The Ever-Changing ‘Normal’ Office

My Post (9).pngInside the change to GetResponse becoming a remote-first company.

There is no new normal. The only thing that’s ever been normal is change.

Sometimes it’s subtle, spanning long stretches of time before anyone notices. Other times, it’s almost instant, extremely noticeable, and the change evolves right in front of our eyes. That’s when it’s harder to adjust, even as adaptable creatures.

“People are tied to their concepts,” said GetResponse CEO and Founder Simon Grabowski.

In three months, we’ve changed entirely. A huge decision that would have seemed dramatic before, now seemed like the next natural step forward as companies were forced to become remote-friendly when the coronavirus pandemic spread throughout the world.

In May, Grabowski and the company he founded from his parent’s attic (technically working remotely) more than 20 years ago, GetResponse, announced it’s changing from being a remote-friendly company and is now a remote-first company.

Bringing the future into the present: Boldly going remote-first

There was and still are a lot of challenges in doing so, but the move is dynamic and the company is providing resources, education and support to help employees establish a home office, even giving them freedom to literally work from anywhere they please (once such things such as travel are possible once again).

There’s a certain concept of working from home that sounds sexy — but we’ve never been able to test it. Then, you are essentially forced to do it in a week. From that point on, the lesson begun, and essentially we’ve been part of the biggest scientific clinical study since the inception of business.

Simon Grabowski, GetResponse CEO and Founder

Many questions still remain, at-large and inside the move to becoming a remote-first company. What is needed from the employer and the employee, what factors are there to consider and what are the intended and unintended effects? There is a lot of the backend to figure out from a HR and legal standpoint, how benefits and contracts will change, and how to ensure the mental and physical well-being of everyone involved.

Everything from the real estate market to office supply companies to construction and transportation are already and will continue to be impacted. As normal changes constantly, unanswered questions remain about the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 virus on people, and on business.

For instance, Google’s parent company Alphabet recently pulled out of deals that would have acquired more than 2 million square feet of office space, which impacts cities that counted on that physical infrastructure, and people working from home won’t just want typical office furniture, they’ll desire something that fits into what their home/office is.

 Architecture firms are predicting an explosion of what Nena Martin, director of workplace at architecture giant Gensler, calls ‘Swiss army knife’ furniture that can be easily modified for multiple uses. There will be more ‘agile chairs’ with a small surface you can rest your computer on if you want to take notes during a meeting.

Courtney Rubin for the online publication Marker.

81% of GetResponse employees prefer a remote-first model

Laptops, cell phones, hot spots, Wi-Fi, cafes, accessible travel, a myriad factor added up to make made work agile, to make remote possible well before the current pandemic.

People had already evolved into remote-friendly work in a sense, checking emails on their phone, lugging laptops along on weekend trips to extend them by a day or two.

Now, businesses are doing the same.

Behemoth banking institution Morgan Stanley plans to have “less real estate” going forward, while Nationwide Insurance said they transitioned to a 98% work-from-home model. Could employees move to more affordable areas to live, therefore reciprocally bringing down rent prices in the more expensive cities?

The last 2-3 months, suddenly thousands upon thousands of companies are forced to work from home. When the lockdown finishes, a lot of them will not be eager to go back to work.

Simon Grabowski, GetResponse CEO and Founder

The change wasn’t made by the heads of GetResponse making a mandate and forcing employees to go remote. They conducted surveys, asked opinions, and they let us be a part of deciding the future of this company and of our own livelihoods.

And the statistics are bearing out that people, even as they cling to old norms and comforts, are actually quite OK with going to a new model as the standard.

When asked the question, “If you were to choose the work mode after Covid-19 pandemic, which way of work would you prefer for a long term: a) Working fully remote; b) Working in a hybrid mode; c) Working from the office”, the overwhelming majority — 65% — said they would prefer the hybrid model that allowed the majority of work to be done remotely. Another 16% chose the fully remote option. The winning hybrid model allows employees to choose the number of days spent working remotely, even 100% remote if desired, with the option to go to the office when wanted. – Read more

How Marketers Should Respond to COVID-19

My Post (8).pngThe COVID-19 pandemic has caused plenty of confusion, stress, and insecurity worldwide. If you are work as a marketer or in marketing, knowing how to navigate the current state of the world is essential to ensure ongoing work and new clientele.

