Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting Mon, 23 Apr 2018 18:13:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting 32 32 Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans? Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 The age of AI-assisted marketing is upon us, but do we want the robots to take over for the artisans completely? Jay Baer ponders an uncertain future.

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Who Wins the Marketing Fight Between Robots and Artisans

Do you hear that spooky rustling of the leaves outside your window? It’s artificial intelligence and machine learning, creeping around in the marketing woods like a Blair Witch comprised solely of ones and zeroes.

The story advanced by MarTech companies is that robot marketing assistants, powered by the big data gleaned from customers and prospects, will automagically create hyper-relevant landing pages, emails, social posts, display ads, push notifications, and all matter of digital communiqués.

There are two benefits, they say. Because they use first-, second-, and third-party data, the resulting messages should be more palatable to recipients. Also, the labor necessary to create such finely targeted marketing executions falls to near zero (once you’ve paid your license fee) because the robots do the drudgery.

This is inexorable and unavoidable, at some level. Unless we have a TOTAL and COMPLETE reimagining of data gathering and usage norms, artificially intelligent digital marketing will quickly come to dominate the landscape, especially in mid-sized and large organizations that need scale.

It’s not dissimilar from the long-ago move from manual bid management in the paid search community to automated optimization and cultivation using software. In the fight for efficiency, robots remain undefeated.

I’ve said in several podcasts and interviews that I’m generally fine with the advance of marketing AI because once the robots are doing the dirty work, the strategist becomes king. As a strategist myself, it’s not the worst outcome. If all competitors bring roughly the same knives to a knife fight, the knife strategist (I don’t think that’s an actual job) is the key, because the knife practitioners will cancel each other out (perhaps literally, in this tortured analogy).

And ultimately, software can only execute on rules developed by human masters, right? We command the robot army, and it goes crazy with A/B testing and next best offer creation and such, until our prospect forks over their money. Humans still hold the steering wheel, because we’re the ones that have the ability to create and craft and curate and combine. We are artists in ways that AI never can be.

Ummm, maybe not.

There’s a an experimental new podcast about life in a fictitious town, from UC Santa Cruz PhD student James Ryan, written and “voiced” entirely by Sheldon, an artificial intelligence platform he created. Based on listeners’ habits and storytelling “threads” uncovered by the machine, each episode of the Sheldon County show is imagined and produced entirely by a robot. The prototype shows are available now on Ryan’s Soundcloud.

The next iteration of the technology is that every listener will receive an entirely different story in each episode, developed and created on-the-fly by the SHELDON system. It would, of course, be impossible for me to record 50,000 different versions of my SocialPros podcast for each listener. But Ryan’s robot can do this with relative ease, once he completes the programming to do so.

In an interview on Motherboard, he described how the behaviors of the artificial characters in the show are interpreted by the system, which then creates new storylines:

“The characters may decide to start a sort of utopian town that is built on the ideals they hold in common,” Ryan said. “So, for example, there could be a group of characters who all believe in law and order and stoicism, and who all despise merriment, so they start a town rooted in these principles. Critically, characters in the simulation hold town hall meetings, where they may propose new legislation and vote on it; if the legislation passes, it can actually affect how life in that town is simulated.”

I have two reactions to Ryan and the Sheldon County podcast:

  1. Holy cow, this is amazing.
  2. Is this what we want?

If we can train robots to be storytellers, what does that mean for the myriad human creators who use their skills to make stuff we enjoy, whether it’s “art” or “content” or something in between?

What really shook me up was the juxtaposition between the Sheldon County podcast and the work of Michael Breach, an exceptionally talented barista artist I met at an event in January. Michael creates works of art using latte foam, including a human-powered magic trick where he paints your portrait while you wait, like one of those boardwalk caricaturists, but with more caffeine and a far less forgiving medium.

Here are samples of his work from his must-follow Instagram account:

Transfixed, I watched Michael work for nearly thirty minutes. A true artisan, he works with a tiny brush, pushing and pulling colored foam around a cup of real coffee.

Could someone create a latte robot that could spit out a facsimile of Michael’s work, and do so faster and less expensively? Almost assuredly. But doing so squeezes every drop of joy and wonder out of the affair, and replaces it with expediency and efficiency.

I can make a business case for the robots doing it all in marketing and creative: strategy, operations, execution and all the rest. But the emotional case? I’d prefer to keep riding with artisans like Michael Breach as long as possible.

I’m really not sure if we’re aligned on this. Are we? I’d love to talk about it on LinkedIn, where this article is also posted.

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The 9 Best User-Generated Content Platforms for Driving Engagement and Sales Tue, 17 Apr 2018 13:04:33 +0000 These nine platforms offer the most powerful and most diverse suites of tools for soliciting, aggregating, and promoting user-generated content.

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The 9 Best User-Generated Content Platforms for Driving Engagement and Sales

In 2015, Adweek called it “the next big thing.” In the years since, it’s become colossal. In fact, because of the way it makes marketing more authentic and believable, user-generated content (UGC) may be social media’s most significant contribution to the world of marketing.

A post on the Adweek blog said, “As the world has shifted to social media, consumers look at fellow consumers to inform their purchasing decisions. Instead of looking at companies, as they did in the past, they now look at each other and at their favorite personalities.”

In 2016, Salesforce claimed:

  • Visitors to websites that include UGC galleries spend 90 percent more time on the site.
  • Social campaigns that incorporate UGC see a 50 percent lift in engagement.
  • Ads with UGC generate five times greater click-through rates.
  • UGC drives a 73 percent increase in email click-through rates.
  • UGC increases conversions by 10 percent when included in the online purchase path.

In mid-2017, Search Engine Journal claimed, “Online ratings and reviews are a form of word of mouth, which is the most trusted source consumers consult before buying.”

The article cited above also included data from a study done by TurnTo (with research partner Ipsos).

TurnTo Ipsos UGC research

According to this study:

  • 90 percent of survey respondents said UGC had at least some influence over their online purchases.
  • 53 percent rated it “extremely influential” or “very influential,” a higher percentage than for any other category.

TurnTo Ipsos UGC impact

And as 2017 came to a close, TINT produced The 2018 User Generated Content Marketing Report.

TINT UGC Marketing Report

The TINT report’s many findings included data revealing how UGC is utilized. The report stated, “The omni-channel potential for UGC is extremely promising with social media managers, project managers and marketers who indicated it’s applied on a diverse mix of marketing applications.”

They added a point from ComScore research, stating brand engagement rises by 28 percent when consumers are exposed to a mixture of professional marketing content and UGC. The report concluded that user-generated content is not only an effective inbound tool but also shows great promise for supporting mid and bottom of the funnel efforts.

Instagram UGC

UGC may prove social media’s most significant contribution to the world of marketing.
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9 Powerful Tools for Generating UGC

Perhaps you were sold on UGC before I presented all that juicy data. Maybe your brand’s already flicked the switch. However, while the burden of creating user-generated content falls on your customers, you may have found the processes of inspiring, finding, collecting, and presenting UGC more laborsome than you like. But like most tasks in this hyper-cyber century, any number of SaaS-based platforms can slash the time it takes to achieve your objectives (especially when you know what they are).

I can’t promise you I’ve turned over every stone in the fast-proliferating market, but I’m confident the platforms I have uncovered based on my experience and research can help you become a more efficient and effective purveyor of UGC. Here are nine of the top UGC platforms you might want to try or buy.

1. Yotpo

When Yotpo entered the fray in 2011, the company focused on helping its customers collect and present text-based testimonials. This is still one of the strengths of the platform. However, they’ve taken a leap forward to empower brands to collect every type of user-generated content and use it throughout the buyer journey.

Yotpo collects UGC

According to a case study on the Yotpo site, Vanity Planet tested a product page against the same page with customer photos added just above the reviews. The page with the customer photos outperformed the original with a 24 percent increase in clickthroughs from the product page to the checkout page.

2. ShortStack

The ideal way to inspire people to create UGC is to dangle a reward in front of them. Contests do just that. They deliver a reason to play along.

ShortStack is one of the pioneers in the business of enabling brands to create contests, giveaways, and other types of online competitions and promotions. Their flexible service enables you to jumpstart the creation of your promotions by customizing any one of a long list of templates.

ShortStack creates promotions

ShortStack customers often choose to conduct photo and video contests, which are promoted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. Contests not only prompt fans and customers to publish content, but also take advantage of what ShortStack calls “action-gating,” meaning users must submit contact information via a form to qualify for the competitions.

3. Curalate

Curalate describes itself as a visual content platform and the leader in “discovery-driven commerce.”

The platform is a robust toolbox for increasing sales via social media. One compelling component of Curalate, Fanreel, enables e-commerce brands to “bring the outside in.” That is, brands can easily gather UGC, secure approval to use it, and present it on-site to help boost conversion.

Curalate gathers UGC and secures approval

Here’s a sample portion of a massive gallery of UGC displayed on the Raymour & Flanigan e-commerce site, which sells furniture and mattresses.


TINT describes itself as a social media aggregator and content curation tool. The company introduces a couple of interesting slants:

  • In addition to the broad “enterprise” use case, TINT positions its services specifically for hospitality and education markets.
  • TINT also showcases how the service is ideal for creating social media walls at events.

TINT compiles social mentions

A video embedded in the post A Marketer’s Guide to Student Recruitment in 2018 offers a look behind the scenes at how Purdue University uses the service to compile social mentions of their annual Purdue Day of Giving event on a single page of their website.

5. CrowdRiff

CrowdRiff combines UGC discovery and content delivery. However, CrowdRiff takes a vertical market approach with services that cater specifically to travel and tourism brands.

CrowdRiff gathers UGC for travel and tourism brands

#ThePalmBeaches campaign is an example of how CrowdRiff’s clients leverage user-generated content, word-of-mouth marketing, and the power of social media to feature compelling visuals.

CrowdRiff also touts “smart digital asset management for both UGC and owned visuals.” The platform’s AI elements include a feature that tracks the performance of photos and videos that clients choose to feature in galleries. The software then automatically features those that gain the most traction.

6. Olapic

Olapic’s a formidable player in the UGC space as well. Clients earn content with a content engine, request it from influencers and employees with a creator platform, and create it by turning assets into motion-based content.

I didn’t find any mention of “motion-based” on the websites of the other brands included in this post, so let’s look at that interesting feature.

Olapic’s Content in Motion feature transforms UGC images into engaging, short-form videos that can be shared across a variety of digital channels.

7. Stackla

Stackla is another powerful player in the “collect and curate” realm, which touts the platform’s ability to collect social content from over 25 sources and use geolocation and visual recognition technology for UGC tagging.

Stackla detects patterns in user content

Stackla’s Co-Pilot product introduces an AI element, which uses machine learning to detect patterns in the content its clients publish and measure engagement resulting in predictive recommendations.

8. Pixlee

Pixlee is another robust UGC platform on a mission to help brands market with the voice of their customers. However, it introduces a unique influencer marketing element.

Pixlee brings influencer marketing to UGC

On the Pixlee site, they use the term “Social CRM” to describe the built-in influencer marketing functionality. This social CRM manages and connects with passionate customers and influencers and measures the results.

9. TurnTo

TurnTo offers what it calls a “suite of shopping assistance tools” to better inform users. Its four-pronged product suite includes UGC solutions for ratings and reviews, visual reviews, check-out comments, and community Q&A (which struck me as its most unique offering).

TurnTo connects potential and existing customers

TurnTo’s goal is to connect customers with questions to people who already own the product. Many questions are answered instantly thanks to a Q&A knowledgebase, which draws from existing answers.

UGC Is Here, There, and Everywhere

“Many marketers have yet to realize the brand-building power of this immature but influential marketing discipline.” These words come from a 2014 white paper on UGC by Forrester Consulting (commissioned by Bazaarvoice). Four years later, many marketers have indeed realized its power. Many SaaS companies have brought helpful solutions to market.

The market is ripe, and it continues to grow up.

UGC throughout customer lifecycle

The graphic above depicts how brands leverage UGC throughout the customer lifecycle. It dates back to 2014 but makes important points that are even more relevant today.

As stated in the paper referenced above, the first step to leveraging UGC is getting UGC. From there, brands should:

  • Go beyond ratings and reviews.
  • Invite customers to contribute content.
  • Give customers a reason to engage with the brand.
  • Engage with customers who engage with your brand.

There you have it: an arsenal of tools for collecting all kinds of UGC and driving engagement and sales. Go get ‘em!

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Easy Feedback Mechanisms Are Key to Customer Experience Optimization Thu, 12 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Why gathering feedback from more customers is crucial in live environments, and new technology for capturing customer experience optimization data, from Jay Baer.

