. These advertising giants were manipulating the data and information to make a huge profit margin.

Advertisers sued the social networking platform for overstating video-viewing metrics over an 18-month period from 2015-16, which led the advertisers to pay extra for video ads based on the inflated data.

A lot of other news reported about the fake bot traffic advertisers were paying for. It is all because of a lack of control. The publishers and advertisers don’t control the data, hence restricted to see only information ad tech vendors are offering. Data is very vulnerable today, digital advertising tools are using this as their new profit-making plan.

How would publishers know that they’re receiving a fair share of profit?

Ad vendors employing illegal techniques to access users’ personal data for their benefits, in exchange for rewards, and similar scenarios is a major threat and blockchain basically came into the picture of digital advertising to give the user control over their data.

Blockchain applications in digital advertising

1. Ad Buying and selling without the mediator

No intermediaries will be benefitted by employing blockchain-powered online advertising platforms. Blockchain is solving the transparencies and trust issues the ad tech industry has.

2. Fraud prevention and transparency in the ad supply chain

It’s very difficult to find the fraudulent clicks and impressions you are paying for. Blockchain technology integrated with the tools helps find and flag sites with click discrepancy and bot infiltration which would flow the ad budget to the right sites with genuine clicks.

3. Targeting the right audience

Driving an ad campaign according to their customer journey is important. With the help of blockchain, ad tech platforms can automate campaigns based on the specified set of rules. If the audience falls into those certain criteria, then only an ad will be visible to them. By doing this advertisers can utilize the budget on better sites to show ads.

Audience engagement will be credible now with very much accurate data that will help design better campaigns. The leads and subscriptions would be genuine and identifiable.

4. Data management

Data and insights play a key role in drafting a great campaign strategy. Blockchain makes it simple to retrieve the right KPIs utilize the data for better decision making.

5. Customize ad delivery

No one likes to see the same ads multiple times and increase ad fatigue. But, advertisers were not able to control the delivery of the ads in most of the top advertising platforms. With blockchain, advertisers will be given control to limit the ad frequency according to their campaign objectives.

6. Social media ads

A lot of fake news used to surface online through social media channels, now it can be controlled as blockchain technology is the distributed system is highly transparent and trackable. It can limit the social media ad frauds.

7. Data safety

Data safety and privacy is a major challenge in the digital advertising industry. The users browsing behavior is no longer the reason you serve your ads to them. Now, audience permission is required to use their personal data. A lot of countries are taking initiatives to stop the illegal practices. Security compliance like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and a lot more came into the picture for data privacy and safety.

8. Ad-verification

Blockchain reduced the role of third-party platforms to verify ads if they comply with the guidelines and save a lot of time for the advertisers.

9. Ad automation

Ad auctioning process and more easy and transparent with the help of blockchain-based advertising platforms. The ads will now be more effective and relevant.

10. Content management

The delivery of the content is more data-driven and accurate with blockchain. Content monetization, content personalization, content discovery, and content creation would be easier in these blockchain technology ad platforms.

Conclusion: Blockchain is the future in the digital ads industry

It will be too early to say if this could stop the whole of digital advertising scandals, ad frauds, and bot traffic. But, definitely, blockchain is impacting the digital advertising ecosystem positively and gradually. Ad tech giants like Google are adapting the blockchain-powered tools to enhance their functionality.

Blockchain topped the list of the digital marketing trends 2020. It’s time to show zero tolerance for the ad frauds, data alteration, and data breaches. The companies considering an upgrade to their advertising platform with blockchain will lead the way going forward, and it’s time you added your business to this roster.

How to use Quizzes for your Marketing Strategy?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Although quizzes may look silly, they’re actually an amazing marketing tool. A quiz is much more engaging compared to most content types, and it can generate leads faster.

Just think about it: would you rather read a long guide to choosing wines or play a one-minute quiz to define your favorite wines? The quiz option is more appealing because it takes less time and has that element of interactivity.

1. Increase Website Engagement

People land on a web page, browse it for eight seconds and leave. That’s called the bounce rate, and it’s one of the biggest problems in eCommerce. A high bounce rate of 50% and higher – meaning that 50% of visitors leave almost immediately – is a sign for Google that the website isn’t delivering, content-wise.

Quizzes can help to increase engagement and make people stay longer. A fascinating quiz can capture the attention of a visitor anywhere between 30 seconds and a few minutes, making them stay. Besides, a quiz can encourage you to browse more pages by displaying them in results.

2. Build an Email List

Quizzes can help with lead generation. It’s very simple: ask for an email just before displaying quiz results—for example, to keep the user updated on a similar topic or send the results to them directly.

This strategy can be powerful for relevant omnichannel marketing. Take this quiz from Bright Cellars below as an example. It offers the taker to provide contact information to view wine matches based on their answers.

This way, the business can collect hundreds of emails on autopilot, as quizzes run automatically.

To get as many emails as possible, the quiz must be engaging and interesting for the visitors. Marketers recommend using the insights and findings from customer research to define topics and questions your target customers might find worthy of their attention and time.

3. Increase Sales

Quizzes aren’t just for having silly fun or studying something along with flashcards. When done well, quizzes can help ecommerce stores sell.

Another cool thing about this quiz results page is the “Don’t like” button. It reduces hesitation and makes the product even more personalized by giving extra product options.

If a customer clicks this button, the website automatically switches to another product and characteristics without leaving the page. That’s an excellent move to keep the customer focused on making the sale and going the extra mile to help them find the best product.

4. Write Better Blog Content

Coming up with engaging blog topics to promote a business can be quite challenging. Keyword research can help, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. After all, the best input about content creation always comes from customers.

Quizzes can be a tool to get that input. Each question is an opportunity to learn something about your target customers’ preferences and interests, which can give ideas for content.

If you decide to give quizzes a try, study the results for potential content topics. You’ll be able to produce more relevant and useful content for your customers and build a reputation as an expert in your niche.

5. Re-Engage Passive Customers

Quizzes are interactive and engaging, so they can help activate the customers who haven’t been interacting with your content for a while.

Share quizzes via as many marketing channels as possible to re-engage more customers. The must-do channels are email newsletters and social media.

Final Thoughts

Quizzes aren’t just for fun or exploration – they’re a legit way to collect leads, increase website engagement, build email lists, and sell more. When done right, a quiz can make a lot of difference for a digital marketing strategy regardless of the niche.

What Is Search Intent

What Is Search Intent?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Search intent, also known as audience or user intent, is defined as the purpose of a user’s search.

With Google Hummingbird, Google RankBrain, and BERT algorithm adjustments, the search engine can interpret search intent and display results that meet that search intent, often through rich snippet results like the Answer Box and Knowledge Panel.

Keyword intent can also describe keywords used by potential customers and leads at various stages of the conversion funnel. Since people look for, process, and use search results differently based on their ultimate goal, understanding and optimizing for search intent is hugely important for SEO.

Now that you know why search intent matters for SEO, it’s time to start optimizing for it.

The first step is to understand the different types of search intent. There are four types of search intents you must take into consideration.

1. Informational

Informational searches are the most common type of searches that users conduct. The basis of these search queries is to learn about a certain subject or topic. These search queries have the largest search volume because people constantly look for information.

These searches occur in the discovery phase of searching. People are looking for content-rich pages that provide them with answers to their questions. These pages are expected to be easy to skim so users can get the important information quickly.

2. Navigational

When users conduct navigational searches, they are looking for a desired page or website. These users know which company or brand they seek, but need help getting to a specific product or service page.

Users typically search with the brand name in their query, along with the product. For instance, someone may search “Keurig coffee makers at Target.” They know they want a Keurig coffee maker, and they know they want it from Target, they just want to navigate to a page with Keurig coffee makers to find the right one.

When you look at the search results for navigational searches, the search engine results pages (SERPs) focus on home pages and product pages for specific websites.

3. Transactional

Transactional searches have the most commercial intent. People use phrases like “price” or “sale” because they’re ready to buy. People will specifically search for products and attach these keywords to find the product that fits their query best.

The SERPs are typically commercial pages, which include product and subscription pages. You’ll rarely ever see informational pages, as these users are beyond the research stage and ready to convert.

4. Commercial

Commercial searches are a mix of informational and transactional searches. These are informational searches that have transactional intent. People want to make a purchase, but they are looking for information to help guide them to the right product.

SEO Benefits of Intent Targeting

facebook marketingSearch intent is a huge part of how semantic SEO delivers more relevant search results to users—so better intent optimization results in more relevant and qualified traffic to your website.

This means improved conversion rates for your transactional landing pages, but will also result in boosts to informational pages as well:

  • Reduced bounce rates: people are actually getting what they want, so they stay on your pages.
  • More page views: Meeting a user’s intent makes them more likely to engage with the rest of your website.
  • More answer boxes: Having your content selected for Google’s featured snippets can be a great benefit. It allows your pages to rank in position 0 above the first search result.
  • Wider audience reach: One of the great things about intent optimization is that Google is smart enough to interpret multiple queries as having the same topic and intent. That means it will show your intent-optimized page for a lot more queries.

3 YouTube Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2021

3 YouTube Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2021

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

The year 2020 was when the world truly ‘discovered’ YouTube. People had ‘time on their hands,’ which led to a sharp upswing of new YouTube creators. From a spike in the views for ‘How to’ videos to foraying into YouTubing, the pandemic brought viewers and content creators in droves.

Inadequate channel setup

video creationOne of the most common gaffes committed by YouTubers is not setting up the channel properly. Populating the ‘About’ tab so that first-time viewers know what you are about, categorizing and grouping videos on the ‘Home’ tab to make it easier for viewers to find what they’re looking for quickly are some of the ways to organize a channel appropriately.

Finding my popular uploads in one place is important for my viewers not only for engagement but also for new viewers to find similar content in one go. Always simplify and organize content, to avoid any bumps along your content journey.

Not considering packaging

Knowing your target audience is half the battle won, but creating and packaging your content in a way that appeals to them is a whole new game. Understanding your niche and creating content accordingly is a given, but many YouTubers don’t realize that packaging is crucial to attract and sustain viewers. Every time you create a video, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a viewer looking for the type of content you offer and tailor your video accordingly.

The title of your video, the thumbnail used, even the description in the video itself—everything adds up to how well your target audience reacts to your content.

Failing to create engaging content

This is a no-brainer, but a fact that several newbie YouTubers forget in the course of their YouTube journeys. Attention to detail is a trait that will set you apart from other YouTubers creating similar content. Basic factors such as audio quality, video duration, and editing are significant. But things such as whether or not your content is engaging, is it answering important questions, is it easy to follow, do you include closed captions are the questions that need answering every time you create a video.

It is very easy to lose sight of your aim as a YouTuber, and this is my only advice to new YouTubers: don’t forget why you’re doing this! There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new YouTube channels created every day, and it’s easy to get drowned out. Going the extra mile for your own channel can serve you well in the long-term.

The 3-Step Formula for Successful Facebook Video Ads

The 3-Step Formula for Successful Facebook Video Ads

By | Networking Bizz News

1. Stop the scroll

This goal is clear. Facebook autoplaying the audio as well as the video when a user opens their news feed provides a huge opportunity, but it’s only an opportunity. It’s not a guarantee of anything because while you can easily grab a viewer’s attention, they can just as easily snatch it back. Those first three to 10 seconds are vital, then, especially when the video appears as an ad in a news feed. There are some pretty simple things that you can do to halt the scroll.

One strategy that we use is blatant hand motions. It’s a direct appeal, and it can be a bit annoying, but it does still work. Give the viewer a wave. Pull them toward you in the same way that a good store demonstrator will pull passers-by into their display. Attract attention before the crowd scrolls past. It’s not subtle but sometimes, simple and bold are enough to do the job.

Another strategy that we’ve found to be very effective is text overlay. Facebook now allows advertisers to automatically add subtitles to their video ads. If people have turned the sound off on their phone, they’ll still be able to see your message. As soon as they see the text, they’ll start to read it. It pulls them in and draws their attention. You’ll be able to prove that you’ve got something they should see before their thumb starts to move.

The third thing to do is use a “pattern-interrupt.” That just means we try to break up the visuals. It’s the same principle that makes warning signs red and pedestrian crossings black and white. If you can break up the picture so that it looks unusual, it will always attract attention.

You don’t have to do anything outrageous here. Movement can be enough to keep eyeballs on that part of the screen. A very close close-up can be unusual enough to break the routine and make the video stand out against the background of other content. Video ads that look like selfies can create pattern interrupt, too, and they look authentic and real.

2. Use the EDIE formula

Once we’ve settled on a way to grab attention in the opening seconds, we apply our EDIE formula. EDIE stands for Educate, Demonstrate, Inform, or Entertain.

Educate

The Educate approach is about giving people tips. You don’t have to be on camera to educate — you can do a Power Point or Keynote presentation while recording your computer screen, and you have a great video. If you want them to register for a webinar, you can tell them they’ll find more once they complete your call to action. If you give them value, they’ll share it. If you give them at least one “Aha!” moment, one nugget of advice that makes them realize the value of what you’re offering, they’ll obey that call to action.

Demonstrate

Demonstrate works great for technology brands. We all love to see gadgets, and we love to see them work. Video ads for drones and software and other tech items are always eye-catching. You only need to show the product in action to make the viewer want to see more and want to get their own hands on the product.

Inform

Inform goes further than Educate. Instead of delivering a skill to the viewer, it gives them information they didn’t know before. It’s particularly useful when the product requires little education to use but has a variety of features that people should know about.

3. Call to action

Business financingWe find that many clients forget about the call to action. Once you’ve built up interest, you should tell viewers what to do next. Whether your call to action is loud or subtle, urgent or calm, it should suit your brand, your product, and the action you want viewers to take. But, it should be there — and it might even need to be there several times.

Sometimes brands will make a video ad that lasts five or six minutes, but they won’t give a call to action until the very end. It’s as though they’re embarrassed to guide viewers in the direction they want them to go. They’re afraid that if they include a call to action earlier, they’ll put people off watching.

But, only a portion of the audience will watch a video all the way through. So only a portion of the audience will see a call to action that comes at the end of a long video.

In a nine-minute video I might make about four calls to action. They won’t necessarily be hard sales — they’ll be natural and authentic. But, the clearer you can lay out the path, the more likely people are to follow it.

7 Common B2B Ecommerce Challenges

7 Common B2B Ecommerce Challenges

By | E Commerce Business News

In 2019, only 13% of all B2B sales were generated digitally. By 2023, when U.S. B2B online sales are projected to reach $1.8 trillion.

And with COVID-19 still impacting the ways we live, work, and purchase, the call to e-commerce is growing stronger. Across every industry, business people and consumers are learning tough lessons about agility and resilience.

It’s increasingly clear that both require at least some degree of digital presence.