When you know how to adjust to surrounding circumstances, you can flourish as a marketer in just about any field or industry.

Without further ado, here are some of the ways marketers should respond in the wake of COVID-19 crisis:

1. Review and Work with Budgets

Take the time to review both short and long-term budgets you have set in place for yourself as a marketer, especially if you are currently working on your own as independent contractors.

Consider which marketing budgets are most appropriate as well as which areas of your budget can be reduced or eliminated entirely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

2. Leverage the Opportunities Arising from the Crisis

While many individuals and professionals alike feel uncertain and uneasy about what the future holds for them, their careers, and their sources of income, some companies are thriving amidst the chaos of the COVID-19 virus, especially those that connect to the digital economy.

Companies such as GrubHub, DoorDash, and even HelloFresh are finding ways to remain active and profitable while also resonating with their target audience of consumers. For example, many businesses are now leveraging technologies that enable remote working to preserve jobs and stay productive, as well as e-commerce to sell online and remain operational even with current lockdowns.

Another practical example would be the disruption of COVID-19 on global supply chains, which have led to some businesses moving to increase local/domestic production of key goods. Look out for all opportunities forged in the COVID-19 crisis.

3. Remain Relevant and Connected with Your Audience

Building an authentic and loyal connection with your audience is necessary as a marketer, the leader of a company, or even as an independent contractor. Establishing yourself as a trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative professional in your industry can help with retaining and attracting new clients, even during a worldwide pandemic.

Spend time sharing updates, news, and even interacting with online followers using social media and even your own official blog. Get to know more about the thoughts and feelings of your audience to determine the best course of action when it comes time to promote a product, service, or brand you are representing.

Avoid spamming content or sharing marketing campaigns that are distasteful, insensitive, or completely detached from the COVID-19 pandemic, as this may cause others to view your products or services as tacky and selfish.

4. Transition to Working Remotely

Another way to help retain clientele without disrupting your workflow each day is to transition into working with work-from-home or remote employees only.

Allowing your current employees to transition to working from home is a way to alleviate any financial responsibilities of renting an office or location while also allowing you to conduct marketing campaigns, strategies, and brainstorming sessions as usual.

Your company also needs to be sure to protect your information online. Your employees will be handling your marketing strategies and private information that can’t be leaked to the public.

Especially for a digital marketing firm, it is essential to be sure your business is protected from hackers not only in the office, but on your employees computer. Look into getting software your employees can use to ensure your information remains safe both inside and out of the office.

5. Monitor and Track COVID-19 Campaigns in Real-Time

Tracking your COVID-19 marketing campaigns can be easily done with the use of various tools and solutions online. – Read more

How To Maximize eCommerce Revenue When Demand Skyrockets

My Post (7).pngThere is no doubt the recent stay-at-home orders have impacted businesses in a big way. Some businesses have experienced significant revenue loss, while some eCommerce companies are seeing record revenue months. The current pandemic has changed search behavior as more people shift to buying online. Many eCommerce businesses have experienced an increase in conversion rate performance, especially those who carry products for projects that can be done at home.

In this article, I will discuss experiences from a few different eCommerce businesses that carry DIY products and the impacts on their business from the stay-at-home period. We will also discuss some ways any advertiser can maximize revenue for similar DIY product brands during this unprecedented time.

A Luxury DIY Brand’s Paid Media Performance During The Stay-At-Home Period

In one Luxury DIY account, they experienced a slight dip in revenue, but quickly recovered in March and experienced record-high revenue in April and May. Their products are classified as luxury and not considered an impulse buy. Purchasing these products requires planning and includes many custom order options.

luxury diy brand revenue increase during covid

Automotive Parts Brands’ Paid Media Performance During The Stay-At-Home Period

For one automotive accessories brand, April was a record revenue month. This brand provides interior and exterior auto accessories for your vehicle. While these products are not an impulse purchase, they would be considered an upgrade or add-on products for your vehicle. As you can see in the graph below, this brand surpassed $950,000 in paid media revenue in April and $1,300,000 in May. In the past year, paid media never drove more than $750,000 in direct revenue in one month, meaning April & May’s performance was exceptional.

