Search Engine Strategies – Online Marketing Blog – TopRank® http://www.toprankblog.com Wed, 17 Jan 2018 11:30:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 Overview of Today’s Digital Marketing Landscape – Lauren Vaccarello #czlny http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/04/digital-marketing-landscape-2014/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/04/digital-marketing-landscape-2014/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 13:17:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16664 It’s April Fools day today but there was no fooling attendees of the first ClickZ Live conference in New York who attended the pre-keynote presentation offering an overview of the current digital marketing landscape given by Lauren Vaccarello, VP of Marketing of AdRoll. A surprising number of attendees showed up at 8am for this preview [...]

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Lauren Vaccarello

It’s April Fools day today but there was no fooling attendees of the first ClickZ Live conference in New York who attended the pre-keynote presentation offering an overview of the current digital marketing landscape given by Lauren Vaccarello, VP of Marketing of AdRoll.

A surprising number of attendees showed up at 8am for this preview of digital marketing and Lauren did a great job giving introductory information on everything from Paid Search to Email to Retargeting. If you’re not sure whether mobile makes sense or what retargeting is, read on.

Looking back on the history of digital marketing from the first clickable ad in 1993 to the founding of Google in 1998 to the start of Facebook in 2004, few people could have guessed how big and influential they would turn out to be. And who would have predicted the popularity of  Snapchat or What’sApp being purchased for $19 billion?

The thing is, with digital marketing, we’re still just getting started

The media and advertising industries are evolving. Print journalists leaving for digital used to get chided, but now it’s normal. But there’s still some disparity when it comes to print and digital budgets. We’re spending 6% of our time on print but spending nearly 25% of our budget on print

Machines and data are taking over – real time bidding is taking over media buying. Data is at the center of the digital ecosystem. Big Data!

Digital Marketing 101:

Search is still the #1 source used in purchasing decisions (Compete). Consumers, small and large companies all use search. Your visibility in search results is some of the most valuable real estate on the web. The act of searching is a clear indication of intent. What better time to connect with buyers than at the moment of need?

Paid Search vs. Organic
Paid search visibility is not just how much you’re willing to pay per click, but also the click through rate that determines your ad placement. Of course, a high CPC and high CTR equals maximum profit for Google. Google also cares about users, so relevancy is also a factor in ad placement.

Paid search gets about 1/3 of the clicks, organic search gets 2/3 – but paid search gets a higher click through rate.

Organic visibility is important – the higher the better. If your page is #1 or #2, you can expect 4X higher clicks and traffic than lower positions. If you’re on page 2, it’s dramatically lower.

Email isn’t dead! And it needs to be Mobile

  • 838 billion marketing messages sent out in 2013.
  • 66% of consumers have made an online purchase because of email
  • 48% of all emails are opened on mobile devices (Litmus)

Marketing Automation (Especially for B2B Marketing)

  • Produces leads in less time
  • Engage with contacts and leads
  • Convert leads faster
  • Provides a more personalized experience

Retargeting -Targeting based on first party data.

  • The most valuable type of data for search marketing? Intent!
  • Intent data can come from a variety of sources. That first party data can help you deliver precisely targeted ads.
  • Retargeting helps your brand be everywhere your audience is – other websites, not just yours.
  • Data can help you create a more personalized experience for your customers
  • Adroll is a retargeting platform

Social Media Marketing

  • Social advertising offers amazing data and insights about target audiences.
  • It’s important for brands to be human, relevant, engaging and complete in the information about your company.

Content Marketing

  • Think of it as owning media vs. renting it. If done well, you can own space on sites for a much longer period of time. It’s relevant, useful content for your specific audience.
  • Interesting content is a top 3 reason why users follow brands on social media.
  • Sites with blogs get 55% more visitors.
  • Considerations for content marketing: Who is the audience and is your content adding value? Is it visual? Is it long or short form? Is it optimized?

The Year of Mobile (10th edition)

  • This might actually be the year for mobile in 2014. Marketers are becoming better educated about what’s possible with mobile – from engagement to driving sales.
  • In 2011 smartphone and tablet sales were same as PC. Today, smartphone and tablet sales grossly outnumber PC sales.
  • 90% of consumer transactions are started on one device and finished on another. (Neil Mohan, Google)

Of course there’s a lot more to know, books in fact, on each of these topics. But it was a nice introduction for the attendees, as evidenced by all the questions Lauren received. Speaking of books, Lauren has just co-authored a book on retargeting: The Retargeting Playbook: How to Turn Web-Window Shoppers into Customers.


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New Rules for SEO Mechanics & Link Building – It’s a Race You’re Probably Not Winning http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/02/new-rules-seo-winning/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/02/new-rules-seo-winning/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 11:01:53 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16483 Last week I attended and presented at the SES conference in London where online marketers from all over Europe and as far away as Australia converged to learn about integrated marketing and paid, earned, and owned media. With it’s history in search marketing, the conference complemented presentations on digital marketing with sessions on SEO as [...]

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SEO Race to WinLast week I attended and presented at the SES conference in London where online marketers from all over Europe and as far away as Australia converged to learn about integrated marketing and paid, earned, and owned media.

With it’s history in search marketing, the conference complemented presentations on digital marketing with sessions on SEO as well.

Making sure content is easy to find by the right audience in search is an important part of our consulting at TopRank Marketing, so I am acutely aware of the changes in the search optimization world from Panda to Penguin to Hummingbird. Regardless, as a content and social media focused marketer, it was interesting to hear the shift in current SEO and link building best practices.

In the race to win buyer’s attention through search, I’m pretty sure many social media and content marketers aren’t even aware of, let alone optimizing for, crawling, indexing and combatting against negative SEO and risky links.

Because of Google’s crack down on page and link quality, many SEOs are changing gears and going on a sort of defense to remove negative signals. In fact, negative signal removal is actually a blossoming industry in niche SEO circles, something that is in stark contrast to simply focusing on creating and promoting high quality content that people will want to share and link to.

I thought the most striking public comment was the disclosure by a speaker of having been paid to procure links of a certain type in the past, only to now get paid again to have them removed or disavowed. It’s not exactly “dodgy”, but not exactly honorable either.

One presenter related a story about how an owner of 10,000 or so directories used to charge pennies for inclusion now charges $5 for removal.

Another irony was the claim that Google Webmaster Tools is the logical place to start for signals to determine the SEO health of a website, only to discount the accuracy of WMT data, feature by feature.

