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Monthly Archives: August 2022

Our Favorite Android Phones Are on Sale Right Now

August 31, 2022 No Comments

Step aside, Obi-Wan. These are the (an)droids we’re looking for—and they’re discounted until midnight.
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Five Great Tips on How to Use eCommerce Analytics to Understand Your Audience

August 31, 2022 No Comments

Long-term eCommerce success depends on your ability to gather, interpret, and transform relevant data into actionable tactics and strategies. Simply put, the eCommerce industry has become an overly competitive place, and with the market value expected to reach US $ 5.88 trillion by 2025, online stores need to focus on bringing more value to customers in order to stay ahead.

Why? Because bringing value to your customers is what will set you apart from the rest and entice people to switch from being one-off buyers to lifelong brand followers and advocates. And as we all know, real eCommerce success lies in repeat purchases and customer retention.

With that in mind, today we are going to analyze the ways you can use eCommerce analytics and key data points to get to know your audience and leverage that data to maximize your store’s potential in 2022 and beyond. 

Combine Sources of Engagement Analytics

Digital marketers are nowadays creating omnichannel campaigns that aim to optimize all customer touchpoints and create a unified brand experience across the web. From your PPC campaigns to your social media ads and content, all the way to your website and other data sources, there are numerous touchpoints you can use to gauge engagement and analyze your audience.

Consider how your audience is interacting with your brand and your marketing and sales messaging on different channels and touchpoints. On social media, you need to pool data from your ads and the content you publish, but also from your DMs, comment sections, and interactions.

Together, these data points will give you a clearer picture of your social media engagement, but most importantly, how and why people get prompted to engage with your brand. Apply this principle to all touchpoints for detailed eCommerce analytics and insights that will help you understand your audience and what inspires them to interact with your brands, but also other brands in your niche.

Track Your Visitors to Create Heat Maps

On your website, you want to gather as much data passively as you can. You also need to leverage active data collection with ratings, surveys, testimonials, and other direct feedback tools. The data you collect passively will give you an unbiased insight into user behavior.

You want to understand how people are using your website, why they’re sticking around, and where they spend most of their time vs where they decide to drop out or where their attention starts to wane. When you have that information, you can create heat maps that will allow you to build a better user experience on your website.

For example, some of the best Shopify apps out there focus on passive data collection for fraud prevention and user analytics, while others focus on smart product recommendations based on user behavior. You can integrate various apps and trackers, and use them along with your website cookies to get a clearer picture of how visitors are using your website.

Then, you can create detailed website heat maps and user behavior reports to make data-driven decisions on how to improve the various aspects of your online store.

Monitor Checkout Behavior and Performance

There are many steps that lead to a successful checkout. You need to optimize the entire customer journey to guide customers from awareness to conversion and then loyalty, but one of the key elements in that process is simplicity. Simplicity in shopping, cart management, and the overall reduction of customer effort.

To reduce customer effort as much as possible and build customer loyalty in eCommerce through a positive shopping experience, you need to monitor checkout behavior and use that data to improve the process. This will involve your typical metrics such as the percentage of people who complete a purchase or the percentage of people who add items to their carts.

But more importantly, you should monitor those subtle behaviors, like the time it takes people to complete a purchase or how quickly they back out of a sale. Take a look at your heat map to see where people stick around the most. 

You might find that they linger on the shipping options and costs before backing out, which is a clear indicator that you need to improve your shipping to incentivize more conversions.

Use Digital Fingerprinting to Identify Your Audience

As we already mentioned, passive data collection is important for audience research and for getting to know your website visitors. Luckily, you can use your website’s cookies but also integrate various data-collection and fingerprinting apps to identify people on your site and learn more about them.

You can use this to identify the visitor’s internet service provider, the browser they’re using, their location and device they’re accessing your site from, as well as minute details such as their operating system, screen orientation, and more. Digital marketing agencies will regularly include these data points in their eCommerce reporting for their clients in order to provide as much useful data as possible, and it’s important that you gather this data yourself as well.

You can use it to build much more detailed buyer personas and take your marketing and sales to the next level.

Monitor Repeat Customers and Optimize Retargeting 

As you already know, the key to long-term eCommerce success lies in repeat conversions and customer retention. People who have already bought something from you are much more likely to make another purchase, and this is your opportunity to deliver a better overall experience and entice them to keep coming back to your store.

To that end, you need to keep up with the trending products to sell online in your niche and weave them into your personalized offerings, based on the individual’s browsing and purchasing history. These need to be up-sell and cross-sell products, as well as trending products from different categories within their scope of interest. 

Be sure to monitor the behavior of your repeat customers, their interests, and drivers, and use that information to improve retargeting with value-driven offers, messaging, and personalized experiences. 

Over to You

These insights will be invaluable in identifying common pain points and desires so that you can optimize and improve all customer touchpoints for a better, more rewarding experience. The result will be a customer who will want to come back to your store regularly to make yet another purchase. 

The post Five Great Tips on How to Use eCommerce Analytics to Understand Your Audience first appeared on PPC Hero.