automotive parts brand #1 revenue increase during covid

Another automotive accessories brand also experienced record revenue in May. This brand sells exterior auto accessories for your vehicle that are different from the brand above but in the same category.

automotive parts brand #2 revenue increase during covid

How Any Paid Media Marketer Can Maximize Revenue During An Unexpected Event

While much of this exceptional performance is due to a change in search behavior, an increase in DIY projects, and increased e-commerce shopping, we also made some bid & budget optimizations to help maximize revenue. It is highly likely these brands would have experienced revenue growth had they just rode the wave of demand and not deviated from the original paid media strategy, but they all remained flexible during this unique time and took recommendations to do the following: –  Read more

Here’s How To Improve Your Organic SEO Results Before Paying A Dime

My Post (2).pngAnd how to make sure you’re not annoying Google (and dropping down the search rankings).

IF YOU’VE BEEN spending money on Google AdWords, paid social ads, and banners, and you’re not seeing evidence that your advertising dollars are paying off, you’re not alone. We’ll look at several reasons for this over the next few months. But for today, let’s talk about why you should focus on optimizing your website for on-page SEO results before investing in paid traffic.

On-page SEO, also known as organic SEO, is about optimizing your website – and every individual page within your website – to earn more relevant traffic from search engines. This means optimizing both your content and source code. Why does this matter? Think about the question of search from Google’s perspective (Google is responsible for upwards of 85% of all searches, so they drive the SEO conversation). Google wants to be the world’s most popular search engine, because that delivers higher ad revenue. So Google makes link recommendations based on what makes their search users happy.

And what is that? Searcher users want to get to the answers they seek the fastest. Let’s look at what not to do as an example. Back in the good old days when most jewelers competed for a single search term (diamonds), it was common to hide Marilyn Monroe in the meta data of their website. After all, people were likely to search for that name, and she did sing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” right?

But when a search user looks up the name Marilyn Monroe, it’s unlikely they’re searching for diamonds. So what happens when they click the link to a jeweler’s website and don’t find what they are looking for? They instantly hit the back-button and return to their original search. Google clocks this activity (two seconds on page, immediate back-button) as a fail. And it remembers that your site failed one of its most important customer satisfaction tests. You just moved down the page.

Google also counts slow page load times, failure to reformat for every type and size of device, and broken links as fails. Your website must perform well on each of these parameters to merit Google’s top-of-the-page endorsement.

So why should you optimize on-page SEO before committing to paid promotions? Because it lays the groundwork for all your other promotional activity.

You’re not selling $25 items that can be closed in one visit. Sure, that may happen occasionally, but most jewelry businesses cultivate both in-store and online customers over long periods of time and through a layered mesh of relationships. Today, that requires getting people to return to your site again and again as you build name (domain) awareness, trust, and memory.

 

Did you know that less than 2% of your social media following will see any given post? Or that less than 5% of website visitors will remember to return to your site without a future prompt? Based on those numbers, you will break the bank trying to re-entice and re-remind people about what you have to offer. But when you find them through search, particularly through lower competition keywords, you can get new visits every day from people interested in what you have to say and to sell.

People like to say organic search is free. It’s not. It takes time to write copy and post relevant content. But it’s definitely less costly than paid advertising, and the links you put out there can live on forever, attracting new visitors for years. The more relevant content you put out there, the more the search engines will trust your site, which you can capitalize on with every new article, product, and page you post. – Read more

Smart campaigns helps small businesses reach more customers

My Post (1).pngSmall businesses are looking for tools to get their business online and reach the right audience. Smart campaigns, built specifically for small businesses, is an automated tool that helps you promote your business on Google. We recently rolled out Google Ads Smart campaigns to all 150 countries where Google Ads is available. Businesses of all sizes can now get ads up and running in just 15 minutes. Additionally, we’re making Smart campaigns easier to use: there are new features that can help you sign up from any device, stand out on Google Maps, see your results right on Google Search, and control when your ads show.

Sign up directly through the mobile app

Now you can sign up for Smart campaigns and run ads directly from the Google Ads mobile app on Android or iOS. We’ve made the process faster and easier, so you can start advertising right away. In-app signup is currently available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Japan, with more countries to follow.

