6 Ways to Keep Your Audience Engaged During These Unprecedented Times

My Post - 2020-03-26T160637.568.pngHow do you balance business while staying mindful of a crisis? These 6 creative tactics will provide value to your audience and show them you care.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many schools, businesses, and stores have temporarily closed. People around the world are encouraged to stay at home as public health and safety remains the number one priority. It’s clear that the global pandemic has had an impact on all of us.

That’s why communicating with your audience is key. Being compassionate and doing what you can to help shows your audience you genuinely care.

But once you’ve addressed the Coronavirus pandemic with your subscribers, what’s next?

Here are 6 ideas.

1. Offer discounts on products or services your audience needs during or after the crisis.

Be empathetic and show your audience that you’re in it together.

Snap Kitchen is a great example. A healthy meal delivery service, Snap Kitchen solved a problem many people are facing by making meal delivery more affordable and accessible.

2. Help your subscribers learn something new.

Many people are currently at home. Now’s a great time to offer courses or webinars to help people take advantage of the extra time.

For instance, MarketingProfs is offering its community of marketers a free educational webinar with their Chief Content Officer (and AWeber customer) Ann Handley.

3. Be available to answer questions

Speak with your audience directly through live video. Set aside some time to answer questions and brainstorm solutions to their problems.

AWeber is holding Virtual Office Hours every weekday from 1 to 2 p.m. ET. The office hours will be streaming to all our social channels and our team will be answering email marketing best practices questions as a community. – Read more

Reducing digital marketing due to COVID-19? Read this first

My Post - 2020-03-26T155129.590.pngHere’s some advice about being hands-on with paid search accounts and mindful of your content during this time of uncertainty.

Last week, I shared real performance data for 10 different websites in 10 different industries that are seeing impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. While some businesses servicing “essential needs” are flourishing, most are seeing performance drops of -20% or worse from just two weeks ago.

With a sudden and unexpected loss in revenue, many businesses are being forced into conversations on how they can trim budgets and maximize efficiency.

But what does this mean for various digital marketing investments? I reached out to multiple industry professionals to get their advice on how to maximize results in this time of uncertainty.

Beware, your analytics data is likely skewed

Before we jump into individual channel recommendations, let’s discuss your means to measure them. Brett Patterson, Digital Analytics lead at Siteimprove has this very important tip regarding analytics data.

“Internal traffic is not internal! With so many employees working remotely right now, this may influence your digital analytics data! Your typical filter won’t catch workers working remotely, unless they are possibly using a VPN or other remote network connection. This means your employees might be counted in your analytics metrics, even though you had previously created a filter for this.”

– Brett Patterson

Brett further recommends placing an annotation in your analytics account as it’s very unlikely a solution exists to true up your analytics account. It’s also very important to keep this in consideration when measuring and reporting out on your digital marketing efforts.

Reduce paid search and social media? Or get ready for daily management

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, search demand is down. If your company’s product or service isn’t deemed an “essential need” than you may want to consider pulling back on your paid spend. Failure to reduce spend can make even the most profitable campaigns turn negative for return on ad spend (ROAS). Proceed with caution if you know your product/service isn’t a top priority for your consumers right now.

On the flip side, bids in many industries are lower than they’ve ever been. This is likely due to advertisers making fewer bids and cutting their budgets. But if your company is selling product/services that still have demand at this time, you should be looking to maximize your ad spend. Just make sure you keep a close eye on your ROAS. – Read more

Methods for PPC Success in Times of Uncertainty

My Post - 2020-03-26T154031.101.pngThe current state of the world leads to a period of uncertainty in the realm of digital advertising. Depending on where your company or your clients are positioned, the effects of COVID-19 are either having tremendous or horrible impacts on standard business performance. For those on the latter side, this is a time where advertisers are seeing budgetary shifts, paused platforms, and a whole array of other changes to navigate the new quarantine landscape.  If you find yourself in this group of advertisers, below are a few methods to ensure that you bring back lost performance and are ready to hit the ground running as life returns to normal (whenever that may be).

Reassess Current Marketing Goals

COVID-19 impacts may change which areas of your business are the most profitable. More workers are shifting to remote work from home across the world and more consumers are being confined to only purchasing non-essential items online. With a shifting consumer landscape, goals may need to be shifted to meet the new demands and target the user where they will actually be. Consider your currently employed strategies and determine whether those are tailored to reaching the new goals.

