Updated Google Ads Benchmarks for Your Industry During COVID-19


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 24, 2020
Every year, we update our Google Ads industry benchmarks to account for the new changes and trends that advertisers are experiencing on the largest online ad platform. Earlier this month in March, we shared a sneak preview of Google Ads industry benchmarks for 2020 and we felt great about what we had to share. Then a pandemic changed everything.

We’ve seen COVID-19 change our daily lives, our businesses, and more over the past month. Even on the Google SERP, we’ve seen COVID-19 impact Google Ads performance for several different industries over the past weeks and many advertisers are scrambling to figure out how to adjust to the new normal in a rapidly changing landscape. But what is the new “normal” in your industry? In this post, we dug into new data from the past three weeks and collected the performance for our own clients advertising across five different networks:

  • Google Search Ads
  • Bing Search Ads
  • Google Shopping Ads
  • Bing Shopping Ads
  • Google Display Ads

We analyzed this data to provide the current benchmarks of what advertisers are seeing on these PPC networks, including:

  • Average click-through rate (CTR) by industry
  • Average cost per click (CPC) by industry
  • Average conversion rate (CVR) by industry
  • Average cost per action (CPA) by industry
  • Average daily PPC advertising budget by industry

You’ll find averages across these PPC metrics for 21 industries: Arts & Entertainment, Automotive, Beauty & Personal Care, Business & Industrial, Clothing & Apparel, Computers & Consumer Electronics, Dining & Nightlife, Education, Finance, Food & Groceries, Health & Medical, Hobbies & Leisure, Home & Garden, Internet & Telecom, Legal, Nonprofits & Charities, Occasions & Gifts, Real Estate, Retailers, Sports & Fitness, and Travel & Tourism.

If you’re advertising on search or social, you also may be interested in seeing similar benchmarks for:

Average CTRs have increased during COVID-19

Overall, the average click-through rate on PPC ads has increased since February, especially on Google search campaigns.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CTR

Many industries have found more impressions and clicks on the SERP since the COVID outbreak. Food & Groceries and Charities & Nonprofits have CTRs that far exceed their typical performance. Even industries that traditionally suffer from low CTRs, like Finance or Legal, are finding a strong footing on the SERP.

Higher CTRs on Travel & Tourism may be a sign of trouble, however. Increasing travel advisories and restrictions have many searchers looking to cancel their itineraries. Advertisers would be wise to exclude customers who have upcoming travel plans from their paid marketing campaigns to avoid paying for them to arrive back to their site just to cancel or postpone their plans.
As many advertisers pull back, ad auctions are slightly less competitive and PPC cost per clicks have been declining.

Navigate the changing online advertising landscape with this free small business guide to COVID-19.

Average CPCs have dropped during COVID-19

Some industries are noticing lower CPCs as ad competition becomes scarce. Notably, restaurateurs are seeing well below average CPCs on both search and display as they limit their services to take out and delivery.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CPC

Meanwhile, many professional services (B2B, Real Estate, Legal, Health & Medical) are noticing increased competition as their marketing becomes increasingly reliant upon their digital presence as their prospective customers spend more time online and at home.

Average CVRs impacted during COVID-19

Sadly, many small businesses are unable to operate or convert new customers in the same way that they previously were. In mid-March, we saw local advertisers struggle the most and many have noticed a significantly lower CVR with their paid ads.

But many have been able to pivot and find better ways to convert customers online. For instance, restaurateurs may have fewer or no diners in their front of house, but as more turn to ordering in advance and contactless delivery, they’re converting those diners more effectively online than they were a month ago. Similarly, as fewer people are willing to visit a car dealership in person during the pandemic, many automotive advertisers have adjusted to showcase their inventory and auctions online.

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Average CPAs vary by network during COVID-19

Online advertising has changed rapidly over the past few weeks and many of the trends we’ve seen evolve over the past years have recently reversed. Suddenly, new searches are dominating the SERP, users are staying online later, and mobile traffic is decreasing.

But simultaneously, many advertisers are adjusting and finding growing traffic across networks on Bing, Google Display, and Facebook.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-CPA

Average daily budgets reduced during COVID-19

Overall, businesses of all sizes are reducing their ad budgets during this time of uncertainty. But even in the face of uncertainty, advertisers are finding success with a smaller daily budget. Particularly, those who advertise across networks can optimize their campaigns to capture the lowest hanging fruit at the lowest costs efficiently.

Technology (Computers & Consumer Electronics and Internet & Telecom) sectors have boosted their campaign spending to capture the recently growing volume online. Travel & Tourism advertisers have reduced their budget most significantly, as they hope to capture later bookings exclusively.

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Covid-Benchmarks-Big-Budget

What do these benchmarks mean?

The coronavirus outbreak is changing how we conduct business and go about our daily lives. As our behaviors change, so must our ad campaigns. Smart advertisers can react to these shifting norms and adjust their PPC accounts to stay agile. Stay safe and practice social distancing. While you’re stuck inside, keep an eye on your PPC accounts and the WordStream blog. We’ll be posting regularly with new data and strategies to best adjust your campaigns in these rapidly changing times.

Data sources

This report is based on a sample of 15,759 US-based WordStream client accounts in all verticals who were advertising on Google Ads and Microsoft Advertising between March 16 and March 31. Each industry includes at minimum 150 unique active clients. Accounts not recording at least 1 click or conversion are omitted from these figures. Shopping network data is omitted in industries with low usage. Average figures are median figures to account for outliers. All currency values are posted in USD.

Thank you to WordStream for sharing this article.

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Location data providers showcase real-world analytics tools during COVID-19


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 20, 2020

Apple has released a new Mobility Trends tool. Google has Mobility Reports. Both are showing the positives on location tracking.

Here are a few recent applications and happenings in the space

Apple Mobility Trends

Apple has released a new Mobility Trends tool that shows the impact of shelter-in-place rules on user movements in multiple countries and selected cities. The data, which the company says is anonymous and aggregated, comes from Apple Maps navigation.

The tool allows users to see how the virus and corresponding lockdowns have impacted walking, driving and transit compared with a baseline measurement in January. The data is being updated daily.

Source: Apple

For public health officials it’s potentially useful but for others, not as much. The data isn’t specific enough to offer much insight for digital marketers or brands.

