Saturday, May 31, 2014

3 Best Tools to Gain More Twitter Followers

Gaining Twitter followers is no easy task. Well, for some anyways. There are many articles on the subject of gaining Twitter followers, but in this article I've boiled down the 3 best tools and services to jumpstart your Twitter marketing efforts and gain a following fast.
It is important to note that follower count is only a number. What really matters is engagement. I'll talk about  that in a future blog post. So for now, here are the 3 best tools to gain more Twitter followers.

1) Fiverr

FiverrThere are many people on this site that are offering 10,000 followers to your Twitter account for a mere $5. Awesome! Keep in mind that most if not all of these users WILL BE FAKE. This is a very controversial subject regarding buying followers. To me, it really depends on what you plan on doing with your account. Take for instance two different scenarios.
The first scenario is if you later plan on running Twitter ads for promoting a product or service later down the road. If you were to buy followers and you run an ad to serve to your audience, it would then be highly ineffective knowing that a considerable portion of ad will be "seen" by fake accounts that won't do anything. If this is the case, buying followers does not make sense.
The second scenario is if you run advertising on your site. If you plan on selling tweets to potential advertisers, they generally care about reach. True, if they get no engagement, they will most likely not send another tweet ad on your account.
Ok, so is buying followers all that bad?I believe it can work for some. It helps build social credibility. If you just started an account that only has 5 followers, it's obvious that the account is new and most likely I won't follow you. Now imagine you have 10,000 followers. Well, that might be someone worth following. So, how do you make this worth your while? Well, that's where the second tool comes in.

2) Manage Flitter

ManageFlitterI discovered this tool awhile back and noticed it greatly supercharged my Twitter growth efforts. This toolallows you to discover users you should be following and find the users that you should probably unfollow. The reason why you'd want to do this is based on the golden ratio as covered in TechCrunch.
If a person has more followers than they are following, they’re probably a good person to at least consider following. If they are following more than they have more followers, the opposite may be true. The greater the discrepancy between the two numbers, the more likely each of those is true — to a certain point, since celebrities like Oprah throw this system out of whack. But for regular, non-Hollywood celebrities, the system works remarkably well as a filter.
I use this tool to then start adding real and engaged followersto my account. Usually fake followers will start to unfollow, which is perfect. This allows you to then capture a better audience who is more likely to follow you because right now, your ratio is well, pretty awesome!

3) Twibble 

Of course this is plugging our tool, but I do so with great reason. The whole reason it was created was tohelp grow engagement and following, and it's quite effective in doing so.
In a recent social media study via Social Media Today, it was discovered that tweeting twice as often produced about 38% more retweets, about 14% less mentions and about 70% more favorites. It also led to 124.60% increase in referral traffic.
Twibble is basically an RSS to Twitter service much like Twitterfeed, or IFTTT. Those are all very good services; however, I wanted to create something where simplicity, design and usability was the core focus. So how do you use Twibble?

Imagine you're a social media consultant. You can now regularly feed relevant content to your Twitter account such as Mashable, Tech Crunch, Jay Baer, Mari Smith, etc. This allows you to keep your account active and relevant to your users. By no means am I saying you should only do this. Using a RSS to Twitter service is only meant to supplement your current social media efforts. You can also add relevant hashtags so that your content is seen by a much larger audience. This way when people discover your content, you'll already have a great following and you're regularly providing relevant and engaging content.

Putting Metrics to Work: Selecting the Actionable Data from Facebook Insights

Facebook metrics

Comb through any business magazine or marketing website today and you’ll come across the buzzwords “big data” and “benchmarks for ROI”. As a local business owner, these buzz words translate to understanding your customers and making strategic decisions in regards to marketing and sales. With social media, we can now collect customer data from reporting tools like Facebook Insights. We sifted through Insights to find the easiest ways to convert this information to boost your bottom line. Here are our top 3 metrics to watch:
1. Look for the area that displays your Total Reach. This shows you exactly how many people are seeing anything to do with your company on Facebook. It includes your posts, posts by other people, mentions and check-ins, in other words “Organic” content. The “Paid” reach specifically refers to the affect the content you create has on your Facebook fans strictly through the use of paid advertising.
Action: Use this information to understand how many people are getting your message and create a marketing plan accordingly.
2. External Referrers: places on the web that are driving traffic to your Facebook page. This data helps you understand the flow of your customers.
Action: Track how many visitors come from your website to Facebook. This helps you understand if your other online channels are effective at helping customers engage with your brand and company. Customers should feel compelled to move through your businesses online channels and ultimately end up converting to a sale.
3. In the People tab of Facebook Insights is a veritable cornucopia of customer data. This portion of Insights shares exactly who your audience is on Facebook. It’s marketing gold! There are two ways to use this data. One is to use the data to create offline initiatives in-store or through traditional mediums like print and radio. The second is to look at your online audience and make changes according to what you see in-store.
Action: Ensure you are speaking to the correct audience on all channels.
Facebook Insights provides a great way to measure your page performance. See it as a tool to better engage with your audience in more meaningful and impactful ways by measuring what posts interest them most. Use this valuable marketing data to create compelling content that drives your followers to like and share. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