Write Case Studies

In a time of reduced budgets, perceived lack of work, and general changes; now is the time to work on material that can enhance your endeavors outside of actual advertising. Use this time to build case studies on your past successes that you can utilize later for pitches and internal marketing efforts. Help your marketing team with whitepapers, case studies, webinars, and any other materials that may help make life easier when things begin to normalize. By spending time preparing for the future now, you will thank yourself for the new bank of resources when that time comes. – Read more

Are High Shipping Prices Killing Your Ecommerce Sales?

My Post - 2020-03-24T143432.974.pngAs an account manager, I frequently analyze platforms and Google analytics. A bulk of my time is measuring performance, identifying wasteful spend, and looking for ways to increase leads or revenue. Less of my time is spent navigating the clients website like their customers. Perhaps this is a mistake.

Are Website Errors Impacting Conversions?

Over the years, my investigation of poor campaign performance has led me to find issues on the website that were affecting performance. One time the cost-per-lead (CPL) spiked in one of my campaigns, and I discovered the lead form was broken. Another time a form option was removed and those campaign’s leads flatlined.

Another time I noticed a decrease in call conversions. The report showed more than 41 calls, but the call duration did not exceed 30 seconds which is the required length to be counted as conversions. After testing the phone number, the greeting stated the offices were closed. It turned out an employee left the company, and no one redirected the phones and instead all the calls went to voicemail.

Sometimes we forget campaigns can drive the right customers to the right pages, but then the website loses the conversion. The landing page experience is a key factor in the conversion performance for a campaign. If your form is too complex it can frustrate mobile searchers. If the checkout process is too confusing, your customers might abandon their cart.

Tip: Double check your conversion tracking, search impressions share lost to rank, and any potential negatives preventing your ads from showing.

Google Merchant Center Warnings

Recently, one of my clients received a policy violation warning from Google Merchant Center their shipping prices did not match on the website compared to what was in their feed. After receiving this notice, I spent time reviewing the shipping prices in Google Merchant Center versus their website.

If you are new to PPC or Shopping, the Google Merchant Center is a tool that gives you a place to upload and store products data for your website. This tool pushes the products into your Google Shopping campaign. Sometimes your product prices, availability, or shipping prices become outdated on the website. This may require something as simple as logging in and refreshing the feed. However, it may require updating information on the website or in merchant center to make sure they are the same.

Tip: Shipping and tax prices listed in Google Merchant Center can be higher than what is on your website without getting penalized. The prices listed on your website should never be higher than what is listed in your data feed. – Read more

E-commerce ad spend doubled as social distancing behavior took hold

My Post - 2020-03-23T164316.269.pngWill the pace continue amid supply chain challenges?

New data shows that e-commerce sites doubled their advertising spend between mid-February and the second week of March, as social distancing started to become the new norm for consumers.

Multi-channel ad spend. E-commerce ad spending jumped from $4.8 million the week of February 17 to $9.6 million the week of March 9. The data, released by media sales intelligence firm MediaRadar on Friday, encompasses advertising spend across national TV, print and digital media, including websites, Snapchat, YouTube and podcasts.

Why we care. Earlier data from Quantum Metric indicated that e-commerce sales for retailers that also have brick and mortar locations ” saw an average revenue weekly growth rate increase of 52% and an 8.8% increase in conversion rates” between January 1 and February 29. Many merchants have reported e-commerce sales exceeding rates of Black Friday and Cyber Monday levels.

This unplanned spike has caused supply and fulfillment challenges. Chinese manufacturing plants are just now getting back to full capacity after being offline since mid-January. – Read more

Marketing and Growth Lessons for Uncertain Times

My Post - 2020-03-23T161126.885.pngAn article on growth and marketing in the middle of a crisis—the current one or any other—can seem tone deaf. But nothing gets better if we stand still.

Work can be a welcome intellectual distraction. It can also keep your employees employed or help you retain your job—a modicum of security in uncertain times.

We don’t have to go back far to find another period of economic disarray. The financial crisis of the late 2000s reinforced, countered, or updated many lessons gleaned from previous turmoils.

Historically, epidemic-inspired slowdowns have behaved differently (but consistently) compared to other causes. Still, no one knows how this one will play out.

This post surveys what people have done in the past—and what marketing leaders are doing now—to make it through tough times and thrive in the post-crisis era.

What the big studies have shown

In 2002, McKinsey published a study of 1,000 U.S. companies covering the period 1982–99, which included a recession during 1990–91.

The study focused on what happened during the recession that affected performance after the recession. Those who came out on top were classified as “leaders.” As the authors found:

While most companies tightened their belts, successful leaders, trading lower short-term profitability for long-term gain, refocused rather than cut spending [. . .] Yet in expansionary periods, successful leaders spent significantly less on [selling, general, and administrative costs] than did their former peers.