Beyond some of the smugness of gray/black hats now doing white hat SEO, there were many useful insights shared regarding the mechanical aspects of SEO audits and the current state of link building. I found the tips shared by Paul Madden – @pauldavidmadden on link building and Andre Alpar – @andrealpar for SEO Mechanics to be particularly useful. In combination with our perspective at TopRank Marketing, here are some of those insights:

Mechanics of SEO – Crawling & Indexing

Most people in the social media and content marketing world focus their SEO efforts on keywords and content or they don’t really consider it at all. But any site with a volume of content, a long history and a fairly competitive market will need to consider the technical aspects of SEO – or lose business to competitors who do.

Search Engines are far from perfect in their ability to find, understand and organize content on the web. It also takes formidable resources for search engines to continuously do this with the explosion of content and links being created every second of every day. As a result, search engines have made some aspects of the crawling and indexing process more explicitly part of what it takes to achieve prominent visibility.

Part of the burden is now on the website owner to make sites easier and more efficient to crawl, (in the name of better user experience). That means your pages need to load fast, be error free and maybe even include extra markup in the code. They need to be “search engine friendly” so it’s easier for Google and Bing to make copies of your content.

When your site complies with these more technical website standards, the rewards can be anything from having more of your content included in a search engine index to an improvement in how your most important content stands out from other search results.

Here are some important considerations for tuning up your website performance, “SEO Mechanic” style:

Crawling Management – There are three essential components to how search engines discover and copy, organize and sort your website content amongst the billions of other documents on the web. They are: crawling, indexing, and ranking. Without good management of the crawling and the indexing portions of this process, it can be pretty difficult (or random) to achieve and maintain good search visibility across your portfolio of digital marketing assets.

Most content and social media marketers aren’t accountable for the crawling and indexing of the content they create. If they have a SEO consultant, those responsibilities are left to others. Who’s to say whether it’s being managed for maximum marketing benefit vs. pure SEO objectives? i.e. gross “ranking” counts vs. qualitative brand and topic inclusion.

Think if it like this: When you build a house there are many things to decide, but getting the crawling and indexing right is like getting a solid foundation in place for your house. However, different than with a house – you have to manage crawling and indexation efficiency for performance on an ongoing basis.

Crawling the web is difficult, so that means there’s an opportunity for SEOs to make crawling easier and more efficient for search engines. A good SEO mechanic can help focus crawlers where they need to be – what to crawl and what not to crawl.

Andre Alpar says blocking less important URLs from being crawled increases the probability that important URLs will be crawled.  Look at your URLs as sets or layers. Some layers, you don’t want to be crawled including: printable versions of pages, some PDFs, thumbnail versions of images, or alternative sorting and filters pages in ecommerce sites.

Robots.txt and 301 redirects are tools you can use. Parameter handling within Google Webmaster tools also offers some options.

Indexation Management – Indexing strategy focuses on which URLs are important for users only and which are also valuable for SEO.  Rather than viewing this separation in black and white, I prefer to think of them in order of priority.  Marketing content should not be competing with other content, but it might get priority when it comes to technical and topic optimization.

When you take the approach that some content has search engine priority, you’ll have to decide: Across how many URLs will you focus authority? Andre  says  that the less pages you push in the index overall, the more likely those that you do publish will appear high in the SERPs.

The first step in an indexation strategy: sort through your user-oriented pages. Some URLs are only important for the user and internal linking, but not for SEO. Examples: Shopping cart pages on an ecommerce site, help pages, pagination pages.

Andre says you don’t want to rank for “help” content, which I don’t agree with at all.

Current customers use search engines to find help information related to products and services all the time and ensuring relevant search visibility can create a great customer experience. Keeping an existing customer should be one of the top priorities for companies as the cost of new customer acquisition is far higher and a lot less efficient investment.  Optimizing for help content means different, more niche terms and should not compete with marketing content. Even so, help content can double as marketing content anyway.

Andre shared these three groups to organize your site’s URLs for steering Googlebot in the right direction using the robots meta tag:

  • Group 1: Pages good for users and internal links  (Noindex, follow)
  • Group 2: Pages good for SEO and internal links (index, follow)
  • Group 3: Pages good for users, for SEO and internal links (index, follow)

He closed up his presentation with: “The more you focus on Google with its crawling and indexing, the more deterministic SEO successes will become.”

Link Building

There are some that say link building is truly dead and that social signals have replaced the web page to web page links many SEOs have pursued since PageRank entered the online marketing lexicon. Google’s Matt Cutts has recently stated that “We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages” which some have interpreted as Google not using links within social content for any part of it’s efforts to understand and sort the web.

That’s a silly interpretation of course, because if you’ve been following people like Matt Cutts for years, you know there’s not only a lot of nuance to his well coached media relations commentary, but also the likelihood that things will change.

Regardless, social networking and community is a content distribution channel that can drive search as well as awareness of content to be linked to. For example, I’ve heard about numerous tools and resources through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus and then linked to those resources from our blog within an article.

Beyond link acquisition is the ever growing need to go on defense with links and win the competition for the most “natural” link profile. Part of that process is to become aware of unsavory links pointing to your site and doing something about it.

Clean Up Those Links – Paul Madden made it clear that the first priority for any site of age that has links pointing to it is clean up. That means an audit of inbound links to your website and evaluating link source quality.

Any spammy, artificial, or low-quality links can hurt your search visibility, so it’s important to get them removed or ignored by Google.  Once you have a good mapping of links to your site, work on getting the low quality link sources to remove the links. This is a LOT easier said than done and will be an ongoing effort for any site of popularity and/or age.

For those link sources you cannot change, disavow them using Google’s tool. The disavow tool should not be used lightly. Using it basically tells Google not to trust any link from a particular domain to your site.

Manage Your Link Profile – Just because you get a few sites to remove unsavory or overly commercial links, doesn’t mean you can stop there. There are a variety of ways that more undesirable links can start pointing to your website from scrapers that copy your RSS feed to negative SEO. For a website that’s even nominally popular, the link profile should be managed and optimized on an ongoing basis.

Again, I don’t think many social media and content marketers are paying much attention to link clean-up. They’re busy creating and promoting fantastic content amongst their communities, often oblivious to automated or sinister linking happening that may become a hole in their bucket for SEO progress.

Tools for auditing and managing your website’s link profile:

How can you tell the difference between good and bad links? 