[MOBILE SIGNUP].png

Your ads can be up and running in minutes with the Google Ads app.

Helping you stand out on Google Maps, for free

Every month, over 1 billion people use Google Maps to see what’s around them, search for businesses, and find directions. Promoted pins on Google Maps help your business stand out during these moments by displaying a prominent, square-shaped pin. You can also highlight specific services such as pickup and delivery, or other unique offerings.

As people begin to visit businesses in person again, we want to send more customers your way. Through September 2020, you won’t be charged for any clicks, calls or sales from Promoted pins.

We’ve started rolling out Promoted pins to Smart campaign advertisers with a Google My Business profile and will be fully available in the coming weeks.

SC-Squarepins-Flow3 (2).gif

Grab the attention of more potential customers with Promoted pins.

Easily see how your ads perform directly on Google.com

If you want an efficient way of checking your ad status, this feature is for you. We’ve made our reporting features more accessible—with a quick search, you can instantly see the status of your ads, how they’re performing, and how your ads look to potential customers. First, sign into the Google account you use for Google Ads. Then search for “My Ads” or “Google Ads” directly on Google.com. This feature will be available to all Smart campaign advertisers in the coming weeks. – Read more

The Only SEO Checklist You Will Need in 2020: 41 Best Practices

My Post.pngIf you are looking for an SEO checklist that will help you to increase your site’s organic traffic and rank on Google, you have just found it.

We have put together the ultimate checklist that you need to drive SEO success in 2020, covering 41 best practice points and tasks that you need to know about.

From the SEO basics to must-knows when analyzing your off-page signals, use this as a reference point for ensuring that your site is adhering to best-practice and that you’re not being held back by issues that you have missed.

Here are the main categories I will cover in this guide:

  • How to Use This SEO Checklist
  • SEO Basics Checklist
  • A Keyword Research Checklist
  • Technical SEO Checklist
  • On-Page SEO and Content Checklist
  • Off-Page SEO Checklist

How to Use This SEO Checklist

We’ve broken this checklist down into sections that cover the main focus areas of SEO; the basics, keyword research, technical SEO, on-page SEO, and content and off-page factors.

There’s a good chance that your site already covers many of these points, and if it does, great!

However, we also know that all websites have opportunities to improve and are confident that you will find at least some best-practice areas that you have overlooked.

Some of these points might not be relevant to you, and that is OK!

Work through the list, reference these against your site, resolve issues, and maximize opportunities where you can. SEO success doesn’t come from simply following a checklist, but to outrank your competitors; you need to make sure you are at least covering most of these points.

SEO Basics Checklist

If you haven’t got the basics covered, your site will struggle to rank for competitive terms.

The following points are very much housekeeping tasks but form the basics of implementing a successful SEO strategy.

1. Set Up Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

Google Search Console is an essential tool that provides you with invaluable insights into your site’s performance as well as a wealth of data that you can use to grow your site’s organic visibility and traffic.

You can learn more about why it is so important to use, how to set it up, and more in our definitive guide.

https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/media/a0/65/a06565cf542522b02235cbc6e4bdc5db/search-console.png” data-source-height=”1996″ data-source-width=”3142″ data-gtm-vis-has-fired-9025619_57=”1″ />

Bing Webmaster Tools is the equivalent platform, just providing data and insights for their search engine.

https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/media/1f/98/1f98f4dbbdc424a2f421b366eddfc460/bing-webmasters.png” data-source-height=”2210″ data-source-width=”3978″ data-gtm-vis-has-fired-9025619_57=”1″ />

These all-important tools allow you to view the search terms and keywords that users are finding your site on the SERPs for, submit sitemaps, identify crawl errors, and much more.

If you have not got these set up, do so now, and thank us later.

2. Set Up Google Analytics

Without the right data, you can’t make the right decisions.

Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that allows you to view data and insights about how many people are visiting your site, who they are, and how they are engaging with it.

https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/media/9a/80/9a80eda109ecbe498f1d43088fc3a5d5/analytics.png” data-source-height=”2182″ data-source-width=”3982″ data-gtm-vis-has-fired-9025619_57=”1″ />

Our definitive guide will walk you through everything you need to know about the tool as a beginner, including how to set it up and the reports that you will find the most useful, but one this is for sure, and that is that you can’t run a successful SEO strategy without it.