Google Mobility Reports

In the slightly more useful category for marketers is Google’s Mobility Reports, which was released a couple of weeks ago.

Google’s reports cover 131 countries and examine visitation and movement patterns in high-level categories, such as retail, grocery, transit and workplace. Google says “this type of aggregated, anonymized data could be helpful [to public health officials] as they make critical decisions to combat COVID-19.” (Google and Apple have also partnered on COVID-19 contact tracing using location data.)

Indeed, but what these reports tell us, mostly, is something we know from our own experience: people aren’t going to restaurants and retail stores right now. Frankly, Google Trends is much more useful to track changing search behavior and evolving user demand.

More granular data

Some of the tools and datasets offered by other location intelligence companies present more in-depth information and point to the utility of location data for a wide range of use cases. In this moment, when location is being used to illustrate the pandemic’s impact and our response, these companies can educate the broader market about the capabilities and potential value location data has offer.

Source: GroundTruth

Foursquare, for example, has been reporting on offline activities and behavioural trends on its blog. The company takes a more granular look at business categories and activities, such as drug store or QSR visitation patterns by region. NinthDecimal offers a similar look at business categories in a series of  COVID-19 impact reports (registration required).

GroundTruth recently launched a dynamic foot traffic insights tool that allows users to explore and compare visitation in eight business categories, weekly or daily, and isolate those trends on a regional basis. Another company in this segment, Cuebiq, offers an interactive map that provides a more precise geographic view of movement (at the city level) but not by business category.

Tracking patterns in retail

For its part, InMarket uses mobile-location data to create research reports that offer location-based insights into changing consumer shopping patterns (e.g., day part, duration, frequency) and purchase behavior at the product level.

Placer.ai gives you the ability to compare visitation trends for dozens of individual retailers by day and by region. It answers the question: which stores are people still going to and which stores have seen the biggest declines in foot traffic?

Source: Placer.ai

Thank you Marketing Land for sharing this article.

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The Future of Identity in a Cookieless World


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 13, 2020

Identity will be even more critical to a brand’s success going forward. Acxiom offers a POV on the cookieless world along with the key pillars a future identity solution should entail.

Identity is hard, and it’s getting even more complex with Google’s recent announcement that it plans to end support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser within two years. This move will have the greatest impact on digital channels that rely on reach as a key benchmark for targeting audiences. New alternatives will need to be developed for advertisers to move forward without cookies. To gain a broader understanding of the overall situation and some of the future options being considered, read Acxiom’s POV.

In today’s ecosystem, identity doesn’t mean simply “matching” identifiers such as mobile IDs, browser IDs, connected TV IDs, multiple email addresses or location IDs. It requires a more holistic approach to bringing together a unified view of a real person and maintaining that view as information evolves over time. Three of the biggest identity challenges include:

One size doesn’t fit all

The definition of identity changes across lines of business, types of business and technology platforms.  How can you understand and adjust your identity solution according to each unique use case?

Data gaps in terms of attributes and coverage

These gaps wreak havoc on the precision of a brand’s marketing messages and response.  How do you gain insights to build relationships with your customers?

People sharing devices, phones, or email addresses

Sharing causes noise and sends conflicting signals. How do you resolve the information to consistently deliver great customer experiences?

To enhance identity capabilities, U.S. marketers invested nearly $900 million in 2019 on identity services and solutions (e.g. device graphs, data processing/management platforms, and services) – an amount that is expected to increase to more than $2.6 billion in 2022, according to a Winterberry Group report.

Given the size of the investment and the critical nature of identity in the marketing ecosystem, it is essential for an organization to first clearly assess the state of its own data and its requirements for an identity solution.  Second, a set of consistent questions to evaluate identity providers must be established to truly understand the provider’s ability to solve for an organization’s most urgent identity needs.

Here are four key components to guide marketers when building an identity solution.

Get the data right

On average, 30 percent of a brand’s first-party identity-related data assets will become obsolete each year, according to Ascend2. Like going to the dentist for a cleaning, using hygiene services that cleanse, standardize and enhance consumer contact data (email addresses, phone numbers, names and postal addresses) every year is imperative. Low-quality data can often lead to a poor experience across touchpoints, which can frustrate and alienate even the most loyal customers. Identity can only be as good as the quality of data on which it relies, and accurate data is intrinsic to any successful engagement with customers.

Get identity right across channels

The quality of data is important, and the volume is important, as well. In today’s marketing ecosystem, visibility into consumers’ digital and online interactions is critical. First-party private enterprise graphs combine digital and offline first-party data with additional third-party insights to create a unified view of the consumer. Organizations can build a solution to maintain consumers’ identity across touchpoints, devices, channels and identity relationships to drive an optimal customer experience that’s tailored to the unique perspective of the brand.

Get customer experiences right

Identity is an ongoing process — one that requires consistent oversight and optimization to maintain evolving customer profiles, enable true engagement with a brand and balance the competing factors of precision versus reach. Through a comprehensive identity management solution that strategically layers artificial intelligence and machine learning into their process, brands can master identity across their martech and ad tech ecosystems to deliver exceptional experiences for customers and prospects alike.

Get compliance right

Ethically identifying and connecting with consumers is a top priority for global brands. To meet compliance requirements for consumer access and to build consumer trust, brands need assurance that consumers are who they say they are — separate from marketing activities. Prioritizing such capabilities is essential to meeting, and ideally exceeding, the requirements established by the recent California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and other emerging consumer privacy regulations that give consumers control over their personal data.

It’s about real people

Identity provides the backbone for creating a single customer view across channels, devices and touchpoints – and has become even more critical with the pending demise of third-party cookies. Before you begin planning your journey, get a full picture of the current state from Acxiom’s POV. Then let these four components provide a roadmap to building an enterprise identity solution that’s designed to meet the expectations of customers today and in the future.

Thank you Acxiom & Marketing Land for sharing this information

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5 Challenges With SEO


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on April 5, 2020

 

SEO is hot.
Unfortunately, SEO still face hurdles and objections.
Here is a summary of the top five challenges you’re likely to face with SEO.

1. It’s complicated to explain exactly what SEO is (and is not).

If you say the term “SEO” to 10 local business owners, you’re likely to get 4 or 5 “What?” responses. Small business owners are becoming more savvy about online marketing every day, but SEO can still be a mystery. Here’s our take:

WHAT SEO IS:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • A wide variety of work that goes into getting a website to the top of search engines
  • Organic ranking in search results
  • Long-lasting online presence

WHAT SEO IS NOT:

  • A fast way to reach page one of search results
  • PPC, Ad words, or email marketing
  • Just having a website
  • Short-term results

2. Figuring out the right SEO candidates

Every small business needs SEO, right? Well, yes, almost every business can benefit from SEO.
A salesperson faces the challenge of identifying who can pay for and commit to SEO.

  •  Franchise businesses are 2x more likely to buy SEO.
  •  SEO buyers will likely already spend on other forms of marketing like classifieds, print ads, and outdoor advertising.
  •  SEO fits well with services with irregular or seasonal demand, like injury attorneys, jewellers, dentists, landscapers.

 

3. Describing how SEO fits with other kinds of advertising

You’ve heard it before from a prospect. “I’m already running Google Ads (or print ads, or email campaigns, or radio spots), so why do I need SEO?” It’s a simple answer: SEO complements every other form of advertising.

People don’t pick up the phone when they hear a radio ad and they always forget the number. They go to Google when they have the chance. And you capture those customers who heard about you on other advertising channels through your website’s SEO.

 

4. Pricing SEO and proposing a realistic budget

Let’s get this obvious fact out of the way first: SEO takes time and knowledge, which costs money.

We like to set the expectation that it takes at least 6 months to reach page one of Google. (Our method actually does this for over 80% of our clients). So how do you propose a realistic budget for your different types of clients? Market and industry competitiveness, along with business competitiveness are the two main factors that generally determine an appropriate SEO budget.

• Market and Industry Competitiveness. If you want to get your website to the top for searchers across the country, you will face some fierce competition. Conversely, if you’re a plumber in a smaller suburban market competing against 50+ other plumbers, you face more competition.

• Business competitiveness breaks down into an additional two general categories, though more factors may still apply in some cases:

* New or small businesses with less than five employees and one location that get most of their business from referrals. We generally recommend spending between $250 and $1,000 per month on SEO.

* An established business with multiple locations or service areas that already does other types of advertising. We generally recommend spending between $1,200 and $3,000 per month on SEO.

5. Proving the value in SEO

“What does it really do for my business?” That’s the million dollar question when it comes to selling SEO. It’s nearly impossible to draw a direct line from SEO to specific sales. If an SEO provider can prove that claim, sign up with them. SEO is only part of the equation for business success.

Yes, it can move a website to the top of search rankings, but it’s up to the business owner to take it from there.
If you’re looking for a proven SEO product, as well as a partner who can help you sell it, give Ismoip a call today!
Toll-Free 1-888-266-6564

Thank you to Search Engine Land for sharing this article.

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Did you know that users’ gazes follow a pinball pattern?


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on March 30, 2020

Eye tracking studies uncovered a “pinball pattern” in users’ gazes.

This results in the uncovering of a “pinball pattern” in eye movement. This eye-catching trend (pun intended) is one of many trends.

Figure 1: Three different “Rich Results” types displayed on a results page for a single query on Google.

Needless to say, features like these affect the way users respond to search results and influence what they click on — or if they click at all. Because different types of searches generate different layouts and types of displays, Nielsen Norman eye-tracking studies find that users need a moment to process the search engine results pages (SERP) before making a decision.

“Because search-results pages are now so inconsistent from query to query, users are often forced to assess the page before digging in and making a selection,” according to the report described in Search Engine Land. (Perficient Digital data finds this inconsistency to be a much bigger factor on mobile, noting that desktop results aren’t nearly as volatile.) This results in what the user experience company called a “pinball pattern” in eye movement.

Figure 2: Nielsen Norman Group’s eye tracking studies uncovered a “pinball pattern” in users’ gazes

 

The special, visually-rich displays are viewed by 74% of searchers, Nielsen Norman Group found. And they seem to be having a significant impact on click activity.

Back in 2006, the first search result (defined in this study as the first item appearing on the page, which means it could be an ad) attracted 51% of clicks. Now, only 28% of clicks go to the first result under the search box, the UX researchers found.

Whether the query contains a brand name or not seems to have a significant impact, though. According to Perficient Digital, the click-through-rate for the first result on branded queries averages 69%, whereas for non-branded queries the first result only achieves a 18% clickthrough rate.

This suggests that there’s more opportunity for marketers to attract clicks even if they aren’t in the very top spot, but between more aggressive monetization of results and zero-click searches, there’s just not as much room for organic listings to attract clicks. Consequently, there’s an increasing need for enterprise SEO tools that help marketers identify where their pages are showing up (especially in these special features) and identify opportunities for optimization.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article Here

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4 marketing lessons from retailers who are mastering the customer experience


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on March 23, 2020

Get inspiration from retailers who have focused their efforts on CX and adapt those learnings to better engage your own audience.

girlfriends shopping

I don’t need to go into detail on how fierce competition is for digital marketers in the retail space. They are constantly determining how to outmaneuver other retailers and better engage shoppers.

Simply spending more to box out competitors is not the long-term answer – nor is it viable for most retail businesses. The solution is to simultaneously invest in more personalized marketing approaches as well as the customer experience. That’s because investing in the customer experience cycles back into propelling the effectiveness of your marketing and advertising efforts.

A renewed focus on the customer experience is what will define successful retailers moving forward. Here’s a look at four retailers excelling in key areas of the customer experience, and the marketing lessons to learn from each of their approaches.

Ulta

Excelling in: Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs have become so commonplace that many retail marketers treat them like a checkbox without thoughtful execution and continued optimization. These programs usually exist in the form of coupons for first-time shoppers and other generic incentives in exchange for signing up to receive the retailer’s newsletter.

The more successful loyalty programs prioritize personalization, audience segmentation, and messaging. A good example is the Ultamate Rewards Program from Ulta, which closed out 2019 as the top-performing stock in the S&P 500 Retailing Index, beating out Amazon. Ultamate loyalty members drive more than 95% of the company’s total revenue.

The reason Ulta has seen so much success? The retailer uses its loyalty program firstly as a communication tool to build and maintain relationships with customers. The program is designed to reward shoppers for allowing the retailer the opportunity to build something more than a transactional, “check out as guest” interaction. That more personalized experience is a major reason why Ulta has seen success in the competitive retail environment.

Moral of the Story: Treat loyalty programs like a relationship channel first, and let the revenue acquisition follow.

REI

Excelling in: Social consciousness

The rise of social consciousness has paved the way for brands to take a position on issues that matter to their company, while simultaneously building a deeper connection with their customer base. The retailers doing it best have built social consciousness into their DNA.

Take REI, for example. Social consciousness permeates everything it does as a brand. Its Product Sustainability Standards hold the company and its brand partners accountable for supporting social responsibility and environmental stewardship. It prioritizes the use of recycled and other sustainable materials in its products. And perhaps most unforgettable is when REI began closing on Black Friday to encourage employees and customers to spend time outside. Social consciousness anchors REI’s values and those of its customers.

From a marketing perspective, REI again leads with social consciousness. This core value is at the forefront of the retailer’s #OptOutside campaign, thousands of outdoor guidebooks, volunteering events, and email messaging, which constantly encourages shoppers to get outside. REI’s strength in social consciousness translates to strong and cohesive marketing messages.

Moral of the Story: Sidestep the race to the bottom on factors like price and shipping and instead win customers through shared core values.

American Girl

Excelling in: Retailtainment

The concept of retaintainment has taken off with the reinvention of brick-and-mortar retail. Many shoppers have grown to tolerate stores with lackluster product displays, limited selection, and poor customer service. But the retailers that flip this experience on its head are taking brand building and sales to a new level.

For instance, American Girl is a standout retailer when it comes to store experience. Its flagship, 40,000 square foot store in New York City is retailtainment at its best. Young customers and their dolls can get makeovers and have birthday parties. The custom design shop lets children customize their doll outfits and find clothing for themselves.

Children can then share pictures of their experience on social media, parents can sign up for rewards—there is a strong marketing connection to the memories the shoppers created in-store. In this case, marketing can gain effectiveness from building off the retailtainment experience, while also reinforcing that experience to keep customers coming back.

Moral of the Story: Strengthen shoppers’ positive memories of your brand by reinforcing in-store experiences on other marketing channels.

IKEA

Excelling in: Augmented reality

While the extraordinary store experience is setting brands apart offline, augmented reality (AR) is playing a growing role in transforming the experience online. Furniture and apparel are two areas of retail that especially stand to benefit, given the historical friction around purchasing these items online. Shoppers often want to touch, try on, and try out these items before buying them.

For example, IKEA is one of many retailers using 3-D imaging and AR technology to allow customers to visualize products in a room in their home. IKEA’s Place app lets shoppers position multiple items inside a room, and see how various combinations of items will fit and look, all while leveraging the retailer’s vast inventory. It’s technology like this that has made the furniture category one of the fastest-growing retail categories online in the last few years.

Similarly, 3-D body imaging technology is poised to dramatically reduce the friction of shopping for clothes online, while also mitigating returns by helping consumers make better decisions about size and color. Augmented reality done right can bring your product catalog to life, and play a direct role in supporting the purchase journey.

Moral of the Story: Overcome friction inherent in online shopping by attaching AR directly to buyers’ decision-making process.

In summary, digital marketers in retail have a growing stake in the customer experience. The success of their efforts will increasingly depend on the quality of experience that their business provides to customers. As always, differentiation remains critical. Get inspiration for retailers who have picked their battles and adapt those learnings to better engage your own audience.

Thank you to Marketing Land for sharing this article Here

 

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Facebook Outage shows how its AI tags pictures


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Written by Amit pankaj
on July 4, 2019

Facebook’s July 3rd outage that also effected Instagram was apparently caused by Facebook themselves. A tweet last night from the Facebook Business account reveals:

“During one of our routine maintenance operations, we triggered an issue that is making it difficult for some people to upload or send photos and videos. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible and we apologize for any inconvenience.”

As this seems to be occurring more and more with Facebook, what is interesting is that we get to see how our images on the site are replaced with tags that have been assigned by Facebooks machine vision system.

This is your life seen by a computer, both on Facebook and Instagram. Detailing the general scene, object descriptions as well as who is in the photo based on Facebook’s own facial recognition. All part of Facebook’s accessibility efforts to help describe photos and videos to user with sight impairments.

What is unclear at this time is if Facebook uses the information to target ads. There is a lot of information that is extracted routinely from your images, and a lot of users are unaware of this type of data extraction occurring. Only when technology breaks down do we realize what is happening behind the scenes.

Thank-you to Firstpost and the Verge for this information and/or images.

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Revisiting Sun Tzu’s – THE ART OF WAR to compile 10 Digital Marketing Lessons


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on October 16, 2018

Imagine the motivation of a famished army, combating on its last legs in the midst of fire and ashes, hollering vengeful battle cries that sends shivers down the spines of their enemies, a couple of millenniums ago (that’s when this book was written).

Sun Tzu’s classic has not only inspired dynasties, military generals, strategists, tacticians, business leaders, politicians, sports persons and managers (fighting boardroom battles everyday)  across the globe, but has also lent them inspiration to surge ahead despite any circumstances.

Here’s a collection of 10 invaluable gems from The Art of War, from a Digital marketing standpoint-:

1) When Able, Feign Inability …

“ The Way of War is A way of deception
When Able,
Feign Inability,

When Deploying troops
Appear Not to be. ”

Inference : In digital marketing, the best way to market is by not appearing to market at all. Engage with your audience in the most natural manner. When you seem most ordinary, should be the time when you really engage in subtle marketing techniques.

2) If Victory is slow, Men tire, Morale sags

“ In War
Victory should be Swift.
If Victory is slow,
Men tire, Morale sags,
Sieges exhaust strength;
Protracted campaigns strain the public treasury.”


Image Credit : https://www.flickr.com/photos/richardofengland/6788829651

Inference :In digital marketing targets must be achieved in a definite time frame. Because morale, like sand, will slip out of your hands unless you achieve your goal in time. Take quantifiable steps in the beginning, like email marketing campaigns, vigorous online advertising and PPC campaigns, assess the results.

Be quick in diversifying. Save protracted techniques for later use; your procrastinations will only make your competitors stronger.

3) The highest form of warfare Is to attack Strategy itself

“ Ultimate Excellence lies
Not in winning every battle
But in defeating the enemy
Without ever fighting.
The highest form of warfare
Is to attack
Strategy itself  ”

Inference :  Sometimes just the trailer of a movie can sell out tickets for the entire show.  Likewise, on a Digital marketing turf start with giving your potential clients a flavor of what you can do for them. If you’re convincing enough, half the battle is won. Aggressive branding techniques via social media advertising and display advertising will come in handy. When they arrive at your site, give them something free, like an ebook/how-to guide, et.al.

4) Five essentials for Victory

“Know when to fight
And when not to fight;
Understand how to deploy
Large and small Numbers;

Have officers and men who share a single will;
Be ready for the unexpected

Have a capable general,
Unhampered by his sovereign.”

Image Credit  https://www.flickr.com/photos/thecosmopolitan/

Inference : Apart from what—when, when not to and how, should be the questions on your mind while crafting a strategy. Choose your target audience wisely. Your whole team should be on the same page with you. A campaign can hit the bull’s eye or can turn into an eyesore, be ready for surprises. As a leader, you’re expected to use your diligence. Cut your teammates and your strategies some slack at times. Breaks can make it blossom!

5) Difference between the victorious and the defeated army…

“ The victorious army
Is victorious first
And seeks battle later;
The defeated army
Does battle first
And seeks victory later. ”

Inference :  To be in winners shoes, do what winners do. Devise a foolproof digital strategy first (work out all the permutations and combinations), so there are no chances of faltering. Be ready with your arsenal of Online Marketing Campaigns, Online Advertising, PPC, Display Advertising Services, Social Media Advertising, Email Marketing, Conversion. Success is a mindset, achieve it before going into the battle. It helps to foresee.

6) The warrior skilled in Indirect warfare is Infinite…

In the 5th chapter ‘Potential Energy’, Master Sun says

“ The warrior skilled In indirect warfare
Is infinite As Heaven and Earth
Inexhaustible As river and sea,
He ends and begins again Like Sun and Moon,
Dies and is born again
Like the Four Seasons ”

Inference :  Digital marketing and branding exercises, pursued indirectly (not so blatantly) and at irregular intervals by deploying diverse tactics is the best way to go about it. For instance, concentrating on Paid Ads, followed by a lull, then a bombardment of highly targeted Email marketing campaign can take your consumers by surprise.
It’s like a Guerrilla warfare—your power and strength will remain infinite, if you concentrate on the diversity w.r.t time and techniques.

7) Skillfully deployed soldiers are like round boulders Rolling down A mighty mountain… 


“ The Skillful Warrior

Exploits The potential energy;
He does not hold his men Responsible

He deploys his men To their best
But Relies on The potential energy.

He sends his men into battle like a man Rolling logs or boulders.
Skillfully deployed soldiers are like round boulders
Rolling down A mighty mountain ” 

Inference: More than the strategy, it’s the timing and positioning that determines your success. In digital marketing, unleashing your efforts at the opportune moment from a strategic standpoint can bring you the right gains.

For instance, if your firm’s already an established brand. To gain further lead over your competitors you may become a thought leader in your field, especially if you’re running a professional practice, selling a pioneering product et.al. It could be done with effective Content marketing, Infographics, etc.

8) There are roads not to take. There are armies Not to attack…

“ There are-
Roads Not to Take
Armies, Not to attack
Towns Not to besiege
Terrains Not to contest
Orders Not to obey ”

Inference: Not every strategy or tactic is meant for you. It might serve your competitors beautifully, but be futile for you.
Someone might need PPC, more than content marketing, since their biggest concern is to get more and more leads. Different strokes for different folks!
In fact, indulging in ineffective activities will not only make you squander your resources, but risk your service or product’s future.

9) In killing an individual, It’s necessary to know him beforehand…

“ In striking an army,
In attacking a city,
In killing an individual
It is necessary to know beforehand
The names of the general,
And of his attendants,
His aides,
His doorkeepers,
His bodyguards.
Our spies must be instructed
To discover all of these
In detail. ”

Inference :  Before you set out to unleash your ultimate marketing missile, it’s best to get acquainted with all its elements (pros and cons) so you’re able to predict your audiences’ response. What would happen if you strike the bulls eye, what would happen if you don’t. You should be aware of every little detail. In digital marketing if you’re considering remarketing campaigns, you should be as accurate as possible in predicting how your audience will respond.

 

10) Attack according to the soldier’s spirit

“ The soldier’s spirit
Is keenest In the morning;
By noon It has dulled;
By evening He has begun To think of home

The skillful Warrior
Avoids the keen spirit,
Attacks the dull
And the homesick;
This is Mastery of spirit ”

Inference : Have a go at your target when he’s most vulnerable, not when he’s most alert and strong, otherwise you’ll end up wasting your resources. Your natural proximity to your target would matter highly. It will allow you time to strike with precision.

For example, if you’re concentrating on social media marketing and the target appears too tough to achieve, no need to go at it hammer and tongs. Wait for the right time.

Wrapping Up

Whether it’s a marketing or digital marketing strategy, a clear understanding between; what’s achievable, what’s not; what’s worth going for, what not; what’s near, what’s far; is indispensable for charting out a victory path.

In the past, strategies have been essential for sieges, now they’re needed for clutching projects and leading in the market. If you’ve understood the above principles, it’s time to implement them. Because just as war, in marketing too you have to offer baits to lure the consumer.

army

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Checklist to see if someone sold you a tactic in the name of a Marketing Strategy!


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Written by Harman Bajwa
on September 4, 2018

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”

― Sun Tzu, ‘The Art of War’

Though both strategy and tactics have been pivotal to warfare, it’s the former that encompasses the latter. For instance, a commanding officer may employ guerrilla warfare as a tactical move to distract the enemy and gain control over a territory (a strategic move).

Put differently, a tactic is several chunks of a Plan of Action; whereas ‘strategy’ is the larger framework, that’ll eventually lead you to the desired result.

The rules are no different, be it an administrative work taken up by a city Mayor, a game of chess or a Digital Marketing strategy.