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Easy Feedback Mechanisms Are Key to Customer Experience Optimization

In digital environments, it’s fairly simple to gauge customer attitudes—at least in part—based on the behavior of those customers. If they come back to the website over and over, they are very satisfied with what they find there, they are gluttons for punishment, or they are your Mom.

Email provides its own built-in success metrics in the form of open rates, click-through rates, unsubscribe rates, and the rest.

Online forms have conversion rates to infer similar achievements.

Social media has engagement rates to determine success at the individual piece of content level.

Videos have dwell time—the length and percentage of each video watched.

Even webinars have show-up and re-watch rates to use as measures of customer satisfaction.

But what if your customer interaction is mostly or entirely offline?

If a customer has actually appeared inside your place of business (retail, restaurant, professional services office, theater, car dealership, or anything that might reasonably appear on Yelp), gathering feedback from that customer AT THAT TIME is critical.

This is not a hypothetical customer—like a webinar attendee. This is a real, live, breathing human who has just presumably given you money in exchange for goods and/services. Effectively gathering the opinion of as many of these people as possible can have a massive impact on your customer experience and overall business trajectory.

But does this happen today? Do we routinely provide feedback within an in-store setting, before we hit the parking lot? No. Are we ever even asked for our feedback while we are still in the store? Typically, no.

How Businesses Screw Up Offline Customer Feedback

Business owners currently rely on the shaky efficacy of a three-step process and hope for the best.

  1. Nudge the customer to provide feedback once they’ve left the business, via a review on Yelp (or similar) or a request to call a survey phone number shown on their receipt.
  2. The customer, who has about 1,237 other things to worry about, will at some point in the future remember that they were nudged to provide feedback and feel compelled to do so.
  3. The customer takes the time to visit an online ratings portal or call a survey phone number.

What percentage of customers actually get through all these steps? Less than one-half of one percent, according to Kevin Berk, CEO of ServiceGuru, a customer feedback platform.

If you’re trying to optimize your customer experience—and you should be—it’s pretty difficult to do so when your data pool consists of .5 percent of your in-person transactions. Companies and organizations are starting to understand this, which is why you’re seeing a rise of “smiley face” feedback collection.

HappyOrNot Customer Survey Kiosk

One of the most prominent players in this category is HappyOrNot, founded by Finnish entrepreneur Heikki Väänänen in 2009. Now installed in thousands of locations worldwide, these smiley-face kiosks gather feedback from approximately 20 percent of customers, according to the company. That’s of course much better than .5 percent, especially since customers generate the feedback while still on-site.

But what do you really learn from a happy face versus a sad face? You get overall satisfaction as a baseline metric, and nothing else. Customers have no ability to provide context or details surrounding their experience, making this a blunt instrument for data gathering.

Very few customers follow through on leaving feedback

The Future of Effective Offline Customer Feedback

Berk’s ServiceGuru (disclosure: I am an advisor to the company, as is Shep Hyken) marries the ease and timeliness of HappyOrNot’s feedback mechanism, with additional nuance and detail that makes it far more useful for generating actionable insights.

ServiceGuru sets up a kiosk at the exit of retail stores and restaurants. The kiosk uses a regular iPad to display feedback collection options to customers.

In addition to the top-level satisfaction score (one to five stars instead of smileys, but it’s the same principle), ServiceGuru also allows customers to provide additional detail about their satisfaction or lack thereof, as well as indicate who in the store/restaurant assisted them. This provides far more useful information to managers.

ServiceGuru usage is incredibly high in test locations, with a chain of hardware stores seeing up to a 2,700 percent increase in feedback collection among customers.

Also, asking customers who helped them in the store appears to trigger a psychological “nudging” effect. Customers are seeking out managers to make sure they know that they experienced great service.

A beta user of the system had this to say: “One of the unforeseen benefits of using the Guru has been the customers asking to speak to the store managers. I have been called over by team members so the customer could tell me directly how well our associate did. During morning team huddles, I let the team know how many reviews we received, and which associates have a perfect, 5.0 score.”

To optimize customer experience, you must have data. It’s easy to come by online—less so offline. Feedback provided in-store is better than feedback provided later via reviews site or a phone survey. Certainly, simple experience “score” mechanisms like smiley kiosks can deliver a high ratio of customer participation. But what do you really learn in that scenario?

The future of offline customer feedback is a blend of on-location, simple feedback collection (making it obstacle-free for nearly all consumers) and a short list of more nuanced and useful data points that give management actionable insights.

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What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News Wed, 11 Apr 2018 15:06:36 +0000 Marketers will need to revisit their social media strategies and listening tools, now that Cambridge Analytica's misuse of user data has forced new changes on Facebook.

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What Marketers Need to Know About the Cambridge Analytica News

Image via Thought Catalog

If you work in the world of marketing, the Cambridge Analytica news didn’t exactly shock you. In fact, most of us in the business reacted somewhere between a shoulder shrug and an eye roll. It’s not that marketers’ support the misuse of data—especially for the purposes of spreading false or “less accurate” information to sway an election. But most of us have known that Facebook and Instagram’s business models are all about selling data.

It always has been that way, and unless they pay-gate the platform, it always will be. Furthermore, most marketers have used similar data to target their content to specific demographics or personas online. The Cambridge Analytica news, therefore, hit us less as an, “OMG!” and more of a, “Well, of course this happened.”

What’s Ahead for Facebook

As I told my son when he left for college, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Just because Facebook allowed organizations like Cambridge Analytica to flood a social network with questionable content in an attempt sway an election doesn’t mean Cambridge Analytica should have done so. Organizations with evil motivations have always existed, so I doubt any of us are surprised.

But many of us are genuinely shocked that Facebook either willingly turned a blind eye to this corrupt use of data or was too stupid to connect the dots. (They’re definitely not stupid.) Using Facebook/Instagram data to sell potato chips or toothpaste is one thing. Using that data against the TOS to try and ruin a democratic election is another thing entirely.

Facebook lost $60 billion (that’s “billion” with a “B”) in the week that the news dropped, but it is unlikely that fact alone motivated this mad dash to turn off the Facebook data faucet. It is more realistic that Mark Zuckerberg knows once trust is lost, brands often crash and burn. The recovery from such a huge betrayal is going to take years, if not longer.

And remember, Facebook is a public company—selling data for ad targeting is inherent to their business profit model. It’s not that your pics of Muffy the poodle in PJs aren’t valuable. But ads that sell you PJs for pets are more valuable to shareholders.

Facebook lost 60 billion

How Facebook Has Taken Action So Far

After days of silence (and a statement that seemed to aggravate people more), Facebook is taking some stiff action. Here’s what’s effective immediately:

  • They have shut down part of the Instagram API.
  • They are limiting the data available from (or requiring user approval for access to) Facebook’s Events, Groups, and Pages APIs, plus Facebook Login.
  • They are shutting down search by email or username and changing their account recovery system after discovering malicious actors were using these to scrape people’s data.

Facebook CTO Mike Schroepfer told TechCrunch, “Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.” There is a new API access coming, says Facebook/Instagram, so while some functionality may return, it may not return in a significant way.

Instagram data pop up

Pop up found on technology vendor site

What the Cambridge Analytica Story Means for Brands

A huge marketing technology industry has grown on the backs of these data streams. There are hundreds of apps with tools to interpret the data, visualize the data, and activate on that data. That means some of those MarTech subscriptions you have to monitor competitor accounts (or any account without permission) will have extremely minimized data results. Work with your technology providers and vendors to rescope those relationships and determine if limited data is better than none.

In addition, if you are a business and have not yet opted to sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts (thereby creating an official Business Profile status), you will not be able to use technology partners to have access to your own data. Rival, a social media analytics platform, discussed this here with its readers.

Paid media will still work, but with fewer data inputs, it may be become less targeted. A  Facebook rep told a Techcrunch client that “for any Custom Audiences data imported into Facebook, Advertisers will be required to represent and warrant that proper user content has been obtained.” Understanding this is essential for your plans and will likely require revisiting your conversion goals, click-through goals, and more.

A representative from Centro (a leader in paid advertising) tells us via email, “Bottom line: You have to be everywhere. Programmatic, where there are plenty of third party data segments—way more than Facebook ever had—needs to be part of the media mix for every full-funnel approach.” And Sam Bruni of Bruni Media actually seems to see a positive: “Overall, we are optimistic that the paid advertising side of our business will improve as Facebook cleans up less relevant content that we have to compete with continually.”

It’s time to adjust your digital marketing strategies. If you have dedicated large chunks of your marketing budget to content programs that rely on this deep layer of data, it’s time to sit down with your agencies or in-house teams (or, ahem, call in brilliant advisors) to determine a pivot path. One area of consideration—already on the rise after the last Facebook algorithm shift, which prioritized “friends and family” content over loose connections—is influencer marketing. With the loss of potential insight from data driving your content targeting, it will be more important than ever to work with content creators who can get your messages in front of communities and audiences that they “own” in strategic and authentic ways.

Facebook is changing its handling of user data. It's time for your business to build a pivot plan.
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  1. Rescope your MarTech subscriptions and partnerships.
  2. Sync your Facebook and Instagram accounts to generate a discoverable Business Profile.
  3. Reset your paid advertising KPIs for conversion, click-through rates etc.
  4. Consider increases in programmatic, given the additional data sources still available.
  5. Work with your agencies and partners on new content syndication strategies like influencer marketing.

Confused? Worried? Don’t be.

As with all things involving the major social platforms, we will all adjust to these changes and move forward. In the meantime, if you would like to dig deeper into the effect this has on your business, give Convince & Convert Consulting a call. We are here to help.

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7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events Tue, 10 Apr 2018 15:00:07 +0000 Are you events generating enough buzz? Add breadth and depth to your events by implementing these essential social media strategies.

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7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events

It used to be you spent five minutes registering for an event and then showed up on the big day, went to a few workshops, drank two free Coronas, and went home.

Social media changes all of that, enabling events and their planners to have long-term, nuanced, shifting interactions with attendees.

I gave a speech in suburban Cincinnati to the Mid-American chapter of Meeting Planners International, titled “7 Ways to Use Social Media to Create Buzz-Worthy Events.” My recommendations are based on my work with MarketingProfs and Salesforce to add social frosting to their already fabulous events, and my experiences speaking at several dozen conferences annually. There’s a total of 39 specific suggestions in the slides, but here are the highlights.

1. Engage

Get your potential attendees interacting with you early on by enabling some measure of feedback or crowdsourcing on the conference programming. South by Southwest has always led in this area, with its “panel picker” process that turns over 30 percent of the programming selection to potential attendees.

Another way you could simplify getting feedback from your audience is use tools like Twtpoll or PollDaddy (as I did when I asked you for feedback on potential new designs for this blog back in the day).

2. Intrigue

Almost all events have an official website. But very few (except for the geek events) take full advantage of all the free event listing and event management opportunities. At a minimum, you should create event pages on:

  • Facebook Events
  • Eventbrite (where you can also sell tickets if you’re so inclined)
  • Linkedin (if it’s a business event)

Make sure to select the platform or registration software that fits with your audience.

Sure, its a bit of a hassle to oversee all of these event pages, but your attendees swim in different ponds. Plus, every conference has the same MVP attendee: some guy named Google. Why would you pass up a chance to double, triple, or quadruple your search engine listings?

These tools also serve as a way to message your attendees leading up to the event reminding them to invite their friends or what they can look forward to.

3. Invigorate

As the event draws closer, you have to pull potential attendees off of the fence with content hors-d’oeuvres.

Social Media Examiner does this well by consistently sharing what attendees can expect at their annual Social Media Marketing World conference leading up to the event. They share what speakers will be presenting and fun events to look forward to.

Collaborate with your speakers to produce teaser content. Most speakers are already creating short videos and content they are promoting to their audience. This can be a great opportunity to partner with them to align promotional calendars

Actively promote the event hashtag and invite users to share their content on Twitter and Instagram. Begin interacting with attendees before the event begins to build buzz and personal relationships with attendees. Social Media Marketing World has a healthy mix of attendees and speakers consistently adding content before and during their event using the hashtag #SMMW.

Use Pitchengine to create multi-media enabled press releases, and send the URL for the release to any and all “maybes” on your list. You should also gather social information from all registrants. Create a Twitter list of all attendees, and update it each time a new person registers.

4. Integrate

Now we’re talking about the on-site experience, which is where social media can really add impact and get people talking.

Pick a hashtag for your event, so attendees and remote watchers can monitor the event on Twitter. The shorter the better, please! Depending on the size of the event, host multiple meetups for attendees to gather for dinner and hold meet-and-greets.

When attendees register for the event, ask them specific questions about their industry or job title. This information can help pair them in a meetup group that is beneficial to them.

