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6 Strategies for Click-Worthy Instagram Carousel Ads

Now that we’ve entered a new decade, it is hard to imagine a time pre-Instagram. And with over 1 billion users, it is pretty clear that Instagram plans to stay.

I would spend time introducing this post with more stats about Instagram usage for business—but I believe all of you are likely already aware that your business needs to be on Instagram (in fact, I’m guessing the majority of you are already advertising on the ’gram). If you haven’t started advertising on Instagram yet, check out The Complete Guide to Advertising on Instagram for more tips to get started. Today, I’m going to focus on one of my favorite ad types, Instagram carousel ads!

instagram advertising example of carousel ad

In this guide, I’m going to cover what Instagram carousel ads are, the guidelines for Instagram carousel ads, and six strategies to create Instagram carousel ads get your viewers clicking:

  1. Target each unique audience strategically
  2. Prioritize copy just as much as imagery
  3. Don’t feel the need to use all 10 image slots
  4. Intrigue viewers with deals!
  5. Choose your CTA carefully
  6. Don’t be afraid to incorporate video content

Let’s get started.

What are Instagram carousel ads?

Instagram carousel ads are slide shows in ad format, which allows instagrammers to slide through multiple images or videos in one single post. Instagram carousel ads also allow the advertisers to add in clickable calls to action, change the text below for each image, and link to various web pages. They are perfect for any industry that has beautiful imagery and is looking to show different angles or multiple related products in one advertisement.

Why are Instagram carousel ads so wonderful?

“With more creative space within an ad, you can highlight different products, showcase specific details about one produce, service or promotion, or tell a story about your brand that develops across each carousel card,” says Instagram’s parent company, Facebook.

Instagram carousel ad guidelines

Now that you understand what these ads are, it is critical to be aware of the guidelines around crafting your ad to ensure it won’t get rejected by the platform.

Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding the design and technical requirements before crafting your ad.

  • Maximum number of photos/videos: 10
  • Minimum number of photos/videos: 2
  • Image file formats: jpg and png
  • Maximum video size/length: 4GB for up to 60 seconds
  • Text in images: 20% or less of image
  • Text below image: ≤2,200 in up to 2 rows of text
  • Maximum hashtags in text: 30
  • Supported objectives: Reach, Conversions, Traffic, Lead Generation, Brand Awareness, Catalog Sales, Store Traffic, App Installs, Messages
  • Supported CTA buttons: Shop Now, Book Now, Learn More, Get Showtimes, Sign Up, Download, Watch More, Contract Us, Apply Now, Donate Now, Get Quote, Request Time, See Menu, Send Message, Listen Now, Get Offer, Subscribe, Book Test Drive, Check Availability
  • Ad Placement Options: Instagram Stories, Instagram Feed

6 ways to win at Instagram carousel ads

Those design and technical requirements will make sure your ads are approved by the platform—but, as an advertiser, you know that doesn’t mean your done with ad strategy. Now, let’s dive into the fun stuff to make sure your Instagram carousel ads are successful! Here are six strategies to make some crush-worthy Instagram carousel ads.

1. Target each unique audience strategically

Everyone who has advertised on Facebook and Instagram knows how ridiculously amazing their targeting is. Whether you are targeting a soccer mom who lives on the Maine coast and enjoys reading fiction novels and eating seafood or a teenager in Texas with a passion for online furniture shopping, you can get in front of your audience. You can get as detailed as your heart desires, but please just do not get lazy.

Use Instagram’s robust targeting options to segment your audiences and target them with carousel ads that fit their unique needs, wants, and stage in your buying cycle. Breaking up each unique audience for your various campaigns will ensure you are spending your budget as wisely as possible. Considering how many people are on Instagram this tip is especially important for Instagram carousel ads—since these babies take time and money to put together, making sure you are showing them to the right people at the right time is key.

2. Prioritize copy just as much as imagery

Instagram is all about the imagery, right? Well, yes, but when crafting an Instagram carousel ad, it is critical to put just as much thought into your copy. You’re spending money to accomplish a set goal, so you need to use all the persuasive tools in your toolbox.

Without context to go along with your imagery, it can be quite hard to communicate properly to visitors, so spend time on engaging, persuasive ad copy that resides below your images. Your Instagram captions should be direct, actionable, and persuasive.

Take the great example below from Budget Bytes. Image if you saw just the images of food and CTA saying, “Learn More.” You’d be left dumbfounded thinking, learn more about what?

Instagram carousel ad with bowl of food

Luckily, this company provided context to the images of food in the carousel ad. What I love about the copy included below is that it uses different fonts to put emphasis on different areas. This also uses checkbox emojis to clearly outline what the offer is. And there are little barriers to enter since the meal plan offered is free and provided within the CTA of the ad, as well as by the link at the end of the text.

Instagram carousel ad caption

3. Don’t feel the need to use all 10 image slots

Sometimes less is more, my friends. Think about how much content is already on Instagram. Do you really think that every person who swipes through your ad is going to have the attention span to view all 10 images? Perhaps they will if you tell a compelling enough story, but if you’re able to get you point across in just a couple quality images then why not go for it?

Take this great example below from LL Bean. Rather than showing off their entire new line for 2020, LL Bean makes the point loud and clear with an initial picture, including a small amount of relevant text.

LL Bean Instagram carousel ad

And then the second image shows exactly where their store front location is to compel me to stop by.

LL Bean Instagram carousel ad with map image

Sometimes a simple and direct carousel ad is the most effective

4. Intrigue viewers with deals!

Let’s face it: Instagrammers are going to need an incentive to leave Instagram! The social network is like a blackhole. Who hasn’t caught themselves going to bed an hour later because Instagram that has sucked you in? The platform can be very addictive! Therefore, to break the addiction and get your grammers to leave Instagram there needs to be some incentive…

What better way to incentivize Instagrammers to leave than a limited-time deal! Whether it’s free shipping, a percentage discount, or a BOGO offer, carousel ads are great for these types of promotions. With this Instagram ad format, you can promote multiple deals in one ad. Take the example below from the clothing brand, joie. The company uses the carousal ad format to show off the fabulous discounted clothing items offered as part of joie’s winter sale.

Joie Instagram carousel ad example

5. Choose your CTA carefully

With so many CTAs to choose from for the carousel ad format, it can feel a bit tempting to just pick the first one that makes some type of sense. Yet, this is not the best way to win folks over. Spend time really thinking about your offer and ensuring the CTA makes sense. There is nothing worse than clicking on a CTA and then feeling misled when the offer is different than expected (for instance, if you wanted to purchase something but were then led to an ebook landing page or vice versa).

The Food Network’s offer below is a great example of one well done. The ad uses the “Download” CTA since the carousel images are showing various drool-worthy recipes from their downloadable app. The CTA perfectly aligns with the offer to download the app and sign up, and the text below the CTA further enforces it

Food Network Instagram carousel ad example

6. Don’t be afraid to incorporate video content

We all know how effective video ads are, but making a video Instagram carousel ad sounds like a LOT of hard and time-consuming work, doesn’t it? It actually doesn’t have to be!

Nowadays, our iPhones can take pretty quality videos so do not feel like you need to hire a fancy video production team to incorporate some fun and interesting videos into your carousel ads. Fitness mogul, Kayla Itsines, does a great job at making easy, quick, and low-production workout videos that she turns into Instagram carousel ads.

Example video Instagram carousel ad

See, it’s possible to create high-quality ads without being overly nit-picky on video production perfection.

Get rolling with Instagram carousel ads

Now, you’ve got everything you need to get started making Instagram carousel ads and making sure they’re super effective for your Instagram marketing strategy! Get rolling!

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

21 Ways to Write More Compelling Marketing Copy

If you’ve ever googled something and immediately scrolled through anything with an “ad” tag without stopping, it probably means the copywriters need to up their game. Alternatively—and I do this constantly—if you’re walking down the street and see some posters and do a double-take? Bravo, copywriter.

Tubi advertisement

The most recent stop-and-stare that made me do a double-take. Snaps for tubi. 

Copywriting is hard—take it from someone who is desperately trying to get better at it! It can make or break an advertising campaign. That’s why I compiled these 21 tips to help you write more compelling and successful marketing copy.

Let’s get started!

1. Define your target audience

First things first, decide who you’re selling to. Get specific. If the prospects for your offering run the gamut, choose a subsection to target an audience more specifically. College students will react differently to marketing copy than family-focused suburban residents, for instance.

2. Choose an objective

What do you want this marketing copy to compel someone to do? Do you want them to go to a website to make a purchase? Do you want them to sign up for more information? Or go into a physical location? Decide what you want out of your advertisement or marketing copy before you even start writing.

marketing copy example from Mailchimp

This Mailchimp copy encourages the visitor to choose their plan and sign up now.

