Marketing Technology Awards 2019 – Search Engine Watch Search Engine Watch

marketing technology awards 2019

marketing technology awards 2019

We’ve been working together with our sister site, ClickZ, to honor the best and brightest marketing technology companies today (which includes some SEO-related tools). 

These Marketing Technology Awards are voted on 50/50 by the community and by a panel of judges. The ceremony will be hosted by Scott Brinker, and will take place on the night of March 21 in Tribeca, New York.

We’ve been raising quite a bit more hubbub about it on ClickZ, which more directly covers all marketing technology.

But since our SEW name is on there too, we wanted to make sure everyone here was in the loop as well. (You’ve probably seen it in the newsletters!)

How do the Marketing Technology Awards work?

You can read full detail about the Awards on the official website here, and can see answers to common questions here.

Categories span across various types of marketing technology, including CDPs, ABMs, call analytics, conversational bots, and a dozen more.

And of course, a handful of more SEO type things such as search tools, location-based marketing, mobile marketing, etc.

Categories also include “Use of Technologies” (best campaigns, best tech stack), as well as “People” (martech CEO and CMO).

The awards were free to enter, and anyone who has used any of the platforms (excluding employees) could vote on them, rating the tools on things like ease of use, integration, innovation, value for money, customer service, etc.

Finalists were determined based 50% by community votes, and 50% by these judges.

marketing technology awards panel of judges

Announcing the finalists

So for 2019, we want to thank everyone who has entered, nominated, voted, scored, and otherwise provided your valuable insights and experience.

We’d like to announce the list of finalists for this year, and offer a huge congratulations to everyone on this list.

We can’t wait to celebrate you and your great work at this event.

Here’s the full list:

Technologies

Best Account Based Marketing Tool

  • Demandbase
  • Jabmo
  • Uberflip

Best Analytics Platform

  • AT INTERNET
  • Interana
  • Pathmatics
  • TapClicks

Best Attribution Platform

  • Fospha
  • Marketing Evolution

Best Call Analytics Platform

  • DialogTech
  • Infinity
  • Invoca
  • Marchex

Best Chat/Conversationsal Bot/Tool

Best Content Marketing Tool

Best Conversion Rate Optimization Tool/Technology

  • CoolTool
  • Lucky Orange
  • WEVO

Best Customer Data Platform (CDP)

  • Adlucent
  • Arm Treasure Data
  • Fospha
  • Tealium

Best Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM)

Best Data Privacy/GDPR Tool/Technology

  • Isatis CyberSoft
  • Sourcepoint

Best Data Visualization Tool

Best Demand Side Platform (DSP)

  • Amobee
  • SmartyAds
  • The Trade Desk

Best Digital Asset Management Platform (DAM)

Best Email Service Provider (ESP)

  • Epsilon
  • GetResponse
  • MessageGears
  • Upland Adestra

Best Influencer Marketing Platform

  • CreatorIQ
  • HYPR
  • IZEA Worldwide Inc.

Best Location Based Marketing Platform

  • Brandify
  • Chatmeter
  • Rio SEO
  • Yext

Best Marketing Automation Platform (MAP)

  • Maropost
  • Omnisend
  • Salesforce
  • Swrve

Best Mobile Marketing Platform

Best Paid Media/Bid Management Tool

  • Adlucent
  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Search)
  • SmartyAds

Best Personalization Platform

  • Certona
  • Monetate
  • RichRelevance
  • Sitecore
  • Yieldify

Best Predictive Analytics Platform

  • Keen Decision Systems
  • SmartyAds

Best Sales Enablement Technology

  • Clari
  • Highspot
  • List Partners LLC
  • Seismic

Best SEO Tool

Best Social Media Marketing & Monitoring Company

  • Kenshoo (Kenshoo Social)
  • Rascasse

Overall – Marketing Technology Company of the Year

  • To be announced from the list of finalist at the awards dinner

Use of technologies

Best Customer Experience Campaign

  • Nestlé (Nestlé China)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • Best Data Enablement Campaign
  • Adobe (Adobe)
  • Catalyst (Catalyst & Tauck)
  • Idomoo (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts)
  • Marketing Evolution (Marketing Evolution)

Best Marketing Technology Stack

Best Personalization Campaign

  • Conversant (Swanson Health)
  • Location3 (Mountain Mike’s Pizza)
  • Selligent Marketing Cloud (OPEL NETHERLANDS)
  • Sitecore (Herschend Family Entertainment (Dollywood.com))
  • Velocity Worldwide (The Belfast Classic/Sport Changes Life)

Best Technology Combination

  • Akamai
  • Glisser
  • Merkle (Globe Life and Accident Insurance)
  • TVTY

Best Use of Marketing Technology

  • Adobe (Adobe & Adobe Advertising Cloud)
  • Ogilvy (H&M & Ogilvy)
  • SAP (SAP & MSIGHTS, Inc.)

People

Marketing Technology CEO Award

  • Conductor (Seth Besmertnik, CEO, Conductor)
  • Marketing Evolution (Rex Briggs, CEO, Marketing Evolution)
  • Sourcepoint (Ben Barokas, CEO, Sourcepoint)
  • Tapad (Sigvart Voss Eriksen, CEO, Tapad)
  • Trustpilot (Peter Holten Mühlmann, CEO, Trustpilot)

Marketing Technology CMO Award

  • Hootsuite (Penny Wilson, CMO, Hootsuite)
  • The Trade Desk (Susan Vobejda, CMO, The Trade Desk)
  • Yieldify (Hannah Nakano Stewart, CMO, Yeildify)

Again, a huge congratulations to all of these fantastic companies and people! For inquiries about the ceremony, please see more information and contact info here.