Paul shared that some indications of link risk include:

  • Commercial text
  • Sitewide links
  • Obvious linking tactics
  • Network sites – hosting and group behavior
  • Paid links
  • Directory sites
  • Widgets
  • Advertorials
  • Guest posts
  • Comment spam

Links that might get risky in the future:

  • Infographics
  • Disavowed sites
  • Guilt by association

Tactics for safer link building:

Paul says “It’s now the person that’s the signal, not just the website.” That means considering the authority and link / share capabilities of individuals vs. solely based on a domain or page. Here are some of his guidelines for “safer” link building:

  • Do your outreach in an intelligent way. Start with a good site. Follow the links to the community.
  • Think about mining social data for linking opportunities
  • Find hashtags specific to an industry and discovery who’s important
  • Form relationships with influentials. Make the content more important than the link
  • Clean up your link profile and when you’re done, clean it up again. Because you’re never done.
  • Create core content on your own site to define the concept
  • Spend more time gathering data on who are the influencers in your niche an use a risk averse outreach to approach them. (In other words, don’t pitch like a common SEO link spammer)
  • Partner with the person not the page
  • Anchor text is dead – Don’t use commercial anchor text or sites that use commercial anchor text.

Conclusion – But Not the Final Word on this Topic

If you think your website marketing program is doing all that it can to capitalize on being the best answer for buyers at the moment they’re looking on search engines, think again. “Great content” and social network promotion are now the minimum requirements to compete in today’s digital marketplace. As highly skilled auto mechanics assess and fine tune high performance sports cars, experienced SEO mechanics and link building specialists can evaluate, manage and optimize your website’s performance on the search engine racetrack.

Anyone that has been in this race for a while knows it takes a lot more than a nice car (website) to win the race. They also know that the race never ends.

When you hire a digital marketer, think beyond their content and social media marketing skills and see if they can speak “SEO mechanic” and manage efforts like crawling and indexation management. Can they also manage link profile audits, ongoing cleanup and management as well? If your business expects information discovery through search, then these skills are a must – for digital marketing consultants and agencies too.

Are you trying to win the race for top of search by leaving technical SEO and link building to chance? Are you proactively managing past “sins” of SEO or even negative SEO regarding link building and website optimization?

Photo: Shutterstock


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Where Can UK Marketers Learn Paid, Earned, Owned & Integrated Marketing? #SESLon http://www.toprankblog.com/2014/01/ses-london-2014/ Thu, 23 Jan 2014 08:30:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16351 I’m a traveling kind of guy and in just a few weeks I’ll be traveling to a meeting of the marketing minds (aka SES London) in the very heart of Westminster. And what will these marketing minds be focused on? The future of digital marketing of course. And the topics? Owned, Earned, Paid and Integrated Marketing – [...]

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SES London 2014

I’m a traveling kind of guy and in just a few weeks I’ll be traveling to a meeting of the marketing minds (aka SES London) in the very heart of Westminster.

And what will these marketing minds be focused on? The future of digital marketing of course.

And the topics? Owned, Earned, Paid and Integrated Marketing – each represented in presentations and workshops over four days.

And who will be dispelling these buckets of knowledge? Some of the top digital marketers in the UK, Europe and abroad.

After workshops covering Web Analytics, SoLoMo, PPC and SEO, the regular conference kicks off with a keynote from Bruce Daisley @brucedaisley, UK Managing Director at Twitter.  Then the next 3 days of breakout sessions are segmented into Paid Media, Owned/Earned Media, Business Intelligence and Integrated Marketing.

After checking out the schedule, it was great to see familiar sessions still running:

  • Spy vs Spy: Competitive Analysis
  • Beyond the Last Click: Smart Multi-Touch Attribution Modelling
  • Breaking Down the Borders: International SEM
  • Assess. Diagnose. Fix: How to Become a Leading SEO Mechanic
  • Creative Content Marketing
  • Filthy Linking Rich: Driving the Right Traffic to your Site

as well as new sessions (at least new to me) like:

  • Understanding Your Online Customer: Using Segmentation to Analyse Behaviour & Optimise Performance
  • Preaching to the Almost Converted: Smart Retargeting/Remarketing
  • Google Changes A lot! Hummingbird, Not Provided, Enhanced Campaigns: The Update
  • Unlocking the Secrets of Mobile Video: YouTube, Instagram and Vine
  • Big Data Uncovered: How to Gather, Analyse and React to Customer Behaviour
  • Ad Optimisation in Multi-Channel Digital Advertising

I’ve presented at this conference in London several times over the past 5 years and I really try to make it each time it happens.  There’s a ton of great information and also a lot of networking going on during and after the event. In fact, if you’re as motivated as I am, then here’s something that might help you along:  £400 Discount Code for the All Access, Platinum and Single Day Passes: SESL14013

SES London

It’s funny, you often hear online marketers from the UK and Europe say they’re 2 years behind the U.S. But when you actually hear about what some of these folks are doing, especially the UK SEO and paid search people, they’re really some of the more advanced marketers in the world. I always learn something new, that’s for sure.

The structure of the SES London conference agenda across media types (paid, earned, owned and integrated) looks like a great format to me. I don’t know if that was Mike Grehan or Laura Roth’s doing, but I think it’s a great direction for this event.

Back to the “who is sharing all this great advice”, there are plenty of brands and experts you’ll find on the stage including: Adobe, MediaCom, Salesforce, SAP, Expedia, Google, American Express, Lyris and many regional and global digital marketing agencies ranging from iCrossing to SEOGadget.

So with all this other knowledge being dropped by online marketing smarties, what is TopRank Marketing going to be doing at SES London?

For a start, I’ll be moderating a few panel sessions. Then I’ll be giving a solo presentation. In fact, the presentation I’ll be giving at SES London on Co-Creating Content with Influencers is all new – stuff I haven’t presented on anywhere else before. That means some of the crazy successful stuff we’ve been doing at TopRank regarding influencers and co-created, social content will be shared at this event in London first. More about that in a bit. But first, here are some preview insights into the two sessions I’m moderating:

Tuesday 11, Feb – 11:45am to 12:45pm
From Strategy to Execution: Creative Content Marketing

Businesses have grasped the notion that they need to be producing content as a cornerstone of their marketing, but many still struggle with it. Attend this session to learn how to create the kind of content that truly engages an audience; how to create content in a way that’s sustainable and repeatable for enterprise; and how to leverage content all across the social web. The main focuses will be:

  • How to create content that is truly worth sharing
  • How to get the most value for your money
  • How to best match the message to the medium

Matt Roberts Linkdex

Here are some tips from co-presenter Matt Roberts of @Linkdex Linkdex:

  • Minimum viable content is not OK. Set the bar higher. Much higher. Great content creates brands, gets shared and ranked.
  • Content marketing is about a long-term sustained effort not occasional tactical bursts.
  • Understand your audiences. Know who you’re marketing to and learn what they need and how to talk to them.
  • Content can be valued and is hugely valuable. The right measurement increases investment in bigger and better content plans and generates a huge ROI.
  • Plan to become a topical influencer – invest in authorship now.