3. Create urgency

When you’re writing compelling copy, an easy tactic is to increase urgency. Anything from “don’t miss out!” to “order now to have flowers delivered by Mother’s Day.” You’ll hear a lot of these on the radio, and let’s not forget that those commercials and other video scripts need compelling marketing copy, too.

4. Back it up with data

When it comes to copy, stats are incredibly compelling. People love to know if 57% of their peers hate this kind of avocados—they must know, WHAT KIND?! It’s very clickbaity, but sometimes you gotta do what gets the clicks.

marketing copy from Billie homepage

This is actually from Billie’s homepage, which touts razors made specifically for the way women shave. It’s a fact: We’ve got more surface area, and all razors are not created equally. 

5. Leverage customer reviews

This has been suggested before as a great technique for persuasive ad copy—which sounds a lot like compelling copy, right?! This is one of my favorite moves when it comes to copywriting tips, because it takes so little effort. You can use existing reviews from your customer base to compel more people to convert. 

marketing copy example from SEMrush

6. Keep it simple

Make it scannable; this is important. We are constantly getting hit with tons of information at all times—and as someone who loves to read (I watch TV with the subtitles on), even I miss 50% of the words around me. A big paragraph isn’t welcoming to the eye. Break out your copy into bite-sized pieces to make it more digestible for your audience. 

7. Use active voice

Using active is something I’m trying to be more conscious of. Let’s try that again.

I try to use active voice.

Way more concise and powerful, right? It’s punchy and less is way more.

8. Pick your adjectives wisely

“‘Tis the season! Get all your back-to-school supplies here.”

“Inhale the smell of freshly sharpened pencils and brand-new composition books. We have all the goodness of back-to-school here.”

 You tell me, which one makes you want to head to your closest office supply store?

9. Focus on your customers

While you can brag about your business, a different tactic is to focus on your customer when you’re writing compelling copy. Talk about what problems you’ll solve for them, how you’ll take away stressors, or make life easier.

customer-focused marketing copy from Postmates

This Postmates OOH campaign (OOH meaning out of home) focused on all the reasons why people love to order food online, instead of talking to a human. They get it. 

10. Grab attention

There are a lot of different ways to grab attention through design, but you can also stop people in their tracks with some eye-catching marketing copywriting (see tubi reference). Lean into the shock-and-awe factor with this tactic.

marketing copy Corvette example

Sorry, Volvo, but this copy does it for me—shock and awe and admiration.  

11. Build interest

Copy should always be interesting, plain and simple. Don’t put useless words on the paper, people! And there are many different ways to make it interesting. That said, write a lot of copy and cross out all the words you find uninteresting or detracting from your story. Create intrigue. 

marketing copy Zappos example

Timothy Goodman had a collection with Zappos, specifically hightops. Instead of splashing images of shoes all over their ads, the copy told a better story. It makes my inner angsty teen want to go straight to the store to check them out. 

12. Don’t pander

People know when they’re being sold. No one likes the sickly sweet sales person who compliments every pair of shoes you try even though you KNOW they make you look like you have clown feet.

13. Empathize with agitation

Online marketing is hard.

WordStream makes it easy.

WordStream logo with tagline

Simple, to the point, we’re here to help you with online advertising because we know it’s complicated and confusing—especially for non-marketers. If you can distill the way you’re solving problems and making life easier for your customers, that’s a copywriting win. 

14. Provide a solution

It’s one thing to be empathetic, but don’t stop short of showing how your business can solve a problem. You don’t need to be too wordy to get there because hard problems sometimes require simple solutions. You have your customers’ backs.  

marketing copy example from The Hustle

The Hustle’s email exists to make your life easier, like most daily morning newsletters. I love the use of the dictionary definition here.

15. Use analogies

I often use analogies to explain complicated ideas simply—it’s my go-to tactic. If your offering is something that the average person wouldn’t know much about, relate it to something they would know about. Alternatively, you can use analogies to increase empathy. There’s a reason people still say, “easy as pie.”

marketing copy example from Heinz

PSA: There is nothing easy about baking a pie.

16. Be funny

People are far more likely to remember what a joke you made than a brand slogan. And who doesn’t love to make their audience laugh? Jokes are so important! 

marketing copy example w/joke

This ad is a personal favorite, especially because I drove around in a minivan throughout college; it did carry the most people to and from the bars (you’re welcome, Villanova students). 

17. Choose a CTA

Earlier, I said that you need to set a goal before writing your marketing copy. Sometimes, it’s helpful to go one step further and choose a CTA to set the tone for your copy, too.

Take this example from Spotify.

CTA example

This is copy on Spotify’s website. It’s direct and urgent: Your fans are waiting for you. We’ll help you. Let’s do this. This whole section has one cohesive message, driven by the CTA.

18. Be wary of profanity

This is simple: Refrain from using obscene language in your copy unless you’re certain it will resonate with your audience. Partly because you’ll have difficulty getting through any digital filters, print makes it something you can’t take back, and it’s likely that you’ll offend more people than you end up enticing for your product. 

This PSA went out from KFC after they catastrophically ran out of chicken in their fried chicken establishments. A kind sentiment that worked out—this time. But I’d pass on the “FCK.”

19. Be clear

One of my own pet peeves is when I see a well-designed ad with compelling marketing copy … but I just cannot figure out what they’re actually trying to sell me. Worse, they’ll use words like “Get X for as low as $5.99!” (you’ll pay more), “Receive up to 10 free sessions!” (you’ll get less), or just not caption anything at all.

marketing copy example with Wayfair

I had to include the Twitter commentary in this example. It’s too good. 

20. Don’t be bland

It is so important to let the personality of your brand shine through in copywriting. An easy way to do that is to think about the most common thing leadership (or management or any employees) say the most to describe your business. A word of warning to the CEOs out there: Let your copywriters have a longer leash to show off the business’s flair. No one wants to be bored by your brand. 

21. Trust your gut 

You know and love your brand. When it comes to marketing, you already have words and phrases living in your brain that are good representations of that brand. Trust that. You’ll know when you write something that doesn’t sound—well, good. You’ll also know something is on point when you write it—something will just click.

Remember, test all of your marketing copy

Remember to test, test, test. Copy testing becomes harder with print advertising, but anything digital (Google Ads, Facebook, Twitter, you name it) should be A/B tested. You’ll see what resonates the most with your audience and be able to move forward with that marketing copy.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

5 Key Factors that Impact the Pacing of Your Ad Spend

Whether you set the marketing budget for your own business or your clients tell you what they’re working with, the beginning of the year with a renewed budget—which means new goals, some attainable and some that may be a stretch.

Online Advertising Landscape 2019 Objectives

Last year, advertisers ranked increasing ROI/ROAS as the primary goal in our online advertising landscape survey.

In order to hit the ground running and deliver, you’ll want to make sure you spend your money effectively throughout the month. When it comes to pacing budget for paid media there are quite a few factors to take into consideration. In this post, I will walk through the five main factors that impact the pacing of your paid media spend:

  1. Stage of the month
  2. Advertising platform
  3. Campaign performance
  4. Campaign age
  5. Holiday and ad schedules

Plus, I’ll explain how each may impact your spend strategy so that you can reach those goals, even the stretch ones.

1. Stage of the month

One of the first things to take into consideration is what part of the month you are starting to run paid ads. If you’re starting fresh, there are often-times numerous delays with receiving or creating assets, landing pages, etc. It’s important to understand what your overall budget is for the month and how much time you have remaining to hit that figure.

example Jeep ad for 2020

The best way to do this is to take your overall spend target, for example, $10,000 and divide it by the remaining number of days remaining in the month. So if you launch your ads on January 15, you will have to pace your campaigns to roughly $625 per day. Of course, it’s more complex than that when you take into consideration the business type that you are running ads for (B2B vs. B2C) and what platform you are running ads on. (Don’t worry, I’ll discuss how these other factors come into play later on in the post.)

What gets tricky with this is how the pressure of time and spend affects your goals. Depending upon the platform and infrastructure you have within the account, you may be able to comfortably spend a higher amount for a shorter period of time. In some cases this will result in inefficiencies, particularly if they are new campaigns and the algorithms need time to learn. If the assets you need in order to launch your ads are delayed and much of the month is lost, then it may be a better change your budget strategy from a monthly to a quarterly perspective. From this point of view, you can spend less and ensure everything is running smoothly while you get campaigns launched and introduce new ones. Subsequently, you can operate at a higher budget for the remainder of the quarter and scale where necessary. However, this gets complicated with monthly goal targets, particularly if a sales team  is reliant on paid performance.

The key takeaway: Get any assets you’ll need ready prior to the start of the month.

2. Advertising platform

As mentioned, an important factor that comes into play with budget pacing is understanding which platform or combinations of platforms you will be advertising on. Although platforms are similar in many respects, each has its own nuances. This is particularly true in regards to the management of daily budgets. Let’s take a look at three main platforms: Facebook, Google Ads, and LinkedIn advertising.

