Posted by lkolowich
You just ran what you thought was a really promising conversion test. In an effort to raise the number of visitors that convert into demo requests on your product pages, you test an attractive new redesign on one of your pages using a good ol’ A/B test. Half of the people who visit that page see the original product page design, and half see the new, attractive design.
You run the test for an entire month, and as you expected, conversions are up — from 2% to 10%. Boy, do you feel great! You take these results to your boss and advise that, based on your findings, all product pages should be moved over to your redesign. She gives you the go-ahead.
But when you roll out the new design, you notice the number of demo requests goes down. You wonder if it’s seasonality, so you wait a few more months. That’s when you start to notice MRR is decreasing, too. What gives?
Turns out, you didn’t test that page long enough for results to be statistically significant. Because that product page only saw 50 views per day, you would’ve needed to wait until over 150,000 people viewed the page before you could achieve a 95% confidence level — which would take over eight years to accomplish. Because you failed to calculate those numbers correctly, your company is losing business.
Miscalculating sample size is just one of the many CRO mistakes marketers make in the CRO space. It’s easy for marketers to trick themselves into thinking they’re improving their marketing, when in fact, they’re leading their business down a dangerous path by basing tests on incomplete research, small sample sizes, and so on.
But remember: The primary goal of CRO is to find the truth. Basing a critical decision on faulty assumptions and tests lacking statistical significance won’t get you there.
To help save you time and overcome that steep learning curve, here are some of the most common mistakes marketers make with conversion rate optimization. As you test and tweak and fine-tune your marketing, keep these mistakes in mind, and keep learning.
Equating A/B testing with CRO is like calling a square a rectangle. While A/B testing is a type of CRO, it’s just one tool of many. A/B testing only covers testing a single variable against another to see which performs better, while CRO includes all manner of testing methodologies, all with the goal of leading your website visitors to take a desired action.
If you think you’re “doing CRO” just by A/B testing everything, you’re not being very smart about your testing. There are plenty of occasions where A/B testing isn’t helpful at all — for example, if your sample size isn’t large enough to collect the proper amount of data. Does the webpage you want to test get only a few hundred visits per month? Then it could take months to round up enough traffic to achieve statistical significance.
If you A/B test a page with low traffic and then decide six weeks down the line that you want to stop the test, then that’s your prerogative — but your test results won’t be based on anything scientific.
A/B testing is a great place to start with your CRO education, but it’s important to educate yourself on many different testing methodologies so you aren’t restricting yourself. For example, if you want to see a major lift in conversions on a webpage in only a few weeks, try making multiple, radical changes instead of testing one variable at a time. Take Weather.com, for example: They changed many different variables on one of their landing pages all at once, including the page design, headline, navigation, and more. The result? A whopping 225% increase in conversions.
When you read that line about the 225% lift in conversions on Weather.com, did you wonder what I meant by “conversions?”
If you did, then you’re thinking like a CRO.
Conversion rates can measure any number of things: purchases, leads, prospects, subscribers, users — it all depends on the goal of the page. Just saying “we saw a huge increase in conversions” doesn’t mean much if you don’t provide people with what the conversion means. In the case of Weather.com, I was referring specifically to trial subscriptions: Weather.com saw a 225% increase in trial subscriptions on that page. Now the meaning of that conversion rate increase is a lot more clear.
But even stating the metric isn’t telling the whole story. When exactly was that test run? Different days of the week and of the month can yield very different conversion rates.
For that reason, even if your test achieves 98% significance after three days, you still need to run that test for the rest of the full week because of how different conversion rate can be on different days. Same goes for months: Don’t run a test during the holiday-heavy month of December and expect the results to be the same as if you’d run it for the month of March. Seasonality will affect your conversion rate.
Other things that can have a major impact on conversion rate? Device type is one. Visitors might be willing to fill out that longer form on desktop, but are mobile visitors converting at the same rate? Better investigate. Channel is another: Be wary of reporting “average” conversion rates. If some channels have much higher conversion rates than others, you should consider treating the channels differently.
Finally, remember that conversion rate isn’t the most important metric for your business. It’s important that your conversions are leading to revenue for the company. If you made your product free, I’ll bet your conversion rates would skyrocket — but you wouldn’t be making any money, would you? Conversion rate doesn’t always tell you whether your business is doing better than it was. Be careful that you aren’t thinking of conversions in a vacuum so you don’t steer off-course.
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started learning CRO was thinking I could rely on what I remembered from my college statistics courses to run conversion tests. Just because you’re running experiments does not make you a scientist.
Statistics is the backbone of CRO, and if you don’t understand it inside and out, then you won’t be able to run proper tests and could seriously derail your marketing efforts.
What if you stop your test too early because you didn’t wait to achieve 98% statistical significance? After all, isn’t 90% good enough?
No, and here’s why: Think of statistical significance like placing a bet. Are you really willing to bet on 90% odds on your test results? Running a test to 90% significance and then declaring a winner is like saying, “I’m 90% sure this is the right design and I’m willing to bet everything on it.” It’s just not good enough.
If you’re in need of a statistics refresh, don’t panic. It’ll take discipline and practice, but it’ll make you into a much better marketer — and it’ll make your testing methodology much, much tighter. Start by reading this Moz post by Craig Bradford, which covers sample size, statistical significance, confidence intervals, and percentage change.
Just because something is doing well doesn’t mean you should just leave it be. Often, it’s these marketing assets that have the highest potential to perform even better when optimized. Some of our biggest CRO wins here at HubSpot have come from assets that were already performing well.
I’ll give you two examples.
The first comes from a project run by Pam Vaughan on HubSpot’s web strategy team, called “historical optimization.” The project involved updating and republishing old blog posts to generate more traffic and leads.
But this didn’t mean updating just any old blog posts; it meant updating the blog posts that were already the most influential in generating traffic and leads. In her attribution analysis, Pam made two surprising discoveries:
Why? Because these were the blog posts that had slowly built up search authority and were ranking on search engines like Google. They were generating a ton of organic traffic month after month after month.
