Online Advertising – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Mon, 23 Apr 2018 15:12:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.5 Digital Advertising Tips: 5 Scenarios Perfect for Pay-to-Play Tactics http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/5-digital-advertising-scenarios/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/07/5-digital-advertising-scenarios/#comments Wed, 19 Jul 2017 10:30:29 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22618 In today’s competitive and content-saturated digital landscape, it’s no secret that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect, engage and inspire action from our audiences using only “free” or organic marketing tactics. As a result, digital advertising, often dubbed “pay-to-play” by marketers, is steadily on the rise. In fact, last fall, eMarketer forecasted that digital advertising [...]

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In today’s competitive and content-saturated digital landscape, it’s no secret that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to connect, engage and inspire action from our audiences using only “free” or organic marketing tactics.

As a result, digital advertising, often dubbed “pay-to-play” by marketers, is steadily on the rise. In fact, last fall, eMarketer forecasted that digital advertising spend would surpass TV ad spending for the first time in history by the end of 2016. And that trend is definitely expected to continue.

However, despite rising ad spend, consumers are actively avoiding our ads, according to a 2016 HubSpot Research report. For example, four out of five consumers reported that they closed a browser or exited a website because of an autoplaying ad or a pop up.

So what’s a marketer to do? As HubSpot so eloquently put it: “Marketers who want to connect with potential customers must supplement their target’s online experience, not interrupt it.”

To me, this means leveraging digital advertising when it makes sense and executing it in a way that enhances user experience. With that said, below I offer a handful of scenarios perfect for pay-to-play tactics, and tips for making them resonate—rather than repel—your target audience.

#1 – When you want to maximize the reach of top-performing content.

Chances are that your team has a huge portfolio of existing content—and some of those pieces are likely driving continuous traffic and engagement, and—depending on the content type—leads. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Content isn’t King. It’s the Kingdom.” So why not get the most out of the kingdom you’ve built?

Identify high-flying pieces of content at every stage of the sales funnel, and give them a refresh if needed. Depending on where the content falls in the funnel, use your audience knowledge or customer personas to select your advertising channels and targeting options. In addition, created tailored and channel-optimized messaging for each piece you want to promote.

For example, when it comes to choosing your channels, if you want to promote an attract-level, how-to blog post, you might choose a sponsored post option on Facebook or promoted tweets on Twitter. If you’re looking to promote an engage-level white paper, you could choose to go with an account targeting campaign on LinkedIn.

Read: Working Together in Perfect Harmony: Digital Advertising + Content Marketing


Get the most out of what #content kingdom you've built with the help of #digitaladvertising.
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#2 – When you need to drive action under a tight deadline.

Are you hosting a webinar in the near future? Or are you hoping to drive “last-minute” registrations for an upcoming event your company is hosting? If so, digital advertising is a huge opportunity to create buzz and drive targeted traffic to your signup pages.

As always, use your audience knowledge or customer personas to help you select the right channels and targeting options, as well as craft personalized and compelling messaging. In addition, launch your campaign with multiple versions of your ads. This not only helps reduce the fatigue users could feel after seeing the same ad over and over, but gives you the opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not so you can make tweaks. After all, this is a short-term campaign, so you’ll want the ability to quickly make adjustments that will inspire action from your target audience.

#3 – When you’re fighting for search visibility in a competitive industry.

Driving search traffic is always an important objective for any marketer. But for those working in competitive industries, especially those battling well-established brands for search rankings, organic tactics may not be enough and a paid search campaign focused on top keywords may be out of budget. But, as they say, where there’s a will there’s a way, according to TopRank Marketing Digital Advertising & SEO Manager Steve Slater.

“If you have a tough road for organic SEO ahead of you, you can look at creating content around super long-tail, informational queries and bidding on them [in AdWords],” he said. “Oftentimes these queries are cheap and they can drive traffic to your site.”


Bid on super long-tail #keyword queries if you're facing a tough organic #SEO road. @TheSteve_Slater
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#4 – When you’ve created awesome influencer content.

From influencer research and nurturing to creating the glorious finished product, any piece of influencer content you’ve created has likely required quite a bit of work—and you absolutely want to see it reach its full potential. Digital advertising can help you maximize your reach—which can benefit your organization and the influencers you’ve worked hard to cultivate relationships with.

For example, let’s say you created an eBook featuring insights and tips from 15 industry experts. The influencers have the unique industry expertise and audience following that made them a perfect fit for the content. One way to promote your eBook, as well as take advantage of your influencers social audience, is to craft a paid Twitter campaign that specifically targets your influencers’ followers who exhibit specific behaviors such as demographics, company size or interests.

Read: Boost Your Social Media Advertising Success with These 6 Pro Tips!

#5 – When you’re a startup.

Whether you’re a niche startup or looking to break into a competitive industry, digital advertising can help jump start your digital marketing efforts—and even deliver some quick wins.

For many startups, gaining brand awareness is often a key initiative out of the gate. According to Slater, leveraging Google Display Network is a great option because of its targeting capabilities and its affordability.

“It gives you the ability to create multiple ads at scale with the ad builder tool,” he said. “You can even create responsive ads at scale—something that’s a great option for startups that don’t have the budget for a graphic designer.”

In addition, you can target the website that you want your display ads to be placed on by keyword topic. Or if you want to level up your targeting, you can use affinity audiences—or even create custom affinity audiences,” Slater added. “All this to say, the display network is a pretty affordable way to get your brand in front of your potential audience.”

Are These the Only Scenarios Fit for Digital Advertising?

Absolutely not. Digital advertising can be a staple part of your ongoing integrated digital marketing strategy. From TopRank Marketing’s perspective, the continuous work you put into building organic awareness and engagement through creating great content, thought leadership and an awesome experience is your foundation. This is how you begin to build your brand from the ground up—and that has staying power.

But adding digital advertising—whether it be paid social, paid search, remarketing or sponsored content, or a combination of paid tactics—into the mix can be the icing on the cake or a leading tactic. It just needs to make sense for your industry, audience, business objectives and budget.

In what situations have you had the most digital advertising success? Tell us in the comments section below.


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Master LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Forms in 10 Easy Steps http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/master-linkedins-new-lead-generation-forms-10-easy-steps/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/05/master-linkedins-new-lead-generation-forms-10-easy-steps/#comments Mon, 29 May 2017 10:30:29 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=22327 [Editor’s Note: This is the first post from one of the newer members of our team, Emily Hinderaker. Emily joined TopRank Marketing earlier this year as a Marketing Copywriter.] The one item that marketers crave above everything else is information about their prospects. Often, there is even a dollar amount assigned to gaining access to a [...]

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[Editor’s Note: This is the first post from one of the newer members of our team, Emily Hinderaker. Emily joined TopRank Marketing earlier this year as a Marketing Copywriter.]

The one item that marketers crave above everything else is information about their prospects. Often, there is even a dollar amount assigned to gaining access to a name, email or phone number. In a time where this information is highly coveted, what is one thing marketers can do to make it easy for prospects to convert?

The answer, targeted, compelling, one-click conversions.

According to Stephen Slater, Digital Advertising Manager at TopRank Marketing here’s why:

Lead generation form ads encourage the impulse buy. With one click, you can gain access to prospect information in a way that required little time or effort on their end. The beauty of this approach for advertisers is that you can show your ads to the right audience and receive one click conversions.

Paid social presents a great opportunity for one-click conversions because you’re putting yourself where you audience is already spending time. And thanks to LinkedIn’s new Lead Generation Forms the opportunity just got a lot sweeter.

LinkedIn’s Lead Generation Forms allows advertisers to get even more high-quality leads by automatically filling in customized forms with accurate profile data. You can track campaign CPL, form fill rate, and even segment audience data by profession to get a better understanding of ad performance.

This new tool makes it easier for customers to engage, and saves time by pre-filling information. With this feature, you won’t lose leads due to an exhaustive form. Another benefit is that you also have the ability to download your leads and integrate with your marketing automation or CRM software for more organized, accurate and documented lead information.

