Most sites that teach digital business and marketing have absolutist prescriptions. “You must do this.” “You must never do that.” But the web is a complicated place. And rigid, black-and-white advice will only take you so far. This week, we talked about three ways to navigate the subtleties of conducting business online. On Monday, Stefanie
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For advertisers, the Google Marketing keynote is a hotly anticipated annual event where we get to hear about all of the new features coming up in Google’s suite of marketing tools. It’s also a great indicator of what’s top of mind for Google, and what betas you can expect to roll out (or bug your Google rep to let you into early).
Yesterday’s presentation kicked off with consumer trends, then covered improvements and launches across a range of Google ad platforms. Throughout the event we heard data control and privacy come up often, reminding us that privacy is still a major theme of 2018. And while professional paid media managers may have found the keynote a bit of a bore, there were some decent things to get excited about too.
If you don’t have an hour to watch the full recording, read on for our key highlights (or skim ‘em, if that’s more your thing).
AdWords is no more
Whoah whoah, don’t panic. The ad platform that you know and love (and rely on for your business) is still intact. In fact, if you follow PPC news or read the Google Ads blog, you probably already heard about the shift from Google AdWords to Google Ads that’s coming at the end of this month. Like the old Google Ads interface, you’ve probably already forgotten about ‘AdWords’, right?
What’s actually changed?
Here’s a breakdown of what this rebrand means, and what terms to use so you sound smart in front of your boss and clients:
- AdWords will become Google Ads.
- DoubleClick and Google Analytics 360 will now be combined into Google Marketing Platform.
- DoubleClick Search is now Search Ads 360.
- The rebrand becomes official July 24th, 2018.
Page speed is critical (and more visibility means more control)
We recently shared that we’re close to launching a beta program for Accelerated Mobile Pages at Unbounce, and that page speed is a top priority for us as a leading landing page builder—so naturally we were nodding along yesterday morning as Anthony Chavez, Product Management Director at Google Ads, explained the impact that page speed can have on conversion rates.
Chavez opened his speed segment by reminding us that:
“even the best ads may not perform if your landing pages aren’t up to par, especially on mobile.”
Chavez admitted that landing page speed is often a lower priority for advertisers, who are focused on optimizing keywords, bids, and ad copy. When that’s not enough, “one of the best ways to get better performance on mobile is to improve the speed of your landing pages,” says Chavez. And we couldn’t agree more.
This is why we were giddy when he announced that Mobile Speed Score is now available in Google Ads. Mobile Speed Score is a new score telling you how fast your ad’s resulting landing pages are. This score is on a ten-point scale (ten being the fastest) and includes secret-sauce factors visible to Google—like the relationship between your mobile landing page speed and conversion rates. Plus, it’s updated daily, so you won’t have to wait weeks to figure out if your speed optimizations are working for you.
Since it’s a column built into your Google Ads account, you’ll be able to sort and filter the landing pages that could use some love. You can find this new column in the Landing Pages tab of your Google Ads account:
Chavez went on to suggest using AMP landing pages as a “powerful and easy way to supercharge your site speed,” something we can definitely agree with. By using AMP landing pages together with Mobile Speed Score, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of your competition.
Want to get even further ahead of your competition? Sign up for early access to Unbounce’s AMP beta program right here
Search ads are going responsive
For a while now Google has been integrating machine learning and automation into its ad platform, and it looks like the future is no different. Much like last year’s launch of Smart Display campaigns, Google dedicated quite a bit of time to explaining Responsive Search Ads. However, this may not come as news to you as the Responsive Search Ads beta has been available to many advertisers for months already.
Similar to how Smart Display campaigns combine images with text on the fly, Responsive Search Ads combine headlines and descriptions from variations you’ve inputted to create an ad that’s deemed “most relevant to the searcher.” Ideally this means your ads will be more catered to each user and query, instead of serving up a rotation of generic ads.
This is a step forward in more personalized search results, but also means less control for advertisers, and makes it complicated to test ad copy. One big benefit, however, is that these ads can show up to 90% more copy than Expanded Text Ads, meaning you take over more real estate on the SERP. If this is the future of search ads, SEOs should be worried.