3 Ways To Grow Your Email List

3 Ways To Grow Your Email List
Email marketing is a valuable tool in your personal branding strategy, but you may be wondering how you can find the right subscribers for your list. Here are three types of activities you can implement that will attract people to your email list – and your personal brand.

#1: Host an online challenge

An online challenge is when participants agree to accomplish certain tasks during a specific period of time. Typically, online challenges last 30 days, but don’t let that restrict you. Even a 14-day challenge will do the trick!
Create an online challenge that helps people accomplish a specific goal and positions you as an expert who helps them achieve their objectives.  For example, if you are a photographer, host a 30-day challenge where people can improve their photography skills. Or, if you are a social media consultant, create a challenge where people learn to use Facebook for marketing. Once you decide on a topic, create a landing page that requires people to enter their email address to participate in the challenge. Bonus Tip: Start a private Facebook group just for your challenge participants so they can network and ask you questions.

#2: Host a webinar

Another type of event that attracts your ideal customers is a free webinar. Research a topic that will answer your audience’s top question. Like with the online challenge, set up a landing page about your webinar and have people register by providing an email address. Make sure to offer a recording of your webinar in case people can’t make the live event. Also, write a post-webinar email to thank your new subscribers for participating.
Don’t forget: Co-hosting challenges with another expert is a great way to diversify your webinar offering. When you pair up with an expert with a big email list, you will be exposed to her email list too.

#3: Offer a special, one-time gift

Offering a fantastic free gift on your homepage is a way to perpetually attract new subscribers, but don’t forget to offer other gifts during the year as well. When creating your marketing plan and calendar, consider adding two additional gifts throughout the year. If you need help determining what to offer, consider the time of year. A free gift in December could be holiday themed, or consider a “back to school” gift to your audience after Labor Day.
Like with the online challenge and webinar, the key is to create a landing page where you require people to register with their email address. Once they plug in their email address, use an autoresponder to email the free gift to them.
Email marketing is best accomplished when you keep it top of mind. Remember the acronym, A.B.C. (Always Be Collecting). Look for fun and creative ways to entice your ideal customers to your email list through hosting online events or webinars, or offering a free, one-time gift. When you experiment with different ways to attract subscribers, your email list will grow exponentially, and your personal brand will benefit as a result.

Google Cracks Down on Spam with Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update

Apparently, Google doesn’t plan to stop pulling rabbits out of its white hat anytime soon. Over the past weekend, Google has started rolling out a brand-new algorithm update designed to win the battle with spam, in all its forms.
Meet the Winners and the Losers of Panda 4.0
Some of the biggest players on digital markets have already been hit hard by this new update that impacted their website traffic: Search Engine Journal reveals that, and are only 3 of the giant well-known websites that witnessed a drastic traffic reduction of over 33%. Yikes! Panda 4.0 also announced a few lucky winners that managed to display substantial traffic gains, including, and (revealing an astonishing 500% traffic increase!)
Can you guess what separates the winning side from the sore losers? Content appears to be the game-changer. At this point, these numbers are difficult to interpret. However, most of the players that were brought to their knees by Panda 4.0 promoted duplicate or syndicated content, so this may be one of the causes of their recent failure. However, taking into account that the new update is not entirely rolled out, we can still expect to witness many more ranking changes.

Should We Feel Intimidated by the New Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update?

Each and every single time Google is getting ready to throw unscrupulous spammers to the lions (or to the cranky Pandas, in this case) without giving us a heads-up, we can’t help but wonder: how it this change going to impact websites and everyday people who depend on a regular content flow to grow and run their online businesses?
At this point, according to Search Engine Land, Google is now affirming that Panda 4.0 affects 7.5% of all English-language queries, while the Payday Loan update influences approximately 0.2% of the overall number of English searches.
There is a great deal of speculation regarding the overall impact of this new algorithm update and the supplementary measures of precaution that webmasters would be forced to take to avoid search engine penalties and stay friends with Google. Could this brand new wind of change reflect Google’s intention to throw a rope to small business owners who are struggling to make a name for themselves and improve their bottom line by simply boosting their premium content creation efforts?