PPC Hero


Shopify SEO: How to limit your reliance on canonicals and boost crawl efficiency

August 30, 2022 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Reducing reliance on canonical tags can improve product URL discovery on Shopify
  • How you structure your products on Shopify can determine how well these pages perform
  • Shifting reliance from canonical tags to rich internal anchor text helps build relevancy

Can anything stop the relentless rise of Shopify? Back in 2012, the landscape was dominated by WordPress, Magento, and Joomla. Fast-forward 10 years and many in the industry now see Shopify as the leading ecommerce platform, with the others going from leaders to laggards.

Shopify SEO graph

There are of course multiple reasons for Shopify’s rise to prominence, but arguably one of the biggest factors is that the platform is much more technically accessible than other ecommerce infrastructure providers. Getting your head around a fresh Magento install or working out how Joomla works (which is still a mystery to me till date!) often requires a certain level of technical know-how. And, if you don’t possess it, then you need to spend extra resources outsourcing that work to someone who does.

Shopify understood that baking simplicity and an “it just works” ethos into their platform would allow everyday entrepreneurs to get their sites up and running quickly, without needing a degree in computer science or a huge budget to maintain their online presence. However, as user-friendly, as it might be, there are still a few technical and SEO hurdles to overcome if you want your Shopify site to succeed on the SERPs.

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at a key “out of the box” SEO issue that often limits the relevance of product pages within Shopify and creates significant site bloat. More importantly, I’ll also share four potential solutions that can be used to fix the problem and maximize your product page potential. Let’s dive in.

The cost of inefficiency

Something that we often discuss with our clients is ensuring that Google can crawl their websites as efficiently as possible. We explain this by breaking down the cost to Google of crawling the web. Every time Google visits a webpage on the Internet there is a physical cost to Google: the price of electricity consumption, water consumption, hardware, software, and all the other assets needed to visit that page. While this cost might be a thousandth of a penny per URL, with the sheer amount of URLs crawled by Google each day, the total cost is likely staggering.

Therefore, if you are serving Google webpages that are duplicated or not relevant, you are wasting resources. Google has made a point of stating that in their article on managing crawl budget:

“Without guidance from you, Googlebot will try to crawl all or most of the URLs that it knows about on your site. If many of these URLs are duplicates, or you don’t want them crawled for some other reason (removed, unimportant, and so on), this wastes a lot of Google crawling time on your site. This is the factor that you can positively control the most.”

The key message here is that you can control how much of Google’s crawl time is wasted. By aiming to reduce this waste, you are ensuring that the time Google spends on your website is as productive as possible. This means Google will spend more time crawling URLs that have true value, picking up changes to existing URLs, and discovering new pages much faster.

Use canonicals as a temporary solution and not the final fix

A canonical tag is used when there are multiple duplicate pages, allowing you to define which of the duplicates should be deemed the correct page for Google to index.

While they are effective in the short term, the existence of a canonical tag highlights that there are structural issues within a website, and this can impact crawl efficiency. Even though the canonical tag will indicate to Google that you have selected a preferred URL to index, the search engine still needs to crawl all duplicates that contain the canonical tag to come to the consensus that you have set.

Rather than using a canonical tag as a permanent solution, it’s important to take steps to fix the underlying structural problem, therefore negating the use of a canonical tag. This in turn will have a positive impact on crawl efficiency.

What does this have to do with Shopify product pages?

Put simply, product URLs on Shopify rely on canonical tags to be discovered. Let’s look at the two main causes of this.

Products in multiple collections

The URL below is a product page from a Shopify website.

https://www.bellfieldclothing.com/collections/mens-jackets/products/naota-mens-funnel-neck-quilted-puffer-jacket-navy

You will notice that the URL has the collection the product is in is seen in the URL as well. If this product is in multiple collections, Shopify creates multiple product URLs. As these are duplicates, Shopify handles this by using canonical tags. These canonical tags point to the preferred product URL, which does not contain a collection:

The product highlighted above is currently in four collections, meaning there are now five different product URLs for Google to crawl to find this one product that it needs to index. There is, however, another issue that further increases this number: product variants.

Product variants

A product variant is a product attribute that can implement within Shopify. This could be color, size, weight, or any other type of attribute that a product may have. Creating variants of a product within Shopify allows a user to select attributes on the product page. This can be seen below on our example product URL as “size”:

Shopift SEO canonical URL product page example

In this setup, Shopify adds a parameter to the product URL called ?variant. This contains an ID that references the selected variant. The URL below is our example product URL with the medium variant selected:

https://www.bellfieldclothing.com/collections/mens-jackets/products/naota-mens-funnel-neck-quilted-puffer-jacket-navy?variant=39593265954876

This is of course another duplicate, which is handled via a canonical tag. If we begin to calculate the total number of URLs this single product has that rely on canonical tags, you will notice how this can have a detrimental impact on crawl efficiency.

Based on this product being in four collections and having four variants, there are a total of 20 product URLs that rely on a canonical tag. This means Google needs to regularly crawl 21 product URLs to discover the single product URL that needs indexing.

10,000 URLs crawled to index 600

When you factor in the sheer number of products across an entire website, it’s easy to see how this figure can add up. If our example website has 600 products, and each product appears in four collections with four variants each, then Google will need to regularly crawl in excess of 10,000 product URLs to find the 600 that have been requested to be indexed.

How do you fix this on Shopify?

There are two distinct problems we need to fix here: the issue with products appearing in multiple collections, and the issue with product variants. There are solutions for both — however, implementing them will require compromise in certain areas.