You will also need to connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console to import data from the latter.

3. Install and Configure An SEO Plugin (If You Are Using WordPress)

If you are using WordPress as your CMS (which there is a pretty good chance that you are, given that it now powers 35% of the web), you should install and configure an SEO plugin to provide the functionality and features that you need to properly optimize your site.

In SEMrush’s recently published WordPress SEO checklist, we have SEO plugin suggestions for you. Whichever plugin you choose pretty much comes down to personal preference, but these are three great options.

If you are using a different CMS to WordPress, speak with your developer to see whether you need to install a dedicated SEO plugin or module or whether the features that you need are included out of the box.

Plug in SEO, as an example, is one of the most popular Shopify SEO apps.

4. Generate and Submit A Sitemap

The purpose of a sitemap is to help search engines decide which pages should be crawled and which the canonical version of each is.

It is simply a list of URLs that specify your site’s main content to make sure that it gets crawled and indexed.

In Google’s own words:

A sitemap tells the crawler which files you think are important in your site, and also provides valuable information about these files: for example, for pages, when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and any alternate language versions of a page.

Google supports a number of different sitemap formats, but XML is the most commonly used. You will usually find your site’s sitemap at https://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml 

If you are using WordPress and one of the plugins mentioned above, you will find that generating a sitemap is standard functionality.

Otherwise, you can generate an XML sitemap with one of the many sitemap generator tools that are available. In fact, we recently updated our ultimate guide to sitemaps, which includes our top recommendations.

Once you have generated your sitemap, make sure that this is submitted to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

https://static.semrush.com/blog/uploads/media/71/06/7106c433433a394147f62c44acf90795/submit-sitemap.png” data-source-height=”298″ data-source-width=”1862″ data-gtm-vis-has-fired-9025619_57=”1″ />

Make sure to also reference your sitemap in your robots.txt file.

5. Create a Robots.txt File

Quite simply, your site’s robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers the pages and files that web crawlers can or can’t request from your site.

Most commonly, it is used to prevent certain sections of your site from being crawled and is not intended to be used as a way to de-index a webpage and stop it showing on Google.

You can find your site’s robots.txt file at https://www.domain.com/robots.txt

Check whether you already have one in place.

If you don’t, you need to create one – even if you are not currently needing to prevent any web pages from being crawled.

Several WordPress SEO plugins allow users to create and edit their robots.txt file, but if you are using a different CMS, you might need to manually create the file using a text editor and upload it to the root of your domain.

You can learn more about how to use robots.txt files in this beginner’s guide.

6. Check Search Console For Manual Actions

In rare instances, you might find that your site has been negatively affected by having a manual action imposed upon it.

Manual actions are typically caused by a clear attempt to violate or manipulate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines – this includes things like user-generated spam, structured data issues, unnatural links (both to and from your site), thin content, hidden text and even what is referred to as pure spam.

Most sites won’t be affected by a manual action and never will be.

That said, you can check for these in the manual actions tab in Google Search Console. – Read more

How To Write Outreach Emails People Won’t Hate You For

My Post (8).pngWant more shares for your content? More backlinks? A guest post gig? You may need some help to get there. Having great content or a great site is one thing, but unless you can get yourself in front of the right people, you may never be widely known.

There are plenty of ways to gain visibility. We’ve written about them in several posts. You can format and optimize your content for more shares. You can advertise. You can improve your pages’ SEO.

Or you can send “outreach emails”. This ends up actually being one of the most effective tactics if you really want exposure.

Bloggers like Brian Dean of Backlinko send nearly 100 outreach emails for every post they publish. Dean learned this from Derek Halpern, who urges bloggers to put five times as much effort into promoting their content as they did creating it. The vast majority of us don’t.

If you really want to get ahead of the pack – to be the marketer that gets the exceptional results, who has a huge audience, and who becomes recognized as a pre-eminent expert in their field – it’s time to master outreach emails.

I bet you know what outreach emails are, but just so we’re all on the same page, they’re emails sent to introduce yourself to influential people. They’re usually done to

  • Tell someone about a new piece of content you think they’d like
  • Build links
  • Pitch a guest blog post

Outreach emails can also be used to get clients and build partnerships, but for this article, we’ll focus more on the items with the bullet points. You can still apply most of what will be said here to partnerships and clients.

Outreach emails are “cold”

Outreach emails don’t necessarily have to be “cold” (i.e., you don’t know the person you’re sending the email to), but they usually are. This isn’t really a good thing – ideally, your outreach emails should be going to people you know fairly well, even if you’ve never met them. And over time, as you build up relationships in your niche, hopefully everyone you mail will know you and respect your work.

So how well do these outreach emails work? Depends on who you are, of course, and how well you execute them. Neil Patel says it’s reasonable to expect responses from about 5-10% of the people you contact. I got about 20% of my contacts to respond when I was promoting a Facebook contest not too long ago. Some people have gotten response rates up to 80%.

This simple outreach email template got a 66% response rate for the Buffer team:

If an average 10% response rate doesn’t sound so good, consider this: Outreach emails, when they work, do more than get you what you asked for in the email. They build your network, for starters. And the help you get from these influencers is often better than advertising. Outreach emails are also free, so if you’re strapped for cash, they may be your best shot at generating buzz.

So here’s how to get started with outreach emails – and what to do before you ever start writing.

1) Have something worth saying or offering in the email

Your outreach email has one job: To convince the recipient you’re offering them something valuable. So don’t send outreach emails for a blog post you spent 30 minutes on, okay?

If you’re going to ask for the attention of these people, get your ducks in a row. If that means you have to go back and put in another 10 hours on that blog post, do it.

Remember how I mentioned Brian Dean sends 100 outreach emails for every post he writes? Well, those posts he’s promoting take 20 hours to create. When he’s sending his emails out, he’s notifying people about a world-class blog post.

Want to increase your chances even more? Try promoting a roundup post, or a “Top 50 People in X” as your first outreach email to a contact. That way you’ll be helping them promote themselves.

This is one of the best outreach emails I’ve gotten in months. I replied to it and asked for the research – which I got.

2) Pick your targets contacts carefully

Don’t send outreach emails to people who don’t have a proven interest in what you’re contacting them about. Otherwise, you’re just wasting their time and yours.

3) Know the work of the people you’re emailing

This next one takes a bit of time. You may want to set up a little spreadsheet to manage the information.

You’ve got to know your prospects well. I recommend stepping back from whatever deadline you’re on, and taking an entire day (or more) to create a master list of about 200 people you’d really like to partner with. If you’re an established marketer, you could include the biggest players in your industry. If you’re not, go after people with smaller audiences but whose content you like and who appear to be rising stars.

This list of 200 people isn’t just for promoting your content. Or for link building. It’s for stuff you might not be able to even imagine yet. But compile that list of 200. Then:

  • Make a Twitter list of their accounts, so you can easily find and retweet their content.
  • Add them to a Feedly collection so you can search their back posts, and stay up with their content.
  • Sign up for their email newsletters. Then create a folder specifically for those updates.
  • Follow them on all the major social platforms. If you can get them to accept a LinkedIn invite, all the better. Don’t abuse it.
  • Leave comments on their blog posts. If you can’t do 200 comments, try to leave at least 50. Comments are one of the best ways to get noticed and to get your outreach emails replied to. They were one of the tactics that helped Eugene Mota get an 80% response rate for his outreach emails and promotion work.
  • Review their book/s (if they’ve got a book). This can be even more effective than leaving comments on their blog.

All that is just the beginning of getting to know them. But even after all that, before you send an outreach email to them, add this step: Read at least five of their posts (and 10 or 15 is better). If they don’t have a blog, try spending at least 20 minutes on their site or their company site. Check what they’ve been posting in their social media feeds, too. – Read more

3 Forecasting Strategies For PPC Data Anomalies

My Post (7).pngCOVID-19 is impacting every area of our lives. Working for an agency, or within a marketing department, I imagine it impacted your client’s marketing budgets (or your own) for the immediate future and most likely, for the rest of the year and into next year.

I have a client that was severely affected by COVID-19 in an extremely positive way – they could not keep up with the influx of demand. This drastically shifted our digital priorities and budgets. We are now in the midst of putting together budgets for their upcoming fiscal year, and in doing so, ran into quite a few hiccups because of COVID-19 and the resulting performance and budget shifts.