I’m not a big fan of the geek conference staple of having a live streaming Twitter wall behind speakers while they speak. It’s too distracting. But I love having a big Twitter wall in a central conference location. This requires very little effort now, using something like Tweetwally.

Create an event within the event by running contests on Twitter during the conference. You can use metricool to show how many people are using the event hashtag and identify top contributors during the event. Share the leaderboard throughout the event and award prizes to top contributors.

metricool for live events

5. Inform

During the event, invite attendees to share their feedback about the sessions for real-time insights. You can use an app called Yapp, which allows attendees to take a poll in the app for the event. This is also a great tool for informing attendees about updates and contests throughout the event.

This is a far better approach than sending a survey a few days after the event asking them what they thought about the session. This way, attendees can vote right after their session ends right on their phone.

6. Propagate

Create your own media during the event. Use Facebook Live and Periscope to capture key moments during the event to engage people who couldn’t make it and create content you can repurpose later to promote future events.

As attendees create and share content using the event hashtag, compile their content and share it later to re-engage attendees after the event.

7. Aggregate

Take the conference content and spread it as widely as possible. Your goal is to get the doubters that didn’t come this year to view that content and decide to go the next year.

Take every conference presentation, and instead of just putting them on your website or emailing links to attendees, release them on SlideShare (one per day for maximum impact). Create content from key moments that happened during the event to share small pieces of content on social.

Reward good content. Invite attendees to share their best quote or photo from the conference for a chance to win a software subscription from a sponsor or free registration to the next event. This also is a great way to promote sponsors and encourage them to partner in upcoming events.

Here’s an example of Social Media Examiner awarding a year’s subscription to a sponsor’s service.

SMMW event contest

Why couldn’t you do that? Why can’t you do all of this?

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How to Increase Your Visibility with Online Reviews Tue, 10 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 If you're taking a hands-off approach to online reviews, you're leaving money on the table. Keep your brand in the spotlight with a thorough online review strategy.

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How to Increase Your Visibility with Online Reviews

Effectively marketing your business has always been about finding a way to stand out from the pack. After all, grabbing their attention is the first step in client conversion. But the act of drawing customers in has truly become an uphill battle in a world so heavily saturated with choice.

Hick’s Law, which is often summarized as “the paradox of choice,” states that when people are presented with more options, the time they take to make a decision actually goes up rather than down. We need to learn to empathize with the paralysis customers feel when trying to make a choice and actively address it if we want to win their business.

But in a world of too many options, what tactics can you use to make their decision easier?

I recently partnered with my friends over at to unpack this heady subject. We put together both a webinar and an ebook that delve into why you need to start focusing on online reviews today if you want your business to thrive. It’s all about understanding and harnessing the power of reviews and how you can turn ratings into revenue. Below are just a few highlights from our collaboration.

1. Reviews Equal Visibility

The goal of every single business owner on the planet is to have customers and make money. (If they say it’s something else, they are lying. Or they don’t understand their own business.) So while being “the best-kept secret in town” may seem like a compliment on some level, it’s really the opposite. In the end, being obscure is a great way to become obsolete.

Ensuring that you have plenty of quality online reviews is a crucial first step for getting bodies in the door or eyeballs on your site. Those businesses with the most reviews and highest average ratings are going to get more traffic both digitally and physically than those with very few reviews.

From there, it becomes a self-feeding cycle, as businesses with more reviews gain more visibility, which results in more foot traffic, which leads to more reviews. The question here, of course, is how to get that cycle started. (More on that in a moment.)

2. Reviews Build Customer Trust

Let’s be real: By and large, consumers simply no longer trust businesses. You can scream from the mountaintops all day long about how awesome you are, but if that sentiment isn’t being echoed by your customers, their peers will take note. Ratings and reviews have become a reputational shortcut—a digital marker of quality if you will.

And despite largely being penned by strangers, we seem to have collectively agreed that online reviews are trustworthy, as 85 percent of consumers say they trust some online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends. Better yet, studies show that customer confidence in these online reviews is increasing every year. Ignore their influence at your own peril!

3. Reviews Are Key to Customer Retention

Bad reviews are the worst. But get used to it; they’re part of the deal. You can’t prevent them, you can’t erase them, but you can control how you respond to them. Did you know that the simple act of addressing a negative review increases the chance that customer will patronize your business again by 16 percent? However, when you choose not to respond, that number decreases by 37 percent.

And, frankly, no response is still a response. Silence says so much; it tells your customer that you don’t care enough about their negative experience to even acknowledge it, which only serves to make a bad situation worse. Every single review is an opportunity to learn more about your customers and how to communicate with them effectively.

In addition, you must realize that responding to a customer, whether they’ve said something positive or negative, is not just about answering them alone. Your whole audience is watching how you interact with your online reviews. The economic impact of how you to choose to engage here is so much broader than this one customer.

1 in 10 customers will leave a review unprompted


4. Constant Review Generation is Vital

It’s not enough to amass a pile of good reviews one time. Your review stream must be steady and continuous. 77 percent of customers now say that reviews more than 90 days old are irrelevant, so you’ve got to focus on keeping things fresh at all times.

Google’s algorithm openly rewards businesses that have what they call “high review velocity.” In other words, businesses with more reviews and that are reviewed more frequently are ranked more prominently in search results. The problem is that generating reviews isn’t as simple as you might hope.

An average of just one in ten customers will leave a review unprompted. The other nine? They’re too busy living their lives to spend time writing essays about your product or service. But if you reach out and ask them for their feedback, a staggering amount of them will at least consider it. How, then, do you ask?

Most marketers would assume that providing customers with incentives—whether in the form of discounts or cold hard cash— would be a surefire way to get them to compose a review, right? Wrong. Studies show that, in fact, the opposite is true.

Just as consumers seem to trust their peers over a business’s marketing campaign, they also seem to resent the feeling of being “bought” that accompanies incentivized review programs. You’ve got to do better than that if you want their honest feedback.

Too many businesses leave review generation and management up to fate. DO 👏 NOT 👏 DO 👏 THAT 👏
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5. Get Local, Get Personal

Reaching out to consumers locally and cultivating ongoing reviews there is the fastest way to boost your customer base. After all, 76 percent of all online searches for local business result in foot traffic within 24 hours. Those people are going to go somewhere for their meatball sub or their monogrammed towels; how do you make sure they find their way to you? Well, by making sure they’re able to find a plethora of positive, detailed reviews about why they should, of course.

Far too many businesses leave review generation and management up to fate. Do. Not. Do. That. You’re leaving money on the table every single day by neglecting to nurture this aspect of your brand presence. Providing canned responses to reviews is just as bad. Customers can tell when you’re doing that. And while automation can help in some instances, it really robs the interaction of the nuanced tone that comes from engaging with a real person.

Online reviews are a great way to create brand ambassadors and loyalists, but you’ve got to dig in deep and engage with people one-on-one to really reap the rewards.

We’ve just scratched the surface here of how to tap into the power of online reviews. To go more in-depth with us—including a detailed discussion of case studies from customers e.l.f. and Boston Pizza, plus my no-fail rule for handling replies to online reviews—you can check out the webinar here.

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The 26 Best Topics in Healthcare Content Marketing Wed, 04 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Ceralytics' new data reveals the top healthcare content marketing topics, analyzed by Jay Baer.

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The 26 Best Topics in Healthcare Content Marketing

Content marketing is hard.

Content marketing in healthcare is REALLY hard.

healthcare-content-marketing-downloadThe good news is that healthcare content marketing has a very large audience. The bad news is that competition is fierce, and the breadth of potential topics is almost too vast.

Let’s say you’re tasked with building an engaged audience for your healthcare company, using content marketing and related tactics. About what do you create content? Wellness? Food? Maladies? Trends? You can’t be topically authoritative about everything, so what topics do you pick?

Our friends at Ceralytics shed some light on this tricky question with their new research: 2018 Healthcare Content Marketing Report (grab it at no cost here).

In this research, the Ceralytics team analyzed more than 16,000 healthcare topics and evaluated more than three million social shares. They also looked at search engine popularity, web traffic, and other inputs.

They also ingested every speck of content from nine very large and prominent creators to see what topics they actually cover day-to-day and the popularity of those topics. Included in the study were Kindred Healthcare (a Convince & Convert client), HCA Today, United Healthcare, Norton Healthcare, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Health News, Aetna, CVS, and Mayo Clinic.

(The Ceralytics tool is great for this kind of topical analysis. They help us figure out what to write about here at Convince & Convert.)

Based on this data, Ceralytics uncovered the 26 most popular topics for healthcare content marketing in 2018, according to actual behavior of content consumers, in order of popularity. Of course, many of these topics are combined in searches and in content executions:

  1. heart disease (95,000+ social shares on this topic alone)
  2. diet (82,000+ social shares)
  3. tips
  4. recipes (best performing recipe: brussel sprouts!!)
  5. pain (exceptional performance in social sharing, less so in search)
  6. brain
  7. symptoms
  8. women
  9. stress
  10. stroke
  11. health
  12. truth
  13. heart attack
  14. blood sugar
  15. children
  16. diabetes
  17. foods
  18. heart
  19. weight loss
  20. adults
  21. sleep
  22. smoking
  23. high blood pressure
  24. blood pressure
  25. Americans
  26. drugs

In the full report, Ceralytics also provides a list of the 26 topics that are actually used most often in content marketing among the nine large healthcare organizations studied. There’s quite a bit of crossover between the lists, but by no means a one-to-one overlap.

What Ceralytics’ New Data Means for Marketers

This indicates that there are still topical opportunities for healthcare content marketers that want to go deep in areas that aren’t as well-covered. For instance, “heart disease” is the most effective topic (see above), but is only the 23rd most commonly used content marketing topic.

Health and healthcare/wellness tips rank third in topical demand (see above) but do not even make the top 26 in terms of topics being executed today. That’s an opportunity.

From the perspective of topical adjacencies, I find it interesting how many of the top 26 above are related in some way to heart health. Number 1, 2, 7, 9, 10, 13, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24 can all reasonably be connected to heart health. In fact, according to Ceralytics data, 19 percent of all content marketing about “diet” is also about heart disease.

In addition, number 1, 13, 18, 23, 24 above are specifically tied to heart health.

Based on this analysis, which should of course be buttressed by your own research, if a healthcare brand asked me and the strategy team at Convince & Convert where to focus content marketing efforts, I would initially look to do a deep dive on all things heart health-related.

Thanks much to Ceralytics for this report. Take a peek at the whole thing here.

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New Research Says We’re All About to Boost Our Marketing Budgets Tue, 03 Apr 2018 13:00:00 +0000 A new survey of CMOs indicates marketing budgets will rise in 2018. Learn where and how firms plan to allocate their marketing dollars in the year ahead.

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New Research Says We're All About to Boost Our Marketing Budgets

Get out your wallets, CMOs, because chances are you will be spending more on marketing in the next twelve months. In fact, a recent survey by CMO Survey (that’s right—all these folks do is survey and gather data from CMOs like you) gathered answers from over 300 Chief Marketing Officers and collectively reported an average 8.9 percent projected increase in marketing dollar spend over the next year. That number’s in the double digits if you are in healthcare (13 percent), technology (12.4 percent) or energy (21.4 percent).

Beyond this general indication of needing deeper marketing pockets, there are loads of other interesting points in this year’s results. Let’s take a look.

How Much Is Too Much?

Everything is relative, so let’s talk about ratio. The study let us know that on average, a firm’s marketing budget is 11.1 percent of its overall firm budget. This is up from 8.9 percent in February 2011. Compared to revenue, marketing budget is 7.9 percent proportionally. The big spender here is consumer goods, which reports 21.9 percent of total revenue going to marketing budget alone.

Marketing spending as percent of company revenue

That means businesses that ended the 2017 fiscal year with a solid $10 million in revenue are planning to spend $790,000 to market their businesses in 2018. That also means for every $1 million in revenue, $79,000 will be spent on marketing (on average).

This leads to the first introspective moment of this post: How do you fit into that ratio? Are you spending that much? More likely, you are spending less than that and wondering why your competitor is outpacing you in growth.

Firms spend an average

Where Is All That Money Going?

Growth in digital marketing spend is greatly outpacing traditional. In 2018, as digital grows, we see traditional spend shrinking by -1.2 percent. This is consistent across all market sectors.

Social media spend has grown 243 percent since 2009. This translates into an anticipated increase in social media spend by 71 percent in the next five years. That is a huge amount of projected growth! It also indicates a larger acceptance of trust in social media messaging delivery which has taken years to establish.

It is important to note that this increase correlates to an acknowledgment of the significant role e-commerce plays in the larger business models for most organizations. Obviously, this particular objective lives online, so the rise in social media marketing is in direct correlation.