The goal of the project, then, was to figure out: a) how to get more leads from our high-traffic but low-converting blog posts; and b) how to get more traffic to our high-converting posts. By optimizing these already high-performing posts for traffic and conversions, we more than doubled the number of monthly leads generated by the old posts we’ve optimized.
Another example? In the last few weeks, Nick Barrasso from our marketing acquisition team did a leads audit of our blog. He discovered that some of our best-performing blog posts for traffic were actually leading readers to some of our worst-performing offers.
To give a lead conversion lift to 50 of these high-traffic, low-converting posts, Nick conducted a test in which he replaced each post’s primary call-to-action with a call-to-action leading visitors to an offer that was most tightly aligned with the post’s topic and had the highest submission rate. After one week, these posts generated 100% more leads than average.
The bottom line is this: Don’t focus solely on optimizing marketing assets that need the most work. Many times, you’ll find that the lowest-hanging fruit are pages that are already performing well for traffic and/or leads and, when optimized even further, can result in much bigger lifts.
When it comes to CRO, process is everything. Remove your ego and assumptions from the equation, stop relying on individual tactics to optimize your marketing, and instead take a systematic approach to CRO.
Your CRO process should always start with research. In fact, conducting research should be the step you spend the most time on. Why? Because the research and analysis you do in this step will lead you to the problems — and it’s only when you know where the problems lie that you can come up with a hypothesis for overcoming them.
Remember that test I just talked about that doubled leads for 50 top HubSpot blog posts in a week? Nick didn’t just wake up one day and realize our high-traffic blog posts might be leading to low-performing offers. He discovered this only by doing hours and hours of research into our lead gen strategy from the blog.
Paddy Moogan wrote a great post on Moz on where to look for data in the research stage. What does your sales process look like, for example? Have you ever reviewed the full funnel? “Try to find where the most common drop-off points are and take a deeper dive into why,” he suggests.
Here’s an (oversimplified) overview of what a CRO process should look like:
As you go through these steps, be sure you’re recording your hypothesis, test methodology, success criteria, and analysis in a replicable way. My team at HubSpot uses the template below, which was inspired by content from Brian Balfour’s online Reforge Growth programs. We’ve created an editable version in Google Sheets here that you can copy and customize yourself.
Don’t forget the last step in the process: Conduct a follow-up experiment. What can you refine for your next test? How can you make improvements?
One of the most important pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten around CRO is this: “A test doesn’t ‘fail’ unless something breaks. You either get the result you want, or you learned something.”
It came from Sam Woods, a growth marketer, CRO, and copywriter at HubSpot, after I used the word “fail” a few too many times after months of unsuccessful tests on a single landing page.
What he taught me was a major part of the CRO mindset: Don’t give up after the first test. (Or the second, or the third.) Instead, approach every test systematically and objectively, putting aside your previous assumptions and any hope that the results would swing one way or the other.
As Peep Laja said, “Genuine CROs are always willing to change their minds.” Learn from tests that didn’t go the way you expected, use them to tweak your hypothesis, and then iterate, iterate, iterate.
I hope this list has inspired you to double down on your CRO skills and take a more systematic approach to your experiments. Mastering conversion rate optimization comes with a steep learning curve — and there’s really no cutting corners. You can save a whole lot of time (and money) by avoiding the mistakes I outlined above.
Have you ever made any of these CRO mistakes? Do you have any CRO mistakes to add to the list? Tell us about your experiences and ideas in the comments.
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Google is a treasure trove for marketers.
Currently (2017), it “processes over 40,000 search queries every second!”
This “translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.”
And just look at how much Google use grew between 2000 and 2012:
And this all means one thing.
Google can generate valuable data like it’s nobody’s business.
There’s arguably no other resource in history that compares to it.
Another thing I love about the search engine is the arsenal of free tools it offers for gaining insights.
There’s the Google Search Console, Google Analytics, the Google Keyword Planner and Google Alerts, just to name a few.
These are all ideal for providing you with the data you need to better understand the behavior of your audience and improve your marketing.
And as we all know, data is a marketer’s best friend.
Without data, I wouldn’t know what direction to take, making it much more difficult for me to reach my demographic.
In this post, I’m going to cover an extremely important aspect of marketing.
It’s this: how to discover your customers’ biggest frustrations and how to solve them.
I’ve found that Google is perfect for finding out what irks my audience, and you can implement the same methods too.
Here are several techniques you can utilize.
Let’s start with an incredibly simple yet effective feature: autocomplete.
I’m sure you’re familiar with it.
With the insane amount of data Google has accumulated and continues to accumulate, it offers autocomplete to streamline user searches and help people find the information they’re looking for quicker.
Here’s a screenshot that summarizes how this feature works:
Notice I highlighted two key points.
Autocomplete predictions factor in the popularity/freshness of search terms and terms other people are searching for.
Using autocomplete can provide you with valuable intel on what your customers are searching for and, more importantly, what their collective frustrations are.
Let me give you an example of how you can use it.
Type in a broad keyword phrase that relates to your industry, niche or product you’re selling.
I’ll use “organic soap” as an example.
Here’s what pops up:
Just like that, I can tell what some of the most popular search terms are.
It’s obvious people are interested in organic soap bases, recipes and organic soap-making supplies.
Therefore, this user base has questions and concerns about these topics.
So this is a good starting point.
I recommend recording these popular searches for future reference because you’ll want to create content around those topics.
Another easy way to understand your average customer’s frustrations is to figure out what types of questions they’re asking regarding your niche/product.
You can do this by typing in search phrases such as “what is,” “why is,” “how to,” etc., followed by a broad keyword.
Here’s an example:
Within seconds, I can get a pretty good idea of which aspects of the organic soap topic people are curious about.
Remember, if it pops up on Google autocomplete, you know a large number of people have entered that search phrase.
So, you’re dealing with a high volume of searches.
Again, you’ll want to record those search phrases because you can target them later on.
Let’s take it one step further.
Type in your broad keyword followed by the word problems:
Here are some of the results I got:
I also highlighted some frustrations, concerns and questions people have.
Considering the fact these are all on page one of this Google search, it’s safe to say there’s a significant number of people who share these frustrations.
As a result, these are all potential topics I could cover.
You probably already use this tool for performing keyword research for SEO.