Could We Be Dealing with a Less Aggressive Panda This Time?

During the Search Marketing Expo, Matt Cutts announced that Google’s search team is currently working on a new Panda update that may be cataloged by many people as “softer”. Furthermore, according to Search Engine Land, Cutts has explained that this update is specifically designed to lend a helping hand to small-scale businesses, by enabling their websites to perform better in search results. Could the 4.0 update represent the less aggressive approach to helping small company owners that Cutts was talking about not too long ago? It’s still too early to jump to conclusions.
Small business owners may expect an increased level of visibility in local search results, which would represent a great advantage. After all, unlike large corporations that set bigger goals and have the means required to reach a broad audience, most small companies choose to promote their business and market their goods locally, because most of their clients are recruited from the local sphere. In this particular content, one question comes to mind: would Google actually be willing to soften its Panda update? Sure, why not? Chances are that Google has actually embraced this approach, especially since it already counts on a solid precedent: the softer version of the Panda algorithm rolled out in July 2013 (one of our infographics explores the timeline history of SEO and Google’s most feared algorithm update).
All in all, even though we still don’t have all the details required to get the bigger picture when it comes to evaluating the fresh Panda 4.0 update, it seems that small businesses could actually benefit from this softer version allowing them to improve their online visibility.
Many webmasters probably feel that they are wandering in the dark and are most likely asking themselves the following question: how do we have to act from now on to cope with this change and adapt to new challenges?

Better Content Will Always Represent the Key to Success

There is only one good answer to this question: by investing more time, money and energy in original, reader-oriented, properly optimized content pieces that have nothing to do with spammy, black-hat SEO practices and any other attempts to deceive search engines. As long as you play by the book and realize that premium content created to provide value to your readers is the solid foundation of any successful strategy, you will manage to protect your business against the powerful wind of change without worrying that Google’s never-ending series of changes could nuke your company and burry it 6 feet under the ground.

Should SEO Experts Stop Trying to Make the Pig Fly?

These 2 new algorithm updates have created quite a stir in the SEO community. After all, many businesses that got hit by Panda never managed to recover, so the fact that changes implemented by Google make most webmasters tremble in terror is perfectly understandable.
But does this mean that this crazy zoo counting an angry Panda, Penguin and Payday Loan should make SEO experts quit their jobs and run away with the circus? Absolutely not! According to Bruce Clay, the president and owner of Bruce Clay Inc., (cited by Search Engine Journal), great search engine optimization strategies relying on orthodox, Google-friendly tactics, still manage to prove their effectiveness even with all these updated rolled out by Google. Google is constantly cracking down on superior quality, so as long as you maintain a user-friendly website with a logical architecture displaying premium, optimized, regularly updated content, you have nothing to worry about.
Keep in mind that neglecting Google’s rules and guidelines would be like swimming against the current: tiresome and pointless. All in all, above-the-average content is your one and only way of salvation.
Instead of spending a significant amount of time rubbing your crystal ball and trying to find out what the next update may bring, you could always redirect your resources towards content creation to enhance the value of your web writing and make it become truly irresistible in the eyes of both human readers and search engines.

Marketing Automation Best Practices: Advanced Level

automation-shutterstock-136061006The last in a three-part series, this post details marketing automation best practices for those with an advanced knowledge of the subject area.

Disclaimer: This article is not for the beginner; it is specifically written for those who have already been using marketing automation for some time, and are very proficient. The techniques I will be going over will not work unless you have a solid foundation in your marketing acumen.
If you are at the advanced level, some of the main items you may struggle with are taking advantage of advanced marketing techniques, and combining them with your data from your marketing automation tool. These techniques include account-based marketing, retargeting, and social media interactions. Here are some of the best practices for marketing automation when working with advanced campaigns.

Marketing Automation Best Practices for Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing and marketing automation are a key combination for many businesses selling B2B. The key here is not to look at these solutions as separate tools, but as a combination approach. Consider these best practices for your account-based marketing programs using your marketing automation tool.

Totally Insane Ways to Triple Your Click Through Rate

What’s the average click-through rate for a Google AdWords ad? When people ask this question, it’s often because they want to benchmark their own ad CTR’s. Unfortunately, way too many advertisers are content to reach an average click-through rate and leave it at that.
We recently held a well-attended webinar packed with crazy techniques you can use to triple your AdWords click-through rate. Sounds unbelievable, right? It’s not at all – in fact, we walked step-by-step through a process that helps marketers improve their ads to the point they’re performing in the top 1% of all ads across the platform.
First, we had to establish one very important thing: a lot of the "experts" you’re currently turning to for advice don’t know what they’re talking about.