Products in multiple collections: The fix

This fix works by removing links to product URLs with the collection name in the product URL. The main culprit here is the collection URL — specifically the theme file that powers collection URLs. On Shopify, this file is called product-grid-item.liquid.

You can navigate to this file via the following route within your Shopify admin.

Online Store > Themes > Customize > Theme Actions > Edit Code > Snippets

Within this file there are HTML hyperlinks that reference product URLs containing the collection name:

Shopify SEO code

The “within: collection” element is what is responsible for pulling the collection name into the product URL. Removing this ensures that the collection name no longer appears in the product URL.

However, before you jump in, there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind:

  • It is recommended that you consult with your web development team before making this change.
  • Apps that you use may need the “within: collection” functionality, so it is worth checking with app support on whether or not this can be changed.
  • This change impacts the breadcrumb on product URLs. If this is problematic, then I’d suggest building breadcrumbs manually using META fields with a dedicated META fields app.
  • You will also need to ensure that manual links that use this format are changed.
  • There may be other template files that contain “within: collection” so it is worth liaising with your development team to identify these.

Product variants: The fix (or is it?)

Unfortunately, the solution to product variants is more complex and ultimately depends on how much SEO value you are getting from your existing product variants. The recommendation here is to first find out how viable product variant keywords are in terms of search volume and market opportunity.

For example, if our imaginary Shopify store sells Ralph Lauren polo shirts, then my variants are likely to be color and size. By running a quick search for the product type plus these variants, we can see that there is search volume and therefore it will be important that my variants are indexable and optimized.

Shopify SEO keywords

Fix Option #1: Optimize ?variant URLs

This first option is viable if you believe that there is search volume opportunity across a wide range of your product variants. The premise of this fix is to build logic into your theme code, so that when a variant is selected, the variant name is appended into the page title tag and where possible, the product description.

This change will likely depend on your theme setup and, as with any change, it is recommended that you consult with your web development team. More details on how to do this can be found via the Shopify community thread below:

https://community.shopify.com/c/shopify-design/different-product-titles-for-different-variants-for-the-same/td-p/620113

Another thing to bear in mind with this solution is that you will need to remove the canonical tag that is currently in place on ?variant URLs. The main drawback to this approach is that you may need to implement it sitewide across all product variants — but not all variants will necessarily have available search volume.

Fix Option #2: Optimize main product URL for variants

If you want more control over which product sets have optimized variants, then this option might be for you. By optimizing the main product URL for variants, by including variant keywords in the product description and META data, you will stand a chance of being visible for these product variant keywords.

The drawback here is that product URLs could become over-optimized and not as relevant as a dedicated, optimized product variant URL.

Fix Option #3: Disallow ?variant parameter

If it turns out that your product variants have minimal or no search value then disallowing the ?variant parameter in your robots.txt file might be the best option. This will stop Google crawling ?variant URLs, therefore making crawl activity more efficient.

Fix Option #4: Individual products per variant

If your product variants do have search viability, then creating individual products per variant might be an effective option. This is something we have seen retailers like Gym Shark do with color. The product below comes in a number of different colors, each of which has its own product URL and does not rely on variants, e.g.:

https://www.gymshark.com/products/gymshark-element-baselayer-t-shirt-black-aw21

Shopify SEO Example

With more control over both META data and optimized content, this approach means it is easier to build deeper relevance for product variants. The downside here is that there are simply more products to manage within the CMS.

Shopify & SEO issues: Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for Shopify’s meteoric rise has been the “it just works” ethos that makes the platform such a cinch to use. But that’s not to say that the platform doesn’t suffer from a few SEO snags.

In addition to the canonical issue, Google’s Core Web Vitals can be another source of headaches for SEOs who work with the platform. But there are generally workarounds for those who are willing to take the time to implement them. You can learn more about how to navigate these in our ultimate guide to Shopify SEO (2022).

There are also hopeful signs that the Shopify team are increasingly receptive to the needs of the SEO community. The team have regularly taken on board feedback from SEOs to improve their product, from allowing users to edit the robots.txt file, to allowing for sub-folder international structures. So, we can hope that easy-to-implement solutions around the use of canonicals and other issues will be rolled out before too long.

Can anything stop the relentless rise of Shopify? Back in 2012, the landscape was dominated by WordPress, Magento and Joomla. Fast-forward 10 years, and many in the industry now see Shopify as the leading e-commerce platform, with the others going from leaders to laggards.

There are of course multiple reasons for Shopify’s rise to prominence, but arguably one of the biggest factors is that the platform is much more technically accessible than other ecommerce infrastructure providers. Getting your head around a fresh Magento install or working out how Joomla works (which is still a mystery to me to this day!) often requires a certain level of technical knowhow. And, if you don’t possess it, then you need to spend extra resources outsourcing that work to someone who does.

Shopify understood that baking in simplicity and an “it just works” ethos into their platform would allow everyday entrepreneurs to get their sites up and running quickly, without needing a degree in computer science or a huge budget to maintain their online presence. However, as user-friendly as it might be, there are still a few technical and SEO hurdles to overcome if you want your Shopify site to succeed on the SERPs.

In this article, I’ll take a closer look at a key “out of the box” SEO issue that often limits the relevance of product pages within Shopify and creates significant site bloat. More importantly, I’ll also share four potential solutions that can be used to fix the problem and maximize your product page potential. Let’s dive in.