Lisa Myers

And a few more tips from co-presenter Lisa Myers @LisaDMyers of Verve Search:

  • Think like a Creative not an SEO, care about the quality of the content!
  • Create content that a site needs, instead of pushing content that you have made and trying to place it, find the most relevant and authoritative site you can think of and figure out what they need, how you can help them!
  • If everyone is drawing crosses you need to draw circles!
  • Writing content isn’t for everyone, don’t force a techy to write, hire great writers! Even better, hire great creatives! People that has ideas and angles coming out of their ears are worth gold!

That’s great advice I think – plus it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. You can’t do search OR social without great content and the bar continues to raise on the quality and creativity required in order to stand out.  In this session Matt and Lisa will help delegates do just that.

Later on in the afternoon on Tuesday, I’ll be giving my solo presentation. Here are the details on that.

Tuesday 11, Feb – 2:00pm to 3:00pm
Influence the Influencers: The Magic of Co-Created Social Content

In an age of information overload, standing out requires huge budgets and resources. But what if you could hack your way to the spotlight by helping everybody win?

Learn how to identify, romance and engage influencers to co-create and promote incredible content that delivers for your audience and your brand. Through best practices and examples you will learn:

  • Topics and being the best answer for your category
  • Influencer content opportunities
  • How to identify, qualify and engage influencers
  • The mechanics of co-created content
  • Inspiring participation and promotion
  • Performance measurement and optimization

Lee Odden

Here are some advance tips from me @leeodden:

  • Identify the people you want to connect with by the value of their content, communications and community. When they “speak” do people act? Or not? Fans, friend and follower counts should be much lower on your priority list.
  • Start connecting with influencers at least 2-3 months before you actually intend on publishing  a thought leader eBook. The time to stir up an army of support isn’t the first day of the war. Personalize communications and emphasize the value participation brings to them, NOT to you. Make it easy and fun to get involved.
  • Creative and quality count more than quantity x 100. No one is going to read a 100 page eBook. If they do, they’ll think they know it all and won’t call you anyway. Focus on the quality of content and the aesthetic.  It’s important to inform your buyer and influencers, but it’s even more important that they feel something. Make an emotional connection and then provide the data to support logical justification.

In this solo presentation, I’ll be talking about the types of things we’ve been implementing for companies like Dell, LinkedIn and for conferences like Social Media Marketing World and MarketingProfs. In many ways, this presentation is an extension of what I wrote about in Optimize, so to make sure those in attendance have the groundwork set, I’ll have free copies of Optimize to give away to the first 40 attendees. Pretty ace isn’t it?

Next up is a session on Wednesday that I am moderating which covers a topic that is near and dear: blogging! Trust me, after 10 years of blogging I’ve seen a lot. But this one looks pretty good, and as moderator, I have the inside scoop.

Wednesday 12 Feb – 11:45am to 12:45pm
Brilliant Blogging: Best Practices to Enhance Your Customer Reach
Learn the secrets of the blogging pros, and get a behind-the-scenes look at some top blogs and learn how to transform your stale corporate blog into a content powerhouse. This session will examine:

  • Proprietary research—analysis of tens of thousands of blogs that reveals why some perform better than others.
  • Tools—the platforms and plugins.
  • Targeting—how to research keywords for the right new customers.
  • Curation—how to greatly increase your productivity by generating fresh, relevant content.

Bas van den Beld

Here are some insights from presenter and long time marketing blogger, Bas van den Beld @basvandenbeld of StateofDigital.com

  • When it comes to knowing what you want to write about, it is all about understanding your audience first. That means you will have to find out what they want to read. A good way is to analyse the things people share on Social Media. For this I’ve created several different Twitter accounts which follow specific types of audiences. For example, CMO’s or SEO’s. I analyse what they share and say the most and try to adapt my content to that.
  • Another tip I will look at is how to make sure your writers will deliver the best possible content for you. For example at State of Digital we have a Private Facebook group in which we talk about the site but also help each other, which gives being part of the State of Digital Team a little bit extra.

This blogging session will be an information packed one for sure. Do I hear standing room only?

Of course there are multiple tracks and many more presentations besides these, so if you’re in the market to get paid, earned, owned and integrated marketing smart, I guess I’ll see you there.

If you’re on the fence and within traveling distance to London mid-February, just remember there’s a £400 Discount Code you can use for the All Access, Platinum and Single Day Passes: SESL14013

Visit the SES London site to get more info.


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Targeting Your Mobile Audience with Aggregate Data http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/mobile-targeting-via-data/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/mobile-targeting-via-data/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 22:49:00 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15997 Over a billion smartphones enter the market every year. They’re everywhere, and users are finding new ways to leverage them every day. Mine is rarely more than 3 feet away from me, and I use it for everything from research, social “creeping”, and shopping to email, an alarm clock, and my camera. One of my [...]

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Mobile Targeting Presentation #SESCHIOver a billion smartphones enter the market every year. They’re everywhere, and users are finding new ways to leverage them every day. Mine is rarely more than 3 feet away from me, and I use it for everything from research, social “creeping”, and shopping to email, an alarm clock, and my camera. One of my biggest pet peeves is when things aren’t mobile compatible. As it turns out, I’m far from alone.

When it comes to websites, 61% of users won’t return to a site if they have a negative experience and 40% will go to a competitor’s site instead. Add on to that the statistic that 90% of all purchasing decisions begin with online research, and it’s understandable why appealing to mobile audiences has become so important. But doing so is very different than appealing to traditional web users.

Lauren Moores of Dstillery and Ambrish Verma of Microsoft presented on why location is so important when it comes to targeting mobile users, and gave a few pieces of advice to help their fellow marketers target their growing mobile audiences in their SES Session:

Key Mobile Insights

Mobile is not only becoming increasingly popular, but users are relying on it for more and more things and using their devices to multitask. Here are a few key statistics offered in today’s session:

  • 44% of mobile search queries have a strong location intent
  • 84% of shoppers use mobile devices for search while shopping
  • Mobile users are relying more on apps than on browser searches
  • Retail queries on mobile drive better engagement than on desktop
  • There are 4 main reasons people use mobile: communication, looking for local information, getting instant answers, and app usage

Be Present During Each Step of the Consumer Journey through Targeting

The days of making one ad for everyone are long, long gone. Now mobile users expect to see what they want, when they want and in the format they want. On top of that, they want to save time, money and hassle. As a marketer targeting has become an essential way to help them do those things. There are 3 main kinds of targeting:

  • Device targeting: this makes sure your site and advertisements are optimized for the device they’re using. Device targeting provides some flexibility in budget allocation in terms of targeting certain devices. Device-targeted campaigns have been shown to result in higher click through rates. If you’re targeting mobile users, be sure to include a “click-to-call” button.
  • Day-time targeting: this ensures that your information is shown at the time it’s most relevant to the searcher. See when people are checking your site, reacting to your ads, and post around those times.
  • Location targeting and OS targeting: can be used to make sure your information is presented in the most optimized local and time context in order to provide an enriching experience to help users get what they’re looking for from mobile. Local ads can be targeted within a 5-to-100 mile radius of your store. Or you can use zip code, address or DMA.