What is a Good CTR?

There are blog posts, articles and podcasts about CTRs littering the web, but no one really likes to give a direct answer to, “What is a good CTR?” Much depends on your industry, competition and goals. However, I can tell you this: marketers who are satisfied with 2-5% CTRs, despite conventional wisdom telling you this is a good thing, are underachieving.
In our webinar, we first looked at two ads side by side and asked the audience to identify the “winning” ad.
which ad wins
Not surprisingly, the ad with the higher CTR was selected as the winner by an overwhelming 81% of people.
I wasn’t being entirely fair, though; it was a trick question. Neither ad had a good CTR and therefore neither were winners.
We can’t see our competitors’ data, so we don’t know if their CTRs are similar to ours. What we do know is that whether or not your CTRs are “good” largely depends on your ad position. Ads in higher positions naturally have higher CTRs than those with less prominent placement.
good click through rate
The above chart reflects the average CTRs per ad position, based on our analysis of nearly 100,000 advertiser accounts representing $3 billion in annualized spend. We have a pretty good idea of the bigger picture when it comes to the CTRs real advertisers are actually experiencing.
So the ad in the second position has an average click-through rate of 4%. That’s good right? No, that’s average. When you were a kid, did you lie awake at night dreaming about how you were going to achieve your goal of growing up to be average? Of course not. Even in the third and fourth positions, 2-3% CTRs are just average, so if this is what you’re seeing in your account, you have a lot of room to grow.
Averages are great, but we needed to dig into specific accounts to see just how much variance there is between advertisers. What we found is that CTRs vary widely between advertisers, as you can see in the chart below. Remember, these are not keywords – each blue dot indicates an advertiser account. To keep it clean, we eliminated low activity and low spending accounts.
Ad CTR Winners
In this chart, you can see the expected or average CTR curve in orange, but I’ve also added the green and purple curves, to show you what you should aim for if you want to achieve CTRs two to three times the average.
We can see from this data that there are, indeed, a few stand-out accounts who are killing it and outpacing their competitors by far. What does it take to be one those stand-out advertisers?
The bottom 50% of advertisers are achieving CTRs of average or lower. If you want to be in the Top 15% in the very competitive Google AdWords landscape, you would have to achieve an average CTR across your account two times higher than the average (we call these Awesome Advertisers). Three times the average CTR makes you a Super Awesome Advertiser, which about 1 in 20 advertisers accomplish.
Why not shoot for the stars, though? If you want to be in the top 1%, you need an average CTR six times higher than the standard – we call these “Unicorns.” They’re rare, but I promise you, AdWords Unicorns exist. They are not inherently better than you are; they simply work harder and optimize better.
Here, you can see in more detail what it takes to be an AdWords Unicorn, with the required CTR for each ad position listed in this table:
below average ctr
So how do they do it? First, we need to understand…

Why Unicorns Matter & How AdWords Works

Understanding how the AdWords auction works is critical if you are going to optimize and improve your performance.
AdWords is a live auction, much like eBay. Google needs to determine the ranking position for each ad, as well as the cost of each click, in real time for each ad in the auction.
Google uses Ad Rank to help determine your placement in the auction and your CPC. This is calculated by multiplying the maximum cost per click bid (the most you’re willing to pay for a click) by your Quality Score (Google’s rating of the quality of your ads). (Note: Google recently updated Ad Rank to include the expected performance of ad extensions, but the basic principle is the same.)
ad rank formula
In this example, you can see exactly how much Quality Score can affect your performance in this live auction. The top advertiser, who achieved the #1 ad position, had a Max Bid $2 lower than his competitor, yet his Quality Score and therefore Ad Rank are far higher, resulting in a better position and lower CPC:
average ctr
Google does this because they don’t get paid if no one clicks on their ads, so they give preference to the ads most likely to succeed.

Wow, Quality Score Sounds Pretty Important…

Yes, yes it is.
We’ve found that the average Quality Score is roughly 5.1 out of 10.
average quality scores
If you have an above average Quality Score, you can get up to a 50% discount on your cost per click. Conversely, if you have below average Quality Scores, you could pay up to 400% more. Ouch.
CPC is just one metric, though. What about the actual cost per conversion? Here, we’ve also found an inverse relationship, across billions of dollars of ad spend, that as your QS increases, your cost per conversion decreases because your clicks are so much cheaper.
cpc vs. quality score
So how is QS calculated? In general, the higher your CTR, the higher your QS. As you can see in the chart below, though, there is a lot of variance, thanks to ad positioning. As we discussed earlier, ads at the top of the page are predisposed to getting more clicks than those in lower positions.
expected ctr by position
The blue line at the bottom, for example, is for keywords in position 1.0 to 1.5. Quality Score isn’t calculated by your CTR alone, but by whether you’re over- or underperforming compared to the expected CTR. In this next graph, you can clearly see just how important your CTRs are to your QS calculation.
expected click through rate
It’s all relative.
Your Quality Score, which is the key to getting those prominent ad spots, low CPCs and low CPAs, is not entirely based on your CTR. Rather, you need to have ads and keywords above the expected average. That’s the key to high Quality Scores.