The cost of inefficiency

Something that we often discuss with our clients is ensuring that Google can crawl their websites as efficiently as possible. We explain this by breaking down the cost to Google of crawling the web. Every time Google visits a webpage on the Internet there is a physical cost to Google: the price of electricity consumption, water consumption, hardware, software, and all the other assets needed to visit that page. While this cost might be a thousandth of a penny per URL, with the sheer amount of URLs crawled by Google each day, the total cost is likely staggering.

Therefore, if you are serving Google webpages that are duplicated or not relevant, you are wasting resources. Google have made a point of stating that in their article on managing crawl budget:

“Without guidance from you, Googlebot will try to crawl all or most of the URLs that it knows about on your site. If many of these URLs are duplicates, or you don’t want them crawled for some other reason (removed, unimportant, and so on), this wastes a lot of Google crawling time on your site. This is the factor that you can positively control the most.”

The key message here is that you can control how much of Google’s crawl time is wasted. By aiming to reduce this waste, you are ensuring that the time Google spends on your website is as productive as possible. This means Google will spend more time crawling URLs that have true value, picking up changes to existing URLs and discovering new pages much faster.

Using canonicals as a temporary solution and not the final fix

A canonical tag is used when there are multiple duplicate pages, allowing you to define which of the duplicates should be deemed the correct page for Google to index.

While they are effective in the short term, the existence of a canonical tag highlights that there are structural issues within a website, and this can impact crawl efficiency. Even though the canonical tag will indicate to Google that you have selected a preferred URL to index, the search engine still needs to crawl all duplicates that contain the canonical tag to come to the consensus that you have set.

So, rather than using a canonical tag as a permanent solution, it’s important to take steps to fix the underlying structural problem, and therefore negating the use of the canonical tag. This in turn will have a positive impact on crawl efficiency.

What does this have to do with Shopify product pages?

Put simply, product URLs on Shopify rely on canonical tags to be discovered. Let’s look at the two main causes of this.

Products in multiple collections

The URL below is a product page from a Shopify website.

https://www.bellfieldclothing.com/collections/mens-jackets/products/naota-mens-funnel-neck-quilted-puffer-jacket-navy

You will notice that the URL has the collection the product is in within it. If this product is in multiple collections, Shopify creates multiple product URLs. As these are duplicates, Shopify handles this by using canonical tags. These canonical tags point to the preferred product URL, which does not contain a collection:

The product highlighted above is currently in four collections, meaning there are now five different product URLs for Google to crawl to find this one product that it needs to index. There is, however, another issue that further increases this number: product variants.

Product variants

A product variant is a product attribute that can implement within Shopify. This could be color, size, weight or any other type of attribute that a product may have. By creating variants of a product within Shopify, it allows a user to select attributes on the product page. This can be seen below on our example product URL as “size”:

Shopift SEO canonical URL product page example

In this setup, Shopify adds a parameter to the product URL called ?variant. This contains an ID that references the selected variant. The URL below is our example product URL with the medium variant selected:

https://www.bellfieldclothing.com/collections/mens-jackets/products/naota-mens-funnel-neck-quilted-puffer-jacket-navy?variant=39593265954876

This is of course another duplicate, which is handled via a canonical tag. If we begin to calculate the total number of URLs this single product has that rely on canonical tags, you will begin see how this can have a detrimental impact on crawl efficiency.

Based on this product being in four collections and having four variants, there are a total of 20 product URLs that rely on a canonical tag. This means Google needs to regularly crawl 21 product URLs to discover the single product URL that needs indexing.

10,000 URLs crawled to index 600

When you factor in the sheer number of products across an entire website, it’s easy to see how this figure can add up. If our example website has 600 products, and each product appears in four collections with four variants each, then Google will need to regularly crawl in excess of 10,000 product URLs to find the 600 that have been requested to be indexed.

How do you fix this on Shopify?

There are two distinct problems we need to fix here: the issue with products appearing in multiple collections, and the issue with product variants. There are solutions for both — however, implementing them will require compromise in certain areas.

Products in multiple collections: The fix

This fix works by removing links to product URLs with the collection name in the product URL. The main culprit here is the collection URL — specifically the theme file that powers collection URLs. On Shopify, this file is called product-grid-item.liquid.

You can navigate to this file via the following route within your Shopify admin.

Online Store > Themes > Customize > Theme Actions > Edit Code > Snippets

Within this file there are HTML hyperlinks that reference product URLs containing the collection name:

Shopify SEO code

The “within: collection” element is what is responsible for pulling the collection name into the product URL. Removing this ensures that the collection name no longer appears in the product URL.

However, before you jump in, there are a few things you’ll need to bear in mind:

  • It is recommended that you consult with your web development team before making this change.
  • Apps that you use may need the “within: collection” functionality, so it is worth checking with app support on whether or not this can be changed.
  • This change impacts the breadcrumb on product URLs. If this is problematic, then I’d suggest building breadcrumbs manually using META fields with a dedicated META fields app.
  • You will also need to ensure that manual links that use this format are changed.
  • There may be other template files that contain “within: collection” so it is worth liaising with your development team to identify these.

Product variants: The fix (or is it?)

Unfortunately, the solution to product variants is more complex and ultimately depends on how much SEO value you are getting from your existing product variants. The recommendation here is to first find out how viable product variant keywords are in terms of search volume and market opportunity.