Use Location to Target the Right Audience, at the Right Time

Location data is essential for capturing the physical patterns of consumers, especially mobile users. There are three key pieces of location information that can help you, as a marketer, find your audience:

  • The IP address can help you identify if it’s a wi-fi IP address or if it’s “out in the wild”.
  • Census-blocks are the most granular piece of census data that can be married with demographic data to provide more insight into those using your site.
  • Latitude and longitude are the key to targeting mobile. This allows you to create a lot of context about a particular user, or a group of users. In your app make sure you have an opt-in for users to access their location for your marketing purposes. On mobile web you will receive the users IP address, so it’s important to emphasize usage of your app.

Using location data, you can make a difference and change your marketing strategy in four areas:

  1. Creative: location can help you determine how to change your messaging, images and even content to appeal to your mobile users. Consider providing directions
  2. Audience Segmentation: location can help you understand where your users are and target those based on their proximity to you, those who will interact with you on a more frequent basis.
  3. Scale: location can help you go from digital to physical. It helps you find where searchers are over-indexing and under-indexing with your brand. This data can be used to scale your advertising by finding people on mobile and targeting them on desktop to expand your advertising and exposure.
  4. Visualization: location can help you visualize your audience in maps and in colors. You can identify where your brand action-takers are, creating an opportunity for you to expand your advertising in those areas. Sometimes you’ll be surprised by where your searchers and customers are!

Include Site Link Extensions

Site links are used to provide users much deeper and richer context. For mobile users it’s all about taking immediate actions in real-time and on-the-go. Guide consumers onto your ideal conversion path with Site Link Extensions. These can help increase click-through rates, and shorten the funnel to increase leads.  These can be used to link to social pages or to drive app downloads as well as pages on your site.

Key Takeaways

When considering a mobile strategy and site there are a few key things Moores and Verma advise you to keep in mind:

  • Define your mobile strategy with a focus on consumer experiences relevant to your business
  • Reach your customers via mobile site and apps to expand your reach
  • Optimzie for location and platform to improve ROI mobile campaigns with targeting
  • Use mobile ad formats to drive conversions with click to call, click to map and site links

I guess the old phrase “location, location, location” still holds true.

Do you use location targeting in your mobile strategy? How could you take it to the next level and make your mobile ads more tailored to those around you?

SES Chicago is winding down, but check back for a recap on the highlights from the conference and the key tips you need to know.


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Tips for Pictures That Generate Breakthrough Results in Social Media Marketing http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/picture-generating-social-results/ Thu, 07 Nov 2013 20:30:30 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=16002 What picture of your brand are you painting in social? I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean what visuals are you using to represent what you do and what your audience cares about? Study and after study indicates that visual content is far more impactful in social than its text-only counterpart, and yet a majority of [...]

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Visuals in Social #SECHI

What picture of your brand are you painting in social? I don’t mean metaphorically, I mean what visuals are you using to represent what you do and what your audience cares about? Study and after study indicates that visual content is far more impactful in social than its text-only counterpart, and yet a majority of brands interacting in social aren’t adjusting their content mix accordingly.

Cliches are Cliches Cause They Work

“A picture is worth a thousand words.” We’ve all heard the phrase, and for good reason. Especially when it comes to engaging your audience in social. Laura Roth, of Incisive Media, moderates today’s session focused on ‘harnessing the power of visuals’ in social.

Krista Nehrer, CEO of Boot Camp Digital, is the first presenter and she wastes no time to ‘prove’ images have more impact. Nehrer shows an image of a baby on the screen in the conference room. It flashes for only a moment, but when asked, the audience is able to describe the image to a T. More than simply proving recall, the audience also responded to the image with emotion.

She then flashes a ton of text on the screen. Again the information is only shown for a moment. This time, the audience falls silent. We were not only unable to recall a majority of the information, we (or at least I) felt no emotion in reaction to the flashing text. Science actually supports that an image is worth a thousand words! Take that 8th grade science teacher who yelled at me for doodling.

The 3 R’s of Pictures

Nehrer introduces her 3 R’s of creating quality images.

  • Real Pictures
  • Real Things
  • Real People

Her point is simple and clear. People respond to images they relate to. So real photos taken of real things by real people is far more relatable, than say, my 8th grade doodles or photo shopped creatures.

Translating these best practices to social, Nehrer points out that using images in social requires an understanding that real images drive real engagement.

Instagram & User Generated Content is GrowingBig Mac Reality

Consumers are savvy and they don’t appreciate feeling misled. To keep brands and marketers to their promise, consumers are taking their own images to demonstrate how the product appears when they received it. The images featured here of the Big Mac – ad vs. a consumer’s reality – is a quintessential example.

This emerging behavior is a great reminder to deliver on our brand promises as part of an image strategy. Expect your audience to generate their wn images and pictures of your brand. The question is, are you giving a product that is ‘photo-ready’?

Continuing the discussion on user generated content, Cara Phillips of Federated Media, brings us back in history.

 The Kiss is Gone

If you’re over 20 years old you’re likely familiar with the picture known affectionately as ‘The Kiss’. It’s a WWII era image of a sailor dipping and kissing a young woman. That single image captured the imagination of the nation and still resonates with many today. But in some ways, the days of ‘The Kiss’ are over. Which is not to say photos don’t work. In fact, it’s the contrary. Photos work so well that we’re all generating our own photos. So in moments of great crisis or emotion, there are hundreds, thousands or millions of ‘photographers’ capturing the moment – not one.

The Kiss

Photos are Art 

Phillips, who spends every working hour of her day creating visual content, wants to empower the audience (and marketers everywhere) to think like an artist. ‘Photos are art, it’s subjective. So to be successful publishing images in social, you need to trust your own judgement of what photos are good.’ She then shows 2 different images of a boy with a dog, side-by-side. Both were cute, but boy on the left is being photographed in a ‘Glamour Shots’ like environment and is dawning all white. The boy on the right has messing hair, some dirt on his face and slobbering pooch. The image to the right ‘wins’ with the audience, and it’s not even close. Sorry ‘Glamour Shots’!

Consistent Visual Strategy

Phillips asserts that brands that succeed with visuals in social have a consistent visual strategy. Meaning, not only do they produce quality images on a consistent basis, but the visuals are all connected under a common – overarching theme. Pointing to Nike as a gold standard, Phillips explains that the images have a clear theme to her: our products are there to help you perform physical activities and reach your goals. So whether you are looking at their timeline in Facebook or peaking at their Pinterest boards, you’ll walk away with the understanding of how Nike can fit into your life.

