Edmonton SEO Expert

If you’re not convinced that a large portion of your advertising budget should be going to local online search, take a look at these startling statistics about local search:
97% of internet users use the internet to shop, of which 57% characterize their behavior as shop online, purchase offline
90% of online business searches result in a sale to offline bricks and mortar
82% of local searchers follow up offline via an in-store visit, phone call or purchase
80% of family budgets are spent within 50 miles of the home
74% of internet users perform local searches
73% of online activity is related to local content
66% of North America use online local search, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing local
61% of local searches result in purchases
74% of Americans have substituted the internet and local search for phone books
48% of all searches are local
43% of internet searches have a purely small business local focus

Ask yourself this one qu


Worst start to year for equity flows since 2008: BAML

Worst start to year for equity flows since 2008: BAML

LONDON (Reuters) – A $10 billion wipeout over the last week has compounded the worst start to a year for equity flows since 2008, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists said on Friday.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Citing data from flow-tracker EPFR, BAML’s analysts calculated that just over $60 billion has now been yanked out of equities this year. Almost $80 billion has been pulled from developed markets, while $18.5 billion has gone into emerging markets.

They added that last week also saw the fourth-biggest inflow on record into ‘investment grade’ bonds at $9.5 billion and that “Europe = Japan” – a reference to long-term aneamic growth and low interest rates – was now the most consensus trade in the world by their calculations.

“Europe = Japan is correct and consensus,” they said, though they also reckon European assets will outperform in the second quarter now that the European Central Bank has shifted back towards stimulus and there are signs of renewed growth emerging from China.

For many, the monster outflows from stocks will appear at odds with what has been a red-hot start to the year for equity markets.

Despite a wobble this week, MSCI’s main world share index has seen one of its best ever starts to a year thanks to surges of 20 percent or more for the likes of Wall Street’s S&P 500 and China’s main indexes.

The apparent disconnect could be explained by the fact that EPFR data captures only a portion of investment funds but also that firms themselves have been buying up their own shares this year after they became much cheaper last year.

Recent data from Biryinyi associates showed that U.S. companies had already announced plans to buy back nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars of their own stock by the end of February, which was up 7 percent on the same time a year ago.

BAML’s analysts noted separately meanwhile that this weekend marks 10 years since the post-financial crisis global equity bull run started.

During that time the value, or market capitalization, of U.S. stocks has surged by $21.3 trillion which is three times the $6.5 trillion overall rise in annual economic output of the U.S. economy.

The top three performers in the Dow Jones index have been plane maker Boeing, iPhone giant Apple and Unitedhealth Group, while the worst performers have been Walgreen, oil firm Exxon, and IT firm IBM.

Annualized total return since the March 2009 low have been 17.5 percent for the S&P 500, versus 13.8 percent by Japan’s Nikkei 225 and 9.3 percent for Europe’s STOXX 600.

“Ten years after Global Financial Crisis, Eurozone trapped in deflationary “Japanification” of growth & interest rates; EU rates unlikely to rise, EU equities in ‘value trap’” BAML’s analysts said.

Reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Helen Reid

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Facebook dynamic ads: A beginner’s guide

facebook dynamic ads, a beginners guide

facebook dynamic ads, a beginners guide

Facebook constantly expands its advertising offerings by introducing new features to accommodate advertisers in their effort to make the most out of their platform.

Whether it is creating ads that tell the brand’s story with carousel ads, immersing users in their brand’s world with Canvas or Stories ads, or cutting down the time to create creatives while at the same time tailoring the ad to the ad viewer with dynamic ads, Facebook wants to ensure that it gives advertisers the tools to drive results across its platforms.

In a world where personalization is vital to make experiences more engaging, Facebook Ads are no different. Advertisers need to customize their offering, ad copy and ad creative to ensure the best experience possible. A great experience tailored to the user’s needs hopefully equals higher engagement — or, in terms of Facebook advertising, conversions.

Tailoring your ads to your user, the manual and tedious way

One way you could promote your products to potential customers before dynamic ads were available was to create a single image or carousel image ad and guide people to specific product pages on your website.

But if you were a business with a large inventory to promote, you needed to create as many ads (creative and links to product pages) as your products. And if you wanted to tailor your ads based on where they are on the marketing funnel or the actions they performed (e.g. they viewed or added to the cart a particular product), then things could become really complicated really fast.

Dynamic ads (or dynamic product ads as they are formerly known) allow advertisers to not only automate this tedious process but also create highly personalized ads that promote products with up to date information.

Dynamic ads: The definition and requirements

Facebook dynamic ads help advertisers display the right product to the right people at the right time. Here is how this happens:

A potential customer visits your site and browses through your products. Facebook, through the Pixel, will pair products and users and ‘take notes’ on how they interacted with them. When you create a dynamic ad you can include everyone that exhibited the same behavior, bring them back to your website by displaying the very same products each user engaged with using accurate and updated information available in the product feed. This how dynamic ads can help your visitors to complete the transaction.

To be able to run dynamic ads you need to have the following in place:

  1. A business manager: This serves as a big folder where all of your assets (Facebook page, Ad account, Pixel, and Dynamic ads-related assets mentioned below) will be organized.
  2. Product feed(s): This is the file where all your products and product information will be stored.
  3. Product catalog(s): This is where your product feed is hosted.

How to get started with dynamic ads

Dynamic ads are a powerful offering that can be used across a variety of verticals. Currently, dynamic Facebook ads are available to businesses that sell products (ecommerce), hotel, flight, destination, and home listings.

Your business type will dictate the events (standard or custom) you need to implement. Here are the typical standard events needed for ecommerce businesses.

Table of typical e-commerce business standard events for Facebook dynamic ads

Source: Facebook

You can add as many events you need to align them to your funnel. Once you have the events implemented, you need to create the feed.

1. Creating a product feed

Facebook requires Facebook advertisers to list all of their products in a file following a specific format. This file is the product feed that will feed the products to your catalog. Depending on your ecommerce platform, you may need to create a data feed using a .csv, .tsv, or .xml file or a third-party feed provider to facilitate this process.

Download the data feed template and fill in the information. Here is what your feed needs to include:

Creating a product feed in Facebook dynamic ads

Source: Facebook 

Be sure to test your feed with Feed Debugger to ensure that your feed is set up correctly and fix any issues that may arise.

2. Creating a product catalog

Now, we can create a product catalog. Visit Catalog Manager in your business manager and choose the type that best describes your needs.

Creating a product catalog in Facebook dynamic ads

Name your product catalog and click on the ‘Add Products’ button to upload your product feed.

Ad product screen in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, choose how you will upload the data (schedule or a one-time upload) and insert the URL of your product feed.

Uploading product data in Facebook dynamic ads

When done, go to the ‘Diagnostics’ tab to check for any issues, if you have done so with Feed Debugger. Now, that your product catalog and product feed are all set up, we can move to the exciting part; creating the dynamic ads campaign.

3. Setting up a dynamic ads campaign

To create a dynamic ads campaign, head over to Ads Manager and choose ‘Catalog sales’ as the campaign’s objective. Setting up a dynamic Facebook ads campaign

At the ad set level, create a product set. The product set is a subset of your product catalog, and it contains the products that will be displayed through this campaign.

Product set in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, in the audience section, choose ‘Define a broad audience and let Facebook optimize who sees your products’ so you can reach new people (prospecting campaign). To remarket to existing visitors, use the option “Use info from your Pixel or app to create a retargeting audience “.

Defining the audience in Facebook dynamic ads

Scroll down below the connections menu and click ‘Show Advanced Options’. Here are some options that let you refine your audience and exclude people who are less likely to take action, such as someone who has already visited your website or bought from you.

adding a connection type in Facebook dynamic ads

Next, you want to optimize for the right event type. Choose the event that you want to optimize for (View Content, Add To Cart, or Purchase) and set the conversion window to one that suits your needs.

optimizing a Facebook dynamic ad

Be sure to fill in any other information (i.e. targeting, budget, etc.) the way you usually do. Now, we will create the ad.

When choosing the ad format (single or carousel), take into account the type of images used in your product feed.  Typically, landscape images will look great with the single image ad format while vertical images will look better with the carousel ad format.

Now for your ad copy, you don’t need to manually insert the product name, description, or any other product information. You can use the ‘+’ button inside each box to pull a catalog field from your product feed.

For instance, click the ‘+’ button in the text field, and select ‘Price’ from the drop-down list.

Adding ad copy details in Facebook dynamic ads

There you have it. You’ve successfully created your first dynamic ad.

Using dynamic ads creatively

As mentioned previously, dynamic ads are currently available if you promote products, vehicle, flights, destination, or home listings. If you don’t see your business type here, don’t get discouraged as dynamic ads can be used for all verticals. Here are some examples of using dynamic ads creatively.

1. Using dynamic ads to promote your blog posts

When using dynamic ads to promote your articles, the articles serve as products, and all product info will be the article’s information. For example, the product id will be the article’s id; the product description will be the article’s description and so on. Have in mind that you don’t need to rename the product feed’s, only the contents of it.

Promoting your articles this way, allows you to save time and automate a tedious process. Plus, you can easily choose whom you will target; new or existing audience.

promoting blog posts on Facebook dynamic ads

2. Using dynamic ads for a betting company

To use dynamic ads top promote betting services, we substitute the products for matches/games and take of advanced product feed offerings by changing product availability based on time. Since matches are time-sensitive, we need to ensure that no match would get advertised after the betting period has ended.

Although these are just two cases, dynamic ads can be used for the majority of the verticals out there.

Making the most out of your dynamic ads

Dynamic ads are a powerful tool in Facebook advertiser’s arsenal. Since its launch, new possibilities are constantly being added. Here are some possibilities that you will find interesting:

1. Customizing the appearance of your Dynamic Ads

In an endless newsfeed where a majority of the ads look the same, you should create and apply custom templates to your dynamic ads to help stand out and grab your ad viewer’s attention. Depending on the period you are advertising in you can create Christmas, Valentine’s day, Black Friday inspired templates. You can also create “evergreen” templates that include your logo and your brand’s colors.

Customizing your ad Facebook dynamic ad experience

2. Multi-language and multi-country dynamic ads

Recently, Facebook released two new features that help you target your ideal audience within a country where many languages are spoken. Creating multi-language dynamic ads is very straight forward. Set up the dynamic ads campaign the way you normally would, and use the ‘Create in Different Languages’ option.

Multi-language and multi-country dynamic ads

Have in mind that this will only change the ad’s copy, not the information that comes from your product feed.

If you are promoting your products across countries that have different currencies and you need to tailor product information to the language of your audience, then you need to create additional feeds that will include currency information (one feed) and country/language information (second feed).

Add product information screen

Both secondary feeds can be set up in your Catalog Manager. If you are targeting an international audience consider tailoring your ads to match their language. The chances are that your ads will convert better.

Screenshot of description

A secondary feed that holds information on different languages will look something like the above screenshot. You need the product id which uniquely identifies your product, then state the overrides for each country-language combination and provide the all necessary product info for each language.

For currencies, you will work similarly. Provide the product id, the country and the price in the country’s currency.

Screenshot of price

3. Using animations in dynamic ads

Using animations in Facebook dynamic ads

The slideshow dynamic ads format helps display your products to users from different angles, including close-ups, without users having to click on the ad. This way, you bring the web experience straight in the users’ NewsFeed. To create Slideshow Dynamic Ads you only need to include multiple images of the same product in the feed as opposed to only one and check the box ‘show when available’ under ‘Catalog Assets’.Screenshot of catalog assets

Final words

Facebook Dynamic ads are a great advertising solution and should be part of your online advertising strategy. They allow you to automate ad creative creation, tailor your offering to your ad viewer and optimize for success. When done correctly, Facebook dynamic ads can help achieve your KPIs and make more bang for your buck.

Related reading

Google Ads 2019: What to look out for
how Google Ads is fighting click fraud
facebook is a local search engine. Are you treating it like one?

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How to Use Customer Testimonials in B2B Marketing

How to Use Customer Testimonials in B2B Marketing

Before buying a book or a pair of headphones from Amazon, it’s highly likely you’d read a few reviews to ensure you’re making the right decision. For consumers, reviews are vital in helping make purchasing decisions. But the same is also true for organizations that buy a product or service from other businesses.

In the case of business-to-business (B2B) marketing, testimonials can carry a lot of weight in highly competitive markets and must be carefully planned and executed. Before choosing which company to purchase from, B2B buyers spend a long time considering their budgets, product effectiveness, vendor professionalism—and the testimonials of peers.

B2B companies know how to talk up their products or services, emphasizing how efficient and cost-effective they are. But customers don’t want marketing spiel; they want balanced and unbiased feedback from people they can relate to. They also want concrete figures and results.

Testimonials build trust between the company and its users, and they help customers overcome any skepticism they might have. They also allow for comparison among similar products, which might help you get the edge over your competitors.

A good testimonial outlines key benefits, makes comparisons with other products, and backs up the claims you’ve made about your product or service. That’s why many businesses choose to include a form of testimonial in their marketing. But some are more effective than others.


Research backs up the claim that customer testimonials are effective. Testimonials beat all other types of content marketing for their effectiveness, WebDAM found:

Some 78% of people say they trust reviews as much as recommendations from acquaintances, and it’s interesting to note that the inclusion of both positive and negative reviews is perceived as more trustworthy than just positive reviews.

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Wall Street drops on paltry jobs growth, global slowdown worries

Wall Street drops on paltry jobs growth, global slowdown worries

(Reuters) – Wall Street declined on Friday after data showed U.S. job growth almost stalled in February, adding to concerns of a slowdown in global growth sparked by weak China export data and a prolonged slowdown in eurozone.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., March 7, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The U.S. economy created only 20,000 jobs in February, compared with expectations of non farm payrolls rising by 180,000 jobs last month, according to economists polled by Reuters.

“The poor number indicates that we are suffering alongside the rest of the global economy and that it is having an impact on the U.S.,” said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

“The U.S. has been the best house in a lousy neighborhood and maybe that is changing.”

However, other details of the closely followed employment report were strong. The unemployment rate fell back to below 4 percent and annual wage growth was the best since 2009.

The jobs report bolstered the Federal Reserve’s case for putting the interest rate hikes on hold, pushing the U.S. Treasury yields lower.

Shares of big banks dropped and pushed the interest-rate sensitive financials down 0.69 percent. Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc and Morgan Stanley dropped between 1.5 percent and 1.7 percent.

Worries about global growth gained ground after exports in China, the world’s second largest economy, tumbled the most in three years in February. Chinese imports also fell for a third straight month, which stirred talk of a “trade recession”.

The dismal economic report follows decision by the European Central Bank to cut its growth forecasts and unveil a new round of stimulus.

Adding to investor nerves was a comment from U.S. ambassador to China that the two sides have yet to set a date for a summit to resolve their trade dispute as neither side feels an agreement is imminent, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Tariff sensitive Boeing Co fell 0.7 percent and was the biggest drag on the bluechip Dow index, while Caterpillar Inc edged 1.3 percent lower.

Losses in heavyweight FAANG group of stocks increased after Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said in blog post she would present a regulatory plan to break up some of America’s largest technology companies, including Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc and Facebook Inc.

Shares of Facebook, Amazon, Apple Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet were trading down between 1.2 percent and 2 percent.

At 9:47 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 137.41 points, or 0.54 percent, at 25,335.82. The S&P 500 was down 17.94 points, or 0.65 percent, at 2,730.99 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 60.88 points, or 0.82 percent, at 7,360.58.

Wall Street’s main indexes are set for their fifth day of declines and were on pace for their steepest weekly fall since December after starting the year on a strong note.

The energy sector fell 2.48 percent as oil prices slid and Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund said it would drop oil and gas companies from its benchmark index and investment universe.

Oil majors ExxonMobil Corp and Chevron Corp dropped about 2 percent each.

The defensive real estate, utilities and consumer staples sector, were the only S&P sectors trading higher.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.62-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.58-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded five new 52-week highs and five new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 11 new highs and 32 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019

6 marketing trends set to take off in 2019

The traditional marketing funnel has changed.

No longer are marketers focused solely on moving a customer through the funnel. Now, marketers are creating experiences that promote brand affinity — and even advocacy.

The funnel is becoming more of an ongoing cycle that prioritizes continuous engagement over transactional relationships. This increased focus on nurturing, especially post-sale, makes customers more likely to stay with you or buy again — and more likely to give recommendations to friends and colleagues.

This year’s marketing trends are all about creating captivating digital experiences.

The growing momentum of social e-commerce, inclusive marketing, or brand activism means that marketers are connecting authentically with their customers.

Marketers like Inc. contributor and inclusive marketing expert, Sonia Thompson; social media marketing experts, Eva Taylor of Hootsuite and Taylor Loren of Later; Or, Andy Crestodina, the authority on content marketing and original research. All of whom we spoke to for this round-up article.

In 2019, say goodbye to the traditional marketing funnel, and welcome this year’s focus on the nurturing the customer relationship. These six marketing trends are set to take off this year:

The acceleration of social e-commerce

Look to the successful rise of Glossier, for proof of the rising importance of social e-commerce.

Quite simply, social e-commerce is the ability to purchase a product within a third party social media experience: think Shop the Look Pins from Pinterest to newer features such as shoppable Instagram Stories,” explains Eva Taylor, Senior Manager Global Social Marketing at HootSuite.

What started as the beauty blog, Into the Gloss, Glossier has disrupted the beauty industry by fostering community where shoppers like to congregate: Instagram.

Traditionally, beauty brands opened up shop on the bottom floor of department stores. Customers would waft through the perfume to discover new products within the mainstays of beauty, in this try-before-you-buy model.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social E-commerce Glossier
People love Glossier – just look at their engagement on a post about lipsticks.

Powered by the influencer and social proof native to the platform, Glossier has pioneered a new buy-before-you-try purchasing model in the beauty industry by “outsourcing” engagement to third party platforms, according to founder Emily Weiss in this Recode article.

And they’re not the only ones seeing success.

With Instagram shopping, you can turn your feed into a visual storefront, allowing your followers to make direct purchases without having to leave Instagram.

Taylor Loren

Head of Marketing at Later

The potency of the Instagram platform is cause for the projected 3x traffic increase over 2019, according to Salesforce.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social Ecommerce Instagram Shopping
Instagram and other visual social media make new product discovery easy. S-commerce makes buying those products easier.

For Instagram specifically, we’re really excited about shopping in Instagram Stories through product stickers which are already clicked by 90 million people daily,” explains Taylor Loren.

According to Instagram, 400 million people watch Instagram Stories every day, and one-third of the most viewed stories are from businesses. That’s a huge potential audience, and the format is so engaging.

Visual platforms like Pinterest, Snapchat and Instagram make the discovery of new products easier.

And brands are trying to close the gap between discovery and purchase with social e-commerce.

Instead of hyping up customers to go through to your website funnel, brands are focused on developing an engaged community on these platforms.

Social media excels as a place for product discovery, especially as new features advance social media’s ability to offer an immersive experience for potential consumers.

Video is a particularly effective format that can be integrated into different stages of the buyer journey, while the data collected by the social networks enables brands to create personalized experiences through paid social.

Eva Taylor

Senior Manager Global Social Marketing at Hootsuite

And rumor has it that the platform is working on its own stand-alone e-commerce app.

But e-commerce functionality is changing the way brands engage with consumers on all social touchpoints.

In late 2018, Tommy Hilfiger launched SideFlix, a Facebook messenger app that combines social interactions with shoppable posts.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Social E-commerce Tommy Hilfiger SideFlix
Four screens unlocks this influencer story on Facebook Messenger

How SideFlix works: shoppers gain access to exclusive content when they need to collaborate with their social networks in real life. A combination of mobile screens unlocks the ability to view branded video stories.

For example, when you have two screens side-by-side, influencers Jia-Ye Wu and Mia Kong travel through Shanghai and give users a peek at the 2018 TommyNow Icons runway.

With three screens, you get visual access to the TommyXLewis VIP launch party in New York with influencers Tessa Barton and Cole Herrmann.

And when you tap on any of the items in the videos, you can save the item to a collection and get linked to the shopping details on Tommy.com.

These innovative use of social platforms create a buzz around online shopping.

In 2019, experiment with what platforms and media work best for your brand, your product offering and your community of customers.

Be an early adopter…but be strategic.

Get the interactive Strategic Planning Worksheet to help you plan how and when to implement the marketing trends you’ve been reading about in this post, and elsewhere.

Searching in our visual culture

By now people have the muscle memory for taking pictures of all sorts of things — not just sunsets and selfies but the parking lot where you parked, business cards, books to read. That’s a massive behavior shift.

Aparna Chennapragada

Vice President of Product for AR, VR, and vision-based products at Google

Our culture is largely visual. Our phones allow us to document and notate our daily lives in minute detail. We take a picture to remember. We record a video to recall.

It’s shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that on the flip side of the social e-commerce trend is the proliferation of visual search.

When you submit an image as the search criteria, AI technology analyzes its content and context to determine related search results.

For example, Wayfair, a furniture and housewares company, implemented visual search into its e-commerce site. A shopper can take a picture of a chair they see out-and-about and upload it to gain similar items.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Visual Search
Wayfair uses AI technology to make shopping easy. Shoppers can get inspired by things they see, photograph it, and find similar items on the Wayfair site.

According to Gartner, brands that adopt visual and voice search in these early days can see their digital commerce revenue grow by 30% by 2021.

But the rise of visual search is part of a larger trend of “sensory search”. Voice search is still important in 2019.

The rise of UX Writing

In last year’s marketing trends round-up, I talked about conversational marketing. This year, the dialogue with your customers continues with the rise of UX writing.

UX writing is not a trend but a complete methodology that is on the rise,” explains Yuval Keshtcher, who founded his UX Writing community two years ago to fill a gap for experienced UX writers.

We need experienced creators that can tell the story of our digital products while creating meaningful conversations with our users.

UX writing can be distinguished from copywriting by its lack of focus on selling; instead, the UX writer seeks to guide a user through a website, app or product in a clear and delightful way.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends UX Writing
Eat This Much is an app that creates creates personalized meal plans, so instead of saying “Loading…” the writer wrote this playful microcopy.

A digital product must sound and feel like there is a human behind that digital screen.

The largest companies in the world such as Google, Amazon, and Dropbox use a UX writer to craft that kind of experiences that makes user fall in love with their products and services which automatically increase the sales conversion and retention rate for the company.

Buttons, menu labels, error messages, and other microcopy turn a design into a customer experience.

In fact, UX writing can often solve design problems through the ability to clear identify and motivate the user to complete particular actions in the experience.

Whereas a few years ago, UX designers might slot in some Lorem Ipsum to hold space before the copywriters filled the blanks; Nowadays, more and more companies are employing UX writers.

These writers understand technology, psychology, and user research to collaboratively build the user experience with designers, product managers, developers, etc.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends UX Writing
Do you understand what is intended by this page and form? Yuval Keshtcher provided this design-first example in his UX Writing Weekly newsletter to make a case for content-driven experiences.

In 2019, expect to craft messages that do more than sell; write to guide, write to motivate, write to delight.

UX writing will become common parlance in the marketing world, with innovators maximizing the experience beyond just the jobs to be done.

Credible content marketing after #FakeNews

According to 69% of respondents to Edelman’s 2018 Trust Barometer Global Report, the number one job of CEOs is to build trust in the company.

Building trust is also crucial for content marketers.

We’ve seen the rise of long-form content over the past few years; not only does content over 2,000 words see higher SEO rankings, but long-form content is also more likely to be shared on readers’ social media.

But credibility in the era of #FakeNews means that more content marketers will be taking a journalistic approach.

At the very least, marketers will be citing academic research and other thought leaders.

At most, content marketers will be spearheading original research themselves.

A good article cites original research. A great article IS original research. Over and over throughout 2018, I saw huge successes for marketers who published original research and made themselves the primary source for new information,” explains Andy Crestodina, author of “Content Chemistry.”

It’s so much harder, that most marketers don’t do it. It takes time to create a credible study. It requires data gathering, outreach, analysis and visuals. It’s inevitably long-form content. But look at the correlation between long-form content and success.

What’s more, marketers build credibility with their audiences through transparent research methodologies and data-backed messaging.

Brand activism in a polarized world

In 2016, Colin Kaepernick became a household name when kneeled through the national anthem before his 49ers games in protest of several police shootings of unarmed African-American men.

The protest incited a heated debate. Some agreed with Kaepernick’s stance; others saw it as insulting. Once a free agent, Kaepernick lingered, unsigned by a team because of the fear of repercussion.

Though he remained on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes, they didn’t know how to promote him at first.

And many in their boardrooms didn’t want to.

But to cut him from his contract could have caused media and consumer backlash.

In the end, Nike just did it.

Nike Colin Kaepernick Campaign Brand Activism
Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in their 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.

The campaign was provocative and unapologetic. A bold move best suited for Nike’s 30th anniversary of the “Just Do It” campaign.

And it ignited the debate further — some burned their Nike products live on social media. Others praised the brand for its support one of the most inspirational athletes of this generation.

But what would seem like a gamble for Nike actually turned into a winning move for its core consumers: two-thirds of which are under the age of 35 and a consumer based that is ethnically diverse, reports Bloomberg.

But Nike wasn’t the only brand that took a stand in 2018.

Tech Giants like Apple, Google and IBM rallied against Trump’s immigration policy. And Dick’s Sporting Goods banned assault weapons after the Parkland school shooting.

WiderFunnel Marketing Trends Brand Activism IBM
IBM rallied against Trump’s immigration policy, even making a social media statement on the issue.

In 2019, more brands will be getting off the fence when it comes to controversy.

According to Edelman’s Earned Brand study, nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents choose, switch to or boycott a brand based on its stand on social issues.

Perhaps more interesting to note is that “belief-driven” buying is up from 51 percent in 2017, alluding to the rising power of brand activism.

In fact, more than 50% of Gen Z-ers agreed that a brand showing dedication to social impact is an important factor when they make purchases, according to a survey by MNI Targeted Media Inc.

Whether that is an organization’s diversity and inclusion initiative or their charitable contributions, socially conscious brands are meaningful to this consumer category.

And so, marketers need to know where the organization stands on social issues. Having an opinion will trickle down through different marketing tactics: from your “voice” on social media to your PR key messages.

But taking a stand on social issues needs to come off as authentic — not solely a marketing ploy.

Political activism is an issue-by-issue, moment-by-moment decision that is not only conscience-led, but brand-aligned. The tone that brands adopt must be true to the brand and make sense to consumers, especially when key messages come from CEOs themselves.

Christine Moorman and Holly Larson

Marketers and business leaders should look to their organizational values to dictate which social issues mean the most to the brand — and their consumers.

Belonging and Inclusive marketing

Diversity and inclusion are becoming top business priorities in a global market. In recent years, we’ve seen marketing become more diverse, more body positive, more culturally sensitive.

Business is increasingly becoming more global, and as the US and other countries grow more diverse – we all have to cater to niche audiences that continue to grow, if we want to remain relevant. Those niche audiences have the power to move and influence entire markets.

Sonia Thompson

The Customer Magnet Show podcast host and Inc. columnist

For one, Google’s Mobile-First Index recognizes that many communities don’t have high-speed internet access that many of us take for granted.

But people can access the internet from a cheap phone with a 3G connection. So, you need to deliver your experience as fast as a broadband connection and be optimized for mobile in a way that includes these marginalized markets in your experience.

Because that’s the thing – when marketers talk about understanding their customers, you can’t rely on one or two personas without marginalizing some of your customers.

And you do have to understand your customer to create marketing campaigns that will resonate.

In the article, 4 lessons we’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, about inclusive marketing“, Lorraine Twohill, Chief Marketer at Google, described the customer research that they underwent to make sure their Chromebook advertising resonated with the Hispanic community.

And she also described how Google worked with pride organizations to help tell the stories of the LGTBQ community.

Inclusive marketing is all about focusing your efforts to include as many people as possible with the products, services, and experiences you deliver – in particular, the people who don’t fit cleanly into what is considered mainstream,” explains Sonia Thompson.

In 2019, marketers will need to understand the customers they include and the customers they potentially exclude with their campaigns.

When designing digital experiences be sure to think about your ideal customer avatar – and evaluate whether or not that vision of a person allows you to be inclusive of others who don’t fit the traditional mold, or if it does more to exclude others,” Sonia advises.

For instance, that may mean utilizing photography that resonates with people of color, accommodating people who have food allergies or dietary restrictions or even making allowances for folks whose first language isn’t the one your business primarily does business in.

To reach niche audiences, marketers will need to ensure that they are personalizing their efforts.

And they will need to know that those efforts will resonate by basing their decisions on customer research and thick data.

Being intentional about getting to know on a broad scale about all the different types of customers who have the problem your business solves, will help you craft a customer profile that is more representative of the customers you want to serve.

With the advancements in technology and customer research like our MotivationLab, there’s no excuse for leaving your niche audiences neglected.

Inclusive marketing is a trend that you can’t miss.

De-siloing the customer experience

Read any trends round-up post for marketers and you will see the usual listing of buzzwords: Augmented and virtual reality. Personalization. Artificial Intelligence.

Of course, these are emerging trends and technologies worthy of your attention.

But, really, these trends reflect the desire to captivate the customer’s attention with delightful digital experiences.

Think of a website that personalizes recommendations based on your past purchases and sizing. Or, an app that allows you to envision what new furniture looks like in your apartment.

It doesn’t matter if it’s AR or AI-driven, these trends and technologies are secondary to the customer experience.

But to achieve this level of delight, marketers need to work cross-functionally with other teams.

Marketers need to work with product managers, technologists, data analysts, and developers. They need to work with customer service specialists and the sales team.

Together, they create the experience of the customer journey.

Corporate silos are customer experience killers because customers don’t care about how your company is organized. They simply see one fluid experience — their own.

At the very least, marketers need to consider what the customer was doing before the experience in focus and what they would be doing immediately after.

In 2019, Marketers need to work beyond their team or department; they need to de-silo the customer experience to see success.

Experimentation is at the heart of every marketing strategy.

Being on the cusp of new trends is exciting, but it doesn’t necessarily result in a winning marketing strategy.

It can be hard to know when the timing is right for your business.

You need to know what your customers will respond to at what touchpoint or trigger action. You need to understand the customer’s perspective of your experience to know what they need and desire.

That’s why even the most experienced marketers now test and learn their way to see which new trends and technologies will work.

Experimentation allows you to minimize your investment in new marketing trends while allowing you to constantly adapt your marketing strategy to customer preferences and behaviors.

In 2019, be an early adopter, an innovator — experiment.

What marketing trends for 2019 did I miss? Let us know in the comments!


Lindsay Kwan

Marketing Communications Specialist

Benchmark your experimentation maturity with our new 7-minute maturity assessment and get proven strategies to develop an insight-driving growth machine.

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U.S. podcast audiences keep growing, 62 million listening weekly

U.S. podcast audiences keep growing, 62 million listening weekly

For the first time, more than half (51 percent) of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, up from 44 percent last year. Put another way, 144 million people, or 20 million more people than just a year ago, have listened to a podcast.

Frequency is on the rise, too. An estimated 90 million, or nearly one-third (32 percent) listen monthly, up from 26 percent.

And 22 percent are weekly listeners, up from 17 percent. That’s an estimated 62 million weekly U.S. podcast listeners. The numbers come from Edison Research and Triton Digital’s latest Infinite Dial survey.

Who’s listening? Numbers are increasing among men and women, but men are more likely to be listeners with 36 percent of male respondents saying they listen to podcasts monthly, compared to 29 percent of women.

Podcasts are reaching roughly 40 percent of people age 12 to 24 and 25 to 54.  While listening among those 55 and older is up from 13 percent last year, just 17 percent of this older demographic are monthly podcast listeners.

Weekly listeners said they heard an average of seven podcasts in the last week. More than half (52 percent) of them had listened to four or more podcasts that week.

Digital audio looks to podcast market. Spotify, which has made significant overtures in podcasting with the acquisitions of podcasting network Gimlet Media and back-end services company Anchor last month, is quickly gaining traction among younger audiences. Among monthly podcast listeners age 12-24, fifty-three percent were Spotify listeners, up from just 32 percent a year ago.

Why you should care. The marketing opportunities in podcasting continue to evolve from host-read ads and branded sponsored series. As companies like Spotify invest in growing their podcast businesses, the marketing opportunities — and measurement and attribution capabilities — will become more sophisticated. This is still early days for podcasting, but growing audiences and investment means it’s an area more brands will consider incorporating into their marketing strategies.

About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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BB&T agrees to return funds to investors to settle SEC charges

BlueMountain names slate for PG&E board

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. securities regulator said on Tuesday that BB&T Securities has agreed to return more than $5 million to retail investors and pay a $500,000 penalty to settle charges that a firm it acquired misled clients about the cost of advisory services.

BB&T agreed to pay the amounts without admitting or denying the findings, the Securities and Exchange Commission said. The firm, Valley Forge Asset Management, allegedly lied to customers and provided inadequate disclosures about its brokerage services and prices to convince customers to choose it over less expensive options that were available externally, according to the SEC.

Reporting by Lisa Lambert;Editing by Leslie Adler

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SEOs beware: Link builders are back with bogus Domain Authority pitches

SEOs beware: Link builders are back with bogus Domain Authority pitches

This week, Moz announced it has updated its Domain Authority (DA) score, and as we expected, it caused confusion within some segments of the SEO industry. Some, maybe more novice, SEOs confuse the DA metric with an internal metric used by Google. This is fueled, in no small part, by agencies and vendors that pitch their ability to “improve your Domain Authority.”

DA is not a Google metric. It is a metric that Moz, an SEO toolset provider, came up with. To be clear, Moz has never claimed that Google uses DA. In fact, Moz has clearly stated that DA is not a Google metric and is based on its own datasets and algorithms for its DA score.

Moz is not the only company to come up with its own internal link scores, Majestic, Ahrefs and many other tool providers have their own scores.

DA doesn’t influence your Google rankings. Since DA is not a Google metric, it has zero impact on how well or how poorly you rank in Google. If your DA score goes up or goes down, you should not expect your Google rankings to follow.

Russ Jones from Moz has even requested the addition of a disclaimer on the DA score in response to the fact that people are asking Google how to improve their DA scores:

Sewing confusion. In dozens of emails and countless social media posts, we’ve seen SEO’s express concerns over DA score changes and how it will impact their Google rankings. Googlers are responding to complaints about the change in DA scores.

Why so much confusion? In part, because of emails and posts like the one below that claims “sites got penalized” by the updated DA algorithm and pitches link building services “to improve your Domain Authority.” This kind of misinformation campaign is not an uncommon tactic.

From an email pitching link building to “improve your Domain Authority.”

But, this hype history starts with Google PageRank. Much of this confusion dates back to Google’s own marketing hype around PageRank or PR. In 2000, Google made this score visible for any page in the browser with its Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer.

PageRank fever took over, and link building became big business. Many SEOs obsessed over PR scores and used to buy, sell and trade links based on PageRank. And a whole lot of snake oil link building schemers and spammers flooded the market to take advantage of this new economy.

When Google stopped making PageRank publicly visible in 2016, the industry began looking for another metric to base the link building economy around. (For a history of the rise and fall of PageRank, see RIP Google PageRank score: A retrospective on how it ruined the web.)

Well, that is where Moz came in with Domain Authority. Maybe it wasn’t intentional, but it happened: once again, there was a shiny, single metric to fixate on.

Why it matters. Focusing on PageRank alone was never good SEO strategy, just as singular focus on DA now is not. “Domain Authority is a comparative metric, and I cannot stress this enough. On its own, in a vacuum, DA means very little,” Moz’s Russ Jones told us in an interview  Wednesday.

DA has no influence on your Google rankings. Your DA score can drop through the floor, and your rankings in Google will not change as a result. Focus on the bigger picture. And don’t be fooled by sales pitches that promise to help improve your Domain Authority.

About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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Consumer mindset Search Engine Watch

luxury marketing search strategy, part one: consumer mindset

luxury marketing search strategy, part one: consumer mindset

Did you know the world’s top 15 luxury brands generate more than 45 million web searches per year?

Gucci, ranked as the number one most popular luxury brand online based on Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018 study, has approximately 9.5 million web searches per year alone.

Luxury brands, resellers, and even counterfeiters are competing to win the top organic positions for these searches. This means that SEO is not just an opportunity for luxury brands, but an imperative. SEO is a highly strategic and effective way to fend off the competition and maintain a vital source of traffic to luxury brands’ websites.

However, before you can get to work on a rock-solid SEO campaign, you need to understand the mindset of the luxury goods consumer.

In this first of a three-part luxury search marketing series, I’ll dive into the consumer mindset in the luxury vertical. In the follow-up articles, we’ll discuss how to strategize and execute SEO campaigns based on this mindset and other aspects of the luxury industry.

Why do we buy luxury brands? The psychology driving our purchase decisions

The world’s 100 largest luxury goods companies generated over $217 billion in sales based on Deloitte’s Global Powers of Luxury Goods 2018 study.

That’s no small amount. As consumers we buy these goods for a variety of reasons. My own experience with luxury goods offers some helpful insight into why consumers purchase luxury items.

When I was growing up, wearing brands like Liz Claiborne, Reebok, and Guess meant you were one of the cool kids. My first “luxury” purchase was a Liz Claiborne purse, and my grandmother bought me a matching wallet for my 16th birthday. I was so excited that day. But, what was really driving my excitement? Ultimately, the purse fulfilled an emotional need for me – the need to fit in. Carrying my very own Liz Claiborne bag gave me confidence and appealed to my sense of belonging.

There are many other factors that influence the luxury shopper’s mindset. As search marketers, we need to have a solid understanding of these factors and how they drive your customer to search for and buy your brand.

Psychological and physiological factors to consider in marketing luxury goods

  1. Needs vs. wants

Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs sheds greater light on our needs versus our wants. According to Maslow, human beings have a specific number of needs and these needs are arranged in a hierarchy, with physiological and safety needs being more basic than other needs such as social needs.

Once our basic needs like food, warmth, and safety are met, we can start to prioritize higher-level social needs like cultivating a sense of accomplishment and prestige.

As search marketers, we need to have a deep understanding of our customer and find a way to fulfill his/her need and wants. Although I was convinced it was a “need” for me at the time, my Liz Claiborne bag was really a want. There’s a big difference between spending $30 on a handbag as opposed to $3,000. If I’m looking for a specific handbag to carry my essentials in, then from a functional standpoint, the $30 bag meets that basic need. But, it doesn’t fulfill my higher-level emotional needs.

Questions for marketers to ask themselves:

  • Is the product a need or a want?
  • What does the product and ultimately the brand represent to the customer?
  • Does the product/brand fulfill the customers high-level needs?

What does it mean for search?

You should first determine if the product is a need or a want. Think about the ways you can communicate this information through organic search, for example, through meta tags, and copy. You should also think about how you can communicate the ways your product or brand can fulfill your customers’ higher-level needs. We’ll explore further strategies and tactics for this in subsequent articles.

  1. Utilitarian vs. hedonic

Our purchase decisions are driven by utilitarian and hedonic considerations. Marketing utilitarian goods and hedonic goods require different approaches.

Utilitarian products are useful, practical, and functional. These products are bought out of necessity and meet our basic needs. Utilitarian products include things like groceries, hygiene products, cars, etc.

Hedonic products satisfy emotional and sensory needs after the basic needs have been met. These products are bought for pleasure and exceed our basic needs. Hedonic products include things like designer watches, expensive vacations, and more.

There’s a significant difference between buying groceries and booking a vacation. Buying groceries addresses a need whereas booking a vacation is a satisfying experience. Several years ago, I bought my first Fendi bag not because I needed it, but because I wanted it and had the means to buy it. It was an incredible experience for me to go into the store and make that purchase.

In marketing utilitarian products, advertisers should highlight the benefits and practical, functional features. In marketing hedonic products, it’s important to emphasize the experience it will provide the consumers. An example of a brand that achieves both is Apple. Apple’s iPhone X commercial does an excellent job with highlighting benefits and features and creating experiences at the same time.

They make you want to go out and buy the new phone immediately, so you can experience something that’s unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Questions for marketers:

  • Is this a utilitarian purchase, a hedonic purchase, or both?
  • If utilitarian what is the product’s functional, practical aspects?
  • If hedonic what experience does the product provide?
  • Is there a way to highlight the product’s function and emphasize the experience it provides at the same time?

What does it mean for search?

You should first determine whether your product is a utilitarian purchase, a hedonic purchase, or a little bit of both.

Remember, luxury consumers are looking for an experience. You should be thinking about ways to communicate the experience through your SEO strategy. More to come about this in subsequent articles!

  1. The role of the brain – Dopamine & the anticipation of pleasure

Our brains have a physiological role in our purchase decisions. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, is best known for its role in the brain’s reward system. It helps regulate emotional responses, learning, attention, and movement.

Robert Sapolsky, a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, has conducted extensive research about the role that dopamine plays in a human’s ability to pursue rewards that are months or years away.

Dopamine levels rise significantly when we anticipate rewards that are uncertain and far in the future. A perfect example of an uncertain reward is playing the lottery.

In “Dopamine Jackpot! Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure” he says that “dopamine is not about the pleasure, but the anticipation of pleasure.”

It is the uncertainty that increases the anticipation. As an example, when we place an order for a product online, we don’t get the product immediately. We have to wait for it, and the anticipation is increased through waiting.

Buying luxury products and/or shopping a sale can trigger a dopamine hit.

Kit Yarrow, San Francisco-based consumer psychologist and author of Decoding the New Consumer Mind, says that during a sale, the body’s autonomic nervous system (the same system that triggers the fight or flight response) takes over and creates a heightened response in the body, like the one early humans had when facing predators.

The fear of missing out can switch us into a competitive mode. This physiological response was designed to protect us from predators, not other shoppers. Yarrow says, “The reason [our response] is so powerful is because people don’t even think about it.”

Questions for marketers:  

  • Is there a way to communicate the product/brands exclusivity?
  • Is there a way to build in anticipation?

What does it mean for search?

You should be thinking about how you can communicate the product/brands’ exclusivity from an organic search perspective. More importantly, you should look for ways to build anticipation of your product or brand. We’ll explore this point further later in the series.

Final thoughts

Ultimately, we buy luxury goods because of how it makes us feel. We crave an experience, exclusivity, and we want to have our higher-level needs met. The Liz Claiborne and Fendi bags, while functional, really met a greater need – the need to belong and the need to fit in.

Dopamine drives our behavior. It’s not about the rewards we get, but the anticipation. The anticipation of going to the store and purchasing the Fendi bag before someone else could was a strong motivator for me to buy the bag immediately.

In the next article in the series we’ll discuss how you can apply these concepts while also integrating search marketing with other channels in the luxury goods industry.

Jennifer Kenyon is a Director of Organic Search at Catalyst (part of GroupM). She can be found on Twitter @JennKCatalyst.

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