But it can also be useful for finding your customers’ pain points as well.
Here’s what you do.
Type in your broad keyword in the search box:
Then scroll down to see what people are most interested in.
The main thing you’ll want to take into consideration is the number of average monthly searches.
Here are some highly searched keywords that let me know what types of questions and frustrations customers have:
I absolutely love Google Trends.
It’s one of the best ways to get a quick snapshot of the popularity of something and see how interest has either grown or declined over time.
I also like to use it to generate graphs for great looking visuals for my content.
To use it in this context, just type in your search phrase:
Then scroll down to “Related queries.”
You can view related queries as either “Top” or “Rising.”
“Top” lets you know what’s most popular over time in the grand scheme of things.
“Rising” lets you know what’s most popular at the moment and what’s trending upward.
Use this information to spot any potential frustrations your customers might be having that you may want to address.
Here’s one last technique.
Do a Google search that combines your broad keyword and the word blogs.
You’ll get results like this:
Then click on one or more of the results.
This one looks good to me:
Now, I can get a glimpse of the types of topics the top blogs are covering, which are indicative of what your average customer is most interested in:
I can get quite a bit of information by just looking at the description of each blog.
But, of course, I can learn a lot more by actually clicking on a specific blog and scanning through the posts.
This should fill in the gaps in terms of discovering the average customer’s frustrations and can give me even more ideas for content.
Okay, so I’ve discussed several different ways to gain an understanding of what’s irking your customers.
As you can see, Google is pretty much a be-all and end-all tool for this.
But how do you solve those frustrations?
You want to create robust, comprehensive content that exhaustively answers these questions and addresses these frustrations.
I recommend writing down a list of topics based on your research and prioritizing them in terms of importance.
For instance, I found people were interested in:
and so on.
Now I can start creating content that covers those topics.
More specifically, my goal is to create content that outranks the competition.
As you may already know, I’m a huge proponent of the skyscraper technique: producing content that betters and outperforms your competitors’ content.
If you’re unfamiliar with this concept or need to brush up, this guide from Backlinko will tell you everything you need to know.
By following this formula and addressing the unique concerns of your customers, you’ll quickly be on track to generate traffic, build trust and “scratch their itch.”
I’ve mentioned many times before that interactive content significantly outperforms conventional static content.
Here are a few stats from Impact Marketing that show the importance of creating interactive content:
When you break it all down,
interactive content drives 2x the number of conversions as passive content like blogs and eBooks.
Here’s what I suggest.
Look for ways to create different types of content your competitors have overlooked or ignored.
Rather than writing your standard 800-word blog post, write a long-form, 2,000-word post full of visuals, including relevant videos, graphs, stats, etc.
Or if there’s a pervasive question your customers have, try creating an infographic that succinctly answers it step by step.
In other words, think outside the box and be willing to go where your competition doesn’t.
This should kill two birds with one stone because you’re solving your customers’ biggest frustrations and providing them with incredibly helpful information while offering a level of depth your competitors are not.
It’s a win-win situation.
It’s amazing the insights you can gain from Google.
It’s a godsend for doing market research and will provide you with a wealth of valuable intel if you know how to use it correctly.
And the longer people use Google, the bigger the data pool becomes.
The best part is that it’s completely free.
As you’re probably aware, every demographic has its own specific pain points.
Your job as a marketer is to identify these frustrations and provide an effective solution.
By using the techniques I mentioned, you can do this in a very streamlined manner.
From there, you’re in a much better position to create content that hits its mark and can provide your audience with the answers they crave.
This, in turn, translates into a host of benefits including increased traffic, more leads and bigger profits.
Do you have any other suggestions for using Google to discover customer frustrations?
Posted by Bill.Sebald
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
I read The Art of War in college, written by the Chinese general Sun Tzu (author of the quote above). While his actual existence is debated, his work is often considered as brilliant military strategy and philosophy. Thus, The Art of War is often co-opted into business for obvious reasons. Throughout the book, you’ll realize tactics and strategy are not interchangeable terms.
– A method or plan chosen to bring about a desired future, such as achievement of a goal or solution to a problem.
– A plan of action or policy designed to achieve an overall aim.
– The art and science of planning and marshaling resources for their most efficient and effective use.
These definitions vary slightly, but the essence is the same. A strategy is not constrained by size or application but promoted by planning and effectiveness. Let’s be honest, the word “strategy” is a term that isn’t always used the same way in the English lexicon (or our industry).
On the other hand, tactics can be isolated or serve as components in your strategy. They are actions you would impart as a step in the plan, or used as a stand-alone, typically with limited resources.
For some this is straightforward, but for others new to marketing or traditionally focused on tactical work, a strategy can be a difficult concept that requires practice. Perhaps understanding the purpose is key to dividing these terms. Let’s try this:
“The purpose of a strategy is to identify goals and build a plan of attack towards achieving those goals. The purpose of tactics are for smaller goals that could feed something bigger.”
Before you read on, please note: this is not an article devaluing tactics over strategy (despite the Sun Tzu quote). My goal is to inspire thought that can help you be more effective as a modern SEO, and possibly consider a strategy where you haven’t before.
I find analogies go a long way in describing lofty concepts. I could easily go with a football or legal example, but a military example might be the most comparable to what we do in marketing. And because I know my audience, I decided to go with Star Wars.
The Galactic Empire thought they could take over the galaxy with fear and brute force. They developed plans for a space station with firepower strong enough to destroy a planet. Under the command of Governor Tarkin, the Death Star was created. They tested the completed Death Star on Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, which gave Obi Wan Kenobi shivers.
However, the Rebels put together a counter-strategy. Piecing together intelligence about a deliberate design flaw, and developing a plan featuring waves of small battalions, the Rebel ships would take passes at the target. They would work together in designed waves to equally defend and attack during this campaign.
As basic as that scene was at the end of Star Wars, it’s a strategy nonetheless (albeit a small one).
To make this a bit more relevant to SEO, here’s an email shared with me by a prospective client. They were looking for a new agency after they received this from their current agency:
I object to several things written here. Guest posting is a tactic, not a strategy. There is no plan here, just an action. A measurable or attainable goal is never made clear.