Additionally, this increase in spend in the coming years signifies a leap of faith for many. At the same time, the survey reveals that internally, CMOs are fighting an uphill battle. The perception that social media actually contributes to a company’s performance is low (3.3 on a scale of one to seven). This begs the question, why spend so much on social?

Marketing spend on social media has grown a whopping 243% since 2009.
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Why Spend It on Social Media?

The three hundred CMOs surveyed reported that the top reasons their firms use social media are brand building and brand awareness. This shows a glaring under-appreciation for the value of social media to not only build brand equity but to aid in achieving actual business objectives.

One such objective is customer retention. For years, brands that move at the speed of social in response to customer needs have increased brand loyalty. So while CMOs say they are using social media for awareness now, expect to see a shift over the next five years toward greater social usage for customer service and informational syndication to aid retention. After all, it is always better (and cheaper) to keep a customer than acquire a new one.

How firms use social media

Of course, if you are a CMO, and your organization doesn’t see value in where you plan to increase your budget, proving the impact of the investment takes priority. As this research proves, firms have improved their ability to prove the quantitative impact of social media. Firms are capturing that “measurable results unicorn” better than ever before. 23.3 percent of survey respondents report they’re now quantitatively measuring social media impact, up from 14.6 in 2014. Data like this will only bolster the case for growth in the years ahead.

Social media impact on business

Impact Needs to Be Measured

While results measurement matters more than ever, current marketing analytics spend shows some fluctuation but no consistent increase over the past five years. That’s going to change considerably in the coming years. Spending on marketing analytics is forecasted to increase 198 percent in three years. That’s a huge increase and a wise move. Over 42 percent of those surveyed use marketing analytics in their decision-making, which raises some concerns about the 58 percent of respondents who are not using analytics. If they aren’t using data, what are they using?

It’s Still About More and More Mobile

It is hard to believe we could be using our phones more than we already do, but survey projections suggest otherwise: The percent of marketing budget spent on mobile trends upwards over the next three years. In fact, marketing spend on mobile is expected to increase by a full 93 percent. That includes not only mobile ads but also geo beacon content, SMS text programs, augmented reality applications, and more. Mobile marketing offers huge opportunities in the years ahead for innovation by targeting consumers and pushing them closer to purchase consideration.

Marketing spend on mobile

Predicting the future is a tricky business. And much like our work at Convince & Convert, we look to comprehensive data to help us understand patterns and variances to glean predictive knowledge. This CMO survey gives us a glimpse into the future.

We recognize that this survey represents a sample, and of course, every organization is unique with its own set of challenges and objectives. But there is value in learning from others’ intentions for the marketing years ahead. How does this survey compare to your plans?

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The 4 Content Optimization Rules You Can’t Afford to Break Thu, 29 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Boost your content's performance by making these four, data-backed content optimization rules the cornerstones of your strategy.

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The 4 Content Optimization Rules You Can't Afford to Break

We all know the benefits of a great blog. A perfect blog will help to build your brand’s reputation by grabbing readers’ attention and showcasing your site as a credible source of information. If you have it automated with your e-newsletter, a blog is also a great way to keep your brand top of mind with subscribers. But beyond these media benefits of a blog, it can also be a powerful inbound marketing tool.

Time and again, content marketing has proven to be massively effective in driving customer engagement and lead generation. Quality articles with optimized metrics for ranking, delivered on a consistent basis, will build up your domain authority and web traffic over time.

We compiled a year’s worth of content marketing data from our clients’ projects and analyzed it against several keyword research tools and content optimization tools. We then had that data analysis reviewed by a statistician who holds a Master of Science in Statistics from Texas A&M University. The results show which tools are most effective in determining the probability of ranking, and what measures you can take to improve the quality of your content.

The following are four of the most important things to keep in mind when you’re launching a competitive content marketing strategy.

1. Competitive Keywords Matter

Yes, I’m sure you already knew that keywords matter. But it can’t be said enough: Find keywords that suit your niche and are competitive enough to rank. SEMRush is a brilliant platform for digging into your site’s statistics (i.e., organic traffic, ranking keywords, backlinks, etc.) and investigating competition. Check out a competitor’s site with similar traffic to your site to see what keywords they’re ranking for.

Next, take some of those keywords and plug them into a keyword research tool (like SECockpit by Swiss Marketing Apps or KWFinder by Mangools) to check the competition score and monthly search volume.  This will not only give you an idea of the metrics you should be aligning with your own site but may even give you some specific keywords to steal and target right off the bat.

KWFinder vs Google Rank Content Refined

There are three things you always want to keep in mind when performing your keyword research. Two of them were already mentioned. You want to find the right balance of (1) monthly search volume, (2) competition score, and (3) competitors’ domain authority.

SECockpit and KWFinder have both proven to be excellent tools for determining these metrics. Based on your site, these metrics may change, but here is a general rule of thumb that we’ve found to be highly competitive for most sites:

  • Monthly search volume over 500
  • Competition score under 30 percent
  • Top 10 competitors’ domain authority under 30 (or more than half of them under 30)

With these generalized metrics, you should be able to find some great keywords to target.

word count vs google rank

avg site domain authority vs google rank

Remember to always use that target keyword near the beginning of your article title. For example, if your keyword is “hot cocoa recipes,” the title could be “10 Hot Cocoa Recipes to Impress Your Date This Winter” as opposed to “Impress Your Date This Winter with These 10 Hot Cocoa Recipes.” Also, aim for titles with less than 60 characters.

2. A Great Writer Matters

There’s no getting around it: Hire quality writers. Ask for their portfolio, give them a test assignment, and take the time to read through their material. Building a strong relationship with an awesome writing team makes a world of difference. Think about it: You want articles that people will actually stop and read (and, ideally, share on social media). Plus, Google scans for readability. Grammar, spelling, and flow are very important.

A great way to test your writers’ abilities is to ask them to use HemingwayApp.  This (free!) platform demands simple, easy to read sentences. The focus is on clarity. Aim for a Grade 9 or less. If it’s in your budget, it definitely doesn’t hurt to have an editor review and fix up your content as well.

Word count matters too. We’ve found that articles should be at least 1000 words each. First—and this might seem obvious—1000 words provides a more in-depth look at a certain subject. Google sees that and decides that it’s a more valuable article than, say, a 500-word piece.

Second, you’ll be able to keep readers on your site for a longer period of time. Try breaking up the article into sections with headings, subheadings, and lists where applicable. Great stock photography and customized infographics will help you present your content in a palatable format. GIFs and YouTube embeds can be good too, but be careful because these can potentially slow down the loading speed of your site on readers’ devices.

A strong relationship with an awesome writing team makes a world of difference to your content marketing.
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3. More Keywords

No one wants keyword stuffing. It reads terribly, it makes your brand and website look awful, and Google is too smart for it. If your article reads like gibberish because you’re trying to shove in a bunch of keywords, then you’re not helping your chances of ranking and building up your domain authority.  Instead, try a content optimization tool like CognitiveSEO or MarketMuse.

CognitiveSEO is fantastic for making this step super easy. You put your target keyword and title in, then drag and drop the entire article. It will break the keyword optimization into three parts: (1) Keywords you already use, (2) keywords you should use, and (3) keywords you should use more often.

It is a useful tool for working through the article and naturally integrating more keywords. It will even show you a “keyword stuffing” score, so if you’re getting a bit too ambitious, you can rein it in. Boost that content performance score to increase your probability of ranking.

MarketMuse works similarly, and we’ve found both tools to be very beneficial for optimizing content rankings.

MarketMuse vs SERPFox

Note: In the MarketMuse vs. SERPFox graph, Negative MarketMuse Score was used instead of MarketMuse Score because of the ascending nature of MarketMuse Score (higher is better) versus the descending mature of SERPFox Ranking (lower is better).

4. Final Touches in Publishing

A good publisher will be familiar with SEO techniques. They’ll take your perfect article and format it nicely with the images you’ve chosen. Here’s a quick checklist for the publishing stage:

  • Use alt tags for all images (I generally go with the target keyword or a secondary keyword).
  • Make sure the article is broken up into easy to read sections with headings and subheadings.
  • Add keyword tags to make the article searchable on your site.
  • Add an SEO title and meta description to the back end to cater to Google’s spiders.

It’s always a good idea to save your article to draft mode and have someone else look over it before publishing. More often than not, you’ll find a few last-minute changes to make.

With these data-determined metrics and the best tools available, your articles will have a much higher chance of ranking in Google. The more quality content you have on your blog, the better, so get to it!

With two or three posts per week using these techniques, you’ll start to see your traffic and domain authority growing at an exponential rate within the coming year.

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The SEO versus Social Battle Has a New Winner Wed, 28 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 SEO has pulled back in front of social media as a referrer of website traffic. Jay Baer explains why this happened, why it's unprecedented, and what to do about it when pondering your search and social approach.

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The SEO versus Social Battle Has a New Winner

Social media’s reign as a top source of referred, inbound traffic to websites may be over, according to new research from Shareaholic.

The most recent version of the rolling tracking study that measures traffic sources for more than 250,000 websites found a steep drop in visits from social media. Across more than 400 million visits, the top six search engines sent 34.8 percent of traffic. The top 13 social networks sent 25.6 percent of visitors.

seo vs social media traffic battle chart

Since 2014, search has lagged behind social, but the roles have clearly reversed, and there’s a new winner in the battle between SEO and social media as a traffic source.

For the first time in 3 years, search is responsible for more website traffic than social
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4 Reasons Why Search Is Back in the Lead versus Social Media

There are, of course, many intersecting trends and tweaks at play here, but these are the three primary reasons social is dipping and search is creeping upward.

1. Reduced Use of Social Overall

As I wrote about recently, Edison Research found that Americans are actually using social media LESS, especially Facebook. And given that Facebook is far and away the largest social network, a decline there is significant. (Read 6 Unexpected Trends in 2018 Social Media Research for more.)

2. De-prioritization of Companies and Organizations in Social Algorithms

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all rolled out new algorithms in the past two years that fundamentally diminish exposure for company and organization content in favor of content published by individuals. This probably makes for a better, healthier stream of content, but it certainly impacts the number of clicks that social content can accrue to websites.

Shareaholic data shows a 25.8 percent drop in Facebook referred visits in one year. (I wrote about how to handle this in my article: 9 Antidotes to the Facebook Algorithm Squeeze.)

seo vs. social media traffic chart

3. Less Exposure for Posts Containing Links

Some of the algorithm adjustments in social media have given more reach to video content and, to some degree, photos. Simultaneously, the algorithm gives posts containing links less priority. This also has an impact on click-through traffic—so much so that our community management team at Convince & Convert is testing putting no links in social posts, but instead including links as the first comment.

4. Search Indexing More Social Content

Search engines are doing a much better job of indexing social media content right on their SERPs, making it possible for consumers to click through from search, instead of going to a social network and clicking through from there.

In the same period where Facebook referred traffic dropped 25 percent, visits coming from Google increased 21 percent.

Do Not Sleep on SEO

Smart marketers have paid attention to search throughout social’s rise, but this data clearly show that social’s days as the number one driver of traffic are at an end (and I don’t foresee them returning).

Google is certainly working hard to stay in front, as any decline in their ability to drive traffic is almost an existential issue for them, financially. It would be wise to follow their cue and re-prioritize search in your overall digital marketing plan.

Get Serious About Pinterest and Instagram

Facebook, despite its steep decline as a traffic source, is still the top social referrer. But notice the huge gains made by Pinterest? It’s now a clear number two in social and drives more traffic than every other non-Facebook social network combined. In fact, according to Shareaholic’s data, Pinterest is responsible for nearly half the traffic that Facebook delivers, and among a much smaller user base.

Instagram’s growth is skewed a bit due to the relatively recent addition of clickability on the platform. But the mobile photo/video platform is now tied with Twitter as a traffic source; a tremendous shift given that Instagram has historically been about “engagement” and Twitter has been thought of more as a traffic creator (in addition to its role in conversations and customer service).

Is LinkedIn Next?

Certainly, LinkedIn focuses on its business audience, which makes it relevant to only a subset of the population. But the newfound emphasis on content on Linkedin makes me wonder if it will see a spike in its referred traffic in the next report, similar to what Instagram experienced in this study.

For my own interactions, and the content we create here at Convince & Convert, we are putting more effort into Linkedin than ever before, pulling resources away from Facebook.

This report fascinates me because it is VERY rare in business, technology, and marketing for a lost lead to be regained. Apple was nearly dead as a computer maker and was then resurrected. But Apple has never outsold Windows PCs. Once Chrome took over as the dominant web browser, Internet Explorer didn’t rally back and pull in front again.