The traditional sales-meeting, hand-shaking, demoing, negotiating, contracting, and procurement process isn’t easy to translate to a consumer-like digital experience online. Or, at least, it wasn’t always. And besides — the modern B2B buyer has different expectations.

B2B Ecommerce Challenges

Your B2B buyers want the same experience as B2C shoppers: efficiency and ease of use. But they have different needs — and therein lies the major challenge of B2B eCommerce sales.

1. B2B relationships are personal.

You probably don’t have an account manager to be the liaison between you and your favorite department store. But B2B relationships often are personalized in this way and have developed over time.

These personalized needs include customer-specific pricing, whether based on a tiering system or specifically negotiated deals, and bulk pricing. You may also have customers who don’t need access to your entire catalog.

B2B buyers expect pricing, catalogs, and product selection to be organized according to their particular requirements. How will those relationships translate online? How do you keep relationships unique and personalized at scale?

2. The B2B buying process involves a lot of decision-makers, and the buying cycle is long and complex.

The B2B purchasing workflow can consist of a wide range of people with their own specific roles and responsibilities. There will be people researching the solutions, stakeholders whose buy-in is needed to move forward, financial representatives to approve the spend, and so many more. And depending on the value of the purchase, this could take up to a year or more — a far cry from the one-click purchase button on Amazon.

All that complexity means there’s a lot to keep up with. This is where solid back-office management comes in. You have to be able to efficiently provide each stakeholder your business interacts with the information they need to do their jobs.

You need powerful tools on your side, like customer relationships management (CRM) software, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to integrate all your data, and self-service options so buyers can find as much information on their own as possible.

3. Buyers have complex procurement processes.

B2B buyers expect flexibility on how they order and how they pay — and they need it, because some companies’ purchase processes are as complex and analog as the laggards they buy from.

Procurement refers to the activities around acquiring the products and services that support business operations. It’s often tightly monitored and controlled, with clearly defined policies and processes. This can include a lot of documents, like contracts, requisition orders, purchase orders, invoices, and more.

According to an August 2019 survey of B2B buyers, almost three-quarters of respondents said they’d switch to a new ecommerce site for better purchasing options. The same share of respondents stated that they would purchase more products if they could pay by invoice.

4. Buyers need many ways to pay.

Offering flexible payment terms to B2B customers can help you win new customers and keep existing customers happy.

Avoiding the financial risk of offering credit to new customers.

5. Data for multiple channels may be siloed.

Selling online requires locking together a number of moving pieces, and that number can be even greater when you’re talking about B2B. Particularly if you sell via multiple channels, you may have many different sources of data. Keeping that data siloed is not the best option for your business.

ERP software integrates order management, accounting, and a 360-degree view of your clients into a single, real-time system, providing all the flexibility you need to customize the workflows and functionality of your back-office environment. A strong ERP integration provides you with a clear, holistic view of your business and your inventory levels so you can strengthen overall operations and meet buyer expectations.

6. Shipping B2B has its own set of requirements and constraints.

Determining the best shipping strategy for your B2B business comes with its own set of unique challenges, from freight shipments to client-specific requirements and more.

As you develop your B2B shipping strategy, aim for complete price transparency, multiple shipping options, and tailored shipping options based on product, order, or customer. Use different rules per product group, especially if you’re introducing a brand new product line, and make sure you are fulfilling orders via appropriate services.

7. B2B buyers need to find more complex products just as easily.

Modern buyers are moving away from in-person sales meetings and ordering via a paper catalog. Online B2B buyers, like B2C shoppers, want relevant search results, easy website navigation, and suggested product content.

But they also need accommodations that meet the complexity of B2B buying, such as a unique account with a custom catalog, specialized pricing, and sensitivity to product availability. The future of B2B is in ecommerce, and the need for personalized, intelligent, search-driven experience is essential. But today, with evolving technologies and buyer demands, you’ll be able to find more ways to easily enable successful B2B sales on an eCommerce website.

Why is digital marketing so important for small businesses

Why Is Digital Marketing so Important for Small Businesses?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

That first goal when opening a small business is basically the same for everyone – creating a brand that will lead that first wave of consumers straight to your homepage and convert them. For those entrepreneurs that opened up their small businesses 15+ years ago, the solutions were simple enough – focus all efforts on traditional marketing channels. Printing ads, running commercials, handing out business cards and promotional pamphlets. We still see companies doing that. However, starting that small business on the right track is no longer as simple as it once used to be. And yet, there is a much more efficient way to do it – through the implementation of professional digital marketing solutions.

Digital marketing has become the foundation on which modern small business owners build their presence and establish their footing in their communities and niches. But why is this so – what makes having a well-developed digital marketing strategy so important today? We will answer 5 fundamental questions in hopes of preventing you from disregarding the impact digital advertising can have on the development of your company:

Growing your small business is a simple matter of finding the best approach to do so.

What is Digital Marketing – how does one define it today?

Easily editable flat vector illustration on layers.

Digital Marketing presents the act of advertising and selling products/services through the use of online marketing strategies and channels.

As a concept, it encompasses all promotional efforts that are focused on the use of search engines, social media platforms, email marketing, website optimization, and mobile advertising – all with the goal of attracting target audiences and establishing your brand online. However, given the age we live in today, digital marketing has become the very definition and equivalent of marketing. It has become the primary medium when it comes to promoting your business and the offer it has to consumers everywhere.

Why is online marketing so relevant today?

Basically, it comes down to the same approach that you would have with traditional marketing objectives. You will want to identify your target audience and point your online advertising efforts toward establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Whether they are consumers, leads, or prospects – the focus remains unchanged whereas the channels for reaching those audiences have been digitalized.

People on laptops and phones.

More and more consumers today come through online marketing channels.

For example, consider the most recent purchase you made, whether it was a new mobile phone, a brand new home, or perhaps a professional moving service.

The fact is that roughly 87% of consumers start their shopping decisions online. And so – having you small company pop up on those online search results, social media channels, email marketing campaigns, etc. has become a necessity of doing business.

What is the best way for a small business owner to choose the right digital marketing strategy?

Yes – there are different approaches that a small business can take when it comes to promoting its offers online. However, the key isn’t in choosing a single tactic and following it blindly. Instead, you need to make the perfect combination of different action plans to make a more significant impact:

  • Lay the foundation for your digital marketing efforts early on by creating a strong and easily recognizable brand for your small business.
  • Design and develop your company website in accordance with modern expectations and web standards. Focus on ensuring user experience for both desktop and mobile users, with fast loading pages and clear Calls to Action (CTAs).
  • Implement the creation of engaging content that will appeal to your target audience. Consider what their problems are and provide them with clear and useful guidelines on how best to overcome those obstacles.
  • Create a clear and detailed social media marketing strategy that will offer practical information and advice. These would be short posts that potential clients would be motivated to share with friends and followers.
  • Use the principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your online content uphold search engine standards. By doing this, you can secure those top search results for your web pages and blog posts.
  • Promote your offers further through the introduction of paid advertising (PPC) solutions. Ensure that your ads are always visible to potential customers.
  • Incorporate a well-placed and timely email marketing campaign to follow-up with your audience. That way, you can maintain a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with online users.

It comes down to piecing together a puzzle that presents all that you want your business to promote online. And once you successfully do that, you will secure an efficient and self-sustainable online marketing system. Sure, building that entire system from an idea might seem intimidating enough, but it doesn’t need to be. All you really need is a professional insight into the inner workings and relevance of digital marketing today.

5 Most Effective Instagram Metrics To Track In 2021

5 Most Effective Instagram Metrics To Track In 2021

By | Social Media News

One of the best ways by which you can grow your Instagram account and create a following that converts is to understand and take advantage of Instagram analytics.

Of all social media platforms, Instagram continues to register massive growth.

It is, therefore, a powerful platform for your brand, marketing campaigns, and events; and just about anything that can elevate your business to higher levels.

And this is where the important factor of Instagram metrics comes in. Metrics are useful as they help you to analyze, evaluate and take stock of the performance of your account, and how it influences your overall business strategy.

Whether you are tracking your own profile or that of an influencer, in this article, I’m going to describe the most effective analytics metrics you can track in 2021.

1. Engagement – Track your engagement rate on Instagram to understand your peak in interactions

Tracking engagement involves comments, likes, and shares done on your Instagram account. To drive your business to desired levels, your followers need to see your post and engage with the same post.

Tracking comments, likes, and use of the share button allows you know how much your audience are interested in your brand. The number of likes and comments can then help you to calculate the engagement rate.

Knowing your engagement rate allows you to keep track of your best performing post. It also makes you to know exactly where the interest of your audience is. With this insight, you can grow and improve your business presence on social media.

Again, you can quickly determine what works and what does not work for your brand. Finally, this kind of feedback helps you to make the needed upgrades where necessary.

2. Reach – Understand how far your content is really going

Measuring reach allows you to see and measure how many people have viewed your posts. This metric is used to analyze the extent of awareness of your brand, but also it creates the required hype and buzz around a post, story, or advert.

If you want to calculate your reach rate, you take the total number of viewers per post and divide it by the total number of your followers. Basically, reach is often shown in numbers, and for every account that sees your post is counted as one view.

3. Stories retention rates – See how engaged is your audience with Stories

Business financingStories retention rate is perhaps the toughest, yet most productive part of your metrics. It involves creating ideas that resonate with and interest your audience. It means you create ways to keep your followers glued on your content from start to finish.

To determine retention rate means that you carefully track how each individual Story is performing. So if you are posting multiple stories on your Instagram page daily, each of these Stories is evaluated individually.

Understanding retention rates helps you to evaluate trends. For example, you can quickly see if people are following your story to the end or not, and to find out the reasons why it is happening that way.

4. Traffic & sales – Make sure your posts are converting

As you create content on Instagram, you also must ensure that it translates into traffic and sales on your website. You can easily use shoppable stickers in your content.

Metrics for Instagram shoppable posts and Instagram Stories allows you to evaluate your content and tailor it to suit your audience, which in turn converts.

5. Audience demographics – Identify if your content is drawing in the right audience

Target audiencesInformation on age, interests, and location of your audience is a must-have. It helps you to create a buyer persona. It also gives you direction on whom and where to focus your content strategy.

The demographics metrics help you to establish a certain trend and a target group which is well-defined. Again it allows you to modify and tailor your content to suit the needs of your target group.

A monthly evaluation of demographics data helps you to know if your followers is still intact. You can also know if there’s a marked growth or the levels are fluctuating.

Final thought

Instagram remains one of the social media sites from which you can grow your business to higher proportions. Once you know how to analyze the metrics, your Instagram marketing campaigns can both be fun and profitable.

The best thing with Instagram metrics is that they clearly show you how your account, and generally your business is doing. With these insights, you can easily make the necessary upgrades, maintain the best practices, as well as improve on the weaker areas of your marketing strategy.

How To Create An Effective LinkedIn Marketing Strategy in 2021

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

As one of the most important B2B social media platforms, LinkedIn can help you attract more eyes on your business.

At the moment, it is one of the most popular social networks for professionals and one of the top social networks overall, and as a plus – LinkedIn made its Stories feature available to all users.

Wondering how can you build a complete LinkedIn marketing strategy for your business?

I’ve made a list of tactics and ideas on how to create an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy for your business in 2021.

1. Create a company profile

If you want to promote your business on social media, having a LinkedIn company page, is a must. You’ll be able to build brand recognition by providing a way to promote your products and services to customers and potential ones.

2. Post relevant and engaging content

content marketingYour principal objective is to increase the engagement of your page, so make sure your posts contain helpful tips, tricks, and information related to your industry.

Prove that you’re an expert in your field and write about a subject in which you can add value or give actionable insights. You can even use a graph maker to create stunning visuals that catch the eye.

Avoid writing promotional presentations and focus more on content that provides in-depth information for your followers or maybe lessons learned during years.

Through your posts, try to bring an added value or give actionable insights

3. Use LinkedIn Stories

This feature is great for business – and here are three great ways every business should use LinkedIn Stories:

  • Share behind the scene moments
  • Important projects you are working on
  • Host a corporate Q&A
  • Use LinkedIn Stories into your marketing strategy

4. Make your company’s name known

linkedin postYou’re not alone in your niche, and you have to make your company’s name known.

An excellent way to do it is by inviting people to follow your page. This strategy will allow you to have a bigger pool of connections who might want to follow your business.

If you want to increase your LinkedIn page connections, this is something you should try:

  • Invite your connections to follow your page.
  • Promote your LinkedIn company page on other social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
  • Mention your LinkedIn page in your emails.
  • If you want to increase your LinkedIn profile connections, make sure you personalize your request.
  • Personalize your connection requests – As a company page, you can’t send LinkedIn connections, but your employees can. Make sure they mention your brand in that note.
  • You have 300 words to add a note

5. Add LinkedIn groups to your page

Being part of a LinkedIn group has the advantage of making your content visible, and it’s an excellent opportunity to connect and interact with like-minded peers in your niche.

With a LinkedIn page you can’t be part of a group, but you have the option to showcase a LinkedIn group on your page.

Use your LinkedIn profile, and be part of an existing group, or start your group. Being the moderator and admin of a group, you gain control and awareness in the industry.

6. Define your goals

Building brand awareness might take time, but the key to success is consistent and quality content, plus staying up-to-date in your industry.

Peter Drucker – an American author and consultant in the field of organizational development and management, started the idea for SMART goals.

  • SMART stands for “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Achievable,” “Relevant,” and “Time-Bound.”
  • Keep these words in mind and when defining your LinkedIn goals.
  • Another thing that should also be at the forefront of your actions is an effective work plan.
  • Your LinkedIn goals must be in line with the goals you set in your work plan.

7. Make your employees part of your business strategy

You should know that your brand’s best ambassadors are your employees. You can boost your presence by asking them to share articles from the company’s blog, new features, events, – mentioning the company name in the post.

8.Mention people in your LinkedIn posts

Tagging people you’ve quoted or you’ve referenced in the content you’re sharing is an essential step in your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

The people you’ve tagged will be notified, along with their connections, and people who follow them, so your content will be seen by more people.

This LinkedIn marketing strategy will help your posts become more visible and ultimately raise the overall engagement of your page.

Mentioning people in your posts will increase your posts comments

9. Upload native videos

LinkedIn native videos are five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members, according to LinkedIn stats.

Videos are among those pieces of content which stand out of the crowd. They are vital in today’s social media strategy.

Be as creative as possible: give some advice in your niche, share an opinion about the latest trends or share a few tips & tricks like in the post below.

10. Use hashtags

Hashtags help users find content on a particular topic. When you add hashtags to your posts, those posts will get a higher chance of being discovered by LinkedIn members who follow or search for the hashtag you’ve used.

If you are using hashtags when posting something on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you should use them with your LinkedIn posts as well.

11. Measure your LinkedIn performance

Keeping an eye on your LinkedIn analytics dashboard can help you make informed decisions that lead to better results.