Marketers want data to inform all decisions. It’s in our DNA. And while we ultimately can measure the effectiveness of the images we use in social as it relates to certain KPIs, maybe the biggest lesson to take from this session is we need to embrace our inner artist as well. Know your audience, understand what they like and trust your inner artist to stay true to those points.


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How IBM Turned B2B Social into a Lead Gen Machine & How You Can Too http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/b2b-social-lead-gen/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/b2b-social-lead-gen/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 14:38:34 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15994 IBM is famous—there’s no doubt about that. They’ve been known for everything from innovative products to impressive profits. But at SES Chicago, they’re known for their ability to generate leads from social—something B2B companies don’t necessarily always do well. 90% of brands say they measure social engagement, but only 15% of CMOs say they can [...]

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B2B Lead Generation

IBM is famous—there’s no doubt about that. They’ve been known for everything from innovative products to impressive profits. But at SES Chicago, they’re known for their ability to generate leads from social—something B2B companies don’t necessarily always do well.

90% of brands say they measure social engagement, but only 15% of CMOs say they can quantify social ROI. Clearly, there’s some sort of disconnect that needs to be addressed. Michelle Killebrew and John Lee bridged the gap in their presentation with an IBM case study on how B2B companies can leverage social media for lead gen.

What IBM Did

Killebrew shared a case study that serves as a powerful example of how IBM used social to take their website and social to the next level:

Challenges

The corporate giant was facing several challenges when it came to their digital marketing:
• what to do first
• how to scale
• how to leverage technology to get the lowest CPL
• how to educate extended teams/analysts about acquisitions and vision
• a polarized spectrum of audience needs

Objectives

The company had several objectives for their digital marketing efforts:

  • create a digital experience that’s optimized for engagement
  • personalization of the user experience, sharing and conversion
  • drive huge lead volume through paid, owned and earned media
  • integrate the latest trends in digital marketing (like more video-content, message amplification through social-media, retargeted based on visitor behavior)

Questions They Asked

Those are quite the challenges, and some ambitious objectives to achieve on top of them. In order to do so, IBM asked themselves three questions:

  1. Is This What My Audience Craves? The new age of marketing means that you have to target what searchers and your prospective customers care about most.
  2. How can we Contextually Craft Content to the Lighter Audience? It’s all about helping identify personas, and looking at human identification for resonance
  3. What is going to keep my audience engaged? Focus on key concepts your audience cares about, it’s not a library of everything. Help them find what they need as quickly as possible.

What They Found & What They Did:

  • People Crave Relevance: IBM linked social to their site so relevant hashtags show up that the user will actually care about
  • People Resonate with Visuals: IBM created unique personas on their website based on the needs and characteristics of their audiences. They then gave the personas a human face because, after all, people resonate with human photos. They also included videos on their site that were tailored to the different audiences, making content relevant and visual.
  • People Like Quick & Easy: IBM made ‘factoids’ of interesting statistics that web visitors can scroll through. They designed them to be easily shareable with ready-to-go tweets, and built-in images for Facebook and LinkedIn shares. They took it a step further and put social sharing widgets in email so readers can click to share even from emails. When it comes to mobile, easy clicks are extremely important to users. So IBM made it easy for mobile users to click with big, huge buttons.
  • People Like Themes: IBM created ‘rethink’ messaging customized to each of the personas they created that represented audience roles and their interests.

How You Can Be Successful At Using B2B Social

Lee was up next to teach the audience how they could leverage social media like IBM to increase their lead gen and successfully attract new customers. His advice came in two unique packages: DJs and Twitter Lead Gen Cards.

Be Successful by Being like a DJ 
A DJ is trying to take a group of people in one place that don’t know each other, a little uptight and a little shy from one place and move them to a place where they’re dancing and having fun. As a marketer that’s what we have to do. We have to move our customers and our searchers from a place of inactivity to one of activity that they enjoy. There are 3 lessons marketers can learn from DJs to help us do just that:

1. Think ahead. DJs always plan their playlist—what they hear isn’t what you hear. Always plan out your content and your messages, be thinking of the offer after the offer after the offer.
2. Don’t think of yourself. DJs play what their audience likes not what they like. Publish what you’re your audience craves, not what you want. They’re the ones who have to act on it, engage with it, and share it so cater it to their preferences.
3. Watch your audience. If no one’s dancing, the DJ is probably doing something wrong. Marketers also need to watch their audiences to know what’s resonating and what isn’t and respond accordingly.

Twitter Lead Gen Cards:
Twitter saw an opportunity to help B2B marketers bring in more leads without spending more, and turn those leads into meaningful engagement in a shorter amount of time despite the challenges of distracted users that take multitasking to the extreme.

So they introduced lead gen cards that show up in Twitter feeds making them clear and convenient. Users no longer have to click away from Twitter and be taken to your site to fulfill an action, it can all be done in the Twitter Lead Gen Card. These cards have several important elements:
• Content Hook: 140 characters like any other tweet that appears at the top of the card. This has to be interesting and valuable. Don’t use just a blog title. Take your best tip, your best fact and put that here—make people want to read and look at the rest.
• Supporting Copy: 50 characters to brand yourself and communicate the experience. If you have to email them something tell them that here so they know how they’ll get what they want–tell them what’s going to happen.
Social Visual Impact: 150 pixels by 600 pixels for banner ads. This picture can be text, but be sure to keep it clean. This is a good place for the name of your blog post or whitepaper. Create multiple images for each image you promote so you can see which one works and which doesn’t.
Integrated CTA Button: users click this button and you automatically get the conversion. Best practices from web and landing pages apply to this button as well. Encourage immediacy with things like “download now”, “sign up now”…emphasize the now. The trick with these is they don’t actually get the download. A box will pop up and say the company will contact you shortly. So how do you work around? Integrate with marketing automation so they get the asset automatically emailed to them with no lag.
Auto Lead Capture: when someone clicks that button you get the name, handle, and email associated with that Twitter account. Most people don’t use corporate email addresses for that, however there’s still opportunities for nurture there and people still respond to follow-up emails.
Engagement: the number of retweets & favorites still show at the bottom of the card.

How to Set-up a Twitter Lead Gen Card

Twitter knows marketers like easy, so they made it super simple to create a lead gen card. Log in to the Twitter advertisement interface, and from the drop down choose the option that says create new lead gen card, and you’re good to go.

How to Nurture

Now that you have all the data, you’ve connected with this person on social, how do you nurture? Set up a program. Consider emailing 24 hours later with relevant information or other things they may find useful. These tend to be opened more often and have higher click-through rates than traditional emails.