What we’re witnessing currently in the fight between SEO and social media for website traffic referral preeminence is nearly unprecedented, and it should make you reconsider how you’re allocating your resources across the full sweep of your digital marketing.

If we can help, let me know.

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The 6 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors of 2017 Tue, 27 Mar 2018 13:00:42 +0000 A new report looks back on the search engine ranking factors that shaped the media industry in 2017, as well as what these findings might mean for the year ahead.

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The 6 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors of 2017

This is the time marketers typically look at statistics from the past year and determine how those findings could shape the coming months. Below, we’ll closely examine details from Searchmetrics’s “Media Ranking Factors Data Insights for Performing on Google,” plus what those specifics mean for you, your industry, and your colleagues.

People Under 30 Prefer Their Phones for Reading News

It’s probably not surprising that the majority of survey respondents under 30 hardly leave home without their smartphones. However, if your search engine strategy has largely overlooked mobile until now, that’s a mistake.

The survey discovered 70 percent of people from that demographic would rather use their smartphones than desktop computers when getting caught up on the news. Also, across all age groups, people want to click on news links and efficiently access news content.

This suggests that, in the year ahead, pop-up ads or poorly designed websites could limit overall speedy access to news and cause frustration. It’s necessary to come up with ways to help news sites remain profitable while being aware of what visitors expect. If the site experience doesn’t match users’ preferred access methods, they might not come back, and SEO rankings could fall, too.

External Links Can Help Sites Rise in the Rankings

An analysis of the total number of outside sites mentioned in a media URL’s landing page found that the average was 29.2 for a top 10 site. The number climbed slightly to 30.7 for websites in the top 20.

That means even though it might take more time to add those external sources, doing so causes search engines to view the content as more valuable. Also, don’t forget that additional material helps build credibility with readers. You can include original documents, well-known news sources, interviews from primary sources, and more to flesh out a story. These are all reasons why external links will undoubtedly remain prominent in 2018.

Top-Ranking Pages Feature Highly Relevant Content

People associated with this recent report also pinpointed how when individuals perform online searches, they do so using media-related keywords. The sites that rank highest in Google are closely associated with those terms and get updated regularly. In the year ahead, you could waste time and money by publishing content and never thinking about it again.

Instead, it’s necessary to continuously track public content to monitor its performance. As needed, freshen it up with new details that fit current searches. Doing that should give new life to long-since published material.

If you publish content and never think about it again, you could be wasting time and money.
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Social Signals Have Positive Effects on Traffic Levels

Google does not factor in social signals—such as likes and tweets—when ranking a site. However, the results of this study indicate that the top 10 media sites on Google had thousands more social signals than other websites.

What does this mean for you? People still pay attention to content online that gets significant amounts of engagement. A smart strategy for 2018 is to figure out how to entice people to get immersed in your content. When that happens, your traffic levels should go up, too. People who use social networks usually like media URLs and spreading them through that sector of the online realm. Use this to your advantage by publishing share-worthy content that keeps people interested.

HTTPS Encryption Could Give You a Rankings Advantage

Google representatives confirm https encryption is one of the many factors that determine a site’s overall ranking. However, Searchmetrics’s study revealed only 12 percent of the top 10 media websites use https encryption. That statistic is just a quarter of the benchmark for other types of web content.

The first thing to realize about that statistic is that most media websites don’t ask for personal details, so site developers may see encryption as unnecessary. However, since Google now uses https encryption to help calculate rankings, encrypting your media site may allow it to rank higher as a result. Consider the possible pros and cons of encrypting your media site in the coming year.

The Highest-Ranking Media URLs Use More Images Than Lower-Ranked Sites

This investigation of what makes media sites conquer Google’s algorithms also found a connection between the number of 200×200-pixel images used. Sites achieved better rankings and appeared on the first page of search results when using seven percent more pictures than websites that were less prominent in search results.

This statistic doesn’t mean 2018 is the year to haphazardly pack your material with images and see if your rankings go up. It’s still necessary to take a balanced approach. Be mindful of the type of content and decide whether it’s best to use images, or other media like videos.

These takeaways could guide many of your SEO-related decisions for 2018. As you mull them over, remember that although this is an essential study, some of your internal research about page performance might give contradicting evidence that relates to your audience. After making changes to your content, always observe it as the outcomes unfold.

The post The 6 Most Important Search Engine Ranking Factors of 2017 appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

5 Landing Pages You Need to Manage Your Reputation Mon, 26 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Landing pages give you total control over the narrative, making them an excellent tool for managing your online reputation. Make sure you've got these five ready for action.

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5 Landing Pages You Need to Manage Your Reputation

Your reputation is important. Branding is a fundamental focus of successful businesses. Companies spend fortunes watching social media for mentions, checking out reviews, paying for review posts on popular blogs, advertising through influencer videos, dealing with customer service complaints, and holding massive customer engagement campaigns.

Certainly, you’ve been doing your best on a more limited budget. But have you been building landing pages for the task? Believe it or not, landing pages can be one of the best possible ways to manage your reputation, because they give you total control over the narrative.

Landing pages work for both reputation management (because they are able to rank for your brand name) and traffic + lead generation. (If you do this right, they are able to direct clicks to your site.)

Where else can you get that kind of power? Through a social media page? Blog comments? Video responses? Nope! On a landing page, you can present the image and information you want and use it to help cultivate your reputation from the very first click. Everything else will follow.

How to Brainstorm Your Reputation Management Landing Page Topic

The key word here is “reputation.” That is, we want these landing pages to have a dual purpose:

  1.   Rank in Google for your brand navigational terms.
  2.   Direct customers to your most important selling point.

That being said, #1 is your priority: The more pages that rank in the top 10 for your navigational queries you can control, the better. The more assets we create to target brand-focused queries, the more we can control.

Before getting down to creating the below pages, do some research. Run your brand name through tools like Answer The Public and see which search suggestions your (future) customers see. You want to control of those!

Additionally, run your brand name (and the brand name of your competitors) through your favorite keyword research tool and see what else you need to target those. I like Serpstat because it also shows (1) other types of search results and (2) various social domains that rank for each query. This gives me a good idea of what type of content assets I need to create.

From there, here are five types of landing pages you can create, focusing on your important brand-focused keywords, on-site and off-, to build both your leads and reputation.

1. “Start Here” Landing Page

Your landing page is a great opportunity to introduce people to your brand. What do you do? What is your mission? And what can you offer to the person who has found themselves on your site? An introduction doesn’t have to be long (though long landing pages have been found to be more effective in generating conversions).

Never assume that the customer knows what you are all about. A “Start Here” landing page gives you the opportunity to completely control the narrative and, thus, your brand image. It is a chance to give it a face, whether it is yours, a mascot, or just a general tone that will be carried on through the rest of your promotional materials and content moving forward.

These pages can also act as an “About” page, but I personally prefer to have both. One is directly attached to the website; one is a more thorough “hello” and introduction that is less about informing and more about engaging.

Darren Rowse’s “Start here” page features his video and call-to-action above the fold.

Robert Katai’s “Who Am I” page features the visual timeline of his featured mentions and shows logos of well-known websites that Robert was featured on. To get better insight into how Robert uses visual elements to build better landing pages, read here.

Further reading:

When it comes to landing pages, never assume that the customer knows what you're all about.
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2. The “Coming Soon” Landing Page

When I was launching a new content marketing service a few years ago, I had originally planned to use my website itself as a way to generate leads (via email subscriptions). It wasn’t long before I realized that the method that had been so tried and true for getting content out to the masses might not work so well for a direct B2C service that operated as its own platform. I was in a different ballpark entirely and didn’t know how to play the game.

I ended up creating a landing page (now offline) using Launchrock about three months prior to launch. Once I’d created the page, I aggressively promoted it, optimized it, talked about it in guest posts, linked it on social media, and really improved the ranking for the page in particular, instead of my general website.

The landing page itself had a brief video introducing my coming service, the launch date, and an email subscription form for an exclusive invite for the initial opening. I generated so many leads! I was astonished and have been a big believer in landing pages for lead generation ever since.

A great thing about Launchrock (or any other similar service) is that you can host it right on their site and get it ranked for your brand name too.

There are lots of cool templates and ideas for your own coming soon landing page (you can steal some here), so you can play a lot until you are satisfied with the result.

3. The Seasonal Minisite

Several years ago HubSpot created a minisite for the holidays called HolidayHub. They paired it with a hashtag campaign of the same name and promoted it like crazy. It was essentially the same as their regular website but in a smaller form, with limited features and a holiday theme. It was essentially a landing page, but more.

Everything on it fit back to the holiday theme, including guides and tools. It had a countdown to Christmas on the top. At the bottom was a sign-up form for a free assessment through their service.

Not only was it incredibly effective, but it more or less popularized minisite landing pages. They are among the most suggested landing page styles by experts, as they give a taste of your website without a lot of the clutter. You can better control what people see and base yours on a theme that attracts continued interest through that period.

You can even buy a new domain for your minisite and rank it for your brand name or other important terms more easily. A good example of this tactic is Free Shipping Day, which is operated as a separate website by the owners of and ranks for a variety of free-shipping-related queries.

What happens when the time for that theme passes? Make another one!

4. The Social Digest

Social media is a great way to get attention, but it can be pretty disconnected from landing pages and even overall content marketing strategies. It is more like a secondary platform, and trying to combine the two can be hit and miss—which is why I love this idea so much and have found my new favorite tool.

Miappi takes all of your social media and curates the best content that is gaining the most attention from your followers. Then it puts it all up on your landing page in an easy-to-read digest that visitors can check out and get updated with regularly.

What I love about this is that it removes the onus from my followers to go to every single social media page I have. I don’t like to post everything to the same accounts, as that method of social marketing has long since fallen by the wayside. Instead, I’ve created a more solid strategy that uses each platform for its own unique engagement. A social digest takes advantage of that.

5. “Offer Ended” Landing Page

Your special offers may expire, and your products may become outdated. Yet, the expired offer may haunt you for ages: It will be strongly associated with your brand, and customers will keep asking you about that. Don’t delete your outdated landing pages—they can still rank for your brand name! Instead, rebuild them into something that will help to keep the customer.

The “Offer Ended” page will direct people to posts, pages, products, updates, or anything else relevant at that time.

Let’s say you have a new promotion that gives 20 percent of a year’s subscription to your service. You can place a banner up on the landing page that announces and links to your cart with a promo code auto-filled. Or maybe you have a new end of year guide with all of the tips you provided over the past twelve months. You could have it front and center.

An “Offer Ended” landing page helps your visitors find what they didn’t even know they needed.

You can find great examples of “expired offer” pages with conference landing pages. If you don’t have the next event set up yet and there’s no place to direct traffic, use the old landing page to build up interest, as well as your list.

Have a landing page tip you think belongs on this list? Let us know in the comments.

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How to Launch an Effective Brand Ambassador Campaign Fri, 23 Mar 2018 13:12:24 +0000 Marketers everywhere are leveraging the power of influencers on social media, but struggling to report on their ROI. Here's how to build a top-notch brand ambassador campaign with results you can measure.

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How to Launch an Effective Brand Ambassador Campaign

Social media has become a ubiquitous medium for individuals and companies alike. As of 2017, 81 percent of Americans and more than three billion people worldwide have at least one social media profile. Despite social media’s widespread usage, its ROI remains difficult for marketers to pinpoint.

Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, different social media platforms can be essential parts of customer outreach. The key is to determine which of those avenues is most beneficial for your company.

But determining the best social media marketing path to take is no easy feat. Simply Measured found in its 2017 State of Social Marketing Report that marketers’ top concern with social media is ROI; as of 2017, about 65 percent of social media teams were housed within their companies’ marketing departments—teams already tasked with justifying ROI at every turn.

And even if a company has identified Instagram, for example, as the best social media platform for reaching its target audience, it can be difficult to keep up with the ROI of posts made by an in-house expert. That difficulty increases when marketers team up with social media influencers.

Yet more and more marketers are choosing to collaborate with brand ambassadors, a subgroup of influencers known for consistent brand loyalty, and that’s forcing them to define new KPIs and success metrics, including engagement velocity and rate.

Establishing a Successful Influencer Campaign

Failing to measure the effectiveness of brand ambassador campaigns is not an option. It’s a vicious cycle: Poor measurement makes a campaign ineffective because you don’t know whether you’re allocating resources wisely. And if you don’t know what’s going on with a campaign, there’s no way for you to change it for the better.

But brand ambassador-based campaigns aren’t at all doomed to fail—you just have to know what you’re looking for. Here are three ways to craft and measure an effective brand ambassador campaign:

1. Track Your Brand Ambassadors’ Demographic Data

Many digital tools are capable of linking companies with influencers, but only a few—Assembly, for one—are equipped to track those influencers’ results. Find a platform that allows you to keep up with the ambassadors you’re working with, see who they’re engaging with, and track what results they’re driving in real time.