We need to do better. *desk flip*
Whether you’re an agency, consultant, or in-house at a company, getting buy-in for an SEO strategy can be challenging. SEOs tend to rely on the support of several different departments (e.g. developers, copywriters, business managers, etc.), usually with their own predetermined goals. Enter the SEO to add more complexity.
There’s often a top-down marketing strategy already baked before you get to pitch your SEO work, to which you may find opportunity on a battlefield where access is not granted. It’s reckless to assume you can go into any established company and lob a strategy onto their laps, expecting them to follow it with disregard to their existing plans, politics, and red tape. Candidly, this may be the quickest way to get fired and show you’re not aligned with the existing business goals.
Instead, you need to find your areas of opportunity that work with the company’s business goals, not against them. Effective marketers don’t try to be a square peg in a round hole. Get to know the players, the existing playbooks, the silos, and the available gaps.
It’s not about being a yes-man; it’s about best playing the hand you’re dealt. You simply can’t successfully sell a strategy until you know where your strategy will fit and support the current business goals.
If I’ve done my job, you’re eager to put pen to paper, but you still have digging to do. Get your shovel.
Some people are better suited to design plans in a non-linear fashion. If I’m writing anything, be it an article or a piece of music, I’m bouncing back and forth throughout the piece as inspiration strikes. But for others who are more straight-minded and less frenetic, a reference of considerations and characteristics might be helpful.
Enter the mind map. Simply stated, a mind map is a visual representation of concepts and connections. As defined here, it is a visual thinking tool that helps to structure information, helping you to better analyze, comprehend, synthesize, recall, and generate new ideas.
It’s your sketch pad. Jot down all the ideas, concepts, and relationships you can possibly think of.
Think of this document as a living communication between you and your client or boss. It is a document you should refer to often. It keeps all parties on the same page and aligned. I recommend sharing it in a collaborative platform so updates are shared between all viewers without having to constantly send out new copies (nothing sucks the life out of efficiency faster than “versioning” issues).
There’s no shortage of things to consider in your mind map. Here are a few common items from my experience:
My fellow marketers, this is not an exhaustive list by any means. Gather all the information that is meaningful to you.
At this stage, your initial gathering is complete, so now you’re on to development. Hopefully you’ve had some visibility and buy-in by your clients or boss to date, so it’s crucial to keep that momentum going. Don’t build a strategy in a silo.
Remember, a strategy is a plan. A plan has steps, dependencies, and future considerations throughout. I think it’s very important for your team and the client to “see” the strategy in a visual format, and not just conceptually. Use a spreadsheet, slides, or Word document — whichever tickles your fancy. At Greenlane, we’ve been using Google Sheets:
If you work in an agile framework, the strategy is going to change. Everyone should be able to see revisions to the strategy with an indication of what’s been changed and why. That’s a benefit to documenting every important detail.
Earlier you put together a mind map to put preliminary ideas on the table. You considered things that you’ll now need to thoroughly scrutinize. Here is a list of considerations to hold your SEO strategy against. Make sure your final draft of the SEO strategy can clearly speak to each of these.
And since we’re on a Star Wars kick already, I present my dusty childhood toys (recently found in my mother’s basement).
Each business is an entity. Each entity has characteristics. You need to know these characteristics if you’re going to build anything for the company. So, make sure you know the answers to these questions:
Let’s pause for a moment.
If you’re at this part of the article, and you’re thinking, “Whoa — why the hell would I do all this to get a few rankings?” then you’re not thinking strategic yet. True, it’s possible these bullets aren’t all relevant to what you’re building, but the bigger your strategy needs to go, the more you need to know your client.
If we’re going to be creating goal-oriented plans, it make sense to start with a smart goal or two. And by smart, I mean SMART. For those who aren’t familiar with SMART goals, it stands for the following:
Specific: This is for the “why” and “how” of your goal. What exactly are you trying to do, and why? If you were a retailer who sells a little of everything, you might have a statement like this:
“At the end of February, we noticed our customers begin researching lawn and patio furniture. Customers are favoring items that look more elegant and can resist weather.”
Measurable: Be very detailed. Are we trying to make money, or are we trying to make five hundred dollars? Are we trying to draw traffic, or are we trying to bring 500 new visits that engage with our website?
A retailer might have a statement like:
“Our goal is to increase organic conversions of the Lawn and Patio section by 15% YOY in Q2 and Q3, with lawn chairs driving 75% of those sales. Target revenue $500,000 in Q2, and $300,000 in Q3.”
Achievable: Make sure you’re grounding your goal in reality. Sure, you can’t control a massive Google update, but using the history of your sales and competitive data, you can make some inferences. You also need to make sure you have agreed-upon goals. Get buy-in before you set the goal in stone, leveraging the thoughts from the leaders, merchandisers, analysts, and anyone who might be able to provide insight into the likelihood of hitting your goal.
Realistic: (There is some blend between realistic and achievable.) Do you have the appropriate resources in place? Does your client have the flexibility to make the necessary changes within the proposed timeline?
A statement to help framing could be:
“We are going to rely on resources including copywriters, researchers, merchandisers, and developers to make on-page changes within the time frame of this plan. We expect to need 40 hours of time from copywriters, 50 hours from web development.”
Time-bound: We will need deadlines for dependencies. Assign due dates to each step of the plan, and keep the players accountable. Make sure you have an appropriate start-to-finish date.
This is critical. If you don’t know what your searchers are looking for, you’re guessing. That’s a bad idea. Especially today, where we have troves of data.
But it’s important to find the stories in-between the numbers. With that said, your audience can’t be measured solely by the 0s and 1s that comes into analytics platforms. I’ve written about this in The Down Side of Analytics in Marketing.
But I’ve recently heard some chatter voicing the polar opposite. I’ve heard the sentiment to wholly ignore certain data points because they don’t represent the real person. To me, that’s bad advice — directional data is better than the romantic notion of success based on your “gut” feel. Estimated search volume, clicks, and even impressions give credence not only to a keyword, but a bigger theme. This starts to create direction and an understanding of need, which leads to your next few rounds of audience recognition.