Your ad could show up to three 30-character headlines (vs. just one) and two 90-character description lines (compared to one 80-character description line). And PPC-er’s seem to be on board with this extra space, with the reaction mostly positive, if not a little hesitant:
Not seeing Responsive Search Ads as an option in your account? The beta is still rolling out to English-language advertisers and will be rolling out to more advertisers and languages throughout 2018.
Also, if you still prefer man over machine, you can continue to use Expanded Text Ads in your campaigns.
Even more assorted product updates & improvements
Better cross-device tracking
Tracking users across devices has always been a pain for paid advertisers, but this has been improving over the years. Google reaffirmed its commitment to solving this pain by announcing cross-device reporting and remarketing in Google Analytics (to what sounded like the largest applause of the keynote).
Google Shopping updates
If you’ve ever launched Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on Google Shopping, you know that it can be a whole other beast. Starting this year, Google will be rolling out Automated Feeds which create a feed by crawling your website (no more troubleshooting feeds). Keeping with the theme, Google also talked about the recently launched Smart Shopping campaigns that automatically optimize around a goal.
These changes will make PLAs a lot more accessible to advertisers, but oppositely could increase competition for those of us already advertising on Google Shopping. In fact, Smart Campaigns will soon be integrated with Shopify, meaning Shopify merchants will be able to manage their Smart Shopping campaigns without leaving the platform. This reduces barriers for the 600,000+ Shopify users that may have been previously intimidated by the Google Merchant Center.
Updates to YouTube
On the video side of things, Google announced that later this year they will be bringing a new option to TrueView for Reach ads. In addition to a call to action button, the new Form Ads will allow you to collect leads through a form directly on the ad. Because we didn’t see any examples of how these would look in the wild, I’ll say it sounds like this feature won’t be released very soon. For now though, I can guess it will be something similar to Facebook’s Lead Ads, maybe even more simple.
They also kept YouTube on the machine learning bandwagon, announcing Maximize Lift Bidding. They describe this as a bidding strategy to help you “reach people who are more likely to consider your brand after exposure to an ad.” Google added a bit more context to this feature—currently in beta—on its blog, saying, “it automatically adjusts bids at auction time to maximize the impact your video ads have on brand perception throughout the consumer journey.”
We’ll have to wait until it rolls out officially later this year to learn even more.
Machine learning for small business
If you run a small business, Google used a small slice of the keynote to remind you that you’re still an important customer. They announced the upcoming launch of something called Smart Campaigns, and—you guessed it—it involves machine learning. Google Ads is a sophisticated platform, but can still be intimidating for a small business, or a non-marketer.
Using information scanned from the company’s website and their Google My Business listing, the Smart Display campaign automatically generates ads on both search and display. The goal is to get small business owners up and running with ads as quickly as possible and to help them overcome the learning curve that can come with online advertising (or the cost of hiring an agency). After launch, the campaigns automatically optimize themselves.
Going further, the campaigns automatically generate quick and simple landing pages for small businesses, for when you’re running without a website. While these landing pages include super basic information like your location and phone number, you don’t get any control over brand messaging or even the images that get selected.
As a paid advertiser by trade myself, I’m wary of handing this much control over my ads to Google’s machine learning, but that doesn’t mean this can’t work for a small business customer. The audience for Smart Campaigns is an advertiser starting from scratch (as in, no website-from-scratch) so there would be no historical performance to compare to.
What all these updates mean
While not everything was technically fresh news at this year’s Google Marketing Live, we still had some interesting key takeaways.
What stood out the most to us at Unbounce was the critical need for fast landing pages, especially on mobile. Undeniably though, the strong thread throughout the keynote was the shift toward machine learning.
My prediction is that—over the coming months and years—Google will shift to more and more “Smart” features and campaigns until eventually machine learning becomes so intertwined that we drop the “Smart.” I’m not quite ready to give Google the wheel on all of my ad copy, bids, and optimization just yet, but I’m curious to see the data and hear the results as we move into this new era of online advertising.
Content Tips to Help Your Professional Services Business Stand Out written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
Professional services cover a wide variety of industry, from law to accounting, and beyond. What makes these businesses unique is that they don’t offer tangible products to their customers, but rather, knowledge-based services instead.