Facebook: Depending on the size of the audiences you are marketing to on Facebook, you will find that the daily budgets you establish usually come in where you intend them to. That’s because Facebook charges you based on impressions in relation to bid and performance rather than a CPC model in conjunction with performance (like search). Facebook should be fairly predictable from a daily spend standpoint If you’re using automated bidding and your audience isn’t too small.

You have the ability to control budget at the ad set (audience) level or at the campaign level. I’ve found both options to be effective in different scenarios and the decision ultimately comes down to how much control you want for how much budget is allocated to a particular audience.

Facebook campaign optimization

You also have the option within Facebook to dictate how an ad set or campaign spends throughout a period of time. This is known as a “lifetime” budget and has to be established when the ad set is being created:

Facebook campaign scheduling options

You won’t be restricted to search volume or other factors that make budget pacing on paid search a bit trickier. The decision to use a daily budget or a lifetime budget is entirely up to you. I will make several changes to an account within a given month, so I use daily budgets to allow for more flexibility. Another factor in daily spend is standard vs. accelerated delivery. Standard delivery spreads your spend throughout the day while accelerated spends it as fast as possible. I don’t suggest using accelerated delivery outside of very unique time-sensitive circumstances. Standard delivery is the default setting.

Facebook delivery option

Google Ads: Google’s marketing products have expanded quite a bit over the last decade to incorporate new platforms and ad types. With that being said, the general structure for how your ads are served is the same across all: ad relevance (quality) and bid. Your budget is controlled at the campaign level and distributes this spend across your ad groups.

Google Ads are run on a cost per click model and delivery is associated with bid, ad quality, and the “expected impact from your ad extensions and other ad formats.” For paid search, these components as well as fluctuation in search traffic volume play a part in your spend pacing. There is the possibility to underspend and overspend within a given time period. Underspending is typically a result of either poor ad quality, low search volume, or both. Overspending occurs due to overdelivery. Here’s how Google explains overdelivery:

Google Ads overdelivery definition

Image source

The main takeaway here is to remain cognisant how each campaign is pacing each day in relation to the daily budget you have established. You may need to alter these campaigns throughout the month or quarter to reach your desired spend goal. These changes include:

  • Creating new ads
  • Implementing new keywords or target audiences
  • Incorporating new campaigns or ad groups
  • Bid adjustments (raising / lowering)
  • Changes in bid strategy

LinkedIn: Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn puts you in charge of the relation between your audience reception to the ad and your place in the auction. What contributes to the possibility of your ads underspending is the audience size, your bid, or very low quality. It’s important to note the differences in LinkedIn ad formats as some include both desktop and mobile placements without the ability to add or remove one individually. This will affect the way your ads are served and subsequently whether they are able to reach their daily LinkedIn budgets.

LinkedIn ad formats

3. Campaign performance

It may seem like a no-brainer but one of the primary considerations for how you pace your budget on a daily basis relies on how your campaigns are performing. When assessing where to allocate your spend, you should observe three components:

  1. Ability to scale: If the audience is driving a decent volume of results for a lower cost than others, allocate a greater portion of the daily spend there. Audience size as well as search volume play a factor in this, so pay attention to those components.
  2. Spend and performance over time: If your campaigns are not new and have been running for a period of time then you can analyze the impact different spend levels had on them. This will indicate whether an increase in spend will be detrimental to performance.
  3. Funnel implications: What is the value of the promotion you are running? If it leads to a direct sale or ROAS then you’ll know how much more you can allocate towards a campaign to stay within your acquisition goals. If the return on investment is more complicated to calculate or the promotion is closer to the top of the funnel and will take time to turn to sales. Use the best data you have to set a target cost per conversion and optimize from there.
campaign performance graph

4. Campaign age

This is a quick one, but it’s important to remember.

In most cases (particularly in the start of a new quarter or year), businesses will want to launch new campaigns or make adjustments to pre-existing ones. This can leave many account managers with uncertainty on how they should pace spend with new and unproven ads.

McDonald's ad with chicken mcnugget

An example ad from a McDonald’s campaign.

In the grand scheme of things you need to assess the budget you have, the time-frame you have to spend that budget and the desired goals associated with the new campaign (lead gen vs branding, for instance).

5. Holiday and ad schedules

When building out your budget plan for any platform, it is wise to take note of any holidays within the month. Q4 is obviously jam-packed with holidays where B2B audiences won’t be particularly active. If you are a B2B company or have B2B clients, you may want to consider your pacing strategy at the start of the month to ensure you can come in at your target efficiently. In November and December, for example, it would be wise to frontload the budget at the beginning of both months. This would pace you ahead of your target as opposed to if budget was spread across the entire month evenly.

ad schedule graph example

Holidays aside, you may have chosen to daypart your campaigns or run them on a specified schedule throughout the week. This can be troublesome in paid search if your ad scheduling is based on a hunch and not actual data. If you are having worries about your campaigns or ad groups being able to hit their maximum daily budget, then it may be a good idea to take a deeper look into when users are searching and clicking through to your ads. If you don’t have this information readily available to you at the launch of a new campaign, simply give it a couple weeks to collect data. From there you should be able to get some sense as to when conversions are regularly taking place without hurting budget pacing.

Check on budget pacing

Planning to pace your paid media spend is essential, but that doesn’t mean you should set your ads up and check back next month. Keep an eye on performance, whether that’s manually checking or running regular reports.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

How to Scale Your Content Marketing: Tips from Our Journey to 100,000 Words a Month

Posted by JotFormmarketing

In the fall of 2018 our CEO had a simple yet head-exploding request of the JotForm marketing and growth teams: Produce 100,000 words of high-quality written content in a single month.

All types of content would count toward the goal, including posts on our own blog, help guides, template descriptions, and guest posts and sponsored articles on other sites.

In case you don’t think that sounds like a lot, 100,000 words is the length of a 400-page book. Produced in a single month. By a group of JotFormers who then numbered fewer than eight.

Why would on Earth would he want us to do all that?

My colleague and I trying to calculate how many blog posts it would take to reach 100,000 words.

It’s important to understand intent here. Our CEO, Aytekin, isn’t a crazy man. He didn’t send us on a mission just to keep us busy.

You see, for many months we’d dabbled with content, and it was working. Aytekin’s contributed posts in Entrepreneur magazine and on Medium were big hits. Our redesigned blog was picking up a lot of traction with the content we already had, and we were starting to understand SEO a lot better.

Still. Why would any software company need to produce that much content?

The answer is simple: infrastructure. If we could build a content engine that produces a high volume of quality content, then we could learn what works well and double down on creating great content. But in order to sustain success in content, we needed to have the pieces in place.

He allocated a sufficient budget and gave us the freedom to hire the staff we needed to make it happen. We were going to need it.

A full year later, I’m very proud to say we’ve officially crossed over the 100,000-word count in a single month [hold for applause].

However, it didn’t come without some painful learnings and mistakes.

Here’s what I figured out about scaling content through this process.

Develop a system early

Our old editorial calendar was a Google sheet. I started it back when JotForm was publishing one or two blogs per week and needed a way to keep it organized. It worked.

Back then, the only people who needed to view the editorial calendar were three people on the marketing staff and a couple of designers.

However, no spreadsheet on earth will be functional when you’re loading up 100,000 words. It’s too complicated. We discovered this right away.

After much discussion, we migrated our editorial workflow into Asana, which seemed like the closest thing to what we needed. It has a nice calendar view, the tagging functionality helped keep things orderly, and the board view gives a great overview of everyone’s projects.

This is where our marketing team lives.

Counterintuitively, we also use Trello, since it’s what our growth team had already been using to manage projects. Once the marketing team finishes writing a post, we send a request to our growth team designers to create banners for them using a form that integrates with their Trello board.

The system is intricate, but it works. We’d be lost if we hadn’t spent time creating it.

Style guides are your friends

Speaking of things to develop before you can really grow your content machine. Style guides are paramount to maintaining consistency, which becomes trickier and trickier the more writers you enlist to help you reach your content goals.

We consider our style guide to be a sort of living, ever-changing document. We add to it all the time.

It’s also the first thing that any legitimate writer will want to see when they’re about to contribute something to your site, whether they’re submitting a guest post, doing paid freelance work, or they’re your own in-house content writer.

Things to include in a basic style guide: an overview of writing style and tone, grammar and mechanics, punctuation particulars, product wording clarifications, and formatting.

Cheap writing will cost you, dearly

If you want cheap writing, you can find it. It’s everywhere — Upwork, Express Writers, WriterAccess. You name it, we tried it. And for less than $60 a blog post, what self-respecting marketing manager wouldn’t at least try it?

I’m here to tell you it’s a mistake.

I was thrilled when the drafts started rolling in. But our editor had other thoughts. It was taking too much time to make them good — nay, readable.

That was an oversight on my end, and it created a big bottleneck. We created such a backlog of cheap content (because it was cheap and I could purchase LOTS of it at a time) that it halted our progress on publishing content in a timely manner.