Using the available data helps a marketer understand which dollars are more effective than others, and how to identify different audience groups within the buying cycle.
With the demographics and site usage details from GA, different types of users (researchers, comparers, buyers, customers) can be grouped and classified, and the marketing dollars and messaging appropriately tailored.
AdWords and Facebook are further vehicles for reaching the appropriate audiences with more refined messaging. I think it’s important to create personas for your current visitors and the type of visitors you want to attract. It might be valuable to create personas of those you don’t want to attract, to keep in the back of your mind as your content and advertising calendar is being built following the delivery of your overall strategy.
Without knowing the landscape, you really don’t know what opportunity lies ahead. Understanding your competition’s success allows you to learn from their wins (and mistakes). Reinventing the wheel burns unnecessary minutes.
There are a few competitive tools we tend to gravitate towards in our industry. SEMrush is a fantastic tool allowing anyone to look up a website and get an estimated search visibility and traffic share. Drilling in shows how well pages perform independently. Gleaning through exports can quickly reveal what topics are driving traffic, to which you might replicate or improve your own version.
Backlinks can actually serve as a proxy for interest. In Google’s vision of a democratic web, they considered links to function like votes. Google wants editorial votes to influence their algorithm. So, if we assume all links are potentially editorial, then looking up backlink data can illustrate content that’s truly beloved. Grab your favorite backlink data provider (hey — Moz has one!) and pull a report on a competitor’s domain. Take a look at the linked pages, and with a little filtering, you’ll see top linked pages emerge. Dive into those pages and develop some theories on why they’re popular link targets.
Social media — it’s more than cat memes. Generally, non-marketing folks share content that resonates with them. Buzzsumo offers an easy interface for digging through the depths of social media. Have a general topic you’d like to pursue? Enter it into Buzzsumo and see what you get.
Let the creative juices flow. Look for topics you can improve under your own roof. Even the nichiest of niches can have representation in Buzzsumo.
Maybe this feels a bit too scattershot for you. Buzzsumo also allows you to find and observe influencers. What are they sharing? By clicking the “view links shared” button, you’ll get a display of all the unique pages shared. Sometimes “influencers” share all types of varying content crossing many topics. But sometimes, they’re pretty specfic in the themes they share. Look for the latter in this competitive research stage.
Every company has obstacles. Each one has built its own labyrinth. Don’t try to blanket an existing labyrinth with your ill-prepared strategy; instead, work within the existing inroads.
Reality bites. You could draft up an amazing strategy, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, to which you’re rebuilding an entire category structure of one of the website’s most lucrative lines… only to find out there’s a ticket queue for the necessary resources that’s more than 6 months long. Despite your brilliant idea, you’re going to look bad when the client calls you out on not understanding their business.
The best way to avoid this is proactively asking the right questions. Ask about resource support. Ask about historic roadblocks. Ask to be introduced to other players who otherwise hide behind an email here and there. Ask about the company’s temperature regarding a bigger SEO strategy vs. short, quick-hit campaigns. Don’t be your own biggest obstacle — I’ve never heard of anyone getting angry about over-communication unless it paralyzes progress.
It’s time for my Jerry Springer moment.
Not all strategies have to be big. Sometimes your window is small, and you’re forced to build for a distinct — or tiny — opportunity. Maybe you don’t have time for a proper large-scale strategy at all; a tactic or two might be all you can do to carry in a win. Just make that very clear with your boss or client. Don’t misrepresent what you’re trying to build as an SEO campaign.
I understand that some SEO agencies and departments are not built for the big SEO campaigns. Strategic work takes time, and speeding (or scaling) through the development stage will likely do more harm than good. It’s like cramming for a test — you’re going to miss information that’s necessary for a good grade. It would be my pleasure if this post inspired some change in your departments.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that paralysis by over-thinking is a real issue some struggle with. There’s no pill for it (yet). Predicting perfection is a fool’s errand. Get as close as you can within a reasonable timeframe, and prepare for future iteration. If you’re traveling through your plan and determine a soft spot at any time, simply pivot. It’s many hours of upfront work to get your strategy built, but it’s not too hard to tweak as you go.
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!
Author: Stacey Thornberry
We all make mistakes. Really. Even perfectionists (aka the personality type that’s typically drawn to the field marketing profession). But my motto is, “it’s not a mistake unless you DON’T learn from it” (and then do it again…). So, you’re welcome in advance. I’m going to help you learn from others’ mistakes so you don’t have to make your own.
Here are three of the biggest mistakes that field marketers make—taken from my own experience and friends/colleagues who have been honest enough to share:
A common misperception of field marketing is thinking that it’s all about events. Yes, field events are a piece of the field marketing success matrix, but your value is SO much more to your company. You should see yourself, and attain visibility for yourself, as a true partner of your sales organization.
Here at Marketo, our field marketing is responsible for the creation and development of demand through a combination of business processes, integrated marketing campaigns, and sales tools/programs. We execute on that by aligning and supporting the field to promote Marketo offerings, and ultimately add new customers and increase the share of wallet. We also help the field focus on targeted, higher value/strategic deals. Our mantra is ‘quality over quantity’.
See? Field marketing is much more than just field events…not to deny the importance and value of actual field events.
Jargon is hard to learn in any industry and role. But, learning the terms that your sales partners use is extremely important. You cannot convey your value or your desire to collaborate unless you reach them at their level.
Ensure you know and understand some key sales terms in order to speak their language and show that you truly understand their perspective. In a meeting and don’t know an acronym that comes up? Find an opportunity to sneak onto the web to search for it, or bravely admit that you’re learning and ask for clarification. True partners will value your desire to learn!
As a bonus, here are a few important sales terms to get you started:
If you’re doing marketing right, then you’re tracking the performance of your programs. If this raises an alarm bell for you, it’s time to start evaluating some marketing technology to help you out.
