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Why killing your content marketing makes the most sense

May 7, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers diversify their content programs too quickly, endangering the program from the start
  • Successful content marketers and media companies focus on fewer platform channels
  • Instead of adding more channels, killing off underperforming channels works better
  • Perform a content audit to find out channels in which you should stop creating content

The problem is, simply put, out of control. Just because a company or individual can create and distribute content on a platform, doesn’t mean they should. But it’s happening… and it’s killing content marketing strategies around the globe.

I’ve had the opportunity to analyze content marketing strategies from huge brands, desperately trying to build audiences online leveraging content marketing. In almost every case, each one made the same mistake.

They diversify too quickly.

Let me explain.

When an organization decides to fund a content marketing strategy, the initial stages are always exciting. Just coming to the decision of which audience and content niche to target is an exhausting process, but once complete, the company is ready to create content…everywhere.

Should we do a blog? Check. How about a YouTube video series? Yes to that. Podcast? Sure. TikTok series? Why not. Email newsletter? I guess so.

Then add about five other social media channels and you have yourself a content marketing strategy.

Just not a good one.

According to Content Marketing Institute research, the average enterprise creates content on between 14 and 16 different platforms.

Succeeding at this kind of strategy is like winning the lottery. It just won’t happen.

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

One channel. One content type.

The greatest audience-building entities of all time selected one primary channel in which to build their platform:

  • Financial Times—printed newspaper
  • Fortune—printed magazine
  • TED Talks—in-person events
  • ESPN—cable television programming
  • Huffington Post—online magazine format
  • The Joe Rogan Experience—podcast show
  • PewDiePie—YouTube series

Even in today’s age of social media, content empires start with one platform as the core base of operation and primarily deliver content at that one place over time to build an audience.

For my new book ‘Content Inc.‘, we interviewed and analyzed more than 100 individuals and small businesses who went from zero subscribers to a massive audience. After two or three years, these content empires became multi-million-dollar platforms.

The interesting part is that they didn’t diversify immediately, but focused on delivering consistently valuable content, primarily on one channel and one content type, choosing audio, video, or text plus images.

  • Ann Reardon from ‘How to Cook That‘ decided to create consistent videos and distribute them on YouTube
  • Philip Werner from ‘com‘ creates and delivers a text-plus-images blog post every day on his WordPress-developed website
  • Wally Koval from ‘Accidentally Wes Anderson‘ distributes one image per day on Instagram, including amazing textual detail describing the location

But these are the exceptions. Most content marketing strategies run short-term blitzes (sometimes called campaigns), diversifying before the proper time.

Content marketing strategy is about saying “no”

When you decide to employ a content marketing strategy with the goal of building a loyal and trusting audience over time, you actually need to decide to not create and distribute content in certain places.

But what if you are already on multiple platforms? If you already have a content marketing strategy, now is probably the time to start killing some of your channels.

We always want more. We believe more is better. When launching a new content effort, “master of none, jack of all trades” never, ever works. How did Amazon become the most valuable company in the world? For three years the company sold only books. Once they perfected that model, only then did they begin selling other things. A proper content marketing strategy behaves the same way.

Successful content initiatives work because they start their journey with one amazing newsletter, one amazing video series, one amazing in-person event, or one amazing blog rather than 100 randomized content pieces that don’t inspire any kind of behavior change.

There is something about focus. There is something about being truly remarkable at one thing. The problem is that it requires you to choose. It requires you to stop creating content everywhere and focus on what’s really important, what will really move the needle.

The four components

Whether you are a media company, a large enterprise, or a content entrepreneur, building a loyal audience includes four key components.

First, identify one target audience

Choose an audience that is too broad and you’ve already failed.

Second, you need a differentiation area

We call this a content tilt. Basically, why would anyone want to engage in your content on a regular basis? Mark Schaefer, the author of Cumulative Advantage, calls this “finding the seam,” which is a content gap that you can exploit to rise above all the clutter.

Third, you identify the primary content platform

The one that makes the most sense for your storytelling. Both your expertise/skill area and the audience will dictate that.

And finally, you select your primary content type

These could look like videos on YouTube, text/images in an email, audio on a podcast, and imagery on Instagram.

killing your content marketing to focus on formats that will add value

 

When do I diversify into other platforms?

Did you know that Red Bull Media House started with a mini-magazine that they gave away at Formula 1 races? In order to include the results post-race, they actually lugged a Heidelberg press to the track and printed it next to the track.

That mini-magazine turned into ‘Red Bulletin magazine. Once they built what Brian Clark from Copyblogger calls a minimum viable audience, then (and only then) did they diversify into the billion-dollar media conglomerate they are today.

The focus and energy they put into making the Red Bulletin great paid off. But this is not a rare occurrence for successful content empires. All great media companies do this and have for years. Look at ‘The Morning Brew’. They almost exclusively focused on building an amazing email newsletter for years. Once they built an audience of over 100,000 subscribers, then they diversified into the podcasts and the multiple other targeted digital newsletters they successfully developed.