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U.S. personal income falls; spending weakest since 2009

U.S. personal income falls; spending weakest since 2009

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. personal income fell for the first time in more than three years in January as dividends and interest payments dropped, pointing to moderate growth in consumer spending after it fell by the most since 2009 in December.

FILE PHOTO: A customer pays her lunch bill at the Other Side Cafe in Boston, Massachusetts in this file photo taken on October 1, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi/Files

The report from the Commerce Department on Friday also showed inflation pressures remaining tame, which together with slowing domestic and global economic growth gave more credence to the Federal Reserve’s “patient” stance towards raising interest rates further this year.

Personal income slipped 0.1 percent in January, the first decline since November 2015, after jumping 1.0 percent in December. Income was weighed down by decreases in dividend, farm proprietors’ and interest income. Wages increased by a moderate 0.3 percent in January after rising 0.5 percent in December.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast incomes rising 0.3 percent in January.

The Commerce Department did not publish the January consumer spending portion of the report as the collection and processing of retail sales data was delayed by a 35-day partial shutdown of the government that ended on Jan. 25.

It reported that consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, dropped 0.5 percent in December. That was the biggest decline since September 2009 and followed a 0.6 percent increase in November.

Households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and recreational goods in December, leading to a 1.9 percent plunge in spending on goods. Spending on goods increased 1.0 percent in November. Outlays on services edged up 0.1 percent, held back by a decline in spending on household electricity and gas. Spending on services advanced 0.4 percent in November.

When adjusted for inflation, consumer spending fell 0.6 percent in December, also the largest drop since September 2009, after rising 0.5 percent in November.

The December data was included in the fourth-quarter gross domestic product report published on Thursday, which showed consumer spending growing at a 2.8 percent annualized rate during that period, slower than the third quarter’s robust 3.5 percent pace. The economy grew at a 2.6 percent rate in the October-December quarter after notching a 3.4 percent pace in the third quarter.

U.S. financial markets were little moved by the data.

SAVINGS SURGE

The sharp deceleration in consumer spending in December puts consumption on a lower growth trajectory in the first quarter and bolsters analysts’ expectations that the economy will slow down further in the first three months of the year.

Still, consumer spending likely remains supported by an accumulation of savings. In December, savings increased to $1.2 trillion, the highest level since December 2012, from $961.3 billion in November. The saving rate jumped to a three-year high of 7.6 percent.

The economy is losing momentum as the boost from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package and increased government spending fades.

FILE PHOTO: United States one dollar bills on a light table at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington Nov. 14, 2014. REUTERS Gary Cameron/File Photo/File Photo

A trade war between the United States and China, higher interest rates, softening global growth as well as uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the European Union are also negatively affecting the economy.

Inflation was benign in December. The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index excluding the volatile food and energy components rose 0.2 percent after a similar gain in November. That left the year-on-year increase in the so-called core PCE price index at 1.9 percent.

The core PCE index is the Fed’s preferred inflation measure. It hit the U.S. central bank’s 2 percent inflation target in March for the first time since April 2012.

Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci

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Benefits of Interactive Content for Marketing

Benefits of Interactive Content for Marketing

Passive content, including video, is out for 2019, claims this infographic by Kaon Interactive, a provider of interactive 3D product marketing and sales applications.

So what’s in? Immersive storytelling and interactive content, of course.

Most people have become expert at skimming and scrolling, Kaon argues, so you need to give them a reason to slow down and engage.

Compelling them to interact with your content is the best way to grab and hold their attention, according to the infographic.


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How The Motley Fool leverages experimentation as a growth strategy: A case study

How The Motley Fool leverages experimentation as a growth strategy: A case study

Case Study Executive Summary

Company: The Motley Fool
Industry: Media; Financial Services
Business Model: Premium Service Subscription
Experimentation Champion: Nate Wallingsford, Head of U.S. Marketing Operations and Optimization at The Motley Fool

Business Need:

  • Increase paid user acquisition to hit revenue targets
  • Increase user engagement with premium services
  • Increase member retention
  • Increase customer lifetime value

Solution:

  • Process-oriented experimentation featuring proper Design of Experiments
  • Collaborative experiment ideation between The Motley Fool and WiderFunnel
  • Internal socialization of experimentation at The Motley Fool
  • Staff augmentation (UX / UI Design and Web Development)

Results:

  • Millions of dollars in uncovered additional annual revenue
  • Key customer insights generated and leveraged throughout The Motley Fool’s funnel
  • Unified experimentation efforts across The Motley Fool’s marketing and product teams

Controlled experiments can transform decision making into a scientific, evidence-driven process—rather than an intuitive reaction. Without them, many breakthroughs might never happen, and many bad ideas would be implemented, only to fail, wasting resources.

The full story: How The Motley Fool uses experimentation to drive growth

When Nate Wallingsford stepped into the role of Director of Conversions, Acquisition Marketing at The Motley Fool 3 years ago, he knew that experimentation would be a primary focus.

Nate understood that the ability to provide data-backed recommendations for digital experience improvements is crucial. And for a multimedia company like The Motley Fool, whose website receives millions of unique visitors each month, even a slight increase in customer acquisition rate could have a massive impact on the bottom-line.

Today, Nate is the Head of US Marketing Operations and Optimization at The Motley Fool, and the company is testing across the entire customer journey and multiple teams.

While experimentation has always been celebrated at The Motley Fool, Nate’s work in partnership with WiderFunnel has led to increased visibility for the experimentation program, massive revenue gains, and—perhaps most importantly—actionable customer insights.

This case study explores how Nate and his team are using experimentation as a fool-proof (pun intended) growth strategy.

The business context

As mentioned, The Motley Fool is an established multimedia financial services company.