Our team uses technology that lets us see the demographics of our ambassadors, and it has been crucial for our decision-making. Whatever methods you use, make sure you are fully in tune with your ambassadors, their likes, and their interests. This step doesn’t have to involve sophisticated software; it could mean using Typeform or MailChimp to have people identify basic information about themselves when they join your network.

The ambassadors you link with your company should belong to the same demographic, both in terms of age and geography, as your target audience. First identify the type of customer to whom you’re marketing by sifting through your advertising and acquisition analytics. Then, use those same search criteria when finding brand ambassadors.

The founder of OPTIM-EYEZ, Sam Hurley, cites misaligned expectations—including confusion about ambassadors’ audiences—as a common hurdle a brand must overcome before starting an ambassador campaign. He says brands often fail to do enough research, asking ambassadors in marketing to promote travel programs, for example. But with research into the ambassadors and their demographics and a dedication to building long-term relationships, Hurley has seen great results from these partnerships.

2. Develop an Engaging Ambassador Reward System

As nice as it would be for ambassadors to join forces with your company for the fun of it, people need to know what they’re reaping from a partnership. Establish a reward system, and keep it simple. A points framework works for something like a credit card, but that won’t fly for ambassador partnerships.

Your reward system needs to match your audience. If you have a yogurt company, for example, nobody will be on board with jumping through a set of hoops for yogurt points. Don’t be cheap if you want people to be interested; the rewards need to make participation in your program worth it.

TheSkimm has excelled at developing a reward system that resonates with its partners. Within three years, the company expanded its email list to one million subscribers and its Facebook network to more than 12,000 ambassadors. The reward system has levels that come with various points and rewards for adding people to the network, essentially gamifying the expansion of its readership.

Your company's reward system needs to match your audience. Keep it simple.
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3. Establish Your Brand’s Calls to Action

There are only so many actions you can ask ambassadors to encourage their audiences to take, but that doesn’t mean your calls to action aren’t important. Once you’ve gotten a prospect to take one action, that person has bought in to a certain degree. That makes him or her much more likely to take a second action, and a third, and a fourth.

Focus on achieving that first action—but don’t make that first step simply to “like” your company on Facebook. It’s a worthless step. Instead, focus on getting prospects to join a Facebook group or invite friends into your system to receive a reward. It’s a bigger leap to ask of someone than liking a page, but a freebie can sweeten the deal.

Keep some sort of referral system going to ensure that your audience, and therefore your email list, is developing consistently. MailChimp is a perfect startup solution for this. It allows you to regularly communicate with your audience as well as mention your brand ambassador program with a specific action item for engagement.

Given the increasing emphasis on social media for business purposes, marketers need to innovate. Collaborating with brand ambassadors and influencers is no longer an outlier among marketing tactics. But just like other marketing techniques, brand ambassador campaigns must have measured ROI to be effective. Use these three techniques to ensure you’re making the most of your partnerships.

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The Biggest Google Algorithm Updates of 2017 Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Last year's Google algorithm updates reveal how the search engine giant's priorities shifted in 2017, as well as what brands must do to stay competitive in search.

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The Biggest Google Algorithm Updates of 2017

Google brought forth a number of major updates for its ranking algorithm in 2017. From targeting intrusive advertising to low-quality content, we saw quite a lot of change taking place.

Algorithm Updates, January Through July 2017

The search engine began the year by fixing intrusive interstitials, which covered content and ruined the experience for the users. Then came a tweak that dealt with links. The nature of the update led people to speculate that it was related to the Penguin update, but Google remained silent on this unconfirmed update.

In the beginning of February 2017, some users noticed an unconfirmed update that had something to do with the content quality. The search engine takes content quality seriously, which was evident from the Fred Update (named by Gary Illyes). This update came down on sites with low-quality content and focused solely on revenue generation.

May also saw a wide-ranging quality update, which industry experts noticed. This update hit the SERPs. By mid-2017, industry experts started noticing fluctuations in site rankings across the different country domains. The movement was evident in the rank tracking tools, but Google never acknowledged it.

Algorithm Updates, August Through December 2017

The search engine giant brought forth some more updates in the month of August. An unconfirmed update came down heavily on sites with subpar UX, technical SEO issues, disruptive advertising, and multiple category/tag pages that didn’t offer any unique content. It became evident by this time that Google prioritizes user experience.

Next up was a local update known as Hawk, which reversed the changes Possum had put into effect. This led to the removal of a filter, which prevented local businesses with a shared address or building from being a part of the same pack.

Later in the year, the search engine took into consideration users’ locations for search results. Google deterred users from accessing international results simply by changing the Google ccTLD and displayed results relevant to their location only. This update saw a spike in AdWords ads but a drop in the local packs of SERPs.

Google wrapped the year by increasing the length of meta descriptions from 160 to 230 characters and introducing Maccabees. This update hit sites with doorway pages that targeted multiple subcategories or locations with various keyword permutations in the content.

Actionable Tips for Appeasing the Google Search Algorithm

In the wake of these updates, here are our takeaways:

  • Make your website easy to crawl and index. One of the basics is to include a sitemap without fail.
  • Don’t compromise on the content on your website. Build up a steady database of unique content that offers rich information to your users.
  • Provide useful content to encourage the audience to link to the site or web page.
  • Invest in quality backlink building, as this will help you get an edge over the competition.
  • Give user experience a priority on your website.

These are some of the basic ways you can ensure the updates don’t adversely affect your website. While we’re never sure what new surprises (or shockers) may spring up in the future, making efforts and keeping a tab on the updates as they are introduced can lend you a helping hand.

Google's 2017 algorithm updates reveal just how seriously the search engine takes content quality.
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2017 Google Algorithm Updates Infographic

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The 13 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2018 Wed, 21 Mar 2018 08:00:00 +0000 2018 podcast statistics you need to know, from Jay Baer at Convince & Convert, analyzing new 2018 podcast data from Edison Research.

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The 13 Critical Podcast Statistics of 2018

Podcast statistics unveil a lot of truths about modern consumer behavior and the rise of audio as a content marketing avenue.

My friends at Edison Research have released their 2018 podcast statistics as part of their annual Infinite Dial study, conducted with Triton Digital. (Download The Infinite Dial 2018 report here—it’s worth your time, and it also chronicles the first-ever drop in social media usage in America.)

Edison uncovered several new trends and multiple continuations of podcast patterns that first started to appear in 2015. To see how podcast statistics have changed, visit my prior recaps:

2016 podcast statistics     2017 podcast statistics

2018 social media trendsThis year, I’ve pulled out 13 of the most interesting facts about podcasting from The Infinite Dial research. You’ll find even more in the full report.

This research was conducted of Americans, ages 12 and up, and was balanced to be a representative sample of age, gender, location, and ethnicity.

64 Percent of Americans Have Heard of Podcasts

If you’re a podcaster, this number may actually seem small to you. But, compared to 2017, millions more Americans are now familiar with podcasting. And more Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President is.

{new research} More Americans know what a podcast is than know who the Vice President is.
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44 Percent of Americans Have Ever Listened to a Podcast

That’s 124 million people overall, and up 12 million in just one year. For reference, 124 million people is approximately the combined population of New Zealand, Ireland, Costa Rica, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Nicaragua, Switzerland, Australia, Hungary, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Belgium, Chile, and Hong Kong. That’s a lot of podcast listeners!

{new research} 12 million people listened to a podcast for the first time in the last year.
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26 Percent of Americans Listen to Podcasts Monthly

That’s up from 24 percent in 2017, and represents 73 million people. For context, 21 percent of Americans are Catholic. Thus, podcasts are more popular than Catholicism, in some respects.

{new research} 26% of Americans listen to podcasts each month. 21% of Americans are Catholic.
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One-Third of Americans Ages 25 to 54 Listen to Podcasts Monthly

32 percent of Americans in this age range listen at least monthly, slightly more than Americans 12–24 (30 percent), and quite a bit more than older Americans. Among people in the United States aged 55 and over, just 13 percent listen monthly. There’s still a lot of growth potential within this older segment.

{new research} One-third of Americans 25–54 listen to podcasts at least monthly.
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Podcast Listening Among American Women Jumped 14 Percent in One Year

Between 2017 and 2018, monthly podcast listenership among male Americans stayed flat, at 27 percent. The growth in podcasts in the USA is coming from females, showing an increase from 21 percent to 24 percent in monthly listenership. This is a 14 percent bump in one year.

2018 monthly podcast listening by gender

{new research} Monthly podcast listening among American women jumped 14% in one year.
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In 2018, Six Million More Americans Listen to Podcasts Weekly versus 2017

This is 48 million people total, and up six million from 2017. By any measure, it’s a lot of listeners. By way of comparison, approximately 20 million people watch NFL Sunday Night Football, routinely the highest-rated television program.

{new research} More than twice as many Americans listen to podcasts weekly vs. watching Sunday Night Football.
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Podcast Fans Listen to 40 Percent More Shows Than Last Year

In the 2017 version of The Infinite Dial report, Edison Research found that podcast listeners consumed an average of five different podcasts each week. In 2018, podcast listeners have increased their listening by 40 percent, as weekly podcast fans now listen to an average of seven shows.

{new research} Podcast fans listen to an average of 7 shows per week (up 40% from 2017)
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Listeners Are Slightly Less Loyal on a Per-Episode Basis

Last year, 85 percent of podcast listeners said they consumed “all” or “most” of each episode they downloaded. This year, that rate diminished to 80 percent. This is perhaps not a surprise, given the increase in number of shows listened to (from five to seven). Podcast fans are downloading more episodes, but listening to slightly less of each episode.

{new research} 80% of podcast listeners hear all or most of each episode they consume.
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23 Percent of Americans Have Listened to Podcasts in the Car

This is certainly how I listen to podcasts personally, and the number of Americans who do so moved from 19 percent to 23 percent in just one year. This is powered partially by the increase in mobile listening (see below) and a corresponding boost in the number of new vehicles that have streaming audio and podcasting integration included.

{new research} 23% of Americans have listened to podcasts in the car.
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49 Percent of Podcasts Are Listened to at Home

This statistic is similar to last year and continues to baffle people (like me) who habitually listen to podcasts in a vehicle.

{new research} 49% of podcasts are listened to at home.
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18 Percent of Americans Now Own Smart Speakers

Smart speakers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home are skyrocketing in popularity and are being adopted even faster than smartphones were a few years ago. In fact, between 2017 and 2018, the percentage of Americans owning at least one of these devices soared from seven percent to 18 percent.

This means that 51 million Americans now own a smart speaker, possibly contributing to the steadiness in podcast listening at home, given that these devices can play your favorite podcasts with a simple, verbal request.

{new research} Smart speaker (Alexa, et al.) ownership in America grew 157% in one year(!)
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33 Percent of Smart Speaker Owners Have More Than One Device

After I bought my first Amazon Alexa, I couldn’t figure out why you would need more than one. I now own three and am getting ready to buy another one. Once you start to get a feel for the tremendous number of potential uses for these devices, you find reasons to buy more, especially because the “mini” units are inexpensive.

{new research} 33% of American smart speaker (Alexa, et al.) owners have more than one device in their home.
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69 Percent of Podcasts Are Consumed on a Mobile Device

The ratio of podcast listening on a phone or tablet to podcast listening on a laptop continues to tilt toward mobility. In 2018, 69 percent of Americans who listen to podcasts primarily do so via mobile. In 2015, it was just 55 percent.

{new research} 69% of Americans podcast listeners primarily listen on a mobile device.
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There are your 13 critical podcast statistics for 2018. Definitely download the entire report.

Also, a reminder that I co-host the popular weekly Social Pros podcast, which covers how medium and large businesses handle social media marketing. Convince & Convert also produces The Content Experience podcast, which covers advanced content marketing strategies. And we produce The Experience This! Show, a chronicle of great case studies in customer service and customer experience.

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What Are the Most Effective SEO Tactics for 2018? Tue, 20 Mar 2018 16:01:24 +0000 New research reveals the SEO tactics earning marketers real results. Learn how marketers are tackling budget, implementation, and more in 2018.

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What Are the Most Effective SEO Tactics for 2018

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving how specific web pages rank in a search engine’s unpaid results. But what tactics are companies using to achieve their important SEO objectives?

To find out, Ascend2 fielded the Search Engine Optimization Survey, and a total of 279 marketing professionals participated. The results of the survey are available free of charge in the Search Engine Optimization Tactics Survey Summary Report. Here are a few noteworthy findings from the survey that will help you this year.