Try to track some LinkedIn KPIs – followers demographic, number of followers, impressions and reach, engagement rate, profile views by job title, etc. It will help you increase your reach in your industry

12. Infographic

Infographics are a great way to promote your content uniquely.

Final thought

The benefits of using LinkedIn in your marketing strategy are undeniable: you can enhance your brands’ name, build a credible, reliable image in the business world, and you also keep your clients and partners informed.

After some time, you might even be recognized as a leader in your field.

How to effectively use Google Tag Manager for ecommerce

How to Effectively Use Google Tag Manager for Ecommerce

By | E Commerce Business News

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is the perfect way to add and update your tracking tags without ever having to edit code. While most of us use it every day for adding Google Analytics (GA), AdWords or third-party codes, many of us forget that we can use GTM for e-commerce tracking, which means that we’re missing important reporting data.

What can be tracked?

GA has two different implementation methods for tracking e-commerce:

Standard e-commerce: This report allows you to review purchase activity on your app or site. It will pull product and transaction information, average order value, time to purchase, conversion rate and more.

Enhanced e-commerce: This report builds on the standard e-commerce report and adds additional features. You can see information like when customers added items to their shopping carts, when they started the checkout process and when they finally completed the purchase. The importance of this information is that you can really dive into when people are abandoning their cart or identify other issues as to why customers are not completing their purchase. This is especially helpful when you want to optimize the conversion funnel or identify complications that could be inhibiting cart completion.

Both of these codes can be added to your site with GTM, but you do need to do some preliminary work before you can launch them.

Implementing e-commerce tracking

Before you can begin tracking e-commerce in GTM, you must have the Universal Analytics in place on your website. If you have the older analytics code, you will have to upgrade to the Universal tracking code.

Once you do that, ensure that the older version of the code is not hard-coded on your website. In fact, you should remove any hard-coded tracking codes on your site if you’re using GTM. If you launch both GTM and hard-coded GA codes, then your code will fire twice and mess up your results.

If you’re unsure whether your GTM tags are using the latest Universal tracking code, you can go to the overview screen or click on one of the tags to see. The “tag type” will say Universal Analytics.

After your GA code is updated, you must now enable eCommerce tracking within GA, which can be done within the Admin panel. Simply navigate to the view that you want to track e-commerce in, and go to View. Then, click on E-commerce Settings, and set Enable E-commerce to “on”. Finish by clicking Next Step, and Submit.

Most shopping carts are e-commerce-enabled and have built-in tracking. So, once you have e-commerce enabled in GA, you should immediately start seeing shopping cart data. One thing to remember, however, is that not all shopping carts are compatible with GA. So, this might be a consideration if you’re in the process of looking for a new or a replacement for your current shopping cart. Review their compatibilities. Some may only need an additional extension to work with GA, but these extensions usually cost money.

Why e-commerce tracking is important for you

As marketers, the more information that we have, the better we can optimize our campaigns. If you only have standard tracking set up, then you can’t see where or why people are potentially abandoning your cart or the sales funnel. For example, if you see that over 50% of your potential customers are dropping out of the funnel during a particular section of the cart, you can then go into this section and see if there is anything that could be causing the issues. Are we asking the customer to do too many steps? Is the cart timing out? Or, is the page too confusing, i.e. the submit button is too far down the page or being masked by an image?

Without the sales funnel information, then you can’t follow the customer journey to find the issue that is causing them to not complete a sale. Once your tags are implemented, let them run for a few weeks. While you might be able to get data immediately, more than likely, you’ll get better insights if you let the tags collect data over six weeks or so. Then, use this information to determine, for example, which products are performing better than others, and review everything from pricing to copy to the checkout process.

Use the data to create a better experience for the customer and improve your sales. Create separate reports strictly for e-commerce activity to provide more transparency for stakeholders.

Instagram Outreach Tip: How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

Instagram Outreach Tip: How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It seems like every day I read about a new brand creating an influencer network. Whether they’re taking an opt-in approach or inviting advocates to participate based on their own identification and vetting process this trend is everywhere.

This rising marketing trend follows a one-to-one-to-many communication model and like we always say…it’s not necessarily about counting the people you reach, but rather reaching the people that count!

A year after its launch, Instagram Direct can still be a great way for brands to build and engage with their social community in a more personalized and intentional way.

3 Use Cases

Here are the most common use cases I’ve seen from marketers who are active in Instagram marketing strategies.

  • 1. Start by sifting through your account’s existing followers. This will allow you to research Instagram users who already love your brand, the low hanging fruit if you will. Who engages with your pictures most? Who has the most followers and account engagement of their own? Is anyone on your list of followers doing something in their photos that relate to your brand’s mission or product specifically? You could then select 15 best-fit Instagrammers to send a direct message with something like a coupon or promotional code and start a dialogue in the comment section. For example, you could invite the group to use their promo codes at the online store, or send an Instagram detailing an upcoming sale at a retail location. The same goes for contests. You could offer the first 15 people that comment on a photo a prize via direct message.
  • 2. Because comments are visible by everyone included in the direct message, the feature provides a convenient platform to get to know your network on a personal level and create conversations about the brand. Ask your list to pick between two products featured in a photo, or ask if they have any feedback on the current products or service. Asking for feedback in an exclusive way will make your network feel like a valued part of the brand, a role that they will want to tell their own networks all about!
  • 3. Use Instagram’s Explore feature to search for product or campaign-specific hashtags. This way, you will be able to see who has recently posted photos of their cool new stuff. From there you can create a list of folks to send a direct message to, thanking them for their recent purchases or participation.

Who Has Tried It?

Instagram Direct Messaging can also be used to collect content submissions from an audience. One creative example of this was GoEnnounce’s “College Acceptance Giveaway” campaign last year.

Obviously, you want to make sure that the people you’re sending content to actually want your content. This seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t stress enough the attention necessary for making this type of exclusive outreach relevant and genuine.

Make sure you only direct message people who have engaged with your account before, and that your 15 selections are alike in a way that they will engage with one another in the comment thread of the message.

Be careful in planning your content, and align what you send as closely as possible with how those users post themselves or interact with your brand.

Use personal language. If it sounds like spam, your message will go from being flattering to annoying in no time. Try referencing a previous message, photo, or component of the network that will make the direct message sound like it came from a friend.

10 Ways To Integrate Agency Agile Methods In A Digital Agency

10 Ways To Integrate Agency Agile Methods In A Digital Agency

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Online Entrepreneur News

There are many agile methods and practices available. I realised this back in 2010 after struggling to get the expected benefits from Scrum and doing some deeper research. This led me to Kanban and lean thinking. Some of their practices appeared to offer improvements on the approach we were using.

I started to experiment. First with a small, predictable project and then progressively with larger and more complex work. This started with the way I was breaking individual projects down – I switched from user stories to feature descriptions and then to value-based deliverables. This made work easier for clients to review and accept, making projects easier to manage.

I began challenging our processes and the way all our work was managed too. This led to us scrapping sprint planning sessions in favour of quick reorganisations at the daily stand-up. We soon dropped the concept of sprints and moved to a flow-based Kanban approach. Further improvements came from across the team making suggestions for how we could be better, and then giving them a go.

The results spoke for themselves:

  • staff were happier as it was easier for them to do their best work and mostly self-manage themselves
  • this freed up PM time to comfortably handle more projects in parallel and focus on the outcomes that mattered
  • there were significant improvements in the quality of our work, delivery times, client relationships and outcomes achieved
  • and at the same time, we trebled the revenue per head in our team in a little under three years.

Upon further reflection, it’s become apparent that the lightbulb moment came from daring to experiment. I made changes and observed their effects.

Process improvement efforts prior to this had been looking for a ready-made process we could just adopt – like Scrum. I now understand this doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because our industry is still in its infancy so we’re still working out how our businesses should work. It’s also true that every business is unique. Operational processes that work in one agency aren’t necessarily transferable to another.

I consult with a variety of knowledge-work businesses including many digital agencies helping them improve their operational processes. Based on this experience, here are my top tips for integrating agile methods into the agency setting:

#1. Accept that there’s no ‘one true way’ and nothing is set in stone

Every organisation is unique. Agency agile success comes from building upon the ideas of others and adapting them to your situation.

#2. Foster a culture of incremental change and continuous improvement

While the rate of change is naturally higher at the start of process improvement work, it’s a mistake to ever consider it ‘done’. Agency agile requires you to constantly adapt and test your working methods (kaizen in the lingo). This is why ‘big bang’ managed change initiatives rarely deliver lasting results.

#3. Define the outcomes that really matter

“Remember that clients mainly value return on their investment. #agile #projectmanagement”.They don’t care what your process is or is called as long as it makes it easy for them to get the results they desire. Equally, remember the reasons and motivations why your agency exists.

#4. Measure quantitatively

There’s no need to go overboard but it’s important to take normalized measurements of your work. Without these measurements, you’re effectively working blind.

When I led the development team at an agency, my measurements included the ‘revenue per head’, ‘revenue per client’, ‘opportunity cost per client’ (i.e. the value of unbillable time spent per client) and ‘timesheet completeness’ (hours recorded out of hours worked). I sampled these metrics monthly, reporting the results to both my team and the company directors. This never failed to provide valuable insights on where to target our improvement efforts next.

Most of these data points rely on accurate timesheet data, and I’m aware this can be a challenge. I’ve found explaining why timesheets are important and what the information is used for (and not used for) to be a huge help in getting them filled in.

#5. Measure qualitatively

Numbers are important but don’t forget softer measures that are equally valuable for agency agile. These include perceived quality of projects, client satisfaction, and staff engagement / happiness / wellbeing.

#6. Question everything

I don’t mean in an annoying way that irritates everyone around you but in a personal mindset of ‘how could this be better?’. If you’re attending (or chairing) a regular meeting that seems to achieve little, put your agency agile hat on, think about how it could be improved, or if it’s even necessary.

#7. Break projects down into ‘units of value’

For example, the news section of a website or email marketing element of a campaign. This makes the work simpler to manage and cost, and for clients to accept. If you do this consistently across projects you then build up a data set of the time and cost typically associated with a deliverable, making future projects easier to price. It’s far more valuable and accurate than costing by skill type (design, front-end development, back-end development, PM etc).

#8. Visualise your work

The fancy term is ‘value stream mapping’. The important bit is building and maintaining a clear picture of the state all work so everyone’s on the same page. Agile tools like Trello and Jira are great here, but the humble Post-It can be just as good if you’re all in the same location.

#9. Limit your work in progress

In other words, ‘stop starting and start finishing’. The outcomes that matter come from finished work. High quality work comes from focussing on the task at hand and getting it done. Having too many items in flight lengthens lead times and reduces quality.

#10. Capture your processes in an operations manual

Round puzzle table

Businesses are complex. It’s simply not possible (or beneficial) for people to remember everything about how the business works. You, therefore, need some way to capture your processes in a clear and accessible manner.

These aren’t lengthy tomes. They’re mostly checklists for how to approach a situation with a few supporting notes that improve over time. Their use ensures the value of your process is built into the agency – not just in the heads of a few individuals. A good operations manual makes situations like staff on-boarding, business continuity planning, disaster recovery, and simply sharing out work in busy periods so much simpler.

On a practical note, a set of Google Docs linked together plus a separate ‘table of contents’ document is a great approach. Far more flexible and effective than a fancy intranet.

Wrapping Up

Astute readers may detect strong influences of lean and Kanban in this agency agile list. That is no coincidence. But to come away from this article thinking lean software development or Kanban is the right methodology for your agency is missing the point. They provide useful tools but are essentially just labels.

Your processes are unique to you. The goal is to have a unified way of working across your agency. This ensures a consistent experience for clients and staff. It provides the solid foundations necessary for continuously improving quality, creativity, happiness and profit. The only brand name you need to worry about is that of your business.

And remember: success comes from you taking action when you encounter poor processes and inefficiencies. There’s no need to wait for a specific change agenda. When something’s not working well, challenge it and try something else. Start today. If you don’t you’ll still be in the same situation tomorrow.

The Future of Ecommerce: 8 Trends to Watch Out for in 2021

By | E Commerce Business News

Due to an expected increase and the advent of 2020’s effect on commerce, the eCommerce industry is proliferating. Every day, more retailers are making the move to online selling, while entrepreneurs are getting their start through ecommerce ventures.

By 2022, e-retail revenues will grow to $6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019.

However, eCommerce is an ever-changing industry. Every year, several new trends come up that can help your business grow and outdo your competitors – 2021 is no different.

Let’s look at the top five e-commerce trends to watch out for in 2021.

1. Voice Commerce Will Rise

voice assistantsPeople are increasingly relying on voice assistant devices like the Amazon Echo with Alexa and the Google Home with Google Assistant to do everything, from waking them to buying products online. 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers by 2025. Voice commerce sales are anticipated to reach $40 billion by 2022.

Another reason why voice commerce is on the rise is the growing accuracy and convenience of the technology. Both Google and Amazon are pushing regional languages in their virtual assistant devices to help consumers shop more conveniently.

Therefore, it is essential to optimize your online store for voice search.

According to Matt Janaway, CEO at MarketingLabs, One simple but very effective way to capture more organic traffic from voice searches to your eCommerce store is to optimize your top-level conversion funnel content to incorporate answers to common consumer questions surrounding your products or market. By attracting, engaging and offering value to potential customers through targeted content neatly drops them right into your conversion path for when they are looking to buy later down the line. For example, what starts as a quick voice search from an internet user looking for advice on ‘how to reduce injuries whilst running’, leads to them reading your solution-based blog post, which in turn results in the sale of your running shoe insoles! Voice commerce is now too big to ignore, so if you’re an eCommerce store owner, be sure to take advantage of this new digital trend and get ahead of the curve before others beat you to it.

2. Omnichannel Shopping Will Become the New Normal

Omnichannel retailing refers to providing shoppers a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

In a survey by HBR (Harvard Business Review), 73% of respondents said they use multiple channels during their shopping journey. This data is almost four years old.

With the increase in the adoption of mobile devices and voice assistants, I can only imagine that the number of omnichannel customers will increase even more in 2021.

Use analytics tools like Finteza that provide detailed ecommerce analytics to identify customer behaviors and track everything related to the cash flow. An analytics tool of this type helps you analyze which products are in demand, monitor your profit and loss, and evaluate customer loyalty. Finteza also allows you to build reports for events that matter the most to your business, such as view items, add to cart, checkout progress, and checkout success.

These insights enable you to offer the exact product that your shoppers are looking for and provide a seamless shopping experience.

3. AI and AR Will Enhance the Ecommerce Experience

Online sellers will spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022. More than 120,000 stores will be using AR technologies to offer customers a rich buying experience by 2022.