Their website consists of pages on pages of useful, free content for investors; the company generates revenue through various stock, investing, and personal finance premium services. The Motley Fool’s funnel consists of three primary areas:

  1. User acquisition or front-end marketing: The goal being to encourage non-paying members to sign up and become paying members
  2. Upsell or back-end marketing: The goal being to encourage members paying for lower-tier services to purchase more premium services
  3. Product: The goal is to increase member engagement with the service(s) they’re paying for and increase member retention

Each area of the funnel is the responsibility of a different team within The Motley Fool, but everyone is focused on creating the best customer experience and increasing customer lifetime value.

Across the teams, we’re all really focused on customer lifetime value (LTV) for every stage. Whether it’s someone’s first product with us—getting them into a higher tier. And on the product side, the more we get people to renew, the higher their lifetime value. It’s a win-win for both the customer and us—they get great stock advice and recommendations and we get to retain them as a customer.

Nate Wallingsford, Head of US Marketing Operations & Optimization at The Motley Fool

As the leader of the user acquisition team, Nate’s main focus was to hit his revenue targets by increasing paid subscriptions. And experimentation was his tool of choice.

Finding the right experimentation partner

From the outset, Nate had almost everything he needed to build a successful experimentation program within his team: senior-level support, high website traffic, plenty of ideas for improvement. But he was lacking a process.

Nate was running what he refers to as “good-idea tests” – you have what you think is a good idea, you test it, it wins, loses or is inconclusive. If it wins, hooray! You can implement changes. But if it loses, it’s back to the drawing board.

As a self-proclaimed process-oriented person, he knew there had to be a better method. It was in this moment—searching for experimentation processes on Google—that Nate stumbled upon WiderFunnel Founder Chris Goward’s book, You Should Test That! He bought it, read it, and loved it.

I thought, ‘This book is awesome.’ I’m going to start building out our optimization program for acquisition around the WiderFunnel methodologies.

— Nate Wallingsford

And he wasn’t kidding. Nate took everything he’d read in the book, as well as resources from the WiderFunnel website: The LIFT Model®, what makes a great hypothesis, the Infinity Optimization Process™, the PIE prioritization framework – and built a Trello board of the WiderFunnel process as he interpreted it.

Growth Case Study Example WiderFunnel LIFT Model
Nate built The Motley Fool’s experimentation strategy using several WiderFunnel frameworks, including the LIFT Model.

Nate understood experimentation from day one. It was fantastic. He was already familiar with the LIFT Model and experiment design principles. We were able to jump into collaborative experiment ideation and strategy right away. You know, the fun stuff.

James Flory, Experimentation Strategist, WiderFunnel

Ultimately, Nate decided to partner with WiderFunnel to ensure his program would be as successful as possible: To solidify his use of these processes internally. To gain access to additional design and web development resources. And to collaborate with expert experimentation strategists who are testing across industries every day.

The power of fresh perspective

With every new client, there is a discovery phase. In the early days of our partnership, Nate and the WiderFunnel team dug into The Motley Fool’s most important user acquisition goals and conducted initial analyses of fool.com.

One of the first things we noticed was the lack of a prominent call-to-action to sign up for The Motley Fool’s premium services. Users were landing on the site and engaging with content, but there was no clear path to conversion. In fact, there was almost no indication that there were professional services available.

Nate and his team have a ton of knowledge about their product, their marketing, and their customer, but they had overlooked a seemingly common-sense improvement. This happens to marketers constantly. We are so close to our day-to-day, so wrapped up in our way of thinking, that we miss simple solutions.

Which is why a partner with a fresh perspective can be essential.

The first experiment WiderFunnel ran with us was to add a call-to-action button to our desktop site-wide navigation. It was super simple and seemed like a no-brainer, but the impact was insane. After that, I knew this was a good decision. And I knew it was going to be really cool to work with [WiderFunnel].

— Nate Wallingsford

The experiment details

For this experiment, we added a “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action in the navigation. This CTA replaced a dropdown menu labelled “Stock Picks”. The assumption was that Motley Fool users are looking for stock-picking advice, specifically.

WiderFunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
The Motley Fool’s original site-wide navigation—aka “The Control”.

Hypothesis: Creating a clear “Latest Stock Picks” CTA in the site-wide navigation will cause more users to enter a revenue-driving funnel from all areas of fool.com.

The variations

Two variations were tested. Each featured the “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action. But in each variation, this CTA took the user to a different page. Our ultimate goal was to find out:

  1. If users were even aware that there were premium paid services offered, and
  2. Which funnel is best to help users make a decision and, ultimately, a purchase

In variation A, the “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action sent users to the homepage and anchored them in the premium services section. This section provides detail about The Motley Fool’s different offerings, along with a “Sign Up Today” call-to-action.

Widerfunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
Variation A featured a new call-to-action button, which anchored visitors lower on the homepage.

With variation B, we wanted to experiment with limiting choice. Rather than showing users several product options, the “Latest Stock Picks” call-to-action sent them directly to the Stock Advisor service sign up page; this was Motley Fool’s most popular service.

Widerfunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
In variation B, the CTA took users to a specific product page.

Both variations beat the control. Variation A resulted in an 11.2% lift in transactions with 99% confidence and variation B resulted in a 7.9% increase in transactions with 97% confidence.

Interestingly, because variation B was built on variation A using factorial design, we were able to see that this change actually decreased transactions by 3.3%.

What is Factorial Experiment Design?

Factorial Design is a method of Design of Experiments. Similar to multivariate (MVT) testing, factorial design allows you to test more than one element change within the same variation. The greatest difference is that factorial design doesn’t force you to test every possible combination of changes.

Instead of creating a variation for every combination of changed elements, you can design an experiment to focus on specific isolations that you hypothesize will have the biggest impact or drives insights.

Learn more, here.

What were the insights?

In The Motley Fool’s initial experience, users may have been unsure of how to sign up (or that they could sign up) due to lack of call-to-action prominence on the original site-wide navigation. Users also seemed to prefer some degree of choice over being sent to one product (as seen with the decrease in transactions caused by variation B).