People in this line of work are essentially selling relationships with a promised outcome, often making it difficult to prove their value. Additionally, these businesses are often inundated with competitors fighting for their audience’s attention.
Those in professional services know all too well how hard it can be to separate themselves from the crowd…but it can be done.
My recommendation? Start with content. Content is essentially the air of marketing these days. Without it, your business will fall behind. With that being said, here are a few ways to use it to give you a competitive advantage if you’re in this space.
Make time for marketing
First things first, you have to make time for marketing. It is not uncommon for people in professional services to want to dedicate 100% of their time to client work, but if you want a consistent flow of prospects coming in the door, you need to do your part and stay active with marketing.
This doesn’t mean you need to always have an endless supply of leads coming in, you only need enough to keep your business going, so identify that number and revise your efforts from there.
If you’re a CPA or a lawyer and don’t want, or have the time, to focus on the marketing efforts yourself, it’s OK to delegate these tasks and even outsource outside of your business. This will allow you to focus on client work and other tasks that require your attention. As long as you own the overall strategy, it’s OK to ask for help on the rest.
Before you do anything, you must clearly define who your ideal client is, otherwise the marketing efforts you put in won’t even matter. Don’t just base your target audience on a hunch or what you believe to be true. Be sure to actually do your research, call clients, look at past client conversation via email, etc. The list goes on but it’s important to be extremely thorough with this and understand their pain points and how your business can help solve them. Once you’re aware of them, you can address them in your content (more on content later).
When talking to my clients in professional services, I often find that they find the most success by being really specific about who they’re trying to reach. This isn’t a necessity necessarily, but it can help you get really targeted with your messaging and establish a strong emotional connection with that group of people. Specializing can be a great thing, as long as you know how to reach and communicate with the people you’re going after.
Create a content strategy
One of the first things a professional services business needs to do as part of their marketing efforts is to develop a content strategy, which very few businesses actually do. However, a documented strategy can help to keep your business on track and make you more effective with your efforts. Knowing your goals, what you’ll be creating and what you’ll be measuring will help you optimize your marketing efforts moving forward and can prevent you from spinning your wheels.
Since professional services don’t sell tangible products, it is especially important that these businesses show their knowledge and expertise through content to help establish trust and credibility with their audience.
Be a thought leader
Since you’re selling services and not a product (per se), you need to establish yourself as a thought leader within your industry (and location if you’re a local business) and prove that you have a lot of experience and are more than capable to handle your client’s needs.
Often times, clients of a professional services business don’t really know what they’re getting into or fully understand the process and services. Many times, the only things they care about are that you’re reputable and know what you’re doing due to extensive experience.
Whatever expertise you have, make it known through testimonials, case studies, association badges, the works! Remember to be original and show your personality. Your prospects are likely doing their research and they don’t want to hear the same thing from every business they’re approaching. Make yourself unique and memorable through your content.
Put your website to work
The purpose of your website isn’t to sit there and look pretty. It needs to actually do work for your business. In a nutshell, in addition to it carrying your message and showcasing your personality, it can act as a lead generating machine and be the hub of your marketing efforts.
I discuss the content necessities for a professional services website in this post and highly recommend that you check it out for a deeper dive into this topic.
Focus on SEO
Many businesses don’t immediately think SEO when they think of content, however, these days, they are almost one in the same. The more valuable content you put on your site, the more Google will recognize you as a website to watch. They want their users to have an exceptional customer experience. If Google recognizes you do that for your clients and prospects, they’ll be more likely to increase your rank in search engine results pages.
If I haven’t implied this enough throughout the rest of the post, let me state here that your content must be valuable to your audience. It must be well-written and truly useful for its viewers.
Within the content, it’s important to include relevant keywords to help alert Google of what the content is about. Note, and this is a big note: Do not keyword stuff. The keywords you use should flow naturally. Google can tell when you overuse keywords and will penalize your site for it.
Include these keywords in your content, header tags, meta descriptions, page titles, alt text, and URL.
As with most areas of marketing, your SEO strategy isn’t something you should just focus on sporadically. It’s important to give it consistent attention to make sure that the tactics you’re implementing are working.
