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The MozCon 2018 Final Agenda

Posted by Trevor-Klein

MozCon 2018 is just around the corner — just over six weeks away — and we’re excited to share the final agenda with you today. There are some familiar faces, and some who’ll be on the MozCon stage for the first time, with topics ranging from the evolution of searcher intent to the increasing importance of local SEO, and from navigating bureaucracy for buy-in to cutting the noise out of your reporting.

We’re also thrilled to announce this year’s winning pitches for our six MozCon Community Speaker slots! If you’re not familiar, each year we hold several shorter speaking slots, asking you all to submit your best pitches for what you’d like to teach everyone at MozCon. The winners — all members of the Moz Community — are invited to the conference alongside all our other speakers, and are always some of the most impressive folks on the stage. Check out the details of their talks below, and congratulations to this year’s roster!

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The Agenda


Monday, July 9


8:30–9:30 am

Breakfast and registration

Doors to the conference will open at 8:00 for those looking to avoid registration lines and grab a cup of coffee (or two) before breakfast, which will be available starting at 8:30.


9:30–9:45 am

Welcome to MozCon 2018!
Sarah Bird

Moz CEO Sarah Bird will kick things off by sharing everything you need to know about your time at MozCon 2018, including conference logistics and evening events.

She’ll also set the tone for the show with an update on the state of the SEO industry, illustrating the fact that there’s more opportunity in it now than there’s ever been before.


9:50–10:20 am

The Democratization of SEO
Jono Alderson

How much time and money we collectively burn by fixing the same kinds of basic, “binary,” well-defined things over and over again (e.g., meta tags, 404s, URLs, etc), when we could be teaching others throughout our organizations not to break them in the first place?

As long as we “own” technical SEO, there’s no reason (for example) for the average developer to learn it or care — so they keep making the same mistakes. We proclaim that others are doing things wrong, but by doing so we only reinforce the line between our skills and theirs.

We need to start giving away bits of the SEO discipline, and technical SEO is probably the easiest thing for us to stop owning. We need more democratization, education, collaboration, and investment in open source projects so we can fix things once, rather than a million times.


10:20–10:50 am

Mobile-First Indexing or a Whole New Google
Cindy Krum

The emergence of voice-search and Google Assistant is forcing Google to change its model in search, to favor their own entity understanding or the world, so that questions and queries can be answered in context. Many marketers are struggling to understand how their website and their job as an SEO or SEM will change, as searches focus more on entity-understanding, context and action-oriented interaction. This shift can either provide massive opportunities, or create massive threats to your company and your job — the main determining factor is how you choose to prepare for the change.


10:50–11:20 am

AM Break


11:30–11:50 am

It Takes a Village:
2x Your Paid Search Revenue by Smashing Silos
Community speaker: Amy Hebdon

Your company’s unfair advantage to skyrocketing paid search revenue is within your reach, but it’s likely outside the control of your paid search team. Good keywords and ads are just a few cogs in the conversion machine. The truth is, the success of the entire channel depends on people who don’t touch the campaigns, and may not even know how paid search works. We’ll look at how design, analysis, UX, PM and other marketing roles can directly impact paid search performance, including the most common issues that arise, and how to immediately fix them to improve ROI and revenue growth.


11:50 am–12:10 pm

The #1 and Only Reason Your SEO Clients Keep Firing You
Community speaker: Meredith Oliver

You have a kick-ass keyword strategy. Seriously, it could launch a NASA rocket; it’s that good. You have the best 1099 local and international talent on your SEO team that working from home and an unlimited amount of free beard wax can buy. You have a super-cool animal inspired company name like Sloth or Chinchilla that no one understands, but the logo is AMAZING. You have all of this, yet, your client turnover rate is higher than Snoop Dogg’s audience on an HBO comedy special. Why? You don’t talk to your clients. As in really communicate, teach them what you know, help them get it, really get it, talk to them. How do I know? I was you. In my agency’s first five years we churned and burned through clients faster than Kim Kardashian could take selfies. My mastermind group suggested we *proactively* set up and insist upon a monthly review meeting with every single client. It was a game-changer, and we immediately adopted the practice. Ten years later we have a 90% client retention rate and more than 30 SEO clients on retainer.


12:10–12:30 pm

Why “Blog” Is a Misnomer for Our 2018 Content Strategy
Community speaker: Taylor Coil

At the end of 2017, we totally redesigned our company’s blog. Why? Because it’s not really a blog anymore – it’s an evergreen collection of traffic and revenue-generating resources. The former design catered to a time-oriented strategy surfacing consistently new posts with short half-lives. That made sense when we started our blog in 2014. Today? Not so much. In her talk, Taylor will detail how to make the perspective shift from “blog” to “collection of resources,” why that shift is relevant in 2018’s content landscape, and what changes you can make to your blog’s homepage, nav, and taxonomy that reflect this new perspective.


12:30–2:00 pm

Lunch


2:05–2:35 pm

Near Me or Far:
How Google May Be Deciding Your Local Intent For You
Rob Bucci

In August 2017, Google stated that local searches without the “near me” modifier had grown by 150% and that searchers were beginning to drop geo-modifiers — like zip code and neighborhood — from local queries altogether. But does Google still know what searchers are after?

For example: the query [best breakfast places] suggests that quality takes top priority; [breakfast places near me] indicates that close proximity is essential; and [breakfast places in Seattle] seems to cast a city-wide net; while [breakfast places] is largely ambiguous.

By comparing non-geo-modified keywords against those modified with the prepositional phrases “near me” and “in [city name]” and qualifiers like “best,” we hope to understand how Google interprets different levels of local intent and uncover patterns in the types of SERPs produced.

With a better understanding of how local SERPs behave, SEOs can refine keyword lists, tailor content, and build targeted campaigns accordingly.


2:35–3:05 pm

None of Us Is as Smart as All of Us
Lisa Myers

Success in SEO, or in any discipline, is frequently reliant on people’s ability to work together. Lisa Myers started Verve Search in 2009, and from the very beginning was convinced of the importance of building a diverse team, then developing and empowering them to find their own solutions.

In this session she’ll share her experiences and offer actionable advice on how to attract, develop, and retain the right people in order to build a truly world-class team.


3:05–3:35 pm

PM Break


3:45–4:15 pm

Search-Driven Content Strategy
Stephanie Briggs

Google’s improvements in understanding language and search intent have changed how and why content ranks. As a result, many SEOs are chasing rankings that Google has already decided are hopeless. Stephanie will cover how this should impact the way you write and optimize content for search, and will help you identify the right content opportunities. She’ll teach you how to persuade organizations to invest in content, and will share examples of strategies and tactics she has used to grow content programs by millions of visits.


4:15–4:55 pm

Ranking Is a Promise: Can You Deliver?
Dr. Pete Meyers

In our rush to rank, we put ourselves first, neglecting what searchers (and our future customers) want. Google wants to reward sites that deliver on searcher intent, and SERP features are a window into that intent. Find out how to map keywords to intent, understand how intent informs the buyer funnel, and deliver on the promise of ranking to drive results that attract clicks and customers.


7:00–10:00 pm

Kickoff Party

Networking the Mozzy way! Join us for an evening of fun on the first night of the conference (stay tuned for all the details!).



Tuesday, July 10


8:30–9:30 am

Breakfast


9:35–10:15 am

Content Marketing Is Broken
and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You
Oli Gardner

Traditional content marketing focuses on educational value at the expense of product value, which is a broken and outdated way of thinking. We all need to sell a product, and our visitors all need a product to improve their lives, but we’re so afraid of being seen as salesy that somehow we got lost, and we forgot why our content even exists. We need our M.O.M.s! No, not your actual mother. Your Marketing Optimization Map — your guide to exploring the nuances of optimized content marketing through a product-focused lens.

In this session you’ll learn data and lessons from Oli’s biggest ever content marketing experiment, and how those lessons have changed his approach to content; a context-to-content-to-conversion strategy for big content that converts; advanced methods for creating “choose your own adventure” navigational experiences to build event-based behavioral profiles of your visitors (using GTM and GA); and innovative ways to productize and market the technology you already have, with use cases your customers had never considered.


10:15–10:45 am

Lies, Damned Lies, and Analytics
Russ Jones

Search engine optimization is a numbers game. We want some numbers to go up (links, rankings, traffic, and revenue), others to go down (bounce rate, load time, and budget). Underlying all these numbers are assumptions that can mislead, deceive, or downright ruin your campaigns. Russ will help uncover the hidden biases, distortions, and fabrications that underlie many of the metrics we have come to trust implicitly and from the ashes show you how to build metrics that make a difference.


10:45–11:15 am

AM Break


11:25–11:55 am

The Awkward State of Local
Mike Ramsey

You know it exists. You know what a citation is, and have a sense for the importance of accurate listings. But with personalization and localization playing an increasing role in every SERP, local can no longer be seen in its own silo — every search and social marketer should be honing their understanding. For that matter, it’s also time for local search marketers to broaden the scope of their work.


11:55 am–12:25 pm

The SEO Cyborg:
Connecting Search Technology and Its Users
Alexis Sanders

SEO requires a delicate balance of working for the humans you’re hoping to reach, and the machines that’ll help you reach them. To make a difference in today’s SERPs, you need to understand the engines, site configurations, and even some machine learning, in addition to the emotional, raw, authentic connections with people and their experiences. In this talk, Alexis will help marketers of all stripes walk that line.


12:25–1:55 pm

Lunch


2:00–2:30 pm

Email Unto Others:
The Golden Rules for Human-Centric Email Marketing
Justine Jordan

With the arrival of GDPR and the ease with which consumers can unsubscribe and report spam, it’s more important than ever to treat people like people instead of just leads. To understand how email marketing is changing and to identify opportunities for brands, Litmus surveyed more than 3,000 marketers worldwide. Justine will cover the biggest trends and challenges facing email today and help you put the human back in marketing’s most personal — and effective — marketing channel.


2:30–3:00 pm

Your Red-Tape Toolkit:
How to Win Trust and Get Approval for Search Work
Heather Physioc

Are your search recommendations overlooked and misunderstood? Do you feel like you hit roadblocks at every turn? Are you worried that people don’t understand the value of your work? Learn how to navigate corporate bureaucracy and cut through red tape to help clients and colleagues understand your search work — and actually get it implemented. From diagnosing client maturity to communicating where search fits into the big picture, these tools will equip you to overcome obstacles to doing your best work.


3:00–3:30 pm

PM Break


3:40–4:10 pm

The Problem with Content &
Other Things We Don’t Want to Admit
Casie Gillette

Everyone thinks they need content but they don’t think about why they need it or what they actually need to create. As a result, we are overwhelmed with poor quality content and marketers are struggling to prove the value. In this session, we’ll look at some of the key challenges facing marketers and how a data-driven strategy can help us make better decisions.


4:10–4:50 pm

Excel Is for Rookies:
Why Every Search Marketer Needs to Get Strong in BI, ASAP
Wil Reynolds

The analysts are coming for your job, not AI (at least not yet). Analysts stopped using Excel years ago; they use Tableau, Power BI, Looker! They see more data than you, and that is what is going to make them a threat to your job. They might not know search, but they know data. I’ll document my obsession with Power BI and the insights I can glean in seconds which is helping every single client at Seer at the speed of light. Search marketers must run to this opportunity, as analysts miss out on the insights because more often than not they use these tools to report. We use them to find insights.



Wednesday, July 11


8:30–9:30 am

Breakfast


9:35–10:15 am

Machine Learning for SEOs
Britney Muller

People generally react to machine learning in one of two ways: either with a combination of fascination and terror brought on by the possibilities that lie ahead, or with looks of utter confusion and slight embarrassment at not really knowing much about it. With the advent of RankBrain, not even higher-ups at Google can tell us exactly how some things rank above others, and the impact of machine learning on SEO is only going to increase from here. Fear not: Moz’s own senior SEO scientist, Britney Muller, will talk you through what you need to know.


10:15–10:45 am

Shifting Toward Engagement and Reviews
Darren Shaw

With search results adding features and functionality all the time, and users increasingly finding what they need without ever leaving the SERP, we need to focus more on the forest and less on the trees. Engagement and behavioral optimization are key. In this talk, Darren will offer new data to show you just how tight the proximity radius around searchers really is, and how reviews can be your key competitive advantage, detailing new strategies and tactics to take your reivews to the next level.


10:45–11:15 am

AM Break


11:25–11:45 am

Location-Free Local SEO
Community speaker: Tom Capper

Let’s talk about local SEO without physical premises. Not the Google My Business kind — the kind of local SEO that job boards, house listing sites, and national delivery services have to reckon with. Should they have landing pages, for example, for “flower delivery in London?”

This turns out to be a surprisingly nuanced issue: In some industries, businesses are ranking for local terms without a location-specific page, and in others local pages are absolutely essential. I’ve worked with clients across several industries on why these sorts of problems exist, and how to tackle them. How should you figure out whether you need these pages, how can you scale them and incorporate them in your site architecture, and how many should you have for what location types?


11:45 am–12:05 pm

SEO without Traffic:
Community speaker: Hannah Thorpe

Answer boxes, voice search, and a reduction in the number of results displayed sometimes all result in users spending more time in the SERPs and less on our websites. But does that mean we should stop investing in SEO?

This talk will cover what metrics we should now care about, and how strategies need to change, covering everything from measuring more than just traffic and rankings to expanding your keyword research beyond just keyword volumes.


12:05–12:25 pm

Tools Change, People Don’t:
Empathy-Driven Online Marketing
Community speaker: Ashley Greene

When everyone else zags, the winners zig. As winners, while your 101+ competitors are trying to automate ’til the cows come home and split test their way to greatness‚ you’re zigging. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, you’re marketing to humans. Real people. Homo sapiens. But where is the human element in the game plan? Quite simply, it has gone missing, which provides a window of opportunity for the smartest marketers.

In this talk, Ashley will provide a framework of simple user interview and survey techniques to build customer empathy and your “voice of customer” playbook. Using real examples from companies like Slack, Pinterest, Intercom, and Airbnb, this talk will help you uncover your customers’ biggest problems and pain points; know what, when, and how your customers research (and Google!) a need you solve; and find new sources of information and influencers so you can unearth distribution channels and partnerships.


12:25–1:55 pm

Lunch


2:00–2:30 pm

You Don’t Know SEO
Michael King

Or maybe, “SEO you don’t know you don’t know.” We’ve all heard people throw jargon around in an effort to sound smart when they clearly don’t know what it means, and our industry of SEO is no exception. There are aspects of search that are acknowledged as important, but seldom actually understood. Michael will save us from awkward moments, taking complex topics like the esoteric components of information retrieval and log-file analysis, pairing them with a detailed understanding of technical implementation of common SEO recommendations, and transforming them into tools and insights we wish we’d never neglected.


2:30–3:00 pm

What All Marketers Can Do about Site Speed
Emily Grossman

At this point, we should all have some idea of how important site speed is to our performance in search. The recently announced “speed update” underscored that fact yet again. It isn’t always easy for marketers to know where to start improving their site’s speed, though, and a lot of folks mistakenly believe that site speed should only be a developer’s problem. Emily will clear that up with an actionable tour of just how much impact our own work can have on getting our sites to load quickly enough for today’s standards.


3:00–3:30 pm

PM Break


3:40–4:10 pm

Traffic vs. Signal
Dana DiTomaso

With an ever-increasing slate of options in tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio, marketers of all stripes are falling prey to the habit of “I’ll collect this data because maybe I’ll need it eventually,” when in reality it’s creating a lot of noise for zero signal.

We’re still approaching our metrics from the organization’s perspective, and not from the customer’s perspective. Why, for example, are we not reporting on (or even thinking about, really) how quickly a customer can do what they need to do? Why are we still fixated on pageviews? In this talk, Dana will focus our attention on what really matters.


4:10–4:50 pm

Why Nine out of Ten Marketing Launches Suck
(And How to Be the One that Doesn’t)
Rand Fishkin

More than ever before, marketers are launching things — content, tools, resources, products — and being held responsible for how/whether they resonate with customers and earn the amplification required to perform. But this is hard. Really, really hard. Most of the projects that launch, fail. What separates the wheat from the chaff isn’t just the quality of what’s built, but the process behind it. In this presentation, Rand will present examples of dismal failures and skyrocketing successes, and dive into what separates the two. You’ll learn how anyone can make a launch perform better, and benefit from the power of being “new.”


7:00–11:30 pm

MozCon Bash

Join us at Garage Billiards to wrap up the conference with an evening of networking, billiards, bowling, and karaoke with MozCon friends new and old. Don’t forget to bring your MozCon badge and US ID or passport.



Grab your ticket today!

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Advanced Remarketing: How to Build an Intent Map (And Get More Conversions)

Advanced Remarketing: How to Build an Intent Map (And Get More Conversions)

Allen Finn

Last updated :
May 22, 2018

Here on the WordStream Blog, we’ve devoted tens of thousands of words to remarketing.

We’ve touted best practices, #hacks, and cross-platform strategies, shared superlative creative, and made note of just about anything that relates to getting your ads in front of your most valuable prospects (again).

What we haven’t spent much time focusing on, however, is what to do when your beginner-level remarketing program stagnates.

I’m willing to bet a paycheck that you can make a few key changes and squeeze more out of your existing strategy, starting with kicking its degree of sophistication up a notch.

Sooooo…

That’s what I’m here to talk about.

remarketing strategy so sophisticated

Today, I’ll dive into how you can:

First, though…

The Case for a More Complex Remarketing Program

It’s no secret that remarketing—whether via the Display network, RLSA, or some #programmatic network—is integral to sustained success in online advertising.

illustrating how remarketing works

After all, it allows you to reach prospects already familiar with your brand, providing them ample opportunity to return to your site and complete some sacred, coveted [desired action].

This is important because people—particularly the ones at the top of your marketing funnel—probably aren’t going to convert on their first (or even second) trip to your site. Customer acquisition can be a high-touch affair, and a perpetual presence across different devices and the websites your prospects frequent makes that a damn sight easier (and cheaper).

In fact, WordStream’s Senior Data Scientist, Mark Irvine, has discovered that people are 2x more likely to convert after seeing your ad 6 times.

ad conversion rates improve with impressions

Now, obviously there needs to be some semblance of nuance to your strategy; berating strangers with the same played-out banner ad offering a demo or discount two dozen times in an afternoon isn’t going to buy you good will or convince them to buy your product.

people get sick of your ad after six impressions

Funnel-stage appropriate, targeted offers, however, just might.

Of course, making this a reality is impossible without implementing a strategy that goes beyond overly-simplistic “all site visitors” lists.

Granularity in search got you in the door, why oversimplify when the stakes are even higher?

Using Inferred Intent to Segment Your Remarketing Audiences

In search, query data—what someone types or speaks into Google—is the intent signal. Based on the language used, you can reasonably infer where an individual should fall in your funnel. This allows you to tailor your ad copy, landing pages, and offers to this ascribed intent.

purchase intent based on remarketing audiences

Remarketing—outside of RLSA, of course—works a little differently. Here, there are no nuggets of gold, no phrases straight from the horse’s mouth signaling exactly where a prospective customer is in proximity to making a purchase.

Instead, behavior is the crux of a sound remarketing strategy.

The pages a prospect visits are, in many cases, indicators of where they fall in your sales funnel; you might not have “buy men’s nike air force 1 size 12.5 right now” to go off like you did on search, but that doesn’t exactly mean you’re fumbling in the dark.

Let’s say Visitor A comes to WordStream.com, reads nine wonderfully informative blog posts in a single sitting, then rolls out to order lunch or bang out some work or whatever it is they do. Three WeWork cube thingies down, Visitor B heads to the product page for WordStream Advisor, lingers for eight minutes (really letting it all soak in), checks out the pricing page, then makes a beeline for the bar cart (fancy!) to fix a stiff drink.

Who’s more valuable today?

Visitor A might be a seasoned PPC professional(!!), bootstrapping do-it-yourself business owner(!!!), or a curious tween (eh), but Visitor B spent time on more valuable pages. Serving our old pal A an ad for a product demo or free trial would be mighty presumptuous (a whitepaper on the other hand…)

appropriate remarketing offers SaaS

But for Visitor B, it’s a great fit!

Their on-site behavior allows us to infer that they’re a high-intent site visitor, something we’d never have known if we’d leaned on a strategy build atop nothing more than “all site visitors,” “last 30 days,” and their unspecific ilk.

Of course, you need to actual build these more targeted audiences before you can target them.

Turning Inferred Intent into a Remarketing Strategy

Let’s not put the cart before the horse here; to get the ball rolling, you’re going to need to ensure that the requisite tracking code lives on every single page of your website (and that you’re informing European site visitors of its existence, what with the GDPR and all).

remarketing tag analysis

There are a boatload of ways to skin this cat—if you’ve got the wherewithal, use Google Tag Manager—but today we’re going to pretend you’re copying and pasting your site’s Global Site Tag (gtag.js) into the beginning of the section of each page on your website.

gstag

Once that’s done, head over to Admin > Audience Definitions > Audiences. If this is your first rodeo, click “import from gallery”…

google analytics import audience from gallery

 

And choose [Engagement Pack] Core Remarketing Lists, which provides you with pre-built remarketing audiences based on the recency, frequency, duration, and page depth of sessions in aggregate. This is the most kick-ass starter kit money doesn’t have to buy.

google analytics core remarketing list

If you’ve already done this, hit “+New Audience.”

analytics audiences based on specific pageviews

In the Audience Builder interface, choose “Conditions” and enter the appropriate URL string for which you’d like to build more granular audiences. Note that if you’d like to add a time-based parameter to your audience, you can do that here as well (where it says “Page” in the screenshot above, simply switch it over to “Time on Page”).

Once you’ve built audiences for your most valuable pages, ensure you’ve connected your GA and AdWords accounts, and allow your list to grow; you’ll need at least 100 active members in the last 30 days for it to be eligible for use on the Display Network, and 1,000 for use in RLSA.

Mapping your remarketing audiences based on intent

(also known as “janky-yet-effective tool time!” Pardon my lack of aesthetic brilliance)

You’ve got your granular audiences: now it’s time to determine how they relate to one another and, more importantly, what kind of value they represent to your business.

First, make a list of your remarketing audiences. For this exercise, let’s say we’re working with the following 10 audiences:

  • All Visitors (30 Days)
  • All Visitors (3 Days)
  • Home Page Visitors
  • Viewed Multiple Blog Posts
  • Webinar Registration
  • Content Download
  • Used Free Tool A
  • Pricing Page Visitors
  • Free Trial
  • Demo Completed (No Purchase)

Now, take your list of remarketing audiences and arrange them based on their anticipated business value from lowest to highest.

remarketing audience intent map

I’m a freak, so I draw stuff like this on whiteboards and use sticky notes; that just doesn’t translate to a blog post particularly well, so I made a neat tool for visualizing intent. Your finished product should look something like this:

remarketing audience intent map completed version

This will allow you to group your audiences based on the spectrum at the bottom of the map, which indicates proximity to purchase. It breaks out something like this:

  • Pre-research (low intent, just browsing): All Visitors (30 Days), All Visitors (3 Days), Home Page Visitors
  • Research (so-so intent, informational): Viewed Multiple Blog Posts, Webinar Registration, Content Download, Used Free Tool
  • Recommendation (high intent, transactional): Pricing Page Visitors, Free Trial, Demo Completed (No Purchase)

From a budgeting perspective, you’re going to want to push more chips to the right; this doesn’t mean your lower-intent audiences don’t matter, just that they’re further away from converting. Ensure that, when live, you exclude high value audiences from low value audiences and vice-versa. This will allow you to serve hyper-relevant offers to your prospects and avoid the fatigue that may accompany seeing your creative 6+ times.

Tailoring Creative throughout the Customer Journey

See that last section on the Intent Map?

That’s where we match creative concepts and, more importantly, offers, to remarketing audiences.

In an ideal world, you’ve got a fleet of plebs ready and willing to create custom everything for each individual audience; in the real world, that’d cost too much damn money so, instead, we’re going to silo remarketing audiences into the three buckets outlined above.

What might that look like in action?

Great question.

Let’s look at how creative concepts (and offers) might differ from the pre-research to research to recommendation phase using athleticwear brand New Balance as an example (big eCommerce usually knows what’s good in terms of remarketing segmentation).

***

So, I’m doin’ my thing, reading about the Celtics-Cavs series, when I see some #sponsoredcontent detailing the merits of New Balance’s fine wears. I click a link to the website, observe some super baller action shots on the home page, then pop back over to the prosaic stylings of Brian Windhorst.

SUDDENLY, I see a banner ad!

new balance tofu

Ohhhhhh, such heritage! What quality!

Obviously it must be clicked.

I spend a bit more time on the site, checking out some sneakers, before duty calls and I must return to the world of blog-writing.

The next day, I’m scrolling through random sites when what do I spy? A New Balance ad.

This time, instead of promoting the brand’s deep-rooted history and the authority of its website, I’m presented with a carousel of sneakers and a few too many prompts to “shop now.” I click one. Death by a thousand cuts.

new balance mofu

Within moments I discover a neat pair of kicks. They’ve got them in my size.

I add them to my cart.

I begin punching in my credit card information.

The number.

That funny little security thingy on the back.

The date of expira…

The dang thing’s expired! Thwarted again!

Later that evening as I sit on the couch crushing the most recent episode of Showtime’s hit series Billions, I see an email (Gmail ads ftw!) from New Balance hit my inbox.

I open it and, what do I find? The shoes I left sitting in my shopping cart.

new balance bofu

As you can see, New Balance effectively segmented their remarketing audiences to promote different offers to me based on the pages I visited and actions I took, which indicated my rapidly improving proximity to making a purchase.

A More Advanced Approach

Whether you’re a SaaS company looking to fill your funnel and push leads from “hi, how are ya?!” to trial and, eventually, purchase, or an ecommerce shop looking to move units, this strategy—segmenting remarketing audiences based on value and aligning creative and offers accordingly—will significantly improve the effectiveness and ROI of your remarketing program.

What do you think? What are you waiting for?

And, finally, the burning question: Did I buy them?

ruminating smiley blob

Allen Finn

Allen Finn writes many things at WordStream, where he reigned as fantasy football champion for some time. He likes marveling at funky beer labels, every beat on Liquid Swords, most cuts of beef, and New Hampshire.

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Backlink Blindspots: The State of Robots.txt

Posted by rjonesx.

Here at Moz we have committed to making Link Explorer as similar to Google as possible, specifically in the way we crawl the web. I have discussed in previous articles some metrics we use to ascertain that performance, but today I wanted to spend a little bit of time talking about the impact of robots.txt and crawling the web.

Most of you are familiar with robots.txt as the method by which webmasters can direct Google and other bots to visit only certain pages on the site. Webmasters can be selective, allowing certain bots to visit some pages while denying other bots access to the same. This presents a problem for companies like Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs: we try to crawl the web like Google, but certain websites deny access to our bots while allowing that access to Googlebot. So, why exactly does this matter?

Why does it matter?

Graph showing how crawlers hop from one link to another

As we crawl the web, if a bot encounters a robots.txt file, they’re blocked from crawling specific content. We can see the links that point to the site, but we’re blind regarding the content of the site itself. We can’t see the outbound links from that site. This leads to an immediate deficiency in the link graph, at least in terms of being similar to Google (if Googlebot is not similarly blocked).

But that isn’t the only issue. There is a cascading failure caused by bots being blocked by robots.txt in the form of crawl prioritization. As a bot crawls the web, it discovers links and has to prioritize which links to crawl next. Let’s say Google finds 100 links and prioritizes the top 50 to crawl. However, a different bot finds those same 100 links, but is blocked by robots.txt from crawling 10 of the top 50 pages. Instead, they’re forced to crawl around those, making them choose a different 50 pages to crawl. This different set of crawled pages will return, of course, a different set of links. In this next round of crawling, Google will not only have a different set they’re allowed to crawl, the set itself will differ because they crawled different pages in the first place.

Long story short, much like the proverbial butterfly that flaps its wings eventually leading to a hurricane, small changes in robots.txt which prevent some bots and allow others ultimately leads to very different results compared to what Google actually sees.

So, how are we doing?

You know I wasn’t going to leave you hanging. Let’s do some research. Let’s analyze the top 1,000,000 websites on the Internet according to Quantcast and determine which bots are blocked, how frequently, and what impact that might have.

Methodology

The methodology is fairly straightforward.

  1. Download the Quantcast Top Million
  2. Download the robots.txt if available from all top million sites
  3. Parse the robots.txt to determine whether the home page and other pages are available
  4. Collect link data related to blocked sites
  5. Collect total pages on-site related to blocked sites.
  6. Report the differences among crawlers.

Total sites blocked

The first and easiest metric to report is the number of sites which block individual crawlers (Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs) while allowing Google. Most site that block one of the major SEO crawlers block them all. They simply formulate robots.txt to allow major search engines while blocking other bot traffic. Lower is better.

Bar graph showing number of sites blocking each SEO tool in robots.txt

Of the sites analyzed, 27,123 blocked MJ12Bot (Majestic), 32,982 blocked Ahrefs, and 25,427 blocked Moz. This means that among the major industry crawlers, Moz is the least likely to be turned away from a site that allows Googlebot. But what does this really mean?

Total RLDs blocked

As discussed previously, one big issue with disparate robots.txt entries is that it stops the flow of PageRank. If Google can see a site, they can pass link equity from referring domains through the site’s outbound domains on to other sites. If a site is blocked by robots.txt, it’s as though the outbound lanes of traffic on all the roads going into the site are blocked. By counting all the inbound lanes of traffic, we can get an idea of the total impact on the link graph. Lower is better.

According to our research, Majestic ran into dead ends on 17,787,118 referring domains, Ahrefs on 20,072,690 and Moz on 16,598,365. Once again, Moz’s robots.txt profile was most similar to that of Google’s. But referring domains isn’t the only issue with which we should be concerned.

Total pages blocked

Most pages on the web only have internal links. Google isn’t interested in creating a link graph — they’re interested in creating a search engine. Thus, a bot designed to act like Google needs to be just as concerned about pages that only receive internal links as they are those that receive external links. Another metric we can measure is the total number of pages that are blocked by using Google’s site: query to estimate the number of pages Google has access to that a different crawler does not. So, how do the competing industry crawlers perform? Lower is better.

Once again, Moz shines on this metric. It’s not just that Moz is blocked by fewer sites— Moz is blocked by less important and smaller sites. Majestic misses the opportunity to crawl 675,381,982 pages, Ahrefs misses 732,871,714 and Moz misses 658,015,885. There’s almost an 80 million-page difference between Ahrefs and Moz just in the top million sites on the web.

Unique sites blocked

Most of the robots.txt disallows facing Moz, Majestic, and Ahrefs are simply blanket blocks of all bots that don’t represent major search engines. However, we can isolate the times when specific bots are named deliberately for exclusion while competitors remain. For example, how many times is Moz blocked while Ahrefs and Majestic are allowed? Which bot is singled out the most? Lower is better.

Ahrefs is singled out by 1201 sites, Majestic by 7152 and Moz by 904. It is understandable that Majestic has been singled out, given that they have been operating a very large link index for many years, a decade or more. It took Moz 10 years to accumulate 904 individual robots.txt blocks, and took Ahrefs 7 years to accumulate 1204. But let me give some examples of why this is important.

If you care about links from name.com, hypermart.net, or eclipse.org, you can’t rely solely on Majestic.

If you care about links from popsugar.com, dict.cc, or bookcrossing.com, you can’t rely solely on Moz.

If you care about links from dailymail.co.uk, patch.com, or getty.edu, you can’t rely solely on Ahrefs.

And regardless of what you do or which provider you use, you can’t links from yelp.com, who.int, or findarticles.com.

Conclusions

While Moz’s crawler DotBot clearly enjoys the closest robots.txt profile to Google among the three major link indexes, there’s still a lot of work to be done. We work very hard on crawler politeness to ensure that we’re not a burden to webmasters, which allows us to crawl the web in a manner more like Google. We will continue to work more to improve our performance across the web and bring to you the best backlink index possible.

Thanks to Dejan SEO for the beautiful link graph used in the header image and Mapt for the initial image used in the diagrams.

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How to Create Awesome Facebook Carousel Ads That Convert

How to Create Awesome Facebook Carousel Ads That Convert

Gordon Donnelly
Gordon Donnelly

Last updated :
May 21, 2018

With GIFs, videos, slideshows, and Canvas ads floating ubiquitously around Facebook these days, one thing has become evident—users prefer interactive content over stagnant content. They want something that moves. Something that’ll give them an experience they just wouldn’t get looking at a still image. Image ads are still prominent, sure, but statistics tell the story: Views of branded video content on Facebook increased 258% as of June 2017. Each day, over 500 million people watch video on Facebook.

These users want multi-pronged brand stories. They want options. They want to go for a ride without getting up. Enter Facebook Carousel ads.

Facebook Carousel Ads Target

Looks great for e-commerce, but not much else, right? Not quite! In this post, we’re going to take you through the experience of creating a Facebook Carousel ad, and discuss some ways you can leverage Carousel ads for a variety of marketing objectives.

Let’s slide right into it!

What Are Facebook Carousel Ads?

Facebook Carousel is an interactive ad format which allows you to display up to 10 images or videos on “cards” within a single ad. Carousels are effective not only because they encourage prospects to interact with your ad, but because they just flat out allow you more room for products or portions of your brand story. They’re a favorite among e-commerce advertisers for precisely that reason.

Facebook Carousel Ads One Product

Here, you’ll notice that the advertiser chose to use cards to highlight specific parts of one product, and that the bottom of each card has its own unique description. This brings us to a remarkably powerful feature of Facebook Carousel ads—the potential for several different calls-to-action, beneath several different products, leading to several different landing pages. That’s flexibility you just don’t get in any other ad format. Ostensibly, if you have 10 unique cards, that’s 10 unique chances for a prospect to interact with your brand.

Another statistic, this one unique to Carousels: according to Facebook, advertisers have seen Carousel ads drive 30-50% lower cost-per-conversions and 20-30% lower cost-per-clicks than single-image link ads. That’s a lot of bang for your buck in exchange for a little more creative.

Facebook Carousel Ad Sizing and Specs

Given the multi-faceted nature of the Carousel format, it’s important to get sizing and specs down before you get into the creation process. Here are some specs you should keep in mind:

  • Image/Thumbnail size: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels
  • Image/Video aspect ratio: 1:1 (square)
  • Text: 125 characters
  • Headline: 40 characters
  • Link description: 20 characters
  • Number of cards: 2-10
  • Image file size: 30MB max
  • Video file size: 4GB max
  • Video length: Up to 240 minutes

Sticking to these specs will ensure you don’t hit any snags in the creation, delivery, or presentation of your ads.

How to Make a Facebook Carousel Ad

To make a Facebook Carousel Ad, head into Ads Manager and select a marketing objective which supports the Carousel format—reach, brand awareness, traffic, app installs, lead generation, conversions, or catalog sales.

Create your ad set, select the Carousel format, and you’re ready to rock and roll. Here’s what you’ll see when you’re ready to create your Carousel ad.

Facebook Carousel Ads Product 1

1. The text here should be overarching, and should encompass every card of your Carousel. If you’re selling one product, say something about that product. If you’re selling a line of products, say something about the line.

2. This feature is only available for News Feed and Instagram ads. Use it if the order of your cards isn’t integral to the story you’re trying to tell. If you’re simply showcasing multiple products, displaying the best-performing card first will pay dividends.

3. While Facebook Carousel ads aren’t supported for the Store Visits objective, you do have the option here of displaying a map to augment local ads. Take this example:

Facebook Carousel Ads Location

4. Your cards. You can drag and drop to rearrange the order of your cards before or after you create them.

Facebook Carousel Ads Cards

Select either video or image creative, then input a headline and (more granular) description beneath it.

Facebook Carousel Ads CTA

Continue to scroll and you’ll see the option to select individual call-to-action buttons for each card—or, if you prefer a cleaner look, to get ride of CTA buttons altogether. The “add an overlay” field allows you to place either a “Free Shipping” or “Cash on Delivery” mini-banner over your card—both of which, conceivably, could make converting a lot more appealing to prospects.

Facebook Carousel Ad Examples

Facebook Carousel Ads Examples

The rumors are true: there lives within Facebook an entire group devoted to showing off the best Carousel ads in town. It’s glorious.

If you’re ever in need of Carousel inspiration, look no further than this group. While it seems to have fallen out of widespread use in the last year or so, there’s still a massive backload of Carousel examples to explore and analyze.

Remember, there are the seven objectives for which Facebook Carousel ads are available—reach, brand awareness, traffic, app installs, lead generation, conversions, and catalog sales. Today, for the sake of economy, we’re going to tuck reach within brand awareness, catalog sales within conversions, and save app installs for a rainy day. Let’s look at Carousels that work to accomplish four common, yet unique objectives—brand awareness, traffic, lead gen, and conversions—and discuss why each is effective.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Brand Awareness

 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcarouselformat%2Fposts%2F1631029547211219&width=500

What says credibility like Rupert Lordchampion? From a messaging perspective, this ad is great because it melds an image of market longevity with new-age edginess—Rupert is an established guy, but he has a problem with authority, and is prone to millennial-like irreverence.

From a formatting standpoint, you can see why Carousels are effective when telling compelling brand stories (even facetious ones like this). Here, Dr. Pepper is able to squeeze in 3 different 10-15 second ad spots—all short and quippy enough to earn continued viewing—within a single Carousel. Whether you’re developing a character (as Dr. Pepper is here), or simply weaving multiple yarns of a larger story—the ability to string together expansive chunks of messaging makes Carousel ads an intriguing format with tons of possibilities.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Traffic

 

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fcarouselformat%2Fposts%2F1627010737613100&width=500

Whether you’re driving general traffic, traffic to unique pages with unique cards, or traffic to a single page with all your cards—the Carousel format makes for a solid traffic driver. For their 4-Course Feast promotion, the Red Lobster decided to separate their cards out by courses and point all of their links to one landing page. This tactic works well when displaying products that are valuable in their own right, but best considered in concert—say, a real estate agency showing off multiple rooms of a home listing.

When you’re crafting traffic-driving Carousels, think about the journeys your customers have realistically taken/will take to purchase your products. You have 10 unique cards to flesh out that journey. Think about your customers’ pain points, and how your unique value proposition helps assuage those points. Tell a story.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Lead Gen

Facebook Carousel Ads Leads

Facebook Lead Ads are the crown jewel of paid social lead generation—and for good reason. They’re cheap, they’re effective, and because your lead forms load directly within Facebook (as opposed to on an external landing page), they’re super fast. Well, Carousel gives you all of that functionality within the Carousel format. Read: more chances to generate coveted leads for your business.

Now, unfortunately, you can’t set up unique lead forms to open in within unique cards. If you wanted to leverage your Facebook Carousel ad to accrue unique leads, you’d have to link to unique external landing pages. Instead, the purpose of utilizing Lead ads in your Carousel is to bulk up your creative.

In the above ad, for instance, Connectio uses three different images with three unique headlines—appealing to three different segments of their prospect base—in attempt to gather names and emails. Their descriptive text is broad enough to encompass and appeal to all three segments. The prospect need merely click any card to enter his information, at which point he is immediately taken to a “Thank You Screen” with the option to visit your website or download a guide.

Lead ads in Carousel form. Magical.

Facebook Carousel Ads for Conversions

Facebook Carousel Ads E-Commerce

At long last, the objective for which Carousel ads are seemingly tailor-made: conversions. Above, we have a Hawkers Co. Carousel ad optimized for e-commerce. Now, targeting multiple audience segments in a single ad spot is nothing novel:  

Facebook Carousel Ads Playtex

But, as I’ve been harping on, having the ability to send those segments to unique landing pages allows advertisers to cast a much broader net than they could with just a single image ad. Because you’re advertising multiple products to multiple segments, you can be a little intentionally cavalier with your audience targeting. Hawkers Co. leverages that functionality to send prospects to product pages containing the same pair of sunglasses with different sets of lenses.

You’ll also notice the cross-card “blending” of creative imagery—the same tactic Target used in my first example. Blending your cards is a creative way to turn your Carousel into a graceful panoramic, and give prospects a holistic look at your product or story.

Some Thoughts…

If selling products online is your game, don’t hesitate—Facebook Carousel ads are an ideal medium to showcase multiple products to multiple segments of your prospect pool. Still, don’t sleep on Carousels just because you’re running an awareness, traffic, or lead gen campaign. Compelling visual storytelling, in some form or another, has become nearly a prerequisite for Facebook users making their way through purchase funnels. In that regard, Facebook Carousel ads have become an effective tool for a diverse array of campaign types.

Gordon Donnelly

Gordon Donnelly

Gordon Donnelly is a college hockey washout turned SEO & content marketer. He’s a sucker for: fly fishing, mudslides, and Jim Morrison driving around aimlessly in the desert.

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What Google’s GDPR Compliance Efforts Mean for Your Data: Two Urgent Actions

Posted by willcritchlow

It should be quite obvious for anyone that knows me that I’m not a lawyer, and therefore that what follows is not legal advice. For anyone who doesn’t know me: I’m not a lawyer, I’m certainly not your lawyer, and what follows is definitely not legal advice.

With that out of the way, I wanted to give you some bits of information that might feed into your GDPR planning, as they come up more from the marketing side than the pure legal interpretation of your obligations and responsibilities under this new legislation. While most legal departments will be considering the direct impacts of the GDPR on their own operations, many might miss the impacts that other companies’ (namely, in this case, Google’s) compliance actions have on your data.

But I might be getting a bit ahead of myself: it’s quite possible that not all of you know what the GDPR is, and why or whether you should care. If you do know what it is, and you just want to get to my opinions, go ahead and skip down the page.

What is the GDPR?

The tweet-length version is that the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is new EU legislation covering data protection and privacy for EU citizens, and it applies to all companies offering goods or services to people in the EU.

Even if you aren’t based in the EU, it applies to your company if you have customers who are, and it has teeth (fines of up to the greater of 4% of global revenue or EUR20m). It comes into force on May 25. You have probably heard about it through the myriad organizations who put you on their email list without asking and are now emailing you to “opt back in.”

In most companies, it will not fall to the marketing team to research everything that has to change and achieve compliance, though it is worth getting up to speed with at least the high-level outline and in particular its requirements around informed consent, which is:

“…any freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s wishes by which he or she, by a statement or by a clear affirmative action, signifies agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her.”

As always, when laws are made about new technology, there are many questions to be resolved, and indeed, jokes to be made:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

But my post today isn’t about what you should do to get compliant — that’s specific to your circumstances — and a ton has been written about this already:

My intention is not to write a general guide, but rather to warn you about two specific things you should be doing with analytics (Google Analytics in particular) as a result of changes Google is making because of GDPR.

Unexpected consequences of GDPR

When you deal directly with a person in the EU, and they give you personally identifiable information (PII) about themselves, you are typically in what is called the “data controller” role. The GDPR also identifies another role, which it calls “data processor,” which is any other company your company uses as a supplier and which handles that PII. When you use a product like Google Analytics on your website, Google is taking the role of data processor. While most of the restrictions of the GDPR apply to you as the controller, the processor must also comply, and it’s here that we see some potentially unintended (but possibly predictable) consequences of the legislation.

Google is unsurprisingly seeking to minimize their risk (I say it’s unsurprising because those GDPR fines could be as large as $4.4 billion based on last year’s revenue if they get it wrong). They are doing this firstly by pushing as much of the obligation onto you (the data controller) as possible, and secondly, by going further by default than the GDPR requires and being more aggressive than the regulation requires in shutting down accounts that infringe their terms (regardless of whether the infringement also infringes the GDPR).

This is entirely rational — with GA being in most cases a product offered for free, and the value coming to Google entirely in the aggregate, it makes perfect sense to limit their risks in ways that don’t degrade their value, and to just kick risky setups off the platform rather than taking on extreme financial risk for individual free accounts.

It’s not only Google, by the way. There are other suppliers doing similar things which will no doubt require similar actions, but I am focusing on Google here simply because GA is pervasive throughout the web marketing world. Some companies are even going as far as shutting down entirely for EU citizens (like unroll.me). See this Twitter thread of others.

Consequence 1: Default data retention settings for GA will delete your data

Starting on May 25, Google will be changing the default for data retention, meaning that if you don’t take action, certain data older than the cutoff will be automatically deleted.

You can read more about the details of the change on Krista Seiden’s personal blog (Krista works at Google, but this post is written in her personal capacity).

The reason I say that this isn’t strictly a GDPR thing is that it is related to changes Google is making on their end to ensure that they comply with their obligations as a data processor. It gives you tools you might need but isn’t strictly related to your GDPR compliance. There is no particular “right” answer to the question of how long you need to/should be/are allowed to keep this data stored in GA under the GDPR, but by my reading, given that it shouldn’t be PII anyway (see below) it isn’t really a GDPR question for most organizations. In particular, there is no particular reason to think that Google’s default is the correct/mandated/only setting you can choose under the GDPR.

Action: Review the promises being made by your legal team and your new privacy policy to understand the correct timeline setting for your org. In the absence of explicit promises to your users, my understanding is that you can retain any of this data you were allowed to capture in the first place unless you receive a deletion request against it. So while most orgs will have at least some changes to make to privacy policies at a minimum, most GA users can change back to retain this data indefinitely.

Consequence 2: Google is deleting GA accounts for capturing PII

It has long been against the Terms of Service to store any personally identifiable information (PII) in Google Analytics. Recently, though, it appears that Google has become far more diligent in checking for the presence of PII and robust in their handling of accounts found to contain any. Put more simply, Google will delete your account if they find PII.

It’s impossible to know for sure that this is GDPR-related, but being able if necessary to demonstrate to regulators that they are taking strict actions against anyone violating their PII-related terms is an obvious move for Google to reduce the risk they face as a Data Processor. It makes particular sense in an area where the vast majority of accounts are free accounts. Much like the previous point, and the reason I say that this is related to Google’s response to the GDPR coming into force, is that it would be perfectly possible to get your users’ permission to record their data in third-party services like GA, and fully comply with the regulations. Regardless of the permissions your users give you, Google’s GDPR-related crackdown (and heavier enforcement of the related terms that have been present for some time) means that it’s a new and greater risk than it was before.

Action: Audit your GA profile and implementation for PII risks:

  • There are various ways you can search within GA itself to find data that could be personally identifying in places like page titles, URLs, custom data, etc. (see these two excellent guides)
  • You can also audit your implementation by reviewing rules in tag manager and/or reviewing the code present on key pages. The most likely suspects are the places where people log in, take key actions on your site, give you additional personal information, or check out

Don’t take your EU law advice from big US tech companies

The internal effort and coordination required at Google to do their bit to comply even “just” as data processor is significant. Unfortunately, there are strong arguments that this kind of ostensibly user-friendly regulation which incurs outsize compliance burdens on smaller companies will cement the duopoly and dominance of Google and Facebook and enables them to pass the costs and burdens of compliance onto sectors that are already struggling.

Regardless of the intended or unintended consequences of the regulation, it seems clear to me that we shouldn’t be basing our own businesses’ (and our clients’) compliance on self-interested advice and actions from the tech giants. No matter how impressive their own compliance, I’ve been hugely underwhelmed by guidance content they’ve put out. See, for example, Google’s GDPR “checklist” — not exactly what I’d hope for:

Client Checklist: As a marketer we know you need to select products that are compliant and use personal data in ways that are compliant. We are committed to complying with the GDPR and would encourage you to check in on compliance plans within your own organisation. Key areas to think about:  How does your organisation ensure user transparency and control around data use? Do you explain to your users the types of data you collect and for what purposes? Are you sure that your organisation has the right consents in place where these are needed under the GDPR? Do you have all of the relevant consents across your ad supply chain? Does your organisation have the right systems to record user preferences and consents? How will you show to regulators and partners that you meet the principles of the GDPR and are an accountable organisation?

So, while I’m not a lawyer, definitely not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice, if you haven’t already received any advice, I can say that you probably can’t just follow Google’s checklist to get compliant. But you should, as outlined above, take the specific actions you need to take to protect yourself and your business from their compliance activities.

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GDPR: What it Means for Google Analytics & Online Marketing

Posted by Angela_Petteys

If you’ve been on the Internet at all in the past few months, you’ve probably seen plenty of notices about privacy policy updates from one service or another. As a marketer, a few of those notices have most likely come from Google.

With the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) set to go into effect on May 25th, 2018, many Internet services have been scrambling to get in compliance with the new standards — and Google is no exception. Given the nature of the services Google provides to marketers, GDPR absolutely made some significant changes in how they conduct business. And, in turn, some marketers may have to take steps to make sure their use of Google Analytics is allowable under the new rules. But a lot of marketers aren’t entirely sure what exactly GDPR is, what it means for their jobs, and what they need to do to follow the rules.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a very broad reform that gives citizens who live in the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland more control over how their personal data is collected and used online. GDPR introduces a lot of new rules and if you’re up for a little light reading, you can check out the full text of the regulation online. But here are a few of the most significant changes:

  • Companies and other organizations have to be more transparent and clearly state what information they’re collecting, what it will be used for, how they’re collecting it, and if that information will be shared with anyone else. They can also only collect information that is directly relevant for its intended use. If the organization collecting that information later decides to use it for a different purpose, they must get permission again from each individual.
  • GDPR also spells out how that information needs to be given to consumers. That information can no longer be hidden in long privacy policies filled with legal jargon. The information in disclosures needs to be written in plain language and “freely given, specific, informed, and unambiguous.” Individuals also have to take an action which clearly gives their consent to their information being collected. Pre-checked boxes and notices that rely on inaction as a way of giving consent will no longer be allowed. If a user does not agree to have their information collected, you cannot block them from accessing content based on that fact.
  • Consumers also have the right to see what information a company has about them, request that incorrect information be corrected, revoke permission for their data to be saved, and have their data exported so they can switch to another service. If someone decides to revoke their permission, the organization needs to not only remove that information from their systems in a timely manner, they also need to have it removed from anywhere else they’ve shared that information.
  • Organizations must also be able to give proof of the steps they’re taking to be in compliance. This can include keeping records of how people opt in to being on marketing lists and documentation regarding how customer information is being protected.
  • Once an individual’s information has been collected, GDPR sets out requirements for how that information is stored and protected. If a data breach occurs, consumers must be notified within 72 hours. Failing to comply with GDPR can come with some very steep consequences. If a data breach occurs because of non-compliance, a company can be hit with fines as high as €20 million or 4% of the company’s annual global revenue, whichever amount is greater.

Do US-based businesses need to worry about GDPR?

Just because a business isn’t based in Europe doesn’t necessarily mean they’re off the hook as far as GDPR goes. If a company is based in the United States (or elsewhere outside the EEA), but conducts business in Europe, collects data about users from Europe, markets themselves in Europe, or has employees who work in Europe, GDPR applies to them, too.

Even if you’re working with a company that only conducts business in a very specific geographic area, you might occasionally get some visitors to your site from people outside of that region. For example, let’s say a pizza restaurant in Detroit publishes a blog post about the history of pizza on their site. It’s a pretty informative post and as a result, it brings in some traffic from pizza enthusiasts outside the Detroit area, including a few visitors from Spain. Would GDPR still apply in that sort of situation?

As long as it’s clear that a company’s goods or services are only available to consumers in the United States (or another country outside the EEA), GDPR does not apply. Going back to the pizza restaurant example, the other content on their site is written in English, emphasizes their Detroit location, and definitely doesn’t make any references to delivery to Spain, so those few page views from Spain wouldn’t be anything to worry about.

However, let’s say another US-based company has a site with the option to view German and French language versions of pages, lets customers pay with Euros, and uses marketing language that refers to European customers. In that situation, GDPR would apply since they are more clearly soliciting business from people in Europe.

Google Analytics & GDPR

If you use Google Analytics, Google is your data processor and since they handle data from people all over the world, they’ve had to take steps to become compliant with GDPR standards. However, you/your company are considered the data controller in this relationship and you will also need to take steps to make sure your Google Analytics account is set up to meet the new requirements.

Google has been rolling out some new features to help make this happen. In Analytics, you will now have the ability to delete the information of individual users if they request it. They’ve also introduced data retention settings which allow you to control how long individual user data is saved before being automatically deleted. Google has set this to be 26 months as the default setting, but if you are working with a US-based company that strictly conducts business in the United States, you can set it to never expire if you want to — at least until data protection laws change here, too. It’s important to note that this only applies to data about individual users and events, so aggregate data about high-level information like page views won’t be impacted by this.

To make sure you’re using Analytics in compliance with GDPR, a good place to start is by auditing all the data you collect to make sure it’s all relevant to its intended purpose and that you aren’t accidentally sending any personally identifiable information (PII) to Google Analytics. Sending PII to Google Analytics was already against its Terms of Service, but very often, it happens by accident when information is pushed through in a page URL. If it turns out you are sending PII to Analytics, you’ll need to talk to your web development team about how to fix it because using filters in Analytics to block it isn’t enough — you need to make sure it’s never sent to Google Analytics in the first place.

PII includes anything that can potentially be used to identify a specific person, either on its own or when combined with another piece of information, like an email address, a home address, a birthdate, a zip code, or an IP address. IP addresses weren’t always considered PII, but GDPR classifies them as an online identifier. Don’t worry, though — you can still get geographical insights about the visitors to your site. All you have to do is turn on IP anonymization and the last portion of an IP address will be replaced with a zero, so you can still get a general idea of where your traffic is coming from, although it will be a little less precise.

If you use Google Tag Manager, IP anonymization is pretty easy. Just open your Google Analytics tag or its settings variable, choose “More Settings,” and select “Fields to Set.” Then, choose “anonymizeip” in the “Field Name” box, enter “true” in the “Value” box,” and save your changes.

If you don’t use GTM, talk to your web development team about editing the Google Analytics code to anonymize IP addresses.

Pseudonymous information like user IDs and transaction IDs are still acceptable under GDPR, but it needs to be protected. User and transaction IDs need to be alphanumeric database identifiers, not written out in plain text.

Also, if you haven’t already done so, don’t forget to take the steps Google has mentioned in some of those emails they’ve sent out. If you’re based outside the EEA and GDPR applies to you, go into your Google Analytics account settings and accept the updated terms of processing. If you’re based in the EEA, the updated terms have already been included in your data processing terms. If GDPR applies to you, you’ll also need to go into your organization settings and provide contact information for your organization.

Privacy policies, forms, & cookie notices

Now that you’ve gone through your data and checked your settings in Google Analytics, you need to update your site’s privacy policy, forms, and cookie notices. If your company has a legal department, it may be best to involve them in this process to make sure you’re fully compliant.

Under GDPR, a site’s privacy policy needs to be clearly written in plain language and answer basic questions like what information is being collected, why it’s being collected, how it’s being collected, who is collecting it, how it will be used, and if it will be shared with anyone else. If your site is likely to be visited by children, this information needs to be written simply enough for a child to be able to understand it.

Forms and cookie notices also need to provide that kind of information. Cookie consent forms with really vague, generic messages like, “We use cookies to give you a better experience and by using this site, you agree to our policy,” are not GDPR compliant.

GDPR & other types of marketing

The impact GDPR will have on marketers isn’t just limited to how you use Google Analytics. If you use some particular types of marketing in the course of your job, you may have to make a few other changes, too.

Referral deals

If you work with a company that does “refer a friend”-type promotions where a customer has to enter information for a friend to receive a discount, GDPR is going to make a difference for you. Giving consent for data to be collected is a key part of GDPR and in these sorts of promotions, the person being referred can’t clearly consent to their information being collected. Under GDPR, it is possible to continue this practice, but it all depends on how that information is being used. If you store the information of the person being referred and use it for marketing purposes, it would be a violation of GDPR standards. However, if you don’t store that information or process it, you’re OK.

Email marketing

If you’re an email marketer and already follow best industry standards by doing things like only sending messages to those who clearly opt in to your list and making it easy for people to unsubscribe, the good news is that you’re probably in pretty good shape. As far as email marketing goes, GDPR is going to have the biggest impact on those who do things that have already been considered sketchy, like buying lists of contacts or not making it clear when someone is signing up to receive emails from you.

Even if you think you’re good to go, it’s still a good time to review your contacts and double check that your European contacts have indeed opted into being on your list and that it was clear what they were signing up for. If any of your contacts don’t have their country listed or you’re not sure how they opted in, you may want to either remove them from your list or put them on a separate segment so they don’t get any messages from you until you can get that figured out. Even if you’re confident your European contacts have opted in, there’s no harm in sending out an email asking them to confirm that they would like to continue receiving messages from you.

Creating a double opt-in process isn’t mandatory, but it would be a good idea since it helps remove any doubt over whether or not a person has agreed to being on your list. While you’re at it, take a look at the forms people use to sign up to be on your list and make sure they’re in line with GDPR standards, with no pre-checked boxes and the fact that they’re agreeing to receive emails from you is very clear.

For example, here’s a non-GDPR compliant email signup option I recently saw on a checkout page. They tell you what they’re planning to send to you, but the fact that it’s a pre-checked box placed underneath the more prominent “Place Order” button makes it very easy for people to unintentionally sign up for emails they might not actually want.

Jimmy Choo, on the other hand, also gives you the chance to sign up for emails while making a purchase, but since the box isn’t pre-checked, it’s good to go under GDPR.

Marketing automation

As is the case with standard email marketing, marketing automation specialists will need to make sure they have clear consent from everyone who has agreed to be part of their lists. Check your European contacts to make sure you know how they’ve opted in. Also review the ways people can opt into your list to make sure it’s clear what, exactly, they’re signing up for so that your existing contacts would be considered valid.

If you use marketing automation to re-engage customers who have been inactive for a while, you may need to get permission to contact them again, depending on how long it has been since they last interacted with you.

Some marketing automation platforms have functionality which will be impacted by GDPR. Lead scoring, for example, is now considered a form of profiling and you will need to get permission from individuals to have their information used in that way. Reverse IP tracking also needs consent.

It’s also important to make sure your marketing automation platform and CRM system are set to sync automatically. If a person on your list unsubscribes and continues receiving emails because of a lapse between the two, you could get in trouble for not being GDPR compliant.

Gated content

A lot of companies use gated content, like free reports, whitepapers, or webinars, as a way to generate leads. The way they see it, the person’s information serves as the price of admission. But since GDPR prohibits blocking access to content if a person doesn’t consent to their information being collected, is gated content effectively useless now?

GDPR doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of gated content, but there are now higher standards for collecting user information. Basically, if you’re going to have gated content, you need to be able to prove that the information you collect is necessary for you to provide the deliverable. For example, if you were organizing a webinar, you’d be justified in collecting email addresses since attendees need to be sent a link to join in. You’d have a harder time claiming an email address was required for something like a whitepaper since that doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered via email. And of course, as with any other form on a site, forms for gated content need to clearly state all the necessary information about how the information being collected will be used.

If you don’t get a lot of leads from European users anyway, you may want to just block all gated content from European visitors. Another option would be to go ahead and make that information freely available to visitors from Europe.

Google AdWords

If you use Google AdWords to advertise to European residents, Google already required publishers and advertisers to get permission from end users by putting disclaimers on the landing page, but GDPR will be making some changes to these requirements. Google will now be requiring publishers to get clear consent from individuals to have their information collected. Not only does this mean you have to give more information about how a person’s information will be used, you’ll also need to keep records of consent and tell users how they can opt out later on if they want to do so. If a person doesn’t give consent to having their information collected, Google will be making it possible to serve them non-personalized ads.

In the end

GDPR is a significant change and trying to grasp the full scope of its changes is pretty daunting. This is far from being a comprehensive guide, so if you have any questions about how GDPR applies to a particular client you’re working with, it may be best to get in touch with their legal department or team. GDPR will impact some industries more than others, so it’s best to get some input from someone who truly understands the law and how it applies to that specific business.

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How a Real Estate Agency TRIPLED Conversions in 30 Days

How a Real Estate Agency TRIPLED Conversions in 30 Days

Margot da Cunha

Last updated :
May 18, 2018

Anyone in the real estate space knows how challenging marketing can be. Competition is steep, stakes are high, and gaining trust is difficult.

In real estate the paid advertising aspect of marketing cannot be ignored. If your leads are not able to find you online, then how are you going to convince them to buy or rent one of your listings? I’m typing this post from my new condo, and reflecting on the process of moving into a new home, the entire whirlwind started with Google.

The issue is, small real estate firms do not have the time to manage a complex AdWords account. Adjusting bids, writing compelling AdWords copy, identifying negative keywords, and ensuring your account is structured optimally for each season and promotional offer is just a bit overwhelming for most.

Sarah Foxen, CEO of Residensportalen, knows this far too well. Residensportalen is one of the largest rental agencies in Sweden, yet the company has just three employees! To say they are strapped for time and resources is an understatement. “As a smaller business, we have a limited budget; account structure and correct bidding is critical,” says Sarah.

Residensportalen Customer Spotlight

Sarah Foxen, CEO of Residensportalen

This is why Sarah’s team turned to WordStream Advisor. Not only did they not have time to manage their account in the state it was in, but they also lacked a glamorous budget. Luckily, with help from the WordStream team Residensportalen was able to produce results! Curious to learn how? Keep on reading…

Getting Their AdWords Account in Order

I bet the majority of readers understand the overwhelming feeling of inheriting or digging through your own disorganized AdWords account. Letting your account fall into disarray is incredibly easy to do, even for the neatest of freaks. Sarah was no stranger to a messy account. In fact, this was one of the many things that drove her to WordStream.

“WordStream helped us clean up an old, messy and unstructured AdWords account and that made all the difference,” says Sarah. “WordStream has helped us put order in our accounts and now the software helps us keep it clean. Getting through the clutter was one of our main challenges before starting with WordStream.”

Using WordStream Advisor Tools to Manage a Small Budget

Like many real estate marketers, Residensportalen is working with quite a small budget. Prior to working with WordStream Advisor, Sarah was quite frustrated by the fact her small budget was not yielding results.

Sarah found that the tools within WordStream Advisor allowed her to better manage her budget and get rid of the keywords and ads that weren’t working, and therefore wasting money. For instance, QueryStream allows her to look through the keywords and phrases searchers are typing into Google, identify any irrelevant searchers, and block wasted clicks that are costing her money.

Residensportalen Customer Spotlight QueryStream

“We spend quite a lot of time analyzing QueryStream and position,” says Sarah. “Sometimes we need to slash and burn in order to work within our budget restraints.”

Reprioritizing Time Spent On AdWords

Time is money when working with a team of just three to run one of the largest rental firms in Sweden! Sarah can’t waste it, and tools like the 20-Minute Work Week ensure that she won’t.

“WordStream has saved us a ton of time!” says Sarah. “The 20-Minute Work Week is a good kick in the butt to do the minimum in our accounts. However, since we have gotten such great results after switching to WordStream, we spend more time than that. Good results create more time to focus on it.”

Residensportalen Customer Spotlight 20MWW

This makes sense, right? When seeing good results, why wouldn’t you dedicate more time to maintaining a well-working machine? You might be wondering what those results were like so without further or do, let’s discuss…

The Results

The numbers say it all when it comes to seeing success, which is why Sarah is quite happy since coming onboard with WordStream Advisor.

“After 30 days on WordStream, our spend is at 25% of when we began and conversions have tripled,” says Sarah. “We experienced a record month of sale our first month on WordStream!”

Impressive, right?

Sarah had some interesting wins as well. “We tweaked one ad and got a 14% conversion rate!” she says.

More Than Just Software

To conclude, Sarah found that the success her business has had with WordStream is not just from using WordStream’s suite of tools; rather the relationship she has formed with her WordStream Customer Success Specialist has proved to be an even bigger value add for her.

“Our Customer Success Specialist was the happy surprise that we did not realize that we got when signing up,” she says. “We bought software and got invaluable human assistance.”

These stories make us very happy here at WordStream! If you have one to share, let us know.

Margot da Cunha

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking.

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The Marketer’s Playbook for Working with Coupon Affiliate Websites

The Marketer’s Playbook for Working with Coupon Affiliate Websites

Guest Author

Last updated :
May 18, 2018

Everybody loves a great deal.

Ever since Coca-Cola introduced the first paper free drink voucher way back in 1881, consumers have been addicted to the savings power of coupons. In fact, 97% of US consumers say they look for deals when they shop, and 92% say they are “always” looking for deals.

coupon marketing stats

For marketers, it’s hard to ignore the promotional power of coupons. At their best, they are a powerful customer segmentation tool and can help you drive sales where and when you need them. But at their worst, coupons can be abused, and they can eat into margins if not managed carefully.

In today’s digital and social media-driven landscape, coupons and the coupon websites that promote them can be an essential part of the marketing mix. This is an insider’s guide to understanding how coupon sites work, recipes for success, and how to avoid the pitfalls. But first…

What is affiliate marketing?

When it comes to working with publishers, many marketers are familiar with display advertising, where advertisers pay publishers based on impressions or sometimes clicks.

Coupon websites, in contrast, typically participate in CPA (cost per acquisition) affiliate marketing platforms. CPA marketing is distinct from more traditional advertising formats in that advertisers pay only for sales or conversions generated by their publisher partners.

CPA formula

(image source)

To partner with a coupon website, you’ll typically go through an affiliate network. These networks act as an intermediary between you and the coupon website, tracking sales and conversions and handling payments between parties. The most popular affiliate networks include CJ Affiliate, Rakuten LinkShare, and Shareasale.

One of the most appealing aspects of affiliate marketing from the advertiser’s standpoint is the lack of up-front cost and therefore decreased risk. You’re not paying for impressions or clicks that may or may not turn into sales, you’re only paying for conversions. On the flipside, affiliate marketing by nature allows your partners significant flexibility in how they promote you and requires more oversight.

Should your brand use coupons?

If you don’t already offer coupons, you’ll need to decide whether coupons make sense for your brand in the first place. Coupons typically work best in markets that are highly competitive or commoditized as they can help your brand break through the noise and compel a shopper to buy from you through a significant discount.

coupon marketing guide

If you sell a highly unique or differentiated service that doesn’t compete directly with other market players, offering discounts might provide less incremental value, and may simply eat into your margins.

But if price is an important decision factor for consumers in your market, coupons can be an effective tool for motivating the sale.

If your product or service involves a high lifetime value for each customer, offering coupons as a way to incentive the initial sale can make a lot of sense. Some high-value subscription services offer massive discounts up-front or completely free packages just to get customers’ feet in the door.

Every brand is different, so think about how coupons can fit into your marketing mix to drive incremental value.

The online coupon landscape

Coupon websites give marketers access to audiences of shoppers who are interested in deals. The best coupon sites have large email lists to which they send out curated lists of deals, and also attract shoppers to their homepage where they showcase each day’s best coupons.

One of the most important functions that coupon websites play is to test and verify coupons, especially promo codes, so that visitors can reliably find working coupons when they need them. This is an important but resource-intensive task – some coupon sites do a great job with this but many do not (more on this below).

Additionally, some coupon sites offer cash-back loyalty programs in which they incentivize shoppers by paying them a percentage of each sale made through their website.

Types of coupon sites

Coupon sites come in many shapes and sizes, and while many coupon sites haven’t changed dramatically for over a decade, there recently have been some areas of innovation in the coupon space.

Traditional coupon sites

Traditional coupon sites are the ones that will probably look most familiar to you. Offers.com and Savings.com fall into this category – they focus on curating all the available coupons and discount codes for retailers and making those easily accessible to their shoppers.

affiliate marketing coupon programs

They typically manage a large email list and can drive customers to your brand via their newsletters.

For traditional coupon sites, search engines are also an important source of traffic, as consumers search on sites like Google for coupon codes and land on these websites. These sites tend to focus on verifying thousands of coupons each day so that they can provide an accurate and reliable coupon search experience.

Curation-driven coupon sites

Curation-driven sites typically focus on hand-picking each day’s best deals and featuring them for their users, as well as sending them out via email. Some of these sites are more generalized, and others focus on more niche interest areas. Brad’s Deals, Tech Bargains, and DealsPlus fall into the curation category.

types of coupon affiliate programs

These websites tend to have very engaged audiences and often have great insight into the types of offers that will perform with their users. The key to working with these sites is to find the ones with audiences that will be drawn to your brand and offer.

Coupon forums

Coupon forums are places where anyone can go to share and discuss deals. Slickdeals is the largest coupon forum, with many millions of people going there every day to get the scoop on the best deals of the day.

coupon affiliate forums

Coupon forums tend to attract the savvier deal hunters who are highly familiar with deals and are often looking for “hacks” or “glitches” which offer unusual savings opportunities.

For advertisers, coupon forums can be great places to advertise your deals (typically on their homepage) simply given the large number of users who visit those sites. In many cases, marketers solicit popular forum members and create direct relationships in which those members will promote their deals. Different forums have different policies on this, so it’s important to check each forum’s guidelines (here’s an example) to know what’s acceptable.

Cash-back coupon sites

Cash-back sites such as Ebates have been around for a long time and are super popular with shoppers since they not only offer coupons, they pay their customers a slice of the commissions you pay them. These are also known as loyalty sites, since most of the shoppers on these sites tend to do most of their shopping through their cash-back systems.

cashback affiliate coupon programs

One reason to work with cash-back sites is that due to high loyalty among their users you may only get access to these customers by going through the cash-back site. On the flipside, most loyalty customers maintain their loyalty to these cashback sites, and are less likely to become loyal customers of your brand. If your competitor offers a coupon through the same cash-back site, your customers are likely to switch over to them.

Many coupon sites including RetailMeNot have recently started to offer cash-back loyalty programs as a way to increase loyalty from their customer bases.

Coupon browser extensions

More recently, coupon sites such as Honey have gained popularity by offering convenient extensions for browsers such as Google Chrome and Firefox which automatically search and apply coupon codes for you when you’re shopping. Shoppers love these tools, since who loves the process of finding and trying out a bunch of promo codes that don’t work?

Most of these extension sites also offer cash-back programs. RetailMeNot recently launched its own browser extension to compete with Honey.

One drawback of these browser extensions from a marketer’s standpoint is that, by nature, an extension only appears for the shopper when they’re already at your site, ready to check out. So paying a commission to the extension company at this point may make less sense from a marketing standpoint. Curation-driven sites, in contrast, can drive new shoppers your way who are not yet familiar with your brand, so it’s important to factor in your marketing goals when choosing the best types of coupon partners to work with.

Coupon bloggers

Some coupon bloggers are larger than all but the biggest coupon sites. Krazy Coupon Lady, Hip2Save and Coupon Mom boast readerships in the millions, and if they decide to promote your brand, they can provide you with a considerable amount of visibility.

coupon affiliate marketing bloggers

However, most individual bloggers tend to be selective about the brands they actively promote, and the personal tastes of the blogger plays a major role in who they work with.

Alternatively, many thousands of smaller bloggers exist who can also provide a great promotional vehicle for your brand. The challenge here is that recruiting and coordinating a campaign with dozens or even hundreds of smaller bloggers can be a logistical challenge. Fortunately, there are some platforms designed to ease this process – Dealspotr is an influencer marketing platform designed specifically for promoting deals, while Famebit is designed for video bloggers on YouTube.

Coupon sites to avoid

Sadly, affiliate marketing suffers from perhaps more than its fair share of spam and abuse, and coupon websites are no exception. As a marketer you must do your homework prior to working with coupon sites to ensure success and minimize fraud.

At the most basic level, you as a marketer want to work with coupon sites that will refer you new customers. You want to avoid coupon sites that earn commissions without adding any value to your transaction flow.

For example, some coupon sites try to get in front of your shoppers when they’re on your checkout page when they hop over to Google to find a promo code. These sites often use paid search ads or invest in organic search engine optimization to appear prominently for a search term like “yourbrand coupons.” Nothing wrong with this, but the problem happens with sites that list coupon codes for your brand that are invalid or even fake.

invalid coupon codes

For example, let’s imagine that this week, your brand is not offering any promo codes. Some less trustworthy sites may display promo codes for your brand anyway, giving them the appearance of having unique, exclusive discounts for your brand.

What’s worse is that shoppers are very likely to click on these fake codes, thereby earning these sites commissions even if the codes don’t work. Some sites even go so far as to display fake codes for brands that don’t even offer a promo code box on their website (here’s just one example), giving them an unfair advantage against more reputable coupon sites which will (correctly) display zero promo codes for these same stores.

5-minute guide to auditing coupon websites

When evaluating a coupon site, a good thing to do is to check their traffic stats on SimilarWeb and see what percentage of their traffic comes from search engines. While most coupon sites have a large percentage coming from search (this is simply the nature of how consumers look for coupons) – for example, RetailMeNot historically hovers in the 70% – 80% range which is fairly normal – if you see a percentage above 90%, you’re getting into the territory where you need to ask yourself whether this site has any of its own users, or if they are overly dependent on search engines.

how to evaluate coupon affiliate programs

Second, you should examine their coupon pages for a few popular brands, and actually try out some of their codes. Do you immediately find some that don’t work? This is a bad sign – any coupon site worth their salt will make it fairly difficult to find any codes that don’t work due to solid content moderation systems.

Best practices for working with coupon affiliate programs

Work with a select few coupon sites

Rather than accepting any coupon site that applies to your affiliate program, try being selective and working with fewer, higher quality sites. Go with coupon sites that have responsive and professional affiliate reps who will work with you to ensure a successful relationship.

Check out their website and their metrics as mentioned above. Does this seem like a website you’d use yourself? Does it feel like real people visit this site? If it feels more like a shell site designed for search engine optimization, or if you find invalid coupon codes listed, you’ll want to avoid.

Maintain your own coupon page

If you’re offering coupons to external sites, you should also publish them on your own site. Otherwise, your visitors have no choice but to find coupons for your store on other coupon sites. You can either link to this page prominently in your header, if you’d like more people to see it, or if your brand necessitates a more subtle approach to coupons, you can link to it on your checkout page near your promo code input box. This way, there’s less likelihood that a shopper who’s about to buy something from you will bounce out to an affiliate coupon site, eating into your margins.

Optimize your website’s promo code box

First, you should decide whether you want to offer a promo code box in your checkout flow to begin with. The fact is, many people, when presented this box, will feel a need to fill it out with something, and will go to Google or other places to try to find a code.

website coupon promo code box

The upside is that if they do find a code, they are very likely to complete their purchase. But you need to think carefully about how you present this promo code box and make sure it lines up with your marketing strategy.

If you’d like to offer a promo code box, but don’t want to make this front and center, you can add a smaller text link that says “Enter a promo code” and have the box appear only if the link is clicked.

Work with influencers, especially micro-influencers

An alternative to partnering with large coupon sites is to work with larger numbers of micro-influencers and bloggers. Influencers can have a more authentic relationship with their followers and are far less likely to exhibit very spammy behavior.

You still must be vigilant – there are problems unique to influencer marketing such as fake followers which you’ll need to guard against – but overall, working with influencers can be a great experience and can drive significant sales. Influencer platforms such as Dealspotr, Izea and Famebit allow you to more easily partner with large numbers of quality micro-influencers.

Negotiate placements and promotions

Rather than letting coupon sites promote you autonomously, work with them and negotiate placements and special distribution deals. You can often score a homepage placement or inclusion in their email newsletter in exchange for an exclusive discount code or an increased commission rate. Run trials of these types of placements with various coupon sites and see who performs well.

Audit the coupon sites that appear on the first page of Google for your brand

Google “yourbrand coupons” and see which coupon sites pop up. Glance at the coupons they’re promoting to make sure they’re legit and none of the sites are doing anything misleading. If you find coupon sites to whom you’re paying commissions that are posting misleading coupons, you can take swift action.

Do not allow PPC ads for your brand

PPC, or pay-per click, search advertising can be a powerful way to drive traffic. However, in the coupon sphere, you’re better off not allowing coupon sites to bid for your brand name. You can be pretty sure that a site that pops up as a sponsored search result for “yourbrand coupons” is not adding any value to your marketing value chain.

The bottom line

Shoppers will always love a good deal, so finding a way to work with coupon sites can be an essential part of your marketing mix. However, given the open-ended nature of affiliate marketing, these sites operate in a “wild west” environment, so as a marketer you must be vigilant and protect yourself from spammers.

Understand your marketing strategy and how coupons should fit it, find high-quality partners, and keep a list of best practices handy so you’re doing your homework along the way. Used properly, well-crafted partnerships with coupon affiliates can be a windfall for your e-commerce brand.

About the author

Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, a next-generation coupon platform that utilizes crowdsourcing at scale to provide the industry’s most complete and accurate database of promo codes and discounts. Michael was previously the Director of New Products at Yahoo. Follow his updates on marketing and innovation on Twitter.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream https://ift.tt/2KDED3s

Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rjonesx.

We spend a lot of time discussing SEO tactics, but in a constantly changing industry, one thing that deserves more attention are the tactics agencies should employ in order to see success. From confidently raising your prices to knowing when to say no, Moz’s own Russ Jones covers four essential success tactics that’ll ultimately increase your bottom line in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.

https://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/vrf8fywh1c?seo=false&videoFoam=true

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Agency tactics

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. I am Russ Jones, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for my first Whiteboard Friday. I am Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. But before coming to Moz, for the 10 years prior to that, I was the Chief Technology Officer of a small SEO agency back in North Carolina. So I have a strong passion for agencies and consultants who are on the ground doing the work, helping websites rank better and helping build businesses.

So what I wanted to do today was spend a little bit of time talking about the lessons that I learned at an agency that admittedly I only learned through trial and error. But before we even go further, I just wanted to thank the folks at Hive Digital who I learned so much from, Jeff and Jake and Malcolm and Ryan, because the team effort over time is what ended up building an agency. Any agency that succeeds knows that that’s part of it. So we’ll start with that thank-you.

But what I really want to get into is that we spend a lot of time talking about SEO tactics, but not really about how to succeed in an industry that changes rapidly, in which there’s almost no certification, and where it can be difficult to explain to customers exactly how they’re going to be successful with what you offer. So what I’m going to do is break down four really important rules that I learned over the course of that 10 years. We’re going to go through each one of them as quickly as possible, but at the same time, hopefully you’ll walk away with some good ideas. Some of these are ones that it might at first feel a little bit awkward, but just follow me.

1. Raise prices

The first rule, number one in Let’s Make Money is raise your prices. Now, I remember quite clearly two years in to my job at Hive Digital — it was called Virante then — and we were talking about raising prices. We were just looking at our customers, saying to ourselves, “There’s no way they can afford it.” But then luckily we had the foresight that there was more to raising prices than just charging your customers more.

How it benefits old customers

The first thing that just hit us automatically was… “Well, with our old customers, we can just discount them. It’s not that bad. We’re in the same place as we always were.” But then it occurred to us, “Wait, wait, wait. If we discount our customers, then we’re actually increasing our perceived value.” Our existing customers now think, “Hey, they’re actually selling something better that’s more expensive, but I’m getting a deal,” and by offering them that deal because of their loyalty, you engender more loyalty. So it can actually be good for old customers.

How it benefits new customers

Now, for new customers, once again, same sort of situation. You’ve increased the perceived value. So your customers who come to you think, “Oh, this company is professional. This company is willing to invest. This company is interested in providing the highest quality of services.” In reality, because you’ve raised prices, you can. You can spend more time and money on each customer and actually do a better job. The third part is, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If they say no, you offer them the discount. You’re back where you started. You’re in the same position that you were before.

How it benefits your workers

Now, here’s where it really matters — your employees, your workers. If you are offering bottom line prices, you can’t offer them raises, you can’t offer them training, you can’t hire them help, or you can’t get better workers. But if you do, if you raise prices, the whole ecosystem that is your agency will do better.

How it improves your resources

Finally, and most importantly, which we’ll talk a little bit more later, is that you can finally tool up. You can get the resources and capital that you need to actually succeed. I drew this kind of out.

If we have a graph of quality of services that you offer and the price that you sell at, most agencies think that they’re offering great quality at a little price, but the reality is you’re probably down here. You’re probably under-selling your services and, because of that, you can’t offer the best that you can.

You should be up here. You should be offering higher quality, your experts who spend time all day studying this, and raising prices allows you to do that.

2. Schedule

Now, raising prices is only part one. The second thing is discipline, and I am really horrible about this. The reality is that I’m the kind of guy who looks for the latest and greatest and just jumps into it, but schedule matters. As hard as it is to admit it, I learned this from the CPC folks because they know that they have to stay on top of it every day of the week.

Well, here’s something that we kind of came up with as I was leaving the company, and that was to set all of our customers as much as possible into a schedule.

  • Annually: we would handle keywords and competitors doing complete analysis.
  • Semi-annually: Twice a year, we would do content analysis. What should you be writing about? What’s changed in your industry? What are different keywords that you might be able to target now given additional resources?
  • Quarterly: You need to be looking at links. It’s just a big enough issue that you’ve got to look at it every couple of months, a complete link analysis.
  • Monthly: You should be looking at your crawls. Moz will do that every week for you, but you should give your customers an idea, over the course of a month, what’s changed.
  • Weekly: You should be doing rankings

But there are three things that, when you do all of these types of analysis, you need to keep in mind. Each one of them is a…

  • Report
  • Hours for consulting
  • Phone call

This might seem like a little bit of overkill. But of course, if one of these comes back and nothing changed, you don’t need to do the phone call, but each one of these represents additional money in your pocket and importantly better service for your customers.

It might seem hard to believe that when you go to a customer and you tell them, “Look, nothing’s changed,” that you’re actually giving them value, but the truth is that if you go to the dentist and he tells you, you don’t have a cavity, that’s good news. You shouldn’t say to yourself at the end of the day, “Why’d I go to the dentist in the first place?” You should say, “I’m so glad I went to the dentist.” By that same positive outlook, you should be selling to your customers over and over and over again, hoping to give them the clarity they need to succeed.

3. Tool up!

So number three, you’re going to see this a lot in my videos because I just love SEO tools, but you’ve got to tool up. Once you’ve raised prices and you’re making more money with your customers, you actually can. Tools are superpowers. Tools allow you to do things that humans just can’t do. Like I can’t figure out the link graph on my own. I need tools to do it. But tools can do so much more than just auditing existing clients. For example, they can give you…

Better leads:

You can use tools to find opportunities.Take for example the tools within Moz and you want to find other car dealerships in the area that are really good and have an opportunity to rank, but aren’t doing as well as they should be in SERPs. You want to do this because you’ve already serviced successfully a different car dealership. Well, tools like Moz can do that. You don’t just have to use Moz to help your clients. You can use them to help yourself.

Better pre-audits:

Nobody walks into a sales call blind. You know who the website is. So you just start with a great pre-audit.

Faster workflows:

Which means you make more money quicker. If you can do your keyword analysis annually in half the time because you have the right tool for it, then you’re going to make far more money and be able to serve more customers.

Bulk pricing:

This one is just mind-blowingly simple. It’s bulk pricing. Every tool out there, the more you buy from them, the lower the price is. I remember at my old company sitting down at one point and recognizing that every customer that came in the door would need to spend about $1,000 on individual accounts to match what they were getting through us by being able to take advantage of the bulk discounts that we were getting as an agency by buying these seats on behalf of all of our customers.

So tell your clients when you’re talking to them on the phone, in the pitch be like, “Look, we use Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMrush,” list off all of the competitors. “We do Screaming Frog.” Just name them all and say, “If you wanted to go out and just get the data yourself from these tools, it would cost you more than we’re actually charging you.” The tools can sell themselves. You are saving them money.

4. Just say NO

Now, the last section, real quickly, are the things you’ve just got to learn to say no to. One of them has a little nuance to it. There’s going to be some bite back in the comments, I’m pretty sure, but I want to be careful with it.

No month-to-month contracts

The first thing to say no to is month-to-month contracts.

If a customer comes to you and they say, “Look, we want to do SEO, but we want to be able to cancel every 30 days.” the reality is this. They’re not interested in investing in SEO. They’re interested in dabbling in SEO. They’re interested in experimenting with SEO. Well, that’s not going to succeed. It’s only going to take one competitor or two who actually invest in it to beat them out, and when they beat them out, you’re going to look bad and they’re going to cancel their account with you. So sit down with them and explain to them that it is a long-term strategy and it’s just not worth it to your company to bring on customers who aren’t interested in investing in SEO. Say it politely, but just turn it away.

Don’t turn anything away

Now, notice that my next thing is don’t turn anything away. So here’s something careful. Here’s the nuance. It’s really important to learn to fire clients who are bad for your business, where you’re losing money on them or they’re just impolite, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn them away. You just need to turn them in the right direction. That right direction might be tools themselves. You can say, “Look, you don’t really need our consulting hours. You should go use these tools.” Or you can turn them to other fledgling businesses, friends you have in the industry who might be struggling at this time.

I’ll tell you a quick example. We don’t have much time, but many, many years ago, we had a client that came to us. At our old company, we had a couple of rules about who we would work with. We chose not to work in the adult industry. But at the time, I had a friend in the industry. He lived outside of the United States, and he had fallen on hard times. He literally had his business taken away from him via a series of just really unscrupulous events. I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I didn’t turn away the customer. I turned them over to this individual.

That very next year, he had ended up landing a new job at the top of one of the largest gambling organizations in the world. Well, frankly, they weren’t on our list of people we couldn’t work with. We landed the largest contract in the history of our company at that time, and it set our company straight for an entire year. It was just because instead of turning away the client, we turned them to a different direction. So you’ve got to say no to turning away everybody. They are opportunities. They might not be your opportunity, but they’re someone’s.

No service creep

The last one is service creep. Oh, man, this one is hard. A customer comes up to you and they list off three things that you offer that they want, and then they say, “Oh, yeah, we need social media management.” Somebody else comes up to you, three things you want to offer, and they say, “Oh yeah, we need you to write content,” and that’s not something you do. You’ve just got to not do that. You’ve got to learn to shave off services that you can’t offer. Instead, turn them over to people who can do them and do them very well.

What you’re going to end up doing in your conversation, your sales pitch is, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you. We are great at some things, but this isn’t our cup of tea. We know someone who’s really great at it.” That honesty, that candidness is just going to give them such a better relationship with you, and it’s going to build a stronger relationship with those other specialty companies who are going to send business your way. So it’s really important to learn to say no to say no service creep.

Well, anyway, there’s a lot that we went over there. I hope it wasn’t too much too fast, but hopefully we can talk more about it in the comments. I look forward to seeing you there. Thanks.

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Amazon SEO: How to Rank Highly for Amazon Searches

Amazon SEO: How to Rank Highly for Amazon Searches

Marc Schenker
Marc Schenker

Last updated :
May 17, 2018

All too often, when we think of SEO, we only think of Google. And of course you want great rankings in the search engines.

However, your website isn’t the only place on the web where you may be selling your product. If you have a product page on Amazon, you want it to be found by customers just as you would want your site to show up on the first search engine results page (SERP) for your industry keywords.

amazon seo how to

Failure to do Amazon SEO right, just like with regular SEO, will result in less traffic and fewer sales.

It’s vital to understand that Amazon’s search algorithm works differently than any Google or Bing algorithm in surfacing results. In a nutshell, there are way fewer ranking signals or factors than with typical SEO, which some say includes as many as 200 factors (though others dispute this).

You might think that this makes ranking in Amazon easier, but it’s not that simple. If you’re trying to analyze Amazon SEO from a web-SEO standpoint, you’re going to have a hard time. That’s because Amazon is primarily a buying platform, first and foremost.

An Intro to Amazon’s Search Algorithm

Amazon’s search algorithm is referred to as A9, just because the company of the same name that handles SEO for the company, which is a subsidiary of Amazon, is named A9. In its own words:

“We manage search and advertising technologies that are scalable, highly available, and cross-platform for our parent company, Amazon, and other clients.”

Understand that Amazon, as the world’s biggest ecommerce site, only cares about one thing: its bottom line, and therefore selling as efficiently as possible to its millions of customers.

amazon a9 algorithm

While people perform all kinds of different searches on Google, many of which are informational searches, pretty much every Amazon search is transactional. That’s why its algorithm actually comes down to only a couple of things:

  • Relevance
  • Performance

If you optimize your Amazon product page for these two, crucial ranking factors, you’ll end up converting and selling more on the site.

Both relevance and performance can be broken down into additional sub-categories, so we’ll look at each one in more detail.

Relevance-Related Amazon Ranking Factors

Good news: You’re able to influence these ranking factors directly by the strategic use of relevant keywords in the following areas of your Amazon pages.

Your Product’s Title

Probably the most important element of Amazon SEO, as far as relevance is concerned, is the product-title ranking factor. You’ll want to put the most relevant keywords for your product in the title.

how to optimize products for amazon seo

The top 3 Amazon results for “mortar and pestle” all have those words in the product name

Here are some tips to optimize your Amazon product name:

  • Include your brand name
  • Include a clear description of what your product does
  • Mention a specific ingredient or essential material
  • Specify the color of your product
  • Clarify the size of your product
  • Make a mention of the quantity of your product (if applicable)

As in the world of white hat SEO, avoid keyword stuffing in your title, as that will harm your search rankings on Amazon. If you keyword-stuff, you run the risk of composing a title that doesn’t read naturally, which can look spammy and have a negative impact on your click-through rate.

Your Seller Name

Consider the impact of your seller name on your relevance as a ranking factor. Some marketers have observed that they can get specific products to rank higher in Amazon’s organic search results if they include the main keywords for the product within the seller name.

Let’s look at an example. If you search Amazon for “American flag ties for men,” the first result comes from a seller called “Man of Men.” The word “men” in the seller name could very well be helping them out with that ranking. (If you remove “for men” from the search query, you get different results.)

amazon seller name seo

So pay attention to your seller name to eke out more gains in Amazon’s SERPs.

Your Amazon Backend Keywords

Backend keywords are essentially “hidden” keywords that will only be used in your Amazon Seller Account’s backend section. Their function is to tell Amazon’s algorithm that a specific product listing is targeting a specific keyword on the site.

If you’re looking for an analogy to search engine SEO here, think of these backend keywords like the meta tags that tell Google what your webpage is about, which helps the search engine figure out when to show the page to people searching for specific information.

There are five fields sellers can fill out with their backend keywords. Each line has a 50-character limit. If you go over the limit, your backend keyword won’t be indexed by the site.

Here are five rules to keep in mind to successfully fill out your Amazon backend keyword fields:

  • Don’t repeat any words
  • Avoid quotation marks since they’ll limit your overall character count
  • Don’t include too many variations of the same word
  • Commas are ignored
  • Include variations in spelling or synonyms

Your Brand Field

A product’s brand field always shows up on the product page (right above the title or headline) and links to various search results for additional products from the same brand. As you list your products, be meticulous about spelling your brand name exactly right.

Typical user behavior on Amazon is for shoppers to search for a product based on its brand name, which is why it’s vital to always include an accurate name.

If your product has various brand names that you could conceivably use, get some help from a keyword tool to help you determine which variation is the most searched for brand name and use that.

Your Product Description and Bullet Points

These go hand-in-hand. Both tell your customers more about your product, so this is your chance to be very detailed, as well as persuasive. Of course, you’ll need to include your most important keywords here, too.

For the description, work hard to make the copy readable, natural and convincing from a pure sales standpoint. Follow ecommerce landing page best practices. This will resonate with potential buyers beyond the SEO power you’ll get from including your keywords.

amazon product page seo

As for the bullet points, the same applies. Bullet points are easy and quick to read because they’re scannable, so your customers are going to look at this area with priority. Tell your customers about the benefits of your product (not just the features) and include crucial information like ingredients or dimensions. Work your relevant keywords into these bullet points in a natural way, so as to add value to each tidbit of information about your product. Check out your competition and make sure they’re not including more thorough information than you.

Performance-Related Amazon Ranking Factors

Performance factors are a bit harder to directly exert control over because additional considerations beyond keywords come into play. Still, it’s vital that you have an understanding of these, too, for optimized Amazon SEO.

Your Product’s Price

It goes without saying (at least it should) that how much you charge for your product significantly impacts your Amazon conversion rate and how many units you move on the site. If your price on Amazon is competitive compared to other sites selling your product or products similar to yours, then your conversion rate should be positively affected.

One aspect of this that’s sometimes overlooked is how your price compares to similar products in the same category on Amazon.

If many products in the same category are selling for less than yours, then two things likely will happen:

  • You won’t sell as many as those similar products
  • Amazon’s algorithm will prejudge that your product likely won’t sell as many as the others

Long story short: In either case, you’ll suffer with a lower Amazon search ranking if you charge too much relative to similar products, so don’t price yourself out of the Amazon market. Carefully compare what your competitors on the site and other sites are doing, and set your price accordingly and competitively.

If your price is higher, there should be a very clear reason why (such as more and better reviews).

Your Amazon Conversion Rate

Intimately linked with price, your product’s conversion rate is another highly significant performance factor in your search ranking. Unfortunately, it’s going to be challenging to learn how your conversion rate compares with much certainty, as you don’t really have access to Amazon’s analytics in the same way you would with analytics on your own ecommerce site.

unit session percentage amazon conversion rate

The best you can do for conversion data is to check Seller Central’s Detail Sales Page and Traffic under Business Reports and Reports. Here, you’ll want to look at the Unit Session Percentage, which is essentially the number of units that are bought per visit. It’s the closest you’ll get to a pure conversion rate for your product page.

If the conversion rate is unspectacular and you believe your product should do better, then it’s time to revisit some of the aforementioned relevance factors to see if you can appear higher in Amazon searches and/or persuade more people to buy with better product page copy.

Your Product Images

Products that feature high-quality images consistently have a higher conversion rate, studies show. The same principle applies to your Amazon product page.

seo for amazon product images

Amazon itself recommends bigger images in its Seller Central Product Image Guidelines, writing:

“Images should be 1,000 pixels or larger in either height or width. This minimum size requirement enables the zoom function on the website. Zoom has been proven to enhance sales. The smallest your file can be is 500 pixels on its longest side.”

Include high-quality images that follow these guidelines, and help ensure that your product listings aren’t relegated to the end of the search results, which makes conversion rates suffer. And when your conversion rates increase due to these optimizations, your Amazon search-results rankings should do better.

Your Amazon Reviews

It’s safe to say that online reviews—which 85% of customers trust as much as personal recommendations—are another performance-related factor that figures into Amazon’s algorithm. Notice the correlation in Amazon’s search results and products with many reviews. The products that rank at the top for a broader keyword generally have more reviews, and higher reviews, than those lower down on the list.

From this, we can conclude that having more reviews has an impact on click-through rates and can lead to more sales, which in turn has an impact on overall product ranking on the site. Of course, Amazon has in recent times cracked down on fake reviews to ensure better integrity, so don’t try to cheat the algorithm.

If you’d like to get more of your customers to leave reviews on your Amazon product page, simply send them follow-up reminder emails after a purchase, asking them to leave a review for what they just bought from you.

If your Amazon reviews are negative, take a look at what people are complaining about and work to address the problems with your product. Here are some more tips on getting more and better Amazon reviews.

Eyes on the “Amazon’s Choice” Prize

Successful Amazon SEO comes down to knowing what Amazon’s algorithm wants from you as the seller, which ultimately comes down to making Amazon’s customers happy. Your product page can be optimized in various ways, but they all come down to two main factors: relevance and performance.

If you optimize with these big factors in mind, you should eventually see movement in the right direction with regard to your search rankings, conversion rates, and sales.

If you’re looking for help with getting your products into the sponsored results on Amazon, check out WordStream’s guide to Amazon advertising.

Marc Schenker

Marc Schenker

Marc Schenker is a copywriter and marketer who runs The Glorious Company, a marketing agency. An expert in business and marketing, he helps businesses and companies of all sizes get the most bang for their ad bucks.

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