Here’s a quick video from LinkedIn showcasing the features of this tool:

If you’re ready to get started, we’ve included a helpful ten step guide below to help you create your own Lead Generation Form ad.

#1 – Choose The Ad Type

Depending on your business objectives, you will want to select the ad type that will help you meet your goals. Advertisers can select Sponsored Content, Text Ads or Sponsored InMail for their ads.

#2 – Select Your Language & Preferences

Enter a campaign name that’s relevant for the campaign and then select the language of your content and what you’d like to happen after someone clicks your ad. Then click “Next >” to proceed with the Lead Generation Forms.

 

#3 – Choose Update(s) You’d Like to Sponsor

There are a couple options to get started. Option one is to select existing content that will appear as “Sponsored Content” and will be shown in newsfeeds.  or create a new post to promote. The second option is to choose “Direct Sponsored Content”, which will send customized messages to your audience segments (you’ll need Company Page Admin permission).

 

#4 – Create New Form Template

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to create a form template that describes your offer. Simply enter your offer headline and offer deal. Take the time to ensure that your headline and offer are compelling and speak to the needs of your target audience.

#5 – Identify What User Information You Want

Depending on what information your team has determined is most beneficial for your campaign, select up to seven pieces of data you’d like to collect from each prospect.

 

#6 – Create A Customized Thank You Message

You can also determine what message your prospects see after submitting their form. This is a great opportunity to redirect the user to your company website for more information.

#7 – Define the Call-To-Action

Depending on your goal, you may want a prospect to sign up, download or request more information. Make sure that your CTA properly aligns with your ad message.

#8 – Choose Audience Targeting

In order for an ad on LinkedIn to be effective, you must target your audience appropriately based on your message. You can select everything from locations and industries to specific job titles and even fields of study or skills.

 

#9 – Choose Your Budget and Start Date

You can choose to either pay when someone clicks on your ad, or pay based on the number of impressions. LinkedIn will also recommend a bidding strategy based on what other advertisers are doing. Typically, it will be best to start out by using LinkedIn’s recommended bid but you should optimize once you see which ads are performing best.

#10 – Review & Optimize

Keep a close eye on the performance of your ads and form completion to identify what is working best, and which ads to pause. That way you can optimize ad performance to increase results.

Test LinkedIn’s New Lead Generation Features

As you can see, LinkedIn’s new Lead Generation Forms offer a way to make it easier for targeted audiences to convert based on your offer. By removing a barrier, these one-click conversions can help fill your customer database and encourage participation from targeted audiences.

Interested in trying Lead Gen Forms? Click here to get started.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client. 


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How to Get Started with Instagram Ads http://www.toprankblog.com/2017/02/get-started-instagram-ads/ Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:30:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21915 Imagine trying to sell Instagram to a venture capitalist back in 2010. “You see, the biggest problem with Facebook and MySpace is that there are too many words. Our social network will be almost entirely pictures. I know, I know, but get this: People will be able to make their pictures look like crappy Polaroids [...]

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Imagine trying to sell Instagram to a venture capitalist back in 2010. “You see, the biggest problem with Facebook and MySpace is that there are too many words. Our social network will be almost entirely pictures. I know, I know, but get this: People will be able to make their pictures look like crappy Polaroids from the 70s and 80s! AND we’ll do it all on mobile, so people can download these pictures at blistering 2G and 3G speeds!”

It seems like a tough pitch, right? Only a few forward-looking folks knew that visual content was the wave of the future. As mobile speeds increased and phones got smarter, Instagram became a major player in the social media world.

These days, Instagram has a massive amount of potential for marketers of every stripe. 90% of Instagram’s 500 million monthly users are under 35. These millennials and Gen-Zers have plenty of buying power, and the platform has taken pains to introduce and develop marketing-friendly features.

If your brand isn’t on Instagram yet, there’s a good possibility it should be. Brands as diverse as GE and Donna Karan are seeing great results. If you can create arresting visual content for your brand, you’re good to go.

Here’s what you need to know to get started on Instagram.

#1: Create an Instagram Account

Before you start posting your own ads, it’s a good idea to get familiar with the platform. Create a Business Profile account and begin building your audience with engaging content.

Make sure to follow plenty of similar companies to see what the competition is up to, and add a few who aren’t in your vertical but have ideas worth borrowing.

#2: Build an Organic Audience with Great Content

If your brand lends itself to high-fashion photos or dynamic product shots, you don’t need to think too hard about your content strategy. For the rest of us, think of the platform as a place to provide an authentic look into your company’s culture.

Use photos and video to take followers behind the scenes at your company. Introduce employees and show them at work. Give viewers a tour of your headquarters. Take them with you to corporate events.

Instagram supports videos up to 60 seconds long, which is just enough time for a quick how-to or a few words of advice. Keep it non-promotional and valuable, and you can start to grow an organic audience.

Even though Instagram is a visual platform, don’t worry about having the most polished, professional-looking visuals. You’re better off actually using the tools Instagram provides to create authentic-looking images that match the platform’s look and feel.

#3: Connect Your Instagram Account to Facebook Business Manager

Facebook owns Instagram, so you will be posting your ads through Facebook’s Business Manager. That means the basic process for creating Instagram ads should be familiar to anyone who has run campaigns on Facebook.

There are two options for creating ads: Ads Manager and Power Editor. Ads Manager is the simpler of the two, but has plenty of functionality for those just starting out. The platform will walk you through the process of choosing an objective, audience, and adding creative.

#4: Create Ads: It’s Hip to Be Square

There are three types of ads you can create:

  1. Single Photo: A single photo, oddly enough.
  2. Photo Carousel: Up to 5 photos that viewers can swipe through
  3. Video: Up to 60 seconds of video.

Start with the single photo option for your first few campaigns. They’re the simplest to create, but you still have a good chance of seeing results with a strong visual.

Once you have a little experience, try out the photo carousel. See how you can use the format to tell a simple story. Give people a reason to swipe to the next photo.

If you have the setup to create beautiful, compelling video content, it’s worth trying out video ads. These ads tend to have the highest engagement of the three types. Use video to tell a story as visually as possible. As with Facebook, your video should make sense with the sound off.

You can choose ads that run in Instagram’s native square format, landscape, or vertical. Square ads actually give you more screen real estate than landscape ads, so it’s a good idea to stick with that classic square. Use these technical specifications to make sure your ad will look its best.

#5: Use Hashtags Sparingly

Hashtags help Instagram sort and display photos—think of them like the category tags in your blog. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post. You’re likely to see people who make full use of all 30. Resist the urge to follow in their footsteps.

Hashtags work best when you keep them relevant and use no more than five per post. Other users can add more tags when they share your content. So start with minimal descriptive tags and let the community decide what else is relevant. And ignore that 2200 character limit—stick to around 125  characters for your captions.

#6: Tailor Content for Specific Goals

If your goal is to raise awareness and grow your audience, look to content that is already performing well with your organic audience. Put a little budget behind content that is proven to engage, and it’s more likely to enjoy success and help bring in more followers.

For lead gen goals, use visuals that contain a clear call to action. HubSpot did extensive testing on Instagram ad types for their Complete Guide to Instagram Advertising (gated). They discovered—however counterintuitively—that the highest CTR for their lead gen ads came from visuals that looked more like ads than native content. So for your gated content offer, don’t go with a cute kitten picture or an inspirational quote. Offer a preview of the content and make it clear what you want your reader to do.

#Blessed #Success #LovingInstagramMarketing

Instagram may seem like a hard nut to crack, especially if you’re not in an industry known for strong visuals. In reality, though, if you’re successful on Facebook, you can make it on Instagram. Tell a compelling story, provide value for your audience, and they’ll click through.

From more from our team, follow us at TopRankMarketing. Is your brand rocking it on Instagram? If so, tell us how in the comments.


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Online Marketing News: Facebook Livestream Ads, Native Video on LinkedIn, & Ad-Blocking Myths Busted http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/08/online-marketing-news-080516/ Fri, 05 Aug 2016 10:30:38 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20833 The smart and talented Tiffani Allen will return for next week’s roundup. While we wait, let’s dive into what’s been happening in the news this week. The Future of Social Video: A Brief Look into What’s Next [Infographic] Video. Is there anything it can’t do? First it kills the radio star, and now it’s taking over [...]

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Marketing News Video Marketing Infographic

The smart and talented Tiffani Allen will return for next week’s roundup. While we wait, let’s dive into what’s been happening in the news this week.

The Future of Social Video: A Brief Look into What’s Next [Infographic]
Video. Is there anything it can’t do? First it kills the radio star, and now it’s taking over social media. According to research from Adobe, over half of marketers say video content has the best ROI. If you’re feeling left behind, don’t worry: one out of four marketers and small business owners feel they’re not up to speed on video marketing. Check out the full infographic for a breakdown of video marketing by social media platform. Hubspot

This Week’s TopRank Marketing News Video Roundup

Instagram Takes a Page from Snapchat, and Takes Aim at It, Too
If your only problem with Instagram is that it isn’t Snapchat, rejoice! Instagram just introduced a new feature called Stories, collections of photos and videos (with added enhancements like stickers and drawing functionality) that, once published, will disappear after 24 hours. Sound familiar? Facebook-owned Instagram is clearly taking a shot at the platform’s biggest rival. Do the kids these days need two disappearing-picture platforms? Time will tell. New York Times

Your LinkedIn Feed Is Coming to Life with Videos from LinkedIn Influencers
LinkedIn may be late to the native video party, but they’re coming at it from an intriguing new angle. They’re not launching the product to the whole subscriber base and waiting to see what people do with it. Only a select few LinkedIn Influencers will have access to native video (at least for now), and they will be using it for a specific purpose. Influencers will be posting 30-second videos answering questions from their followers, via an app that collects questions and does the recording. LinkedIn

Facebook is Testing Mid-roll Video Ads in Facebook Live
We knew it was coming: Facebook has settled on a way to monetize their live streams. Instead of pre-roll ads, though, they’re focused on adding 15-second ads mid-stream, when already-invested viewers will be less likely to bail. The wrinkle right now is none of the ad money goes to the content producer. Facebook pockets all the loot, although they do pay popular livestreamers directly for their content. AdvertisingAge

Twitter Awards to Highlight Top Marketing Efforts
If your brand has been sufficiently rocking it on Twitter, you might want to submit your campaign for the first annual #TwitterAwards. Categories include #Live, #Impact, #Creativity, #Scale, #Customer, and #Growth. Twitter’s VP of Global Brand and Creative Strategy says winners “may receive a coveted award perfect for mantels or glass cases.” Then again, they may not. #IGuessWeWillWaitAndSee. SocialTimes

Does the IAB’s First Ad-Blocking Study Provide “The Missing Stat?”
The one thing most marketers want to know about ad blockers is, “what can we do to make people not use them?” This study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) may be able to answer that question. In their study, 20% of participants used to have ad blockers but turned them off, either because the publisher asked them to in order to view content, or because the ad blocker itself blocked content they wanted to see. Marketing Land

Snapchat Launches ‘Geostickers’ for More Location-Activated Customization
In surprising news, Snapchat did not announce a new Instagram clone this week. Instead, they added new stickers that can only be used in a certain location, much like their popular Geofilters. The catch for users is they must have location enabled on their phones to use the new features, which will make it easier to serve relevant, location-based ads in the future. Social Media Today

What marketing news stories caught your attention this week?

Tiffani will be back next week with more marketing news. Have something to share? Tweet her @Tiffani_Allen, or tell the whole team @toprank.

Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client. 


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Find Success By Putting Your Digital Advertising to the A/B Test http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/digital-advertising-test/ Wed, 27 Jul 2016 10:30:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20788 Testing different variations is one of the quickest ways to learn, and Digital Advertising is no exception. When you begin talking about A/B testing, many of us get nervous and all sorts of possible catastrophes begin swimming around in our heads. But the truth is, advertising is a quickly evolving tactic, and in order to [...]

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Digital-Advertising-AB-Test

Testing different variations is one of the quickest ways to learn, and Digital Advertising is no exception. When you begin talking about A/B testing, many of us get nervous and all sorts of possible catastrophes begin swimming around in our heads.

But the truth is, advertising is a quickly evolving tactic, and in order to gain momentum, testing has become a necessity. Whether your advertising is social, display, native or search, the key to better results and return on investment is testing.

To help you navigate the sometimes-confusing world of digital advertising testing, we’ve provided some helpful resources below.

What is A/B Testing?

An A/B Test is simply a test between two variants, a control and a variation, or as Google likes to call it, an experiment. Examples might include creating two different:

  • Landing Pages
  • Assets
  • Ads

How to Approach an A/B Split

An A/B split needs to be shown to the exact same audience, during the same times of day, same days of the week and in the same areas in order for you to have a firm grasp on which variation is truly performing better.

It’s important to have a firm grasp on your data set or audience so that you can split the information and create an equitable ad deliver. You’ll find that most platforms have options for testing including, Google AdWords, Analytics Experiments, Optimizely and Unbounce.

Considerations for Length & Time of Testing

In order to measure success, you need to make sure you’re giving you tests enough time to run. We typically recommend running tests at a minimum of 2 weeks with most tests running for 1 month.

Volume

How much data is required for you to have statistically significant results? If your program sees low volumes (clicks, impressions, conversions), you need to run longer tests. If you have a high volume account you can call tests much faster.

Seasonality

If you have drastic peaks and lows due to seasonality, I suggest finding the middle ground for testing. I never recommend testing during a seasonal low unless you dealing with a high volume account.

Day of Week/Month Activity

Make sure that both groups have equal coverage during your peak days and weeks. Again, try to avoid running tests during your low periods, especially if you see significant swings in CTR and conv. rates.

It’s also essential to make sure that your test is going to have impact. Sometimes slight copy variations and image changes aren’t going to tell you much. You want to make sure the variant has a very clear goal and hypothesis. For example, by changing a button from “Download” to “Get My Guide”, I’m hoping to see a 10% lift in conversions.

What Types of Digital Advertising A/B Tests Should You Try?

When we implement digital advertising tests, they are directly tied to helping to meet program goals. Depending on the goals for your digital advertising program, we recommend launching the following types of tests:

Message Testing:

Test your messaging simple ad variations such as:

  • Length of Message
  • Promotional based Messaging vs. Informational Based Message vs. Benefit Messaging
  • Various Ad Extensions

Changing a single word within your message normally doesn’t lead to strong insights so make sure there is substantial change.

Below you’ll find a couple of examples where we have tested different messaging tactics for significant engagement improvements.

Promotional Based Text Ads Driving Significantly Higher CTR’s Than Benefit Messaging:

Chronic Care Management

Benefit Based Text Ad Driving Significantly Higher CTR’s Than Information Messaging:

Sales Training

Landing Page Element Testing

Testing different elements on your landing pages can lead to surprising results. Whether it’s the layout, form fields or buttons, it’s always important to experiment.

Below you’ll see a simple button label change driving a major improvement in lead volume!

Get eGuide

Imagery Testing

For social posts, display channel and landing pages, it is always good to test a couple of contrasting images, themes and concepts.

Especially if you have multiple audience personas, you’ll want to know what type of visuals and graphics resonate best with your audience. Do you need to be straighter forward, does humor resonate with your audience, and does your audience like to see the product? Are certain concepts better for social than display? You’ll discover these answers via testing.

Here’s an example of a test we ran for a social campaign. #FuranceFail had a humorous twist that resonated much better with our social audience.

FurnaceFail

Make Informed Testing Decisions

Again, make sure you’re testing has purpose, a hypothesis and a goal. If you’ve put serious thought into your A/B tests you won’t be disappointed. While the outcome may not have been desired, now you know and knowledge is power.


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New Short Story: How GREAT Marketers Win at Digital Advertising http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/great-marketers-digital-advertising/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/great-marketers-digital-advertising/#comments Tue, 12 Jul 2016 10:30:36 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20712 How can you help your brand knock out the competition and win customers’ attention? Sometimes great content and a solid content marketing strategy aren’t enough to achieve the results you hoped and planned for. Despite all your training and drilling on tactics, you enter the ring and end up hitting the mat face-first. It’s nice [...]

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Great Marketers Win at Digital Advertising

How can you help your brand knock out the competition and win customers’ attention?

Sometimes great content and a solid content marketing strategy aren’t enough to achieve the results you hoped and planned for. Despite all your training and drilling on tactics, you enter the ring and end up hitting the mat face-first.

It’s nice to think that people would be magnetically drawn to your content. That every search for a relevant term would return your brand at the top of the SERP. That word-of-mouth or a couple of posts on social media would create a stampede of partygoers to your site. But a strictly organic approach can lead to lukewarm and limited engagement.

Marketers today are competing for attention against infinite options. A few weak jabs won’t win the championship belt—you need to add some power to your punches. To make sure you’re the one left standing in the final round, you need a digital advertising strategy.

Let’s take a quick look at how to succeed with some of the key elements of digital advertising.  

#1 – Paid Social

For a while, it seemed like social media was the great free marketing platform of our dreams. In retrospect, we should have known better. Social sites exist to make money, and they don’t make it directly from their user base. So, while it’s a good idea to use the free options available on social platforms, it’s most helpful to think of them as pay-to-play sites.

Here are a few things to keep in mind for your paid social campaigns:

  • Go where your audience is. Resist the siren song of new platforms and stick with the ones you know your audience uses.
  • Use targeting wisely. Most social platforms give you dozens of options for choosing your audience. Pick too many options and you can end up shutting out good leads. Stick with the 2-3 most important parameters that will give you a relevant, but still sizable, audience.
  • Quality matters. Each of the big 3 platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) has a quality metric that affects who wins bids. Even if a competitor outbids you, if your content has proven more valuable in the past, you win the display auction. Max out your quality metric by increasing budget to well-converting ads and shutting off underperformers.

#2 – Remarketing

If you’ve been online in the past five years, you have encountered remarketing. It’s the ads that show up regardless of what site you’re on, reminding you to buy that item you saved for later in your Amazon cart. Or from the resort casino after you researched your Vegas vacation. It may seem a little bit creepy or intrusive (when done poorly), but remarketing is a powerful way to capture opportunities that otherwise would be lost.

Use these tips to keep your remarketing non-creepy and effective:

  • Set frequency caps to 5-7 impressions. You don’t want to wear out your potential buyer. This is a guideline more than a rule, though: You may want to increase spend and decrease capping on your highest-converting landing pages.
  • Segment audiences based on funnel stages. Where your audience is in the buyer’s journey will determine the tone of your ad and the CTA. Don’t rely on a one-size-fits-all solution.
  • Cover all the size and format options. Remarketing platforms like Google AdWords allow you to submit ads in multiple formats for a variety of placements. Don’t leave potential impressions on the table–use all the options available.

#3 – Paid Search

Some marketers are still wary of paid search, worrying that it will compete with the brand’s organic traffic efforts. The truth is, you should never see a dip in organic traffic because of paid search. Paid search and SEO should work together; for example, you can use paid to make up for a gap in organic ranking for a certain keyword.

Use these tips to optimize your paid search efforts:

  • See what your competitors are doing. Use tools to see what keywords they’re bidding on, how much they’re bidding, and see where their strategy is vulnerable. You may identify gaps you can fill, or even keywords they’re winning that you can bid competitively on.
  • Improve relevance with ad customizers. Google Ads let you add dynamic customizers that change your content depending on the time, the search term used, and other factors. Using customizers is the difference between a customer seeing “Bob’s Shoe Store has Men’s Shoes” and “Bob’s Shoe Store has blue Nike men’s sneakers starting at $50.”
  • Focus on an immediate pain point/benefit in your copy. You don’t have much space for a paid search ad, so make the characters count. Tell the audience what’s in it for them if they click. It’s the difference between “We offer secure websites” and “We help keep your business safe from hackers.”

How GREAT Marketers Win at Digital Advertising

Advertising still has a place in the content marketing world. It can help an audience find your content, keep your brand top-of-mind during the journey, and help your brand visibility on search engines. To help you create a heavyweight digital advertising strategy, we created this fun storybook with a few key tips. Read and share it to make sure your digital advertising packs the proper punch.


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PPC + SEO = A Winning Team for Search Marketing Success http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/ppc-sep-search-marketing-success/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/ppc-sep-search-marketing-success/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 10:30:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20708 A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time [...]

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Search-Marketing-Success

A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time to go from tunnel vision to full spectrum search.

Why do we all need to start paying attention to organic and paid search integration? With the recent changes to Google’s SERP results page, many companies are starting to see organic visibility slide along with organic traffic as paid advertisers are garnering more real estate on the page. Google continues to push more algorithm updates and while they many not all be as impactful as RankBrain, Panda, or Penguin, SEO and organic rank is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

I cannot tell you how many times we hear, “Is paid going to impact our organic search performance?” or “Is it going to cannibalize our brand’s traffic?” Study after study has found that answer to be No! Strategic Paid Digital Media only enhances search performance and boosts organic activity.

And for skeptics, here are a few recent stats on the integration of paid and organic search efforts:

  • Integrating PPC and organic SEO efforts results on average in a 25% increase in organic traffic (Business2Community)
  • 50% of clicks by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking (Search Engine Watch)
  • 27% Increase in Profit with Combined PPC and Organic efforts (Business2Community)

Search marketing should be holistic and strategic with integrated PPC and organic efforts. It’s time for marketers to start taking a look at Paid Search as a way to also grow visibility and traffic. An integrated search marketing program will allow you to conquer SERPs and take ownership of your priority keywords. SERP ownership equals authority in the consumers eye which equals success.

But where do you start? Let’s assume you currently have an SEO program in place and are looking at entering the realm of PPC. Here are a few tips and tactics for getting your integrated search marketing effort off the ground.

#1 – What do you HAVE to bid on keywords you’re already ranking for?

Every company has specific keywords or phrases that are ‘make or break’ terms for them. The queries driving the majority of your traffic, leads, sales or whatever you may be doing. These handfuls of keywords are typically LATE FUNNEL and directly relate to your product or service.

We always recommend owning these types of queries, even if you’re currently on the 1st page or in first position organically. The stats above prove that query ownership leads to trust and trust leads to additional clicks, leads and revenue.

#2 – What you SHOULD bid on?

Maybe rankings have started to slide. Maybe you’ve never ranked for the keyword but the term is an important component of your product or service. What do you do? BUY IT!

The SEO game is tough and if you should be visible for certain keywords but are unable to get a reasonable rank, the best, immediate solution is to start bidding on that term.

Remember that paid search is something you can easily turn off and on. If ranking improves and the ads activity doesn’t warrant the spend, turn it off.

#3 – How do you conquer keyword expansion & create a strategy?

Let’s say you’ve been paying attention to Search Console and have started seeing particular search quires driving traffic or maybe you have a new product you’re launching or MAYBE you just have a hunch that content built around a particular keyword phrase is going to be the lead gen treasure. Test it out on AdWords and find out.

Launching small PPC campaigns is a great way to test the opportunity available along with getting a glimpse into how people are searching for a particularly topic or product so pay attention to your search query reports.

Just make sure that you’re not putting too many limits on these types of campaigns. You want to see what the general queries look like. I typically use broad match or broad match modified and run only crucial negative keywords. Use your best judgement with match types and negatives. You also need to give it some time so don’t start making too many changes and drastic bid adjustments, but keeps those ads no lower than 3rd position.

Optimizing PPC Performance

Now that you have a few guidelines for your SEO/PPC keyword integration, it’s time to take a look at performance.

Make sure you pay attention to the Search Query Reports in AdWords. At TopRank Marketing, our practice is to review these as a team to see if we have any new organic targeting opportunities, unqualified traffic issues and engagement vs. reach.

PPC Search Terms

Within the AdWords Dimensions Tab you’ll find the Paid & Organic Report. This report gives you a peak into how your Paid and Organic programs are working together or not working together.

The Paid & Organic Report will show you:

#1 – Co-Exposure – Overlap

Understand what % of traffic can be attributed to either paid or organic. This will also give you insights into how that traffic relates to the position. Maybe you can start bidding certain keywords to a lower position and see if organic is able to absorb the loss to paid traffic and vice versa.

You should also monitor engagement rates when both pair and organic search listings are at play. This will be a good indicator of the positive or negative value provided with dual listings.

#2 – Keyword Opportunities

The report is also going to show you where you are seeing organic presence or paid presence only. Use this report to help guide your expansion efforts. If you’re seeing great traction with a particular keyword organically, you may see improvements by including a paid as well.

If certain paid terms are seeing exceptional engagement rates or volume but you have no organic presence, it’s time to inform the SEO team and start building out content.

PPC Query

You will need to make sure you’ve sync’d your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts in order to access these reports. This should be step 1 whenever your creating an account.

Hopefully these tips for PPC and SEO integration will be the start of a new, beautiful friendship. A winning team that’s focused on an integrated approach to the quest for search success.


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Learn How to Take Your Digital Advertising Strategy Mobile http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/07/digital-advertising-strategy-mobile/ Thu, 07 Jul 2016 10:30:48 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20698 How many times a day do you pick up your smartphone? If you’re the average iPhone user, Apple says you slide to unlock around 80 times in a 24-hour period. Android users unlock their phones around 85 times a day—no word on what those extra five unlocks are. 80 times a day. If the average [...]

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Digital-Advertising-Strategy-Mobile

How many times a day do you pick up your smartphone? If you’re the average iPhone user, Apple says you slide to unlock around 80 times in a 24-hour period. Android users unlock their phones around 85 times a day—no word on what those extra five unlocks are.

80 times a day. If the average person sleeps around 7 hours a night, they get 17 hours of waking time per day. That means we’re picking up our phones over 4 times an hour. That’s more than every fifteen minutes. Should I even bother putting it back in my pocket? Or just graft it onto my hand?

So marketers, riddle me this: Odds are the people you want to reach have a screen on their person that they look at 80 times a day. They fill every idle moment of their day consuming content on that screen.

Why are we still calling it the “second screen?”

Why are we still thinking of mobile as a nice-to-have add-on for our digital advertising strategy?

As Brian Solis (Principal at Altimeter Group, Can Probably Literally See into the Future) said in a recent AdAge article: “Someone has to take the lead in bringing mobile to the forefront of digital design. Investing in a mobile program just to check the box is no longer good enough. The reality is that mobile is now the first screen.”(Emphasis mine)

So what does a first-screen mobile advertising strategy look like? Read on to learn the minimum requirements for mobile, and the specific attributes your strategy should have to succeed.

The Minimum Requirement: A Seamless Mobile Experience

The end goal of your mobile advertising strategy is to pull people to your assets: a piece of content, a landing page, a shopping page. So before you start advertising on mobile, your site has to be mobile-friendly.

But that doesn’t mean doing just enough responsive design to have Google bless your site as mobile-friendly. What I mean is that it’s possible for your customer to do everything you want them to do, take every step of their journey with your brand, on a mobile device. As our Account Manager and PPC Lead Michael Bak puts it:

We all know that we need to be mobile friendly. But many times I’ve seen advertisers forget that the customer’s journey doesn’t simply end at the landing page. You need to make sure every aspect of the customer journey is mobile friendly: the shopping cart experience, the asset, the area of the site you’re funneling that consumer to. Make sure you’re asking your customers to take the next step. And make sure that next step is part of a seamless mobile experience.

So before you start implementing a mobile advertising strategy, make sure those who demonstrate their trust by clicking on your ad are rewarded with a positive experience.

What Does a Mobile Advertising Strategy Look Like?

Mobile screens are unique in that they’re more personal, more intimate, and more user-customizable than marketers are used to (or comfortable with). You know what I’m talking about; you’re a consumer as well as a marketer. We’re used to ignoring advertising on mobile. We’re good at mentally erasing the banner ads at the top of apps. We click X on interstitials before they even load. And the ads we can’t mentally block, we can now use software to actually scrub away.

That’s the downside of mobile. It’s a screen people spend a whole lot of their lives looking at—but they’re emphatically not looking at what you want to show them. That truth informs all the following aspects of a successful mobile digital advertising strategy:

It’s Social. What are people doing most of the 80-85 times they unlock their phones? Why, checking their social media for updates, of course. That’s where they want to be—so that’s where you should be, too. Promoted, targeted posts on your audience’s preferred social media channels are an easy way to get guaranteed mobile-friendly, less-likely-to-be-ignored advertising.

It’s Visual. With their big screens and powerful processors, modern mobile devices are made for visual content. You don’t have to set up your own VR studio just yet, but images and at least some video are a must. Facebook and YouTube are both developing tools to make video creation easier; you can bet the output from those tools will be optimized for mobile. Take it from Lowe’s’ millions of plays on Vine, or FedEx’s 46,000 followers on Instagram: mobile platforms + social + visual content = awesome.

It’s Native. Like I said earlier, we’re getting very good at unseeing the kind of banner ads and interstitials that might have attracted eyeballs a few years ago. These days, native ads have a much better shot at being seen. Mobile native content (on apps like Facebook, Buzzfeed, and Reddit) has multiple advantages: It’s immune to ad blockers, it’s already optimized for mobile, and it finds your audience on the apps they already use (more on that later). 

It’s Useful. Remember when all an advertiser had to do to rake in the dollars was put a mini-game in their banner ad? You know—help the monkey collect bananas, punch the boxer, shoot the baskets? Yeah, that’s done with. Now there’s plenty of opportunities for people to mindlessly tap and swipe. To get their attention, you actually have to offer something of value. Make it entertaining, make it emotional, make it hilarious—make it worth their while.

It Not All on Your Site (And Especially Not Your App). We’ve talked about having a solid mobile-friendly site. The logical next step seems like developing your own app, to really provide the best user experience. But the average smartphone user spends most of their time in just three apps. Do you really want to gamble on your app breaking the top three? It makes more sense to find which three they use, and publish there.

It’s…email? You heard it here first (unless you heard it first somewhere else): Email is a mobile advertising strategy. Way back in 2014, 65% of email was opened first on mobile, and you can bet that number has gone up. Email is the perfect diversionary activity after all the Faces have been Booked, the Tweets have been Twitted, and the Snaps have been Chatted. If you can consistently deliver valuable content via email, you can grow your audience regardless of their demographic. From Millennials to Baby Boomers, mobile has breathed new life into email as a marketing tactic.

Quick, to the Mobile-mobile!

Last year, Google announced that more searches are now being made on mobile than on desktop. Internet traffic from smartphones and tablets is slowly eclipsing all other forms of traffic. That’s not to say we should cut non-mobile users loose and leave their money on the table, of course. But it does indicate that mobile is far more than the secondary consideration many marketers have made it.

How is your organization developing a mobile advertising strategy? Let me know in the comments.


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6 Things Brands & Publishers Need to Know About Native Advertising http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/2016-native-advertising-trends/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/06/2016-native-advertising-trends/#comments Wed, 29 Jun 2016 10:30:55 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20658 As brands look to create deeper connections with their audience and publishers search for new ways to generate revenue, native advertising as re-emerged as a tactic that both can take advantage of. For those who aren’t familiar, native advertising, also referred to as sponsored content or advertorials, has taken on many forms over the years—from [...]

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Native-Advertising

As brands look to create deeper connections with their audience and publishers search for new ways to generate revenue, native advertising as re-emerged as a tactic that both can take advantage of.

For those who aren’t familiar, native advertising, also referred to as sponsored content or advertorials, has taken on many forms over the years—from advertorials in newspapers in the 1940s to infomercials and paid programming spots on television. Today, native advertising is a content marketing tactic that typically involves publishing informational and educational articles and videos (with an underlying advertising message) in print or digital publications and blogs.

For publishers, native advertising allows them to generate revenue by not only lending advertisers their platform, but also offering their editorial expertise, brand reputation and audience. For brands, native advertising allows them to create valuable content and another touchpoint within in the buyer’s journey as they work toward being the best answer for their audience.

But despite native advertising’s long history and its growth as a content marketing tactic in today’s digital world, many brands and publishers are still weary to jump on board. Publishers worry about blurring the lines between commercial and editorial, as well as their making their audience feel deceived by poorly labeled ad content, while brands can struggle with understanding how to execute native ad content and wonder if it’s actually effective.

In its inaugural report, Native Advertising Trends 2016 – The Magazine Industry, the Native Advertising Institute and FIPP – the network for global media found that while native advertising can be challenging, it still holds some great opportunities. The organizations surveyed 140 magazine executives from 39 countries to understand what they think of native advertising, how they’re using it or plan to use it, and where the greatest threats and opportunities lie.

Below are some key findings from the report—as well as some tips from me—that could help brands and publishers overcome some of their skepticisms or concerns about native advertising, or help make your current native advertising services/efforts more effective:

#1 – Native advertising will grow.

According to the report, 52% of publishers already offer native advertising as a service and another 37% are likely or most likely to add the option in the future. In addition, those who currently offer the service expect that 30% of their overall advertising revenues will come from native advertising in 2018, which is up from 19% in 2015.

If higher revenues are anticipated and more service offerings are being considered, that leads me to believe that publishers and their customers must be seeing value and results with native advertising.

But native advertising may not be right for every brand or publication. Both should do some research and a little testing. Determining whether its a good fit will ultimately depend on who your customer/audience is and your business goals.

#2 – Native advertising adds value.

The goal for any piece of content should be to inform, engage and entertain your reader–and native advertising content is no different. The survey found that 74% of publishers believe that native advertising actually adds value for their readers and viewers.

The best way you can provide a valuable native content is to understand your audience. Publishers can provide excellent insight on who their readers are and brands can use that information to see if it fits with what they know about their target audience. If it’s a match, native content will be more compelling and valuable.

#3 – Native advertising does spark some complaints.

Native advertising is not every reader or viewers cup of tea, with 16% of publishers saying that they’ve received customer complaints because of native advertising.

The best way to avoid ruffling feathers is to clearly label native advertising as promoted or sponsored content, as well as ensuring that the content itself is of the highest editorial standards. Readers and viewers expect and deserve transparency, and giving it to them provides value and an honest connection with your brand.

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden once wrote: “Paid content only ‘works’ if the content meets similar standards to what’s normally published through editorial filters. ‘Salesly’ content published alongside high quality editorial will be ignored or worse, cause dissension against the publication and the brand that is doing the editorial advertising.”

#4 – Some publishers don’t label native advertising content.

More than half of publishers say they label native advertising pieces as “Sponsored Content” to differentiate it from editorial content, while others use other terms or change the actual look and feel of the content to set it apart.

However, 11% of publishers say they don’t label native advertising content at all.

As mentioned above, transparency is absolutely crucial to maintain the integrity of both the publication and the brand that’s advertising. Attempting to trick readers into believing that the content they’re reading is unbiased, journalistic content will almost certainly backfire on both parties.

#5 – Digital and printed articles, and video content perform the best.

Native advertising content can take on a variety of forms, but there are some that tend to be the most effective. According to the report, publishers see online articles (66%), video content (61%) and printed articles (50%) as the most effective types of native advertising content.

Again, use your audience knowledge to choose the type of native content that will be the most effective.

#6 – Telling real stories is key.

Native advertising is meant to seamlessly integrate with other editorial content, which means storytelling is an absolute must. Unfortunately, many publishers find that convincing their advertisers to tell real stories in their native content is difficult, with 37% saying it’s one of their biggest native advertising challenges.

Using overtly promotional language is not how you tell a story—or get your audience to connect with your brand. Telling real stories is a great way to engage with your brand in an authentic way, while also providing them with information and that entertainment factor.

Native-Advertising-Icon
Download the entire Native Advertising Trends 2016 – The Magazine Industry report through the Native Advertising Institute’s website.

What’s your take on native advertising? Love it? Hate it? Unsure? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Do Visuals Really Have an Impact on Online Advertising Success? http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/05/20394/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/05/20394/#comments Wed, 04 May 2016 10:30:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20394 Humans are visual creatures by nature. In fact, research shows that 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. And as it turns out, our visual intelligence is actually increasing while verbal intelligence is on the decline, according to an infographic from WebDAM. What does this mean? It means that the way [...]

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online-advertising-success

Humans are visual creatures by nature. In fact, research shows that 90% of the information that comes to our brains is visual. And as it turns out, our visual intelligence is actually increasing while verbal intelligence is on the decline, according to an infographic from WebDAM.

What does this mean? It means that the way people consume information and the way they communicate is changing. And marketers who want to effectively reach their audiences will need to more strategic with visuals in all their marketing tactics—including online advertising. Simply paying to be at the top of search results or news feeds is no longer enough to get the results you’re looking for.

But the importance of visual content in your online advertisements goes beyond the fact that we’re becoming an increasingly visual as a society. Below we dive into some other reasons visual content should be a focus and outline some best practices, too.

Why Visuals Matter in Online Advertising

Images Impact How People Feel

It’s true what they say. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. Images have the power to move us, and to evoke feelings and memories. And in advertisements, images can definitely impact the way we feel about a product or brand. In fact, when it comes to ecommerce sites, 67% of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing an item.

One of my favorite brands using visual content to give people all of the feels is Love Your Melon. Love Your Melon was founded to improve the lives of children battling cancer by providing them with a special hat. With each hat purchased by the public, 50% of the net proceeds are donated to the organization’s nonprofit partners in the fight against childhood cancer. Throughout the year the brand releases new products and boosted/sponsored Facebook posts are a major promotion tool. And at the center of it all is an awesome image that encompasses the brand’s mission and the good they’re doing for sick kids.

Love Your Melon

Of course, I also have to mention Chevrolet’s tribute to the late, great Prince Rogers Nelson following his death on April 21, 2016. Most people first saw it on Twitter, but the company also ran the ad in several newspapers.

Chevrolet

Visual Content is More Engaging

Visual content is engaging and eye-catching by nature. Videos and images can get us to stop, look and watch. How many times have you found yourself watching one of BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos in your Facebook news feed this week? In addition, visual content often compels us to share with others. According to a Buffer infographic, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social networks.

General Mills recently released a cute video ad on Facebook featuring the “honorary real Trix rabbit” to let the world know that the company’s cereals all contain real stuff. The ad delivers information in a visually delightful way and uses the memorable Trix campaign slogan to remind people General Mills was part of their childhood.

Visual Content Rules the People

In today’s digital world, mobile devices have put a camera in people’s pockets and the ability to share the photos they take in real-time. According to the Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report, people uploaded 1.8 billion photos every single day in 2014. That same report indicated that 44% of millennials use the camera or video function of their smartphones at least once a day. In addition, visual social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are on the rise—especially among young people. And of course, YouTube has been a growing go-to for people for the last few years.

Best Practices

  • Be thoughtful. Just like any digital marketing tactic, thinking about who your audience is, what they need and the message you’re trying to spread is essential when choosing what visuals to use.
  • Be consistent. Your visual content should be representative of your brand and be consistent across all of your digital channels. (Read: Learn How to Create a Better Customer Experience with Omni-Channel Marketing)
  • Show your audience something special. Give them a sneak peek at a product launch or a behind-the-scenes video story. This type of visual content can pique interest and help spread awareness about your brand, rather than trying to sell a product or service outright.
  • Use real images. Real images resonate with people. As an example, the following two ad images were used to advertise a furnace inspection promotion on Facebook. The ad featuring a real image and humorous hashtag received a 22% higher click-through rate, than the illustrated melting snowman ad.

Furnace Fail People

Furnace Fail Illustrated

  • Illustrate your message. Ask yourself: How can I convey what my message is through an image? Once you’ve picked an image that can deliver your message, make sure any text supports the overall message.
  • Show them the product. Sometimes just simply using an image of your product is all your need to do. For example, if you are advertising a new software, provide a snapshot of the backend that shows its capabilities or features rather than a jovial person sitting at a computer. How-to videos can also be incredibly impactful.
  • Don’t be too busy. Make sure your images don’t have too much going on. Humans are easily distracted and you want to keep their attention.
  • Think mobile. It’s no secret that mobile devices are overtaking desktop computers. Make sure that your visual ad content will load quickly and can be easily seen on mobile.
  • Size images to proper dimensions. Make sure your images are properly sized for the advertising medium, otherwise they could be cropped and cause your ad to look unprofessional. And people will move on without a second thought. (Also, proper image size is important for your social media profiles and updates, too. Check out HubSpot’s ultimate cheat sheet for social media sizing guidelines.)
  • Take advantage of free tools. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to pull off high-quality ad images. Canva, Pixler and PicMonkey are awesome and all offer free versions.
  • Use color. Colors are more likely to grab and hold your audience’s attention. Research from Xerox shows that colored visuals increase readers’ recall and attention spans by 82%.
  • Don’t be afraid to test. Use a couple different images in your ads so you can see which type or style better resonates with your audience.

What is one of the most visually compelling online ads that you’ve seen recently? Why did it resonate with you? Tell us in the comments section below.

Header image via Shutterstock


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3 Ways Digital Advertising Gives Tactical Support to Your Content Marketing Mission http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/02/digital-advertising-content-marketing/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/02/digital-advertising-content-marketing/#comments Mon, 29 Feb 2016 11:30:56 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=20045 In today’s digital, content-saturated world, it’s no secret that we marketers are all battling to connect, engage and inspire action from our respective audiences. As a result, having an integrated content marketing strategy is of paramount importance. As a matter of fact, 80% of B2B marketers have some sort of content marketing strategy in place, [...]

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digital-advertising-content-marketing-mission

In today’s digital, content-saturated world, it’s no secret that we marketers are all battling to connect, engage and inspire action from our respective audiences. As a result, having an integrated content marketing strategy is of paramount importance.

As a matter of fact, 80% of B2B marketers have some sort of content marketing strategy in place, according to the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs.

But, the question is: Are you using all the weapons in your content marketing arsenal?

Including digital advertising such as paid search ads, boosted social posts or remarketing in your tactical mix can help you hit your target. How? Well, consider the following facts and stats:

  • Marketing expert Sonny Ganguly says social media advertising is set to explode in the next three years because it helps businesses find new potential clients by using users’ own shared information to identify interest. (Source)
  • Users who are retargeted are 70% more likely to convert. (Source)
  • A bakery saw a 35% increase in conversions and a 330% increase in impressions on the Google Display Network. (Source)
  • When it comes to remarketing, Wordstream found that conversion rates increase the more users see an ad. (Source)

With a little research, planning and testing to find the right mix for your brand, digital advertising can round-out your integrated content marketing strategy. Use some of our tips below to ensure you’re getting the most out of your paid efforts.

Direct Hit: Connect with the people you know.

Marketers have a detailed picture of who they want their content to reach. And the first target is usually the known audience.

Your digital advertising weapon of choice? Remarketing or account-based style paid advertising programs.

Your known audience is the low-hanging fruit for engagement and it’s typically receptive to your content regardless of the topic. These people could be current or past customers, brand advocates, industry influencers you’ve connected with or your social following.

As an example, a TopRank Marketing client recently launched a new product within their suite of SAS software. The client knew their audience, but wanted direction on how to get the new product in front of them. We recommended a remarketing program.

The program involved remarketing several key pieces of content to different segments of our “known”  target audience with the ultimate goal of driving demo’s for the new software. The result? A 26% percent increase over their current advertising tactics.

demo requests

Depending on your brand, one way to get the most out of your remarketing efforts is by spreading your targeting over multiple channels. Your audience isn’t just on one channel so showing your ads on multiple platforms will help you reach your audience wherever they are.

New Alliances: Your untapped audience.

Digital advertising allows brands to target a specific audience using keywords, affinity, topics, interests, demographics, geographic criteria, title, company—and the list goes on and on.

The tactical advantage? Delivering topical, relevant content to a previously unknown audience.

When should you use this tactic in your content marketing strategy? When you want to fill the pipeline, drive additional sales, increase product visibility or build brand awareness.

As another example, a healthcare technology client recently created several assets surrounding a dramatic change within their industry. This information was useful to a large audience and presented an ideal opportunity to reach out to those consumers via paid promotion. Our goal was to position our client as a thought leader while filling that aforementioned pipeline.

Using several targeting methodologies we were able to drive extremely high engagement with a relatively untapped audience. And the engagement numbers significantly surpassed historic performance.

performance and CTR

If you’re just getting started with a campaign, test different messaging styles and tones, and offer different calls-to-action and assets. If you do this, you’ll soon have a clear understanding of the type of content your audience is asking for and how they want that information delivered to them.

Special Forces: Discover insights that allow you to tailor content to your audience, known and unknown.

Having accurate intel is important to every mission. When you launch a digital advertising campaign, whether it be on social platforms or search engines, you begin to collect valuable insights and metrics that you can use to plan your next move.

For example, paid search campaigns feature search query reports. These reports show all of the search queries that resulted in your ad being shown. You’re able to see exactly what people are searching for, and use that information to create content that fits with the intent and terminology your audience is actually using.

Make sure all of your tracking dots are connected so you can review the data for even better better targeting and content on your next mission. For example, if you’re running paid search ads on Google, make sure you have a campaign synced to your Google Analytics account or whatever tracking software you might be using. This will ensure that the proper data collection is happening. You’ll easily be able to evaluate what is and isn’t working as consumers move through your landing page and dive deeper into your site.

It’s also a good idea to look outside the chosen tracking platform for other engagement data. This allows you to add some additional context to the data you’re receiving, and this is often the true test of content and paid promotion.

The digital world is a marketing battlefield where an integrated plan of attack is essential to survival. And adding a digital advertising program to your marketing mix will help you gain a tactical advantage. From using remarketing to keep your products top-of-mind to targeting new customers through paid search, digital advertising programs not only support your content marketing efforts, but provide a nice little boost, too.

What’s been your experience with digital advertising? What type of paid ads have been the most successful or least successful for you? Tell us in the comments section below.

Want to learn more about digital advertising and how it can fit with your content marketing strategy? Check out this case study that details how LinkedIn ads helped a B2B company generate 75% more leads at a 40% lower cost!

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2016. | 3 Ways Digital Advertising Gives Tactical Support to Your Content Marketing Mission | http://www.toprankblog.com

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How to Decode The Connection Between Organic & Paid Content Promotion http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/01/organic-and-paid-content-promotion/ Wed, 27 Jan 2016 11:30:49 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=19883 We often have new customers ask us what the best approach is for breaking the code of content promotion. Is it purely organic reach, social amplification or is paid promotion the way to go? The short answer is, all of these and more. When content marketing first hit the market, brands used it as an [...]

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Organic-and-paid-content-promotion

We often have new customers ask us what the best approach is for breaking the code of content promotion. Is it purely organic reach, social amplification or is paid promotion the way to go?

The short answer is, all of these and more.

When content marketing first hit the market, brands used it as an opportunity to follow a formula for something they already knew, online advertising. Banner ads, spam emails and other forms of advertising were a precursor to the more recognized forms that we see today. In the mid-nineties, brands were spending upwards of $11,000 a week for banner advertisements.

Much later, once brands began to understand the potential of content marketing as an actual way to build value and credibility (without spamming), marketing investments began to shift. Suddenly everyone was investing a large portion of their funds into creating quality content and advertising investments began to wane.

That brings us to today. Brands large and small have become savvy to the fact that quality content is a must. However, the competition for the attention of consumers is becoming increasingly difficult. The mere creation of top-notch content will no longer suffice.

To help you decode the proper mix of organic and paid content promotion to make your content reach new heights, consider the connections below.

Understanding your end objective is an essential step in determining what mix of organic and paid promotion you should pursue. For example, if your content is top of funnel and the goal is to get an influx of shares and view, you’ll likely want to invest the paid portion of your promotion in social boosting.

However, if you’ve developed a great middle or bottom of funnel content asset, then you can begin incorporating pay-per-click (PPC) and other forms of advertising to convert prospects that are ready to buy.

Your hub and spoke can include paid promotion. A traditional hub and spoke publishing model centers around a larger content asset and shows the different ways to drive traffic to that asset using earned, owned and some paid media. The next iteration of the hub and spoke might look something like this:

organic and paid hub and spoke publishing

Create and promote targeted content. First of all, your content should be optimized for the humans that you want to consume, share and act on the information, as well as the search engines that you want to crawl your content.

Additionally, there are both paid and organic methods to target your content promotion.

For example, your Facebook and Twitter profiles may have slightly different audiences. In order to target your organic message appropriately, you’ll want to use messaging, visuals and calls to action that make the most sense for that audience.

The targeting options available within search and social advertising platforms has grown leaps and bounds within the last few years. In addition to the capability of uploading actual lead lists, you can target everything from location and job title, down to the smallest detail about user habits, income and more.

Need Additional Help Decoding Organic & Paid Content Promotion?

Finding the exact right mix of organic and paid promotion for your content strategy doesn’t happen overnight. It is process that includes testing, some investment and often, relying on the experts to help guide you. If you need help uncovering your biggest content marketing opportunities and finding ways to make it support your business objectives, contact us today.

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2016. | How to Decode The Connection Between Organic & Paid Content Promotion | http://www.toprankblog.com

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The Competitive World of PPC: 3 Helpful Online Advertising Tools to Help You Win with Search Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/01/3-online-advertising-tools/ Wed, 13 Jan 2016 11:56:40 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=19807 Like it or not, Paid Search strategies can quickly turn into a game of out maneuvering your opponent. Which is why the team at TopRank Marketing is always integrating online advertising into digital marketing programs with a focus on out messaging, out strategizing and out bidding our client’s competitors. Understanding the competitive landscape is the first [...]

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competitive-ppc

Like it or not, Paid Search strategies can quickly turn into a game of out maneuvering your opponent. Which is why the team at TopRank Marketing is always integrating online advertising into digital marketing programs with a focus on out messaging, out strategizing and out bidding our client’s competitors.

Understanding the competitive landscape is the first step in out-smarting the competition. Knowing which tools can help you beat the competition, is also incredibly important.

If you’re ready to not only survive, but thrive with online advertising, this post can help you uncover opportunities from studying you competition, as well as tools to take your online advertising strategy to the next level.

The Importance of Competitive Analysis

Uncover Additional Keyword Opportunities

It’s important to look at what your competitors are bidding on, especially if you can tell how much money they are investing on certain keywords. This can give you insights into what is working for them. And if it’s working for them it will likely work for you so join the party.

This also gives you the opportunity to find gaps in their program where can you capitalize on a keyword segment for incremental activity and conversions.

Take Inspiration From Innovative Ad Copy

Differentiators in PPC are crucial. It’s been my experience that most of the time advertisers are all saying the same thing or a slight variation of the same thing. Understanding the competitive landscape can be a fantastic opportunity for isolating opportunities to stand-out, say something new and make your mark.

You can also review their ad extensions, which can be an easy way to make your personal mark on the page.

Utilize Landing Pages

From product positioning to layout, look and feel, your competitors landing pages can spark new ideas for design and copy. The landing page is the sales pitch and I often like to make note of the hard or soft sell. The overall tone of the page might be your opportunity to present yourself as either a more aggressive partner that gets it accomplished or the easy-going retailer that simply tells it like it is.

Determine Your Budget

What should I be spending? What’s a reasonable budget? These are questions we’re often asked by our clients and being able to have a glimpse into what their primary competitors are spending is great way to either get a reasonable budget or launch a more “scalable” program.

3 Helpful PPC Tools

OK, but now how do you get this information? Below are some recommended tools that you can use to uncover information and improve your competitive edge.

SpyFu

SpyFu

SpyFu is relatively inexpensive and has a number of options for both organic and paid search competitive analysis including: keywords, spend, ad copy and the general items one expects to find with a competitive research tool. So what makes SpyFu special?

SpyFu’s Kombat tool gives you the option to compare yourself to two other competitors directly which takes the work out of the comparison. You can see which terms you’re all bidding on and where your competitors are bidding but you are not. It also displays the changes those domains have seen over time which can be useful for assessing how your top competitors are trending.

The basic plan which gives you access to almost everything available besides API pulls and custom reporting comes in at $49 per month.

SpyFu also has a great tool for keyword expansion and negative keywords for improved campaign performance. It gives users recommendations on keyword level performance.

Many features of SpyFu are available free to of charge.

SEMrush

SEMrush

SEMrush is another great tool for both paid and organic search competitive analysis. From a PPC standpoint, the data is substantial and accurate when tested against current clients. A couple of features that make this platform stand out are the ability to see easily see trends regarding spend, keyword population and traffic.

Being able to see the percentage of traffic and spend by keyword is a big win for SEMrush in my book. It gives the user the opportunity to gage keyword importance and performance to a particular account. It does take a little Excel spreadsheet work to get this information into an easy to understand, useable format.

Most competitive tools have domain vs. domain comparisons and SEMrush is no exception. Their comparison primarily focuses on position so if you’re looking for specifics regarding cost and traffic you’ll have to look specifically at that domain.

This tool also offers display and PLA data which many competitive platforms do not.

Pricing for SEMrush starts at $69.95.

iSpionage

iSponionage

iSpionage has similar features to SpyFu, but the layout and the way competitive intelligence is displayed makes the data a little easier to digest and understand .

This tool focuses on user experience, showcasing keyword to ad to landing pages which helps when you’re trying to wrap your head around the big picture. So, putting all of those pieces together doesn’t become a project in itself.

The keyword and ad effectiveness tool is great for accessing performance. When I compare current client results to the tool, it has a high level of accuracy which is always great to see. You can feel comfortable taking insights into your performance from the tool.

The cost for iSpionage is pretty low, starting at $39 per month but it doesn’t have all of the duel channel bells and whistles that most other competitive intelligence tools boost for in-depth SEO analysis. However, many of the features are available free of charge!

BONUS: AdGooroo & The Search Monitor

AdGooroo and The Search Monitor both offer very robust capabilities. They include features for geo level and Omni channel monitoring, as well as the option to set competitive benchmarks. These tools are best for large scale advertisers who have large investments in PPC that make the platform expenditure palatable, because these tools are more expensive than the previous platforms mentioned. That said, they have greater capabilities and both of these tools are global in their data collection.

Find The Right Tool(s) For Your Organization

If you’re looking for a competitive tools that’s user friendly, can easily be translated into understandable, actionable data, iSpoinage is definitely worth the investment. SEMRush and SpyFu are very similar in functionality but not in form. My opinion is that SEMRush has some stronger visuals that help tell a compelling competitive story more so than SpyFu.

Whatever you do, make sure that you spend time diving into the competitive landscape. An understanding of your competition can lead you down the path to better serving your prospects through an enhanced Online Advertising strategy.

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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2016. | The Competitive World of PPC: 3 Helpful Online Advertising Tools to Help You Win with Search Marketing | http://www.toprankblog.com

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