Instead, treat your freelance and content agencies as partners, and take the time to find good ones. Talk to them on the phone, exhaustively review their writing portfolio, and see if they really understand what you’re trying to accomplish. It’ll cost more money in the short term, but the returns are significant.

But good writing won’t mask subject ignorance

One thing to check with any content agency or freelancer you work with is their research process. The good ones will lean on subject matter experts (SMEs) to actually become authorities on the subjects they write about. It’s a tedious step, for both you and the writer, but it’s an important one.

The not-so-good ones? They’ll wing it and try to find what they can online. Sometimes they can get away with it, and sometimes someone will read your article and have this to say:

Screenshot of feedback for article saying it feels like it was written by a content creator, not a photographer.

That was harsh.

But they had a point. While the article in question was well-written, it wasn’t written by someone who knew much about the subject at hand, which in this case was photography. Lesson learned. Make sure whoever you hire to write will take the time to know what they’re talking about.

Build outreach into your process

Let’s be real here. For 99.9 percent of you, content marketing is SEO marketing. That’s mostly the case with us as well. We do publish thought leadership and product-education posts with little SEO value, but a lot of what we write is published with the hope that it pleases The Google. Praise be.

But just publishing your content is never enough. You need links, lots of them.

Before I go any further, understand that there’s a right and a wrong way to get links back to your content.

Three guidelines for getting links to your content:

1. Create good content.

2. Find a list of reputable, high-ranking sites that are authorities on the subject you wrote about.

3. Ask them about linking or guest posting on their site in a respectful way that also conveys value to their organization.

That’s it. Don’t waste your time on crappy sites or link scams. Don’t spam people’s inboxes with requests. Don’t be shady or deal with shady people.

Create good content, find high-quality sites to partner with, and offer them value.

Successful content is a numbers game

One benefit to creating as much content as we have is that we can really see what’s worked and what hasn’t. And it’s not as easy to predict as you might think.

One of our most successful posts, How to Start and Run a Summer Camp, wasn’t an especially popular one among JotFormers in the planning stage, primarily because the topic didn’t have a ton of monthly searches for the targeted keywords we were chasing. But just a few months after it went live, it became one of our top-performing posts in terms of monthly searches, and our best in terms of converting readers to JotForm users.

Point being, you don’t really know what will work for you until you try a bunch of options.

You’ll need to hire the right people in-house

In a perfect world JotForm employees would be able to produce every bit of content we need. But that’s not realistic for a company of our size. Still, there were some roles we absolutely needed to bring in-house to really kick our content into high gear.

A few of our content hires from the past 12 months.

Here are some hires we made to build our content infrastructure:

Content writer

This was the first dedicated content hire we ever made. It marked our first real plunge into the world of content marketing. Having someone in-house who can write means you can be flexible. When last-minute or deeply product-focused writing projects come up, you need someone in-house to deliver.


Our full-time editor created JotForm’s style guide from scratch, which she uses to edit every single piece of content that we produce. She’s equal parts editor and project manager, since she effectively owns the flow of the Asana board.

Copywriters (x2)

Our smaller writing projects didn’t disappear just because we wanted to load up on long-form blog posts. Quite the contrary. Our copywriters tackle template descriptions that help count toward our goal, while also writing landing page text, email marketing messages, video scripts, and social media posts.

Content strategist

One of the most difficult components of creating regular content is coming up with ideas. I made an early assumption that writers would come up with things to write; I was way off base. Writers have a very specialized skill that actually has little overlap with identifying and researching topics based on SEO value, relevance to our audience, and what will generate clicks from social media. So we have a strategist.

Content operations specialist

When you aim for tens of thousands of words of published content over the course of a month, the very act of coordinating the publishing of a post becomes a full-time job. At JotForm, most of our posts also need a custom graphic designed by our design team. Our content operations specialist coordinates design assets and makes sure everything looks good in WordPress before scheduling posts.

SEO manager

Our SEO manager had already been doing work on JotForm’s other pages, but he redirected much of his attention to our content goals once we began scaling. He works with our content strategist on the strategy and monitors and reports on the performance of the articles we publish.

The payoff

JotForm’s blog wasn’t starting from scratch when Aytekin posed the 100,000-word challenge. It was already receiving about 120,000 organic site visitors a month from the posts we’d steadily written over the years.

A year later we receive about 230,000 monthly organic searches, and that’s no accident.

The past year also marked our foray into the world of pillar pages.

For the uninitiated, pillar pages are (very) long-form, authoritative pieces that cover all aspects of a specific topic in the hopes that search engines will regard them as a resource.

These are incredibly time-consuming to write, but they drive buckets full of visitors to your page.

We’re getting more than 30,000 visitors a month — all from pillar pages we’ve published within the last year.

To date, our focus on content marketing has improved our organic search to the tune of about 150,000 additional site visitors per month, give or take.


Content isn’t easy. That was the biggest revelation for me, even though it shouldn’t have been. It takes a large team of people with very specialized skills to see measurable success. Doing it at large scale requires a prodigious commitment in both money and time, even if you aren’t tasked with writing 100,000 words a month.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to make it work for you, on whatever scale that makes the most sense.

There really aren’t any secrets to growing your content engine. No magic recipe. It’s just a matter of putting the resources you have into making it happen.

Best of all, this post just gave us about 2,000 words toward this month’s word count goal.

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from Moz Blog

The True Value of Top Publisher Links

Posted by KristinTynski

I’m often asked about what results are earned through content marketing and digital PR.

So I decided to take a data-driven approach to quantifying the value of links from top-tier press mentions by looking at the aggregate improvements seen by a group of domains that have enjoyed substantial press attention in the last few months. Then I examined which publishers can have the biggest impact on rankings.

My goal was to answer this question: What sort of median bump can be expected when your brand secures media coverage? And how can you potentially get the biggest organic lift?

First off: Top-tier links matter a great deal

This chart represents the correlation between the number of times a site was linked to from within the article text of publishers and its rankings and traffic.

Considering the sheer number of possible variables that contribute to rankings changes (on-site factors, amount and quality of on-site content, penalties, etc.) seeing R-values (which determine the linear relationship) this high is a good result.

In general, the higher the R-score, the stronger the relationship between number of links from publishers and improvements in organic ranking.

We found significant relationships between the number of mentions on news sites ranked in the Top 500 and an even stronger relationship for those ranked within the Top 300.

The likely reason for this is twofold:

  1. Top 300 publishers confer more Domain Authority than less popular sites.
  2. Top 300 publishers often have larger syndication networks and broader visibility, leading to more links being built as the result of a press mention, leading to more Domain Authority accumulation overall.

Which publishers link out the most?

When pitching publishers, it can be extremely useful to understand who is most likely to actually provide a link.

Some publishers have policies against outbound links of any type or nofollow all outbound links.

Looking at the huge dataset, I got a better understanding for which publishers link out to other sites most frequently.

Notice the large number of local news sites with high numbers of outbound links. Local news is often keen to link out.

Unfortunately, most local news won’t have large scale syndication, so looking at top-tier publishers with large numbers of outbound links is likely a better strategy when developing a pitch list. So when you remove those from the list, here are the winners.

The top 15 national publishers that provide links

  1. Forbes
  2. The New York Times
  3. ZDnet
  4. NPR
  5. PR News Wire
  6. Seeking Alpha
  7. The Conversation
  8. USA Today
  9. CNN
  10. Benzinga
  11. Business Insider
  12. Quartz
  13. The Hill
  14. Heavy
  15. Vox

Sites like Forbes only dole out nofollow links, but many of these others provide dofollow links (in addition to just being great, high-authority coverage to achieve). Some industry specific options, like Seeking Alpha, Benzinga, and The Hill, can make for great vertical-specific dream publications to strive for coverage on.

Which publishers confer the most value in terms of organic search improvements?

Looking at this database, it’s possible to look at the median organic traffic gains aggregated by the site that gave the link.

This view is filtered to only include sites that had linked out 100+ times in order to reduce outlier publishers with small volumes of outbound links to only a handful of sites.

More popular sites are clustered near the top, further reiterating the fairly obvious point that the more popular a site, the more value a link from them will be in terms of improving organic ranking.

While most of the top-value links are from these sites, there are quite a few mid-tier sites that seem to grant disproportionate value, including several local news sites and niche authoritative publishers.


I used The GDELT Project, a massive repository of news articles that are searchable using BigQuery, to extract the links from all news articles over the last year. Then I aggregated them by root domain.

For each domain from the GDELT dataset that was mentioned in a news article at least 30 times, we then pulled organic data from SEMrush’s API for each one.

I combined the SERP change numbers to the cleaned GDELT data by matching it to the URL of the linked-to site. This gave me organic changes (traffic volume, price, ranking keyword volume change) for each of the root URLs linked to more than 30 times from within the text of articles in the GDELT scrape.