For example, if our imaginary Shopify store sells Ralph Lauren polo shirts, then my variants are likely to be color and size. By running a quick search for the product type plus these variants, we can see that there is search volume and therefore it will be important that my variants are indexable and optimized.

Shopify SEO keywords

Fix Option #1: Optimize ?variant URLs

This first option is viable if you believe that there is search volume opportunity across a wide range of your product variants. The premise of this fix is to build logic into your theme code, so that when a variant is selected, the variant name is appended into the page title tag and where possible, the product description.

This change will likely depend on your theme setup and, as with any change, it is recommended that you consult with your web development team. More details on how to do this can be found via the Shopify community thread below:

https://community.shopify.com/c/shopify-design/different-product-titles-for-different-variants-for-the-same/td-p/620113

Another thing to bear in mind with this solution is that you will need to remove the canonical tag that is currently in place on ?variant URLs. The main drawback to this approach is that you may need to implement it sitewide across all product variants — but not all variants will necessarily have available search volume.

Fix Option #2: Optimize main product URL for variants

If you want more control over which product sets have optimized variants, then this option might be for you. By optimizing the main product URL for variants, by including variant keywords in the product description and META data, you will stand a chance of being visible for these product variant keywords.

The drawback here is that product URLs could become over-optimized and not as relevant as a dedicated, optimized product variant URL.

Fix Option #3: Disallow ?variant parameter

If it turns out that your product variants have minimal or no search value then disallowing the ?variant parameter in your robots.txt file might be the best option. This will stop Google crawling ?variant URLs, therefore making crawl activity more efficient.

Fix Option #4: Individual products per variant

If your product variants do have search viability, then creating individual products per variant might be an effective option. This is something we have seen retailers like Gym Shark do with color. The product below comes in a number of different colors, each of which has its own product URL and does not rely on variants, e.g.:

https://www.gymshark.com/products/gymshark-element-baselayer-t-shirt-black-aw21

Shopify SEO Example

With more control over both META data and optimized content, this approach means it is easier to build deeper relevance for product variants. The downside here is that there are simply more products to manage within the CMS.

Shopify & SEO issues: Final thoughts

As I mentioned earlier, one of the reasons for Shopify’s meteoric rise has been the “it just works” ethos that makes the platform such a cinch to use. But that’s not to say that the platform doesn’t suffer from a few SEO snags.

In addition to the canonical issue, Google’s Core Web Vitals can be another source of headaches for SEOs who work with the platform. But there are generally workarounds for those who are willing to take the time to implement them. You can learn more about how to navigate these in our ultimate guide to Shopify SEO (2022).

There are also hopeful signs that the Shopify team are increasingly receptive to the needs of the SEO community. The team have regularly taken on board feedback from SEOs to improve their product, from allowing users to edit the robots.txt file, to allowing for sub-folder international structures. So, we can hope that easy-to-implement solutions around the use of canonicals and other issues will be rolled out before too long.


Marc Swann is Director of Search at Glass Digital, a digital marketing agency offering SEO, affiliate marketing, and paid search services. Marc has been working in digital marketing for 12 years and specializes in technical SEO. At Glass Digital, his focus is on the organic search service, ensuring our teams are delivering maximum value for their clients.

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The post Shopify SEO: How to limit your reliance on canonicals and boost crawl efficiency appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Sony Pumps Up PS5 Prices

August 29, 2022 No Comments

Plus: Apple makes some MacBooks more repairable, Meta soft-announces its new VR headset, and Twitter is really into podcasts now.
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CX Has a New Key Disruptor: Partner Marketing and Data-Driven Hyper-Personalization

August 29, 2022 No Comments

When it comes to the modern e-commerce landscape, customer experience is everything. Your customers now expect seamless service across all platforms as more businesses move to integrated data. On top of that, customers want to feel valued as individuals.

Until recently, this personalized experience was only viable with audience segmentation. Breaking down customers into groups like age, likes & dislikes, or income bracket. 

Now, with advancements in AI, data processing, and storage, we can get insights into each individual customer. We call this hyper-personalization, enabling your contact center to experience customer interactions on a deeper level. 

As e-commerce trends go, hyper-personalization seems like it’s here to stay. This article will cover everything you need to know about hyper-personalization. We’ll focus on how to use it to boost your partner marketing strategy. These tips will help you whether you are an established business or a new company just dipping your toe into the water.

What is Partner Marketing?

You’re probably familiar with partner marketing, at least in some way. This is any marketing you do through third parties. Whether that’s your affiliate network, partner businesses, influencers, or even customer referrals. These are a few types, but partner marketing could include:

  • Loyalty/reward programs
  • Influencer marketing
  • Content-based marketing
  • Distribution partners
  • Authorized resellers
  • Sponsorships
  • Product/brand licensing
  • Development partners
  • Referral Marketing
  • Product placement

It’s an exhaustive list, but most online marketers will focus on the following four key areas for partner marketing.  

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliates can be other businesses or individuals with a solid online presence. You give them personalized links, which they repost via their social media channels or blog. Then, you pay the affiliate a commission every time someone uses those links to buy from you.  

This works best for brands that strongly associate with the influencer or blog owner’s audience segment. For example, a business software blog would be a good affiliate option if you sell contract management solutions to B2B clients. 