Artificial intelligence (AI) acts as your online in-store associate by offering personalized guidance and recommendations to your customers. AI uses shoppers’ past purchase history and browsing behavior to show them products they are more likely to purchase.

Unlike in physical stores, online shoppers can’t try on or physically inspect the product that they intend to buy. Augmented reality (AR) helps eliminate this hurdle by letting customers see how a certain product would look on them even before they buy the product.

By implementing AI and AR in your ecommerce store, you will likely see an increase in conversions and a decrease in the return rate.

4. New Payment Options Will Emerge

Business financingPayment options are one of the main reasons why customers choose a specific brand. If you don’t offer your customers’ preferred payment method, they won’t purchase from your ecommerce store.

As of now, most ecommerce businesses accept digital wallets (like Google Pay, Samsung or Apple Pay, and PayPal) apart from debit and credit cards. Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, have many benefits for online shop owners, such as low transaction fees and no reverse transactions.

For example, Overstock partnered with Coinbase, a Bitcoin platform, to allow customers to use Bitcoin as a payment method.

In 2021, we might see more ecommerce businesses will start accepting cryptocurrencies for transactions.

5. Brands Will Continue to Adopt Dynamic Pricing

marketing strategiesDynamic pricing allows ecommerce retailers to stay competitive and attract more customers.

Even if you sell the best product in the world, if you don’t price it correctly, you won’t generate enough sales.

Make sure to choose the right price for your products. By “right,” I mean the amount at which you have the best chance of selling your product while making the maximum possible profits.

Use dynamic pricing software to determine the best price for your products. These tools provide real-time insights into your competitors’ prices, market demand, and perceived value of your products to determine the optimal cost.

6. Mobile Commerce Will Dominate Ecommerce

As consumers’ trust in online shopping increases, they feel more comfortable making purchases using their mobile devices.

By the end of 2021, mobile devices are expected to make almost 73% of total ecommerce sales. Besides, 30% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts in the middle of shopping if they find out that your website is not mobile-friendly.

As an online seller, you should focus on improving the customer experience for mobile users.

7. Sustainability Practices Will Influence Sales

customerGreen consumerism is rising rapidly. Brands need to act quickly to stay relevant and competitive.

Green consumerism refers to a situation in which customers look for products that have been produced in an eco-friendly way that preserves the environment or involves recycling.

65% of consumers say they want to buy products from purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability. The focus on green consumerism is a clear indicator that ecommerce brands that prioritize environment-friendly practices will dominate the market in the coming years.

Major ecommerce brands have already started planning to implement more sustainable practices in their business. For example, the world’s leading ecommerce company, Amazon, pledged to bring their carbon emissions to zero by 2040.

8. Visual Commerce Will Get Bigger

Visual commerce refers to using imagery not just on product pages, but also on your entire store to entice users to engage and convert.

Major retailers like Bose, for example, are already using visual commerce to influence shoppers into purchasing. They have high-quality images on their homepage along with shortcuts to purchase the product directly.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce businesses looking to dominate the market must prepare themselves to adopt the latest trends as soon as possible. In 2021, voice commerce, omnichannel shopping, AI, and AR will likely be prevalent. More and more online businesses will start accepting crypto payments to entice more customers to choose their brand. Dynamic pricing will still remain an effective way to attract shoppers.

Paid Social Marketing Pro Tips for Small Businesses

Paid Social Marketing: Pro Tips for Small Businesses

By | Online Entrepreneur News

There are two kinds of social marketing: organic and paid. With audience demographics and interests becoming more diverse than ever, paid social marketing is an efficient way to target customers with demographics and interests that align with your business. It’s considered best practice to invest in social marketing at least in the beginning stages of your business, because it helps get the ball rolling. Below are five action steps for a successful paid social marketing campaign.

Decide on a realistic budget

A good marketing campaign yields the highest possible Return On Investment (ROI) or, in marketing terms, Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS). Determine your monthly budget to go towards paid social marketing. How much should you spend on marketing? Generally speaking, small to medium-sized businesses put aside 10 to 15 percent of the earnings for marketing expenses.

The devil is in the details

You should be able to set detailed perimeters, especially if local targeting is integral to your business. How detailed is the audience demographic specifications on the ad platform of your choice? In terms of local targeting, is your ad range specific enough to target only the areas your business covers?

Find out whether you can narrow down the geographic location settings. For example, if you run a dry cleaning business in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it doesn’t really make sense to include people who live in the Upper East Side in your local targeting.

Similarly, interest targeting alone could lead to a meaningless campaign. For example, if you run a cafe in New York, it serves no purpose for someone who actively interacts with coffee contents but lives in Los Angeles to see your ad.

First determine whether local targeting is essential to your business. If it is, you should be able to specify the target to cover only your primary area of business. You might need granular targeting to make this possible.

Identify who contributes to actual sales

Which segment of your customer demographics contributes to sales the most? Is it men in their twenties or women in their thirties? Does your data show any correlation between sales and customers’ location–urban vs. rural? Demographic analysis is a must to understand the audience and launch a successful paid social campaign.

Choose the right space

Find the optimal advertising media for your business. Is your product or service most popular on Instagram? Instagram requires visual representation of your business, which means you need to have resources to design images. Choose the right media with your business’s appeal point and resource allocation in mind. For instance, Facebook and Instagram require a lot of graphic designing and occasional video editing. If you’re unsure where to start, social listening tools like Hootsuite is a great place to get to know the different social networks.

Measure success with social media KPIs

This is especially relevant to Online to Offline (O2O) businesses. Even with high impressions, engagement and click-through rate of an ad, there’s no way to find out just how much the ad has contributed to actual store visits and sales. The only way to find out the efficiency of social ads is to ask the visitors how they heard about your business, especially whether they’ve heard from your paid advertising source. Identify the percentage of sales that comes from paid social marketing so that you can set your KPIs accordingly.

Selling Online? Here Are 4 Things You Need to Know About SEO.

By | seo advice for business

These days, startups live and die by the clicks they get. If your website isn’t optimized for search, customers won’t find you, much less buy from you.

But SEO, much like the internet it runs on, is constantly evolving. Keeping up with all the new rules, strategies and best practices can be a job in itself. If you’re not in a position to hire an SEO expert, follow these expert tips to boost your position in the rankings.

1. Realize that SEO is about more than just keywords

While SEO does focus on keywords, traffic and how well your site is ranking, it’s concerned with much more than that. SEO is about creating effective customer service funnels, sharing high-quality content and standing out among competitors.

Without a strong SEO strategy, your website will likely be lost in the lower depths of the search results. No matter how local your customer base is, or how high-quality your product, it’s irrelevant if you’re hidden from view. SEO has become a requirement for modern businesses to thrive, one that can make or break your company.

To implement a good SEO strategy, start with your site’s content. Is it easy to read, and does it answer the questions your audience is asking? Does it hold their attention? If your bounce rate and time on site metrics suggest the answer is “no,” create high-quality content that does.

How fast does your site load? Does it contain relevant links and offer customer support? Despite the complexity of SEO algorithms, all of them focus on customer experience. A fast-loading site that answers visitors’ questions and provides needed support will encourage them to linger.

Longer sessions and more visitors mean a higher rank in the search results. A higher rank brings in more traffic, which means more potential sales — and the cycle continues.

2. Experiment relentlessly with SEO

search engine optimizationJust as search ranking factors change, so do keyword values and search volumes. Early and ongoing adjustment is key.

Some agencies focus on on-page SEO, such as optimizing conversion-oriented pages for specific keywords. Others do off-site work, such as building backlinks from third-party publications.

Start with what you can control: your site. If not enough people are filling out your contact form, try placing it somewhere else on the page. If your traffic flow isn’t going to where you want, relink your pages to make it easier. Revisit old blog posts and link them to new content.

If you’re unsure where to begin, don’t hesitate to ask your audience. Beyond the metrics you can find in SEMrush or Google Analytics, send out surveys to current customers. You can even have employees test your user experience and take notes.

With algorithms being updated regularly, keeping up with your website will prevent your page rank from being throttled. Not only will this result in higher SEO performance, but you’ll enjoy more sales and visibility, too.

3. Invest in rich, helpful content

transparent-employeeThe more people see your site, the more important strong content becomes. Not only is your brand image at stake, but Google ranks sites by how well they satisfy a visitor’s search intent.

When users do a web search, they’re looking for someone to solve a problem or fill a need. If your site — their first impression of your business — doesn’t do that, you risk losing them right away. Google will register the brief time they spent on your site and downgrade your ranking accordingly.

One way to stop users in their tracks — in a good way — is by using video. Pages with video retain visitors an average of 2.6 times longer than those without. When they click an eye-catching video and watch it for a minute or so, that tells Google your page satisfied their search intent. As a result, it will rank you higher in its search results.

Even with excellent videos, though, too much of a good thing can backfire. If you add excessive videos to one page, you might confuse your customer or even slow down your website.

Remember, be kind to your visitors. Make what they’re looking for easy to find, and create a good first impression with a great user experience. The SEO will follow.

4. Aim for the sweet spot

Some SEO strategies go after low-hanging fruit. Others play the long game, building enormous amounts of backlinks to own highly competitive terms. The sweet spot is low keyword difficulty, low competition, and high search volume.

Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find the right keywords and identify overlooked SEO opportunities. Comparing performance every month or quarter can give you valuable insights into what’s working and what isn’t.

Short-tail keywords like “graphics cards” will have higher volume and more competition. Long-tail keywords like “best gaming computer graphics cards” will have less volume but less competition as well. You’re looking for one like “fastest graphics cards,” which has less competition than the former but more volume than the latter.

Again, ongoing experimentation is important. For example, there might be a boost in graphics card search volume around the holidays. Similarly, when a manufacturer launches a new card, a “name + graphics card” keyword might skyrocket.

With algorithms being updated regularly, keeping up with your website will prevent your page rank from being throttled. Not only will this result in higher SEO performance, but you’ll enjoy more sales and visibility, too.

The Most Common Web Accessibility Issues to Avoid

The Most Common Web Accessibility Issues to Avoid

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into effect in 1990, it has required that places of public accommodation meet certain standards of accessibility for people with disabilities. The definition of “places of public accommodation” such as schools or offices changed little over the next two decades until 2010 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) published in the Federal Register rules that websites were to also be included under that definition.

Web accessibility lets people with cognitive difficulties, vision impairment, or those who are deaf or hard of hearing gain access to online content such as webpages, electronic documents, and multimedia. Part of this accessibility includes content designed to work specifically with assistive devices such as screen readers, alternative keyboards, or joysticks that are used by people with a range of impairments.

ADA-compliant websites are coded in a way that allow vision-impaired people, for instance, to order groceries or access their banking information online using screen readers. Another example of web accessibility is creating sites that allow people with epilepsy to safely navigate webpages without increased seizure risk. The goal is to create digital spaces that can be as easily navigated by everyone as physical public spaces.

Accessibility Issues to be Aware of

Good news: Coding an ADA-compliant website is achievable with minimal expense and minimal impact on usability or design — if some basic guidelines and strategies are followed. The following list details the best ways to avoid the seven most common web accessibility issues.

Navigation

This is probably the most important accessibility issue and applies to any website. Whether people have a disability or not, if a site has not been properly designed to allow for simple navigation, some of the website’s information will be difficult to access.

There are two main elements that relate to navigation:

Tab-through order.

For people with disabilities, it’s extremely important that sites can be navigated using only a keyboard. This often means that the “tab” key is used to move through different sections within a webpage. Accessible websites should be structured so that pressing “tab” logically moves the user from the address bar to menus, across form fields and links, and to any other content areas in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. This let users who rely on keyboard navigation to move through a page in an intuitive way even if they can’t see the screen.

Landmarks.

Just as physical landmarks help people navigate in real space, landmarks in a website help users navigate a page. These digital landmarks are special labels included in the site code that provide navigation indicators. Landmarks will, for example, allow screen readers to identify and communicate with the page’s navigation menu so that users can access that menu quickly without having to listen to all the text on a page.

Site Structure

Properly structured websites use levels of text that have been logically named to show the relationships between different areas of content. For web users without vision impairment, people can understand site structure and a page’s content naturally and quickly by scanning for titles or headings. For people who cannot rely on vision-dependent cues, pages should be structured to provide similar key information to screen readers.

This can be achieved by making sure each page is structured to include:

Unique titles.

All pages should be given a logical and unique title so that no two pages share the same title. The page title should appear within the browser above the web address bar.

Headings.

Headings should logically progress so that sections containing content are formatted using heading style designations such as “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, and so on instead of relying on variations in the visual text such as font or font size changes.

Lists.

Any bulleted or numbered list should be identified as such rather than by using indents or symbols to indicate it. Besides helping users identify information as belonging to a specific list, following this practice helps communicate the number of items in the list.

Text

More than 7 million American adults have some form of vision impairment, representing roughly 2% of the population. This includes a wide range of vision problems including nearsightedness, color blindness, or complete loss of vision. Developing web pages that allow for flexibility in the way text is displayed provides users with a wide range of simple options that can significantly improve how easy it is to read a site’s text.

Text options should include:

Size.

web designUsers should be able to easily increase or decrease text size. Text should also be able to be effectively displayed across a range of device types including desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Contrast.

Proper color contrast between text and backgrounds reduces challenges created by color blindness or other vision impairment conditions. WCAG 2.0 has clear guidelines on contrast levels for a range of text sizes.

Color.

Colors should not be used to convey meaning. If developers wish to use colors to communicate something meaningful, alternative options should also be provided to communicate the meaning. This applies to features such as highlighted text.

Images

Using images rather than text to convey meaning or to navigate webpages prevents people from being able to properly access information.

Some of the key issues related to imagery include:

Images instead of text.

pay per clickImportant information displayed as an image should be avoided. Examples of this are a “home” button that’s an image of a house. Sometimes text is displayed as an image. Unfortunately, screen readers treat an image showing text as if it were a photo or a logo. This, in turn, prevents users from being able to properly navigate or understand key elements of the page.

Text for images.

Adding text descriptions to images allows vision-impaired users to understand what is being displayed. This can be important for graphics such as flowcharts, schematics, maps, graphs, or menu buttons. A lack of additional text to support images was one of the key factors cited in the landmark accessibility class action lawsuit that was successfully brought against the retailer Target.

Color.

Color shouldn’t be used to convey important information. For instance, consider a map that uses color-coded location markers to display a green start line or a red finish line. To assist people with color blindness or other vision impairment to understand maps or location-based information, supporting text should be included.

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are one of the main features of websites, allowing people to easily navigate to other pages to seek out additional details of related information. There are, however, important differences in the way that sighted people and vision-impaired people navigate and access hyperlinks on a page.

Clarity.

While people without impairment can scan pages to find links to useful information from within the context of the text surrounding those links, people relying on assistive devices such as screen readers often access hyperlinks as part of a list that has no additional context. For this reason, sites shouldn’t name links using terms such as “read more.” That gives no context for people who access links from a list.