From there, I ran a correlation analysis to see if we could find a statistically significant influence of news coverage on rankings.


Using insights like the ones above, you’ll be able to craft content better suited to those specific writers and audiences, increasing your chances of getting extremely impactful links via a digital PR strategy.

You can download the Tableau notebook and sort in the desktop version to explore the different sites relevant to your vertical. While not all of them may accept outside content, it’s a great start for building a “dream” pitch list. Study the type of content they typically publish, what their audience seems to enjoy most (based on shares and comments), and consider using these insights to hone your content strategy.

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Mining Reddit for Content Ideas in 5 Steps – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by DanielRussell

For marketers, Reddit is more than a tool to while away your lunch break. It’s a huge, thriving forum with subreddits devoted to almost any topic you can imagine — and exciting new content ideas lurk within threads, just waiting to be discovered. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Daniel Russell takes you through five simple steps to mine Reddit for content ideas bolstered by your target audience’s interest.

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Daniel Russell. I’m from an agency called Go Fish Digital. Today we’re going to be talking about mining Reddit for content ideas.

Reddit, you’ve probably heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it’s one of the largest websites on the internet. It gets billions of views and clicks per year. People go there because it is a great source of content. It’s really entertaining. But it also means that it’s a great source of content for us as marketers. So today what we’re going to be talking about is two main groups here.

We’re going to first be talking about the features of Reddit, the different things that you can use on Reddit to find good content ideas. Then we’re going to be talking about five steps that you can take and apply today to start finding ideas for your company, for your clients and start getting that successful content. 

Features of Reddit

So first, Reddit as a breakdown here.


First, a big feature of Reddit is called subreddits. They’re essentially smaller forums within Reddit, a smaller forum within a forum dedicated to a particular topic. So there might be a forum dedicated to movies and discussing movies. There’s a forum dedicated to food and talking about different types of food, posting pictures of food, posting recipes.

There is a forum for just about everything under the sun. If you can think of it, it’s probably got a forum on Reddit. This is really valuable to us as marketers because it means that people are taking their interests and then putting it out there for us to see. So if we are trying to do work for a sports company or if we’re trying to do work for our company that’s dentistry or something like that, there is a subreddit dedicated to that topic, and we can go and find people that are interested in that, that are probably within our target markets.

Upvoting and downvoting

There’s upvoting and downvoting. Essentially what this is, is people post a piece of content to Reddit, and then other users decide if they like it or not. They upvote it or they downvote it. The stuff that is upvoted is usually the good stuff. People that are paying really close attention to Reddit are always upvoting and downvoting things. Then the things that get the most upvotes start rising to the top so that other people can see it.

It’s super valuable to us again because this helps verify ideas for us. This helps us see what’s working and what’s not. Before we even put pen to paper, before we even start designing everything, we can see what has been the most upvoted. The most upvoted stuff leads to the next big feature, which is rankings. The stuff that gets voted the most ends up ranking on the top of Reddit and becomes more visible.

It becomes easier for us to find as marketers, and luckily we can take a look at those rankings and see if any of that matches the content we’re trying to create. 


There’s the comments section. Essentially what this is, is for every post there’s a section dedicated to that post for comments, where people can comment on the post. They can comment on comments. It’s almost like a focus group.

It’s like a focus group without actually being there in person. You can see what people like, what people don’t like about the content, how they felt about it. Maybe they even have some content ideas of their own that they’re sharing in there. It’s an incredibly valuable place to be. We can take these different features and start digging in to find content ideas using these down here.

Reddit search & filters

Search bar

The search bar is a Reddit feature that works fairly well. It will probably yield mediocre results most of the time. But you can drill down a little further with that search bar using search parameters. These parameters are things like searching by author, searching by website.

Search parameters

There are a lot of different searches that you can use. There’s a full list of them on Reddit. But this essentially allows you to take that mediocre search bar and make it a little bit more powerful. If you want to look for sports content, you can look specifically at content posted from and see what has been the most upvoted there. 

Restrict results to subreddit

You can restrict your results to a particular subreddit. So if you’re trying to look for content around chicken dishes, you’re doing work for a restaurant and you’re trying to find what’s been the most upvoted content around chicken, you don’t want people calling each other chickens. So what you can do is restrict your search to a subreddit so that you actually get chicken the food rather than posts talking about that guy is a chicken.

Filter results

You can filter results. This essentially means that you can take all the results that you get from your search and then you can recategorize it based off of how many upvotes it’s gotten, how recently it was posted, how many comments it has. 

Filter subreddits

Then you can also filter subreddits themselves. So you can take subreddits, all the content that’s been posted there, and you can look at what’s been the most upvoted content for that subreddit.

What has been the most controversial content from that subreddit? What’s been the most upvoted? What’s been the most downvoted? These features make it a really user-friendly place in terms of finding really entertaining stuff. That’s why Reddit is often like a black hole of productivity. You can get lost down it and stay there for hours.

That works in our benefit as marketers. That means that we can go through, take these different features, apply them to our own marketing needs, and find those really good content ideas. 

5 steps to finding content ideas on Reddit

So for some examples here. There’s a set of key steps that you can use. I’m going to use some real-world examples, so some true-blue things that we’ve done for clients so that you can see how this actually works in real life.

1. Do a general search for your topic

The first step is to do a general search for your topic. So real-world example, we have a client that is in the transportation space. They work with shuttles, with limos, and with taxis. We wanted to create some content around limos. So the way we started in these key steps is we did a general search for limos.

Our search yielded some interesting things. We saw that a lot of people were posting pictures of stretch limos, of just wild limo interiors. But then we also saw a lot of people talking about presidential limos, the limos that the president rides in that have the bulletproof glass and everything. So we started noticing that, hey, there’s some good content here about limos. It kind of helped frame our brainstorming and our content mining. 

2. Find a subreddit that fits

The next step is to find a subreddit that fits that particular topic. Now there is a subreddit dedicated to limos. It’s not the most active. There wasn’t a ton of content there. So what we ended up doing was looking at more broad subreddits. We looked at like the cars subreddit.

There was a subreddit dedicated to guides and to breakdowns of different machines. So there were a lot of breakdowns, like cutaways of the presidential limos. So again, that was coming up. What we saw in the general search was coming up in our subreddit specific search. We were seeing presidential limos again.

3. Look at subreddit content from the past month

Step 3, look at that sub’s particular content from the past month. The subreddit, for example, that we were looking at was one dedicated to automobiles, as I had mentioned earlier. We looked at the top content from that past month, and we saw there was this really cool GIF that essentially took the Chevy logo back from like the ’30s and slowly morphed it over the years into the Chevy logo that we saw today.

We thought that was pretty cool. We started wondering if maybe we could apply that same kind of idea to our presidential limo finding that we were seeing earlier. 

4. Identify trends, patterns, and sticky ideas

Number 4 was to identify trends, patterns, and sticky ideas. Sticky ideas, it just means if you come across something and it just kind of sticks in your head, like it just kind of stays there, likely that will happen for your audience as well.

So if you come across anything that you find really interesting, that keeps sticking in your head or keeps popping up on Reddit, it keeps getting lots of upvotes, identify that idea because it’s going to be valuable. So for us, we started identifying ideas like morphing GIFs, the Chevy logo morphing over time. We started identifying ideas like presidential limos. People really like talking about it.

5. Polish, improve, and up-level the ideas you’ve found

That led us to use Step Number 5, which is to take those ideas that we were finding, polish them, improve them, one up it, take it to the next level, and then create some content around that and promote it. So what we did was we took those two ideas, we took presidential limos and the whole morphing GIF idea over time, and we combined them.

We found images of all of the presidential limos since like the ’50s. Then we took each of those presidential limos and we created a morphing GIF out of them, so that you started with the old presidential limos, which really weren’t really secure. They were convertibles. They were normal cars. Then that slowly morphed up to the massive tanks that we have today. It was a huge success.

It was just a GIF. But that idea had been validated because we were looking at what was the most upvoted, what was the most downvoted, what was ranked, what wasn’t ranked, and we saw some ideas that we could take, one up, and polish. So we created this morphing presidential limo, and it did really well.

It got coverage in a lot of major news networks. ABC News picked it up. CBS talked about it. It even got posted to Reddit later and performed really well on Reddit. It was all because we were able to take these features, mine down, drill down, find those good content ideas, and then polish it and make it our own. 

I’m really interested to hear if you’ve tried this before. Maybe you’ve seen some really good ideas that you’d like to try out on Reddit.

Do you have like a favorite search function that you use on Reddit? Do you like to filter by the past year? Do you like a particular subreddit? Let me know down in the comments. Good luck mining ideas. I know it will work for you. Have a great day.

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4 Essential Lessons for Travel Marketing on Instagram

The travel industry is growing fast, and it is one of the largest and most competitive in the world. Modern customers are more likely to spend money on traveling, and 34% of millennials plan to spend more than $5,000 on upcoming vacations, according to Business Insider.