So, set an audience/subscriber target and focus all your energy on reaching that number. Then, once you have a loyal audience that loves you and probably will buy anything from you, you can diversify to another platform.

But what about social media?

Of course, you can keep your precious social media channels. That said, you need to think about them differently. What’s the goal? Is it for research and development? Amplification of content? To build subscribers? Whatever the goal, make sure it aligns with your core platform.

Let’s look at ‘The Hustle’, newly acquired by Hubspot. The Hustle’s goal on Twitter is to be interesting every day to their target audience and ultimately drive new subscribers to their email newsletter. Everything they do on Twitter supports their platform strategy.

So yes, you don’t have to close up all your social media, but you sure as heck have to align your goals with your platform.

Try killing one

Building a platform that works is challenging for any sized company. We all have limited resources in some way.

The best advice is to perform an honest analysis of what you are doing. Maybe that podcast just doesn’t make sense. Maybe that YouTube series is a waste of time? Or maybe not.

Perform a simple content audit and, then, kill something. Kill something so that you can be better at something else. Who knows, maybe your podcast or your email newsletter could be amazing but you just haven’t focused enough because you are tinkering with Facebook groups or TikTok.

Make the tough decisions now so that, later, you can build the audience of your dreams.

Joe Pulizzi is the author of the best-selling content marketing book, Content Inc., and founder of content creation news site, The Tilt.

The post Why killing your content marketing makes the most sense appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Why Startups Need Diversification In Digital Marketing

April 29, 2021 No Comments

If there was (1) one piece of advice I would give Startups (especially Early Stage), it would be diversification…  and a lot of it. startups typically have very limited advertising budgets so they have to account for every penny they spend. In this article, I will explain the reasons for this diversification as well as how best to execute them on a limited budget.

Set Realistic Expectations:

As one of the most “bastardized” words in agency world, it’s imperative to keep everyone’s hopes and dreams in check with regard to the online marketplace. Attending conferences, reading case studies and talking with other business owners is not only a great idea, it’s encouraged. however, it can also “set off” false expectations that could be devastating to the overall goals and objectives. I have advised clients (both past and present) to NEVER trust Google with their campaigns, keywords and budgets because they don’t care about growing your business, they just want your money. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, your instincts are correct!

Separate of Brand vs. Non-Brand:

It’s simple math. It costs more money to reach consumers who DO NOT already know your brand. Over time, the brand takes “all of the credit” because that is how everyone searches for you. But, here’s the catch. Getting to that phase in consumer behavior can be difficult to achieve, especially on the wallet. Here are a couple strategies that can not only help the wallet, but also the align the expectations.

  • Leverage Google Display, Mobile and YouTube Video networks
    • Low cost ($ 0.10 – $ 1.00 CPC/CPV).
    • More continuous visibility.
    • Expectations are set to branding only.
  • Utilize micro-targeting of Social media for specific audience testing
    • Target specific audience segments within a short period of time.
    • High volume allows for multi-variate ad testing.
    • Conversion tracking pixels allow for full analytics reporting.

Monetize Everything

This may sound like a “no-brainer” to some of you, but startups tend to forget that measuring success is more than just placing an order or a form submission. Often, little things like email signups, chat sessions and phone calls eventually lead to “real” conversions later on in the buying cycle. It’s important for everyone involved to consider these little conversions in the overall big picture. In some instances, these interactions act as a barometer when something is wrong or unclear and can help improve usability within the website experience.

In Conclusion:

Startups are faced with tough decisions when it comes to advertising due to their limited Ad budgets. They also cannot afford to, “bet the farm” on something that they heard at a conference or read in a case study. In 2016, consumers are everywhere (Google Search, Facebook Ads. YouTube. Twitter Ads, etc…) and startups need to leverage all of the platforms to maximize their exposure. They also need to understand that certain ad platforms serve different purposes as well as perform better than others.

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Why Honesty is the Best Policy in PPC Marketing

April 26, 2021 No Comments

Over the years, I have seen so many horror stories when it comes to PPC Management. Whether it’s advertisers flying blind with their ad budgets or the common event of not knowing that their ads are being shown with irrelevant terms, there should always 100% transparency between the agency and the client. Furthermore, there needs to be more HONESTY on behalf of the PPC Agency. In this post, I will talk about a few areas of the Agency/Client Relationship that should be based on being honest with the client.

Educate the Advertiser:

Let’s face it, the PPC agency knows more about PPC Marketing than the client. However, that does not mean the client needs to be taken advantage of because they do not know how everything works. The person handling the client’s account needs to “in many ways” educate the client as to what is working, not working and where there are opportunities.

Admit Mistakes:

Everyone makes mistakes, right? Well, PPC Agencies should not try and hide them just because they can get away with it. Agencies should be forthcoming with admitting mistakes that were made and how efficiently and effectively they were fixed. It’s better to be honest with the client, than having them find out later that you lied to them. Ever heard of a Referral or a Testimonial?

Honest and Factual Reporting:

Over the years, I have seen so many poor examples of PPC Reporting where clients receive an excel spreadsheet of just Clicks, Impressions, CTR%, CPCs, etc… and not a single keyword or text ad or even a sentence on the performance of the account. In today’s world that is unacceptable.  Moreover, I have also seen examples of trend charts being manipulated to disguise the true performance of a specific metric. Agencies have a responsibility to provide not only excellent service, but also honest and factual reporting.

Managing Expectations:


PPC Marketing is not for everyone and for those who are spending money have this perception that the more they spend the better the results. That is completely FALSE. If an client/advertiser was given any sort of Guarantee from an agency, they should “run for the hills”. Guarantees in PPC Marketing are very dangerous for both parties because they create false expectations. An agency must be honest and upfront with the client when it comes to setting expectations both on performance and future success. The agency must have a clear understanding of the client’s:

  • Cost per Conversions/Acquisition
  • Targeted Audience
  • Messaging Tactics
  • Daily and Monthly Budgets

In Conclusion:

Honesty is always the best policy in PPC. Agencies have a responsibility to not only provide excellent service, but also be honest and forthcoming with the client. I have heard countless stories of poor PPC Management, including the topics I mentioned in this post. Some may say that is good for the industry because it creates more “turnover” and more opportunities for other agencies. However, for this PPC Geek, I believe in Happy Clients.

The post Why Honesty is the Best Policy in PPC Marketing appeared first on Afterclicks Interactive.


Afterclicks Interactive


Why Storytelling is Essential in Digital Marketing

April 24, 2021 No Comments

As Marketers our job is to not only interpret analytics data, but to also provide a summary of the performance and apply recommendations for future strategies, forecasting and on-going testing. However, this standard metric of decoding is not enough and we need to find a better way to communicate successes and failures that the client can understand. That is why storytelling is just as important now than it was when we are in Kindergarten when the teacher read us a story in a circle.

In this post, I will highlight the importance of storytelling with the client which not only helps the client understand, but also reinforces the client-agency relationship.

Storytelling is also a Science

As marketers, early on we are classically trained to become proficient in Excel, Powerpoint and (my personal favorite) writing on whiteboards so that we can be perceived as smartest one in the room. These elements of communication comprise of bullet points, summarizations, goals and objectives, sales vs. cost projections, etc… On the contrary, we are most likely doing it all wrong. There have been many studies and published articles that debunk this MBA/classroom method and reinforce the one of oldest and most fundamental communication methods.

In an very “eye-opening” article by Lifehacker.com published back in 2012 entitled “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains“, author Leo Widrich states “It’s in fact quite simple. If we listen to a powerpoint presentation with boring bullet points, a certain part in the brain gets activated. Scientists call this Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens. When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.“ So in essence, telling stories not only puts our entire brain to work it also allows the storyteller to put ideas and thoughts into the listeners brain as well.

Complexities of Storytelling

For most clients, they do not care too much about CTR%, AVG positions, bounce rates, etc… they want to know what is causing their cash register to ring below are some of the common questions they are mostly concerned about:

  • What’s working and why?
  • Whats not working and why?
  • Why are sales down this month as compared to last month?
  • How can we generate more sales without increasing the budget, etc…

Because of this difference in understanding  success metrics, marketers need to take all of the Analytics data (which are considered very complex by clients) and transform them into a story/language that they can understand. For example, lets suppose that the client saw a 50% increase in sales coming from their “Brand Terms” in Adwords as compared to the previous month. Instead of just providing them with increased performance metrics such as CTR%, Conversion rates, etc.., marketers need to do a little digging around and form a story that they can understand.

A story would be something like:

“Well, since we added more generalized “non-branded” terms as well as your interview on the local TV station, a larger audience of people who were not familiar with your brand before, typed your brand into Google and clicked on the PPC Text Ads. ” It is this type of success story that can create that “light bulb” in the heads of the client to ensure them that they are prospering their investment in you or your agency.”

Leveraging Web Analytics Data to Feed the Story

Just looking at common performance data is simply not enough to tell a story. Marketers need to look at various layers of data to comprise a story that can makes sense to the client. Identifying these interesting and important metrics such as hour of day, day of the week. GEO by state, metro area, city, direct/bookmark, conversion funnels, etc… These are examples of the metrics, combined with overall performance data is what makes up the holistic story that the client needs to hear. Moreover, these stories often lead to future optimization strategies and testing which is great for the client-agency relationship.

In Conclusion:

Trying to explain all of the intricate metrics and what they mean to a client is hard enough. But simplifying the data and creating a story around it, even as an “ice-breaker” at the beginning of the conversation, helps the client feel like they made the right choice in hiring you. The one thing we need to remember is that a story, if broken down into the simplest form, is a connection of cause and effect and that is what clients need to understand.

The post Why Storytelling is Essential in Digital Marketing appeared first on Afterclicks Interactive.


Afterclicks Interactive


Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing

April 7, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Keywords represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding consumer intent
  • Using AI-powered chatbots, conversational data that occurs over messaging channels like Facebook Messenger and Instagram Messaging can give businesses a deeper understanding of what consumers want
  • Below, we’ll discuss how conversational marketing platforms like Spectrm use natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI) to guide customers through the buying funnel
  • A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time

conversational insights and keywords - Spectrm

For more than two decades, Google and other search engines have attempted to crack the consumer intent code. The entry point for a search marketing campaign is the keyword list. Yet keywords—whether spoken or typed—represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what a user wants. There’s no way to clearly measure (or identify) user intent, but Google is getting better at figuring out what a user wants with technologies like Google Hummingbird, an algorithm update they rolled out in 2013. Google introduced Hummingbird in response to the increasingly conversational nature of search queries. 

Per a 2013 article in Wired, “Google is now examining the searcher’s query as a whole and processing the meaning behind it.” In January 2020, Statista reported roughly 40 percent of US search queries contained four or more terms.

Asking a search engine or virtual assistant a question is the beginning of a conversational journey that carries the searcher across channels until they ultimately find what they want (or not). Keywords pull the curtain of intent back, but they only provide a glimpse of the customer journey, labeling the searcher’s thoughts without revealing the “why” of what they’re searching for. 

Once a user clicks on a search result, the conversation—from the search engine’s perspective—is over. 

But thanks to advances in natural language processing (NLP), machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence (AI), businesses have access to a much deeper understanding of what consumers want across the entire buying journey. 

AI-powered chatbots that “speak” to consumers can collect customer intent data and take the conversation beyond an initial keyword query. They enable businesses to leverage that customer intent data instantly to scale one-to-one personalization in direct chat.

Below, we discuss how conversational marketing platforms employ NLP and AI in chatbots to guide customers through the buying funnel, using conversational analysis to gain an understanding of customer intent that goes far beyond keywords. 

Content created in partnership with Spectrm.

The customer conversation is online

According to Hootsuite’s Digital In 2020 report, 60 percent of the world’s population is online. The report found that, globally, users spend an average of 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day—40 percent of their waking life using the internet. A large chunk of that time, more than two hours, is spent using social media.

Consumers were using mobile messaging and chat an average of 20 minutes per day in 2020, with Business Insider predicting that the average would grow to 24 minutes by 2021. Interacting with chatbots is a natural extension of consumers’ comfort with messaging in social media apps like Facebook and Instagram.

Increasingly, messaging is how we connect with each other. Facebook and Instagram are at the center of this trend. Businesses have the potential to reach and engage with over two billion people on Facebook and Instagram using their respective messengers. This level of engagement gets to the root of consumer intent, diving beneath surface keywords to the conversational data that can help companies understand what’s motivating the consumer to conduct their search in the first place. 

Leveraging conversations to drive results

Conversational marketing platforms use messaging apps to engage with consumers and determine intent. This is next-level chatbot technology that uses AI to create a two-way exchange with every customer, asking them questions throughout the buying process and capable of operating on multiple messaging channels.

Spectrm is an example of a conversational marketing platform that goes beyond simple, generic approaches to conversational AI by using domain-specific NLP to guide consumers through the customer journey. Generic conversational AI uses general NLP that can be used for simple tasks like autosuggestions and basic keyword matching. Domain-specific NLP is trained for the individual business. Spectrm’s approach to conversational AI combines domain-specific NLP with the use of generative adversarial networks, a type of machine learning that enables enterprises with little or no customer intent data to quickly generate their own data sets to train the algorithm.

“Marketing chatbots that use domain-specific NLP learn how your individual customers speak. The customer intent data specific to your business, customers, and goals are used to continuously improve your chatbot. It’s about understanding how your customers engage naturally with your brand, and training your bot to respond to that to drive outcomes valuable to your business. Even if you don’t have a lot of conversational data to train your bot.” – Writes Spectrm

Chatbots are only part of what makes conversational marketing platforms work. Platforms like Spectrm operate across multiple messaging channels where consumers spend all their time including Facebook Messenger, Instagram Messaging, Google Business Messages, and even at the display level via conversational display ads using AdLingo and Google DV360.

Consumers like chatting with businesses. They’re already moving through the buying cycle using one-on-one conversations that provide much more in-depth intent data than a simple keyword search. Consider the follow statistics:

  • 75 percent of consumers prefer to engage with brands in private messaging channels versus traditional channels
  • 65 percent of people are more likely to shop with a business they can reach via chat

Conversational data = More targeted campaigns

Conversational data can be used to create marketing campaigns that are more targeted than traditional search and display campaigns. They enable businesses to design targeted messaging around the customer journey, learning what customers want/need in the context of how they’re interacting with the chatbot.

Conversational data also enables businesses to create customer profiles using the answers people provide in chat. Personalization and segmentation become easier based on the granularity and specificity of conversational data. This information can be used to personalize marketing messages at a one-to-one level directly in chat. 

None of this is possible without the right platform. Some factors to strongly consider while evaluating an enterprise-level conversational marketing platform would be:

  • An easy to implement, no-coding setup
  • Customizations for your specific company and customer needs
  • Easy integrations with your tech stack
  • Enforcement of the highest privacy standards (GDPR, CCPA, and the others)
  • Connection to your product feed (for ecommerce websites) and ability to serve product recommendations/content in real-time based on user input
  • Flexible role management with the ability to set user access roles

Tools like Spectrm are at the heart of marketing automation, enabling companies to acquire new customers at scale. A robust conversational marketing platform makes it possible for companies to build chatbots that engage and convert customers on the websites, apps, and social platforms where people spend their time—no engineering resources needed.

Just like search engines, conversational intelligence tools effectively use language to get to the heart of consumer intent. They go beyond keywords to make every datapoint actionable, using chatbot analytics to optimize funnels and segment customers

In Spectrm’s words, “Reaching the right audience is getting harder every day. Consumers are more curious, demanding, and impatient than ever. They expect their digital experiences to be personalized, instant, and effortless. Chatbots enable brands to connect with their audience personally and offer seamless customer experiences from the start.”

To view Spectrm’s offerings, click here.

The post Going beyond keywords: how conversational insights take the guesswork out of marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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6sense raises $125M at a $2.1B valuation for its ‘ID graph’, an AI-based predictive sales and marketing platform

March 30, 2021 No Comments

AI has become a fundamental cornerstone of how tech companies are building tools for salespeople: they are useful for supercharging (and complementing) the abilities of talented humans, or helping them keep themselves significantly more organised; even if in some cases — as with chatbots — they are replacing them altogether. In the latest development, 6sense, one of the pioneers in using AI to boost the sales and marketing experience, is announcing a major round of funding that underscores the traction AI tools are seeing in the sales realm.

The startup has raised $ 125 million at a valuation of $ 2.1 billion, a Series D being led by D1 Capital Partners, with Sapphire Ventures, Tiger Global and previous backer Insight Partners also participating.

The company plans to use the funding to expand its platform and its predictive capabilities across a wider range of sources.

For some context, this is a huge jump for the company compared to its last fundraise: at the end of 2019, when it raised $ 40 million, it was valued at a mere $ 300 million, according to data from PitchBook.

But it’s not a big surprise: at a time when a lot of companies are going through “digital transformation” and investing in better tools for their employees to work more efficiently remotely (especially important for sales people who might have previously worked together in physical teams), 6sense is on track for its fourth year of more than 100% growth, adding 100 new customers in the fourth quarter alone. It caters to small, medium, and large businesses, and some of its customers include Dell, Mediafly, Sage and SocialChorus.

The company’s approach speaks to a classic problem that AI tools are often tasked with solving: the data that sales people need to use and keep up to date on customer accounts, and critically targets, lives in a number of different silos — they can include CRM systems, or large databases outside of the company, or signals on social media.

While some tools are being built to handle all of that from the ground up, 6sense takes a different approach, providing a way of ingesting and utilizing all of it to get a complete picture of a company and the individuals a salesperson might want to target within it. It takes into account some of the harder nuts to crack in the market, such as how to track “anonymous buying behavior” to a more concrete customer name; how to prioritizes accounts according to those most likely to buy; and planning for multi-channel campaigns.

6sense has patented the technology it uses to achieve this and calls its approach building an “ID graph.” (Which you can think of as the sales equivalent of the social graph of Facebook, or the knowledge graph that LinkedIn has aimed to build mapping skills and jobs globally.) The key with 6sense is that it is building a set of tools that not just sales people can use, but marketers too — useful since the two sit much closer together at companies these days.

Jason Zintak, the company’s CEO (who worked for many years as a salesperson himself, so gets the pain points very well), referred to the approach and concept behind 6sense as “revtech”: aimed at organizations in the business whose work generates revenue for the company.

“Our AI is focused on signal, identifying companies that are in the market to buy something,” said Zintak in an interview. “Once you have that you can sell to them.”

That focus and traction with customers is one reason investors are interested.

“Customer conversations are a critical part of our due diligence process, and the feedback from 6sense customers is among the best we’ve heard,” said Dan Sundheim, founder and chief investment officer at D1 Capital Partners, in a statement. “Improving revenue results is a goal for every business, but it’s easier said than done. The way 6sense consistently creates value for customers made it clear that they deliver a unique, must-have solution for B2B revenue teams.”

Teddie Wardi at Insight highlights that AI and the predictive elements of 6sense’s technology — which have been a consistent part of the product since it was founded — are what help it stand out.

“AI generally is a buzzword, but here it is a key part of the solution, the brand behind the platform,” he said in an interview. “Instead of having massive funnels, 6sense switches the whole thing around. Catching the right person at the right time and in the right context make sales and marketing more effective. And the AI piece is what really powers it. It uses signals to construct the buyer journey and tell the sales person when it is the right time to engage.”


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Cross-channel marketing: why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the Google basket

March 28, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Very few SMBs use multiple channels for their online advertising
  • Facebook is the most effective channel based on the cost for CPM and CPC
  • It’s important to remember that every business is unique when it comes to deciding on budget allocation

For any business in the software as a service (SaaS) space, data analysis and science are crucial to ensure they keep pushing ahead to reveal those insights that can really make a difference. With this in mind, the Cambridge MBA team looked to leverage Adzooma’s extensive data to identify new ways for SMBs to maximize their ad spend with cross-channel marketing.