1. Most Effective SEO Tactics

There are many tactics used to achieve important SEO objectives effectively. For a 57 percent majority of marketing professionals, on-page content development is effective. Keyword research, link building, and website structure are also effective tactics for 50 percent, 46 percent, and 43 percent of marketing influencers respectively.

Most effective SEO tactics

2. Most Difficult SEO Tactics

Link building is considered the most difficult tactic to implement by a 52 percent majority of marketing professionals. The tactical degree of difficulty is a primary factor in determining the implementation resources to use.

Most difficult SEO tactics

3. SEO Implementation Resources Used

The implementation of some SEO tactics, such as link building, may require skills and capabilities not always available in-house. That’s why 84 percent of marketing professionals say they outsource all or part of their SEO implementation tactics to specialists.

SEO implementation resources

84% of marketers outsource all or part of their SEO implementation tactics.
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4. SEO Budget for 2018

The trend is to increase the SEO budget in 2018 for a total of 91 percent of marketing professionals, with 38 percent describing the increase as “significant.” That’s a very promising outlook for this proven marketing initiative.

SEO budget

For more research to help you determine your marketing strategy this year, visit the Ascend2 Research Library for research on content marketing, email marketing, marketing technology, data-driven marketing, marketing automation, landing page optimization, account-based marketing, and more.

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The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:00:00 +0000 Organic reach is dwindling, and marketers are setting aside more and more budget for paid social media advertising. Make sure your team checks these boxes when building its next sponsored social campaign.

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The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads

As organic reach dwindles, social media ads are becoming more and more appealing to marketers. In fact, social advertising budgets doubled from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016.

I predict this trend will continue to rise in 2018 and beyond. The question is, how can you ensure your campaigns generate clicks and revenue?

After analyzing over 30,000 paid media accounts, we’ve learned the difference between a campaign that gets ignored and one that captures attention. Here, I’ll distill these lessons and apply them to social ads. You’ll learn how to optimize your ad creative, targeting, and format for the best results.

1. Hyper-Focused Audience Targeting

Using social ads to reach your entire audience is a huge waste of budget. Each audience is unique, with its own set of interests, demographic segments, and preferences. Targeting the right portion of your audience while maintaining your brand voice can be challenging, but getting this right leads to more success with your social ads.

Facebook’s Ad platform provides a great environment to reach your core audience. Here are just a few ways to do this:

  1. Use Interest Targeting to reach users based on brand affinity and the content they share on their timelines.
  2. Audience Behaviors allow you to target users with a specific intention, like travel plans, purchasing activity, etc.
  3. Understand the demographic and psychographic makeup of your audience to ensure you’re serving the right content to the right people.

Save your custom audiences to optimize settings and recycle for future campaigns. Custom audiences will also assist with your A/B testing efforts later.

Audience targeting with Facebook ads

Start with a broad audience and refine later. For example, if you’re targeting yoga moms in North America, then save an audience based on those parameters. Refine and tweak specific subcategories after testing ad creative.

2. Two-Cent Video Ads

Video ads are far more memorable than static images and plain text. Furthermore, they can drastically improve your relevancy score. By paying per impression, you can optimize your CPM to just $0.02 per view. But to achieve this low cost, your video must abide by a few principles.

First, focus on the story, not the sale. Create value for the user instead of another sales pitch in their news feed.

Appeal to your audience’s needs and seek to elicit an emotional response. Ensure you’re contributing to your strategic marketing goals by including tracked URLs in the description and end of your video.

Make it fun! Videos that rely solely on facts do not generate shares. Your customers want to laugh, feel moved, and entertained. No matter what industry you’re in, video marketing doesn’t have to be conservative. Make your videos fun to watch.

You have 10 seconds or less to capture attention. Make them count. Create punchy videos that quickly get to the point. If you’re creating a long-form video, use these ten seconds to set expectations.

Ask questions that pique the viewer’s attention, making them anticipate what’s about to happen next. Is your video educational or entertaining? Make it clear why they should watch. Adding subtitles will capture attention when devices are on mute.

Finally, allow your best videos to shine on multiple platforms. For example, if a long-form video performs well on Facebook, upload it as a YouTube video to capture attention there.

For inspiration, watch this example from UNICEF. Here, the non-profit brand has brilliantly humanized a pressing political issue using the power of storytelling:

3. Experiment with Other Social Channels

Many marketers fixate their advertising efforts on Instagram and Facebook. But did you know Twitter’s targeted ad features allow you to tap into 316 million monthly users?! And it doesn’t stop at Twitter. Reddit, Snapchat, and platforms like Outbrain all provide platforms to reach your audience.

When evaluating whether or not to advertise on a platform, take these factors into consideration:

  • Are your competitors advertising there?
  • Do you have content that supports the format of the platform?
  • Are your customers there? What are the user demographics?
  • Are you already seeing success on this platform organically?

Repurposing content from Facebook to other platforms (e.g., Pinterest or LinkedIn) will expand its reach with little effort. For example, you can take a promoted Instagram post and repurpose it into a story, just like J Crew did here:

J Crew sponsored post

4. Optimize Quality Score

The term “quality score” is a broad term worded differently for each platform. For example, on Facebook it’s known as “Relevancy Score,” while on Twitter it’s “Quality Adjusted Bid.”

Regardless, these are factors that make or break the success of your advertising campaigns. A great quality score leads to more impressions at a lower cost-per-engagement, while a low quality score will lead to less impressions for a higher cost.

This is why it’s important to promote your best content. By promoting content that has been proven to perform well, you can run tests that are more likely to succeed.

Use A/B testing to uncover which campaigns perform best. Post content organically and see what generates the most likes, shares, retweets etc.

5. Combine Remarketing with Customer Segmentation

Remarketing on social media allows you to reach website visitors who haven’t taken action on the platforms where they spend the most time. Using social remarketing campaigns, you can double your conversion rates while reducing your overall costs. These are users who have already interacted with you. Serve messaging that encourages a purchase, demo, or consultation.

Amazon remarketing

Here are three social retargeting techniques you can test immediately:

  1. Retarget your blog readers. At the top of the funnel, a user’s first visit is often their last. By retargeting them on social media, you can recapture their attention and get them back into your marketing funnel.
  2. Reach past buyers. Segment your customers by purchase frequency and last transaction. For example, create a retargeting campaign that markets to those who haven’t purchased from you in the last three months. Use special offers and limited discounts for scarcity and exclusivity.
  3. Recycle from other channels. Visitors may already engage with you through other paid campaigns. Retarget visitors to a specific landing page with an offer higher up the funnel. For example, if they visited a landing page offering a free trial, tempt them with an ebook instead.

You’re already spending thousands of dollars to generate visitors to your content and landing pages. Invest a little further to capture lost opportunities with remarketing.

6. Only Pay for What Matters

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the “Like” button is a huge waste of budget. It’s a common reason why marketers see such a low ROI from their social advertising efforts. Instead, focus on the activities that matter most to your business. If you’re promoting an ebook, then pay for leads. If you want more readers to your content, pay for clicks.

Have a proper understanding of your goals. Don’t go in blindly. Prioritize your objectives and choose the leading metric on which you’ll base your budget. Here are five common goals that social ads can help you achieve:

  1. Impressions: If you’re trying to get your message seen by as many people as possible, pay per CPM (impressions per 1000 people).
  2. Engagement: This means likes, retweets, shares, and comments. While these metrics contribute little to revenue, they can be indicators of how well your content resonates with your audience.
  3. Traffic: Aiming to get more eyeballs on your landing page or blog? Then make sure you’re operating on a CPC bidding model. This way, you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
  4. Lead and Conversions: This is ideal for gated content and lead magnets. If it’s conversions you’re after, make sure you’re paying on a CPA basis.
  5. Sales: This goal looks straight to the bottom of the funnel. This will contribute directly to ROI.

Remember, a promotional campaign will still generate impressions and visits to your social profiles. But it won’t cost you anything, as you’re bidding for the end result.

Paying Facebook every time someone hits the Like button is a huge waste of budget.
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7. Create Contextual Content

Like each social platform, not all content formats are created equally. As we discovered earlier, the Facebook algorithm favors video content, but will the same video fly on Pinterest?

It’s important, therefore, to create content that works within the context of your target platform. For example, Instagram stories tend to be off-the-cuff in nature. Consider, then, shooting a message directly to the camera, keeping video dimension sizes in mind.

Look at your organic content to see if you’re striking the right balance. Which of your posts generate the most engagement? Reverse engineer your top performing posts when setting up new campaigns for the best results.

8. Advanced A/B Testing Ideas

You won’t always hit a home run from the beginning. And you’re not going to know if you’re getting the best results without testing. Running A/B tests can quickly improve results with a degree of certainty. By experimenting with different variations of the same ad, you can discover new ways to reach your audience and persuade them to act.

To wrap up this guide, here are three A/B techniques that you can test today.

A/B Idea #1: Different Ad Formats

You know who your audience is. But do you know what kind of content they like best? Once you’ve nailed down your saved audiences, test different ad formats on them. Facebook, for example, has over 10 ad types. The format you use will depend on your objective.

If you’re promoting a product, try testing static images versus carousels. Carousels are ads that serve the user with several images, each with a call-to-action. This is popular among e-commerce brands promoting several products to customer segments at once.

A/B Idea #2: Illustrations versus Photography

While testing ad formats can yield better results, don’t forget about the imagery used in those formats.

One example is to test illustrations over photography. This is what Eventbrite did when attracting new users to run events:

Eventbrite AB testing

The principles work the same for video content. Test animations over videos that feature landscapes, people, etc. Compare the two to see which generates a higher engagement rate and ROI.

A/B Idea #3: Copy Length and Emojis

With so much focus on visual content, it can be easy to forget the text that goes with it! Emojis, for example, can attract more attention to your ads. Try placing them in the ad copy, as well as the headline. Use Emojipedia to search for relevant emojis and apply them to your ads.

Emojis in ad copy

Finally, see what effect long copy has over short copy. Facebook allows you to include 500 characters in your ads, but it’s not always necessary to write copy that long.

Short copy tends to require less effort to read. It grabs more attention and generates more engagement. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t test the two. Test long and short copy to see which generate the best results. You may find that, while long copy doesn’t generate as much engagement, it does attract more leads.

Now it’s your turn. What are you doing to ensure more people click on your ads? Which A/B tests have proven to be most effective?

The post The 8 Things You Must Do to Improve Your Sponsored Social Ads appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

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5 Simple Steps to Fine-Tune Your Digital Marketing Plan Thu, 15 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 This five-step guide includes working templates, checklists, and real-life examples to make crafting your next digital marketing plan a little easier.

The post 5 Simple Steps to Fine-Tune Your Digital Marketing Plan appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

5 Simple Steps to Fine-Tune Your Digital Marketing Plan

Creating an effective digital marketing plan can be difficult. Fortunately, this five-step guide includes working templates, checklists, and real-life examples to make your planning a little easier. It identifies brainstorming best practices, where to find customer insights that have real value, how to write your vision and mission statements, SWOT analysis, and how to find SMART goals.

This article covers the main points, but if you can go straight to the full-length version if you prefer: 5 Steps to Planning a Winning Marketing Strategy.

Your Marketing Plan

Your company will struggle if you don’t have a strong marketing plan that delivers the right products and services to the right audience, and resonates with prospective customers with meaningful messages.

An effective marketing plan:

  • Ensures your objectives are aligned with those of your company.
  • Formalizes ideas and concepts.
  • Keeps your team focused.
  • Defines objectives, tasks, and timelines.
  • Helps persuade the finance department.

You have to be brutally honest. You’ll need discipline, time, and focus. Be prepared to admit your weaknesses and recognize your strengths, competitive advantage, and target market.

Outlining Your Plan to the Boss

On completing your plan, you’ll have to present it to your boss. Define your objectives and strategy. Explain how you’re going to attract new customers, increase brand loyalty, boost sales, and increase ROI. These are some of the questions that you’ll have to answer:

  1. Is it necessary? Whether you’re starting from scratch or updating last year’s plan, you need to prove you’ve done your research, understand your target market, and are clear as to what the competition is doing.
  2. How much will it cost? You’ll need clear and concise figures.
  3. Who are we targeting? Whether you’re targeting your existing customer base or reaching out to a new segment, demonstrate how you’ll target your audience.
  4. How are you going to measure results? Identify how you plan to track metrics such as newsletter subscribers, open rates, click through, time spent on website and bounce rate, email subscribers, etc.

Step 1: Reporting on Last Year’s Plan

Don’t get lost in details—your boss is looking for the bottom line. Demonstrate how you dealt with the priorities for the year. What was the ROI? Were results good, targets met, and goals achieved? Or did your plan totally miss the mark?