To stand out from the crowd, travel industry players need to keep up with the trends, and one podcast by Facebook claims Instagram has a significant impact on the travel industry: 70% of travel enthusiasts use Instagram to share their travel plans, 67% use this platform to find inspiration for new journeys, and 61% find things to do on Instagram while they’re traveling.

Brands like National Geographic recognize this. Today, the brand has over 128 million followers on Instagram—making it  the most followed brand account on the social platform. Whether you’re a massive brand, an airline, a car rental company, or even a travel blogger, Instagram is a great way to reach your target audience, build brand awareness, increase brand loyalty and trust, and grow revenue.

National Geographic instagram post

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Simply put, Instagram has become a perfect marketing tool for visual storytelling that attracts travelers. And if you want to improve your travel marketing on Instagram, here are four Instagram marketing lessons from top travel industry players:

  1. A cohesive feed attracts more followers
  2. Social proof builds loyalty
  3. In-app shopping is flourishing
  4. Excellent Customer service is a must

Lesson #1: Cohesive feed attracts more followers

Practically every travel company aims at acquiring new customers, and the more Instagram followers you have, the more potential customers you can get. If you want to stand out from your competitors and attract more followers, pay close attention to the Instagram feed and make it eye-catching, as 65% of people are visual learners.

Plus, 72% of Millennials and Gen X share their photos on social media while traveling, so it’s no wonder that 67% of people claim that the Instagrammability of a location is the most important factor when choosing a holiday destination, as specified in one study by Expedia. What’s more, 40.1% of young travelers choose a holiday destination by how “Instagrammable” it will be.

This means that it’s important to showcase destinations to inspire travelers, and STA Travel is a good example of using UGC photos to create a beautiful and cohesive Instagram feed.

sta travel Instagram feed

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If you’re a travel blogger who sells digital downloads like filters, having a beautiful Instagram feed is a way to show off your product and encourage followers to give it a try. Here’s an example:

pilot madeleine Instagram feed

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The good news for companies that sell services for tourists: To create a cohesive Instagram feed, there’s no need to have many photos. You can split photos into tiles to create a mosaic effect that helps to organize your feed and make it more eye-catching. And a great example of image splitting done right is Share Now:

Sharenow Instagram feed

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No matter what helps you create beautiful visual content for your Instagram feed, whether you publish user-generated content, take your photos, or repurpose royalty-free stock photos. The main idea is to use visual content to create a good first impression on your visitors and keep your followers interested in your profile. All in all, it helps to grow your following.

Key takeaway: Having a cohesive Instagram feed is a proven way to grab your target audience’s attention, turn visitors into followers, and inspire travelers.

Lesson #2: Social proof builds loyalty and trust

With a choice overload on the market, brand loyalty and trust is what makes your company any different from other competitors that hope for the attention of your target audience. Moreover, travelers rely on authentic social proof for inspiration and validation when planning travel.

Travelers pay close attention to trust signals, so they watch travel vlogs, read customer reviews, and seek out personal recommendations before they book. In fact, 52% of social media users draw travel inspiration directly from their friends’ photos. Thus, travel companies need to use social proof on Instagram, and there are many ways to do it.

For example, Outdoor Research, a company that sells technical apparel and gear for outdoor sports, collaborates with niche influencers to provide social proof, and it gives wonderful results. According to a case study from Talkable, setting up a referral program has helped Outdoor Research achieve a 600% return on investment and a 17% advocacy rate. Here’s how the company uses influencers’ photos on Instagram:

outdoor research Instagram feed

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Another great example of social proof comes from Airy Indonesia as the company uses Instagram Stories to share customer feedback with potential travelers. With over 500 million accounts that use Instagram Stories daily, not only is it a great place to reach your target audience but it also helps to provide social proof without clogging the main feed up.

Airy Indonesia also adds room reviews to a separate Instagram Stories highlights album that appears right below the bio section and makes it easier for visitors and followers to read customer feedback.

Airy Indonesia Instagram story

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Knowing some Instagram Story hacks for better engagement, the company writes the name of the room, adds a quote, and includes a clickable link that takes interested followers to the website page and tells more about the featured room.

And if you want to cause a buzz around your product and give your customers a solid reason to spread the word about your company on Instagram, it’s important to offer referral rewards. Here’s how one travel blogger shares her thoughts on using referral codes:

travel marketing instagram post with referral codes in caption

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Since people use social media to share their customer experiences with other consumers, it doesn’t take much time or effort for modern customers to do research before choosing your travel company. And if you want to stay ahead of your competitors, provide your Instagram visitors and followers with social proof to increase brand loyalty and trust. From publishing user-generated content to featuring customer feedback via Instagram Stories, there are many ways to share social proof on Instagram.

Key takeaway: When you share social proof on Instagram, you ease the worried mind of potential travelers that helps to build brand trust, add credibility for your business, and simplify customer’s buying decisions.

Lesson #3: In-app shopping is flourishing

The popularity of Instagram shopping is on the rise. According to Instagram Business, 60% of Instagrammers discover new products or services on the platform and 130 million accounts tap on shopping posts to learn more about products every month.

Since users are ready to buy products in-app, Instagram rolls out business-specific features like product tags and shoppable stickers, “Book” and “Reserve” action buttons, and clickable Instagram Stories links to improve customer experience.

For travel companies, this also means that their potential customers are ready to book travel on Instagram, so it’s important to start selling in-app, and Ryanair is a great example of this strategy in action. In honor of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the company offered a whole week of incredible deals, and it promoted its deals on Instagram:

Ryan Air Instagram bio

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Not only did Ryanair create a brand hashtag and use its Instagram bio to inform visitors and followers about the time-limited deals, but it also wrote a series of Instagram posts that drove intrigue and engagement:

Ryan Air Instagram post

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Instagram shopping is not only for brands that sell physical products; when done right, it also helps to sell travel through Instagram.

Key takeaway: With a variety of business-specific features on Instagram, it’s easier for travelers to discover and book their travel experiences in-app. If you want to turn your Instagram followers into customers, optimize your Instagram account for shopping, improve the customer journey, and encourage urgent purchases.

Lesson #4: Excellent customer service is a must

Over the last few years, customer service expectations have changed. The days when travelers would contact a traveler hotline are far behind us. Modern customers use social media platforms like Instagram to share their customer experiences and get their requests solved. One Sprout Social report says that 46% of customers have used social media to connect with brands and 55% expect to get a resolution or response on social media.

If you work in the travel industry, you should be ready to manage a barrage of satisfied and dissatisfied customers on Instagram. Let’s take Skyscanner ’s story, for example. Customers often share their pain points in the comment section, so the company has to solve their requests quickly to meet their expectations and prove potential travelers that their company is worth choosing

skyskanner Instagram post

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But, if you realize that you can’t meet customer service expectations, it’s better to provide your visitors followers with an alternative way to contact your customer support team, like how Air France does below.

Air France Instagram bio

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Because modern customers often turn to social media platforms to share their experiences with other people in order to help them make the right purchase choice, providing excellent customer support on Instagram isn’t an option these days. Moreover, 73% of customers say that friendly service is a deciding factor in “falling in love” with a brand. In other words, when you listen to your customers and answer their questions, you stay ahead of your competitors and win more loyal customers.

Key takeaway: To increase customer satisfaction and give your customers a solid reason to choose your company over competitors, it’s important to provide excellent customer support on Instagram: Read comments, analyze direct messages, and monitor brand mentions to solve customer requests fast.

Set your travel Instagram up for success

Modern customers are fond of traveling and they often turn to Instagram to discover new destinations, draw inspiration for vacations, and buy or book travel. Since traveling is one of the most profitable Instagram niches, it’s no wonder that travel companies want to make the most out of using Instagram marketing. But before you jump on the bandwagon, it’s important to learn from the above-mentioned travel companies to understand how to get wonderful results with Instagram.

About the author

Val Razo is a freelance SMM consultant with 5+ years of experience who helps small and medium businesses. With a great sales potential of Instagram, Val recommends both big and small brands to use this platform for business growth. Follow her on Twitter to read her latest articles on Instagram marketing.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

The 11 Landing Page Best Practices to Swear By

If you’re in marketing, you’re no stranger to landing pages. We’ve all clicked through an interesting ad looking for more information and abandoned the landing page because it was too confusing or didn’t hold enough information. And if we’re paying attention, we usually take note of what not to do with our own landing pages.

Landing page mistakes CrazyEgg example

But what about what we need to do to keep those visitors? Whether you’re using a plug-and-play solution like Marketo or Hubspot or Unbounce to make your landing pages or you’re having an in-house dev team build them out, you can swear by these 11 landing page best practices for better pages and, of course, more conversions.

1. Align your landing page with the goal of your ad campaigns

Now, I think landing pages are harder to create than ads, so I think this tip should be the other way around. But others disagree. Either way, when you’re setting up a landing page, keep your eye on the prize. What ad campaigns will drive traffic to this page? What’s the goal?