For the sake of argument, ,let’s assume you have the right technology to help you understand the value of your programs. Don’t make the error of just uploading your leads and then letting it go. Make sure you’re entering everyone into your system AND managing for accurate attribution. In the end, you want to be able to report out on your programs regarding:
Set standards for yourself of what a successful program is for your company. Is it a cost-to-pipeline ratio of 5x? Is it 2 net new opportunities resulting from your program? Is it 15% new names into your system? Figure out the right fit for your business, and remember: it could be multiple goals.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Well, if you don’t, you could make one of the biggest mistakes—re-running poorly performing programs. Review your data regularly, interpret what it’s telling you, and create repeatable, revenue-driving programs instead of executing on ideas that “sound good.” Move away from the fluffy feel-good sales programs and invest in those that will drive your business forward!
If you thought these mistakes to avoid were helpful, this is just the start. Join me for a deeper dive of these mistakes plus five more in my webinar, The 8 Biggest Mistakes Field Marketers Make (and How to Avoid Them)—Monday, May 22 at 10AM PT/1PM ET.
Better to learn from others’ mistakes than to make your own. Any other field marketers over there have some hot-ticket mistakes they’re willing to share?
3 Mistakes Field Marketers Make (And, How to Avoid Them) was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com
Earlier this year, T-Mobile launched a “Kickback” program that actually credits customers up to $10 a month for their unused data. Just five years ago, such a move would have been unheard of, but it’s just the latest ‘un-carrier’ move from the company that has made its name by giving customers what they want — and transforming the industry in the process. In recent years, T-Mobile has illustrated, time and again, that a win for the customer can also be a win for the business.
Think back to 2012 when it seemed that death was the only surefire way to get out of a cellphone contract. Those early termination fees (the dreaded ETFs) could cost up to $350. The odds of hearing a friend grumble about his wireless carrier far outweighed the odds of a positive anecdote. The industry was, in the words of one insider, “stupid, broken, and arrogant.”
That insider was John Legere — the energetic, unfiltered CEO of T-Mobile who is known for unabashedly dropping the f-bomb and stirring things up with competitors. He spoke those words at a press conference in 2013, and they were reported far and wide. Just a few months prior, T-Mobile had launched its rebellious campaign as the un-carrier when it banished those despised phone contracts along with subsidized phones. The move would turn a “stupid, broken, and arrogant” industry on its head, and the reverberations would benefit customers for years to come.
Legere spoke those words less than a year after he’d been hired by T-Mobile, and he was determined to disrupt an industry that was practically synonymous with customer frustration. In an interview he conducted for Business Insider, Richard Feloni learned that — even when René Obermann, CEO of Deutsche Telekom (the company that owns T-Mobile) was interviewing Legere for the job — Legere was candid from the very start: “Right after hello, I told him that it was my opinion that he could only fail one way in the US. I said, “Do exactly what you’re doing — nothing.””
At the time, T-Mobile was the smallest of the four major wireless players in the US (the others were Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon). However, under Legere, it also proved to be the most daring when it dropped contracts, allowing customers to pay month to month. That decision was made after T-Mobile not only asked customers what they wanted, but also then listened to them — and it wasn’t just the customers who benefited.
The Ripple Effect and the Changes That Followed
The move was a game changer for the telecom industry, says Jill Steinhour, Adobe’s director of industry strategy, high tech, and telecom. “I think T-Mobile knows how to really shake up the industry,” says Steinhour. “It changed the dynamics for the other players in terms of how they were going to go to market.”
In 2015, T-Mobile surpassed Sprint, becoming the third-largest US carrier. That same year, Verizon went contract-free, followed by Sprint and AT&T.
But, while customers reaped the benefits of going contract-free, the future became murky for carriers, which now faced a new challenge: customer predictability.
“They no longer understand when their customer base is going to mature,” says Steinhour. “Historically, they would understand when your contract is coming up and then they would know when to engage and market to you, get you to extend or upsell you to a new phone. That key trigger is fading away.”
On top of that, phone subsidies are disappearing. Traditionally, customers have paid only a fraction of the cost of the phone, and carriers subsidized the differences. Starting in 2013, carriers — led by T-Mobile — moved away from this approach and began to unbundle the cost of the phone from the monthly service. Customers now pay for the phone up front or through monthly installments, resulting in another shift for telecom competitors.
Along with the new installment plans to pay for phones came credit checks — which are incredibly off-putting to customers and a challenge for carriers. In fact, carriers found that many customers would abandon the purchase once they reached the credit-check part of the process. Steinhour claims that’s when carriers began looking to third-party data, which can provide insight into the creditworthiness of potential customers as well as their tendencies to purchase certain types of phones and services.
Adobe’s Ability to Create Effective Solutions
That’s where Adobe comes in. Adobe excels at creating solutions that can help businesses build unique audience profiles. In the case of the telecom industry, those distinctive profiles can help fill some of the voids that had arisen due to industry changes.
“We provide the tools so that the business can work through these issues,” says Steinhour. Adobe’s data management platform, Adobe Audience Manager (AAM), helps businesses better understand their current customers while also identifying new segments to target.
For example, let’s say a carrier wants to identify which of its customers may be planning to travel internationally in the next 30–90 days and, thus, might need an international calling plan. AAM brings together first-, second-, and third-party data that enables the carrier to identify such a segment. The carrier can then target those customers with offers for international plans or products that would appeal to travelers.
When the telecom industry moved away from contracts and subsidized phones, the big four lost their crystal balls and struggled to see who their future customers might be. With audience tools, such as those Adobe provides, businesses are discovering new ways to connect with future customers by anticipating their needs and proactively offering solutions.
Still Making Waves
Since Legere first uttered those critical words in 2013 — sending ripples throughout the industry — T-Mobile has launched more than one dozen un-carrier moves, including:
The rest of the industry has copied some of those moves — contracts and switching fees have become a thing of the past, roaming charges have decreased, and customers can now find plans that avoid overage charges.
Along the way, T-Mobile has become the fastest-growing carrier in the country. When Legere started, the company had 33 million customers. Today, that number has more than doubled. In 2016, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, T-Mobile scored the highest in customer satisfaction among the four major carriers — with its score increasing six percent over the previous year’s result.
In a 2016 interview, Legere told Business Insider, “… if you ask your customers what they want and you give it to them, you shouldn’t be shocked if they love it.” By putting the customer first, by being nimble, and by working to understand and connect with its audience, T-Mobile helped not only move itself forward, but also the industry as a whole. It’s a lesson that all segments could put to good use.