For the team at Cambridge University, this was an exciting opportunity to produce some truly unique insights, given that even the big players such as Google and Microsoft only have data that pertains to their individual channels.  The project promised to provide a much broader view and deliver some new insights thanks to the access to anonymized data from thousands of accounts across the three big platforms via Adzooma.

A cross-channel approach

The findings immediately identified that very few SMB customers use multiple channels (Facebook, Google, and Microsoft).

Although this wasn’t part of the main project, it was a really interesting piece of analysis and it’s something we’ve stressed the importance of a lot. Most people just stick to Google, for example, as that’s where they think they should be but that’s not always the best case for everyone’s business, and being seen across multiple touchpoints – or at least trying out multiple channels – can be crucial to digital marketing success.

Our analysis found Facebook to be the most conducive channel for SMBs based on cost (CPM, CPC) as well as return (impressions, clicks), however, it was Microsoft that came out on top for reaching a more professional and affluent audience.

The research highlighted the importance of pre-determining your specific target audience. Hence, when it comes to choosing the channel – or channels – for your business it’s really worth thinking about what you are trying to achieve with your ad spend and who you’re truly trying to reach.

What are you really trying to achieve?

Right at the offset, it’s important to think about your end goal and ask yourself who are the customers you are looking to target and what is the most efficient way to get to them.

Existing research told us that for SMBs acquiring new customers was the most chased goal on the customer journey followed by ‘generating awareness’, ‘generating leads’, and ‘retaining customers’.

Taking this into account, the Cambridge team found that merging the traditional sales funnel with the customer lifecycle model would be the best way for an SMB to manage its overall marketing goals.

Overlapping resolution methodology then allowed the team to determine the impact of cost on different marketing channels. This way, SMBs would be able to effectively determine which platform is best to use when similarities occur.

We found through the research that it was the choice of the channel itself that had the most significant impact on both CPM and CPC. Having determined a connection between channel and cost KPIs, further research was conducted to find out the average CPM and CPC across Google, Facebook, and Microsoft Ads.

While it was Facebook that was the most cost-effective channel on average for SMBs overall, the recommendations were that businesses should still look at the click-through rates of other channels to determine whether other factors such as industry or geography could make a significant difference.

If you’re choosing between Google and Microsoft, the results suggest using Google due to its high reach and low cost, however, Microsoft could also be useful, particularly as it offers high-level targeting and demographics that can be suitable for specific business types.

What is your ad saying?

Another factor that perhaps many businesses don’t consider when deciding on a platform is the sentiment of their messaging.

When analyzing the data this was another area where the research team saw differentiation depending on the channel where the advert appeared.

cross-channel marketing and advertising CTR stats

Microsoft proved to be the most popular platform when it came to a positive sentiment with a CTR of 4.2 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for neutral and 3.3 percent for negative sentiment.

Interestingly, the opposite was true for Google ads where negative sentiment proved most popular with users, gaining a CTR rate of 6.5 percent compared to 5.7 percent for neutral and negative messaging.

Again, it highlights how important it is to take that time to tweak your ads for testing purposes and learn what works best for your target customers so you can capitalize on your spends.

Every business is unique

It’s no secret that the one size fits all approach doesn’t necessarily work. All businesses are different and therefore their ad spend and utilization will of course differ.

Some people, as we all do, want to go with the stats and what has proven to have worked historically for businesses, and whilst that can be taken into account, that’s not to stay that it will work for every business. Therefore, it’s always important to remember to take the time to consider where you are spending and who you are trying to reach.

Plus, it is worth remembering that although GoogleFacebook, and Microsoft Ads are the most popular online advertising platforms, there are alternative (and less expensive) places to list your ads including Reddit, Amazon, and industry-specific sites such as Capterra. Despite having fewer users, these are still effective as it’s often easier to reach your exact target audience and could work as an addition to your primary platform.

Looking ahead

We hope that through this research we’ve provoked SMBs to think carefully about their target audience and specific objectives prior to ad spend allocation.  What we’ve showcased here is that the advertising platforms explored within this study work effectively in their own right depending on the end goal and we hope these insights will enable SMBs to achieve greater overall results.

These learnings help determine how cross-channel partnerships can be best leveraged for SMB customers. As Facebook seems to be the most used channel by 70 percent of SMBs, and data analysis suggests it is optimal in terms of cost and return, the data will be used to scale Facebook features and opportunities. A lot of the learnings we unearthed from this study will also go directly into the core technology of the Adzooma product.

Rob Wass is Co-founder and CEO of Adzooma.

Akanshaa Khare is currently pursuing an MBA at Cambridge University and has five years of Product Management experience and three years of Consulting experience, helping consulting firms such as BCG and ZS Associates.

The post Cross-channel marketing: why you shouldn’t put all your eggs in the Google basket appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Where do you take your marketing strategy from here?

March 20, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Most marketers agree that creating content is a core business strategy
  • SEO can help you capitalize on the content you’ve created and see lasting results
  • Create content around common sales objections to improve the sales process
  • Instead of going all-in on the best-case scenario of in-person events being able to happen in 2021, create a plan based on what you know works now and could continue to work into the future as well

With 2020 pulling the rug out from under pretty much everyone, it’s no surprise that marketing has had to shift over the past year. Where the focus for many organizations was once in-person meetings and events like trade shows and conventions, it’s now mostly shifted to tactics that can be deployed remotely.

The biggest winner out of all this change has, without a doubt, been content marketing. In the summer of 2020, I surveyed 49 B2B companies to see how they are approaching marketing, and more than 80 percent of them agreed that content is now considered a core business strategy.

Content marketing is a strategy that doesn’t require any physical contact to connect with people, and content can be shared widely and consistently, regardless of where people are in the world. It can help current clients better understand the value of a company and even act as a way to bring new customers into the fold.

While the strategy owes much of its popularity to the pandemic, content marketing’s recent dominance is unlikely to go away once the pandemic subsides. Before 2020, many marketers had already been pushing for a more content-focused strategy. In many ways, this past year has simply created the opportunity for them to prove the strategy’s true worth.

How to plan a marketing strategy around whatever 2021 may bring

These past few months have been a time of experimentation for marketers, full of successes and failures. For some companies, weaknesses in this strategy, like poor SEO and a lack of budget for content development, have been exposed, even as the potential of content marketing has been proven. Now, the question for marketers is how to bring a content strategy into the next year and successfully meld it with a plan for a world beyond the current health crisis.

1. Focus on SEO

All the high-quality content in the world can’t help you if no one can find it. Make better SEO a key goal if you want to capitalize on everything you’ve done this past year. Perform a technical website audit to ensure your website is set up to be found by search engines and a keyword audit to ensure your content aligns with your target audience’s queries. Not only should your keyword research guide your content for the future, but it should also steer your updates of older content to maintain its relevance. Updating old content is often the most efficient strategy you can employ.

Don’t just stop at keywords, though. Perform a deep dive into your audience’s behavior to figure out exactly what they’re looking for to increase your chances of turning visits into conversions. After all, what you think you know about user behavior and what is actually true can turn out to be wildly different. For example, according to HubSpot, popups are the most-used form for sign-ups, but they only succeed in converting three percent of visitors. Landing pages, meanwhile, have the highest conversion rate, despite being the least popular version of sign-up form.

2. Develop more sales enablement content

Effective content can be useful for more than just marketing. Sales reps can also use it to better communicate with potential customers.

Listen to sales calls to figure out which questions are the most common and which are the most difficult for your sales team to answer. From there, you can create sales enablement content, such as blog posts and infographics, that the team can refer to and pass on to prospects. You can also use the biggest client successes as case studies that can help potential clients better understand your value. This will not only help sell customers, but it can also help with securing internal buy-in for a content-focused strategy.

3. Don’t bet on in-person events in 2021

Over 90 percent of event marketers plan to invest in virtual events next year. Even if everything goes perfectly over the next few months and things can begin moving toward some level of normalcy by summer or fall, don’t count on big in-person conventions and trade shows to come roaring back and take over your marketing strategy. That’s why a majority of marketers are creating strategies that can work for both virtual events and in-person events over the next year.

Content will still be just as effective when the pandemic is over, but what in-person events will look like is still up in the air. Don’t bet on an imaginary best-case scenario, create a plan based on what you know works right now and could continue to work into the future.

While 2020 might have thrown everyone for a loop, the lessons learned this year can be applied in 2021, even if we’re unsure of what the coming year will truly bring. By focusing more on a content-first strategy, you can ensure your marketing plans don’t go to waste both in best-case and worst-case scenarios.

Cherish Grimm is VP at Influence & Co., a content marketing agency that helps its clients achieve measurable business results through content marketing.

The post Where do you take your marketing strategy from here? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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What Every Startup Needs to Know Before They Select a PPC Marketing Agency

March 4, 2021 No Comments

As someone who has been fortunate enough to be a part both the Startup and Digital Agency World, it pains me to witness the many recurring mistakes that are happening by bringing these two worlds together. The Agency wants the business and the Startup wants the best and smartest people to “grow their baby”. It all sounds like a “no-brainer’ right? Well, this perfect situation can sometimes be clouded by one of the most bastardized words in the client-agency relationship – Expectations. In this post, I will highlight some of the misconceptions that could, at the very least, help the next Startup as they prepare to show their product/service to the world.

How to Play the Digital Agency Game:

Don’t get me wrong. There are many highly reputable Marketing Agencies in the world that do not fit this description. On the other hand, there are some other Agencies that work on a different playing field that is not financially supportive of Startups. Most agencies take a 15% commission of Ad Spend regardless of performance or the companies financial situation. These agencies often provide a “Production Line” level level of service that question the actual time spend which leads to the overall client performance. Beware of agencies that promise GOLD and deliver pennies.

What Startups really need from an Agency:

  • 100% transparency of where and how their money is being spent.
  • Daily Direct communication with the Strategist/Marketer.
  • Less than 24 hour turn-around times for typical updates.
  • Level of ongoing Education on how the digital advertising world works.

Big Agency Regurgitation

I have witnessed many horror stories over the years from prospects/clients from either a performance or client relationship with a previous agency. The one thing that all of them had in common was the lack of achievable expectations. Situations such as poor communication, lackluster performance and just an overall bad experience have not only left a bitter taste in their mouth but also question the entire agency experience. Moreover, this feeling of being “burned” has motivated their thinking to bring the marketing “in-house” as the only alternative to reaching success. This is not a good thing….

Conference Intoxication

As a big fan of conferences, they often open your eyes to a whole new world of innovation, prosperity and vision for business owners and that’s a great thing. However, it can sometimes backfire to the point of confusion and anxiety of what to focus on first. It is very easy for Entrepreneurs to get “over-excited” about the latest bells and whistles in software, automation and analytics. They are told that once they have these tools in their toolbox, they can turn their business into a fortune 100 company instantly.

Unfortunately, a reality check is needed to bring everyone down from this “high” and re-focus on the core issue at hand which is identifying, engaging and converting with their core audiences within a sensible budget. Remember, investing in Shiny Objects make you vulnerable, not successful.

The Misunderstanding of Monetization

In some instances, both advertisers and agencies, often forget to track every interaction point and that little oversight can be an unfortunate mistake. This assumed “low-hanging” fruit for tracking things other than traditional eCommerce/Lead Gen Forms such as (below) can completely skew overall performance and future optimization which could be devastating to startups as they hunger for continual growth.

  • Contact Forms
  • Email Newsletter Signups
  • Live Chats
  • Phone Calls
  • Pageviews of a particular page can lead to

Mistrust of the Case Study

Case Studies are a great source for understanding the successes of a particular experience that allow the reader to adapt to new ideas and strategies. However, you need to be careful not put to put too much emphasis on the successes of these studies because of the substantiated factors which often lead inaccuracy. Here are some examples:

  • Geography (Some of these studies reference a specific GEO area and not the wider population)
  • Singular view and opinion. Often, these studies are done by a small group of people which may have biased opinions based on data collected.
  • Case Studies are often used as a “Toot your own horn” strategy to generate more business. (Google is pretty good at that)

Don’t Bet the Farm

I can understand the anxieties of Startups where they want to launch their business with a big bang. However, spending too much too fast (especially in the PPC marketing world) can completely ruin their chances for steady sustainable growth. It’s imperative to start testing “right out of the gate” as well as identifying the quick wins and losses. Moreover, you will need to develop strategies to generate relevent traffic and awareness through alternative methods such as Social Media, SEO and quite frankly “word of mouth”. To prove this theory, just a take a look at these screenshots from SpyFu’s Monthly Trend function.

ppc startups

Outside Opinion Overload

Yes, it’s important to get as much feedback as possible when launching a new company. However, getting advice from people who think they know certain aspects of online marketing because they read an article or attended a conference, can be a slippery slope. Taking advice and/or criticism from someone “on the outside” that completely contradicts the vision of both your business partners and hired experts can be harmful to the business. This 3rd party opinion is often made without any understanding of what it takes to implement as well as its expected outcome. Whether it’s strategies about Landing Pages, Brand vs. Non-Brand, or even simple things such as Promotions and Offers can have a negative effect on revenue if not discussed by everyone on the team.

Solution: Soak up all of the feedback you can get, discuss with your team and agree to label these new ideas as “TEST” Campaigns and analyze the heck out of them.

Forecast Projection Failures

How many times have you seen someone simply create excel formulas which magically forecast the future of online marketing revenue based on a single monetary amount. (For example, if we increase our budget from $ 10,000 to $ 100,000 we will generate an additional $ 1 million dollars.) Yeah, I wish that were all true. However, that is not the case. The math may sound great to a Venture Capitalist/Investor, but it’s just not realistic.

  • Take in account the following scenarios:
  • Market Saturation Levels
  • Seasonality Highs/Lows
  • Potential Technical issues
  • Search Engine Algorithm changes
  • Increased Competitor landscape

“Off the Mark” Target Audiences

Hate to say this, but I have witnessed startup companies that thought they new their audiences and it wasn’t until they over-spent their PPC dollars and countless Landing Page A/B test to come to that realization. Selling a product or service requires more than just a few hours of typical market research. When it comes to online marketing, either hire a PPC Consultant or purchase PPC Competitive Research Software such as SpyFu.com to see some of these invaluable competitor information:

  • Monthly Budget Trends
  • PPC and SEO Keywords
  • Top Text Ads
  • Their own PPC and SEO Competitors
  • Review monthly and seasonality trends
  • Compare up to (3) three competitors and see which terms they are all bidding on.

Here’s an example:

PPC Competitive Analysis

In Conclusion

Whether you are building a Startup company or growing an existing one, the agency experience should be a positive one. However, dealing with the “dog eat dog” agency world when it comes to trust, expectations and continual growth is unfortunate and should never happen. I hope this blog post, at the very least, has provided some insight into preventing these situations as well as learning from them. Finding the right agency partner is just as important as finding the right target audience.


Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant


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