Then start all over, seriously. Continue to improve, redesign, and personalize your marketing efforts so it’s not just a one-and-done initiative. Like Lee said, always be thinking of the offer after the offer.

Stay tuned for our live blog coverage of the last day of SES Chicago.


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Linkbuilding the Right Way for Search Engine Optimization http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/linkbuilding-the-right-way-seschi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/linkbuilding-the-right-way-seschi/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 00:32:13 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15988 In late July, Google updated it’s stated policy on what ‘linkbuilding’ activities now constitute link schemes. While the update was clear  – heavy hyperlinking in press releases, advertorials and large scale guest-blogging are now considered link schemes – the repercussions of the update and it’s lasting impact on SEO have been far more murky. Nobody [...]

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Linkbuilding Panel at #SESCHI

In late July, Google updated it’s stated policy on what ‘linkbuilding’ activities now constitute link schemes. While the update was clear  – heavy hyperlinking in press releases, advertorials and large scale guest-blogging are now considered link schemes – the repercussions of the update and it’s lasting impact on SEO have been far more murky.

Nobody likes murky. Not in a drink and especially not when real business outcomes are associated with search visibility and the traffic it generates.

With the session promise of sharing how to linkuild the right way, Jennifer Slegg introduces Chuck Price, Founder of Measurable SEO. Jumping off the stage to begin his presentation, Price’s goal is clearly to dispel the notions that links ‘no longer matter.’ He starts with humor and honesty, “[l]inkbuilding is NOT sexy! Nor is it fun.” But, Price asserts, links are still the number 1 factor influencing search ranking. Two thing are certain, Matt Cutts has said as recently as July in an interview with Eric Enge, that links still matter and not all linkbuilding is bad.

However, linkbuilding has changed and Knowledge Graph was one of the game changers. Relevancy matters more than ever. Links that were once deemed powerful in 2010 may offer little value today.

What Would Google Do?

If Google operated a web based business, what would they do with their site? This is not a hypothetical posed by Price. It’s a reality. Google Ventures is, drum roll….the venture fund owned by Google. And according to Price, one can make the logical assumption ‘your house, your rules’ to use the site as a great barometer for the linkbuilding activity that you can learn from and replicate.

So more specifically, marketers looking to linkbuild the right way today need to understand:

  • Quality is key: Real and relevant editorial links are so important.
  • Quantity is NOT key: A few of the right links can get the job done.

Price continues the conversation on link quality and introduces a great litmus test all marketers should follow, courtesy of a quote attributed to Eric Ward and paraphrased as: Would you want that link even if it Google didn’t recognize it. It’s an important reminder to us all that the true value of the link – whether it’s a follow or nofollow – is derived from whether or not the site linking to you is relevant and reputable.

Time for Action

Using this litmus test to guide your linkbuilding efforts, Price recommends marketers think of a tight action plan that includes:

  • Get Your Free Links: Using Google Webmaster Tools, locate pages that are throwing 404 errors. Instead of losing the link equity of that now defunct page, 301 redirect that URL to the most appropriate page on the site.
  • Assess the Competition: In this instance competitors are the businesses outranking you for a key term. Using link intelligence tools (see list below), you can identify the high quality links that your competitors own. Focus on the links that are relevant for your business as well and commit to creating the content and/or relationship to earn that link.
  • Issue Press Releases: It’s not what you think! The role of the release isn’t to acquire links through the over optimization and inclusion of hyperlinks. Instead disseminate unique and clever releases with the goal to ‘earn’ coverage from other sites and/or media outlets. To be clear, coverage is not re-posting the release, it’s a site crafting a unique story or mention of your brand.
  • Reverse Solicit Guest Posts: While guest blogging on relevant, high value sites still deserves a place at the ‘marketing tactics table’. Consider the opposite action as well as a powerful linkbuilding opportunity. Solicit authors who contribute content on topics important to your brand and with Google+ rel author and considerable Klout. They’ll be naturally incentivized to promote their posts on your site.

Helpful Linkbuilding Tools

To execute a plan like the one above, access to link data is important and the tools Price likes include:

Nate Dame, a new father (wait for the relevance!) and CEO of SEOperks, brings the session to a conclusion with a few important points that help frame the true activities and interactions that we should associate with linkbuilding.

2 ‘Dame’ Good Linkbuilding Points

  1.  Let People Link Naturally: Dame has found that the more hands off he is with ‘directing’ people how and where to link, the better the results. Inspire sharing and step back!
  2. The Link is Not the End-Result: Receiving a link should mean something much more meaningful than another tally in the link column. Your content resonated with someone, and because you followed point #1, you didn’t creep them out with directions like ‘actually, link here’.

While not all of us are new parents like Dame (think of the crazy population increase if that were true), maybe we should think like them when we linkbuild. How about a new litmus test: could you look your real or hypothetical child in the eye and say ‘I’m proud of the way I grew links’?

If not, it’s time to put these experts advice into action.


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Navigating a Website Migration like Indiana Jones: Ensuring a Smooth SEO Transition http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/website-migration-seo-transition/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/website-migration-seo-transition/#comments Wed, 06 Nov 2013 23:01:44 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15986 Let’s face it— at one point in your life you’ve probably wanted to be James Bond, Indiana Jones, Wonder Woman, or any other number of superheroes. Personally, I’ve wanted to be all of them…more than once. For some odd, and inexplicable, reason Indiana Jones was always my favorite. If you’re like me, you gave up [...]

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Website Migration Presentation #SESCHILet’s face it— at one point in your life you’ve probably wanted to be James Bond, Indiana Jones, Wonder Woman, or any other number of superheroes. Personally, I’ve wanted to be all of them…more than once. For some odd, and inexplicable, reason Indiana Jones was always my favorite.

If you’re like me, you gave up that life of dodging sink holes and escaping life-threatening situations in creatively unrealistic ways to work in digital marketing. But, Simon Heseltine from AOL and Dave Rohrer from Covario are giving us the chance to be channel our inner superhero again—by navigating the sinkholes created by website migrations.

In their SES session (moderated by Jim Hedger who couldn’t resist a photo-op with the speakers) these two experts addressed the sinkholes created by different migrations, as well as the ways to avoid the potential traffic decreases and reduced ROIs.