To learn more about T-Mobile’s path to creating exceptional customer experiences, download Experience Counts: Exceptional experiences happen at the intersection of data and design.
Note: All quotes and statistics attributed to Jill Steinhour within this article were taken from an in-person interview with Steinhour, conducted by Kate Silver, journalist and author, on March 1, 2017.
The post It’s all About Customer Experience — If You Love Your Customers, Set Them Free! appeared first on Digital Marketing Blog by Adobe.Read More
When Facebook began rolling out Messenger ads on November 8, 2016, I knew we were in for some excitement!
DigitalMarketer has been testing ever since, and in this post, I’m explaining the ins and outs of Facebook Messenger ads and how to strategically deploy them in your business.
But before you can put them to work you need to know the why—why this ad type matters to ANY and EVERY business…
I know it’s easy to assume that this ad type (or channel as a whole) would only work for “high-tech” audiences, or “big” companies that have the resources to man a customer communication channel…. but, stay with me.
That’s not the case.
After doing a bit of thinking and research, I realized that assuming Messenger only works for highly technical markets is like saying that Facebook as a marketing channel only works for highly technical markets…
This chart from Business Insider is mind-blowing. At the beginning of 2015, monthly usage of the top four messaging apps surpassed usage of the top four social networks.
And, over ONE BILLION people use Facebook Messenger as a whole. Even my great-grandmother (she’s in her 90’s) uses Facebook Messenger…
My point is that we must not only enter the conversation that’s already taking place in our customer’s head, we must BE in the places where our customers are having their conversations.
Aside from even advertising through Messenger, being reactive and responsive to your people throughout the entire Customer Journey via Messenger is essential.
I recently experienced this as a consumer.
I was driving down the road and saw a new apartment complex. I reached out via Messenger from their Facebook page to inquire about the property.
Every step of my Customer Journey, from scheduling a tour to negotiating the lease, was done through Facebook Messenger. It’s very likely that if they weren’t as responsive on Messenger as they were, I would’ve ended up living somewhere else.
If you get nothing else out of this article remember this… Messenger will continue to become an essential communication channel.
Facebook reported that more than one in two people say they’re more likely to shop with a business they can message, and 67% of people expect to message businesses more in the next two years.
It’s how people are communicating with family and friends. A large portion of our society prefers to communicate via a messenger with quick responses.
Adapt… or lose business to your competition.
Now, we, as marketers, have the opportunity to tap into this tremendous channel to grow our business and better serve our customers.
There are two different “types” of Facebook Messenger ads.
Let’s start with…
Destination ads appear in the newsfeed, and when clicked on, open inside of a Facebook message (instead of sending traffic to a URL):
You can find this destination option at the ad level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor.
The ad looks and feels like a normal ad, with the option to include an image, video, carousel, slideshow, etc.:
A few things to note about destination ads…
Ways to use this ad type…
What’s the biggest “hang-up” in your Customer Journey?
Use destination ads to give people an extra touch point with your brand. Help them overcome any barriers to purchase.
For example, we use Messenger ads to retarget people who visit our sales pages but don’t purchase the product. If you visit the sales page for DigitalMarketer Lab but don’t buy, you’ll see this ad:
There’s usually a reason people don’t buy, and if you give people a platform to ask questions and help overcome doubt, it works wonders. For example, people want to know if the product will actually work for their business, if there is a contract or commitment, if they can add team members, etc.
Once their questions are answered, most are ready to purchase the product. This entire conversation is happening via Facebook Messenger.
We have the option to run destination ads to cold traffic (people who have never heard of our brand).
This can be used to raise awareness and acquire customers, but—it must be done right.
The key here is to make sure the ad prompts an ideal sales conversation. For example, if your ad asks people to respond with their favorite color, it’s probably going to be a waste of time and money.
But, if you can prompt a conversation that leads to your ideal sales conversation… you’re golden.
Imagine you own a home improvement company that provides a slew of services: plumbing, landscaping, painting, etc.
You run an ad in your local area, “If you could ‘fix’ one aspect of your home, what would it be?”. People respond with “landscaping” or “I’d paint my home.” You now know their pain point and can cater your conversation to this topic, hopefully ending in a sale.
Again, I wouldn’t recommend starting here as I don’t believe this is the most highly leveraged activity within Facebook Messenger ads, but, it’s worth a shot when you’re ready for scale.
Sponsored messages appear inside of the Facebook Messenger inbox.
It’s an identical experience to receiving a Facebook message from a friend, these just come from a brand.
You can find this option at the ad set level when creating a campaign in Ads Manager or Power Editor:
When creating an actual message, you can include links and images:
A few things to note about sponsored messages…
ManyChat is much more than a “bot” (in my opinion, the bot is the least sexy feature).
ManyChat builds a list of subscribers that you can send sponsored messages to; people who have previously messaged your page:
Although Facebook is building this list, too, the benefit is ManyChat allows you to broadcast sponsored messages to your subscriber list for just $10/month (instead of paying Facebook on a CPM basis):
We’ve sent four sponsored messages to our subscriber list, and the open rates have been INSANE (especially compared to email open rates)!!
So far, we’ve only sent promotional broadcasts (that mimic our email promotional calendar) to sell tickets to our annual event and invite prospects to join DM Lab. We do plan to begin weaving in content based emails, similar to an email newsletter, in the near future.
So, ready to put this to work in your business? Let’s talk about…
(NOTE: Ready to use Facebook’s newest “ad” platform to turn one-to-one conversation into sales—even if you don’t have the staff to reply manually? Check out the Facebook Messenger Marketing Blueprint and discover how Facebook Messenger Ads are changing the way businesses communicate with customers. Learn more now.)
Sponsored messages are so powerful, and—this is really important—the fact that you can only send them to people who have previously messaged your page will keep this from becoming a spam-fest.
But, there does need to be list building strategies, similar to email.
You can use destination ads to build your Messenger subscriber list.
ManyChat also provides a unique URL that when clicked, opens a Facebook message with your brand page.