To wrap everything up, content marketing in the professional services space needs to be about truly helping your audience and establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Show each prospect and client that you truly care and that they’ve been heard. Essentially, make them feel special, both in your one-on-one conversations with them as well as in your content.
By making your content revolve around your prospect and not your business, you’ll be one step closer to turning them into a client.
Need more tips on how to grow your business? Check out our entire Guide to Marketing Professional Services.
While digging through data and market research, it can be easy to get lost in the numbers. But when assessing these insights, what really matters is the stories they tell.
This is a key point of emphasis for Gartner, and specifically its Smarter with Gartner content platform, which adds context and substance to trends surfaced by the research firm’s findings.
So it is quite fitting that Heather Pemberton Levy, who helps guide Gartner’s strategic direction as VP of Content Marketing, champions the “Story Comes First” method. This concept served as a framework for her 2016 book, Brand, Meet Story: How to Create Engaging Content to Win Business and Influence Your Audience, and will also be in play during her workshop at Content Marketing World, entitled “From 0 to 60: Building a Mature B2B Content Marketing Organization.”
We talk frequently on our blog about the crucial importance of storytelling — recently we discussed its impact as a trust-building tool — so we’re definitely on board with letting relatable narratives lead the way in content. We are eager to hear how Pemberton Levy and her team have woven this directive, and other elements, into the process of building Gartner’s highly-trafficked content hub from the ground up.
While we wait for her September session, we did have a chance to ask Pemberton Levy for her views on some important content marketing topics. Here’s what she had to say about flipping the traditional marketing model, the value of “version 0.5,” lessons learned from writing a mommy blog, and more.
What does your role as Vice President of Content Marketing at Gartner entail? What are your main areas of focus and key priorities?
I lead content marketing for global marketing campaigns and the Smarter with Gartner and Gartner.com platforms. Gartner equips business leaders across all major functions, in every industry and enterprise size, with the insights, advice and tools to achieve their top priorities. I manage a global team of contributors who create original content for all major business categories in the form of articles, infographics, eBooks, and videos based on Gartner’s proprietary insights.
My main area of focus is to ensure that our content is valuable to senior business leaders while meeting our key marketing priorities to attract prospects, engage and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. This involves continuously evolving our editorial and platform strategies, working with stakeholders throughout the organization, and evangelizing content marketing within the broader corporate marketing function.
You created the “Story Comes First” method. How does this flip the conventional marketing model and why is it important?
The Story Comes First method creates a structure for creating content that always begins with a story your reader can identify with and uses this moment to bridge their point of view with your brand’s unique selling point. Many marketers still talk about their products and services in terms of what they can do for their audience rather than what the audience cares about, why that’s important and how their solution can help solve the problem. Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy.
Stories have the power to engage prospects with an emotional hook that endears them to a brand more successfully than standard marketing copy. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld
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How has social media changed the game for brand storytelling?
Brands are no longer dependent on publicity with traditional media to influence target audiences. Social media gave brands their own “subscriber lists,” effectively giving them their own distribution channels for content marketing.
You’ll be presenting at CMWorld on building a mature B2B content marketing organization. What, from your view, are the hallmarks of maturity on this front?
In my three years building a content marketing organization with my colleagues at Gartner, my views have evolved on what signals content marketing maturity in a complex global organization.
First, if you dig into your analytics, the data may tell a different story than what you see on the first page of your dashboard report. It’s not easy to get the right analytics so it’s important to constantly lobby for good data and pay attention to it.
Second, what people do with your content may be different than what you intended. If you’re willing to listen to the data, it will be necessary, at times, to upend your strategy and head in a new direction.
What people do with your content may be different than what you intended. @heathrpemberton #CMWorld
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Which content marketing metrics and KPIs do you think are most critical to growth?
Rather than list specific KPIs, which is a longer discussion that I will cover in the workshop, I’ll note that it’s important to be crystal clear what you are measuring and why. Our content marketing strategy centers around three key objectives and we have specific KPIs and related metrics for each objective. Everyone on my team is measured based on these objectives and KPIs. This is the best way to work towards the right priorities for the organization.
What are some shortcuts you’ve identified in your career when it comes to striving toward content marketing maturity?
One of the hallmarks of Gartner corporate strategy is to “get to version 0.5 and then test” and improve from there. This philosophy has allowed us to be agile and put new ideas into the marketplace quickly to learn what works. It’s how Smarter With Gartner was built and we constantly remind ourselves that when we are planning a new strategic direction, it’s best to find a way to do something quickly with low impact on resources first and build it out further based on data from our audience.
Looking back, is there a particular moment or juncture in your career that you view as transformative? What takeaways could other marketers learn and apply?
I wrote a mommy blog for four years that helped me learn how to tell stories and use dialog – all of which I brought to my content marketing career. The experience reminded me that I am an editor and publisher at heart and helped me find ways to create content, eventually for brands.
My takeaway for other content marketers is to read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own work. You never know how it will fit but it’s important to stay exposed to the masters of our craft.
Read and write what you love for recreation or as a hobby and bring the best of what you see across genres to your own [email protected] #CMWorld
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Which speaker presentations are you looking forward to most at Content Marketing World 2018?
I’m looking forward to the sessions on creating video since the format takes time and resources to make standout content. I’m also excited for the keynotes by Amber Guild of The New York Times Company and, of course, Tina Fey.
Story Comes First. What’s Next?
We’ll find out when Pemberton Levy takes the stage in Cleveland. In the meantime, we recommend tapping into illuminating insights from her and many other content marketing leaders in The Ultimate Guide to Conquering Content Marketing:
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CMWorld Interview: Gartner’s Heather Pemberton Levy Shares How Story First Marketing Drives Success | http://www.toprankblog.com
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Did you know that poor web design can hurt conversions and sales? An unattractive site deserves a website redesign. No matter what your company size or industry is, though, it’s crucial that you take a strategic approach to your website redesign. Know what isn’t working, what does currently work, and what goals you wish to achieve. Otherwise, how will you take advantage of your existing web traffic? Worse, what happens if your web design is causing people to avoid visiting your site at all? Let’s look at some of my favorite techniques for creating a website redesign strategy and implementing…
The post Poor Sales? Maybe You Need a Website Redesign: Here’s How appeared first on The Daily Egg.
Marketers understand the key to successful business is cross-channel marketing as it makes it easy for customers to complete any desired activity on whatever medium they are most comfortable with.
However, the actual implementation of cross-channel marketing is a different story. In fact, for many, communications are still siloed and these brands are missing out on a 43x uplift in marketing performance and lead generation from cross-marketing efforts.
The latest Eloqua Customer User Forum tackled this very subject, hearing from Oracle Marketing Cloud experts on how to successfully expand cross-channel marketing to drive real results.
Kim Barlow, director of strategic & analytical services EMEA, opened the day by discussing why cross-channel marketing is just as important for B2B brands as B2C ones. She stressed that “the success of a cross-channel strategy relies on a strong customer journey map.”
So, what is customer journey mapping and why is it so important? Put simply, it is a powerful tool that teaches brands about their customers. It visually illustrates customers’ processes, needs and perceptions throughout their interactions and relationship with a brand. It tells a story about the potential frustrations and experiences of customers.
You may find the idea of starting a customer journey map intimidating. It is certainly an eye-opening process, and there is some time investment required. However, if you follow this process you can be truly effective:
- Create an initial map that includes personas, behaviors, touchpoints, attitudes, emotions, and enablers.
- Evaluate these attitudes, prioritize the focus and biggest pain point. Then determine the impact.
- Explore and clarify needs and drivers and examine your capabilities (roles and processes).
- Brainstorm the desired transformation and innovation.
- Design a new experience. Before going full steam ahead, do a reality check before designing the experience.
Ultimately, customer journey mapping puts the customer in the bull’s eye of a marketer’s thinking and demonstrates the need for the entire brand to adapt. However, to truly impact the customer experience, learnings from customer journey mapping must be taken and implemented. This will ensure cross-channel marketing efforts reach consumers effectively with the message in the right place at the right time.
With that in mind, there are three key takeaways to ensure true success:
- Cross-channel strategies are only effective when the customer journey for different personas are mapped out (data analytics is key).
- Customer journey mapping should be optimized continuously so marketers are giving the best experience to prospects and prospective customers.
- Each touchpoint needs to have a KPI that matches to the overall objective and is measurable where possible.