If you don’t review what you did, how will you know what worked and what didn’t? Without this information, you’re working blind.

Perform SWOT analysis to find your strengths and weaknesses. What are your competitors up to? Check out your customer base. Did it shift?

Step 2: Generating New Ideas

Having analyzed last year’s results—what worked and what didn’t, SWOT analysis completed, competition stalked, customer base confirmed—you’re now ready to start coming up with ideas for your new marketing plan.

Brainstorming New Ideas

It’s time for identifying and solving problems, generating new ideas, instigating cross-functional communication, finding your competitive advantage, and innovation.

Who needs to be in the brainstorming room? Anyone involved with maintaining and implementing your marketing strategy. Include your content writers, community managers, market operations, graphic designers, demand generation, email campaign officers, UX designers, SEO and SEM specialists—anyone who’s going to be playing a part, however small.

Check out the best practices in the guide and remember, nothing kills the energy in a brainstorm quicker than calling an idea stupid—it’s a really cheap way to prove your own superiority.

Finding Customer Insights Inhouse

In your company, there are teams that talk to customers every day, including sales, support, and account managers. Talk to them. Feedback from these teams gives you customer insights that you may have missed, direct from the frontline.

Step 3: Marketing Strategy

Your aim is to maximize profit and sustainability, which means you’ll need to bring the six P’s into play: product, price, people, promotion, place, and positioning.

The foundation of your strategy is your SWOT analysis—highlight your strengths and minimize your weaknesses. List your assets:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Newsletter
  • Social media channels
  • Team (None of this is possible without your team!)

Draw up your action plan. It should include:

  • Tasks
  • Schedule
  • Responsibilities
  • Cost
  • Outcome

Step 4: Goals

You’ve completed your brainstorming, generated lots of exciting new ideas, and solved issues. Customer-facing teams have shared invaluable customer insights. You’ve established your Vision and Mission statements. Now it’s time to set your goals.

The first step to planning a marketing strategy that’s going to work is to be SMART.

  • Specific: Real numbers with real deadlines; who, what, where, why?
  • Measurable: Tracking and evaluating your achievements
  • Achievable: Challenging goals, but achievable
  • Relevant: Ensure you have the resources to make it happen
  • Timed: Schedule, deadlines

Goal Types

Whatever your goals, they have to be real. If you’re a startup, focus on engagement and listening to feedback to validate and improve your products. Later, focus on growth metrics. Remember:

  • Keep it simple.
  • Stay focused.
  • Be authentic.
  • Go crazy with data and insights.
  • Make sure your short-term goals support your long-term goals.
  • Always keep your team in the loop.

There are also pitfalls that you need to avoid:

  • Never assume you know what your customers want. Social media listening can fill in the gaps, so you know what they’re saying, asking for, and complaining about.
  • Don’t ignore your competition—it’s certainly not ignoring you.
  • Be wary of growing too quickly.
  • Never become complacent about your product.

Don’t ignore your competition—it’s certainly not ignoring you.
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Step 5: Planning Next Year’s Marketing Plan

This is where you pull everything together. Here’s your checklist:

  • Analyze last year’s marketing strategy and prove ROI.
  • Establish strategy, outlining your objectives versus results.
  • Perform quantitative versus qualitative analysis to prove what worked and what didn’t.
  • Complete SWOT—painful but essential.
  • Well and truly stalk that competition.
  • Confirm your customer base.
  • Brainstorm cracking new ideas.
  • Write and share your vision statement with the team.
  • Set your (very smart) SMART goals.

Once you’ve completed your marketing strategy, be ready to present it to your boss. Break it down month by month, and demonstrate what your team is going to do and how it’s going to be achieved. To be brutally honest, SWOT to be SMART!

Download 5 Steps to Planning a Winning Marketing Strategy for Next Year, for heaps more information.

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7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them Wed, 14 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Most email programs are sick in one way or another. Jay Baer lays out remedies for even the worst email marketing problems.

The post 7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them

There is NOTHING in digital marketing more important than email, right?

Even with social media, bots, apps, and all the rest, email is still how we communicate to most of our customers and prospects.

But the problem is, most email programs have a nagging cough and a persistent fever. Most email programs are sick in one or more ways.

“Open rate is down.” “Click rate is down.” “Conversion rate is all over the place.”

These are all symptoms of a sick email. But, there are REMEDIES for every malady. But instead of logically looking at what is wrong and what to do about it, so many marketers make important decisions about emails based on stories, not math.

My friend Tom Webster from Edison Research has a fantastic saying: “The plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data.’” But so many email programs today are governed by what we believe to be true based on stories we’ve been told or stories we choose to tell ourselves. Even now, in 2018, with a cavalcade of available data the size of Jay-Z’s ego, we still aren’t often managing email in a fully data-driven way.

I set out to fix that with my friends at Emma (a fantastic email services provider, based in Nashville). Recently, we partnered on a webinar called 7 Email Marketing Problems and 9 Medicines to Fix Them.

7 Email Marketing Problems

I believe if you have even a tangential responsibility for email in your organization, you’ll find this webinar quite useful. Feedback from live attendees was exceptionally positive. You can get the entire replay here, plus a written ebook that goes into A LOT more detail here.

For your convenience, however, I’ve summarized many of the key points here, and I hope it whets your appetite for watching the replay or reading the ebook.

Key Email Marketing Metrics

There are a lot of data points to which you could pay attention in your email program. These are the ones that matter most:

Key Email Marketing Metrics

  • Delivery Rate – Successful deliveries as a percentage of list size.
  • Open Rate – Number of subscribers who open as a percentage of emails delivered.
  • Click Rate – Number of clicks within an email as a percentage of opens.
  • Unsubscribe Rate – Number of recipients who unsubscribe as a percentage of emails delivered.
  • SPAM Complaints – Total number of recipients who mark the email as “SPAM” or junk for each email send.
  • Active Ratio – Number of email recipients who consistently open and interact with emails as a percentage of list size.
  • Post-Click Activity – The volume of leads generated, products sold, or other brand-specific objectives completed as a result of email marketing to a targeted audience.  Note: Metrics for post-click activity are usually available within a website analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) or e-commerce analytics (e.g. Shopify) platform.

7 Email Marketing Problems

How do you know when your email program is having issues? When some or all of the key metrics above start to decrease, or increase, depending on the metric.

But do not make big decisions based on one or two data points. A big mistake made by many email marketers is mistaking weather for climate. Give yourself enough time—and enough email sends—for a true pattern to emerge before you make significant changes.

A big mistake from many an email marketer: mistaking weather for climate.
Click To Tweet

These are the most common email marketing problems:

  1. Low Delivery Rate
  2. Low Open Rate
  3. Low Click Rate
  4. High Unsubscribe Rate
  5. High SPAM Complaints (usually seen in concert with #4)
  6. Low Active Ratio
  7. Limited Post-Click Activity

9 Email Marketing Medicines

Here’s what you should try if you are experiencing one or more of the email marketing problems (again, more detail in the full webinar and the companion ebook):

  1. For low delivery rates, you’ll want to consider using a tool for list validation and take a look at your subscription process.
  2. For low open rates, testing means everything: Test your subject lines to see if you can find something that better resonates with your audience.
  3. Also for low open rates (and this one doesn’t get tested enough), try different “from” names. or or whatever can have a big impact!
  4. For low click rates, think about your content alignment using what I like to call “The Mom Test.” If you’re about to send something, and your mom wouldn’t love it, don’t send it!
  5. Also for low click rates, look at your call to action in the email itself. Is it clear? Are there too many options? Does it work on mobile?
  6. For high unsubscribes and high SPAM rates, look at your subscription process. How are people getting on your list? Do they know what they will receive from you, how often, and when?
  7. Also, if your unsubscribe and SPAM rates are high, consider segmenting your list. Relevancy is the key to email success, so think about sending more specific emails to smaller list segments.
  8. If you have a low active ratio, consider sending a re-engagement campaign to get people loving your email again, and weed out those that don’t care any longer. (Find nine great examples here.)
  9. If your post-click activity is sparse, it’s either because the content between email and landing page/website isn’t aligned, or your overall call to action is unclear or misleading.

Know how to find problems

Email isn’t going to be perfect. Nobody’s THAT good. But if you identify your email problems, know the medicines to fix them, and are ready to test those fixes, all you have to do is get started.

Commit to the principle of ABT: Always. Be. Testing. It will make you a better email marketing, and a better marketer in general.

Watch the entire webinar here, or download the much more comprehensive ebook about email metrics and success here.

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What This New Guest Posting Research Reveals About Your Content Strategy Tue, 13 Mar 2018 13:00:00 +0000 Done right, guest posting benefits everyone involved: you, editors, and readers. Update your strategy with these guest posting trends, and you'll win over editors and audiences alike.

The post What This New Guest Posting Research Reveals About Your Content Strategy appeared first on Convince and Convert: Social Media Consulting and Content Marketing Consulting.

What This New Guest Posting Research Reveals About Your Content Strategy

If you have yet to incorporate guest posting into your content strategy, now is the time. By contributing high-quality content to online publications your audience reads and trusts, you can reach new readers right where they are. If they like what they see, you’ll drive qualified site traffic and contribute to a funnel of opportunity for your business, all while building customer confidence and establishing thought leadership at the same time.

While that may sound too good to be true, guest posting really can help you accomplish these business goals and more. The catch is that it’s not a “set it and forget it” undertaking. As with all marketing strategies, guest posting requires you to consistently evaluate and adjust based on results, which means data is your best friend as you develop and refine your methods.

To produce valuable insights for digital marketing leaders, my team at Influence & Co. went right to the source. We surveyed editors at top online publications and analyzed more than 3.5 million pieces of content published in 2017 to compile our second annual “State of Digital Media” report.

Understanding how to create and deliver the best content for your audiences is key—but in the world of guest posting, editors are the gatekeepers. So, the first step is to understand what editors are looking for.

In the world of guest posting, editors are the gatekeepers.
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1. Editors Are Demanding Multimedia Content

Different forms of content, such as videos and infographics, are rising in popularity, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to forward-thinking content marketers. Audiences love video—and that means editors do, too. In fact, 67 percent of editors plan to publish video content this year, which is up from last year, when only 45 percent of editors expressed interest in publishing video.

And it’s not just videos that are on the rise. Infographics are another a great way to engage audiences. 52 percent of editors report planning to publish infographics this year—an 8 percent increase over last year—while 40 percent of editors surveyed say they plan to publish podcasts.

Clearly, editors are looking to diversify the ways in which they engage audiences. That said, written content remains one of the most effective ways to reach, educate, and engage an audience, and it’s one of the easiest methods to scale. Editors still want articles, and if you’re looking to consistently meet that need, written content is incredibly valuable.

2. Page Views Have Overtaken Social Shares As the Biggest Success Indicators

Last year, 66 percent of editors reported that they use social shares to determine the success of a piece of content. While that number has increased to 69 percent this year, it has also been overshadowed by other metrics.

Page views have emerged as the leading indicator of content performance, according to a whopping 93 percent of editors, up from 62 percent last year. In second place is time on site, which is used by three-quarters of editors this year as a barometer of success, compared to only 39 percent last year.

The fact that these metrics have changed so much since last year indicates that this industry is rapidly evolving, and these newly favored metrics represent an improvement in measurement.

The significant differences year over year demonstrate editors’ evolving preferences. Social share numbers on their own have never been a particularly accurate gauge of content’s effectiveness. It’s encouraging to see content spread and reach people, sure, but it’s also important to editors that audiences engage with content through the publication that produced it.

It’s important to note the overlap in these responses. Almost all editors will rely on a combination of factors to determine successful content. These benchmarks will vary, so make sure to do your research and talk with the editors you’re working with to understand what success looks like to them.

3. Promotional Content Is a Bigger Problem Than It Was Last Year

Last year, 71 percent of editors reported that promotional content was the biggest problem they found in guest post submissions. This year, that number has increased to 79 percent, which suggests that many brands and content marketers are executing their guest posting strategy in entirely the wrong way.

Overly self-promotional content has no business crossing publication editors’ desks. They’re looking to share value with their audiences: unique ideas, fresh perspectives, actual expertise. Instead of using your content to sing your own praises, you need to contribute content that meets your audience’s needs. The most effective content marketing isn’t for you; it’s for your audience.

Contributing original content has the potential to change the way you connect with audiences—but only when you deliver the kinds of content editors are looking for. The good news is that the content editors want to publish is also the content that resonates most with readers.

Done right, guest posting is a strategy that benefits everyone involved: Editors get the content they need, you get the chance to reach new audiences, and audiences get the high-quality content they’re looking for. These trends have the potential to change your approach; use them to your advantage to win over editors and engage your audiences.

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