Readability.

Hyperlink addresses can sometimes be made up of long strings of letters, numbers, and symbols. Listening to links like these read out loud is arduous. Hyperlinks should use common terms and language instead of just stating the web address.

Distinctiveness.

Clearly identify links. This means they should either be underlined or in italics instead of relying on color to distinguish them from standard text.

Multimedia

There are many ways in which the accessibility of multimedia content can be improved. In this area, software and machine-learning technologies are rapidly improving to provide efficient and automatic services such as auto captioning.

Video.

For people in the deaf community or for those hard of hearing, captioning and transcripts can provide synchronized text when viewing a video or a transcript text file that can be read separately. Modern software has allowed the captioning process to be done automatically as well as being able to identify other non-verbal information by identifying when music or laughter occurs on screen.

Audio.

Text versions of any audio files should be made available.

Animations.

Some people with cognitive disabilities find animations or other on- screen movement to be excessively distracting. This being the case, all site animations should include an option to disable or pause them.

Forms

Since online documentation or forms feature prominently on many government as well as nongovernment websites, it’s important that they be properly designed. Inaccessible forms was one of the elements specifically mentioned in the 2015 class action accessibility complaint filed against the shoe manufacturer Reebok.

These factors need to be considered in all form designs:

Navigation

The user should be able to logically tab through each of the fields in the document.

Instruction and labeling.

Instructions related to form fields are typically locked to prevent editing of non-field content. Unfortunately, that makes the instructions related to those form fields unreadable to a screen reader. All form fields, checkboxes, or dropdown menus should be clearly labeled and capable of being read by screen readers.

Time-outs.

Many online forms incorporate a time-out feature for security purposes. Unfortunately, this can leave users navigating by keyboard or those using screen readers insufficient time to complete the form — even if they complete it in one continuous session. Form pages should be designed to allow the user to extend the time to complete a form when necessary.

Bringing It All Together

It is simple to avoid web accessibility issues by having a strong familiarity with the WCAG 2.0 standard and by following practices and checklists that address the most common accessibility issues. Another key point to remember is that accessibility is better addressed in the earliest stages of design and development rather than being dealt with as an afterthought so that code needs to be retroactively changed.

It is also important to remember that once a website or app has been released — even if it has been carefully designed and accessibility testing has checked for ADA compliance — that ongoing maintenance is still required. Ongoing maintenance will ensure that accessibility issues don’t crop up from site updates or changes in the way that people access the web via new types of assistive devices. Every organization should have a person with a clearly defined role assigned to routinely check for accessibility issues and to quickly address them if they arise.

Web Accessibility Laws in the United States

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

What’s required to meet accessibility standards in the United States? Here’s everything you need to know to avoid accessibility violations.

What Are Web Accessibility Laws?

ADATitle III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the activities of public accommodations.” While the law was enacted primarily to focus on obstacles at physical locations, it’s being applied to websites as well.

Title II of the ADA applies to state and local governments. Federal agencies, government contractors, and programs that receive federal funding are also subject to Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended to address online resources.

If a website is inaccessible to those with disabilities, the business could be required to redesign the website, incur monetary damages, and pay attorneys’ fees.

When it comes to US web accessibility standards, US businesses are on notice.

Who Does Web Accessibility Law Benefit?

61 million Americans report having a disability that affects major life activities, according to the Center for Disease Control. That works out to 25% of all adults living in the U.S. The CDC classifies disabilities as those affected by these categories:

  • Mobility
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Cognition
  • Independent Living
  • Self-Care

Web accessibility laws and US web accessibility standards are aimed at making sure anyone suffering from these disabilities have the same right of access as non-disabled.

Who Is Required to Follow Web Accessibility Laws?

marketing-to-people-with-disabilitiesGenerally speaking, any business that is public-facing is required to comply with web accessibility standards and guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to private businesses in one of these 12 categories:

  • Lodging
  • Businesses serving food or drink
  • Entertainment or exhibition
  • Public gathering
  • Sales or rental businesses
  • Service establishments
  • Public transportation
  • Public display
  • Recreation
  • Education
  • Social services
  • Exercise or recreation

The ADA applies to state and local governments in addition to Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended for online resources.

Also, many states have adopted their own rules, modeled on these regulations and standards.

How Are Web Accessibility Laws Enforced?

The federal government, through the Department of Justice, can sue in court for enforcement of ADA laws. It can seek changes and civil penalties. More commonly, businesses are the target of class action suits. Dominos, Netflix, and Target all faced lawsuits by advocacy groups over the accessibility of their websites, forcing changes to company practices.

Class action suits for ADA violations are on the rise. 2,285 were filed last year representing an increase of 181% over the previous year. Most cases settle out of court with companies agreeing to make changes to its website.

How to Comply with US Web Accessibility Standards

While the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability, it does not detail how to comply with US web accessibility laws online. In fact, it does not address websites at all. There is no official criteria listed in ADA laws.

Court rulings have favored businesses, however, that followed the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a list of recommendations to make online content more accessible to those with disabilities. It covers four main areas:

Perceivable

All users, including those with impaired vision, should be able to see and read your website.

Operable

Websites should be responsive and easy to navigate for all users across multiple browsers and mobile devices

Understandable

Websites should be organized in a way that’s easy to use and use language that most customers can understand.

Robust

Websites should integrate with tools (Assistive Technology or AT) that are used by users with disabilities.

Google Ads Benchmark Report Q4 2020

Google Ads Benchmark Report Q4 2020

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Report Highlights

  • Google paid search CPC increased for the first quarter of 2020 in Q4, rising 4% year over year after a 1% decline in Q3. The quick reversal in CPC growth in the back half of the year was remarkable after a 17% decline in Q2. Click growth slowed from 30% in Q3 to 23% in Q4, but spend growth held steady from quarter to quarter at 28%.
  • One likely cause of increased CPC growth as well as slower click growth in Q4 was Amazon’s surging presence in both Google Shopping and text ads auctions against Tinuiti retailers. The ecommerce giant reached highs not seen since January 2020 in the middle of December, and appeared to become much more aggressive with ad campaigns immediately after pausing ads entirely on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Retailers saw much higher paid search conversion rate than last year for much of Q4, but saw a quick drop in the middle of December as shipping concerns, dwindling top-seller inventory, and the effects of a prolonged holiday shopping season seemed to impact performance. A very similar trend was observed for Amazon advertisers, and in the case of both Google and Amazon ads conversion rate quickly rebounded and was up year over year for the final week and a half of the quarter.
  • With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge, get location details clicks, the vast majority of which are attributed to ads on Google Maps, declined at least 20% year over year for each month of the quarter. As the pandemic continues to weigh on travel and brick-and-mortar shopping activity, it’s likely that traffic from this click type will continue to show declines in the first few months of 2021.
  • Search-driven sales tracked via Amazon Attribution, a tool used to attribute sales that happen on Amazon to efforts across other channels, peaked in Q4 during the week of Amazon Prime Day. While sales surged again during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, neither rose to the levels of Amazon’s premiere sales event.
  • Discovery campaigns have grown quickly in adoption, and in Q4 2020 there were 73% more advertisers actively deploying the campaign type than in Q1 2020. Among the inventory that can be targeted with these campaigns are placements on the ‘Promotions’ and ‘Social’ tabs in Gmail, and advertisers will have to go through Discovery campaigns to access this inventory soon as the Gmail-only campaign type will be sunset as of July 1, 2021.
  • The share of paid search clicks attributed to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) continued to slip on phones, dropping from 11% last Q4 to 7% in Q4 2020. Reliant on cookie tracking to place website visitors into targetable audiences, RLSA share might continue to slip as cookies are steadily restricted. RLSA share can also be impacted by changes in advertiser strategy, as well as shifts in the makeup of the universe of Google searchers, which can certainly happen during periods of mass shifts to ecommerce such as the one witnessed in 2020.
  • Customer Match audiences, which rely on PII including email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers, continue to account for about 3% of paid search clicks. Advertisers should look to target these customers with smart ad copy and landing pages to optimize the customer experience as best as possible based on known customer traits heading out of the busy Q4 holiday shopping season.
  • Phones continued to account for 69% of all paid search clicks in Q4 2020, the same figure observed in Q3. While phones have long accounted for the lion’s share of paid search traffic, growth in click share from the device type has slowed markedly as smartphone penetration growth has slowed in the US. Tablet devices now account for just 3% of paid search clicks, and these devices have seen a decline in popularity over the last couple of years.

Google paid search CPC increases year over year for first time in 2020.

1 Google US Paid Search Y-Y Growth

Average cost per click for Google paid search advertisers rose 4% year over year in Q4, the first quarter of 2020 in which pricing increased, as ad auctions were highly competitive during the extended Q4 holiday shopping season that started as early as October for some retailers. The largest decline in CPC of 2020 occurred in Q2, for which Amazon was absent from ad auctions for much of the quarter, and Amazon is now back at full force in many product categories. Click growth slipped from 30% in Q3 to 23% n Q4, as spend growth held steady at 28%.

Shopping click growth slows but remains above 2019 levels.

2 Google US Shopping Ads Y-Y GrowthShopping clicks grew an astounding 53% in Q2 and 44% in Q3, as the early months of the pandemic sent shoppers online and some large advertisers like Amazon had to pull back on advertising given the flood of demand. Auctions during the Q4 holiday shopping period included a resurgent Amazon, and click growth slowed to 36%, though that figure is still higher than the four quarters preceding Q2 2020. CPC growth recovered slightly from a 7% decline in Q3 to a 6% decline in Q4.

Google text ad CPC continued to climb year over year in Q4.

3 Google US Text Ads Y-Y GrowthAverage CPC for Google text ads rebounded faster than Shopping ads, growing 4% year over year in Q3 compared to a 7% decline for Shopping. That dynamic continued into Q4, with text ads CPC rising 12% compared to a 6% decline for Shopping. The jump in CPC growth drove an acceleration in spend growth from 25% in Q3 to 29% in Q4, even as click growth slipped from 21% to 15%. Q4 click growth was still stronger than any quarter between Q2 2019 and Q1 2020, and expansions to the definition of close variants are likely resulting in keywords being placed in more auctions than they otherwise would be.

Rebound in Google CPC growth was strongest on desktop in Q4.

4 Google US Paid Search CPC Y-Y Growth by Device TypeCPC growth was stronger on all device types in Q4 compared to Q3, as the busy holiday shopping season brought competitive ad auctions, highlighted by Amazon’s surging ad impression share during the core period between Thanksgiving and just before Christmas. However, desktop CPC growth recovery was much stronger than that of mobile devices, going from a 1% decline in Q3 to a 10% increase in Q4, compared to phone CPC growth which went from a 1% decline to just 1% growth.

Amazon’s impression share in Google Shopping auctions topped 50% in the late-December push.

5 Amazon US Google Shopping Ads Impression ShareAfter reactivating campaigns in early June following a twelve week hiatus, Amazon’s impression share in Google Shopping auctions held roughly steady from late July to early November. The ecommerce giant turned ads off completely on Thanksgiving Day, possibly to reduce load on a thinner staff during the holiday, but was back in auctions the very next day. From there, it appeared to become much more aggressive over the next three weeks, topping a 50% impression share during the week of December 14, the first time since January 2020 it reached such heights, before reducing its ad presence in the final weeks of the year.

Amazon text ad impression share hits its highest level since January 2020.

6 Amazon US Google Text Ads Impression ShareMuch like in Google Shopping, Amazon exited Google text ad auctions in early-March when it was bombarded with demand as Americans began to limit travel and in-store purchases and increasingly ordered goods online. Amazon’s text ad impression share also followed a similar pattern as in Shopping throughout the holiday season, holding steady for the first several weeks of Q4 before surging towards the end of the holiday season.

Conversion rate tumbles in the lead up to Christmas Day amid concerns about shipping delays.

7 Google US Retail Paid Search Conversion Rate Y-Y GrowthFor much of the quarter paid search conversion rate for retailers was more than 20% higher than last year across ad formats, likely spurred on by high ecommerce demand and holiday discounts that were pushed out much earlier than normal for many retailers to entice shoppers to convert earlier in the holiday shopping season. However, year-over-year conversion rate growth tumbled between December 11 and December 20, a very similar trend to one observed for Amazon advertisers over the same period. The late-season decline in this metric probably reflects shoppers’ concerns over getting products in time for Christmas, as well as the effects of a prolonged holiday shopping season. Dwindling inventory for top-selling products also affected performance for some advertisers.

Get location details clicks were down 33% Y/Y in November.

8 Google US Get Location Details Y-Y GrowthGet location details clicks, which predominantly come from ads featured on Google Maps, were down at least 20% year over year for each month of Q4. The greatest decline came in November with a 33% decline, as many shoppers that might have otherwise gone into stores for Black Friday stayed home during the pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on movement and brick-and-mortar shopping, we will likely continue to see year-over-year declines in get location details clicks into Q1.

Paid search sales tracked through Amazon Attribution peaked the week of Prime Day.

9 Sales Driven by Search Tracked viaAmazon AttributionAmazon orders and sales attributed to advertisers’ paid search efforts rose more than 5x from the first week of October to the second, as Amazon’s Prime Day event took place on October 13 and 14 this year instead of the typical July timing. As was the case with other channels such as social, Amazon Attribution sales tied to search efforts surged the week of Thanksgiving, but not nearly to the extent that was observed during the week of Prime Day.

Phones accounted for 69% of all Google paid search clicks in Q4 2020.

10 Google US Paid Search Click Share by Device TypeClick share by device type remained nearly identical from Q3 to Q4, with phones continuing to account for 69% of all clicks. While phone share of US paid search traffic has risen significantly over the years, the pace of growth for smartphone penetration has slowed. Tablet devices have steadily become less important to search campaigns over the years as tablet purchases have slowed dramatically, and the device type now accounts for just 3% of all paid search clicks.

Text ad CPC 12% year over year Q4 growth was driven by 18% growth on desktop.

11 Google US Paid Search CPC Y-Y GrowthCPC growth was much stronger for text ads than Shopping ads in Q4, and it seems that major advertisers like Amazon ramping up during the final quarter may have had more of an impact in text ad auctions than Shopping. For both Shopping and text ads, desktop CPC growth outpaced other device types, though CPC growth recovered across all device types and ad formats for the quarter.

Phone CPC remains far below that of desktop for many advertisers.

12 Google US Paid Search Phone CPC Relative to DesktopPhone CPC relative to desktop remained roughly stable year over year for the median advertiser studied, moving modestly from 43% lower to 45% lower. While there are often slight shifts from one quarter to the next, this comparison has remained remarkably stable over the last couple of years for Tinuiti advertisers. As advertisers have control over how much is spent for ad clicks from phones relative to desktop, the lower CPC is largely reflective of the lower expected value of phone traffic compared to desktop for many advertisers.

RLSA and Customer Match lists outperform non-audience members across devices.

13 Google US Paid Search Phone CPC Relative to DesktopSearchers included in Remarketing Lists for Search Ads and Customer Match audiences drove sales per click between 59% and 117% higher than searchers that were not included in any audience type across device types in Q4 2020. Optimizing campaign components like ad copy, landing pages and bids can help advertisers drive even more value out of these customers than they otherwise would, and the high direct response measures of these audiences are often at least partially reflective of marketing efforts outside of search that have produced these customers.

RLSA share of paid search clicks falls down to 7% on phones in Q4 2020.

14 Google US Paid Search RLSA Click ShareThe share of Google paid search clicks attributed to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) declined across all device types over the last year, but the dip was greatest on phones, for which share decreased from 11% to 7% year over year In Q4. RLSA share can be affected by changes to restrictions on placing cookies for website visitors, as well as changes in consumer behavior and advertiser strategy. For example, if a greater share of relevant searchers were new/unknown to an advertiser in Q4 relative to Q3, RLSA share might slip without any adjustment in strategy by the advertiser or shifts in the ability of Google to include website visitors in RLSA audiences.

Customer Match share of paid search clicks holds steady in Q4.

15 Google US Paid Search Customer Match ShareThe share of paid search clicks attributed to Customer Match audiences held steady from Q3 to Q4 at around 3% of traffic across device types. Based on lists of customer emails, phone numbers, and/or physical addresses, Customer Match isn’t reliant on placing cookies on searchers’ browsers as is the case with RLSA, but is limited by the share of users in a list that Google is able to identify for targeting. Customers for which an advertiser has Gmail addresses to use in Customer Match tend to be the most likely to get identified by Google compared to other email domains.

Similar Audiences click share is up year over year across device types.

16 Google US Paid Search RLSA Click ShareGoogle creates Similar Audiences based on searchers that exhibit similar query behavior as members of RLSA and Customer Match audiences. While these users are usually not as valuable in terms of direct response as those individuals that have either provided a brand with PII or visited the company’s website, they can be hugely valuable in helping to segment those searchers that might be most similar to known customers in allowing advertisers to better optimize components like ad copy and landing pages. In Q4 2020, 13% of all desktop paid search clicks and 17% of phone and tablet clicks were attributed to these audiences.

The number of advertisers deploying Google Discovery campaigns is up more than 70%.

17 Number of Advertisers Deploying Google Discovery CampaignsGoogle discovery campaign adoption soared over the course of 2020, and in Q4 2020 there were 73% more active Discovery advertisers than in the first quarter of the year. Google Discovery campaigns target inventory ranging from the Discover feed to placements on Gmail and YouTube, and advertisers can choose between setting a target cost per acquisition or maximizing the number of conversions driven under a set budget. Gmail Ads campaigns will be sunset on July 1, 2021, and advertisers wishing to target inventory in Gmail ‘Social’ or ‘Promotions’ tabs will need to go through Discovery campaigns moving forward

LSI Keywords: What are They and Do They Matter?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

People say that LSI keywords have the power to boost Google rankings. Is this true, or is it yet another SEO myth?

Read almost any article about LSI keywords, and you’ll be told two things:

  • Google uses a technology called LSI to index web pages.
  • Using LSI keywords in your content helps you rank higher on Google.
  • Both of these claims are technically false.

In this guide, you’ll learn why that is and what to do about it.

But first, the basics…

What are LSI keywords?

LSILSI keywords are words and phrases that Google sees as semantically-related to a topic—at least according to many in the SEO community. If you’re talking about cars, then LSI keywords might be automobile, engine, road, tires, vehicle, and automatic transmission.

But, according to Google’s John Mueller, LSI keywords don’t exist:

“There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry”.—John

So what’s the deal here?

Before we answer that question, we first need to understand a bit more about LSI itself.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)?

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), or Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), is a natural-language processing technique developed in the 1980s.

Unfortunately, unless you’re familiar with mathematical concepts like eigenvalues, vectors, and single value decomposition, the technology itself isn’t that easy to understand.

For that reason, we won’t be tackling how LSI works.

Instead, we’ll focus on the problem it was created to solve.

Here’s how the creators of LSI define this problem:

The words a searcher uses are often not the same as those by which the information sought has been indexed.

But what does this actually mean?

Say that you want to know when summer ends and fall begins. Your WiFi is down, so you go old school and grab an encyclopedia. Instead of randomly flicking through thousands of pages, you lookup “fall” in the index and flick to the right page.

Clearly, that’s not the type of fall you wanted to learn about.

Not one to be defeated that easily, you flick back and realize that what you’re looking for is indexed under “autumn”—another name for fall.

The problem here is that “fall” is a synonym and polysemic word.

What are synonyms?

Synonyms are words or phrases that mean the same or nearly the same thing as another word or phrase.

Examples include rich and wealthy, fall and autumn, and cars and automobiles.

Here’s why synonyms are problematic, according to the LSI patent:

[…] there is a tremendous diversity in the words people use to describe the same object or concept; this is called synonymy. Users in different contexts, or with different needs, knowledge or linguistic habits will describe the same information using different terms. For example, it has been demonstrated that any two people choose the same main keyword for a single, well-known object less than 20% of the time on average.

But how does this relate to search engines?

Managing salesImagine that we have two web pages about cars. Both are identical, but one substitutes all instances of the word cars for automobiles.

If we were to use a primitive search engine that only indexes the words and phrases on the page, it would only return one of these pages for the query “cars.”

This is bad because both results are relevant; it’s just that one describes what we’re looking for in a different way. The page that uses the word automobile instead of cars might even be the better result.

Bottom line: search engines need to understand synonyms to return the best results.

What are polysemic words?

Polysemic words and phrases are those with multiple different meanings.

Examples include mouse (rodent / computer), bank (financial institute / riverbank), and bright (light / intelligent).

Here’s why these cause problems, according to the creators of LSI:

In different contexts or when used by different people the same word takes on varying referential significance (e.g., “bank” in river bank versus “bank” in a savings bank). Thus the use of a term in a search query does not necessarily mean that a text object containing or labeled by the same term is of interest.

These words present search engines with a similar problem to synonyms.

For example, say that we search for “apple computer.” Our primitive search engine might return both of these pages, even though one is clearly not what we’re looking for.

Bottom line: search engines that don’t understand the different meanings of polysemic words are likely to return irrelevant results.

How does LSI work?

Computers are dumb.

They don’t have the inherent understanding of word relationships that we humans do.

For example, everyone knows that big and large mean the same thing. And everyone knows that John Lennon was in The Beatles.

But a computer doesn’t have this knowledge without being told.

The problem is that there’s no way to tell a computer everything. It would just take too much time and effort.

LSI solves this problem by using complex mathematical formulas to derive the relationships between words and phrases from a set of documents.

In simple terms, if we run LSA on a set of documents about seasons, the computer can likely figure out a few things:

  • First, the word fall is synonymous with autumn:
  • Second, words like season, summer, winter, fall, and spring are all semantically related:
  • Third, fall is semantically-related to two different sets of words:

Search engines can then use this information to go beyond exact-query matching and deliver more relevant search results.

Does Google use LSI?

Given the problems LSI solves, it’s easy to see why people assume Google uses LSI technology. After all, it’s clear that matching exact queries is an unreliable way for search engines to return relevant documents.

Plus, we see evidence every day that Google understands synonymy:

And polysemy:

But despite this, Google almost certainly doesn’t use LSI technology.

How do we know? Google representatives say so.

Don’t believe them?

Here are three more pieces of evidence to back up this fact:

1. LSI is old technology.

LSI was invented in the 1980s before the creation of the World Wide Web. As such, it was never intended to be applied to such a large set of documents.

That’s why Google has since developed better, more scalable technology to solve the same problems.

Bill Slawski puts it best:

LSI technology wasn’t created for anything the size of the Web […] Google has developed a word vector approach (used for Rankbrain) which is much more modern, scales much better, and works on the Web. Using LSI when you have Word2vec available would be like racing a Ferrari with a go-cart.

2. LSI was created to index known document collections.

The World Wide Web is not only large but also dynamic.

This means that the billions of pages in Google’s index change regularly.

That’s a problem because the LSI patent tells us that the analysis needs to run “each time there is a significant update in the storage files.”

That would take a lot of processing power.

3. LSI is a patented technology.

The Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) patent was granted to Bell Communications Research, Inc. in 1989. Susan Dumais, one of the co-inventors who worked on the technology, later joined Microsoft in 1997, where she worked on search-related innovations.

That said, US patents expire after 20 years, which means that the LSI patent expired in 2008.

Given that Google was pretty good at understanding language and returning relevant results much earlier than 2008, this is yet another piece of evidence to suggest that Google doesn’t use LSI.

Once again, Bill Slawski puts it best:

Google does attempt to index synonyms and other meanings for words. But it isn’t using LSI technology to do that. Calling it LSI is misleading people. Google has been offering synonym substitutions and query refinements based upon synonyms since at least 2003, but that doesn’t mean that they are using LSI. It would be like saying that you are using a smart telegraph device to connect to the mobile web.

Can mentioning related words, phrases, and entities boost rankings?

Most SEOs see “LSI keywords” as nothing more than related words, phrases, and entities.

If we roll with that definition—despite it being technically inaccurate—then yes, using some related words and phrases in your content can almost certainly help improve SEO.

How do we know? Google indirectly tells us so here:

Just think: when you search for ‘dogs’, you probably don’t want a page with the word ‘dogs’ on it hundreds of times. With that in mind, algorithms assess if a page contains other relevant content beyond the keyword ‘dogs’ – such as pictures of dogs, videos or even a list of breeds.

On a page about dogs, Google sees names of individual breeds as semantically related.

But why do these help pages to rank for relevant terms?

Simple: Because they help Google understand the overall topic of the page.

For example, here are two pages that each mention the word “dogs” the same number of times:

Looking at other important words and phrases on each page tells us that only the first is about dogs. The second is mostly about cats.

Google uses this information to rank relevant pages for relevant queries.

How to find and use related words and phrases?

If you’re knowledgeable about a topic, you’ll naturally include related words and phrases in your content.

For example, it would be difficult to write about the best video games without mentioning words and phrases like “PS4 games,” “Call of Duty,” and “Fallout.”

But it’s easy to miss important ones—especially with more complex topics.

For instance, our guide to nofollow links fails to mention anything about the sponsored and UGC link attributes:

Google likely sees these as important, semantically-related terms that any good article about the topic should mention.

That may be part of the reason why articles that talk about these things outrank us.

With this in mind, here are nine ways to find potentially related words, phrases, and entities:

1. Use common sense.

Check your pages to see if you’ve missed any obvious points.

For example, if the page is a biographical article about Donald Trump and doesn’t mention his impeachment, it’s probably worth adding a section about that.

In doing so, you’ll naturally mention related words, phrases, and entities like “Mueller Report,” “Nancy Pelosi,” and “whistleblower.”

Just remember that there’s no way to know for sure whether Google sees these words and phrases as semantically-related. However, as Google aims to understand the relationships between words and entities that we humans inherently understand, there’s something to be said for using common sense.

2. Look at autocomplete results.

Autocomplete results don’t always show important related keywords, but they can give clues about ones that might be worth mentioning.

For example, we see “Donald trump spouse,” “Donald trump age,” and “Donald trump twitter” as autocomplete results for “Donald trump.”

These aren’t related keywords in themselves, but the people and things they’re referring to might be. In this case, those are Melania Trump, 73 years old, and @realDonaldTrump.

Probably all things that should be mentioned in a biographical article, right?

3. Look at related searches.

Related searches appear at the bottom of the search results.

Like autocomplete results, they can give clues about potentially related words, phrases, and entities worth mentioning.

For example, “Donald trump education” is referring to The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania that he attended.

4. Use an “LSI keyword” tool.

Popular “LSI keyword” generators have nothing to do with LSI. However, they do occasionally kick back some useful ideas.

For example, if we plug “donald trump” into a popular tool, it pulls related people (entities) like his spouse, Melania Trump, and son, Barron Trump.

5. Look at other keywords the top pages rank for.

Use the “Also rank for” keyword ideas report in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer to find potentially related words, phrases, and entities.

If there are too many to handle, try running a Content Gap analysis using three of the top-ranking pages, then set the number of intersections to “3.”

This shows keywords that all of the pages rank for, which often gives you a more refined list of related words and phrases.

6. Run a TF*IDF analysis.

TF-IDF has nothing to do with latent-semantic indexing (LSI) or latent-semantic analysis (LSA), but it can occasionally help uncover “missing” words, phrases, and entities.

7. Look at knowledge bases.

Knowledge bases like Wikidata.org and Wikipedia are fantastic sources of related terms.

Google also pulls knowledge graph data from these two knowledge bases.

8. Reverse-engineer the knowledge graph.

Google stores the relationships between lots of people, things and concepts in something called a knowledge graph. Results from the knowledge graph often show up in Google search results.

Try searching for your keyword and see if any data from the knowledge graph shows up.

Because these are entities and data points that Google associates with the topic, it’s definitely worth talking about relevant ones where it makes sense.

9. Use Google’s API to find entities

Paste the text from a top-ranking page into Google’s Natural Language API demo. Look for relevant and potentially important entities that you might have missed.

Final thoughts

LSI keywords don’t exist, but semantically-related words, phrases, and entities do, and they have the power to boost rankings.

Just make sure to use them where it makes sense, and not to haphazardly sprinkle them whenever and wherever.

In some cases, this may mean adding new sections to your page.

For instance, if you want to add words and entities like “impeachment” and “House Intelligence Committee” to an article about Donald Trump, that’s probably going to require a couple of new paragraphs under a new subheading.

What to expect from SEO in 2021

What to expect from SEO in 2021?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

From the humble beginnings of the Internet and online advertising, we’ve reached an era where the Internet is an essential communication tool, and online advertising is valued at more than 400 billion dollars a year, more prominent than even the TV ad industry. The global pandemic only accelerated this trend and pushed more companies online. So, what can we expect out of SEO in 2021? Which trends should we be looking forward to? Which changes will impact the industry? In this article, we’ll discuss the main trends we expect to have an impact and change the direction of SEO in the coming year.

Direct changes to search engines

SEO is entirely dependent on the major search engines, primarily Google. Any changes to Google’s modus operandi, algorithm, and priorities will have direct, wide-ranging impacts on SEO in 2021. These changes lead to losses in billions of dollars for some businesses while leading to gains of billions of dollars for others. It is important to be aware of the upcoming changes and how to best prepare for them.