Following the customer insights

One of the biggest problems with the “good idea” testing that Nate had been doing is that it prioritizes conversion rate lift over insights, over learning. If an experiment won, great. If not, it had zero value. All that effort to ideate, design, and run the test was wasted.

But a great experimentation program will generate insights with every single test. And that’s what Nate began to build with WiderFunnel.

One series of experiments was particularly fascinating. It generated a core customer insight that The Motley Fool is still leveraging and validating throughout their digital experience. The initial idea was to leverage an extremely common persuasion principle: social proof. Adding social proof to any customer experience is widely accepted as a “CRO best practice”.

The experiment details

A secondary top-of-funnel metric for The Motley Fool is email sign-ups for the company’s email marketing list. For the first experiment on this funnel, we focused on the email capture modal. In one of our variations, we added a social proof statement: “Join over 121,837,512 other Fools who have come to The Motley Fool for investing insights.”

This tactic has worked for other WiderFunnel clients in the past, encouraging more users to enter a revenue-driving funnel. In this case, however, the variation tanked. It resulted in a -11.2% decrease in sign-ups.

Widerfunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
In this experiment, social proof tanked.

In this experiment, social proof resulted in an extreme reaction from users, indicating high sensitivity around this persuasion technique. One theory was as follows: Rather than being comforted by the fact that others trust The Motley Fool, prospective customers may actually be looking for exclusivity.

Nate and WiderFunnel Strategist, James Flory, wanted to understand further. They ran another experiment, this time on the primary landing page for the email capture funnel. But they leveraged a different form of social proof: a customer testimonial.

Widerfunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
The original email capture landing page.

The Hypothesis: Adding testimonials will make users trust this page as a place to submit their emails and improve email capture rates.

Widerfunnel Motley Fool Experiment Example
In the variation, we added social proof in the form of a testimonial.

Again, Motley Fool users responded negatively. The social proof variation resulted in a slight decrease in conversions. Seeing this result, Nate thought about the testimonials splashed across the customer journey and wondered: Should we remove social proof throughout the funnel?

“We had started to test injecting social proof into our lead capture pages. And we saw a drag on conversions any time we did that. We tried adding social proof and trust elements on our video sales letter pages. That had a drag on conversion. And we thought it was strange. Adding social proof seems like a best practice, an industry standard,” explains Nate.

“So, we thought, let’s experiment with this on our order pages. These are at the bottom of the funnel, right before purchase. What happens if we remove the testimonials and social proof we have on order pages? Will we then see a lift because earlier in the funnel we saw a drag across the board?”

We ran another experiment, this time on the order page—the stage of the funnel that includes the point of purchase. In the variation, all customer testimonials were removed. This variation performed terribly, decreasing transactions, average order value and revenue per session. However, it generated several actionable insights:

  • Previous learnings indicated social proof had a negative correlation with conversion rate. This experiment challenged that insight.
  • It may be that, in the early stages of the user journey, users are not yet in a purchase state of mind and still crave exclusivity.
  • Early stages of the funnel don’t hint at a paid service or subscription, but adding testimonials may put the thought of an upcoming sales pitch into the user’s mind, possibly triggering an exit or increased wariness.
  • Inversely, when a user is exposed to a purchase decision, they respond positively to social proof which may reduce anxiety and increase trust and confidence in their decision.

That was really interesting to see. Even though we had a decrease in conversion rates across all three experiments, they generated this insight that social proof and testimonials are huge at the point of purchase, but may need to be avoided at the top of the funnel.

— Nate Wallingsford

This series of experiments points to the importance of experimentation in general. If Nate had simply made changes to fool.com based on best practices, he might have seen conversion rates drop with no understanding as to why.

And if he hadn’t been leveraging an experimentation process to understand where to retest and revalidate insights (in this case, the threshold and elasticity of social proof), he might’ve just removed social proof lower in the funnel based on the initial experiment results, assuming that social proof doesn’t work.

Socializing experimentation: The importance of gaining visibility

Every marketer and product owner has growth targets they are trying to hit. Which is why achieving positive experiment results is hugely important. But visibility is crucial to the longevity of any experimentation program—on both winning experiments and ‘losing experiments’ that generate learnings.

Nate’s goal has always been to promote a culture of evidence-based decision-making at The Motley Fool.

Early on, Nate realized that the insights gained through process-based experimentation were a firestarter for even better tests. He wanted to spread this knowledge throughout the organization, so he began compiling his experiments and insights into a monthly email newsletter.

At first, Nate was just distributing this newsletter to the U.S. acquisition team. But people began to forward it on, and more Fools became interested in joining his distribution list. So, he began to scale this communication to other teams.

This newsletter became a key resource for other teams at The Motley Fool—specifically teams with lower website traffic. These teams lack the traffic volume to test at the same velocity as the acquisition team, but are able to leverage Nate’s insights and results to implement new experiences on their sites.

Today, Nate and his colleague Lauren conduct a weekly standup on experimentation. Attendees come from across the company—from marketing, technical, and editorial teams. This constant communication generates buzz and momentum around experimentation at The Motley Fool and is a key piece of Nate’s strategy.

The future of experimentation at the Motley Fool

At the beginning of this partnership, Nate was looking to leverage WiderFunnel’s expertise in experimentation and augment his resources to scale The Motley Fool’s experimentation program quickly. The relationship has since morphed into a highly collaborative partnership. Today, Nate and James feed off each other’s insights and ideas to develop new tests and experiences together.

The test ideation, optimization conversations, and overall rapport [between us and WiderFunnel] is exceptional. I feel like I’m having these conversations with my colleagues, not an agency.