Based on that, make sure the language on the page echoes the language in your ads or vice-versa. If your ad says, “Get free internet! Learn how here,” then your landing page should explain exactly how to get free internet. Badda-bing-badda-boom, you have a new customer.

Starry internet landing page example

2. Simplify your forms

Though forms can be an important part of landing page design, I’m not going to dive in too deep since we have another (far more helpful) post on that here. But rule of thumb: Never ask for more information than you need. Try to keep it under seven fields of input. Appreciate white space. When in doubt, always keep it simple.

3. Test your copy and CTA

Speaking of keeping it simple, let’s talk landing page copy. Anytime you’re writing copy for a designed page, keep the layout in mind. You don’t want your audience to be staring down a wall of text that they need to comb through to get to the point. When you can, use bullet points, headers, and subheads to drive your point home concisely.

But as always, test your copy. And test your CTA. And then test some more copy. And then test CTAs again. You’re never going to know what resonates with your audience until the numbers tell you the truth.

You’re going to have to trust me that this landing page has been tested against other copy and different forms and different CTAs. Turns out, competing in AdWords (without just raising bids) is pretty compelling.

WordStream landing page example

4. Keep the design straightforward and easy to navigate

Have you ever landed on a page and just … gotten lost? It’s happened to me. I’ll be looking to buy concert tickets and all of a sudden, I just can’t find the “Buy Now” button because there are too many dropdowns and display ads and distractions.

Don’t lose conversions because of this. Your landing page design should reflect your brand colors and look like something you’d want to include on your website. Along with keeping your forms simple, you want to make the whole page navigable.

5. Leverage case studies and social proof

This tip is easy. Any time you can leverage the nice things your customers have said about you, do it. If you don’t have a large cache of compliments, you can lean on logos instead. Just make sure you have permission!

There are a few different platforms that will integrate with your landing pages to keep reviews fresh, like Yelp, Google My Business, and Trustpilot. You can even use simple embed codes. Keep these reviews at the bottom of the page so you don’t distract from the action you want your audience to take. These should be also related to the headline describing the action, or else your audience will get pretty confused.

Munchery popped in some reviews from Trustpilot on their landing page and magically made the section simple and appealing, without distracting from the action above.

Munchery landing page example

6. Keep your landing page mobile-friendly

As is important for any marketing, you want to make sure your landing pages are compatible with any device or viewable on any screen size. A lot of plug-and-play landing page solutions have this feature built in, allowing you to see common sizes before launching your shiny new page. Just a tip: Play it safe by keeping your buttons and/or forms toward the center of a full-size page with a single-color background. That way, shrinking and stretching on whatever strange screens your page may encounter is less likely to break something important.

7. Make sure it loads quickly

If you’re a marketer, you probably already have landing pages whirring away as well as your website. If you’re seeing a high bounce rate on a particular page, load time could be the culprit. It can be easy to cut corners with one-off landing pages, but make sure nothing on the page is too heavy or big. Resizing takes up a lot of time. And when your landing page doesn’t load fast enough, it can damage any SEO you’ve done for the page. 

8. Put the important information above the fold

Just like an email, you want to make sure when someone is clicking through, the important stuff is visible first. This is particularly important for highly actionable pages, like buying tickets or entering a contest.

Things you can put below the fold: any testimonials, case studies, or client logos. Your own terms and conditions. Suggested content (e.g., if you liked this, you’ll also love our guide on our to make your lead forms pop!).

This Guideline page does this really well; there’s minimal text, a simple form above the fold, and more details below.

example landing page

9. Update your landing pages regularly

For obvious reasons, like any blog post or site page, the content on your landing pages should stay up to date. If your previously best-performing ad begins to fall off, outdated landing pages could be the culprit. Even just a refresh of the background colors, a new CTA, or some fresh copy will prevent fatigue and signal to Google and any ad platform that the content is fresh.

10. Add a thank you page

Okay, it may seem like all these tips are pointing you away from confusing your audience … and maybe you’re right. Thank you pages are just another step in this process. Once someone lands on your page and completes an action, give them a visual confirmation that you have their information, the wheels are churning, they have reserved a spot. This can come in the form of a thank you script: “Thank you. Your information has been submitted.” Or you can redirect to a full thank you page that features some of those special extras you may have buried below the fold on the previous page.

thank you pages examples

11. Build your landing page for SEO

This is an important one. If you need your landing page to have staying power, try to flex some of your SEO muscles. If you run a blog (or your own website), you probably already know these basics. Here’s a review:

  • Unique URL: Giving your landing page a unique URL isn’t just so people land in the right place, it can also optimize for whichever keywords you want to rank for.
  • Title tag: This is separate from your header tag, it’s the title of the page. Again, plug-and-play landing page solutions should have an option to alter this (i.e., make it different from your header tag), just remember to fill that field out.
  • Header tag: This tag is the title of your page (ironically). Whatever your landing page headline is, shrink it down for your header tag.
  • Meta description: I know that a lot of people forget to fill this field out, which could be fine, but for landing pages, you want to. The meta is what google populates under your search result, and landing pages often have some … dispersed copy. So you want to tell google exactly what to grab and put out there on the SERP.
  • Image file names: Self-explanatory, obvious, necessary. Name your images! Give them names that reflect the purpose of the page. If you can get your target keywords in there, even better.
  • Backlinking: This is the final step, after publishing your page. Not only should you link to your landing page from ad campaigns, you can try to embed the link within blog posts, your website pages, hand it out to affiliate partners, etc. The more spots your link appears, the more google is going to recognize its relevance and authority.

Live by these landing page best practices!

Take these tips and prosper! Here’s a recap:

  1. Align your landing page with the goal of your ad campaigns
  2. Simplify your forms
  3. Test your copy and CTA
  4. Keep the design straightforward
  5. Leverage case studies and social proof
  6. Keep your landing page mobile-friendly
  7. Make sure it loads quickly
  8. Put important information above the fold
  9. Update your landing pages regularly
  10. Add a thank you page
  11. Build your landing pages for SEO

Now, good luck out there in landing page land! Let us know if you have any secret, trusted tips of your own.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

What Do High-Performance E-Commerce Websites Do Differently? Results from the 2020 KPI Study

Posted by Alan_Coleman

Hello Moz readers,

We’re proud to bring some insights from the Wolfgang E-Commerce KPI Study 2020.

The annual study provides KPI benchmark data which allow digital marketers analyze their 2019 performance and plan their 2020. The most popular section in the report amongst Moz readers has always been the conversion correlation, where we crunch the numbers to see what sets the high-performing websites apart.

We’re privileged to count a number of particularly high-performance websites among our dataset participants. There have been over twenty international digital marketing awards won by a spread of participant websites in the last three years. In these findings, you’re getting insights from the global top tier of campaigns.

If we take a five-year look-back, we can see the conversion correlation section acts as an accurate predictor of upcoming trends in digital marketing.

In our 2016 study, the two stand-out correlations with conversion rate were:

  1. High-performing websites got more significantly paid search traffic than the chasing pack.
  2. High-performing websites got significantly more mobile traffic than the chasing pack.

The two strongest overall trends in our 2020 report are:

  1. It’s the first year in which paid search has eclipsed organic for website revenue.
  2. It’s the first year the majority of revenue has come from mobile devices.

This tells us that the majority of websites have now caught up with what the top-performing websites were doing five years ago.

So, what are the top performing websites doing differently now?

These points of differentiation are likely to become the major shifts in the online marketing mix over the next 5 years.

Let’s count down to the strongest correlation in the study:

4. Race back up to the top! Online PR and display deliver conversions

For the majority of the 2010s, marketers were racing to the bottom of the purchase funnel. More and more budget flowed to search to win exposure to the cherished searcher — that person pounding on their keyboard with their credit card between their teeth, drunk on the newfound novelty of online shopping. The only advertising that performed better than search was remarketing, which inched the advertising closer and closer to that precious purchase moment. 

Now in 2020, these essential elements of the marketing mix are operating at maximum capacity for any advertiser worth their salt. Top performing websites are now focusing extra budget back up towards the top of the funnel. The best way to kill the competition on Search is to have the audience’s first search, be your brand. Outmarket your competition by generating more of your cheapest and best converting traffic, luvly brand traffic. We saw correlations with Average Order Value from websites that got higher than average referral traffic (0.34) and I can’t believe I’m going to write this, but display correlated with a conversion success metric, Average Order Value (0.37). I guess there’s a first time for everything!

3. Efficiencies of scale

Every budding business student knows that when volume increases, cost per unit decreases. It’s called economies of scale. But what do you call it when it’s revenue per unit that’s increasing with volume? At Wolfgang, we call it efficiencies of scale. Similar to last year’s report, one of the strongest correlations against a number of the success metrics was simply the number of sessions. More visitors to the site equals a higher conversion rate per user (0.49). This stat summons the final wag for the long-tail of smaller specialist retailers. This finding is consistent across both the retail and travel sectors.