#1 Page experience as a ranking factor on Google [May 2021]

algorithimAs of May 2021, you should expect what Google dubs as “page experience signals” to be a ranking factor. The page experience refers to the way the visitors feel as they interact with the web page. It is determined by a multitude of attributes from mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, HTTPS, and the others. These were already ranking factors previously, but they’ve been more institutionalized and work within the “page experience” framework. Furthermore, Google is introducing Core Web Vitals as part of ‘page experience’. They’re considered to be user-centric metrics that try to determine the quality of the user experience. These user-centric metrics will measure the loading speed (Largest Contentful Paint), interactivity (First Input Delay), and visual stability (Cumulative Layout Shift). The first two items that go into Core Web Vitals seem quite self-evident, so it doesn’t seem like a good idea to spend more time explaining them in this article.

Although, the third item might confuse some people. Visual stability refers to how much the layout shifts and jumps around. For example, imagine if a button tracks your mouse and jumps around whenever you get close to it, this is quite a self-evidently bad user experience, and this variable aims to capture this. The self-advertised purpose of adding an explicit page experience ranking factor is so that Google can provide higher-quality, more engaging content to its users. Considering the variables that it takes account of, a website with a high page experience score will load faster, be more interactive, more stable, more secure, more mobile-friendly, and much more. These all combined, admittedly, will lead to a superior experience.

Get featured in top stories without AMP

Another purpose of the introduction of the new page experience ranking framework is to make non-AMP content eligible to appear in the Top Stories feature for mobile phones. It is one of the main ways websites drive traffic to their content from mobile, so this could be a significant change that would disrupt the rankings of many websites on mobile. This change will also roll out in May of 2021, which makes May a hell of a busy month for SEO specialists.

We need to be ready for all the drastic changes this change in the algorithm can bring. We can’t possibly ascertain its impact at this stage.

#2 Mobile-first indexing for all websites on Google [March 2021]

SEO mobileMobile-first indexing is certainly not new, Google has been using it for more than several years. It was first introduced as an answer to a widespread problem: more and more people are using their phones to look up stuff and browse the net. The problem is that the mobile and desktop versions of websites don’t always match up in content, and Google usually only indexes one version, which traditionally was the PC version. This creates a mismatch between the rankings on mobile and the content on these pages. To alleviate this mismatch as it was becoming a growing problem due to the increasing popularity of mobile, Google decided to implement mobile-first indexing. Mobile-first indexing refers to the practice of indexing the mobile version of the website first in Google’s databases instead of the desktop version. This would accurately gauge the amount of content on mobile sites and their relevance before displaying the results.

Going from an entirely desktop-first indexing scheme to an entirely mobile-first one would’ve been a massive step, however, and this is why Google has been taking years implementing this change. It started by allowing the option to webmasters to change their website indexing to mobile-first. It was followed by making mobile-first the default option for crawling new websites. The final and latest update is going to come in March 2021 when Google will start making mobile-first indexing the default option for all websites. This means that the way your website is indexed and the content that’s considered might change in March. It is hard to determine how big of an impact this will make beforehand, but you should expect some instability.

Thankfully, Google has published a basic guideline to ensuring the transition to mobile-first indexing goes smoothly on your website:

  • Make sure the content of your website is visible to Google crawlers and bots.
  • Ensure you fill out all the relevant meta tags on both the mobile and the desktop versions of your landing pages.
  • Ensure that your mobile website loads quickly by enabling lazy loading.
  • Ensure that you are not blocking any relevant mobile-specific URLs in your robots.txt file.
  • Although it is hard to ensure identical content, you should try to have at least identical primary content on both versions.
  • Check the alt tags of both image and video embeds.

Wider SEO trends

Aside from specific updates to algorithms, we have prior information about, some wider trends in the sector that are going to change how we engage with SEO. Some of these trends have been going on for years and only just accelerating and others are new. Below, we’ll cover the most prominent ones.

#1 Voice search is becoming more and more prominent

voice assistantsVoice search was virtually non-existent just five years ago. Still, the development and proliferation of Alexa, Google Assistant, and a multitude of other voice assistants over the last few years have popularized voice search beyond our wildest dreams. According to data, voice search revenue will more than quadruple from 2017 to 2022 from just 2 billion to 40 billion dollars. This explosion in popularity presents opportunities and challenges to traditional SEO approaches. Just as an example, in voice searches, getting the first position is much more important than it is in traditional text searches. That’s why you need different approaches to capitalize on this new, emerging SEO arena fully.

#2 Feature snippets and microdata

Google is trying to introduce more and more types of featured snippets to its home page. These range from recipes to news and tutorials. These snippets aim to make searching faster for users and keep traffic on Google’s website. It is nevertheless beneficial for websites to implement it because you have a chance to be featured, which would drive a lot of traffic to your website.

Of course, getting featured doesn’t always mean you’ll see exponential growth in traffic, but data from Ahrefs shows it matters a lot! On average, getting featured means you’ll get, on average, around 8,6% CTR while the top ‘natural result’ will get 19,6% of the traffic. This is extremely impressive and shows that the featured snippet steals a substantial amount of clicks from the top position, which would get around 26% CTR in SERPs without a featured snippet. Although, you have to be careful about how Google features you. You should monitor your ranking and readjust your snippet and optimize it for more clicks.

#3 Non-textual content

As we move into the next year, we’re seeing an Internet saturated with blogs and landing pages. and it is becoming increasingly difficult to rank for noteworthy keywords with decent traffic. That’s why many SEO agencies are trying to expand their reach by diversifying the type of content they produce and publish. Infographics are one of the easier ways to create engagement and rank higher. Although, even they’ve been overused in recent years. A much more promising frontier for 2021 seems to be videos. These could be uploaded to Youtube as standalone content or embedded in your website too. It’ll help you gain more traffic from Youtube views, which seems way less saturated than Google’s traditional search engine currently. This doesn’t mean it is any less important. YouTube generates 15 billion dollars for Google each year. It is a platform you can’t afford to ignore.

It is also worth mentioning that there are specific video snippets on SERPs that you can only rank for through video content, and these video snippets are really prominent on search queries beginning with “how-to”, asking for tutorials, and other forms of educational content. They are prime real estate that you can potentially rank for with a reasonably produced video.

#4 UX SEO

The days where SEO was just about meta-tags and titles have long gone. Nowadays, SEO is an intricate subject that combines expertise from many different fields from marketing to software engineering and creative writing to achieve the best result. A recent trend in SEO that is gaining more and more stream is the UX SEO framework.

UX SEO refers to the practice of optimizing the user experience of a website to achieve better conversion rates and engagement. It isn’t only important that your site gets regular visitors, but it is also equally important to ensure that these visitors engage with your website. UX redesign success stories are almost limitless, for example, ESPN found out that just a homepage redesign increased their revenues by 35%. There is no reason why UX optimization could not be an integral part of your SEO strategy, and UX SEO gives you a framework to achieve this.

Conclusion

Each year, Google introduces more than 3600 small changes to their algorithms, and each year, trends emerge in this volatile sector that nobody has been able to predict. You need to continually keep up with the news to be on top of your SEO game, reading an article on the trends in the upcoming year isn’t enough. Nevertheless, I tried to make this article as comprehensive as possible, and you should be moderately prepared for the challenges ahead if you pay attention to all the trends that I’ve featured here.

How Startups Can Leverage Social Commerce

How Startups Can Leverage Social Commerce

By | E Commerce Business News

Be it a D2C eCommerce brand or home-based startup, social media makes high-impact marketing campaigns possible on a shoestring budget. Social commerce is the implementation of social media to increase a business’s presence through recommendations, collaborations and networking. According to Statista, the social-commerce market is projected to reach $84.2 billion by 2024 in the U.S. alone. With a well-informed strategy, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest can be ideal for introducing and communicating your brand and organically amplifying visibility.

Satisfying your target audience

Consistently creating content and communicating its value proposition to your target audience is paramount. Strong marketing teams incorporate design thinking into social commerce, leveraging a content strategy that aligns with those findings. The process begins with creating a blueprint for people, age groups and enthusiasts who would be interested in the brand’s offering.social selling

User empathy

We then move to user empathy, which involves finding out the user’s actual needs, usually through primary research and directly reaching out to prospective customers. The goal is to modify the brand’s offerings to target these pain points and fill in the gap that competitors couldn’t address.

Presenting genuine customer reviews is another effective strategy that has the potential to convert viewers into buyers. Modern consumers are too savvy to be seduced by traditional static commercials. Audiences seek answers to their queries, and dynamic creatives displaying reviews by satisfied customers or essential FAQs go a long way in increasing sales.

Focus on enhancing user engagement

social engagementEven for small businesses, having a platform that provides relevant content is vital to ensure that viewers spend longer durations on your site. Content can be in the form of blogs, videos, interviews or even newsletters that showcase your brand and have added information on the latest trends, statistics and industry experts’ insights.

Regular social media updates act as a constant reminder of what your organization has to offer. Not only does it draw attention to your brand, but being active also increases the chances of your content being put before others, thus giving you an edge against the competition.

Influencer marketing

social-commerceAccording to a 2019 survey by Influencer Marketing Hub, brands made $5.20 for each dollar spent on influencer marketing. Influencers usually directly influence the purchasing behavior of the audience, which readily increases visibility and sales. Their endorsements and posts grab more attention than other channels, and 40% of consumers claim having purchased something after seeing it on Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Small businesses can also collaborate with similar brands to jointly market their products in a potential win-win situation. According to Google, when Estée Lauder created a co-marketing campaign with a top U.S. retailer, the average ad click share rose by 70%.

Campaigns with a social impact

Social commerce is not limited to direct product placements and direct marketing. It’s also an effective way to garner indirect interest through viral campaigns that generate social impact. Procter & Gamble, a multinational consumer goods corporation, drove the conversation around racial bias in the United States with “The Look” their social campaign.

Hammad Rahman, chief executive officer of Nikah Forever, an online matrimony portal, explains how his company “ran a signature campaign to cut expenditure on excessive marriage spending, which went viral and increased our social presence significantly.”

Personalization to increase brand recall

A touch of personalization never fails to deliver, and small businesses are particularly well-positioned to crafting products that can suit every individual customer. Something as trivial as a handwritten note to customers can go a long way in connecting personally and helping them get involved in promoting your brand.

Social media has a power like never before. The internet-savvy generation has given rise to a world of learning, developing and socializing that transcends boundaries. Even with rising competition, there are still innumerable opportunities for growth thanks to the corresponding rise in social commerce.

How to Use Content to Generate a Steady Flow of Leads

How to Use Content to Generate a Steady Flow of Leads

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

If you are tired of hearing you must produce content to compete in the world of marketing today, Below are the complete system for turning content into leads.

Here’s the system in 3 steps

  • Create a list of just 6 of the most useful content ideas for your ideal customer
  • Build a lead generating content upgrade for each piece
  • Start promoting each piece in advertising and social media

That’s it – execute on this over the next six months, and you’ll start generating leads.

Step 1 – What content should you produce?

Total-Content System. This is simply an approach that allows you to plan, delegate, curate, create, collaborate, repurpose and get far more out of every piece of content you produce. Once your system is in place, it will build momentum with each passing month and begin to multiply in value to your organization.

This is the approach we are going to take to develop your key content.

Through your knowledge and by using keyword tools like Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker, develop a list of core content topics and assign one to each month for the next six months.

Each theme should be a substantial topic related to your business or industry and represent an important keyword search term. It might be helpful to think about it as a book. Each month might represent a chapter in what will ultimately make up an important body of work by the end of this year.

You can also designate terms that you know you would like to rank higher for, but currently, have little or no content that leads people online or off to you.

Step 2: Create Some Content Upgrades

content marketingThe notion of getting someone to your website, landing page or content of some sort and enticing them to exchange their email address and other contact information to get something they are looking for is pretty much standard marketing fare these days.

The idea of bait for lead capture has certainly evolved, though. There was a time when all you needed was a lead capture form and message that asked people to sign up to capture an email, but then people got very tired of all the email this generated.

Smart marketers realized that they needed to offer something valuable in exchange – an ebook, webinar or free trial of some sort.

Even so, visitors started getting harder to convert as more and more sites featured pop-up, slide in and scrolling calls to sign up and download.

Today, and who knows how long really, marketers have tapped the seemingly insatiable hunger for useful, actionable, educational content and are employing highly targeted “content upgrades” to effectively convert visiting traffic to lead funnels like never before.

The basic idea behind a content upgrade is this – Write a really great, useful blog post and then when people show up to read it offer them an “upgrade” to the content in the form of a checklist, video, or case study relevant to the topic in exchange for content details.

Step 3: Developing content upgrades

One of the quickest ways to identify great candidates for immediate content upgrade opportunities is to look through your analytics and find your most popular content today and consider ways to personalize a content upgrade for these posts.

Another great ploy is to use a tool like BuzzSumo to identify some of the most shared content online based on the keyword phrases that relate to your business or ideal client.

My guess is you can easily identify a post that is getting tons of shares that you might be able to both up the game on and create a content upgrade for.

7 Common Mistakes Businesses Make With Facebook Advertising

7 Common Mistakes Businesses Make With Facebook Advertising

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Facebook advertising, when done correctly, can be a major asset to your marketing efforts. Facebook offers businesses a wide variety of advertising options to choose from, and with a network of billions of users, it provides the potential to reach tons of prospects.

However, there are a lot of moving parts that go into creating and maintaining successful Facebook advertising campaigns. If you’re not familiar with the ins and outs of the platform, it’s possible to fall into some pretty common traps. Here are some of the mistakes that I see businesses making time and again on the platform, and what you can do to avoid them.

1. Setting Wishy-Washy Goals

mistakes 1Facebook advertising is a single tactic within your broader marketing strategy. But that doesn’t mean you can be less-than-intentional about the choices you make when designing your campaigns.

It’s not enough to just create posts promoting your business and hope that some generic good will come of it. You need to set specific goals for each and every advertising campaign you undertake. If you’re promoting the launch of a new product, set a goal to sell X number of units. If your campaign is designed to drive traffic to your website, set a goal to increase CTR by X percentage points.

By starting with a clear goal in mind, your messaging within the campaign will be stronger and more targeted. Plus, you’ll know which metrics you should be keeping an eye on and will know exactly how you’ll define success at the end of the campaign.

2. Selecting the Incorrect Ad Type

digital adsOnce you’ve set goals for your campaign, it’s time to select the type of ad you want to run. Facebook offers businesses a wide variety of choices, and the various ad types can help you achieve all sorts of goals—from greater exposure for your brand to more conversions to facilitating offer claims.

Fortunately, Facebook makes it easy for marketers to determine what each ad is designed to do. Don’t try to get creative or reinvent the wheel in this step; go with the ad type that Facebook says best aligns with your goals.

3. Sticking to Only One Medium

If you’ve ever sat on Facebook and scrolled through your newsfeed, you know how easy it is for that content to simply become a blur. That’s why you need to do something unique to stand out from the personal posts, articles, and other ads filling up users’ feeds.