— Nate Wallingsford

Recently, WiderFunnel and The Motley Fool expanded their partnership to help drive testing strategy within The Motley Fool’s product experience. This aligns perfectly with Nate’s priorities for experimentation, which are:

  • To enable deeper collaboration between the Marketing and Product teams and unify the new member journey from purchase to product experience
  • And to optimize The Motley Fool’s mobile experience and improve monetization

“Things change quickly at The Motley Fool,” explains Nate. “I always try to prioritize the experiments that have the biggest potential business impact. It’s a big part of what has made our program successful, and will be a continued focus for our team.”

Author

Natasha Wahid

Marketing Manager

Watch this on-demand webinar and discover how Nate and his team are leveraging experimentation to uncover massive revenue gains and actionable customer insights. And learn how Nate has worked to gain visibility and create excitement around testing.

Watch the Webinar >>

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Martha Stewart’s new role as cannabis adviser

Martha Stewart's new role as cannabis adviser

Martha Stewart attends the 2017 Glamour Women of the Year Awards at the Kings Theater in Brooklyn, New York, U.S., November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

(Reuters) – Marijuana producer Canopy Growth has roped in lifestyle guru Martha Stewart as an adviser to help develop and launch a line of pot-based products for both humans and animals, it said on Thursday.

Stewart, a 90s icon who became a household name through her cooking and lifestyle shows, co-hosts a show with rapper Snoop Dogg, who made headlines last year for smoking pot in front of the White House.

The deal between Canopy and Sequential Brands Group Inc, which owns the Martha Stewart brand, will seek to leverage Stewart’s knowledge of consumer products in the launch of products based on CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical found in marijuana.

Sequential’s shares surged 51 percent to $1.81 in early trading.

“I’m especially looking forward to our first collaboration together, which will offer sensible products for people’s beloved pets,” Stewart said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has prohibited companies from adding CBD to food, but many drinks companies have announced plans to use it.

Corona beer maker Constellation Brands has signed a deal with Canopy to make various pot-infused drinks.

Cannabis companies in Canada have been pouring cash into their businesses to both fend off competition and develop new products, especially after the country approved the use of recreational marijuana.

Canopy has also announced plans to invest between $100 million and $150 million in a hemp industrial park in New York State.

Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar and Anil D’Silva

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Quora intros bulk ad creation, editing

Quora intros bulk ad creation, editing

Ready to scale up your Quora ads? Good timing. The company just added the ability to create and edit ads in bulk in Quora Ads Manager.

How it works. Upload and download. The bulk ads editor has templates to download. You’ll create and edit ads in a CSV file or in Excel.

The bulk ads creator is available for text ads only at this time. You can edit text in existing image ads now, though.

Why you should care. Quora has checked off a lot of boxes — conversion tracking, retargeting, new ad formats, etc., but nobody wants to spend time on tedious, repetitive tasks. The need to manually add and edit a bunch of ads in a UI adds friction and can keep advertisers from fully investing. Bulk editing capabilities are key for any ad platform to increase advertiser adoption and budget flow. This could help attract more advertisers and entice existing advertisers to further build out their campaigns.

If you’re a current Quora advertiser, now’s a good time to download and spot check your current ads by downloading them with the editor.


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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Google’s Black Box Bidding Solution: A look under the hood

Google’s Black Box Bidding Solution: A look under the hood

Live WebinarIn today’s world, Google, Facebook and Amazon are the gatekeepers to digital shoppers. But activities that once differentiated savvy marketers from their peers – keyword research, ad copy and target URL creation – have fallen victim to these giants’ automated solutions, including Smart Bidding, Google Shopping and Responsive Search Ads. They also offer automated black box solutions for many paid search activities, leaving marketers with a difficult choice between campaign control or operational convenience.

Join Crealytics founder and CEO Andreas Reiffen and Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief Ginny Marvin as they discuss how leading retailers can survive – and thrive – in an era of broad access to automation tools.

Register today for “Google’s Black Box Bidding Solution: A look under the hood,” produced by Digital Marketing Depot and sponsored by Crealytics.

About The Author

Digital Marketing Depot is a resource center for digital marketing strategies and tactics. We feature hosted white papers and E-Books, original research, and webcasts on digital marketing topics — from advertising to analytics, SEO and PPC campaign management tools to social media management software, e-commerce to e-mail marketing, and much more about internet marketing. Digital Marketing Depot is a division of Third Door Media, publisher of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, and producer of the conference series Search Marketing Expo and MarTech. Visit us at http://digitalmarketingdepot.com.

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Ubben’s socially conscious ValueAct Spring Fund bets on workplace wonk

Ubben's socially conscious ValueAct Spring Fund bets on workplace wonk

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Jeffrey Ubben’s ValueAct Spring Fund, which invests in companies aiming to address environmental and social problems, is making a bet on an academic-turned-hedge-fund-manager who picks stocks based on how effective companies are as employers.

Jeffrey Ubben, Founder & CEO at ValueAct Capital, poses for a portrait before speaking on the Reuters Newsmaker event’ “The Future of Shareholder Activism” panel in Manhattan, New York, U.S., February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Spring Fund is buying a stake in Irrational Capital, a hedge fund launched three years ago by Duke University behavioral economist Dan Ariely and his business partner David van Adelsberg. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

It is an unusual move for a hedge fund to back a smaller rival. But ValueAct, the $15 billion fund that last year launched the $350 million Spring Fund, is familiar with such an arrangement. It sold a stake in itself to Affiliated Managers Group more than a decade ago.

So far Spring Fund has mainly bought stakes in publicly listed companies, including power utility Hawaii Electric Industries Inc and gene-editing company Horizon Discovery Group Plc.

“Dan (Ariely’s) work makes the case for connecting positive workforce culture to performance,” Ubben said in an interview. He met the economist seven years ago through a connection at Duke University, where Ubben earned his undergraduate degree.