Greater discipline during boom times offered more flexibility during lean years. And getting it right during the lean years, Bain reports, has a massive impact on companies’ growth rate after things improve:

The authors of the Bain study use an auto-racing analogy:

Think of a recession as a sharp curve on an auto racetrack—the best place to pass competitors, but requiring more skill than straightaways. The best drivers apply the brakes just ahead of the curve (they take out excess costs), turn hard toward the apex of the curve (identify the short list of projects that will form the next business model), and accelerate hard out of the curve (spend and hire before markets have rebounded).

Harvard Business Review (HBR) study of 4,700 public companies looked at the three years before, during, and after recessions. They divided companies’ responses—their “driving” strategies—into four categories:

  1. Prevention. A focus on cost cutting—every decision is viewed through a loss-minimization lens. They do more of the same with less, often lowering quality and customer satisfaction.
  2. Promotion. A heedless optimism that ignores the gravity of the situation and early warning signs. Companies in this category add features when customers desire greater value.
  3. Pragmatic. A haphazard combination of prevention and promotion characteristics. These companies tend to over rely on reducing the number of employees.
  4. Progressive. These companies get the prevention-promotion balance right by evaluating every aspect of their business model—making near-term changes that reduce costs now and after demand returns (unlike layoffs).

The HBR study contrasts Office Depot and Staples during the 2000 recession: – Read more

SEO for Business: What Google Analytics Can Tell You

My Post - 2020-03-18T124254.139.pngIf you’re an individual or business looking to amplify your presence in the digital space, chances are you’ve looked into search engine optimization (SEO) as one of the first steps to drive more traffic to your business’ website. It’s important to produce content for the keywords which are related to your industry. For example, SimplyRest which is primarily a mattress guide website also continuously  produces quality sleep related content.

For any website whose goal is to rank, keywords are important – the more keywords you own or rank for organically, the better your scorecard will be. As a digital marketer, one of the best and easiest tools to navigate when improving SEO is Google Analytics. But how are you sure that you’re maximizing all of its features to give your business what it needs?

Search engine optimization is one part of improving your site’s traffic, but don’t ignore the numbers: data gives you a drilled down version of what matters beyond high-traffic words. It’s going to allow your marketing team to connect the dots and see where your users drop off, what organic search words bring the most traffic to your site, and even identifying which pages are actually hurting your rankings.

Here are 5 ways to maximize Google Analytics for your business:

If you want to see the whole picture, connect your Analytics account to Google Search Console.

Although GA gives you the basic data to work from such as how many users visit your site, the average time they spend on each page, and even where your readers are from, the Google Search Console together with Google Analytics takes your efforts a step higher.

It gives you information such as who is linking to your site, what technical errors you have to fix, and the juiciest parts of digital and content marketing, like what keywords people are using to find your content. Additionally, it also tells you what websites your target audience usually lands on, and where your content ranks on Google.

This gives you the ammo to identify opportunities for your business to rank organically. And your goal to rank on the first page of search engines will be that much easier to plan for. Think of it this way: GA gives you the numbers, but GSC gives you the skeleton for a great SEO strategy.

Measure organic keywords, but don’t forget to segment organic visitors and review the quality of your organic traffic.

One of the main things that SEO experts track is organic traffic.

This is done by setting up a custom dashboard in Google Analytics that will segment your organic visitors, and will show you only the important metrics for your business.

This means removing spam traffic that will skew your raw data such as fake referrers and crawlers. You also have ghost spam that comes from your direct traffic, so make sure you exclude traffic that doesn’t match your TLD.

It might seem like segmenting organic traffic is a lot of work, but it’s every SEO expert’s best friend. We know that it’s hard to consistently target a specific demographic, but in GA, you can filter through demographics, affinity segments, and in-market data that are used for ad targeting on Google AdWords.

Additionally, you can easily measure the quality of your organic traffic by going to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Conversion rate column (for organic search). One of the first things to check is your engagement rate – if it’s low, you may be attracting the wrong audience, or your content isn’t working for your site visitors. – Read more

How to Create Landing Page Variants & Optimize with AI

My Post - 2020-03-17T185006.645.pngYou’ve built the perfect landing page. Your headline is simultaneously descriptive and urgent. You’ve got a hero image of someone holding your product, weeping with joy. Your explainer video becomes a surprise hit at Cannes (though it’s controversially snubbed by the Academy). Your testimonials include Beyoncé and Tom Hanks, and you have to shrink the New York Times just to fit Disney into your “as seen in” logo spread.

Dream on, right? There’s no such thing as a perfect landing page because there’s no such thing as a page that converts every visitor. One person thinks your headline is condescending. Another doesn’t see themselves in your hero image. Everyone loves Beyoncé, but plenty think the live-action remake of The Lion King was a cash grab. Your page doesn’t speak to each person uniquely, so they bounce.

That’s why Unbounce created Smart Traffic, an AI-powered conversion tool that automatically routes each visitor to the landing page where our robot algorithm says they’re most likely to convert. Unlike A/B testing (which is all about creating landing page variants and choosing the one that performs best), Smart Traffic lets you create as many variants as you need to appeal to each type of visitor.

Bottom line: Smart Traffic helps you capture more of those leads you’re missing out on.

Sounds great, right? (Biased opinion: It is.) The only catch is that Smart Traffic needs somewhere to send traffic to—ideally, you wanna start with between three to five landing page variants. Coming up with that many different versions of the same page can be tough. What the heck are you even supposed to… you know, variate?

We’ve always said that the most effective landing page structure includes five core elements. Below, we’ve got ideas for how you can use variants to optimize each one of them, plus examples of brands that are already doing it right: – Read more

What is Anchor Text? Everything You Need to Know for SEO

My Post - 2020-03-17T184137.406.pngMost marketers know link building is one of the countless critical factors for boosting your search engine rankings in the eyes of the Google Gods.

However, the words you choose for linking out and into your site matter too – and quite a lot! Those words are called anchor text, and Google’s algorithms pay more attention to them than newbies (and even some marketing veterans) realize.

In the early days, you used to be able to game the Google system by keyword stuffing anchors. Well, Google noticed and now carefully watches not only which words you choose to link, but also how often you use them and the surrounding text.

Yes, the technical details are complicated, but the basics are easy enough for everyone to understand and apply.

By optimizing—but not over-optimizing—your anchor words and learning the best practices, you can fine-tune your SEO and watch your rankings climb. If you break the rules, Google can penalize your site. (Not good.)

This post will:

  • Explain what anchor text is
  • Go over all the anchor text best practices you should know
  • Explain how anchor words impact SEO
  • Provide a few tips for perfecting your anchor strategy
  • Offer examples of good and bad anchors

What is Anchor Text, and Why is it Important?

SEO is a complex matter that consists of a thousands of little details Anchor text is one of these details. Before starting to learn this theme I recommend you to read our master-guide – What is SEO.

An anchor is a text you click to move from one internet destination to another; it literally anchors two different locations on the internet together.

While anchors typically link webpages, they can also initiate downloads and link to documents like PDFs or files in Google Drive. That is why you should only click anchors from sites you trust, and hover over the link with your mouse – but don’t click! – to make sure the URL looks legitimate. – Read more

Getting Ahead of the Voice Search Revolution

My Post - 2020-03-17T183618.469.pngNew year, new client goals…and the voice search revolution is picking up its stride. Smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home assistant are seeing an increase in usage, while almost every smartphone is equipped with at least one voice assistant. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are improving, with algorithms evolving to recognize more specific questions and phrases each year.

Studies show that by 2020 (this year!) 50% of all internet searches will be done by voice. So what does this mean for the digital marketing world? Are my accounts going to be completely turned upside down? More and more, voice search queries are popping up in my client accounts during my search query reports.

Voice Search vs. Search Query

It is very important to note the difference between a voice search and a search query – you don’t treat the two the same when writing ad copy and selecting keywords. The main difference between a search query and voice search is the context of the search itself.

Search queries are typically shorter, using fewer words since a person has to manually type their query into a web browser. Voice searches are conversational – since the user doesn’t have to exert the effort to type out their query, the searches are typically longer and posed in a question. It is more natural because when speaking, you wouldn’t just ask a person “pizza near me” – you would ask them a full question. For example:

Search Query: pizza near me

Voice Search: “Siri, where is the nearest pizza place?”

Localized Searches

If there is one type of business that has been benefiting the most from voice search, it’s local businesses. Searches for “Near Me” have increased dramatically over the past few years. This is an amazing opportunity to capitalize on the voice search boom – but only if you’re prepared. Reputation online and in-person is make or break with local businesses. There’s nothing worse than looking up a business and not seeing their hours, that their website is slow and out-of-date information, or there are no reviews listed. Make sure that your website, ads, and extensions all are up-to-date dates and current, relevant information, remove duplicate pages from your website, ensure that your website security is in order, and that old information, operating hours, and contact information is either removed or updated. Check these data sources to make sure that your business is optimized and correctly updated: Google My Business, Apple Maps, Yelp, and Bing. – Read more