The Top 1% of PPC Ads and What Makes Them Tick

So what about those unicorns?
We’ve learned so far that an above average CTR will help you get there, but to be the best of the best takes more.
three times average ctr
When we see unicorn accounts in the AdWords Performance Grader, they share some common traits:
  • Every keyword in their account has a high QS.
  • They are effectively using negative keywords to reduce wasted spend.
  • Their high impression share demonstrates that Google loves showing their ads.
  • They have those super-high, impressive, double-digit CTRs than outperform the average by many times.
  • They’re targeting highly specific longtail keyword phrases.
  • Their account activity is high – they continue to optimize and improve on an ongoing basis.
If you can home in on the ad and keyword combinations that have these above average CTRs, the rewards are huge – higher impression shares, greater ad positions, lower costs per click and conversion.

Hunting Unicorns

Now you know what AdWords Unicorns look like and should have a pretty good idea why they’re so desirable. Let’s look at each of the characteristics so you can emulate this success in your own account.

Unicorn Keyword Strategy

The Top 1% of all AdWords accounts tend to focus on high commercial intent keywords. This is not surprising, as people tend to click more when they’re already motivated and have an intent to purchase. For example, “best internet marketing software” or “stainless steel dishwasher” are keyword phrases that demonstrate an intent to purchase. (Something like “Lincoln’s birthday” does not.)
Branded keywords are another fantastic opportunity for advertisers, but we’re not just talking about your own brand. Target partner brands, competitor brands, or other brands your target market may searching on when they’re in buying mode.
A third type of keyword that does well is local keywords, where the intent of the searcher is to find your business – or that of your competitor (e.g. “San Diego personal trainer”). These tend to get high CTRs, as local searchers often have a high commercial intent.
Avoid informational keywords, where possible. These are often phrased as questions, for example, “What is a dishwasher?” or “Where is Chicago?” These searchers tend to be looking for Wikipedia-type information and aren’t demonstrating an intent to buy, which can result in a lower CTR or wasted spend.

A Caution on Dynamic Keyword Insertion

If you want to achieve unicorn status, don’t overuse Dynamic Keyword Insertion, or DKI. This is a strategy whereby you use a certain syntax in your ads that allows Google to automatically substitute the keyword that triggered the ad into your ad copy or headline.
DKI is beneficial, but only to a point, as illustrated below:
dki average ctr
Here, we have two curves: the red curve is ads with DKI and the blue is those without. The red curve shows that ads with DKI are relatively more abundant in the top 15%. However, as you move up into the top 5% of ads right into the unicorn ads, you’ll notice the red curve actually dips below the blue.
Dynamic keyword insertion ads seem to hit a wall. This tells us that it should definitely be part of your toolbox as it tends to produce slightly higher early returns, but it shouldn’t be overly relied on.

Ad Extensions – Is This the Magic Bullet?

Google seems to be releasing new ad extensions almost every week, but what’s the impact of ad extensions usage on the Quality Score of ads and will it help you become a unicorn?
ad extensions impact
This graph shows that impact and it’s not a game changer. We can see that the accounts using sitelinks on their ads did slightly better than those that did not, which is not a surprise. Extensions provide an incremental lift in CTR, but it’s not going to remedy boring copy. It’s a modest increase, but won’t double or triple your CTR rates. Again, use them, but don’t rely on this alone to shoot you to unicorn status.

Most Ads Suck. Create Emotional Ads.

below average ctr
A lot of search results pages look just like this, with boring ads that all look the same. This is exactly why position can make such a difference; because the only differentiator is where an ad appears on the page. Borrrrrring.
But wait – this is a huge opportunity for you, Unicorn Hunter.
When you see a bunch of boring, dry, similar ads appearing for a query, you have a chance to break out and be different. I like to call this an “AdWords Jackpot.”
AdWords CTR
The alternative is to come up with something that stands out from the crowd, that uses emotional triggers.

Creating Emotionally Charged Ads with the Swiss Army Knife Blade Brainstorm

Respected marketer Perry Marshall devised a clever, structured method of brainstorming persuasive ad copy called the Swiss Army Knife. You take different entities such as your customer, something that your customer loves, something they hate, their best friend, their enemy, etc. You then determine how your brand is connected or related with each entity and build out from there.
ad writing techniques
It’s a simple, structured brainstorming process that can help you generate more compelling ad copy for testing, by mixing and matching those concepts, like this:
above average click through rate ad
This is a perfect example of a unicorn ad, with over 30% CTR, that stands out against all of the boring divorce lawyer listings.
Your ad copy has to resonate on an emotional level and it must be different to stand out. You must test the big things in your ad messaging, meaning stuff like your guarantee, your unique selling proposition, and your offer. Not just punctuation.

Understanding Relative Abundance

We’re still on the hunt for unicorns and by now, you should be much better equipped to find them. There’s still a missing piece though: effort.
Unicorns wouldn’t be all that special if they were abundant. In fact, only 1 in every 100 ads is a unicorn. The chances that you’re going to find it on your first try are slim to nil; on average, you need to try out 100 different ads to find your unicorn.
Above Average CTR
The more ads you create and test, the more likely you are to hit on that one that outperforms the average by 2x, 3x or even 6x!

You’re Not Testing As Many Ads As You Think You Are

But Larry, I already have THOUSANDS of ads in my account! The last thing I want to do is write more ads!
That may be true, but I can almost guarantee you aren’t testing as many ads as you think you are.  Certainly, they weren’t all created using the insight and process outlined above.
Have a look at this example – can you tell the difference between the top right ad (circled in red) and the one below it?
Test More Ads
This is a real-world example where an advertiser adds a comma in the second ad and calls it a variation for testing. In fact, this example is testing six copies of the same ad over and over.
Let me tell you a secret: the bar, especially for SMBs, is incredibly low. The average SMB AdWords account has just 18 ads. Maybe you can’t get to 100 ads this month or even this year, but if you work away at this and test even 40 or 50, you’re already doing way better than the majority of your competition.

5% of Ads Account for 85% of Impressions

Here’s some more good news: you can get rid of your underperformers and boy, there are a lot of them. Across accounts, we’ve found that the top 5% of ads in an advertiser account make up 85% of their impressions. It’s not necessary to test 100 ads for every ad group in your account.
Instead, choose your top two or three ad groups and really focus your efforts there. Test those like crazy, ideally reaching 100 ads to test in each  of those top performing groups.

Bonus Tip: Mobile Ad Optimization

Mobile ads are obviously important – almost 50% of searches are going to be from mobile this year. I want you to ignore everything I’ve just said when it comes to mobile ads.
Our research has found that the calls from mobile ads convert 3x higher than clicks to a website. When you’re testing mobile ads, you need to base your findings on call rate, not CTR or conversion rates.
I repeat: go all-in on call rates and do everything possible to get people to click the click-to-call button.

What Does It All Mean?

Congratulations, you made it! Let’s recap and then I’ll send you on your merry way to go back to AdWords and slay your competition:
  1. Above average CTR keywords = success.
  2. Below average CTR keywords = trainwreck.
  3. So… delete the bottom third of your account and re-deploy that spend to remarketing. These are your low CTR, low impression share, junk performers. Lose the dead weight, it’s dragging you down.
Crazy, right? Your boss is going to freak out if you delete a third of your AdWords account. However, the idea here is to maximize the budget you’re now spending on junk ads.
As you see here, the cost of the average click can be substantially lower across a number of industries in the Google Display Network when compared to Google Search.
Average CPC by Industry
Similarly, the conversion rates for display ads are comparable to those for search ads, especially when you’re using remarketing. In some industries, like automotive and travel, the display network conversion rate can be even higher.
Average Conversion Rates
If you can get rid of the bottom third of your more expensive search ads and shift that spend to even average performing display and remarketing ads, that would be a brilliant way to begin to more effectively scale your AdWords efforts.
Life is so much better for the unicorn. We did segment results by industry and didn’t even show it, because we found that these unicorns exist fairly evenly across industries, and for advertisers of different sizes and levels of spend. YOU can be an AdWords unicorn.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Top Social Efforts to Boost Referral Traffic to Your Website