And it illustrates another reversal of a significant trend in the 2010s. The long-tail of retailers were the early settlers in the e-commerce land of plenty. Very specialist websites with a narrow product range could capture high volumes of traffic and sales.

For example, could dominate the SERP and then affiliate link or dropship product, making for a highly profitable small business. The entrepreneur behind this microbusiness could automate the process and replicate the model again and again for the products of her choosing. Timothy Ferris’ book, The 4 Hour Work Week, became the bible to the first flush of digital nomads; affiliate conferences in Vegas saw leaning towers of chips being pushed around by solopreneur digital marketers with wild abandon.

Alas, by the end of the decade, Google had started to prioritize brands in the SERP, and the big players had finally gotten their online act together. As a result, we are now seeing significant ‘efficiencies of scale’ as described above

2. Attract that user back

What’s the key insight digital marketers need to act upon to succeed in the 2020s? Average Sessions per Visitor is 2, Average Sessions per Purchaser is 5.

In other words, the core role of the marketer is to create an elegant journey across touchpoints to deliver a person from two click prospect to five click purchaser. Any activity which increases sessions per visitor will increase conversion. Similar to last year’s report, another of the strongest and most consistent correlations was the number of Sessions per User (0.7) — which emphasizes the importance of this metric.

So where should a marketer seek these extra interactions?

Check out the strongest correlation we found with conversion success in the Wolfgang KPI Report 2020….

1. The social transaction

The three strongest conversion correlations across the 4,000 datapoints were related to social transactions. This tells us that the very top performing websites were significantly better than everybody else at generating traffic from social that purchases.

Google Analytics is astonishingly rigorous at suppressing social media success stats. It appears they would rather have an inferior analytics product than accurately track cross-device conversions and give social its due. They can track cross-device conversions in Google Ads — why not in Analytics? So, if our Google Analytics data is telling us social is the strongest conversion success factor, we need to take notice.

This finding runs in parallel with recent research by Forrester which finds one-third of CMOs still don’t know what to do with social.

Our correlation calc finds that social is the biggest point of difference between the high flyers and the chasing pack. The marketers who do know how to use social, are the tip top performing marketers of the bunch. We also have further findings on how to out-market the competition on social in the full study.

Here’s the top tier of correlations we extracted from a third of a billion euro in online revenues and over 100 million website visits:


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To read more of our findings pertaining to:

  • The social sweet spot
  • Average conversion rates in your industry
  • In-store sales benchmarked
  • Why data is the new oil
  • 2010 was the decade of the…
  • And much, much more

Have a look at the full e-commerce KPI report for 2020. If you found yourself with any questions or anecdotes relating to the data shared here, please let us know in the comments!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog

5 Tips for Better PPC Budgeting in 2020

PPC budgeting might not be the sexiest topic, but being a good steward of your budget can have major impacts on your PPC performance. Budget considerations usually go by the wayside when there are lots of other new, trendy topics to focus on, like a new ad format, targeting type, or new channel. But staying on top of your budget can be more impactful—and more profitable—than trying out any of these new tactics. 

That’s why in 2020, I’d love for one of your PPC resolutions to be centered around your budgeting.

Online Advertising Landscape 2019 Monthly Budget

It doesn’t have to take up a bunch of time. A quick check in at the beginning of each month or quarter can go a long way in making sure you’re treating your budgets with the care they deserve.

At this point, you might be thinking, “That sounds great, but what can I do to pay more attention to my budget?” Here are five simple things you can do to take better care of your budgets in 2020.

1. Start forecasting

I’ll be the first to admit it: I hate forecasting.

In a number of ways, forecasting feels like guessing as to what performance is going to be—-and it is, but hopefully it’s an educated guess that can help you make smart decisions about where you spend your advertising dollars.

There are a handful of data points you can use to forecast performance for upcoming months:

  • Google Keyword Planner traffic estimates.
  • External news organizations.
  • Month over month or year over year performance trends.
keyword planner mobile trends

Google Keyword Planner traffic estimates.

Overall, the biggest takeaway for forecasting isn’t to be exactly right and predict the future, but to have some sort of realistic expectation of performance so you can plan ahead.

Is traffic estimated to double next month? Or will it drop significantly? Is there an expected turn in the market for the second half of the year that suggests you should front load 2020? Or hold your cards for a boom in Q3?

Spend a little time to think ahead and know what’s coming. Then check back in after a month or quarter and see how far off you were and what you can learn and adjust for next time to be a bit more accurate.

2. Create projection sheets

Forecasting gives you a long term look at potential performance, but using a projections sheet can help you understand where you’re pacing to end the current calendar month (or any custom date range for that matter).


The table above is from one of my client’s projections sheets. Here’s how the data breaks down:

  • P7D: Past seven days performance.
  • MTD: Performance this month to date.
  • Projected: Projected stats based on the most recent seven days extrapolated for the remaining days of the month plus the performance so far.

Here’s how the formula works:

(P7D / 7 * No of days left in the month) + MTD Stats = Projected Performance

If you want a walk-through of this, here’s a video showing how to set up a projections sheet.

Granted, this won’t be a guarantee of where your month will end up performance wise, but it can give you an educated guess on where you’re heading based on what has happened recently and the performance you’ve already seen that month.

3. Be flexible

If you’re putting together forecasts, you’ve likely also started to assign budgets to different channels or campaign groups based on what your forecasting is telling you. This is great, but don’t have this be set in stone.

Being inflexible with budgets can get in the way of maximizing performance.

You’ll notice that the projections sheet I have above doesn’t only include spend. There are other metrics like clicks, conversions, and CPA included as well. You can add any metrics you want to this formula depending on what’s important to you.

In this same projections sheet, I have different charts created for each channel: Google, Bing, etc.

projection sheets by channel (Google, Facebook, Bing)

Let’s say my budget for the month is $345k. I might have started the month wanting to spend $300k on Google and $45k on Bing, but given the performance we’re seeing this month and the difference in CPA, I’ve shifted my spend to maximize available volume on Bing and then spend the remaining budget on Google. 

This flexibility based on performance is more apparent when you forecast what performance would be like if I would have stuck to our original budgets vs the current projections.

sheet with previous, projected, and difference in spend columns

With just a simple shift in budget, we were able to save $1k in spend, gain 99 more conversions and lower overall CPA by $0.74. Now, these might not be hugely groundbreaking stats, but I’ve never met someone who doesn’t want to save money AND drive more conversions at the same time.

4. Choose the best budget type for your account

Getting a bit more into the nitty-gritty of campaign management, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right budget types for your needs.

Each platform has its own budget setups and they all seem to operate differently.

Facebook budgets work differently if you’re trying to use daily or lifetime budgets.

Facebook Ads daily vs lifetime budgets

Google Ads has campaign level or shared budgets.

This is likely a quarterly check in item, but be sure you’re using the right budget settings depending on your goals. As your campaigns evolved and initiatives are switched out as the year goes on, it’s important to take a step back and ensure you’re setting yourself up for success and not choosing the same budget options because that’s what you did last time.

5. Know what you can afford

My last thought is for new advertisers or initiatives in 2020.

Although PPC has a great reputation for “immediate” results, that doesn’t mean that you’ll be profitable right away on anything brand new. There are those rare cases where a campaign begins to pay for itself within the first hours or days of launch, but this is pretty rare.

More than likely, there will need to be a period of testing, learning, and optimizing before you see your campaign be profitable. This is why it’s important to know what you can and can’t afford to spend.

I’ve had a number of companies ask me in the past couple of years what budget it takes to be successful with PPC; unfortunately, there’s not really an answer to that question. But there are some things I suggest you keep in mind:

  1. Again, results aren’t immediate, so you’ll likely be spending more than you’re making for a period of time. Just because it’s not profitable right away doesn’t mean that the initiative won’t ever turn a profit.
  2. You need data to optimize. There’s a temptation to set very low daily budgets to start. While being conservative can be a good thing, it can also hurt you if you’re not gaining enough insights to optimize from. Don’t shoot for the moon, but don’t restrict your campaigns too much either. Both can result in lots of dollars spent with nothing gained and, almost worse, nothing learned.
  3. If your budget is restricted, do some of the forecasting and projecting mentioned above and prioritize the most likely avenue for success first. Just like with initial results, if this channel does or doesn’t work, that doesn’t mean that others will follow suit. It’s beneficial to test many different paths, but if you only have a set amount of budget available for a new test, focus on the most likely to perform first.

Focus on your PPC budget in 2020

Budgeting isn’t going to be the hot topic of PPC in 2020, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t have a major impact on your success. Spend some time getting organized for the year this month and set up a cadence of checking in on performance, flexibility, best practices, and new tests to ensure you’re not ignoring this optimization path in the new year.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream