4 Elements Every Content Medium Needs to Have.


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on July 3, 2020

Your topic should be something your users and followers want to learn about with a clear call to action and flexible messaging to recreate the topic on multiple platforms.

Have you ever started to write a new social media post, record a YouTube video or some other piece of content and sat at your desk waiting for inspiration to strike?

Starting a new piece of content can be a challenge, even when you know what you want to say. You have a general concept of the message you want to deliver, but not the faintest idea of how you’re going to share it all in a single blog post, video or social media caption.

Formulating what you want to communicate while ensuring you produce something of quality is a challenge that many face when it comes to content marketing.

There are many elements that go into a great piece of content. So much, that it’s pretty simple to overlook the key pieces that every piece of content, regardless of medium, needs to have.

The four elements below make up those key pieces and will help your content go far, maybe even hit that virality you’ve been hoping for. When it’s time for you to create a new piece of content, make sure to define each of the following.

1. A topic that addresses consumer pain points

Whether it’s an ironic tweet or a blog post addressing recent issues, the topic can make or break your content piece. If you don’t connect with your audience from the topic, even the most entertaining content won’t generate results other than a like or perhaps a share. Content topics need to address consumer pain points and provide solutions for its audience.

Wynn does a great job of providing solutions and entertaining their audience with their email newsletter content during COVID-19 times. Their newsletter offers customers a way to still have an experience with Wynn without stepping foot in their hotel chain.

Each section of the newsletter features a different topic about connection and addresses their customers pain points as they navigate this pandemic.

Wynn understands what their customers’ pain points are and how to provide solutions, without opening their physical doors. You need to define these paint points for your own audience by answering the following:

  • What issues does your demographic currently face?
  • What kind of information are they searching for?
  • What questions are they asking on social media versus search engines?
  • Are they looking to be entertained, informed, or both?
  • What do you want them to do with your content? 

Think of this step as your topic KPIs of content creation. If after creating the content a brand new user can easily explain what the content is about and what they are expected to do, then you’ve accomplished addressing a topic that matches what your users are looking for.

You can measure this a step further by analyzing time on page vs bounce rate metrics for content published on a website.

Low Bounce Rate + High Time on Page

This is the magic combination that you want to aim for. When you have a low percentage of people bouncing away from the content and a high amount of time spent on the page (the visitor engaging with the content) then you’ve created a topic that the visitor was able to connect with.

High Bounce Rate + Low Time on Page

This is the worst combination and generally means that a visitor is bouncing right off of the page, not digesting the content, and is usually due to not meeting topic expectations. This happens a lot with clickbait style topics – those types of articles or social media posts that don’t deliver past the headline. When you receive results like this it’s best to re-evaluate the content topic and medium choice.

2. Discovery keywords to help your content be found

Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day, supporting the argument that every piece of content must have some form of keyword optimization in order to accommodate searches and be found.

Think about your own search habits. When you look for anything specific on a search engine, a video streaming platform, or one of the many social media platforms, how do you find it?

Generally, it’s by typing a keyword related to your inquiry in the search box.

Facebook has the option to search using names, locations, and terms. Instagram allows you to search by username, locations, and hashtags. Pinterest allows you to search by term or topic.

Google, Yahoo!, and Bing can produce results for just about any bit of information you could possibly enter. YouTube allows you to search by video channel and search term. The list goes on and on, and results are generated based on relevance and popularity.

This is why choosing discovery keywords, keywords with the sole intent of being used to help a piece of content be discovered, is included on this content template. If you want your target audience to find your new content it must be properly optimized by the platform and utilize discovery keywords.

How else will anyone naturally find it?

However, as you have probably gathered, choosing discovery keywords doesn’t always look the same. For example, for social content, this means hashtags sprinkled within the text accompanying any photos or videos that you are sharing. For website content, this means inserting short- or long-tail keywords within your web copy, titles, blog posts, articles, etc. aka good old fashioned keyword optimization.

Of course, you have to avoid overstuffing. On social media overstuffing can look like going over 30 hashtags on Instagram or tweeting just a bunch of hashtags. You want your keywords to serve the purpose of optimizing your content to be found, and only that.

To find keywords on social media, type in a topic in the search bar and see which hashtags populate. Hashtags with posts or reach under 500,000 are usually competitive, but reachable. Hashtags with a million+ are generally too competitive and can be compared to the top 3 results on Page One, which  sometimes only the big players accomplish.

Keywords for your video and website content can be found using a variety of keyword tools. I like to take it a step further and research what questions people are asking about specific topics. Doing so not only generates new topic ideas, but also generates long-tail keyword options.

3. A clear call to action and defined user intent

No matter what type of business you are operating, the goal is for your consumers to do something as a result of your content.

Think about what that “conversion” means to you. What action would a consumer have to make as a result of your content for you to consider your content efforts a success?

This could mean signing up for your email list, liking a post, purchasing a product, opting into a subscription, attending a webinar, downloading a freebie, or… anything, so long as it reaps positive results for your business and sales cycle.

When content is well-donned with a call to action, it leaves little question as to the intention of the message and what your audience should do next. It essentially handholds them toward your end goal, making their journey simple and obvious.

For example, website content can (and should!) have an “above-the-fold” call to action that visitors can see as soon as they land on the site, as well as reminders throughout. This is often in the form of a newsletter opt-in button that is pasted halfway through a blog post, a #linkinbio hashtag on an Instagram post, or a bulleted list at the top of an infographic page.

Facebook content creators and advertisers have the option to add a button telling readers to “Shop Now,” “Learn More,” “Book Now,” etc. YouTubers can add linkable graphic overlays directing viewers to products, social media pages, business websites, and more.

It’s essential that every piece of content you create include a clear call to action, so your connection with your consumer isn’t short-lived. If you’re not sure if the call to action is clear, send the content to a family member and see what action they take. If they missed the point entirely, evaluate the following:

  • Your Positioning: What you are asking a visitor to do and if it’s something they can easily do from their device (mobile vs desktop)
  • Your Topic: Did the content topic align with what you expect the visitor to do? Is it a clear pathway from the social media copy to the landing page?
  • Your Content Medium: Is the medium you chose the best funnel to guide a visitor to take the action? Asking someone to make a purchase through a LinkedIn post isn’t as effective as in a Facebook Ad.

4. A message that can be shared across multiple mediums

The content your business creates should communicate how and why your brand’s perspectives, values, products, and services stand apart from the rest. Concurrently, it should be relatable and tailored to whichever platform you are creating for and the users you want to see the content.

Content creation is a healthy combination of story-telling and convincing, which requires highly valuable and authoritative writing and creativity – necessary, if you are going to get your consumers to act on that carefully crafted call to action we talked about.

However, these stories shouldn’t be thrown together willy-nilly; they should be born from the aforementioned keyword research and a strategic topic ideation process.

Once you have identified worthwhile topics, ensure that you are able to create multi-purpose content out of it. Let’s face it, the content creation process isn’t quick or easy, so it makes sense to publish all your hard work and research across multiple platforms and content mediums.

Leverage this time and effort by creating content that can be formed into a blog post, infographic, social media post, and video – multiple mediums using the same topic. Your messaging will be the same, but each medium is used to help guide a visitor through a different stage of the sales cycle.

For example, a piece of content about iron skillets can be featured in the following ways:

  • A YouTube video demonstrating five quick, hands-on tips for cleaning your cast iron skillet
  • An infographic illustrating the benefits of cleaning this skillet a certain way, linking to the video demonstration
  • The demonstration may then direct viewers to a blog post reviewing the company’s favorite cast iron skillet recipes, as well as an e-commerce store where consumers can purchase one.

Each one of these mediums helps to educate a visitor and carry them through the sales cycle as they gather more information and become more comfortable making a purchase decision.

Having flexible content topics that your demographic wants to learn from or be entertained by will allow you to create this kind of content on multiple mediums. This also sets you up for being able to reuse successful content topics in the future and update some of those lesser-performing content pieces.

Content creation is no simple process for any medium, so don’t forget to include these four elements with every new piece of content.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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SEO on a Shoestring Budget: What Small Business Owners can do to Win


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on June 24, 2020

Being SEO smart doesn’t have to cost you a bomb.

 

Pretty much everything you think you know about SEO today will be out of date tomorrow. This makes the online world an exceptionally volatile environment, where big fishes swallow the small ones.

In spite of this, many small businesses with a small budget for SEO are finding their feet in the online marketing world. How are they doing it?

Research and experience have shown that domain age, numerous (quality) backlinks, and quality content are among the competitive advantages of businesses that are dominating the online marketing world.

And given that getting these things cost time and money, they present a formidable entry barrier to small business owners who want to get into the SEO game with a small budget.

For small business owners with little budget for SEO, chances are their website is relatively new, they do not have a budget for backlink building and even the job of creating content for their websites rests entirely on them.

Before you turn away from SEO, remember the classic of Ryan Holiday,

“The Obstacle is the Way.”

The last decade is replete with stories of how savvy business owners found their ways to go face to face with the giants and, sometimes, defeat them.

The online world is not very different in that aspect. If you can follow the following steps, Internet marketing success, against all odds, can be made-to-order.

In this guide, I will show you what small businesses are doing to defy the stereotype and make SEO success on a shoestring budget, in a relatively short time.