Social media has many benefits for a brand. Raising awareness, generating buzz around events or news, keeping your name or products top of mind, managing customer service, gathering consumer-generated content, market research, and the list goes on. But for some reason, many of us get hung up on the fact that social media has to have an immediate, short term return on investment. Many social strategies are long term investments, so when looking at a tight time frame, we migrate towards metrics that try and allow us to justify our efforts. Enter: referral traffic.
Referral traffic is a very important thing to measure within a social media campaign. For many companies, bringing visitors to your website helps them learn about your products and services and establishes one more touchpoint in that very important buying process. It gets the user away from all the chaos on social media and lets them solely focus on one thing…you. And that’s valuable stuff. So after using many social media channels over the past few years, I’ve learned which ones generate the highest return on investment, based on time/cost vs referral traffic. Of course numbers will very based on your industry and the content you’re producing, but for the most part, this will give you a simple indication of which channels are best for driving traffic back to your website.
Social Media ROI
1) Blogging
The only one with 5 stars in terms of referral traffic is blogging. Are you surprised? If on a subdomain, blogging can be tremendously helpful to sending traffic to your website, if using links properly. If housed on the company site itself, blogs will generate organic traffic from search and attain visitors from referral links from any sites or bloggers who re-run your material or cite your writing. A misconception is that this effort is free but it is one of the biggest investments your company can make in the social space. The best blogging companies invest tons of time and resources into blogging efforts. Beyond time for writing, you will want to budget money for stock photography or time for your design team to create custom graphics, infographics, charts or visuals to supplement your material within the post and/or for social media when distributing. It makes the world of a difference in getting people to read, react and share your content. It's also helpful to promote your blog articles on social using ad dollars to "light the fire" and get the traction rolling.
2) E-Newsletter
Email marketing may not be the best approach to reach your teen audience (most do not use email with the exception of using it for registration purposes) but email is still widely used among most working professionals. It’s a great way to reinforce messages, introduce the latest news to a loyal audience, and keep them coming back to your site. Carefully design a layout – don’t have too much information there – and drive people deep into your site on specific landing pages, not just the homepage. Tell them what you want them to be looking at. Costs here are associated with monthly software fees (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc), stock photography, design costs, and the time it takes to prepare and distribute. Your list is critical. Always be conscience about growing this – whether it’s through other social channels, events, contests with registration walls, etc. Your list is powerful in bringing visitors to your site.
3) Twitter
Many of us know how great this tool can be at luring traffic to your site. But this audience is very cautious what it clicks on – simply because we are being bombarded with hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of tweets each day. Because of this, be strategic when you include a link to your own site. Always use the old adage “What’s In It For Them?” Push them to an educational blog posts, a cool new product, a fun contest going on, etc. Be creative and straightforward in your limited description too, because you have to convince them to click in less than 100 characters or so. Costs here are related to stock photos or designs you’ll want to use to pair with your content. Also, do not overlook Twitter advertising. It’s a great way to get new users in front of your material and you can select the type of person that is most appealing to your business, so it works well.
4) LinkedIn
Of all the promoted post-style advertising on social media, LinkedIn can often times be the most expensive. But it’s a great way to get highly targeted people in front of your content and lead them to your site. The filters available through LinkedIn are extraordinary, allowing you to target by age, geography, profession, industry, hierarchy, group, and more. Naturally, you’ll pay for this luxury in your higher cost per clicks. But regardless, it can be effective. LinkedIn readers love tips on how to do their jobs better, motivational articles, and the inside scoop on new jobs available in their fields. Keep this in mind when sharing material that refers back to your website. You don’t want them to be disappointed when they go for that click. So make sure it’s meaningful and in line with the type of professional readers that are here.
5) YouTube
I have YouTube listed as the most expensive of all the tactics. Because quite frankly, video production ain’t cheap. Sure, you can get away with haphazardly winging some videos together and throwing them up online. You might get a few views. But ever notice the ones that we gravitate towards every week (if they are a regular series) or the ones you pull to use in presentations or demonstrations. You and I both are using the ones that look professional, are in high definition, boast great audio quality, and subtly use visuals as examples to support the verbal discussions. You’ll need lights, microphones, a great camera (preferably two), lots of time and research, a personable and lively spokesperson, and more. But here’s the bright side. Of all the types of content available to you, in my opinion, videos are the one type that is most likely to really take off if done right. You can include links in your description area or within the videos themselves. And finally, you can expose your messages to more people through advertising (which again, costs money on this platform). But think about all the embeds and shares you can get if your videos are valuable to your target audience. In all, YouTube can be one of the biggest spends in your social media budget but can also see one of the greatest returns on investment, especially in terms of referral traffic.
Social media has a variety of benefits. Gaining visitors to your website is only one – though an important one if it matches your goals. Share content that is worthwhile and carefully select the channels that you wish to invest in to see high levels of return. Keep in mind that you don’t want to *just* share content about yourself – social media is all about sharing the wealth and getting involved in conversations that are out there on the web. But being selfish every now and again to impact the bottom line is a no-brainer.