Ariely and Van Adelsberg have come up with a system to measure employee engagement, pride in their work and sense of purpose across the corporate world. Their data is funneled into a computer that churns out rankings of companies that Irrational Capital then invests in.

Irrational Capital has so far gathered information on over 1,000 companies through “any type of data we can get our hands on,” Ariely said, adding this includes 350 companies with market capitalizations of more then $1 billion. Ariely declined to name the companies, and Ubben said he doesn’t need to know Ariely’s picks.

“We don’t intervene in what the data show by saying something like this company scores highly but we don’t like the CEO. We are true to the data,” Ariely said in an interview.

Ariely, a 51-year old professor, researcher and author, views himself as an expert in understanding human behavior. He spent time in the hospital as a teenager recovering from burns received when a flare exploded during a celebration and said the opportunity to observe nurses at work built his skill.

Meanwhile, Ubben, 57, is fast becoming one of Wall Street’s biggest critics of corporate America’s short-termism. He is now trying to convince investors that positive workplace culture can drive above-average returns.

OPERATIONAL CHANGES

For nearly two decades, Ubben has staked a claim to bringing a long-term approach to activist investing. His playbook does not usually call for a fast return of capital to shareholders or a quick flip of a company to a seller.

Instead, ValueAct prefers to push for operational changes at companies such as Microsoft Corp and Citigroup Inc from behind the scenes. Two years ago, Ubben handed the chief investment officer role at ValueAct to Mason Morfit, but he remains the firm’s CEO and runs the Spring Fund.

Over ValueAct’s lifetime, the main fund has returned an average of nearly 15 percent a year, an investor said. Ubben declined to say how the new fund has done, citing regulations.

Pushing back against corporate greed has galvanized public opinion and politicians alike, and Ubben wants to convince mainstream investors that committing resources to employees’ well-being will not short-change shareholders.

“These hedge fund managers write letters and dictate what should be done by management and then they get their buddies to buy the stock and help hijack the company,” Ubben said of some of his competitors, declining to name them.

Ubben said he was particularly irked when Aramark Inc, the food services and facilities company he recently invested in, was punished by analysts for doing good. Management returned the roughly $100 million windfall the company received through the tax system overhaul to employees in the form of higher wages and by boosting the match to their retirement savings, Ubben said. But Goldman Sachs Group Inc downgraded its rating to neutral from buy, citing growing labor pressures in the sector.

Aramark did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Data from Gallup Inc, known for its public opinion polls, also showed that organizations that are best in engaging their employees deliver earnings per share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors.

“This is the last mile and this is the hardest thing,” Ubben said of Irrational Capital. “We want to spread the word and introduce the concept and grow it so that a lot of people will invest in it.”

Reporting by Svea Herbst-Bayliss; editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Cynthia Osterman

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The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Conversation Mapping

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Almost two-thirds of marketers now admit that digital content strategy powers their entire digital plan and yet the majority of those that use it struggle to create a mix of content ‘good enough’ to win.

That is the main finding from the second annual State of Content Marketing Survey, an annual temperature check of the UK’s top digital marketers.

In it we discover that not only is the game getting harder to win, but skill and resource shortages are holding many of you back from the results you demand.

And with an average of 23% of overall marketing budget now being attributed to content marketing it has to work.

Marketers also made clear that a very significant gap still exists between being able to create a strategy that resonates with audiences but also delivers measurable ROI. Only one in five of those that took part can confidently claim to know how to tie those two things together and more than half claim to struggle in terms of creating the type of content that will actually work.

You can dive deeper into the full survey, but this post is designed not just to share that top-level view of opinions, but instead go some way to offering a solution for those key challenges.

Overall the takeaways from the study tell us that there is a single, overriding question to fix the challenges of producing content that delivers ROI – ‘How do we create a content strategy that aligns with search growth, consistently?’

This post is designed to answer the ‘how’ element with an appreciation that designing such a digital content strategy has never been more complex and nuanced.

Where do we start?

With multiple touchpoints and a plethora of different journeys through to your product or service, there is no shame in feeling like you have no idea where to start.

And that’s a problem.

It’s an issue because of the emphasis, and rewards, now placed on the overall content experience.

It’s a challenge I’ve spent thousands of hours contemplating and the result of that thinking is captured in this post. A process focused not on content ideas, or keywords, but on the audience. I call it ‘Conversation Mapping’.

It’s a concept that borrows from the world of user experience and is designed to focus on the shift towards ‘conversational search’ and Google’s quest to solve the entire journey and follow the intent.

So, rather than thinking of the traditional ‘keyword research’ approach to designing a content strategy around what people are searching for we instead use the brainstorming process to develop and capture a number of theoretical conversations being had around our products and services.

That process can, and should, be backed by data of course.

Here’s how it works in detail…

Start with people. Always.

All marketing must start and end with people. It’s a statement I’ve made many times before in my Moz posts and it’s central to this strategic approach.

As a marketer, you’ll probably already be sick to death of posts explaining how to extract and turn data into useful personas so I’m not going to go into full detail on that again. You can always read a previous post on that process, or take a look at this one for some great tips.

And the best way to bring the conversation mapping process to life is to walk through it end to end with an example. In this case, we’re going to choose the PC components market.

This critical initial work will leave us with two to four personas such as in the example below:

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

With these in place, we can then use a tool such as the Global Web Index to understand things like internet use motivations for each of our personas – against the overall audience profile (Grey) (Blue = Gary, Purple = Tim, Turquoise = Imogen).

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

For details of how to build this yourself follow this brilliant guide by the GWI team if you’re interested in giving it a go for yourself.

This kind of data mash-up helps shape the more detailed picture that we can capture from qualitative research sessions and bigger data crunching.

With a clear picture of who it is that is likely to be interacting with the products or services, it means you can more accurately map that conversation and the corresponding conversation map (more on what this looks like a little later!) because there is clear understanding about the likes and dislikes of the intended audience. It becomes much easier to imagine their conversations with this picture in your head!

Mapping the conversation with data

With the personas clearly outlined, the next phase is to gather all the data insight you can to better inform the understanding of the key questions Tim is asking around your product or service.

In this example, Tim is in the market for a new gaming PC and we want to understand what his journey is at present and where he is obtaining his information. Do this and then build a super-targeted content plan around it.

What else do you need to know?

Before we start diving into the data it is important to remind ourselves of what we are trying to achieve here. We know from the state of content marketing research that marketers are struggling to align results’ delivery to content planning and need to upskill and resource to deliver that.

Delivering it means focusing and prioritizing on the opportunity closest to the ‘cash register’ – and that almost always means the search channel comes first.

By diving into organic search engine traffic, we are most likely to be able to tap into buying intent – therefore impacting traffic, conversions, and revenue fastest.

The upside to this approach is that search really is aligned now to the wider audience picture anyway, so in building out a search-focused content plan first you are working on solving the biggest pain points that your customers have and helping them in the process.

In doing so you stay front of mind and add value, meaning that you’ll be the first port of call when they do decide it’s time to buy.

Keyword research

The obvious place to start then is by digging into the keyword opportunity for your market.

That doesn’t mean having to trawl through every opportunity in your niche but instead, we want to focus on the informational and functional content opportunities.

Informational content

By far the most important area from a content strategy perspective is the informational piece – as it is here that we can create assets that answer three of the four key micro-moments that your customer will experience.

As a reminder here are the four key moments that an audience will work through as they search for answers to key questions.

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

Informational content focuses on the ‘I Want to Know’, ‘I Want to Do’ and ‘I Want to Go’ moments and this taps into a huge pool of traffic opportunity.

To give you a feel of what that looks like I have included a visual here showing the size of the prize from a selected keyword set of 4,502 phrases in the PC component niche.

Let’s look then at the process for pulling that data into useful formats to aid the content planning process.

The objective now is to establish where to focus effort in content creation to ensure you have the assets necessary to cover the entire user journey, which you can join together later.

To kickstart the process, I’ve used a tool that Zazzle Media built specifically for this task called the KIT (Keyword Identification Tool) but here’s how it basically works:

The ‘KIT’ process

We begin by extracting a large set of both functional and informational keywords using a mix of competitor keyword research and keyword explorer research. To maximize the size of the set, you can opt for multiple sources and then de-dupe using tools like Ahrefs, Moz and SEMrush.

Once you have the keyword set you are going to be working from, it is best to get ranking data, so you can see where your site is ranking for this content already. This will help later when creating your content strategy, as being able to see where you currently rank for a keyword lets you know whether you need to optimize an existing page or create a new one.

We have our own in-house tools to gather this position data in bulk, there are however third-party tools you could also use, for example:

Whatever rank tracker you decide to use, after it has scraped your position data you will need to export a CSV then use VLOOKUP to pull that information into the ‘Keyword Research’ tab in this free Google sheet tool we’ve created to help pull it all together easily.

There is more detail about the different ways to then categorize that data in this blog post by Zazzle Media’s Sam Underwood, and below you can see a couple of my personal favorites:

  • Incremental informational keyword opportunity by category

graph on incremental informational keyword opportunity by category

  • Incremental traffic by an operator

The new rules to win in search and content marketing Search Engine Watch

This is useful as it helps us to understand where the persona ‘Tim’ is looking for information and across which product categories. This is the gateway from which you can dive deeper into specific areas to prioritize where to focus next.

To get further value, you could also combine the category information you already have with the most frequently used search operators. From this, you are able to not only work out where Tim is searching, but also how – allowing you to shape and prioritize what questions and pain points you write content for first.

In this example, it might make sense to prioritize ‘motherboards’ for instance and look to create content around ‘best’ and ‘reviews’.

Content auditing

Next up we need to take a closer look at the quality of what is already out there to understand the level at which we must compete to win.

‘To know your enemy, you must become your enemy.’
Sun Tzu

To do that, you need to look both at what you already have and also what is currently out there and working.

This subject is enough to fill a post all of its own so I’m not going to dive into both elements of that here. Instead, for the content auditing part, I implore you to read this recent post by Everett Sizemore, which does a brilliant job of walking you through the perfect process. A lot of this focuses on the technical elements of content auditing but this is still an important element as to maximize ROI (the key fix here) we must also ensure that the platforms from where we publish are ‘fit for purpose’.

However, we need to focus more on the other half of this, by diving into the wider picture and answering the question, “what is working now?”.

To do that you can jump into Buzzsumo or Ahrefs’ content explorer. There are already excellent guides on using Buzzsumo for content research, such as this one so we won’t go over information that has already been covered in-depth.

The output from content research should really be some solid data on what kind of content we know people like related to a specific industry and niche. You should be able to explain the following things:

  1. The types of content that work
  2. Which social networks you should be promoting on
  3. What the ideal word count is
  4. Any topics that work well

For this piece of work, some other beneficial things to gather are below:

  • Most popular content types

graph on most popular content types

graph on traffic by word count

It’s incredibly clear that for Tim, articles work best and videos where in-depth ‘how’ questions are asked and that’s hugely powerful for shaping your overall content strategy.

In scenarios where we know that written content is key, the next important step is to get a better understanding of how to go about creating it – and the biggest variable is word count. Here we can look at organic traffic by word count and therefore understand the most visited (and visible) content length as well as the most shared content through social (second chart).

This data is not to be viewed as a suggestion that word count affects rankings, or indeed has any effect on the SERPs; instead, we are using it to understand content consumption patterns – and the takeaway here is that Tim likes more in-depth content, as is more willing to share it.