As a result, I’ve found there are a few different ways to review PPC data from the COVID-19 period.

There are three scenarios I would encourage you to look at as you create new budget projections for this year:

  • Digital revenue as is (no adjustments, no normalized numbers, no accounting for increases/decreases in spend)
    • This situation focuses on revenue to dollar ratio that actually happened before, during, and continuing through the virus outbreak
  • Digital revenue with the impact of COVID-19
    • This situation focuses on revenue to dollar ratio and any compensations that were made to your marketing budget due to the virus outbreak
    • Situation two is different from situation one as situation two takes into account if you raised or lowered your digital spend due to COVID-19. Situation one focuses on maintaining everything ‘as-is.’
  • Digital revenue without the impact of COVID-19
    • The final situation focuses on throwing out data from the COVID-19 period and considering whatever performance happened as an anomaly. A line would have to be drawn at the onset of the virus to an agreed-upon date to when normalcy in performance is/was anticipated.
      • In the case of my client, it was March 15 – to date (or until demand died down to normal levels.)

Strategy One – Projections Without Adjustments

This situation is likely the easiest to account for projections. Many marketers would likely deem this situation ‘passive.’ It is putting you in a passive position where you aren’t letting external factors impact your decisions. Your marketing dollars are set and you will not shift one way or another due to performance.

To forecast within the parameters of situation one, project budgets with all metrics remaining constant. For example, all CPCs, impression share, CTR, and CVR are assumed to not change compared to your lookback window (lookback window = the time frame you are referencing performance to project future time frame, such as last year, six months, thirty days, etc.).

In the example below, you’ll see that the revenue forecast is closely correlated to changes in the cost or budget. That is because we assumed all other metrics, like CPCs and impression share, would remain constant.

Strategy Two – Accounting For Fluctuations

Situation two differs from situation one because you are accounting for any fluctuations in the budget you made due to the virus. This situation also anticipates performance taking time before it adjusts whether it is because the virus will calm down, seasonality, or general interest returns or declines. This situation adjusts for seasonalities AND anomalies.

When accounting for fluctuations due to COVID, or any other unexpected event, you are taking into account the performance from the time period of the event and including that data in your averages (or however you choose to do your forecasting). Depending on the industry, this strategy may be the most misleading in budget forecasts. – Read more

A Complete Guide To Building A Lead Generation Website

My Post (6).pngWe all know the feeling when you don’t get enough (or any for that matter) quality leads and the frustration starts creeping in. After that comes the nervousness, when will I get leads?

No business is going to be sustainable without leads.

The best way to ensure you’ll always get quality leads consistently is by building a lead generation website and driving targeted traffic to that page.

The basic idea of a lead generation website is, not to anyone’s surprise, capturing information from the visitors who you can then sell to, online or offline.

Some use an online form to request roof inspections for example (just saw an advert about it, ‘book a free roof condition inspection now’ and a web address – simple and effective), and others use it to capture email addresses that they can send promotions to.

By now you might imagine that there must be a lot of competition, if everyone is doing it. But the fact is, not everyone has understood the importance yet, and you shouldn’t allow them to take the crucial step first.

Start building your lead generation website now and be set with quality leads coming in.

In this guide I’ll explain to you how to build a website to generate leads with. I’ll only briefly cover things like getting yourself some webhosting and installing WordPress, there, that’s them covered. You can find plenty of excellent guides like this one for getting started with a basic website.

It’s easy to build a basic website and call it a lead generating site, but it’s difficult to succeed with actually generating those leads afterwards.

In this article we’re going to talk about how to build a lead generation website and how to make sure people fill out that form and give you their information. Once you learn about these practices and put them into action while developing a great landing page, you’ll soon see results as customers respond to offers and your business really takes off.

Building Trust and Rapport

When you find yourself on someone’s website, what do you first look for?

Signs of trustworthiness no doubt.

The usual ‘Featured in’ and ‘As seen on’ have a strong effect of taking the visitors’ suspicions away, and leaving them with a lot more trust that they came in with.

This is very useful for anyone wanting an increase in lead generation, from local plumbers to book authors and ecommerce sites alike, everyone wants the visitors to trust them before trying to present an offer to them.