For example, we sent an email and used the link to drive messages:
Not only did this provide an extra line of communication for people who would prefer to use Messenger, it sold tickets! As you can see from this Facebook Messenger conversation between a customer and one of our sales reps…
If you’re using a software like Shopify, you can integrate with Facebook and build your subscriber list as people purchase your product:
You can also send follow-up messages to confirm the order and send shipping information:
…Which is a great way to improve user experience.
And, don’t forget—even people who message your page, (for customer service related questions, for example) are added to your subscriber list!
You may be wondering, Wow… this sounds awesome, but it requires a lot of human resources to answer messages!
And, you’re right. But, it doesn’t mean it’s not worth it AND it doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from this ad type even if you’re a one-person show. Here are a few tips:
I also recommend integrating your customer service and sales platforms with Facebook Messenger so that your team can leverage Messenger while still having access to customer information.
If you’re using ManyChat.com (or similar tools), you’ll have the opportunity to leverage Facebook’s Comment-to-Messenger feature. This feature allows you to auto-message any person that comments on a specific Facebook post.
Here’s an example…
Click here for a step-by-step guide on how to set up and deploy this strategy… along with examples of different business types.
Take advantage of this channel to communicate with your prospects and customers. Build systems in your business that leverage this channel so that you can build a subscriber list, similar to email. Then…
Test, test, test, and as always… let us know how these strategies are working in your business!
(NOTE: Ready to use Facebook’s newest “ad” platform to turn one-to-one conversation into sales—even if you don’t have the staff to reply manually? Check out the Facebook Messenger Marketing Blueprint and discover how Facebook Messenger Ads are changing the way businesses communicate with customers. Learn more now.)
The post Facebook Messenger Ads: How to Use Them in Your Business appeared first on DigitalMarketer.Read More
Author: Nate Dame
Videos are becoming increasingly important for B2B marketing. Companies with dedicated video marketing strategies generate more leads, earn more revenue, and enjoy better brand awareness than those engaging in all other forms of marketing.
Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are great places to get eyes on your video content, but prospects aren’t necessarily in work- or buy-mode as they scroll through these platforms.
We do know, however, that 90% of B2B decision-makers use search to research business decisions. To reap the benefits of video marketing, your videos must be optimized for search. By following a few best practices for video SEO, you’ll enjoy more visible video search results and drive more organic traffic—and qualified leads—to your video content.
In its general search and video search functions, Google ranks videos using the same ranking factors as written content—content quality, number of backlinks, and RankBrain are the most important signals. When hosting videos on your site, the tasks for optimizing video content are similar to those for written content and images.
Similar, but not identical. Here are five steps you should take to improve your search rankings so your videos stand out in search results:
Providing both a video and transcription on a single page offers dual benefits: it caters to different reader preferences, and it makes video content more likely to appear in general Google searches.
Video transcriptions can be optimized for search in the same way as any other text-based site content. While this may seem to break duplicate content rules, transcriptions actually provide a good user experience by catering to different learning styles. While some visitors may prefer videos, others may prefer reading. In fact, 85% of business executives prefer reading over watching videos when making business decisions.
When transcribing video content, there are two approaches you can take:
Full transcripts provide more engagement SEO opportunities, while highlights are good for long videos and can encourage more views by teasing readers with compelling content that’s discussed in more detail in the video. Ultimately, use the approach your audience prefers: you can poll them to find out, or do some A/B testing to see which approach drives the kind of engagement you’re looking for.
Just like general search results, titles and descriptions display in video searches. While Google will find something to display if this data isn’t provided, you’ll drive more views and rank higher in results if this metadata is optimized.
Video titles and descriptions should:
Additionally, Google displays a thumbnail for video results. Thumbnails are to videos as images are to blog posts—choosing the right thumbnail is crucial. While most video processing programs will select a thumbnail using a single screen from the video, you should create a custom thumbnail that illustrates video content, attracts attention, and inspires interest.
While some users conduct searches using Google’s video search function, many just use the general search tool. To help videos stand out in general search results, use schema markup (semantic vocabulary) to provide the information search engines need. With schema markup, general search results will appear in the same way as video search results, providing a video thumbnail and length.
At a minimum, you’ll need to add schema markup for the title, description, thumbnail, and either embed- or content-URL for each video. You may also want to include video length, upload date, and height and width dimensions. Google has a page describing exactly what it expects from schema markup for videos and allows you to validate schema markup with the Rich Snippet Testing Tool.
While Google’s crawlers will discover videos on your site, you can enhance discovery of site-hosted videos by creating a video sitemap and submitting it to Google Search Console. Create a separate video sitemap, or add video entries to an existing sitemap.
Entries in a video sitemap must include video title, description, play page URL, thumbnail, and raw video file URL, and must match the information included on your site. There are a number of optional pieces of data that can be included as well—video duration, rating, view count, category, and live status. While the optional fields do not need to be included in a video sitemap, they provide additional data Google can use to properly index video files.
The best way to know if users prefer video content for certain queries is to conduct searches for targeted keywords. If video results appear on the first page of results, it signifies that users are typically satisfied with video content for that query. For example, conducting a Google search for the query “Twitter tutorial” results in a YouTube video in position two, just below the official Twitter support page.
Prioritize video creation for keywords that populate video results in general search and create videos that are higher quality or more comprehensive than those that are already ranking for relevant keywords.
Video content is held to the same standards as text content in search results—it must be high quality. Optimizing fluff videos isn’t a valuable use of your time because—like general content—engagement factors are important. If people are watching only a few seconds of your video and then leaving, your engagement scores will fall, and Google may determine that your video is either irrelevant to the query or low-quality.
Video content should cater to user intent, provide value to viewers, and have a high production value. That doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune hiring actors or designing animations that make Pixar jealous, but it does mean that videos should be in focus, audio should be clear, and unnecessary pieces should be edited out.
Once you’ve created high-quality, engaging videos, upload them to your site, add transcripts, and optimize display in results with metadata, schema markup, and sitemaps. Completing these tasks will enable more visible—and higher ranking—search results for video marketing content.
What other tips and tricks do you have for optimizing video search rankings? Share them in the comments below.
5 SEO Tips for Videos: How Google Ranks Them & How to Optimize was posted at Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership. | http://blog.marketo.com