Conversation mapping

The challenge, of course, is bringing all this to life in the context of the user/visitor and this is where our ‘Conversation Mapping’ concept comes into play. To bring that to life let’s follow our current example journey for Tim.

The idea here is to use the usual ‘brainstorming’ meeting to work through every possible conversation around the purchase journey for your product or service.

Instead of looking for individual content ideas, we instead think about the buying process and journey Tim might take through our fictional PC component site.

Clearly, this can be a lengthy process that will spit out multiple examples. For the sake of this story, however, we will look at one – the motherboards opportunity.

And to do so it requires a second voice, not just a list of questions that Tim may ask, and as a result this is where we can also start to think about the emerging voice search opportunity and know more about where Google is taking search following the logical user journey from beginning to end around intent.

Not following what I mean? Let’s look at an example:

conversation mapping example

This theoretical ‘conversation’ is one of the many Tim will be having around this product and the idea is to take the ‘motherboard’ concept and sit in a room to brainstorm the potential conversation variations that may exist around the product.

You may find there are only one or two – or it may be there are dozens, in which case distill them down to a core of the most important ones post brainstorm, to make it easier to then think about designing the content plan around it.

Content planning around the conversation

The next phase is to then map content opportunity against that conversation, as in the below example:

So, what we have done here is to think about all of the opportunities there are along that conversation to create content to help make Tim a smarter consumer.

content planning around the conversation

Turbocharging the opportunity

With your informational and functional plan in place and your conversation mapping exercises complete you’re already looking good for returning a greater ROI when it comes to measuring impact at year end. But there’s also another reason to focus on this approach – and it’s all to do with future market share.

Featured snippets

Unless you’ve had your head under a rock these last few months you’ll have been bombarded by news about the importance of featured snippets. For those that don’t know what they are, snippets are the SERP feature that pulls out and highlights content designed to answer the question being asked by the searcher.

An example of one that Tim may come across in his search for his PC components can be seen below for clarity.

google snippet example

Claiming a snippet requires you to create the best answers to those specific informational queries and doing so better than anyone else.

Google and Bing both do a lot of testing of contenders for these slots to ensure they have the best of the best by measuring bounce rate, dwell time and other factors, and that gives you a really good opportunity to use your content prowess to claim them.

And don’t expect the format to go away anytime soon. Google has been very open in its end game plan to produce a ‘Star Trek’ computer with one answer for everything, as those answers will be triggered by snippet results. It’s something I’ve written about recently here and how the plan will push voice search to the forefront of our planning within the next couple of years as a result.

Given then that such features will only grow in prevalence and importance in the coming months and years then it pays to ensure you have a very solid snippet plan as part of your ROI-focused content planning process.

To do that we can dive back into the data to understand the current snippet share and also where the opportunity still lies ahead of you.

Snippet market share

Before we dive into the planning process it is important to benchmark. To do this we dive into an internal tool called ORT, but it is possible to use a manual process utilizing data from a tool such as Ahrefs or Moz that allow you to extract snippet information and to then use VLOOKUP to push it into separate tabs that show you pieces of insight such as:

Overall snippet market share:

overall snippet market share

  • Featured snippet opportunity by category

featured snippet opportunity by category

  • Featured snippet opportunity by an operator

featured snippet opportunity by operator

And while this level of traffic is clearly a welcome opportunity it is all critical to understand what it means for the future as well.

We’ve already discussed how snippets will play a key part in the move to voice interfaces, as they provide the ‘direct answers’ given by voice assistants such as Google Home. With 50% of all search queries expected to be delivered by voice by 2020, that key SERP has never been more important as part of a rounded strategy.

Claiming them 

Snippets themselves are important as Google is building SERP ‘real estate’ around them simply because they are part of its growing conversational search strategy. As we move towards voice-led searches the phrases we use naturally become longer and contain much more natural language.

Google wants to incentivize the building of more useful, conversational content to fuel its voice plans and snippets are therefore precisely that – a reward for creating such content and are, as a result, the perfect way in which to test your own voice strategy. Snippets serve as the perfect signposting to a great ‘conversation mapping’ plan.

To give yourself the best possible opportunity of claiming snippets the key factor is a focus on content quality and structure. Numerous recent studies like this and this have pointed at the importance of precisely structuring pages to separate paragraphs into bite-sized 40-50 word direct answers and make the use of bulleted list and tables to present information.

Other useful insights include:

  • Create lists if your users are predominantly mobile-first
  • Write succinct headers that exactly describe the answer being given
  • Use strong external links to trusted sources
  • Use HTTPS
  • Make sure your site is mobile friendly and fast
  • Use multiple images
  • Use tables where appropriate

To make it really easy you can download a really simple guide to page and content structure for snippets here.

Summary

In short, the key to getting over this clear disconnect between content strategy, production, marketing and a return on growing investments is to double down on data and make search the key focus for activity.

Of course, by becoming successful, content has the unique power to positively affect many other key indicators as it never works in a silo.

And with search engines now much better at rewarding people-based marketing efforts with more traffic, rather than keyword focused strategies, a content-led approach is the only way to attack.

Data plays a critical part of that as the days of subjectivity are behind us. By leveraging search data, we can truly understand what our audiences are looking for, what pain points they have and how we can make their journeys more informed and easier to navigate.

The process for doing that starts with the insight piece, defining key persona groups within your target audience and then in understanding their ‘I want to go’, ‘I want to do’, and ‘I want to know’ moments through the informational content research process.

In short, we need to be using data to help us map conversations and not ‘keyword opportunity.’ Do that and you’ll ensure that you deliver positive ROI from your owned and earned marketing activity.

And if you missed the wider findings from the state of content marketing survey then here’s that link again.

Simon Penson is the founder and Managing Director of Zazzle Media. He can be found on Twitter at @simonpenson.

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