Another trust building factor you should be using, apart from bragging where you’ve been published in, is a trust seal.

They come in many different shapes and sizes, but almost all of them deliver a positive result for your conversions.

It has been surveyed that more than 60% of abandoned shopping carts and negative purchase decisions when interested have been directly related to a lack of trust badges on the site.

Funny how these tiny little badges can double your sales, isn’t it?

Once visitors learn to trust you and landing on your website, it’s easier to proceed to the next step.

Contact Forms Preventing You From Being Contacted?

Contact forms are the most commonly used way to collect customer information from websites, and why wouldn’t they be?

All the visitor needs to do is to fill in a couple of fields and hit send, subscribe or whatever you’ve decided to call the button.

Just keep in mind that even such a small factor as naming the button can have a huge impact, as you can see in this image by HubSpot:

But you must be careful in planning the form on your site, because regardless of what your wife or girlfriend might say, size does indeed matter.

At least when it comes to contact forms that is.

Conversion rates can also be significantly increased by the correct use of contact forms, which is why you should do everything in your power to get the best of the best contact forms out on your site.

Follow Up Or Flop

With many different ways of conducting follow ups it might seem like a difficult choice and you’d like to think about it a little longer, but please don’t.

You’re losing potential customers by the minute that you keep on considering.

Another lousy effect of poor follow up from your part is that around 65% of people speak poorly about your company and 48% go on to tell 10 or more people about their poor success with you.

This might not be true on everyone’s account, but for those of you who manage to go through with the sale this is going to become reality, which means you definitely need to have a good follow up system in place. – Read more

Want to Grow Your Email List? See How This Photographer Grew His List by 300 percent

My Post (5).pngLearn the 5 essential steps he took to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.

James Maher is a New York Photographer, a huge Knicks fan, and a lifelong New Yorker who got his driver’s license at 30 years old — as any true Manhattanite should. Maher never took the conventional route. His love of photography started with using Photoshop to make fake driver license IDs at the University of Madison with his college roommates.

Over time, he grew his business to offer an eclectic mix of products and services — including photography print sales, a portrait business, conducting workshops, creating online content, and authoring three books. Despite having a diverse business, COVID-19 still shut down his business along with the rest of New York.

He knew he had to transition some of his business online, so he took some time to look at short-term revenue options that could set him up for long-term growth. He began brainstorming how he could re-create traditional in-person experiences into new online opportunities.

In order to do so, he followed 5 essential steps to grow his email list and pivot his business to an online format.

The 5 essential steps to growing your list

Step 1: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is a process of optimizing your website to get organic (or unpaid) traffic. Maher drives traffic by regularly providing unique, engaging, and free content on his site for people interested in learning about photography.

For example, he gives away a free New York travel photography guide on his website. This free guide is an essential part of Maher’s SEO and content marketing strategy.

New York Photographer's Travel Guide

“Email and SEO together are the two backbones of my business. It is a vital way to reach my fans. I don’t think I could have as diverse of a business without it,” said Maher.

He also guest blogs on other photography websites that link back to a sign up form on his website to help drive traffic.

Step 2: Unique sign up forms

Each piece of content on Maher’s website is downloadable when a user enters their email address. Maher uses different signup forms for the various pages of his website that hosts unique content. The sign up forms connect directly to a list in Maher’s AWeber account.

The New York Photographer's Travel Guide sign up form.

Step 3: Automated email series

Depending on the content users download, Maher sends more in-depth information in an automated email series, which allows him to share information and tips, build relationships with new subscribers, and promote paid products.

Automated email on an Introduction to Street Photography

Although each audience member will receive multiple emails in the sequence, Maher reminds them at the top of each email of the content they may have missed or that will be coming in a future email.

Each email includes thought-provoking images and step-by-step instructions for other photographers.

Email showing how to steps and thought-provoking images

“My email list was always vital and incredibly important to my business, but it’s even more important now because I have started to transition to more online content,” says Maher.

Step 4: Let analytics be your content compass

AWeber’s analytics help guide Maher determine the type of content he sends and when. “It gives me a lot of information about how my information is perceived, and if the content is engaging,” says Maher.

Maher reviews regularly both the open and the click-through rate on the content that he sends. Sending engaging content has allowed him to attract new audiences to his email list. – Read more