1. The low-hanging fruit strategy

If you have been tinkering around with SEO for a while, you’ve probably heard of the term “long-tail keyword”.

Long-tail keywords refer to the specific keywords searchers are likely to use when they are close to making a purchase online.

To put this in perspective, here is an example.

If you want to start a blog on how to start a blog, for example, chances are you will not get found on Google given that the key phrase is too broad.

But if you break this down a little bit further and try to rank for “How to Start a Blog for Free,” your chances of ranking high on SERPs become brighter because you are targeting a fraction of the audience of the first key phrase.

Another example is, if you are selling shoes, keywords like “shoes” are short-tail keywords, and trying to rank for them means you are probably going to be competing against Amazon and Gucci.

You don’t want to melt away like a snowflake under the sun, do you?

But if you try narrowing it down to more specific keywords such as “mens shoes,” or “best holiday shoes,” you have a better chance of getting to number one on Google SERPs for this kind of keywords.

I ran the word “shoe” on a keyword research website. Here is what the result looks like:

The number in that red shape refers to the level of organic competition of that keyword, otherwise known as Keyword Difficulty (KD).

While the keyword “shoe” has a very high traffic potential, you do not have the wherewithal to weather the cutthroat competition of that field.

Now, look at the image below.

You can see that another keyword “men’s shoe” KD is a little above 32. That is your long-tail keyword and anything that falls into that category.

When you look at the number of organic traffic, you’d find that you can receive up to 38,000 monthly organic traffic for that keyword. For a small business owner with a limited budget for SEO like you, this is not too bad.

All you need to do now is to find as many of these long-tail keywords as possible and use them to plan your content calendar.

Now that you have found the low-hanging fruits, what is it that you are supposed to do with them?

Follow through with the next step.

2. Keyword research

This sounds obvious, or like something you have just done, but wait a moment.

Now let’s take one of our short-tail keywords and plug it back to the keyword finder and see what we’ve got.

As you can see, even under the keyword “mens shoe,” we still find potential keywords that you can place strategically under your post and rank for or use to develop an independent blog post.

That is why it makes sense to do thorough keyword research to further see what other keywords you can place in your blog post for your major keyword and rank for as well.

While it is advisable these days to keep every single blog post focused around one keyword, having two major keywords to rank for in a single blog post is not a bad idea, according to Hubspot.

Well, on certain occasions, I have seen a single blog post that ranks for multiple keywords.

3. Write in-depth blog posts

According to a 2016 research, the average blog posts that rank number one on Google has about 1,900 words.

In the past, what it takes to rank on Google is a string of keywords. In other words, keyword stuffing WAS all it took.

Not anymore. Thin content was one of the primary targets of Google’s Panda. For a post to rank on Google, it is well understood that thoroughness is a sine qua non.

Posts that make it to the number one position on Google are in-depth and full of trusted sources. But do not mistake a long post for an in-depth post.

An in-depth post proffers value — every single word in it.

Embedding posts with visuals such as videos, infographics, and photos might mean additional advantages to boot.

While there is no denying that relevancy is what matters, most posts that meet the standard of relevancy required to please searchers are the long ones that offer more than vague answers.

And of all people, a little unknown business owner who wants to do SEO on a small budget needs to offer all the value she can.

4. Keyword related and non-keyword related on-site SEO

The bedrock of your on-site SEO efforts is your content which, I believe, we have discussed as incisive as possible.

However, on-site SEO involves more. Much more.

Let’s look at the most important things you need to pay attention to in your on-site SEO efforts.

5. Keyword-rich content

You know we talked about keyword research earlier in this post. But when I say keyword-rich, I do not intend “keyword-stuffed.”

Assuming you’ve now found the keyword around which you want to base your blog post, it is time to use this keyword strategically in your writing to tell Google what the post stands for.

Lucky for you, this doesn’t have to be much of a struggle if you are using WordPress. All you need to do is install Yoast SEO on your dashboard and it will help guide you in writing a keyword-driven article.

6. Mobile-friendly web page

Do I even need to mention that? Nearly 60 percent of searches made online are now from mobile devices. And that Google continues to change its algorithm to suit this trend in search method is telling enough.

Optimize your site for mobile-friendliness and you are on your way to a better ranking on Google. This article gives you clear steps as to how you can achieve a mobile optimized site.

7. Page load speed

When Google announced their Google Mobile-First Index, they further made it clear that site speed has become a ranking factor. Several findings have since shown that this is true.

If you are going to reap the benefits of your SEO efforts, then your site speed is something you must pay attention to.

How, then, do you increase your site speed? Ways abound, and some of these ways can be dauntingly technical.

So, if you are doing SEO on a small budget and, like me, you suck at coding, I will advise you to allocate a huge part of your lean budget for the technical aspects.

I will, nonetheless, tell you what it takes and my recommendation for you as someone who is doing SEO on a shoestring budget.

8. Minifying CSS, Javascript, and HTML

Our websites are constituted of some little tiny ugly codes (Sorry, programmers, they are ugly to us).

Those little tiny objects are made up of unintelligible commas, spaces, numbers and all sorts of nebulous characters.

If you are a techie, then it wouldn’t cost you much to remove unused code, code comments, unnecessary spaces as well as other characters.

But for the uninitiated like me, you’d stand a better chance if you outsource this to professional web designers.

9. Image optimization

Image is another element that can take a lot of space and clutter up your website, thereby making the loading time a bit slower than is desirable.

As much as visuals are important for a successful blog post, keep in mind that the average image recommended for a blog post is 1200 x 628 pixels.

To optimize your image for SEO, you want to do it in such a way that it doesn’t compromise the quality of your image neither does it impact your SEO in a negative way.

There are many image optimization tools online. Look them up here.

10. URL structure

When it comes to SEO, you cannot afford to have a URL that looks like an HTML code.

An SEO-friendly URL must be one that’s easy to read for search engines and gives humans the idea of what they are about to click.

Research has shown that URLs are among the key elements searchers consider before they click on a link.

In the olden Internet days, it would not be too hard to see URLs that look like specks of dirt, but such URLs these days are but condemnable heresies in the sight of lord Google.

Take a look at the illustration below to get an idea of what you should and should not do when it comes to URLs.

Source: Neil Patel

Here is a checklist of what you should have in your URL

  • Use your keywords in your URL: For example, if you have a blog post about where to find the best dog food, your URL should look like this: www.blog.com/where-to-find-best-dog-food. You can see it looks almost like a complete sentence. Here is an example from a blog I wrote about podcast hosting platforms: https://contentmarketingprofit.com/10-best-podcast-hosting-sites-and-everything-you-need-to-succeed/. Notice how it gives you an idea of what you are about to click.
  • Keep it short and simple: Keeping it below 60 characters has always been the recommendation. Short and sweet doesn’t mean you should overdo it though. Always try not to go beyond 60 characters.
  • Hyphens are better used as a separator in a URL than an underscore according to Google.

11. Link internally (with caution)

Linking to your other blog posts from a relating one has become a rule of thumb in writing blog posts.

And in case you don’t know, it isn’t just a fad designed to make you look like a professional blogger.

Its benefits include delivering link juice to other pages, showing Google the relevancy of posts to one another, making it easy for Google bots to crawl and index your pages and of course, keeping humans on your site longer.

But the “with caution” above means, when cross-linking internally, be wary of using too much exact-match anchor text in your links.

If you do, Google might think it’s an attempt to manipulate and penalize you for it.

12. Copy: Good, relevant, great copy

Yes, I know I’m supposed to write that as “metadata” here, but metadata isn’t particularly a ranking factor.

It’s just a clicking factor which, indirectly, makes it a ranking factor.

What you put in your metadata matters. Bear in mind that aside from your title, your metadata is what tells users whether to click or scroll down.

As such, do your best to ensure that your metadata hits home. Create short, concise, quality descriptions that convey value to the user searching the internet for either information, purchase, feedback, or any other reason.

13. Go for the big link

It’s been many years since Google started using link signals as an important ranking factor. Links are still the most important external factor in SEO, and they aren’t about to go away anytime soon.

Now it’s time to start building backlinks, first, for your site as a whole, and, second, for your money pages in particular.

While this looks like a straightforward venture, be careful and observe the following rules in building links or you might run into a problem.

But before we go into the rules, let me quickly take you back to our first step in this journey.

Remember I clearly stated that you must find the long-tail keywords around which you are going to build your blog posts? Now, it’s time to hit your competitors where they are most vulnerable.

What this means is that for every least competitive keyword you find, your competitor has the least number of backlinks going to that.

Analyze their link profile using tools like Ahrefs and try outdoing them with backlinks on those ones.

To put it this plain text, if your shoe-selling competitor has a blog post about “mens shoe” just like you do, and the number of backlinks that goes into that is twenty, to outrank them at that one on Google, all you need is twenty-one backlinks to a similar blog post on your site.

If you have nailed your on-page SEO already, consider this a silver bullet on outsmarting your competitor.

Now let’s quickly run through some link building best practices.

A. Quality, not quantity

If you go after low domain authority sites in the interest of haste, you risk hurting your SEO.

While it’s not necessary to only go after sites with the highest domain authority, learn to go after sites with great domain authority. Anything from 60 DA and above is okay.

But even sites with 40 DA are also useful so long as they aren’t too many. Your best chances though lie in getting sites with 60+ DA by your side.

B. Have a healthy mix of anchor text

For someone who wants to rank a site for a keyword such as podcast platforms, for instance, you may be tempted to want to build a link profile with those two keywords: podcast platforms.

But I guarantee you that there is no faster and surefire way to get your site penalized. Google suspects an unnatural amount of links with the same anchor text pointing to the same source.

If you must build a link profile, then have some diversified anchor texts.

C. Avoid black hat link-building no matter the glamour

And I can’t stress that enough.

There are many link vendors on the Internet who sell you on quick generic links that will get you penalized rather than rank.

The struggle to build links can be overwhelming for someone on a little budget and the lures are all there. But patience to do the right thing never gets too much. Don’t be in a haste to rank a rank that will truncate your well-planned efforts.

Even if those generic links work for you in the short term, what it will take for all these gains to disappear is Google penalizing you.

Avoid buying links, PBNs, as well as all other kinds of black hat link building that are being touted on the Internet.

In the end, build a huge and healthy link profile around your low-hanging fruits. This can be achieved by becoming a guest post rockstar and willing to withstand a lot of virulent rejections.

Or better still, create likeable assets in terms of valuable articles that bloggers may naturally want to refer to.

Need an example? Link Building for SEO: The Definitive Guide

Another thing that will help you in your link building campaign is bloggers outreach. Heaps of articles exist on the Internet teaching you how to go about these things in detail.

As you build this up, your domain authority significantly improves, arming you with the experience and money to go big and eventually share the field with your big competitors.

And from the very beginning, the purpose of this blog post is to teach you how to start small and go big with a thin budget for SEO.

It is a piece of article written with a simple philosophical understanding in mind, that is; sometimes, you have to take one step back to potentially take two forward.

Conclusion

If you’ve been searching online to seek answers for how long it takes to rank on Google, you might have come across articles that saunter a little bit around and end up saying six months.

That might have been true in the past but not anymore. Whenever Google updates her algorithm, there will be traffic losses and gains. Most times, these are not due to correctness or error from your end.

But SEO has lived long enough to have fundamentals and so far as we know, the things identified in this blog post have stayed long enough to become hard and fast rules in search ranking efforts.

If there is anything we’ve learned in the past decade, it is a simple truth that big dollars are not always the sole winning ingredient — anymore.

Will, innovation, grit, unceasing creativity, and a touch of luck are all you sometimes need to win. When you plan to use some SEO marketing for your business but you have a little budget, you aren’t expected to exit the stage.

You can still win, but only if you try.

Thank you Search Engine Watch for sharing this article & Ali Faagba who is a copywriter, content marketer, and a tech freelance writer. He’s been featured in Entrepreneur, Thrive Global, and others.

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Resources to Help you Market more Effectively during COVID-19


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on June 19, 2020

Insights to help you evaluate and adapt your SEO, content and PPC efforts in a rapidly changing environment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically shifted consumer priorities and budgets, and now that local economies are beginning to reopen, we can expect to see more shifts as some people start to return to work and leisure activities. Understanding changes in consumer activity, sentiment and broader industry trends can help businesses continue to adjust.

Although regions may be lifting business and safety restrictions, consumers are going to reemerge at their own pace. The resources here can help you contextualize your performance and inform your content and messaging, campaign segmentation for targeting, as well as personalization and merchandising strategies.

General consumer trends

The following trend resources provide data across a range of industries. They can be used to get a glimpse of what consumers are prioritizing and how they’re responding as markets reopen.

Tableau’s Snapshot Research Series. Data visualization company Tableau is collaborating with Salesforce Research to help marketers understand how consumers’ experiences and expectations are changing. Its Snapshot Research Series provides survey data bucketed into the following categories: Marketing, Commerce, Future of Work, Employee Experience, Sales, Customer Service and Small Business.

Data from the Commerce section of Tableau’s Snapshot Research Series.

The data is updated every two weeks and can be filtered by country, generation, income and gender.

Google’s Rising Retail Categories. Unveiled in May, Google released this interactive tool to help retail and brand manufacturing partners monitor changes in search interest across a product categories. Rising Retail Categories also shows the regions where product category searches are growing and the queries associated with them.

Data is only available for Australia, Brazil, France, the UK and the U.S. at this time.

Microsoft’s COVID-19 insights and resources for advertisers. Microsoft Advertising regularly publishes free trends and insights reports for the automotive, financial services, health and wellness, retail and CPG, tech/teleconferencing and travel sectors.

A chart from Microsoft Advertising’s travel update report.

The downloadable PDFs include data from Microsoft as well as external sources, YoY comparisons, and actionable insights such as top search days for Father’s Day, for example.

GlobalWebIndex. Market research SaaS company GlobalWebIndex provides subscribers with access to survey data from over 18 million customers in more than 40 countries, as well as brand perceptions for over 4,000 brands.

Its Audience Builder allows marketers to create target audiences based on needs, interests and demographic. The company also publishes trend, audience, and insight reports as well as infographics. These features are all paid, but you can also find timely, free insights in its Chart of the Week series.

Audience insights

The resources below will help you find out more about your own audience’s interests and the type of content they’re currently engaging with. You can use this information to create audience profiles or content that speaks to their needs.

SparkToro is an audience intelligence platform that crawls sites and social accounts, aggregating that data into profiles. Users can search its database by criteria such as what their target audience frequently talks about, the words they use in their profiles, the Twitter accounts they follow, the hashtags they use and the sites they visit.

The platform surfaces information on the social accounts, podcasts and YouTube channels your audience follows, the sites they visit and share, their geographic dispersion as well as common words and phrases used in their bios. SparkToro also provides generic estimates of your target audience size, its behavioral similarity and a margin of error, which it refers to as “Audience Confidence.” It’s a paid service, but there is a free trial available.

LinkedIn Content Suggestions. This tool lets LinkedIn Page admins discover articles and topics that their member community is engaging with. It’s meant to be a resource for sharing content, but it can also provide B2B companies with insights into what’s top-of-mind for their clients or customers.

Content suggestions can be filtered by industry, location, job function, seniority and audience size. As filters are selected, the suggested topics and articles change to reflect what that audience has been engaging with over the last 15 days. You can also add your own topics and check member engagement rates for each article.

PPC trends

Keeping an eye on your industry’s overall ad spend and metrics, such as average click-through rate and cost per click, can help contextualize your campaign performance and illustrate how advertisers and consumers are adjusting.

Tinuiti’s COVID-19 Trend TrackerThis tool shows changes in spend on Facebook campaigns over time and can be used to compare spend over two different periods across the agency’s client base.

It also has a tab for indexed spend trends, in which spend is shown relative to the first 11 days of March, just prior to the World Health Organization classifying the coronavirus as a pandemic. The Period over Period tab displays the actual numbers and percentage change across two time periods. The data covers 12 verticals and is updated daily.

WordStream’s benchmark reports. Advertising software creator and consultancy WordStream publishes a PPC benchmark report about every other month.

The most recent report includes average click-through rates, cost per click, conversion rate and cost per action for ads across 21 industries on Google Search and Shopping as well as Bing Search and Shopping.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article

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Six must-know international SEO tips to expand business


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on June 11, 2020

The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.  

Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe. 

1. Pick an effective domain strategy

A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them. 

A ccTLD (for example, cocacola.fr) is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.  

A subdirectory ( like nike.com/fr) maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.  

A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit. 

All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play—ccTLDs can be particularly expensive—and your branding could be a factor too.

As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com. Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets. 

2. Conduct localized keyword research

You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country. 

This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search. 

Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based—what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords. 

3. Don’t assume one language means one culture

One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location. 

First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard.

Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian dollars. 

Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there. 

4. Think beyond Google

Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits. 

In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60-77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019. 

You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content—but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords—a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago. 

5. Implement hreflang tags 

Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, an hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.  

To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like this one recommended by Moz could help minimize mistakes.  

6. Start localized link building

Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg. 

Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks. 

Thank you to Search Engine Watch for sharing this article.

 

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Five quick ways to speed up your ecommerce conversions


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on June 5, 2020

75% of people do not return to abandoned carts. Fortunately, there are techniques to reduce cart abandonment and increase ecommerce conversion rates.
The retail ecommerce revenues are predicted to grow to $4.88 trillion in 2021. But many ecommerce stores struggle to boost conversions because 75% of people abandon the cart never to return.  

Fortunately, there are techniques to reduce cart abandonment and increase conversion rates. Let’s have a look at five quick and lesser-known ways to speed up ecommerce conversions.  

1. Understand and fill the need gap – Scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity 

Understanding scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity can be one of the best ways to influence your potential customers to make a purchase. 

While the three terms are related to one another, the way they are implemented is different.  

In scarcity, you inform customers that there are a limited number of items of a certain product left in the stock. And that you’re not sure when the product will be available next.   

In urgency, you simply add a timer that says “order within the time limit to avail the offer”. Once the deadline is over, the customer won’t get additional benefits, such as a discount or free shipping.  

Here are four ways to work around scarcity and urgency

  • Let customers know that the product is exclusive and is manufactured on small batches so they might miss a unique item by not buying it right away.  
  • Highlight that the offer ends in a few hours/days.  
  • Let shoppers know how much time is left before they miss same-day shipping.  
  • Indicate how many people have bought the product (and are viewing it in real-time) to indicate that the item is in demand. This will make buyers feel a greater urgency to purchase before it gets sold out.  

In exclusivity, you reward the customer if they make a purchase within a set timeline. Sephora, for instance, promises a free exclusive gift to customers on their birthday month. When the customer purchases something either online or in-store, they are entitled to receive a birthday gift from the brand.  

2. Reduce price shock

Most of the people abandon carts during checkout because the extra costs, such as shipping and tax, are too high. To reduce cart abandonment and improve conversions, reduce price shock.  

Is the shipping free? No. How much will it cost? Is there any tax associated with the purchase? Yes. How much will the customer have to pay?  

Let your customers know all the other prices associated with the product upfront. Don’t just add these at the time of checkout. You will need to calculate the volumetric weight for each product to display an accurate shipping price. If you ship your products internationally, you will also need to know import fees for each country you’re exporting your products to.  

You can reduce price shock by a couple of ways

  • Avoid increasing the product’s price at the last moment, that is, during checkout.  
  • Highlight shipping costs and taxes on the products page. If you can’t calculate taxes or shipping fees up front, add a disclaimer stating “shipping and tax will be calculated during checkout”.

3. Allow guest checkout

More than 26% of shoppers don’t complete their purchase because the checkout process was too long or complicated.  

Having people register on your site is great, but it can negatively impact your conversion rate. Sometimes all a customer wants is to place the order as soon as possible.  

You will have their name and email address when they complete the transaction anyway.  

Major ecommerce sites offer guest checkouts to streamline their checkout process.  

Apart from allowing customers to purchase without an account, they have also added the option to “create an account” on the checkout page.  

If you are sceptical about completely eliminating the need for the registration to complete the purchase, you can test the option for a few days to see how guest checkout impacts your conversions.  

4. Follow up on abandoned carts

It is essential to follow up with customers who browsed products, added it to their cart, and left without completing the transaction. That way, you will be able to understand the reason for cart abandonment.  

One of the best ways to follow up with potential customers is by sending emails to remind them that they have left something in their cart.  

Around 45% of people open cart abandonment emails, 21% of them click on the link, and 50% of people end up buying something. 

ThemeIsle, a sister site of CodeinWP, sent a series of three emails to users who abandoned their cart over a period of five days.  

They changed the subject line every time and saw a surge in email clicks.  

  • After 60 minutes: Subject line “Forgot something? It looks like you have items in your cart”. 
    The result: 50% of emails were opened, out of which 21% received clicks. 
  • After 24 hours: Subject line “What’s that in your shopping cart?
    The result: 41% of emails were opened, out of which 3% received clicks.
     
  • After 5 days: Subject line “Are you sure? One last reminder about the items in your cart (including a 10% welcome discount).”
  • The result: 39% of emails were opened, out of which 8% received clicks.  

When sending emails to potential customers, follow the best copywriting practices to increase the chances of conversion. Also, add the images of the products and offer incentives, such as a discount coupon or free shipping, to entice users into taking action.

GoDaddy sent me an email when I saved a domain in my cart but didn’t purchase it. The email had a promo code offering 30% off on anything new for a limited time to tempt me into purchasing a domain immediately.  

5. Highlight Your Return Policy 

Many ecommerce stores don’t highlight their return and refund policy, but you should. More than 50% of customers read the return policy before buying from a website.  

Customers want assurance from ecommerce stores that if the product isn’t as they expected, then they would get their money back. So, ensure that your return policy is clear and concise. It helps in building trust with your potential customers.   

There are two ways to highlight your return policy: 

  • Adding it on the product’s page.  
  • By creating a separate landing page that contains everything you would like your customers to know about the return policy.  

It would be great if you can leverage both ways. There is a limit to what you can include on the product’s page, so people who want to know more about the policy can visit the landing page.  

Final thoughts

Speeding up your ecommerce conversions seems hard, but it isn’t. Using scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity to influence your potential customers into buying can significantly improve your conversions.  

Allow prospects to checkout without having to create an account to streamline their buying process. Show all the price (shipping, tax, and others) right on the product’s page to reduce price shock. Follow up on abandoned carts through email and highlight your return policy to build trust and confidence with customers.  

Thank you Search Engine Watch for sharing this article.

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Brands need to add new chapters to their crisis marketing playbook


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 28, 2020

Marketers are learning key lessons as they navigate current economic conditions, many of which will likely remain part of their strategy in a post-COVID-19 world.

Every day, we’re learning new coping techniques, both personally and professionally, and will continue to recognize new lessons coming out of this crisis for years to come. Let’s look at some of the key lessons that have already emerged, as well as some of the brands that have positioned themselves as intuitive leaders rather than frightened followers.

Lead with actions, not words

In the email world, the rules have changed—and fast. It didn’t take long for the flood of corporate emails that everyone received on the subject of coronavirus to become a punchline, prompting viral tweets like, “Oh sweet, I was wondering how every corporation I’ve ever given my email to was handling COVID-19.”

Despite such laments, we are seeing brands being more judicious in their mailings. For example, between March 1 and March 26 this year, an Infogroup analysis found there was a 56.56% decrease in email sends compared to the prior year. Despite the lower volume, open rates fell from 26.23% in 2019 to 25.32% in 2020. COVID-19-themed emails are seeing a particularly high delete rate at 12.18%, compared to 11.31% across all emails this year, and unsubscribe rates across marketing emails are on the rise. In other words, people are paying attention to their inboxes, and brands need to proceed with care.

Email messaging has had to evolve quickly in the era of COVID-19. Consumers have had enough of the “we’re protecting you” emails that cite existing protocols and general commiserations. To be truly relevant, companies must review their data, understand what the pandemic means for their customers and communities, and leverage their email programs to support and communicate the real-world changes and actions they’re taking as a result.

We’ve already seen a number of examples of this pandemic sparking meaningful initiatives on behalf of companies large and small. For example, Facebook, Microsoft, TikTok and others partnered with the World Health Organization on a hackathon designed to build tech solutions to coronavirus-related challenges. Meanwhile, numerous brands have rallied to support healthcare workers in various ways. Delta, for example, started offering free flights to eligible medical volunteers and went on to expand these efforts, while sports apparel company Fanatics halted production of jerseys and turned its efforts to making face masks.

Even modest gestures can have great meaning at this time. For example, Just Salad launched a charitable buy-one-give-one program that donates meals to students and families in need. Meanwhile, DoorDash was quick to launch Local Restaurant Saturday, waiving its delivery fee on orders from local restaurants to help keep small businesses open and support local communities as an early mover in this regard. Through these initiatives, brands’ actions speak louder than their words, and these efforts are key in demonstrating real-world relevance and value to subscribers, all while building brand equity.

Every brand needs to show a human side

Especially in times like these when people are more reliant on digital connections, email campaigns should be crafted in a way that humanizes the brand behind them. By supporting people and organizations in need, brands demonstrate commitment to their communities and society at large, and this commitment is embodied in the people who keep these companies running day in and day out. Why not open a window into the lives of these people at a time when human connection is being craved above all else?

Communications that provide value to subscribers while humanizing their brands will go a long way in times of crisis. Express, for example, sent out a simple communication in which its employees shared their favorite work-from-home outfit ideas, accompanied by a video screenshot of the team. Meanwhile, Spartan Race has been keeping in touch with subscribers through mailings featuring employee-led at-home workouts. Brands that put in the effort to connect their people to their customers in unique ways will see positive results.

Be willing to rewrite the playbook

For many brands, the pandemic has challenged the very core of their business models. The strongest among them are finding ways to stay in touch with their communities by providing whatever adaptation or baseline version of their products and services they can. Restaurants and grocery stores have rapidly embraced curbside pickup and delivery models, and many are getting behind social initiatives designed to rally support within industries and communities. Event companies are moving their in-person gatherings to online conferences and webinars. Despite store closures, retailers like Michaels are keeping in touch with subscribers by hosting online craft sessions and other activities valued by newly home-bound customers.

Some business transformations have been even more dramatic. For example, some breweries and distilleries have pivoted to become hand sanitizer manufacturers for the time being. Meanwhile, hair product brand Essations, when faced with widespread salon closings, pivoted to consumer-direct sales and partnered with its network of stylists to create styling content that featured the company’s products. This network keeps the stylists earning money through unique codes when they might not be otherwise working during these uncertain times and created real value for customers of Essations that will be vital to growth in the future.

Planning for the “new normal”

While many brands are looking forward to a “return to normal,” they actually need to be planning for the “new normal.” Make no mistake: This pandemic is changing consumer behavior at a fundamental level and speeding up new technology adoption exponentially. The post-COVID-19 world will revolve around on-demand customer needs. Simply put, we’re not going back to our old “normal.”

As a simple example, consider the restaurant industry: Even after COVID-19 recedes, restaurants might decide that curbside pickup is a useful feature to continue offering. Likewise, local retailers that began offering FaceTime consultations as a means to serving home-bound customers might realize that people want such flexible options on a permanent basis. Likewise, universities have been forced to evolve to video conferencing solutions instead of classrooms. With the cost of higher education and student loans worrying these generations and students becoming comfortable with this lower-cost alternative, will COVID-19’s impact disrupt the entire system? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that higher education will not go back to the way it was.

The global pandemic has posed the need for a new crisis playbook. As a part of operating by this new playbook, brands need to be identifying the “survival” changes they’ve made that have been embraced by their customers and ensure they bake those features into their core business models going forward. Above all, companies must seek to humanize their brands and their employees through their communications during this unique time of societal disconnect. The brands that emerge strongest on the other side of this crisis will be the ones that took the time to deepen their connections with subscribers, rather than merely adding to the noise in their inboxes.


Thank you Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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Marketing’s new challenge: Moving to the next normal


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 22, 2020

You must find ways to tailor each channel’s messaging that’s appropriate for your company, your market and your customers as your operations begin to reopen.

graphic of different platforms for viewing the internet

At the recent Discover MarTech virtual event, where I was honoured to host a roundtable discussion, I was intrigued by a marketer who wondered whether marketing would be harder as the economy begins to reopen.

He suggested it was because the polarization that divides our society on so many issues now extends to the pandemic, and ranges from people who think the pandemic is overblown to those who think we aren’t responding the way we should.

How do you market to both audiences without disenfranchising one of them? And, in this world where people take to social media within seconds of feeling offended, how do you avoid accusations that you’re pandering to one group or another?

This is becoming more important now that businesses that shut down all or part of their operations are beginning to look at the best ways to reopen them.

In communicating how you’re going to approach reopening or ramping up your business, you have to consider this deep polarization.

You can’t appeal to all of these audiences. Pick the one you feel aligns closest with your customers and web visitors. That translates into how you will communicate your reopening message.

Your communication strategy should call for developing a set of coordinated statements, differentiated according to the communication channels you use (email, social media, video, etc.) to drive home your message.

This will also give you the opportunity to practice empathy at the same time. In my last two posts (A new KPI for marketers: Humanity and Authenticity is now more important than ever during the coronavirus) I’ve talked about empathy, not just in your brand equity and brand voice but also as a marketer.

Whatever the direction you receive from your executive or legal team, you must find ways to tailor it in a way that’s appropriate for your company, your market and your customers.

These three steps can help you do that and will lead you to my final point:

1. Communicating a reopening message tailored for each channel

Don’t repeat what brands did early in pandemic communication – pasting a long statement from the CEO into an email and knocking it out to the entire mailing list.

What strategies can you use to make your message resonate with your customers? You can’t just send an email with the facts. You must communicate with empathy, to use all the tips and tricks you have as a marketer to make your messages stand out and connect with your customers.

Here’s one example: Instead of the CEO letter, shoot a short video of your CEO speaking directly to customers and then use video-in-email technology to embed the video in an email.

Also, we as marketers need to think beyond the message to how best to communicate it. What do customers really need to know? Will our stores maintain the same policies or adjust things like store hours, extended returns and mask and social-distance requirement? Do we have real-time content like a store finder that will link to their nearest open locations?

Thinking beyond the flat medium of email, how can you successfully use third-party technologies that can help you differentiate and connect in a unique way, such as real-time or dynamic content?

2. Don’t be stupid

Think about the unspoken message you’re communicating beyond the content in your message. For example, using a countdown timer that counts down the time until your stores open might come off as a little tone-deaf. It could work with some brands, but it illustrates my point about the need to walk a fine line about the message you’re trying to communicate.

This can tell people, “We are counting down to when we open the doors and you can spend money with us again.”

This purchase-based approach clashes with global research that shows a majority of customers either won’t go out shopping in public for a while or will be judicious in their spending because of economic constraints.

Think through the perception of your message and how it aligns with your authenticity, empathy and the public position your brand is taking. Perception is a hard thing to have as a marketer. We have been taught that we are not the customer. Now, in this shared experience, we are our own customers in some respects.

We need to be able to project what our customers are going through. It has to be a team effort, however. One person’s feelings can’t direct your entire approach. If there were to be any greater example of a team putting a message together, this will be it.

A peer review can give you honest reviews of the perceptions your message could elicit. Sharing the content with outsiders could be a good thing, too.

3. Change your segmentation plan

So many variables go into segmentation: states, cities, consumer sentiment and the sentiment characteristic of a demographic region. The cuts you have to do in your segmentation plan are as numerous as the stars, but one thing we must think about is this: what determines who gets which message?

In traditional customer segmentation, you would segment by highest spending, most frequent buyers and new buyers. Those all have to be considered in the messages you deliver.

Your best customer might want a white-glove service. My wife is one of Nordstrom’s best customers. She got messages that explained how she can order online and get contactless delivery at the store. So, she went shopping like crazy.

Messages to different cohorts can show a connection while, at the same time, communicating policies meant to protect teams and customers.

What parts of your message can you dissect and emphasize to different segments? Customer- and interest-driven segments are subsets of top-level segmentation, which are demographic regions, business conditions and other factors.

Everything points to a cacophony of sophistication

Regardless of your past efforts, today’s business challenges are raising the bar for everyone. This is the perfect time to retain outside agencies or strategists to help you navigate this independently.

When you seek help, you work with a team that share the expertise they’ve developed from working with clients from other verticals and their approaches. They can review your work independently, anticipate mistakes before they happen and help you with speed to market.

The sophistication level you need right now is at its highest level for most marketers. An external company can help you bridge any gaps your team might have.

I’m not pitching you to hire an agency. I’m just addressing the reality we’re all facing right now.

As I think back to my time on both the client and agency sides, and in my current post. I would have wanted help on the client side and would have loved to provide it on the agency side. I’m not saying you can’t do the work. But if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

This option provides for greater velocity of messaging and a team that can fill the skills gap you might have on your team right now.  Today’s fluid market doesn’t give us a lot of time to adjust strategies. What we need is speed to market at a scale that we have never seen.

Wrapping up

This is an incredibly challenging time for marketers all over the world. The definition of the right thing to do is different for every company, city, state and household. Customers are looking to you to assure them that their needs are being taken care of, whether they’re doing it themselves with your help, in combination with your government or other services, or wherever it comes from.

It’s up to you to use your intelligence and experience, your team and your data to define what “being taken care of” means.

There’s no single right or wrong here, just companies living up the values of business they want to run. We need to let the needs of our companies and our customers guide our decision-making. Let’s not judge or copy what others do.

It’s not an easy path to fight our way out of our immediate crisis and on to the next normal. Let’s use our collective intelligence and business experience to find the right way.

Thank you Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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How real is your real-time marketing?


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 18, 2020

The term “real-time marketing” gets bandied about regularly, but brands that can actually implement real-time efforts stand to outperform their competition.

“Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years,” said Gartner Vice President analyst Mike McGuire, “However, before marketers can realize the benefits of these technologies, they must first become proficient in predictive analytics and delivering personalized communications.”

McGuire’s comments were part of Gartner’s report last August outlining the top trends that were most likely to impact how marketing teams manage their martech stacks.

The research firm found that the brands capable of plugging in behavioral analytics to marketing automation platforms would be better equipped to deliver real-time marketing efforts — but, according to Gartner’s report, many marketers lacked a “clear” business case for real-time engagement.

Real-time marketing’s biggest obstacle

So what’s the problem? Pegasystems Product Marketing Manager Andrew LeClair says the primary issue is we have 7,000 marketing technology solutions but no way to effectively combine multiple disparate systems in a way that delivers sustainable real-time marketing efforts.

“We have data that’s all over the place. Our systems and our people — they’re not connected,” said LeClair during his Discover MarTech ‘Why Real-Time Really Matters’ presentation, “There’s a bunch of complexity. We’ve got inbound that’s over here and outbound over there — and paid is off on some island somewhere nobody knows. Not to mention all the other systems that touch the customer — things like customer service or billing applications.”

According to LeClair, marketers are unable to stitch together the multiple platforms they’ve implemented to create a “centralized decision authority” — one that can deliver actual real-time marketing events based on customer engagement across channels, historical data, purchase interactions and more.

How to make real-time, 1:1 marketing work

“We need to figure out and deliver next best actions across channels in under 100-milliseconds, but what the heck does that really mean? And, how does that start to work?” asked LeClair during his webinar.

The product marketing manager says real-time marketing is reliant on four specific capabilities: detection, data, decision and delivery. First, marketers must be able to detect, or sense, a customer’s moment of need. This means having systems in place that are able to detect actions via simple events like a click-through on an email or a conversation with the CSR.

“On the flip-side, you also have non-events. This is when we expect something to happen and it doesn’t,” said LeClair.

Once the event — or series of events — have been detected, data needs to be gathered before determining the next best action. According to LeClair, marketers need data that can help assess a customer’s sentiment, intent and behavior. Also, data that sheds light on their end-goal and where they are located is also needed.

“All of this information is absolutely key to identifying their context and what their needs are — and it has to be available in real-time,” said LeClair.

A comprehensive data assessment makes it possible to decide on the next best action and optimize a real-time marketing opportunity. This may include pushing out just the right content at just the right time, delivering a personalized offer, sending a follow-up email or more.

When marketers have fine-tuned these four capabilities, they’re able to determine whether or not it’s time to sell to the customer or nurture the relationship — or, potentially, decide not to engage if it’s impossible to add value within a given situation.

“From initial detection to assembling our data to making that decision to then executing — and how that impacts the customer experience — if we’re able to do all of that in less than 100-milliseconds for any channel, that is the ideal state. That’s where the best in class organizations live and breathe,” said LeClair.

The rewards of real-time marketing

To drive home the impact of real-time marketing efforts, LeClair shared results from a Total Economic Impact report conducted by Forrester on Pega’s clients.

Forrester confirmed companies that had implemented Pega’s real-time marketing tools generated $226 million worth of incremental revenue gains and $193 million in retained revenue.

“Because we’re sensing needs in real-time, we can be proactive in our retention efforts, reducing our churn, reaching out to the customer before they even get the chance to think about leaving,” said LeClair, “And that’s really, at the end of the day, how we optimize for customer lifetime value which is what all of this is about.”

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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For better SEO, don’t put all your eggs in the SEO basket


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 7, 2020

Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business.

SEO is one of the best marketing channels for return on investment for most small businesses. Because of this, a lot of SMBs will invest their entire marketing budget in SEO tactics. You would think as the owner of an SEO company that this is our ideal client, and to a certain extent, it is.

It’s important, however, to point out that some of our best SEO campaigns have been for companies that invest in more than one marketing channel.

Why is this?

Over the last two years, we’ve seen Google increase its brand signals as a ranking factor and it’s apparent to me that this will continue as the algorithm continues to evolve. SEO, by its nature, isn’t a good channel to create brand awareness as users need to have awareness of a product or service before they will search for it.

What are brand signals?

No one knows all of the brand signals that Google is targeting, but for this article we’ll focus on what we believe is the most important: branded search queries.

You can use Google Trends to see how often people are searching for your brand. The image below is a comparison of branded searches for a regional pest control company versus its top nationwide competitors. You can see that they have more branded searches locally as they invest in multiple marketing channels at the local level than the top national brands. Even though their website isn’t as authoritative as these national brands from an SEO perspective, they constantly outrank these larger brands in their region.

Keep in mind that this data is correlative. It doesn’t mean to stop doing SEO and focus on advertising, but that SEO as a standalone marketing strategy can only take you so far. Brand signals are just one of hundreds of factors that Google uses to rank websites. Most SEO-related activities, however, do very little to create online brand signals.

Having a well-rounded marketing strategy that involves multiple marketing channels in addition to SEO creates signals that SEO activities alone can’t create.

What are some activities that can create branded searches?

The most obvious channels that can increase your branded searches are TV, radio, billboards, direct mail, etc. The problem with these marketing channels, to some degree, is that they are out of the reach of most small businesses. Here is a list of alternative marketing channels that can create brand awareness that don’t break the bank:

  1. Remarketing— showing display ads to users that have been to your website is a great, low-cost way to keep your brand top of mind.
  2. Social media advertising — another form of advertising that can expose your brand to the masses at a lower cost than other advertising channels.
  3. Webinars — Hosting webinars is a great tactic to showcase your expertise to a lot of people and create brand awareness. Make sure to record these to use in your social media campaigns.
  4. Speaking engagements — like webinars, this is a low-cost way to showcase your brand to people who may have never heard of you. I’ve often looked up the brand of the person speaking during their seminar to learn more about them.
  5. Email marketing — even though most email marketing campaigns are directed to people who have some level of awareness of your brand, it’s still a good low-cost channel to turn your happy customers into online brand ambassadors. The more people who are talking about your brand online, the more brand searches will happen.

As your small business grows and can afford to invest in more advertising channels, you can breathe new life into your SEO campaign by looking at new ways to create branded searches online:

  • TV advertising—make sure to mention your website as prominently as a phone number or direct them to the website completely as more users are watching TV while also surfing the web on their mobile device.
  • Billboards and direct mail—even though these are offline channels, you can still create online branded searches by offering an incentive that is explained in more detail with a landing page on your website.
  • Radio—similar to billboards and direct mail, creating an incentive to visit your website (and not just listing your web address) is essential to getting listeners to look for your brand online.

Your target audiences don’t limit themselves to one channel, so neither should your business. SEO is just one part of a marketing ecosystem in which every channel can contribute to the goal of increasing branded searches for your company’s name.

Thank you to Search Engine Land for sharing this article.

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25 Ways to Increase Online Sales


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on May 1, 2020

Increasing online sales is the primary goal of countless businesses, large and small alike. Whether you run a mom-and-pop retail business or work for a vast ecommerce giant like Amazon, increasing sales through online channels is a little like bowling a strike – it looks a lot easier than it actually is.

Increase sales online

Fortunately, there are dozens of ways you can make more sales online, many of which you can implement right away. Some of these tips focus on specific strategies you can implement, whereas others are more generalized. In this post, we’ll be looking at 25 such strategies, so whether you sell physical goods or run a service-based business, here are 25 actionable techniques you can use to increase online sales performance.

1. Be Honest in Your Sales Copy

This might seem painfully obvious, but it’s amazing to me how many sites write checks their products can’t cash. Not only is honesty in your copy crucial to your business’ reputation, it also fosters and encourages trust in your brand. Don’t make claims you can’t substantiate, and don’t use hyperbole lightly – today’s consumers are hypersensitive to marketing BS, so be honest, straightforward, and approachable in all your sales copy, from your homepage to your email campaigns.

Increase sales online be honest in your copy

This PETA ad was pulled from billboards in the U.K. by the Advertising Standards Authority in 2013 for making unsubstantiated claims.

This principle also applies to how you position yourself as a business. Ever come across a site that’s obviously run by one or two people, but features copy that would be better suited to a multinational enterprise company? This approach not only makes you look foolish, it also damages your brand’s credibility. If you’re a small company, take pride in that and be upfront about it – many consumers are turning to smaller businesses precisely because of the more individualized, personal service they can offer. Don’t try to be something you’re not.

2. Get More Ad Clicks with Ad Extensions

If you’re selling stuff online, ad extensions are a no-brainer – this feature (available in both AdWords and Bing) allows you to make your ad bigger with more places to click. And it doesn’t cost any extra! AND it increases your ad’s click-through rate! Amazing, right?

Increase sales online use ad extensions

In the above example, the links to “Men’s Sunglasses” and “Women’s Sunglasses” give people who are looking to buy a new pair of Ray-Ban’s two additional places to click. This saves the potential customer a step and makes it easier and faster to find exactly what they want (so they go to your site instead of a competitor’s).

3. Show Off Customer Testimonials and Trust Signals

In today’s social media environment, customer feedback has never been more important. Fortunately, this means that your satisfied customers can provide you with one of the most valuable weapons in your arsenal – testimonials.

Increase sales online include customer testimonials

Legions of satisfied customers are considerably more influential than even the best-written sales copy, so make sure you include gushing testimonials and reviews from your hardcore brand evangelists gushing about how wonderful you are. These might appear on your product pages, landing pages, pricing page, even your home page. For more info, check out my post on the power of customer testimonials.

Similarly, the inclusion of trust signals can be an excellent way to increase online sales, as it creates a more favorable perception of your brand in the mind of the prospect and can potentially overcome hesitations preemptively. If your business has any professional accreditations (even something as routine as a Better Business Bureau certification or membership to your local chamber of commerce), put these trust signals front and center on your site. If you have an impressive list of satisfied clients, make sure your prospects know about it.

4. Create a Sense of Urgency

It’s important to be honest and transparent about who you are and what you do, but there’s no rule against creating a sense of urgency to persuade prospects to buy from you right now.

Increase sales online by creating a sense of urgency

Many consumers respond positively to incentives that create a sense of urgency, from time-sensitive special offers to limited-edition products. Although the ways you can accomplish this are as diverse as the products you can buy online, some strategies may be more effective than others. For example, if you don’t (or can’t) make a limited-edition product to entice prospects, maybe you can offer a financial incentive to customers who commit to a purchase right away, such as free shipping or a discount.

In AdWords, you can use ad customizers to display a countdown on a seasonal offer or limited-time sale:

Increase sales online use ad customizers

However you choose to do it, creating a sense of urgency is a great way to increase online sales.

5. Offer a Bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee

Oftentimes, one of the most powerful factors in a consumer’s decision not to buy something is risk aversion – the desire to avoid a potential loss. Most times, this perceived risk is a financial one. Why should someone buy your products? What if they don’t work, or the customer doesn’t like them? Even small purchases can carry the risk of “buyer’s remorse,” so overcome this objection from the outset by offering a bulletproof money-back guarantee.

Increase sales online offer a bulletproof money-back guarantee

The more risk you remove from the prospect’s decision, the more likely they are to buy from you, so take away anything that could dissuade prospects from buying from you.

6. Offer Fewer Choices

To many businesses, this concept is simply unthinkable. Surely offering more products is a great way to increase sales! Well, not necessarily. In fact, in many instances, a greater variety of choice can lead to indecision on the part of the prospect, which in turn results in lost sales.

If you have a wide range of products, consider structuring your site or product pages in a way that offers visitors as few choices as possible. This reduces the possibility that the visitor will be overwhelmed by dozens of different products. This can be accomplished by arranging your products into increasingly narrow categories (an added bonus of which is offering visitors greater ease to find exactly what they’re looking for), or you could place greater emphasis on fewer individual products. Either way, remember that the more choices you provide, the more likely a customer is to bounce and go elsewhere.

7. Target Lookalike Audiences on Facebook

One of the best ways to increase online sales is to use the data you have about your existing customers to find people just like them. Facebook allows you to do this through the targeting of lookalike audiences.

Increase sales online target lookalike audiences in Facebook

Lookalike audiences in Facebook are essentially users on Facebook who share characteristics and behaviors to customers in your database. You upload your data to Facebook, which then cross-references its own data (and information from third-party data brokers) to create matches based on the criteria you specify. You can also use tracking pixels and data from app installations to help you create lookalike audiences. This is an excellent way to make the data on your existing customers work for you, as it effectively allows you to greatly expand your reach with minimal effort and use highly targeted ads to entice Facebook users who are very similar to your existing customers.

Check out this blog post about Facebook ad targeting to learn more about lookalike audiences.

8. Reduce Friction in the Checkout Process

According to Business Insider, approximately $4 TRILLION worth of online merchandise was abandoned in incomplete shopping carts last year alone, of which 63% was potentially recoverable. This is a truly jaw-dropping statistic, and one that reveals how crucial it is to nail your checkout process.

Increase online sales combat shopping cart abandonment

Similar to the point above about user experience, reducing friction in your checkout process can have an incredible impact on your conversion rates. Just as you should make it as easy as possible for visitors to use and navigate your site, you should make it even easier for them to actually buy what you’re selling.

Eliminate any unnecessary steps in your checkout process that could dissuade a prospect from converting. Skip unnecessary fields in forms. Don’t time them out and make them start over from the beginning. Here are some more tips on battling shopping cart abandonment.

9. Provide as Many Payment Options as Possible

Okay, so your business takes credit cards. What about Google Wallet payments? Or ApplePay? What about Stripe? WePay?

Increase sales online accept multiple payment types

Consumers have more choice than ever before in terms of how they actually pay for goods and services, and not everyone prefers to use American Express. By offering more payment options, including newer services that are becoming increasingly popular on mobile, you’re making it easier for prospects to give you their money. Sure, it can be a hassle to optimize your site (and checkout process, as we discussed above) to include all these options, but doing so is a great way to increase online sales, particularly if your site has strong mobile traffic.

10. Invest in Quality Product Images

There’s compelling evidence that well-presented food actually tastes better than sloppily plated dishes. Given how important appearance is in relation to how we perceive things (including other people), it stands to reason that investing in quality product photography will have a similar effect on visitors to your site.

Increase sales online invest in quality product photography

Regardless of what you sell, include high-quality images of your products – no tiny thumbnails or poorly lit shots taken in your stock room. Also be sure to include a wide range of images. It might seem overkill to include shots of your products from every conceivable angle, but try it out. People love to kick a product’s proverbial tires before buying, especially online.

11. Get Rid of Your Landing Pages

We’ve mentioned this strategy before, and it usually raises more than a few eyebrows to say the least. However, we’re not advocating for eliminating landing pages unncessesarily, but rather optimizing your online ads to align with how many consumers actually browse the Web and shop online.

Increase sales online use Facebook click-to-call ads

Call-Only campaigns in Facebook and AdWords are an excellent example of a situation in which removing the traditional landing page entirely makes a lot of sense. Most people don’t want to spend several minutes browsing pages on their mobile device – they simply want to get in touch with your business.

Increase sales online Call-Only campaigns AdWords

 

By utilizing Call-Only ads, you’re making it easier for prospects to reach out to your business, eliminating one of the leakiest stages of the classic online sales funnel completely, and potentially increasing the volume of calls to your business – one of the most valuable lead sources to many businesses. People who call you are practically begging you to sell them something.

12. Give Gmail Ads a Try

After years in and out of beta, Gmail Ads are FINALLY available to everyone. This is an exciting way to reach prospects and increase sales.

Increase sales online use Gmail ads

If you’re already reaching customers when they search and when they browse on social, why not go the extra mile and hit them while they’re in their inboxes, too? One of the most effective ways to use Gmail Ads is by targeting competitor keywords. People who are in the market for your competitors’ products are getting emails from your competitors that mention their brand terms right now. By targeting those same terms you can show up in their inboxes and hopefully change their minds.

13. Keep Messaging Consistent Across Campaigns and Your Site

Ever clicked a PPC ad that grabbed your attention, only to be taken to an irrelevant landing page (bad) or the site’s homepage (worse)? Did you end up buying whatever you were looking for from that site? Probably not.

Increase online sales message matching

A display ad for Air Canada, and its accompanying
landing page

Increase sales online message match landing page

If a user clicks an ad for a specific product or service, the page they’re taken to should be about that specific product or service – not a related category, not a special offer for another product, but that specific product. Make sure your messaging is relevant across your PPC and paid social campaigns and the pages associated with them, so that ad clicks actually turn into sales.

14. Answer Every Question and Address Every Objection in Your Copy

One of the most dangerous pitfalls you can fall into when trying to sell online is making assumptions about your prospective customers’ knowledge of your product, service, or even market. Many companies mistakenly believe their customers know more about what they’re selling than they actually do, which results in unanswered questions or objections that are failed to be addressed – both of which can harm sales.

Consider every question you can possibly think of about your product, and answer it in your copy on your product pages. Similarly, think about every potential objection a prospect might have about your offering, and preemptively overcome it in your copy. This might seem impractical, but remember, you’re not bombarding prospects with unnecessary information – you’re giving them exactly what they need to make an informed decision. This approach is also an excellent exercise in writing tight, clear, concise copy. If you’re worried there’s too much copy, you can always trim it down. Just keep the focus on the customer and how it benefits them, not why your company is so awesome.

15. Give Away As Much As You Possible Can for Free

People love free stuff, and the more you give away for free, the more favorably prospective customers are likely to perceive you and your brand, which can result in more online sales.

Increase sales online give away free stuff

Awesome!

Look at your current offerings. Can you give anything away for free? If you’re in the software business as we are, it’s easy to offer free, no-obligation trials of your software. Even if you’re not, you can just as easily give away samplers, trial memberships, two-for-one offers, and other reward-based incentives. Giving stuff away for free isn’t just a great way to improve people’s perception of your business, it’s also a great way to introduce them to your must-have products and tempt them to buy more.

16. Create and Target Detailed Buyer Personas

I’m going to go ahead and assume that you’re already creating buyer personas (because if you aren’t, you’re in real trouble), but I am going to challenge you to create even more detailed buyer personas than you have in the past.

Increase sales online create detailed buyer personas

If you’ve ever looked at the targeting options available to Facebook advertisers, you may have seen the amazing granularity with which you can target users on Facebook – advertisers can target users based on the square footage of their home, the university from which they earned their degree, and even where they plan on going for their next vacation (as Margot revealed in her fascinating post about amazingly granular Facebook audiences).

Obviously, this degree of specificity may be a little overkill for your buyer personas, but the better you “know” your ideal customers, the more likely they are to respond to carefully crafted messaging tailored specifically to their lives. Push yourself to create more detailed buyer personas than you ever have before. To learn more about this process, check out my detailed guide to creating buyer personas.

17. Implement Tiered Pricing

When you go to a restaurant, the chances are pretty good that you’ll invariably choose one of the mid-priced dishes. This is because many restaurants manipulate psychology to push people toward the mid-range meals. We’ll often avoid the cheapest dishes – and the most expensive – making the middle-tier options the most appealing. This is a technique known as “decoy pricing.” The same principle can be leveraged to increase sales online with tiered pricing structures.

Increase sales online use decoy pricing

By including a third “decoy” option in your pricing structure, you can push people toward the middle option – the one you really want them to buy. Sure, some people will go for the most expensive option anyway (which is a bonus, revenue-wise), but most will subconsciously avoid the decoy and choose the middle-tier option, which is precisely what you want them to do.

Many companies leverage this psychological principle (also known as the “asymmetric dominance effect”) to make us buy what they want. To learn more about decoy pricing, check out this post by Neil Patel at MarketingLand.

18. Add an Opt-In Pop-Up Offer to Push Them Over the Edge

If you’re looking to increase sales in retail, don’t ignore the potential of opt-in offers – prompts that encourage people to sign up for your newsletter, mailing list, or loyalty programs. Using opt-in offers can not only significantly increase the number of contacts in your database (a major asset for future email marketing campaigns), but also increase online sales in the short term.

Increase sales online launch an opt-in offer

Prospective customers who are on the fence about buying from you may well be swayed by a well-placed opt-in offer for, say, free shipping, or 10% of their first order. Even if they decide against the purchase at that time, but do sign up for your opt-in offer, you’ve still added them to your database and they may choose to return later to complete the sale.

When launching an opt-in offer, be sure to test every element for maximum optimization. Test the phrasing of the copy, the position at which it appears on your site, and the flow that visitors are directed through the process. A/B test different offers and see which ones yield a greater volume of sign-ups. Consider having the pop-up be triggered by a site exit so visitors see it just before they’re about the leave the page. The more people that sign up for your newsletter or loyalty program, the more potential sales you can make in the future.

19. Grow Online Sales with Mobile Optimization

The number of online businesses with poorly designed, badly optimized “mobile” sites is amazing.

Increase sales online optimize your mobile site

Mobile search has already eclipsed desktop search in volume. If you don’t want to leave sales on the table, it’s vital that your site is optimized for mobile – and not purely from a technical perspective.

Make it as easy as possible for mobile visitors to buy whatever you’re selling. This may involve an extensive overhaul of your checkout process (see tip #18), or the design and launch of an entirely separate mobile site. Amazon’s mobile site is an excellent example of how mobile ecommerce can (and arguably should) be done, but you don’t need Amazon’s resources to create a compelling, user-friendly experience for visitors on mobile.

Increase sales online responsive design ecommerce example

Navigation and user experience are among the most crucial elements of a well-designed, highly optimized mobile experience. The harder it is for visitors to find – and buy – what they want, the more likely they are to abandon your site altogether and take their business elsewhere. Pages should load near-instantaneously, and navigation should be logical. Don’t ask for too much information, only the bare minimum you need to either make the sale or market to prospects later. Allow visitors to come back to their carts later, even on another device. Don’t expect mobile visitors to convert in a single session, because they probably (almost definitely) won’t – but they might convert later, if you make it easy for them to do so.

Think of your mobile visitors and do everything you possibly can to make it effortless for them to buy from you while they’re on the go.

20. Impress New Customers with an Amazing Follow-Up Email

Sadly, the customer experience typically ends for many businesses when they’ve finally got their hands on a customer’s money. This is a terrible mistake for customer retention. To increase sales volume online, make sure you have a thoughtful, considerate, genuinely useful follow-up procedure in place for new customers.

Increase sales online send an amazing follow-up email

As a hardcore computer geek, I’m always ordering stuff from Newegg.com – replacement parts, new components, and other deliciously geeky stuff. The reason I’ve been a loyal Newegg customer for many years isn’t just the price of the goods (which is highly competitive), but rather the focus on customer service and the follow-up process Newegg has in place.

Whenever I place an order, I receive detailed summaries of my purchase (including vital tracking information so I can hit “Refresh” on the order page to see where my stuff is), as well as customer service information, links to relevant products I might be interested in, and all sorts of other resources. I’m prompted to leave reviews and feedback about my experience, encouraged to contact a real person if I have questions about my order, and can even discuss or answer questions about my purchase for other users who are considering buying whatever I just splurged on. Generally speaking, it’s just a great shopping experience – which is why I’ve been buying my hardware from Newegg for years.

Don’t forget about your customers as soon as they’ve given you their credit card details. The more attention you pay to them after they’ve bought something, the more likely they are to become fiercely loyal brand evangelists who will not only turn into satisfied repeat customers, but will also go and tell and their friends (and blog readers) about how great you are. When a customer buys something, offer them something for free (see tip #11). Talk to them on social media (more on this shortly). Send them a thoughtful, useful follow-up email with incentives to buy from you again. However you do it, make your customers feel like the precious little snowflakes they are – think relationships, not transactions.

21. Nail Your Value Proposition – And Make It Immediately Obvious

Far too many companies lose sales and waste time by focusing on themselves. Remember how we discussed that people don’t want to buy things, only solve their problems? Well, another painful truth is that unless your customers are the brand evangelists we’ve been talking about, the vast majority of them don’t care about you or your company – only how your products or services will make their lives better. This is why your value proposition should take center stage in all your marketing communications and site content.

Increase sales online value proposition

Essentially, your value proposition is the primary reason customers should buy from you, not your competitors, and the promise of the value prospects will receive by investing in whatever you’re selling. Value propositions can be broken down into three main areas:

  • Relevance: How your product/service will solve customers’ problems
  • Quantifiable value: The specific benefits your product/service offers
  • Differentiator: Why customers should buy from you and not a competing company

When you break down a value proposition into these three components, it becomes easy to see why these elements should inform virtually everything about your marketing messaging and site content, from the copy on your homepage to the content of your email marketing campaigns. Why wouldn’t you focus exclusively on these aspects of your products?

Take a look at your landing page copy, sales collateral, and other marketing materials. Is the value proposition immediately obvious? If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Everything your prospects see should tie back to your value proposition in one way or another. The greater the perceived value you can create surrounding your products or services, the more sales you’ll make.

22. Use the Voice of the Customer for More Resonant Ad Campaigns

Hopefully you’re already using PPC and paid social to expand your reach and find new audiences. However, the language you use in your campaigns can have a tremendous impact on your conversion rates (and, therefore, your sales), so my fourth tip is to use “the voice of the customer” in your campaigns – but what does this mean?

The voice of the customer is a market research technique that aligns copy with the needs, wants, pain points, expectations, and aversions of the consumer being targeted by that particular messaging. This process often includes language and phrasing used by customers themselves during market research and focus group testing.

Increase sales online use the voice of the customer in your copy

The example above, from accounting software company FreshBooks, uses the voice of the customer to great effect. During its market research, FreshBooks discovered that its target market (small-business owners) found bookkeeping to be painful and challenging, and so it incorporated language used by its target market in its messaging.

This technique can be extraordinarily powerful, as you’re using the exact phrasing used by your ideal customers to reach your ideal customers. To learn more about how to incorporate this into your own campaigns, check out this post on the voice of the customer.

23. Pinpoint Your Best Attribution and Conversion Paths

Sometimes, it feels as though you’re doing everything right, only to see your conversion rates hovering somewhere between “miserable” and “pathetic.” Oftentimes, this isn’t anything to do with the messaging or positioning of your ads (though it pays to look at this closely), but rather a misunderstanding of when and where conversions are happening.

Increase sales online conversion paths

One of the first things you should do if your conversion rates look low is to examine your attribution models and conversion pathways in Analytics. You may be surprised to find that parts of your marketing strategy that seem like conversion duds actually have a big influence on your online sales. For example, maybe organic search isn’t a great channel for converting into sales, but people who find you first through organic search, and then see a Facebook ad are highly like to become a paying customer. If that’s the case, you should double-down on content marketing and pour some money into Facebook remarketing too (see Tip #1, below).

24. Actually Talk to Your Prospects on Social Media

Active engagement with prospects via social media is overlooked as a potential sales tool by far too many businesses because it is perceived as having a negligible impact on actual sales – when in fact this is one of the best ways you can increase brand awareness, customer satisfaction, and sales.

Increase sales online social media engagement

Think of a time when you tweeted at a company, or commented on a brand’s Facebook page – and the company actually responded to you personally. What effect did this have on your perception of that brand? I’ll wager it became significantly more favorable. Providing fast, honest answers to questions that potential customers have about your offerings is an excellent way to increase sales, as the more attention you are perceived as paying to potential customers, the more likely people are to want to buy from you. This also results in unsolicited social feedback among users themselves – the kind of brand exposure and “advertising” you just can’t buy (well, not in a way that sounds legitimate, anyway).

25. Use Remarketing to Close Way More Deals

No matter whether you’re running a PPC campaign or a Facebook advertising campaign, any digital marketing initiative takes time, money, and effort to accomplish. If you’re not using remarketing, you’re essentially banking on prospective customers converting immediately, which almost never happens (and is exactly as crazy as it sounds).

Increase sales online with remarketing

Whether you’re remarketing your content or a specific time-sensitive sale offer, remarketing is arguably the single most effective way to increase sales online. Not only does remarketing keep your brand at the forefront of prospects’ minds, it also provides would-be customers with numerous additional opportunities to convert. Given the often-fractured customer journey, which now usually takes place across at least a day or two and several devices, remarketing also closely aligns with how today’s consumers prefer to shop – which is wherever and whenever they choose.

Remarketing is a complex, nuanced topic with unique considerations depending on whether you’re remarketing with paid search or paid social, so check out The Complete Guide to AdWords Remarketing Best Practices and The Ridiculously Awesome Guide to Facebook Remarketing.

How to Increase Online Sales [Summary]

Try these 25 tactics to start closing more sales online:

  1. Use Remarketing to Close Way More Deals
  2. Actually Talk to Your Prospects on Social Media
  3. Pinpoint Your Best Attribution and Conversion Paths
  4. Use the Voice of the Customer for More Resonant Ad Campaigns
  5. Nail Your Value Proposition – And Make It Immediately Obvious
  6. Impress New Customers with an Amazing Follow-Up Email
  7. Grow Online Sales with Mobile Optimization
  8. Add an Opt-In Pop-Up Offer to Push Them Over the Edge
  9. Implement Tiered Pricing
  10. Create and Target Detailed Buyer Personas
  11. Give Away As Much As You Possibly Can for Free
  12. Answer Every Question and Address Every Objection in Your Copy
  13. Keep Messaging Consistent Across Campaigns and Your Site
  14. Give Gmail Ads a Try
  15. Get Rid of Your Landing Pages
  16. Invest in Quality Product Images
  17. Provide as Many Payment Options as Possible
  18. Reduce Friction in the Checkout Process
  19. Target Lookalike Audiences on Facebook
  20. Offer Fewer Choices
  21. Offer a Bulletproof Money-Back Guarantee
  22. Create a Sense of Urgency
  23. Show Off Customer Testimonials and Trust Signals
  24. Get More Ad Clicks with Ad Extensions
  25. Be Honest in Your Sales Copy

Thank you to WordStream for sharing this blog post

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