Referral Marketing

Referral partners are a bit like affiliates. The difference is that these partners have personal experience with your brand, and recommend it only to close contacts. Referral marketing can happen on social channels but involves personal, not brand, accounts. 

The advantage of this type of referral is pre-engaged traffic. The referral partner only recommends your business to personal contacts with an existing need. This means they trust the partner’s opinion and are highly likely to convert. It’s a low-volume, high-quality, approach.  

Channel Partners

This is a wide bracket of third-party businesses that help market your product. Specifically, channel partners help you reach new markets, either geographically or demographically. It could be suppliers, distributors, resellers, brokers, or any business you work with. 

This kind of partnership requires a pre-existing relationship with a third party. It also needs an established marketing strategy that your partners can follow. 

Strategic Marketing Partnerships 

These partnerships involve working with a separate business towards a single goal. Often, your business values or objectives will align in a non-competitive way. This gives you opportunities to cross-promote to each other’s audience. You can look at startup trends to further your research.

For example, consider EE offering Apple TV and music as part of their phone plans. It’s a selling point for their network, bringing in more subscribers to Apple’s ecosystem. Both businesses benefit.

There are many ways that strategic partners can work together. Joint sponsorships of events, partnering on community initiatives, or shared subscriber benefits. These are a few ideas you could pursue. 

Casting A Wide Net  

The issue with a lot of partner marketing is that your business has little idea who the audience is. Sure, you can target businesses and influencers in specific demographics. Yet, as individuals, you have little to no idea about their habits, and preferences. 

Using data-driven hyper-personalization can overcome this barrier. This will allow your business and your partners to reach your audience on a more personal level.  

What is Hyper-Personalization?

We’re talking about tailoring content, marketing, or even pricing, to each individual. It sounds like a monumental task for any large business, but using AI-assisted data analysis makes it achievable no matter your scale. 

Regarding partner marketing, you’ll need a robust data collection, storage, and analysis process. You need to accommodate your partners’ data, too. This will require automated data collection and AI-driven processing.

Deloitte’s recent whitepaper study shows how you can use personalization at every stage of your buyer’s journey.

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The Data-Driven Approach to Personalization

These advanced AI computing networks use neural network processing to sort vast amounts of customer data. They analyze it and provide usable output in the form of reports. You can feedback the resulting data into your system to optimize content.

The AI can identify trends in customer habits, and preferences right down to the individual level. That’s what makes this strategy work. 

Cloud storage technology also helps enable these collaborative efforts. Your business and partners can remotely collect data in the same non-physical location. This just wouldn’t have been practical with traditional separate systems. 

The Benefits of Using Personalization & Partner Marketing Together

You might be wondering how all this data helps you connect with customers. Now you have individual data like channel preferences, engagement, and activity habits. This means you can dynamically tailor your messaging, offers, etc., to that customer’s tastes. 

Using AI-driven automated systems means you can deliver individualized content seamlessly. Marketing techniques like dynamic ads, and push notifications only make this easier. Even when customers know their ads are being personalized, 90% prefer it

Thanks to recent technological advances, many cloud technology Instance Types are affordable even for smaller businesses. It means there’s little to no extra cost to incorporating your partners’ data into the network. 

Final Thoughts: Personalize to Optimize Your Customer Experience 

In the end, it all comes back to enhancing your customer experience. The whole point of personalizing a user’s content is to deliver them the best experience possible. Customers want to feel valued, listened to and engaged. 

You can achieve these three critical customer satisfaction points no matter what your product or service is. Data-driven insights will let you get to the core of your customer’s needs, and behaviors. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re signing customers up for a Netflix subscription or giving B2B clients an exploratory testing example. You can still design your content around their needs, pain points, and interests. Using the right data insights will equip your business with the knowledge needed.  

The post CX Has a New Key Disruptor: Partner Marketing and Data-Driven Hyper-Personalization first appeared on PPC Hero.

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The Best Mirrorless Cameras to Level Up Your Photos

August 28, 2022 No Comments

Want the image quality of a DSLR without the bulk? These WIRED picks do more with less.
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What Pride & Prejudice Taught Me About Automation

August 28, 2022 No Comments

“In vain I have struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love automation

Too much? Any Pride and Prejudice fans? 

I think Mr. Darcy’s feelings towards Elizabeth are in alignment with how I feel toward automation, however exaggerated and hyperbolic that may be. Truly, the success I have seen in accounts using Google automation is astounding, similar to Elizabeth’s astonishment towards that infamous marriage proposal. 

My clients have all transitioned to Search Ads 360. As intimidating of a platform as I first thought it to be, it has proven to be amazing. (Feelings so altered since a first impression  – sound familiar?) From aftermarket automotive parts to durable goods, SA360 has consistently surpassed all expectations and become way more than merely tolerable.  

Take an imaginary turn around the drawing room with me and I’ll tell you how.  

Auction Time Bidding and Search Ads 360 Definitions

Auction Time Bidding (ATB) is Google’s most advanced algorithmic real-time bidding to date. From their support page:

“Auction-time bidding is a Google Ads Smart Bidding feature that analyzes several contextual signals at the time of the auction to set bids with the goal of targeting your ads.”

ATB works in conjunction with Search Ads 360 within its bid strategies portfolios. A better definition on how they work together from Google:

“A Search Ads 360 bid strategy analyzes the performance of the campaigns in its portfolio approximately every 6 hours to set keyword bids and set or recommend bid adjustments.”

A Google Ads auction-time bidding strategy analyzes different contextual signals (such as device, browser type, location, time of day, remarketing list, and more) in real-time to set each keyword bid to display your ads in the best position and maximize performance. 

A Search Ads 360 bid strategy includes auction-time bids in its analysis to set each campaign’s return on investment (ROI) target to achieve the bid strategy’s goal. 

Utilizing Auction Time Bidding to Its Full Potential

So – I took Elizabeth’s sage advice and allowed my courage to rise when intimidated by SA360 fancy features, resolving to utilize ATB to its full potential within my accounts. 

Initially, I analyzed historical campaign performances and grouped campaigns into portfolios that had similar results (similar cost per leads or similar return on ad spends). I started with campaigns that would have the least impact on an account if ATB didn’t work out as planned. 

In my durable goods account, ATB shocked us. This account focused on a cost-per-lead (CPL) goal. In the first month of performance, we were able to take two non-brand campaigns that would barely spend $ 3000 a month and drove minimal leads to be our top-performing campaigns. 

After enabling ATB, leads increased 1,019% month over month with spend increasing 1,370% while CPA only increased 32%. We were able to not only get our campaigns to spend their full daily budget but we more than doubled our lead volume without seeing a major increase in cost per lead.

The former bid structure wasn’t showing a picture of what the true volume could be for these campaigns. To top it off, our search impression share for these two campaigns grew 30% month over month. 

For the account selling automotive parts, I took the same approach – analyzed campaign performance, grouped it into similar categories, and started with ATB on campaigns that would have the smallest performance impact should metrics drop. 

After enabling ATB, Google search campaigns had a 2.3x increase in ROAS, Google shopping campaigns had a 9.6% increase in ROAS, and the total account revenues increased 7% year over year. This is looking at a three-month period compared to the three previous months. 

Wrapping Up

In summary, SA360 and ATB proved their worth in two completely different accounts that focused on different goals across multiple campaign types. 

Settle in and lean into automation. Don’t let pride or prejudice towards giving up control to a machine stop you. Besides – it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a digital marketer in possession of an account must be in want of great performance.

The post What Pride & Prejudice Taught Me About Automation first appeared on PPC Hero.

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The Best Cookbooks of Summer 2022

August 26, 2022 No Comments

From earth-friendly barbecue to clever weeknight dinners, this season’s crop is especially bountiful.
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Search Advertising 2.0 is Here. Did You Adjust Yet?

August 26, 2022 No Comments

Suppose you are a data-driven search marketer and want to maintain significant control of your main advertising assets such as keywords and ad copy. In that case, you must be disoriented by the trajectory that search advertising platforms, particularly Google, are taking. Starting on June 30, 2022, Google no longer allows the creation or editing of expanded text ads, leaving only responsive search ads as an option.

Last year in 2021, a similar move was made around broad match modified keywords. Everything indicates that the industry is going towards more machine learning-driven optimization, with fewer possibilities of manual control. The introduction of performance max campaigns demonstrates it as well. This presents new opportunities and challenges to face. How do you ensure that your ads are as efficient as possible when Google has more and more flexibility on what to deliver?

Understanding Machine Learning Optimizations

I think about an algorithm as a huge calculator that can process a lot of data in a matter of seconds. The key here is “a lot of data”. The easy trap to fall into is not to give your algorithm enough data to work with. In the instance of Google Ads, we can look at it at the ad group level to determine whether enough data is being collected. Your responsive search ad as well as your keywords function at that level, which is the reason why we look at ad groups.

You want to be careful about over-segmenting your ad groups, which could result in your responsive search ad not receiving enough impressions and clicks to optimize efficiently. When you have 15 headlines and 4 descriptions, that represents a lot of possibility for testing and Google needs to reach statistical significance for the ads to work well. To illustrate the problem with limited data, you can always refer to what happens when you create a new account.

In one of our accounts advertising apartments, we tested a full responsive search ad approach along with smart bidding and broad keywords. We realized very quickly that Google started delivering ads for location keywords completely irrelevant to where our apartment complex was. We took a rather extreme approach in giving Google full control and found out correlatedly that our account was for sure not ready for that. That said, when your account has enough data, things can go in the opposite direction, and that’s where you will fall in love with smart optimization.

If You Give it Enough Data, It Will Work

On the other hand, we did a similar test with an account with a history of recorded conversions. We were more diligent with the approach as we created a campaign where only a few broad match keywords were implemented within a single ad group with one responsive search ad. In essence, the campaign setup did leverage full machine learning-driven optimization but it had less to optimize at once and operated within an account that had historical data to work with. The results below were recorded during the first 3 months and were fantastic.

Campaign Cost Conversions Cost/click Cost/conversion
Test Campaign(One Ad Group, 2 broad keywords, audience targeting) $ 2,8k 21 $ 2.88 $ 133
Control Campaign(11 ad groups, 50+ keywords, audience targeting) $ 1,6k 21 $ 2.46 $ 77

The cost/conversion was reduced by ~70%, changing nothing else than the campaign structure. This tells you the importance of structuring your campaign appropriately as we transition to smart bidding, responsive search ads, and more utilization of broad keywords.

What if You Still Need To Segment Your Campaigns?

The question is then, do you really need to? Or did you get used to a methodology that you struggle getting away from? If the answer is that you need some ad copy control for example, which is fair and not rare, then you want to make sure that each of your ad groups have enough data to work with. This is true for impressions, clicks, and conversions – but you can give yourself an arbitrary number to commit to such as 10k impressions per month in any ad group. So you still can have multiple ad groups, but just keep in mind that they will need food (data) to survive and stay healthy.

Conclusion: Automated Optimizations are Here to Stay

Computers are getting faster and better at calculating, so it is natural that search advertising platforms will continue to implement machine learning-driven campaign types and optimizations. Privacy has become critical for consumers in recent years and that implies that advertisers will see less data as well. Understanding how to navigate the new search advertising era with fewer data and more leverage for computers will be key success drivers.

The post Search Advertising 2.0 is Here. Did You Adjust Yet? first appeared on PPC Hero.

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Why organic SEO might be your best option during high inflation

August 25, 2022 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Content that provides genuine answers to people also ask (PAA) questions attracts consumers to a brand’s owned media
  • Be an early adopter that considers experimenting with the ever-changing social media features
  • Creating thought leadership content is key to your organic SEO initiatives
  • International content marketing requires an in-depth discussion of the brand’s business plan in each region

In today’s digital-first world, the connection between a consumer and a brand is continually changing, mostly due to the rise of search engines and, most recently, user-generated content (UGC) on social media. Search engines and social platforms make virtually all of the world’s information readily available to users.

Now, recovering from a global pandemic and being on the verge of another probable recession are hardly the ideal economic conditions imagined. Advertisers are still eager to expand their reach through paid media but the inflated prices are not delivering the same results as they did, say a year ago, even if they increase investment.

A more sustainable alternative to combat the situation brands currently find themselves in is to invest in organic assets, including organic social, and consider initiatives that generate long-term gains. This can help alleviate the need to spend high amounts of money on paid media. Brands may reap long-term benefits by capturing increased traffic online and will be in a far better position when things get back to normal. In a nutshell, consolidating your brand in overall organic assets is always a smart idea.

And while investing in organic means you can’t control every Google search or every time that your name is mentioned on social media, you can start building your brand and earning a positive reputation by sticking to some organic best practices.

Consider what ‘People also ask’ (PAA)

In order to get the most out of their content, brands should create copy that answers the most frequently asked questions online. The PAA in a Google search or frequently asked questions on other websites are excellent places to get ideas. Content that answers these questions in a real way not only attracts consumers to a brand’s owned media (website, blog, social media, ecommerce site), but also offers them valuable information, and that’s a great way to build brand loyalty.

As an example, consider how a brand selling summer dresses may approach this. They would be smart to explore the PAA questions that show when searching for “beautiful summer dresses,” such as “what makes a summer dress flattering?” or “what are the latest trends in summer dresses?” This brand should put time and money into creating content such as articles that answer these questions directly. That will make it easier for people to find you on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Make the most of the latest social media features

Social media is always evolving, so being open to making adjustments before moving forward is critical for success in organic reach. Finding out what works best for you and your audience can be done in many ways, from varying the length of your posts to experimenting with different types of imagery.

And with every new update comes a tremendous opportunity to be an early adopter and establish yourself as the brand that embraced the changes first.

Organic social media may seem like shouting into space at times, so doing something unique to stand out is more important than ever. Consider testing and experimenting with the ever-changing social features, from Instagram Reels and Twitter’s new “Notes” option, this will allow your audience to interact with your brand in new ways and increase social reach.

Thought leadership can accomplish what paid cannot

Thought leadership pieces, Digital & SEO services, content writing, are key to these organic initiatives, The trustworthiness of the content impacts the SEO visibility of a business. As a result, companies should arm themselves with a diverse set of thought leaders and focus on increasing their online inventory of useful content.

This is particularly true when inflation is high, as it is right now. Provide your consumers and followers with helpful information that can help them make the best use of your goods or services in their everyday lives. Help your consumers spend their money wisely. This will strengthen your relationship with them in the long run.

Organic and international markets

A greater number of opportunities may be available to brands with a presence in multiple markets. For example, fashion retail brands find Italy and the Netherlands to be especially attractive markets with greater market revenue per capita but smaller total audience sizes. This means less competition but higher overall spending. Even though the market share in these regions is likely to be small, the potential for development using approaches that may be overused in more established markets is considerable. It’s possible to get an advantage over the competition by being the first to identify untapped markets with a high volume of generic traffic.

A brand’s content strategy must be comprehensive and adaptable if it wants to expand its reach throughout the globe. International content marketing requires a more in-depth discussion of the brand’s entire business plan in each international region in addition to the normal organic tactics. For example, it’s critical to create localized content since every region has its own unique set of idioms, dialects, and subtleties.

It is possible that these initiatives may not have returns that can be measured right away. But it’s wise to invest in long-term initiatives that will help brands emerge from this time of financial difficulties when consumer spend is ready to rebound.


Tom Mansell is Director of Organic Performance at the global, award-winning agency, Croud. Tom is responsible for the UK SEO team and overarching strategy, delivering bespoke, collaborative organic search campaigns for a range of clients. Tom has over 10 years of client and agency-side experience, working across verticals including automotive, finance, retail, and FMCG.

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The post Why organic SEO might be your best option during high inflation appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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