Here’s a 5 point checklist to separate the wheat from the chaff and find someone who can offer you a strategy, not a tactic in Digital marketing.

1)    Is your Strategist paying heed to your Target Audience?

It’s vital that your Digital strategist understands what your target audience wants as lucidly as you do (if not better). You would be surprised to know how similar the first meetings of most strategy providers go with a variety of clients. Even Doctors don’t  prescribe the same medicines to all their patients, especially if they have different illnesses.

If someones suggests you to do what they have advised others (even if that’s shown favorable results), get to the bottom of it. It’s most likely a tactic, as had it been a strategy, no two cases should have been similar. Even if it’s a coincidence; then coincidences don’t occur too often!

Rethink it: If they keep egging you on going for Search Engine Optimization or Google Adwords in the first meeting, chances are that’s what you’d likely get since it preoccupies their minds already. This might work for you in the short term, but that’s  NOT a Customized Strategy for long term gains.

 

2)    Can your Strategist offer your customers a compelling reason to buy your product?

Does your strategist know how to motivate your customers to buy your product? How well do they understand your product? Is it meant for businesses or end users? Can it be promoted as a new infrastructure (in offices, residences), can it fix problems or does it offer a superior value over an existing similar product while having no potential risks. These things have to be clear in your strategist’s mind, as it will serve as the premise behind charting out a communication plan for your potential buyers.

If  your strategy provider understands these things only on the surface, then they won’t be able to go far. Their efforts would be reduced to fostering your existing selling drive, as a tactical move. This can be a big marketing mistake which will eventually affect your bottom line. In contrast, a strategy would be to internalize the want for your product and create a new need for the buyers. Can the strategist do that?

Rethink it: Nobody knows your product like you do, so delve deeper into how they perceive it as a buying option. Put yourself into the shoes of the buyer of your own product, you’ll understand how persuasive their plans are.

3)    Does your Strategist care about your Competitors’marketing strategy?

Is knowing your competitors a priority for your strategist? Understanding them better can offer you a yardstick. It should be a part of your strategist’s research and must be done meticulously. It can also give you peek into your competitors’ market spend, and conversely their budget. If your digital strategy provider urges you to take your competitors seriously, it’s only for you to be at an advantage before you start allocating your millions.

But if a strategy provider stresses a lot over what your competitors are doing, it can be a tactic (to emulate their ways). In contrast, taking it as a starting point and building on it to move ahead could count as a strategy.

Rethink it: If a strategy provider is harping way too much over studying your competitors, it can be because of their shallow understanding of your product or business. You’ll smell the rat when it happens.

4)    Is  your Strategist stressing on revenue on a micro level instead of talking about CSFs , KPIs, metrics, leading up to a larger Goal?

A smart strategist, even before opening a discussion around data or tools, will have a well-defined goal for your digital marketing strategy. If your strategist can’t distinguish  between your Goal, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Critical Success Factors (CSFs) etc., it’s already a botched up affair. Goals for one, are above your commercial metrics or marketing performance indicators. All your effort and use of metrics must ensure you’re inching towards it. An example of a goal could be- to offer the best customer service in your industry.

If your strategist leans towards tools, metrics and data it might be a tactic for offering you a quick ROI, but the longevity of it remains questionable. On the other hand a strategy would be to work around defining your (in a descending order of priority), Vision -> Goals -> Objectives -> CSFs and KPIS -> Metrics and Measures. 

Rethink it: If your strategy provider doesn’t speak to you in the aforesaid language, either they’re deliberately doing so or they’re incapable of it. And both the cases are hazardous for your brand/product. Apart from growing your sales, the idea should be to focus on engagement with your potential customers and creating an awareness for the new visitors. It would all lead to REVENUE only, eventually.

5)    Picking the right Tactics, to build  your strategy, is the real McCoy!

It’s no mean feat to decide upon the tactics your strategy will have. Whether your strategy needs Email marketing, SEO, Display advertisements, Adwords, Video marketing, Social media advertising (on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), or Content marketing.; it would need analysis.  For instance, if you think Television was the best bet to pursue 18-34 year olds in the United States, you might be luckier in reaching them through YouTube.

If your strategist is going hammer and tongs after one (or two) such tactic(s), s/he is only trying to untangle the last part of the puzzle. A strategy, on the contrary will be about engaging your customers in a holistic manner, spreading a good word about you while meeting the surrounding issues head-on.

Rethink it: A digital strategy works best with a top-down approach. If your strategist’s starting points are any of these marketing tactics, they are taking the bottom up approach; which is fundamentally INCORRECT.

Wrapping Up

Look a little deeper, and you’ll realize why a strategist is trying hard to promote one or two tactics. They either hold an expertise in it or they have seen success because of those.

However, it’s nothing short of blatant maneuvering. But it gets worse when those ill chosen tactics starts meddling with the positioning of your brand and underestimating your customers.

What if your Digital strategist was a highway motorist whose lone skill is to put the pedal to the metal, with no destination plan, no gas and no time limit to reach―you might surely get somewhere.

Or,would you rather rely on luck or hand over the keys to a DIGITAL MARKETING expert who possesses a foresight?

The ball is in your court!

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How to use Pinterest to drive high-volume traffic on auto-pilot


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Written by Pooja Mehra
on June 9, 2018

Though Pinterest is mostly ignored by SEOs and content marketers, contributor Jessica Foster recommends using it for traffic and content promotion before your competitors find out and get in on the action.

“Isn’t Pinterest just for bloggers?”

I hear this question all the time when I mention Pinterest marketing, typically from digital marketers, search engine optimization (SEO) experts and your typical horde of haters.

And my usual response is usually along the lines of…

“Maybe. So?”

After all, nearly every website out there has a blog in some form or another, and putting out consistent content is often the cornerstone of a lot of businesses SEO strategies. If Pinterest really is “just” for bloggers, and nearly every business has a blog, why wouldn’t they want a piece of that Pinterest pie?

Pinterest as a content marketing tool

Having digitally “grown up” in the blogging community, I saw firsthand the success bloggers achieved through Pinterest marketing.

It is a hot topic in Facebook groups and forums when it comes to running a successful blog. Pinterest often ties (and even surpasses) SEO as one of the leading sources of traffic for bloggers.

So how big is Pinterest? Let’s look at the numbers.

According to Pinterest, in 2017 there were 175 million active Pinterest users around the world and 75 billion ideas “pinned.”

Ninety-three percent of Pinners (i.e., Pinterest users) use Pinterest to decide what to buy online, and 67 percent have said they discovered new products because of what they’ve seen on Pinterest.

Over 14 million articles are pinned each day, and 80 percent of Pinners use the Pinterest mobile app to find what they’re looking for.

Pinterest has an undeniable amount influence, particularly when it comes to female users — though about 50 percent of new Pinterest sign-ups were men in 2017.

Amidst all of that, what is really impressive is the sheer volume of content and traffic circulating through Pinterest and how bloggers have harnessed this as a content marketing tool. Here’s a case study to help drive home that point.

Case study: Pinterest in action

I am a big fan of Pinterest now, but initially, I was skeptical. I’m nothing if not a data nerd so, I decided to jump in and take a closer look at Pinterest for a case study, since I kept hearing all these great things about it.

In November of 2016, I published a piece of content for a travel-related site and circulated it on Pinterest through the travel site’s Pinterest account. The traffic and engagement results were impressive! The single blog post got 5,000+ impressions, 3,000+ repins and drove 1,500+ visitors to the website in three months’ time.

This website stopped publishing content and running marketing campaigns in February 2017. Even without further Pinterest marketing, this site continued to receive 600+ users last month (April 2018, surpassing organic traffic) from Pinterest alone, and the account itself gets 3,900+ impressions per day.

This case study is far from the most impressive of examples, while the success of blog post circulation is typically measured in visits to the website, brands can get the added benefit of brand awareness through visual circulation.

Those 5,000+ impressions could very well translate into customers being driven directly to the source, even without a link.

My case study told me even a novice can see real results from Pinterest marketing.

Why haven’t more SEOs and content marketers jumped on the Pinterest wagon?

Good question. Pinterest may be lagging due to a perception that it is for mommy bloggers, arts-and-crafters and people who want to DIY their wedding. If you wander over to Pinterest.com, you’ll see that the majority of the content falls into those categories.

But I think Pinterest is more than that. I believe it’s a search engine.

Although the front page may be full of Mason jars, fall outfits and pictures of kittens, what’s behind the front page and the search box is a different story.

Pinterest displays a broad range of industries and is a source of content for people looking for anything from auto parts to zebra-print rugs. This product diversity attracts all kinds of folks and satisfies queries for a wide range of topics, products and niches.

As a marketing platform, Pinterest doesn’t come naturally to marketers. They are familiar with Facebook, Twitter, and even LinkedIn for content circulation, but Pinterest is uncharted territory. Which is even more reason to get the jump on this strategy before it really takes off in the content marketing space.

How to use Pinterest as a high-volume traffic tool

The “secret” of Pinterest marketing isn’t really a secret at all, as the numbers speak for themselves. The real secret behind it is that bloggers have long been using Pinterest as a source of traffic, while it has been all but ignored by SEOs and content marketers.

If you are serious about driving relatively passive, inexpensive traffic to your sites or your clients’ sites, then this guide is for you.

We’ll dive deep into my content strategy for Pinterest success, and also how to make the most of Pinterest marketing to drive high-volume traffic on autopilot (even long after the campaign has ended).

1. Know if your niche is a good fit for Pinterest

How do you know if your website is a good fit for Pinterest marketing? Look at what’s already there.

Though Pinterest doesn’t have the data to show search volume, you can do a bit of keyword research on your own.

First, go to the Explore feature to see the most popular categories on Pinterest. If your business falls into one of these categories, it’s a safe bet that people are looking for content around that topic.

Second, type your topic into the search box and see what content is displayed. If it is in line with the content you plan to put out, this is further confirmation that sites in your niche are circulating content on Pinterest.

Finally, you will also see topic suggestions underneath the search box. These are listed in descending order so the terms on the left are the most popular topics. These terms will aid your Pinterest SEO strategy.

If all three of these steps bring up a high volume of content related to your niche, you can move forward confidently. knowing your site is in line with what users are searching for.

The key is just to get YOUR content in front of the eyes of Pinterest users before your competitors do the same.

2. Write great content & optimize for Pinterest

As with any content marketing strategy, the success of your campaign depends on the content itself.

Before you jump into Pinterest marketing, be sure that your content is engaging and set up for SEO success.

In particular, your post or page titles and meta descriptions should be SEO-friendly and eye-catching. These elements will be pulled into your Pins, so having them optimized will increase circulation and click-through rate (CTR).

After the Pin graphic, the title and description are what users will see to determine whether they are interested in your content or not — so it must be in line with what they are searching for and match what the Pin is about. Understand what really matters in SEO content so that you can set your Pins up for success.

3. Create a business Pinterest account

The next step is to create a business Pinterest account for the website you are running the campaign for. This will allow you to access analytics on your account.

Having one account per website is preferred, rather than circulating content for several clients through your own Pinterest account. Pinterest has its own algorithm as well, and circulating content from a variety of niches will dilute your strategy and result in less engagement overall.

Be sure to include a link to your website, your location (if applicable), and add an attractive profile image and cover photo to your profile while you’re at it.

4. Enable ‘Rich Pins’

You will then enable Rich Pins for your website. This is what allows Pinterest to pull in your optimized titles and meta descriptions. Setting this up is relatively easy, and Pinterest also allows for different Pin formats depending on your niche. This step is essential!

5. Optimize your Pinterest profile for SEO

Optimizing your Pinterest account is perhaps the most involved part of this process, so let’s break it down into a few simple steps here.

First, go back to the keyword research you did in step 1. Note the most popular categories and topics for your niche, and you may also want to look at competitor Pinterest accounts to see what keywords they are targeting.

If you are skilled in keyword research, those same principles apply here as well.

If you are new to keyword research, I recommend subscribing to a keyword tool such as SEMRush or Ahrefs to get started.

Second, incorporate these keywords into your profile name and description. Make it readable, and avoid keyword stuffing, just as you would with other social media profiles. (It is best to avoid an account name that is very clearly a brand or marketing account.) Rather than naming your account “Best SEO Business, Seattle,” you may want to name it “Blog Boss | Blogging Tips & SEO Hacks.”

This will have a wider appeal while being SEO-friendly.

Third, create boards related to your niche. For example, create a “best of” board for your content and then at least 10 other boards for repinning content (I’ll talk more about this later).

Each board should be named according to the topics you aim to cover.

For example, if your account is going to share content about digital marketing, you may have boards for “social media tips,” “graphic design ideas” and “marketing hacks.”

Include keywords for each topic in the title and description of each board (It is OK to add a couple of keywords to the description in this case).

Add 20 or so topic-related Pins to each board (ignoring your “best of” board for now) to fill your boards. This helps Pinterest’s algorithm see what kind of content you are interested in and will be sharing over time.

Finally, it is recommended that you set cover images for each board, similar to the way I did it on the account above. This makes your account more appealing and easier for users to determine what your content is about.

It is likely that your Pinterest SEO strategy will evolve over time as you receive more data on the success of your Pins. Rework your profile to match the queries of your target audience.

6. Create a Tailwind account

Ready to drive traffic to your site on autopilot? Tailwind is the key to making all of this a reality!

Note that I am NOT an affiliate or associated with this app in any way, but I am a huge fan because this is what brings this strategy all together!

Much like Hootsuite or Buffer, Tailwind allows you to schedule your content (ie Pins) to different boards. Unlike other apps though, it is partnered exclusively with Pinterest, so that the two work together seamlessly.

The most amazing part of this app is that it can run continuously AND optimize posting times for you. It is also where you will find “Tailwind Tribes” to share your content to groups for wider reach.

7. Design attention-grabbing Pin graphics

The graphics you create for your Pins are some of the most, if not the most, important factors when it comes to people actually repinning your content. You simply won’t get the level of engagement you want if your Pin graphics do not entice users.

Even if you fall into a “boring” niche, there are plenty of things you can do to make your graphics interesting.

For example, if your post is “The Top 30 Money Saving Travel Sites,” a good graphic could be an interesting stock photo and bright text overlay. You may even want to add your site logo and uniform resource locator (URL) at the bottom for branding.

Guidelines for Pinterest graphics

Here are some basic guidelines to help you create graphics for your content:

  1. Make graphics long and vertical, preferably 735 x 1102 px.
  2. Make graphics bright and eye-catching.
  3. Include the title of your post or page in the graphic.
  4. Keep branding/colors consistent.
  5. Avoid too-obvious branding, like large logos or company name.
  6. Create two or more graphics per Pin to allow for testing.

For DIYers, I recommend using Canva.com to create your graphics. It has Pin templates you can use. If you are doing this for a client, I strongly suggest hiring a graphic designer to make eye-catching and professional-looking graphics.

Oftentimes, designers will make two or three templates for you to use and edit each time you publish a new Pin. Just swap in a new image and title and you are good to go!

Note that having multiple graphics per Pin allows you to test the effectiveness of Pins over time. You will see which graphics are performing best (in your Pinterest Analytics dashboard) and can revise your templates accordingly.

Once you have created graphics for your Pins, you can add them to your content as the featured image or within the content itself.  The important thing is that, once shared, the Pin comes up with your newly created graphics.

8. Join group boards and Tailwind Tribes

By joining group boards on Pinterest and Tailwind Tribes within the app, you are expanding your reach to other accounts in your niche.

Similar to Instagram’s algorithm for showing content to users that are related to accounts they follow, group boards encourage other accounts to share your content with their audiences and the accounts that follow them.

In fact, the number of followers your account has matters far less than how many eyes you get your content in front of on a regular basis through group sharing.

There are many resources online that outline how to identify and join group boards, but my preferred site is PinGroupie or within Pinterest itself.

To find group boards on Pinterest, you will have to do some digging by looking at the boards of other accounts in your niche. If the board has multiple users associated with the board, this is likely a group board. To join, click on the board description and follow their specific instructions for joining.

You will be sharing your own content here and repinning the content of other accounts in your niche.

Joining Tailwind Tribes is a similar process; you can use the “Find a Tribe” feature to find them. You will want to find groups that appear active — that is, they are pinning and repinning daily.

Once you find a Tribe, take note of their guidelines for posting, as some of them may ask you repin a certain number of Pins per day, for example. The fewer restrictions and requirements, the better.

These group boards will come into play once you start scheduling your Pins via Tailwind.

9. Schedule your Pins (content)

Once your post or page is published, it is time to schedule it via your Tailwind app. You can do this either via Tailwinds Chrome extension or within the desktop app itself.

Tailwind will give you the option to select what boards you want to schedule your content to and when. You can add time slots, schedule multiple Pins at once and schedule Pins from other accounts.

You will want to pin your own content first to your “Best of” board, then to every board that is related to that topic, including the group boards you are in.

As a general rule, 80 percent of the content you pin should be from other accounts, and 20 percent should be your own content. I recommend scheduling at least 30 Pins for each day.

The Tailwind app will circulate your content according to the schedule you set but will also offer suggestions for optimal sharing times. The goal is to be continuously pinning your content to have it appear in front of as many users as possible

10. Keep track of your analytics

Your Pinterest Analytics dashboard will tell you how many impressions your Pins are getting, how many saves, repins, clicks, and more. Knowing the impressions data will help you see what content is performing well and will inform on your future content strategy.

If you have Google Analytics enabled on your site, you will also be able to see how much traffic the source “Pinterest” is sending to your site. This will confirm the success of your campaign.

Beyond the data, it is always beneficial to look at what your competitors are doing on Pinterest. If you see that certain kinds of content are getting a lot of repins and comments, that’s a good indication that you may want to create content that is similar. You may also get insight into their keyword strategy and what style of graphics they are using.

Summary

Pinterest is one of the most robust and affordable content marketing tools out there, though it has been all but ignored by SEOs and digital marketers alike. Bloggers have been using Pinterest for years to drive high-volume traffic to their websites and know with the help of apps like Tailwind, a content strategy can almost run on autopilot.

The key to implementing this strategy successfully is being consistent. Schedule your content regularly, stay on top of the data, and continue putting out high-quality content. Before long, I have no doubt that Pinterest will become one of your favorite content circulation tools for you and your clients.

View the article at MarketingLand Here
Thank you to Marketing Land for this article.

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