Facebook suggests that you keep text to a minimum on your images (ideally less than 20 percent). Include images that are bright, arresting, and are aligned with your brand’s tone. Go beyond still images and think about including video content.

But most importantly, mix things up. Even if you’re creating fascinating, engaging video ads, they’ll begin to feel stale after a while if that’s all you ever do. Mix up your media in order to keep viewers on their toes and eager to see what comes next from you.

4. Targeting Improperly

Target audiencesFacebook advertising targeting allows you to identify the desired audience for your ads. This keeps you from wasting your ad spend on people who would never realistically be interested in your business, but proper targeting is a tricky balancing act.

Make your audience too narrow, and Facebook will be unable to deliver your ad. However, make your audience too broad, and there will be lots of people who are not viable prospects seeing your ads.

The other mistake that marketers make is targeting the wrong audience. You might think you understand who wants to see your advertising, but unless you’re using your existing customers as a guide, you could be making some critical targeting mistakes and aiming your ad spend at the wrong group.

Take the time to analyze the demographics and actions of your current audience. You can even go so far as to send your existing customers a survey, asking them about their profile and lifestyle. Facebook even provides the option for you to create lookalike audiences for your advertising. By uploading a list of your existing customers, Facebook can then analyze that group for common attributes and target similar audiences.

5. Duplicating Efforts

Facebook is great at identifying their users who are most likely to want to see your advertising. Unfortunately, that sometimes means that people who are already familiar with your brand and who have converted on their own become the target of your Facebook advertising.

This is, of course, a waste of your time and budget. If they’ve already signed up for your newsletter, there’s no need to advertise said newsletter to them again! This is where the use of custom audiences comes in. Pull a list of all of your prospects or customers who have already taken the action you’re hoping to drive with the advertising and create a custom audience that excludes these people from seeing your ads. Not only does this save you money, it also keeps you from annoying those who have already said yes to your brand.

6. Letting Ads Go Stale

Even the best of Facebook ads begin to lose their luster after a few weeks. Users scroll past the same images and type time and again, and they eventually begin to gloss over the content. That’s why it’s critical for marketers to keep refreshing their ads on the platform. Changing up images, altering the text, and otherwise making the content appear fresh and new to the viewers is the way to get your brand noticed all over again.

7. Forgetting About Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a line of code that you insert into your website in order to track customer behavior on your website that happens as a result of your advertising efforts. This provides you with measurable data, so that you know if your ads achieved the desired results. This data can also help to inform your future marketing efforts. When you understand what was successful and what didn’t work so well in a given campaign, you can make changes to amplify the successes and pivot from the failures in the future.

There are a lot of moving parts for marketers to wrap their heads around when it comes to Facebook advertising. Understanding some of the most common mistakes businesses make can help you get more bang for your advertising buck and create content that stands out in a crowded newsfeed.

The State of Video Marketing in 2021

The State of Video Marketing in 2021

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It’s well established that video has been one of the breakout trends in the marketing world for the past decade.

But how is that assertion standing up to the twists and turns of a global pandemic?

The challenges — and changes — brought about by this most surreal year have affected us all.

Our research suggests:

Video remains a key priority for marketers with usage and spend both, overall, increasing slightly throughout 2020, and plans to increase again in the next 12 months.

The pandemic has impacted the video marketing landscape in contrasting ways – while video is generally seen as a more necessary tool by both marketers and consumers, many have seen budgets restricted and plans shelved.

The pandemic has overwhelmingly increased the amount of online video people watch.

Marketers feel more positive about the return on investment offered by video than ever, as it continues to strongly influence traffic, leads, sales, and audience understanding.

Consumers continue to use video as an integral part of their journey with brands, and are excited to see even more video content in the year ahead.

The key findings

86% of businesses use video as a marketing tool, up slightly from 85% in 2019.

What’s more, 93% of marketers who use video say that it’s an important part of their marketing strategy — an increase from 92% in 2020, making this the highest percentage of any year since 2015.

Pandemic Impact

Business financingLet’s begin with the fact that 91% of marketers feel the pandemic has made video more important for brands.

A fairly considerable 40% of video marketers said their plans to create video were affected by the events of the last year — with around 74% of these saying they were more likely to use video, and 26% saying it was less likely.

Around 60% of video marketers say they expect their budget to be affected for 2021, with around 70% of those people expecting a higher video marketing budget, and the other 30% expecting it to be lower.

68% of consumers say the pandemic has impacted the amount of video content they’ve watched online, with the overwhelming majority (96%) saying this has increased.

Looking forward

customerAll the signs suggest that usage and spend are on course to continue their growth in 2021.

More than 99% of current video marketers told us they’ll continue using video in 2021, and 96% plan to increase or maintain their spend (again, up slightly from 95% last year.)

What’s more, from the people who told us they don’t currently use video, 69% told us they expect to start in 2020. (This is 10% higher than last year’s figure of 59%.)

The net result of this is that we can all expect to see more noise and competition for audience attention in the coming 12 months.

Of course, while this is a challenge, it isn’t an insurmountable one. It simply raises the bar in terms of content quality. Video needs to be well-planned, and very well-executed.

The big opportunities

You’d be forgiven for looking at these numbers and feeling that video might be on the verge of reaching saturation point. Most of the data around usage, spend, and consumer opinion are in the 80s and 90s — where they’ve held, consistently, for a number of years.

But the good news is that there still seems to be underutilized opportunities for marketers to explore around video.

Unsurprisingly, YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms among video marketers — used by 87% and 70%, respectively.

But some of the lesser-used video tactics also seem to be reaping real results for video marketers.

Most notably, perhaps given global events and an increased desire for remote connection, 2020 seems to have been the year of the webinar. In 2019, just 46% used webinars — but in 2020, this rose significantly to 62%.

What’s more, an overwhelming 91% of webinar marketers say they’ve been a success, making it the most effective video marketing channel of all those listed.

To Sum Up

The events of 2020 did, and are doing, little to slow the rise of video.

In many ways, with people being isolated in their homes, and some teams working with less budgeting and resources than pre-pandemic, the demand (and consumption) of video has been accelerated.

Video looks set to continue its ten-year overnight success story into the coming decade. These stats paint a picture of a media type that’s almost universally popular among both marketers and their audiences, helping achieve a number of incredibly important goals.

7 Ways Machine Learning Can Enhance Marketing

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Exploiting the immense potential of artificial intelligence to excel in business is no longer a far-fetched pipe dream. Many companies have already discovered this, and as technology advances at a rapid rate, it’s clear now that machine learning and marketing go hand-in-hand.

In this age, to do one without the other is a mistake no business can afford, not if they want to remain competitive.

Data insights are more valuable than ever before, enabling for better customer engagement. It comes as no surprise that there is an increased reliance on data. Gartner research projects that more than 75% of companies will invest in big data in the next two years.

For businesses today, being able to anticipate customer behavior is key to optimizing marketing campaigns. In this article, we’ll explore just how machine learning can help companies improve and enhance their marketing efforts.

1. Enhance Customer Experience

Studies indicate, that 57% of major executives believe this is the area where machine learning can be most beneficial.

Machine learning can improve the customer’s online shopping experience in many ways, such as:

  • Guide the buying journey, making personalized product recommendations to help the customer find what they want;
  • Ensure your online store never runs out of stock, or provides alternatives if stock is low; and
  • Provide customers with a 24-hour support service

The rising popularity of drop shipping in the past decade has paved the way for many e-commerce companies and solo entrepreneurs to put machine learning to good use in improving the customer experience.

2. Create New Revenue Streams

Digital marketing in the modern era is all about data. Due to the huge amounts of data available, it’s increasingly common to see marketing become the priority for many companies, as it has a direct link to increasing revenue.

The retail giant, Amazon, has harnessed the power of machine learning quite unlike any other, with 35% of their annual revenue generated through personalized product recommendations.

Their cloud computing service, Amazon Web Services (AWS), provides opportunities for other companies to benefit from AI by using data insights to tailor their services to the customers’ needs. This in turn, will allow Amazon to gain additional revenue streams in innovative, new market areas.

This so-called marketing prophecy is something that many marketers have been working towards for years before machine learning came to the fore. With data insights in hand, decision-makers have much more insight and ability to predict what customers want, before they even are aware they want it.

3. Develop More Products and Services

In the digital age, people have quickly become accustomed to shopping in innovative and streamlined ways. As a result, their expectations are higher.

This provides more opportunity for companies to tailor their marketing specifically for the niche groups in their industry, or even with their own customer base.

Many businesses are already well on their way in this regard, developing new products and services based on the findings from machine learning software.

4. Content Optimization

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are often mentioned in the same breath, but there is a significant difference. Machine learning doesn’t try to outsmart and usurp human intellect. Instead, it focuses on analyzing problems and processes and finding a way to optimize them.

A popular way that many marketers practice this is through A/B testing.

Whether it’s email subject lines, Facebook ad graphics, or an article headline, A/B tests allow marketing departments to try out various options and garner the results to determine which connects best with the audience.

This method of using machine learning in marketing proves valuable with segmented marketing campaigns. Companies can use the feedback to provide more targeted content, ultimately collaborating with machines to optimize content and services.

Possibly the best example of this is Google Rank Brain. Its ability to learn from the searcher intent has made the search engine giant an incredibly efficient service, consistently improving in the accuracy of its results depending on the context of each query.

5. Improve Personalization

People want brands to care about them. So much so, that 52% of customers are likely to switch brands if they don’t feel a company is making enough effort to personalize their messaging.

Amazon’s aforementioned success with e-commerce personalization is built upon machine learning. They harvest the huge reams of data on their customer’s online behaviors, interests, and past purchases to tailor the online shopping experience.

Everything from the emails to the product offers is personalized, along with every touchpoint in the buying journey.

It may seem somewhat ironic, but machine learning helps to create a more human experience.

E-commerce personalization makes customers feel more important, with the experience carefully crafted to cater to their needs and interests.

This helps breed loyalty. Customers will trust a brand that makes them feel like they are being listened to. Research indicates that 44% of customers will return to make future purchases after having a personalized shopping experience.

6. Reduce ‘Marketing Waste’

When it comes to marketing, it is incredibly useful to have a system that can quickly identify trends and actions in real-time, and then respond accordingly without any human input. This ability to “learn” on the go is what makes machine learning so important in marketing today, and in the years to come.

In the past, many marketers launched advertising campaigns on little more than guesswork. Without truly knowing their audience, a lot of money was wasted on ads or promotional efforts that didn’t resonate with their target customers.

Machine learning eliminates this marketing waste.

Taking a scattershot approach to marketing in the digital age is not only unnecessary but mere folly. Machine learning takes the guesswork out of the process, allowing marketers to reach their audience with content and product offers that stand the best chance of engagement – and ultimately, conversions.

7. Chatbots Engage Customers

An increasingly common sight on many modern websites is the friendly chatbot that pops up in the bottom corner of the screen, offering assistance or advice soon after a visitor arrives on the site.

Machine learning is fundamental to the success of chatbots, as it allows the chatbots to continually learn from interaction with visitors, collecting data and interpreting it to provide more accurate answers over time.

Not only will chatbots inevitably phase out human virtual assistants in time, but they provide companies with the means of revolutionizing marketing activities.

We can already see how machine learning is being used in many different industries today, from helping to calculate risk in financial companies, to providing personalized healthcare through the Internet of Things (IoT).

With the insights that machine learning provides, businesses can tailor their marketing efforts, providing a better service for their customers, and ultimately, delivers a more personalized experience. This will help to build a loyal audience that trusts your brand and will come back to purchase more products and services.

In the end, this is great news for the bottom line of any business. With more optimized content and astute analysis of the data insights available to them, companies who use machine learning in their marketing strategy stand to gain a lot going forward.

When it comes to digital transformation, there is no doubt machine learning and AI are already massively important to the future of business.

5 Ways to Develop a Better Customer Experience with Content Intelligence

By | Online Entrepreneur News

1. Deliver actionable insights based on customer data.

local business link buildingTo develop more effective content strategies that help you better engage with your customers, you need to have better insights. Utilizing artificial intelligence gives marketers the ability to pull in more sources of customer data that can give your business actionable insights to fuel overall content strategy.

You may think that the analytic tool set you use now are providing this information. However, these tools have their limitations and are not able to provide a comprehensive analysis of what customers are responding to, whether positively or negatively. Additionally, most analytic tools today are unable to give you actionable insight on how to develop a marketing strategy that is designed to heighten engagement at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

The use of artificial intelligence can provide you with more precise, data-driven customer insights to help build a more effective marketing strategy.

2. Enhance customer personas.

marketing PR strategyAs the demand for more personalized experiences increases, you need to know a lot more about who you’re engaging. While you might think that you’re successfully targeting the audience who are your ideal customers, you could be ignoring another audience segments that would be greatly interested in your products and services.

Marketers need modern intelligence-based tools to deliver on those insights, giving you the ability to develop customer personas that are more comprehensive. As a result, artificial intelligence can conversion through the funnel leading to revenue growth and greater lifetime value. If you’re able to effectively reach customers not included in your original target audience, you gain the ability to start developing messaging that opens the door for more engagement among new segments.

3. Create highly personalized content for the buyer’s journey.

Actionable insights lead to an increased ability to write content that will increase customer engagement and encourage conversions at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Utilizing content intelligence platforms can inform you about the types of content channels that are moving your prospects and customers to conversions, at varying stages. With that knowledge, you can focus your efforts on producing more of that type of content for each of your audience segments.

Additionally, artificial intelligence can provide actionable insights about what you’re missing as part of that formula, whether it’s a mix of videos, tutorials, social media posts, downloadable ebooks, webinars or other content

By having this information you can eliminate wasted efforts on content that was produced based on your gut instincts. It can help you establish the right themes for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

4. Maximize reach through the right channels at the right times.

Trying to figure out when and where to place, distribute and promote your content can be another challenging area you face as a marketer. Timing and placements can make the difference between a successful campaign and a stagnant one. To say the least.

Content promotion through the lens of artificial intelligence can check the performance of your content based on the channels you’re currently using and the timing of your delivery. This information will help you be confident that you’re reaching your audience at the right time on the right channels.

5. Compare performance with the competition.

In business, it’s always a good idea to know how you stack up. It’s even more advantageous to get an understanding of what competing brands are doing to engage with customers and prospects.

Using AI to power today’s content intelligence platforms can give Marketers insights on how competitors are outperforming you with their messaging, communications and content strategies. That type of information can give you the ability to be more competitive with your messaging, promotions and other aspects of your content marketing strategy.

In short, as customers become more accustomed to highly personalized experiences from brands, the ability to keep up will become essential. Yesterday’s marketing technology isn’t enough. Sophisticated marketers need modern intelligence and toolsets to deliver the actionable insights to follow through with a content strategy that is more effective in delivering on expected client experience.