Friday, October 31, 2014

The State of Video Marketing in 2014

Video marketing has continued to go from strength to strength in 2014. In a recent study 95% of B2B businesses stated that video marketing was both valuable and important. The consumption of video is also on the rise. By 2018 it is predicted that 79% of all internet traffic will be video. A significant portion of that growth is coming from mobile. In fact, mobile now makes up nearly 40% of mobile watch time on YouTube and 65% on Facebook!

Another interesting development this year has been the rise of Facebook as a serious competitor to YouTube. Facebook recently stated that the site receives 1 billion views a day of their video content.
Take a closer look at these statistics, and others, in more detail to help to paint a picture of the video marketing industry in 2014.

The State of Video Marketing of 2014

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Facebook Touts Search in Q3 Earnings: Is Zuckerberg Aiming to Out-Google Google?

The platform's search initiative could increase usage and bring in more ad revenue.
Facebook's third-quarter earnings beat analysts' expectations, with the social network reporting earnings per share of 43 cents. However, executives also described the company's initiative to improve and expand its search capabilities, which ─ when coupled with its growing amount of user-generated content and proprietary customer data ─ will help it attract more advertising revenues in the future.
Kicking off the company's earnings call, chief executive (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg reminded listeners of the goals the company identified last time for the next phase of the company: connecting everyone, understanding the world, and helping to build the knowledge economy. In fact, during the call, executives sounded like they'd taken a page from Google's ambitions to change the world, catalog its knowledge, and make it accessible.
Google has been talking about connecting the world for at least a couple of years. For example, the search giant has experimented with installing free broadband in some American cities, and is reportedly looking at satellites and other means of bringing the Internet to countries in Asia and Africa.
In August, Facebook launched internet.org with partners including mobile phone hardware and software providers Qualcomm, Samsung, and Ericsson. Facebook's mobile usage continues to expand, accounting for almost half of all usage. Mobile daily users were 703 million on average for September 2014, an increase of 39 percent year-over-year, while mobile monthly users increased 29 percent year-over-year.
"Understanding the world" sounds a lot like Google's Knowledge Graph. Facebook is working to make user-posted content more searchable – and more intelligible. Zuckerberg said, "Over the past 10 years, an amazing base of knowledge has been built up. Now, we're trying to find different ways to expose that and make it more useful to people." Building services, including the beta version of Graph Search, will be a big focus for the company in the next few years, he added.
Zuckerberg said that while the body of Web content generated by Facebook is approaching equal size with all other Internet content, they address different use cases with different kinds of knowledge. Since a good proportion of what people post on Facebook is links to content hosted elsewhere, it's interesting to consider whether ─ at least for some kinds of searches ─ Facebook search could supplant Google search.
Search certainly worked well for Google advertising, and it could do the same for Facebook.
Facebook's total third-quarter revenue was $3.2 billion, an increase of 59 percent, including ad revenue of $2.96 billion, up 64 percent year-over-year. Mobile ad revenue represented 66 percent of total ad revenue, up from 49 percent in the third quarter of 2013.
That seems to represent a significant chunk of all mobile advertising. According to IAB and PwC, global ad revenue in the first half of this year reached $23.1 billion, due to a surge in mobile ad revenue, to $5.3 billion from the $3 billion reported at half-year 2013.
This October, the Facebook Audience Network went global, supporting link ads in addition to banners, interstitials, and native ads.
"We think our ad products and services are so unique," chief operating officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg said.
Adding to its ability to siphon up user data for ad targeting is Facebook's dominance in social logins. According to Janrain, in Q3, Facebook accounted for 46 percent of social logins, compared to Google's 34 percent.
Adobe's Q3 Digital Advertising Report found that Facebook posts by the media and entertainment vertical were up 100 percent year-over-year, while the retail industry had the largest increase in post interactions, up 13 percent year-over-year.
Sandberg said that Facebook is making progress with brand advertisers, "brand by brand, because with our targeting, we are able to identify people who are in the market to buy a car, for example. Our ability to target means we have a strong play in every vertical."
Adobe expects Facebook's paid impressions to grow 10 to 20 percent next quarter, during the holiday shopping season. Whether that growth comes at the expense of Google remains to be seen.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Beyond Responsive and Adaptive: Introducing "Adjustive" Web Design

As technology continues to advance, we need to keep up by optimizing the way we display content. A new concept to help you do just that is "adjustive" Web design.
The speed at which technology evolves means every mobile device has a different form factor - some are getting smaller, while others are following the "bigger is better" trend. There's no question that size affects the way we consume content on mobile devices. So considering that no user experience (UX) is the same, I predict the next phase of interface design will give control back to users in the form of adjustive Web design.
Before I outline my ideas for adjustive Web design, it's essential to explore two foundational concepts of user experience - responsive Web design and adaptive content.

Responsive Web Design (RWD)

Ethan Marcotte coined the term "responsive Web design" in his book of the same title. In recent years, it has become an industry buzzword.
Core elements of RWD include:
  • Abandoning fixed grids and embracing flexible-grid layout
  • Displaying media as scalable assets
  • Using standard CSS3 media queries to respond to any screen size
Many global companies have redeveloped their Web presence with RWD in response to increasing mobile traffic. The Boston Globe was among the first major media websites to adopt this approach, enabling theGlobe's content to be automatically refitted to any screen size available. In 2013, Rotary International launched their responsive websites in eight languages. This year, Virgin America and American Express adopted the same approach.
A critical early factor that fueled the movement toward RWD was separating content and presentation in Web applications. In the early days, the Web design industry used terminology borrowed from graphic design and publishing. The trend to separate content and the rules by which it got displayed was a critical first step towards expanding beyond traditional graphic design approaches.

Adaptive Content

Adaptive content is another essential element of UX, introduced by Karen McGrane in her book Content Strategy for Mobile. McGrane defines adaptive content as "getting your content into a format so you can share and distribute it to any platform you want." She explains that "you can get your content onto platforms you control - and platforms you don't."
Her book outlines the following critical steps for adaptive content:
  1. Think of content as a service
  2. Create highly reusable content
  3. Structure content diligently
  4. Separate content and form
  5. Invest in good metadata
  6. Select a usable content management system
When we consider the accelerated launch of new devices, two trends emerge - bigger is better for smartphones and tablets, and smaller is simpler for wearables. Adaptive content performs well on these devices, but will an RWD approach be sufficient for this next era of UX?
Let's examine this simplified diagram to see how a typical RWD approach gets implemented:
responsive-design-1

Adjustive Web Design

In response to the continually changing device landscape, I propose a new concept - adjustive Web design.
Core elements of adjustive Web design include:
  • Adaptive content is the foundation of everything
  • The display of content will responsively adjust to screen sizes
  • User interface elements can be adjusted by the user to a desired position
Here is how adjustive Web design will build upon and enhance its responsive predecessor:
  1. Problem: As smartphones and tablets use increasingly larger displays, it can be cumbersome for hands. Responsive adjusted user interface controls - such as a site header with a "hamburger-style" menu - won't overcome this challenge, as their general positioning remains fixed.
  2. Solution: Go beyond responsively adjusting user interface elements for varying screen sizes and enable users to place critical user-interface elements in a place they can easily reach. For years, Apple has allowed users running its desktop OS to select three positions for their Dock - left, bottom, and right.
adjustive-design
Let's examine how adjustive Web design may work on wearables:
  1. Problem: The stylish, sleek jewelry-like design of wearables has resulted in smaller screen sizes or absent displays. A responsively adjusted element, such as a site header with a "hamburger-style" menu, won't address a lack of screen real estate.
  2. Solution: Hide user-interface components when they are not needed and maximize screen real estate for adaptive content. The device OS or hardware should allow a user to reveal the user interface through a simple gesture when needed. In the case of an absent display, alternative navigation can be enabled through navigation sounds.
adjustive-design-wearable

Conclusion

Continual incremental improvements are essential in the UX industry. In a crowded marketplace, online content is a critical factor in building brand awareness. Simple, intuitive, adjustive Web design is essential to navigate a wider array of screens and devices. As technology advances, we should keep pace by optimizing the approaches and frameworks we use to display content. This will usher in an era for users to enjoy "their UX, their way."
Please share your thoughts or examples below on other areas where you expect to see UX advances.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

5 Ways to Know Your Target Demographic



5 Ways to Know Your Target Demographic
Understanding your demographic as an entrepreneur or even as a seasoned business owner is a must. When you do not know the audience or demographic you are attempting to reach, it is nearly impossible to see the returns in income or revenue. There are a few ways to go about determining your target demographic that will help to ensure you are on the right path, in any market or industry.

Research Your Market

Before getting involved in any business endeavor, it's essential to research the market you want to appeal to thoroughly. Remember to leave no stone unturned. Understanding consumer needs, what they want and what is currently lacking in the industry can help to familiarize yourself with who you should appeal to with your company, brand and online presence.

Use an Official Website to Collect Data

Launching an official website is a must for any new business, whether you are promoting a startup or simply attempting to make a name for yourself. There are third-party services available to help with tracking stats and analytic data for your site, giving you even more insight into the demographic you should be targeting with your website and brand altogether. Knowledge is power.

Ask Questions and Use Integrated Web Polls

Once you have established an online presence, do not be afraid to ask for input and advice. You can even make data collection on customer preferences part of customer service initiatives. Integrating web polls is another method to determine what it is your audience is looking for and what they are missing. It is also an effective tool to test usability while getting feedback from individuals who are genuinely interested in your products, services or brand entirely. You’ll never know unless you ask.

Create a Consumer Mailing List

Create a consumer mailing list to keep in touch with those who are interested in the products and services you have to offer. Consumer mailing lists are ideal to check open rates and to determine who is reading your lists, by age, gender and even by location. Using a consumer mailing list is also a bit more personal, giving you options of offering discounts and coupons for those who are only subscribed to the lists themselves as an incentive to sign up. Everyone loves a party.

Engage Actively Using Social Media

Using social media today is also another effective method to get to know more about your audience and its demographic. Using social media allows you to ask questions while also providing insight into demographics and usage statistics. When you actively engage with your social media account, it is much easier to get a broad view of the demographic you are appealing to on a mass level. The more engaged you become with social media, your official website and consumer mailing list, the easier it is to create products and services that are likely to appeal to the demographic you have in mind.
There you have it! The more you know about your target audience or intended demographic, the easier it becomes to launch successful marketing campaigns and advertisements that are not only appealing, but also relevant. Understanding demographics for any business model is essential to succeed, otherwise failure is often imminent.
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Monday, October 27, 2014

4 Social Marketing Time Management Tips

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” – Yogi Berra
Time management has always been a hot topic. It’s so easy to get lost down the rabbit hole and realize two hours later you did not get anything accomplished.
4 Social Marketing Time Management Tips
If you work in social media, then you get what I’m talking about. There are distractions thrown at us daily via new blog posts to read, Facebook updates from friends, new pins on Pinterest and so on. Staying on task is something that has come down to a fine art. Either you’re good at managing your time and get things done or you’re not and stay stressed all the time.

I’d like to think I’m good at managing my time overall. There are those days that I just get off track. What’s important is to get back on that track the next day.
Here are 4 ways that I’ve found to help manage my time on social media:

AUTOMATE!

The more you can automate content, the better. Hootsuite, Sprout Social and Buffer are three popular platforms.  All of these allow you to schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.  A good personal Google+ scheduling tool is the Do Share extension for the Google Chrome browser.
What I suggest is take about 1 hour, once a week, to schedule your content for the next week.  You can then spend the rest of your time responding and interacting. Keep in mind, and I want to stress this, you cannot automate engagement. It’s fine to have some standard content and questions scheduled, but never automate your responses. Automating the standard content allows you time to engage in real-time.
“The most efficient way to produce anything is to bring together under one management as many as possible of the activities needed to turn out the product.” – Peter Drucker

PLAN AHEAD!

If you have a goal to blog 1-2 times per week, dedicate time each week to spend writing and scheduling those posts.  This will save you from the “oh crud” moment you have when you realize you are suppose to have a post up in 12 hours!  WordPress sites have scheduling functions within them to schedule a post for the future.  For example, I am writing this post on Sunday afternoon and it will be published Tuesday morning.
The plan ahead suggestion applies to more than just blogging – plan ahead as much as you can for everything.  This will keep your organized and in a routine.
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” – Alan Lakein

DO NOT DO IT ALL.

Yes, I did just say you do not have to do everything.  Many businesses think they need to have a presence on every.single.platform when in reality, they don’t.  If you know your target market posts on Facebook more than any other, then concentrate on that one.  There is no sense in wasting your time updating 5 or 6 social media platforms when your customers are only on Facebook or Twitter.
Concentrating on those platforms that your target market is on and forgetting about the rest will free up a lot of time.  Trust me, it easy to lose time on these platforms – just stick with what works!
“You cannot run at full throttle when applying your mindset to all of the different things running through your head. Focusing is the key to manifesting your desires.” – Stephen Richards

TIME YOURSELF.

Decide how much time you want to spend on each platform and then set a kitchen timer or an alarm on your smartphone to buzz when your time is up.  For example, if you want to set aside 30 minutes per day on Facebook, set the timer to start when you do and then it will let you know when your 30 minutes is up.  At that time, close it out of your browser and move on to something else.  I know of several who do this and swear by it. Placing a time limit can force you to concentrate on what you need to do and get it done.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.” – Bruce Lee
Effectively managing your time is the key to being productive. The more productive you are, the more and better results you’ll get.
What time management tips do you swear by?

The ideal length of everything online

How long should a LinkedIn headline be? A blog post? A tweet or a YouTube video? SumAll has collated data on what length certain media should be to increase its chances of success.


ideal length of social posts

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Social media in 2014

The Hootsuite Social Business Benchmark study released this week showed that the majority of organisations surveyed believe social media is critical to staying competitive and engaging audiences, yet they face challenges in deriving value from the data they mine from social and aligning departments.


More than 750 interviews were collected among current or prospective clients of Hootsuite.
Key Findings:
  • The majority of respondents (88%) agree that social media is important to maintain a competitive edge.
  • Less than half (40%) of these organisations said they were using data gained from social media to improve their bottom line.
  • 60% stated they were challenged to find actionable use for data collected.
  • Nearly three in four respondents (72%) agree the number of departments using social media is growing.
  • A majority (64%) of respondents whose social media strategy is at least somewhat aligned stated that aligning strategy across departments was difficult
  • 62% of respondents said that creating a social media strategy was difficult in the first place.
  • A majority of respondents (84%) view enhancing relationships with existing customers as an area social media can contribute value to, as well as the ability to learn about the company’s reputation (81%), and to monitor external communication (79%).
  • 73% of respondents value social media’s capability to resolve customer complaints and questions. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

How to Show Marketing’s Impact on Revenue

National and local internet marketing experts are frequently faced with this challenge: How does one effectively connect marketing strategy with returns?
When a marketing campaign goes viral, it’s rather easy to see the returns of that campaign. However, it’s not every day a marketing campaign takes off like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. More commonly, campaigns have a substantial impact and it’s these campaigns that are more difficult to measure returns.

How to Show Marketing’s Impact on Revenue
Know What Metrics Are Most Important to Track

In any internet marketing campaign, there are unknown variables. It’s unreasonable to track exactly what past customers say. Similarly, it is also unreasonable to separate self-report data from customers. Instead of tracking all metrics and sales channels, take a methodical approach. Choose a few different channels and a few different reliable metrics. For the record, self-report data from customers is notoriously unreliable. Look at customer behavior, and quantify observations.

Converse with Your Sales Team

National and local internet marketing experts know who the real experts are in anecdotal evidence. Work closely with the sales team to figure out which aspects of marketing customers like as well as which aspects of marketing could be stronger. Customers build rapport with sales personnel, especially in B2B transactions. Additionally, customers are more likely to give honest feedback to sales personnel they know well on an impromptu basis.

Take a Systematic Approach

Instead of throwing data at others, slow down and take a systematic approach. In reality, any number of different variables that have nothing to do with a local internet marketing campaign could prompt a notable boost in sales. However, it is easy to calculate and display a reasonable margin of error. If a new spike in sales can be attributed to PR rather than internet marketing, it is important to recognize it. The end goal is to show the impact of marketing on returns, not prove that a current marketing campaign is optimal.

Show the CEO What Works and Why

It is important to recognize that few executives speak SEO or national to local internet marketing lingo. They are more concerned with the overall state of the business, as well they should be. They’re in charge of the grander scheme while you’re there for the inner workings. Similarly, it is important to recognize that a potentially golden idea for a Twitter or Instagram marketing campaign can easily get lost if the message is not delivered in a clear way. The communication process has to be broken down into a few simple steps.
1.      Conduct baseline analyses of important metrics and existing sales channels.
2.      Work closely with the sales team to develop more effective marketing strategies.
3.      Identify variables not related to any given marketing campaign.
4.      Conduct new analyses of the same variables and the same sales channels over a reasonable period of time.
It is integral to clearly show change that resulted directly from new marketing. Use historic sales data to make an argument more compelling. Perhaps the fourth quarter has always been the strongest. Find a way to show why new marketing initiatives made it stronger. Separate other variables that are not part of the marketing campaign to further refine how much revenue is derived from marketing campaigns, and only marketing campaigns.

Key Takeaways

  • Use historic sales data to support claims that marketing drives revenue
  • Partner with the sales team to get honest feedback from customers
  • Work to identify variables not related to marketing in order to get accurate results
  • Clearly communicate the benefit of online marketing strategy to upper management

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5 Reasons Google+ Could Prove More Efficient Than Facebook

If you are asked to share your first thought that pops in your mind when you hear “Social media”, your answer would probably be Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, but not Google Plus for sure. Then why experts keep vouching for the network? Google Authorship was one of the reasons. But since it’s dead now, what are the driving forces to motivate Google Plus marketing?
 
5 Reasons Google+ Could Prove More Efficient Than FacebookFirst reason would be its high engaging audience. As it’s not crowded by anyone and everyone using internet, Google Plus is the home to the largest engaged audience. According to a Forrester study,G+ posts generate as much engagement as Facebook and twice as much engagement than Twitter. It’s striking because the other two are much popular than G+.
 
The explanation is simple. Not everyone joins and continues with G+. And if anyone does, he does it for a purpose. This works for G+’s engagement quotient. 
 
The secret also lies in these G+ stats: 
  • Google+ has 540 million monthly active users and 20 million unique mobile monthly users.
  • Engagement on a Facebook post per user is .073% while it’s .069% on a Google plus post.
  • Google+ mobile app user growth from December 13 to May 14 is 14%.
  • Percentage of G+ user interaction with positive brands is 53%, with negative brands is 18%.
  • G+'s percentage of total social logins on websites is 32.9%
  • Average duration of one G+ session is 3.46 minutes
If you are still not enticed to explore the vast possibilities, here are 5 areas where Google Plus can overshadow Facebook.
 
Better exposure in Google search results: It doesn’t take much to figure out that Google would give preference to Google Plus, when it comes to getting social signals. If you post regularly on the platform, chances are that the people, who follow you or have you in their circles will see your post when they search with a related keyword on Google. Here is an example:
 
 
I typed “Sunday Flowers” and got a related Google Plus post of Matt Cutts, who I follow on the platform. 
 
Similarly, your followers too can get your G+ posts in their Google search results. The more you share on G+, the more your authority will be on Google. G+ Business page posts too appear on search results. Here is how I searched for a new Levi’s collection and got one result from the brand’s G+ page.
 
 
No other social network gets such an upper-hand on Google search results. 
 
Double the reach with Google+ Communities: Google Communities work more like Facebook groups, but they can get you higher traffic. There are almost every kind of communities on G+. 
 
Choose the communities that create maximum stories and conversations. Not necessarily the most populated communities would be the most engaging ones. Select wisely. Don’t join for the sake of fetching traffic to your website. You need to be active in order to get attention from the fellow members. 
 
Comment, +1 and share others’ content. When you will leave a comment, make sure to add a little value. Avoid commenting generally like “Nice share” or “thanks for the post”. 
 
Always post in the right category for content segregation. It also helps your content to appear on the most relevant thread. The categories can be found on the left-hand side of the community page. Let’s see when you click on a category, how it segregates related content from other posts within a community. 
 
 
You can see the results from “Nails” are different from that of “Skin”. This feature is effective because no matter how old is your post, it still stands a chance to appear on community front page, if someone searches with categories. 
 
Moreover, you would notice a significant growth in your social shares as well as follower count if you use Google+ Communities efficiently. However, follow the respective Community rules and watch out for the time slots, when the members get active. 
 
Google+ ads work differently: Google Plus post ads work in an entirely different way than that of Facebook. Unlike the latter, Google+ post ads don’t run on the network, but on the entire Google’s display network. This not only makes the reach of these ads higher, but also keeps the social network an ad-free zone. 
 
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Thursday, October 23, 2014

15 Reasons Why Google Search Page Has Just 3 Buttons



Google is the most viewed website in the entire world. And while this may not come as a big surprise for those that use Google, it’s quite astonishing when you step back and realize that this site has one of the most simplistic designs on the entire internet. Here are 15 reasons why the Google search page has just three buttons and how it helps the site.

15 Reasons Why Google Search Page Has Just 3 Buttons
Minimalist Approach

With as much as there is on the internet, Google proves that a minimalist approach is best. In this case, less is certainly more when it comes to how well Google works.

It’s Easy To Use

Even those who are using the internet for the first time can easily use Google to search for things. With less buttons or confusing things to click on, anyone can learn how to use Google within just a few seconds on the site.

It’s a Simple Cover For a Complex Platform

It’s important to not be deceived by how simple Google is on the cover. This search engine offers millions of results in just a split second, which goes to show that you can’t judge a book, or a search engine, by it’s cover.

It Doesn’t Draw Attention From Anything Else

Google just wants you to know that you are on their site and nothing else. Therefore, there isn’t anything that is distracting or drawing your attention away from the fact that you are on their search engine page.

It Looks Better On Mobile Devices

With as many people that access the internet from mobile devices, it’s important that websites look smooth and are easy to use while on the go. With a simple and easy interface, people can access Google from their phones as easily as they can from their desktop.

It’s Quicker For People To Find What They Need

Google doesn’t require that you hit a lot of buttons or search through whatever the results are in order to find what you are after. Instead, there are simply three different buttons to press and you will be given a never-ending listing of results.

People Can Find Something New

With the, “I’m Feeling Lucky” button, users can even come across things even more quickly. Instead of waiting for a list of results and then clicking the link, this button allows users to be directed to the most common site when they type in a query into the search box.

It Makes Instant Responses Easier To Find

As a user is typing into the Google search box, there will automatically be results listed. Because there are only three buttons on the homepage, it’s easier to move these buttons and list the results that you are looking for.

It Leaves Room For Creative Images

Google has always done a great job of implementing creative images on their homepage. These images can be used to commemorate someone or something special, or they can be a way for Google to mix up the typically, “GOOGLE” image that most people are used to seeing.

It’ll Teach You Something New

By clicking on the image that is listed above the search box, users will find out something that they never knew before. This helps people to learn more about the internet, as well as the world in general.

It’s Recognizable

Google itself is a brand. Just like Pepsi, Nike, or Facebook images are recognized anywhere you go on earth, so is the word, “Google.” By having just that icon, people immediately associate it with the best search browser in the world.

It Changes The Way That Other Websites Are Built

Google’s simplistic and minimalist design has changed the way that other websites are designed and built. Other websites now know that they too have to consider a minimalist design, especially if they want to have the same type of success as they have.

It Allows For Easy Change

In the event that Google ever wants to change their layout, they can easily do so. Granted, there’s no point in fixing something that has been so successful. However, if they ever wanted to make this consideration, they’d be able to do so since the design is so simple.

Avoids People Accidently Clicking On The Wrong Button

One of the most frustrating things that can happen while your online is clicking on a link that you didn’t mean to. This often takes a long time for you to then back out and try to find what it is you are looking for. With the simplicity of Google’s page, you don’t have to worry about accidental clicks.

They Changed The Way Search Engines Were Created

Simply put, Google only has three buttons on their website because they wanted to be original and unique. Needless to say, they were successful. They were able to change the way that search engines were created and how the world viewed the internet. But this was only possible through their simplistic design.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Social Marketing 2015: The Key to ROI Will Come from Within


Nearly nine in 10 US marketers are using social media marketing. It is clear they consider it a necessity for doing business. But there is still a sense of unease about what works and doesn’t work as well as how best to manage the effort, according to a new eMarketer report, “Social Marketing Update: Eight Trends to Help Prepare for 2015.” 


For as long as social media marketing has been around, marketers have struggled with how to determine return on investment (ROI). Despite a multitude of available metrics, the question still tops the list of challenges marketers face with social media.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Position Is Huge for Smartphone Search Ad CTRs

Position matters when it comes to search ad clickthrough rates (CTRs)—especially for smartphones. Looking at Q2 2014 data from Marin Software, CTRs were better for first-position paid search ads run in the US on smartphones, tablets and desktops, with respective rates of 4.9%, 4.3% and 3.2%. And while this dropped with every level, the fall in CTRs on smartphones—30% per position, on average—was more dramatic than on tablets and PCs, down 28% and 22%, on average. 

In all, first-position ads on smartphones grabbed nearly 40% of clickthroughs—more than double the 18% for second-position spots. Desktop search ads in the first position accounted for 30% of CTRs, while those on tablets claimed 36%. Though third-position ads grabbed a larger share of clickthroughs on smartphones than they did on desktops and tablets, this wasn’t the case for the remaining spots.

The layouts of smartphone and desktop search engine results pages (SERPs) are the reason for such differences, according to Marin, which pointed out that a smartphone SERP will often only show one ad at the top of the page, while the same results page on desktop will show three or more. Of course, advertisers should remember that CTRs aren’t enough for mobile ad measurement.
eMarketer expects 129.0 million US smartphone users to search via mobile browser or app on their phones this year, representing 78.0% of smartphone users and 40.7% of the population. By 2018, total smartphone searchers will reach 200.5 million—91.1% of smartphone users and 61.1% of the population.
As consumers turn to mobile devices for searching, advertisers are funneling more dollars toward the format. eMarketer estimates US advertisers will spend $8.72 billion on mobile search this year, an annual gain of 77.2% and a 38.1% share of total investments in digital search ads. Though growth will slow over our forecast period, increases will remain in the double digits through 2018, when mobile search ad spending in the US will total $25.69 billion, or 76.7% of all digital search ad expenditure.
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11 Rules You Must Follow to Be a LinkedIn Marketing Master


11 Rules You Must Follow to Be a LinkedIn Marketing Master
At my company, Fusion Marketing Partners, we have a policy of not spending money on marketing or sales. We are “pull” (inbound) marketers to the core and this philosophy has served us well. Of course, we do lots of “push” (outbound) marketing for clients, but we try to move them in the direction of pull marketing in order to drive awareness and leads up and drive new customer acquisition costs down.
While we don’t incur direct marketing or sales expenses, there is definitely a cost in time and effort, and this is the tradeoff you will also have to make if you decide to adopt the pull marketing approach. As a B2B marketer, one of the best social media tools you can use is LinkedIn. It has gained us awareness, leads and revenue, and it can do the same for your company (as well as you as an individual). But to be successful with LinkedIn marketing, you need to follow some important rules, like:
  1. Get started now. Lots of people talk about using LinkedIn effectively, but relatively few make it happen. Like most other worthwhile things in life, LinkedIn marketing becomes easier over time. The sooner you get started, the faster you get to the easy part of the deal.
  2. Be a combination of the hare and the tortoise. Some Linked practitioners start out slow and stay that way. Others begin with a fast pace but quickly drop off. A better approach is to build up to and maintain a moderate pace. I wrote about this in a 2011 blog post titled Is Social Media a Marathon or a Sprint?
  3. Offer value. Make sure your LinkedIn updates include you sharing content or ideas of value to your audience. A bit of humor and motivation are also good, but don’t overdo it.
  4. Don’t always be selling. Remember Alec Baldwin in the chalkboard scene from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, where his character is haranguing his sales team and shouting “ABC, Always Be Closing!”  While that philosophy may work in high-pressure sales situations, it does not hold water when you are communicating on LinkedIn. Think of LinkedIn as a relationship medium first, then a selling medium.
  5. Don’t pitch too soon. One of my pet peeves is people who connect with me and immediately try to sell me something. I bet you feel the same way about pushy salespeople. Build a relationship first, then make the offer.  It works better this way.
  6. Connect with people. A technology company founder told me that he rejects most connection requests because he only wanted people he knows personally. In my opinion, this is shortsighted. It’s like only talking to people you already know at a cocktail party – you miss out on a lot of interesting opportunities. This is not to say you should connect with everyone.  I probably accept about 60 percent of connect requests.
  7. Be visible. Even when you don’t have something pithy to say, you can stay visible by liking, commenting and sharing other people’s updates.  Participating in groups is another way to stay top of mind.
  8. Don’t put social items on LinkedIn. Treat this medium as a way to showcase your company and personal attributes, not your personal life. Some examples of things not to talk about or share on LinkedIn:
    1. Photos of your family life (including children, pets, etc.)
    2. Photos of you drinking, partying or out with a group of friends
    3. Your religious or political opinions
    4. Your sports preferences
  9. Keep it civil. Never gripe about your employer, employees, partners or customers. For that matter, if you feel the need to disagree or criticize someone else’s update, do so in as gentle a manner as possible.
  10. Assume that everyone (yes, everyone!) can see everything you do on LinkedIn. If someone likes, shares or comments on one of your updates, all their followers can see it and it can certainly be copied and/or forwarded. Remember that your current and future employer, spouse, partners and friends will be able to see that irreverent, harsh or negative update that you thought was so clever at the time you posted it.
  11. Post your blogs as LinkedIn articles. I leverage many of my blog posts this way and they tend to get very high readership.  Articles are a great to create or extend either your business or personal brand promise.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The SME content creation toolkit for images, video and text

Video:

Instagram Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse is fairly new and many have discovered it's great for a polished look, or at least a video that feels like it's been professionally edited.
If you sell a product that has to be assembled or want to show the making of something, this tool is perfect.
Here's Econsultancy founder Ashley Friedlein on our recent Marketing Cycle charity bike ride in Dieppe.

Reflector

Reflector allows you to mirror a mobile device on your computer screen over a WiFi network.
It's great if you want to record an interaction on your smartphone or tablet. Say you've just created an app and want to encourage people to download it from your website, this tool will allow you to shoot some video and then you can investigate how to turn it into a GIF or edit it in iMovie.
Alternatively, it's handy to have on your laptop for meetings, if you want to show something from your mobile without crowding round a small screen.
Reflector costs $12.99 but it's simple to use, effective and much better than bothering to jailbreak your phone.
reflector 

iMovie and YouTube

Two obvious choices but invaluable ones. Youtube for its small and useful edits as well as how easy it is to host and share, iMovie for its ease of use and wide functionality.

Images:

Video to GIF creator

There are a number of websites that allow you to upload a video file (in several formats) and will convert it to a GIF for you, often emailing you the resultant file.
Whilst some of these sites don't look promising, they're often easier for the novice than converting in Photoshop. I've used Zamzar before and it worked well.
spiderman

imgur

If you're embedding images, it's often advantageous to use imgur to host. The links are more likely to remain, longer term, than one you've taken from elsewhere on the web and you shouldn't see any images go missing.
One of the advantages of the Chrome extension of imgur is that it adds a 'rehost image' button to your context menu, allowing you to stash images quickly.
Of course, make sure you're not taking anything that is copyrighted.
imgur on context menu

Awesome Screenshot and Mac shortcut

We often recommend Awesome Screenshot as the best way to screengrab and annotate.
Note, though, that it doesn't always work on websites with lots of HTML5 or obviously those that block screen capture. In that instance it's easier to hit shift+cmd+4 on your Mac to access the snip tool.
On Windows, I often simply take a screen capture using the keyboard button and then crop/annotate in MS Paint. I don't profess to be an expert.
Very meta 
awesome screenshot

Infographic creator

Piktochart is a good one. Get stuck in if, like me, you are pants at Adobe. 

Text:

WordPress

Wordpress is more than just text, I understand. But for 'distraction free writing' it really is the best.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Do Weak Links Reveal Powerful Opportunities?

In his excellent little book Linked, published in 2002, Albert Barabasi reports on an experiment conducted by Mark Granovetter that showed "weak links" were more effective that "strong links" in spreading ideas.
"Weak ties play a crucial role in our ability to communicate with the outside world… our friends move in the same circles we do and are inevitably exposed to the same information. To get new information, we have to activate our weak ties."
So let’s take an example of a weak link in the search industry. Ten years ago, Greg Jarboe was a pioneer in talking about how public relations can play an important role in search engine optimization. Since then, that weak link has grown to be not only an accepted but a vital part of search marketing.
If only you could spot those weak links early enough, you could predict the emerging opportunity and exploit it.
It seems a new feature released by Majestic.com earlier this year offers the opportunity to do just that.

Topical Trust Flow

topical-trust-flow
Figure 1: Topical Trust Flow in Majestic.com
Figure 1 shows how Topical Trust Flow is shown in Majestic. Links pointing to each domain are algorithmically assigned to a primary topic – arts, business, computers, health, home, and so on.
This shows the topics in which the domains are influential.
The first domain we have highlighted, Dartagnan.com, has strength in specific topics – "home," "recreation," and "shopping." However, the second domain, DiBruno.com, has strength across multiple topics.
It’s a simple jump to describe these topics as markets in which the domain is active.
This gives three important strategies for link builders – and marketers – to follow:
  1. Build on your strengths – look for markets in which you already have a high presence and build on that position by creating specific offers or link-building campaigns targeted at that market.
  2. Look where you’re weak and improve your position – look for markets where you are weak but where competitors have a significant presence. Does this suggest gaps in your marketing to date? And that you should have strategies to redress the balance?
  3. Look for emerging niches – are there topics within your own link profile or those of your competitors that surprise you? That you maybe did not realize was a market opportunity? In this case, the market is identifying itself – you launch a new product or campaign and someone in that market finds your offer interesting and links to it.
Such an analysis could uncover market niches that you could aim to dominate.
The granularity of Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow is also impressive. Let’s look at this summary of the link profile of REI.com:
topical-trust-flow-rei
Figure 2 : Topical Trust Flow for REI.com
We can see that the site has a presence across a wide range of markets. Majestic allows us to dig deeper into this information by filtering the more than 800 topics.
So let’s filter on the word "recreation" and a whole set of topics are revealed:
rei-recreation
Figure 3: Depth of Recreation Topic
Let’s take one example of "Recreation/Birding" that Majestic shows has links from 92 referring domains. And we can follow the links to find them on the page:
fatbirder
Figure 4: Link to REI From FatBirder.com
The presence of such links – 92 of them – might suggest a niche that REI.com should target in their marketing. That might be a little far-fetched without further research, but at the very minimum, Topical Trust Flow provides link builders and marketers with:
  • An insight into the variety of potential markets
  • Solid, carefully selected link prospects
  • Inspiration both for products and campaigns
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