Manage Social Media Across Platforms With Spredfast Engage

Do you use more than one social media tool? It's a bit like asking "do you use more than one internet-connected device?" Of course you do: no single tool or internet-connected device does everything you want, right? The team at Spredfast recognize that businesses use multiple applications and have developed a neat way to allow their customers to use Spredfast across these multiple applications. Here's a look at the Spredfast Engage Button, which has launched today.
The Complexity of Using Multiple Tools and Platforms
If you manage social media in an organization you will know how quickly it can become chaotic. Tools like Spredfast help by putting in place rules, processes, approvals, audit trails and reporting. Such tools are great for creating a more coherent approach to social media management, but often that doesn’t go far enough.
Businesses typically use many tools to help them in their marketing in areas such as content curation, social listening, influencer marketing and social analytics. Often a user may find content that they want to share from within another tool or application. The quick way is to share it directly, but that means the sharing is done outside the processes, audit and reporting set up in Spredfast. In order to stay within the process, it is necessary for the user to move back to Spredfast to find and share the content, which is inconvenient and can be time consuming in a fast moving social media world.
Enter the Spredfast Engage Button
Spredfast have developed an Engage Button that can reside within any application and allow a user to share content directly from within the application. However, any content shared using the Engage Button will be effectively shared from within Spredfast and be subject to the same workflow and approval processes, the same audit trails, tagging processes and the same performance reporting. The aim of the Engage Button is to deliver convenience whilst maintaining the controls present within Spredfast. Rod Favaron, CEO of Spredfast commented "Brands are having to adapt to the acceleration of consumer engagement in the social age.  Our customers don’t want to have to sacrifice brand control for speed and with the Engage Button, we are helping them to meet that need with our open platform. Our thesis of engagement continues to be realized as we offer this latest solution for our enterprise customers.”

The Spredfast Engage Button is being launched with five partners today: Brandwatch, Crimson Hexagon, Synthesio, Sysomos, and Visible Technologies. This partner program will be extended over time along with the Spredfast partner program.
The new feature has already been well received by beta users. Monica Womack Peterson, Director of Social Media for Toyota commented: "Social media gives us a compelling way to engage with and inspire our customers every day… However, as marketers we are challenged with ensuring that each conversation is timely and authentic. The Spredfast Engage Button allows our team to interact with our social community in a prompt and brand-appropriate manner, regardless of the social platform that they are logged into."

Are Panda 4.0 and Payday 2.0 Giving You Issues?

The two new updates from Google might be causing you problems, but here's how to tell what the root of your problem actually is.
Google announced not one but two algorithmic updates in the last week and anyone remotely associated with SEO is asking the question, "Did we get hit?" This seems a prudent time to discuss how to assess if your site was impacted or not.
Janet Driscoll Meyer did a great piece published here, which talks a bit about things you can look for to help assess the situation and offers alternative possibilities for any traffic drops.
Let's take a look at some of the ways you can quickly tell if you're having any issues with recent algorithm updates.
First ask yourself this question, are your losses all tied to one engine and the correct one at that? Or are you seeing performance losses across more than one engine? That should be a strong first indicator to help guide your analysis. If all of your traffic losses are from Google, then you might have an issue with recent updates, but further analysis is definitely required before drawing any firm conclusions. If your losses are not search engine specific, then your challenges lie elsewhere.
Next, check your traffic. If you've suffered due to an algorithmic adjustment, the shift in traffic should be precipitous. Look at this chart of some of the top traffic losers this week.
Source: SearchEngineLand

Do you have losses on par with these sites? If not, then your challenges likely stem from other sources. There could be seasonal issues impacting your traffic or technical concerns that may need attention.
Next, check the timing. Updates like this one tend to be pretty specific, and the Internet's response is almost immediate. Take this most recent announcement. Google announced officially that Panda 4.0 released on May 20. Now, it's possible that individual results may vary on this, but if your site has traffic drop, but it's more than a couple of days to either side of that date, then you should probably be looking for other causes.
Don't forget to check Google Webmaster Tools. Your site may have a traffic drop. It might even have fallen off a cliff and it might even have happened the date the algorithm was announced. That still might not mean your issues are related to the shift. If you have issues with something like link penalties, Google likely will have sent you a notice telling you so via Google Webmaster Tools. Make sure you haven't overlooked this possibility.
There you have it; some quick and simple steps to help you assess if your site has been impacted by algorithmic updates. What are some additional tools/techniques do you use for this sort of assessment?