Types of Website Migrations:

You can’t very well escape danger if you don’t know what the danger is right? So Heseltine starts us off with 5 main types of website migrations and a few precautions to take when executing:

  • Domain Moves: this is when you change things on the same CMS. You won’t have many (if any) permalink changes. With a migration like this, you’ll want to plan as much as possible for a pattern match global 301 redirect. Then you’ll have to move the content to the new domain and set up the redirect (and of course tell Google in WebMaster tools). Lastly, you’ll want to submit new XML sitemaps and tell Google News about the domain change if you use it.
  • Multi Domain Moves: this takes place when your site is going from one domain to multiple domains. This happens when there’s no agreement on a replacement primary domain, like Hesteltine’s dentist. This migration will require you to remove all other links except to the new domain, redirect all other pages to the old home page, tell the story on the home page
  • CMS Migrations: changing from one platform to another. Create a redirect mapping from the old permalink structure to the new. As much as possible use pattern matching–it makes it a lot easier. Then prep and submit XML sitemaps. You’re only going to put the new pages in the XML sitemaps, not the old ones. If there are pages you’re not going to migrate, you may want to ‘curtain’ them. All that means is you put a banner across the top of all the pages that advertises your new site.
  • Redesigns: If all your design is look and feel, you wont have any URL changes and there won’t be much to do. However, you can change those URLs and if you do, you’ll have to add in 301 redirects to send users to the new location.
  • Site Closures: Sites close down for any number of reasons. If you’re considering closing a site look for the content that gets traffic that you could serve elsewhere and set up 301 redirects for these pages. For the rest? Set up 404 pages and tell the story of what happened–that the site is no longer there. If you’re shutting down just sections of your site (known as section closures), you’ll follow those same steps.

Pre-Launch: Is Indiana Jones ever without his hat or whip? Nope. He prepares well, and you should too. Before you launch there are several things you should remember to do

  • Determine your goals: You want to come out on top right? In order to do so, several things should be considered at this point: platform change/update, legal compliance, do you want to increase leads or sales or conversions etc.
  • Determine migration scope: What are your phases? What kind of window do you have? Do you want new features? Pick what you’re going to update and what’s priority, then move on. Draw the line in the sand of when you’re going to stop the migration and stop working on it
  • Establish the how and when: What teams are involved? What do they have scheduled and when?  Dates are extremely important. When are you going to QA? When is your soft launch? When is your content freeze? When is the very last day changes can be made
  • Baseline Everythinguse internal analytics like traffic, conversion rates, bounce rates, visits, conversion, typical pathing etc. Then use external 3rd party tools like Google Webmaster and Bing Webmaster tools and Majestic SEO for crawls, errors, indexation, links, sitemap, and other link data.
  • Categorize and Documentcurrent URL, future URL, what content is going away, if it’s being reused, if thinner pages are being combined

During the Migration

Now it’s the fight scene. You’ve got your hat, your whip, you’ve got your not-quite-as-cool-as-you sidekick and you’re in battle. Here are a few things you can do to channel your inner Indiana Jones:

  • Verify Baselines: You know whether or not Indiana Jones is winning or losing a fight, because you know what success and failure look like, and you keep watching hoping for success. Your site is no different. As the site is launching keep track of errors. Are there thousands popping up? Are you still ranking for your keywords? Spot check thinks. Technical issues like 404 errors, crawler traps, duplicate content pings, server failures, missing files and missed 301s will occur. Know what success looks like and see how your site is measuring up.
  • Divide and Conquer: In the latest Indiana Jones movie Shia Le Bouf fights a lot to protect and help Harrison Ford. There’s always some sort of underdog and helper that gets him out of a pickle just when he needs to be helped. When you QA don’t try to tackle the project alone–have help. While you’re QAing your site make sure different people are doing different things. Don’t forget to look at it from different IP addresses to make sure it’s not just your office that can see it.
  • Communicate: If you’re having help, you can’t very well be dead silent and not let them know what you need right? Make sure everyone knows when things will go live, when they are going live and how things are going. You don’t want your social team to promote a site that isn’t working.

Post Migration:

You’ve migrated your site–you’ve escaped danger. Now what (other than feeling quite proud of yourself for being the nerdy version of Indiana Jones)?

  • Monitor. Does Indiana Jones take his eyes off his enemy during a fight? No, of course not. So don’t take yours off your site. Make sure you look at Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. Analytics are a great way to see if there are any trends you should worry about and see how your site is doing. Use crawlers (Screaming Frog is a great tool for this)  to see what’s going on with your site and if what you expected to happen is there, chances are tools will catch something you didn’t. Keep an eye on indexes and redirects.
  • Expect a minor traffic drop. Let’s face it after a huge fight, Indiana is tired. He might not admit it but he is. A migration is a big deal, and for the first few weeks you can expect a drop, but then expect traffic to creep back up. Running crawlers on your site can help you find any issues that could prevent the increase.
  • Keep communicating. It wouldn’t be fun if the movie ended with everyone going their separate ways right? So don’t just stop talking once the migration is complete. Keep people updated on what’s going on. The chance there’ll be another project at some point is very high, so don’t just disappear into the ether once the migration is complete.

Stay tuned for more from SES Chicago! We’ll be live-blogging sessions throughout the remainder of the conference.


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What You Need to Know about Enhanced Adwords Campaigns http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/adwords-enhanced-campaign-info/ Wed, 06 Nov 2013 16:14:18 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15978 If there’s one thing I’ve heard non-stop lately it’s that digital marketing is becoming more customized and tailored to the wants and needs of consumers. Those creepy Eye See You Mannequins, facial monitoring at gas stations, and those social ads that somehow know that I was shopping for a watch yesterday are all proof that [...]

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Enhanced Adwords Campaigns Session at #SESCHIIf there’s one thing I’ve heard non-stop lately it’s that digital marketing is becoming more customized and tailored to the wants and needs of consumers. Those creepy Eye See You Mannequins, facial monitoring at gas stations, and those social ads that somehow know that I was shopping for a watch yesterday are all proof that brands are able to cater their advertisements to appeal to something we’re actually going to be motivated to buy.

This has created a unique opportunity for marketers: enhanced Google AdWords campaigns which were launched on July 22nd of this year.

In their SES Chicago session, Michael Griffin and Lisa Raehsler reviewed what those campaigns are and how to design, segment, and optimize one. Here are some of the key takeaways from their session:

User Habits Have Changed

A lot of the sessions at SES have been talking about the fact we like to multitask on several devices. Searchers shift between mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, desktops, and laptops simultaneously. So marketers have to stop thinking of things in a channel-centric way, and start thinking (and creating content and design) in terms of all devices. It is also important to become much more strategic in targeting and ad campaigns to help attract and engage multidevice users.

Marketers Need a New Mindset

Search is no longer all about keywords. It’s important to shift your mindset to knowing your customer deeply and leveraging the tools Google gives you to appeal to those customers. The days of mass creation are over–we’re transitioning into a time when customization, personalization, and relevance will make or break the success of your content. Leveraging this data can help you provide the right message to the right people at the right time.

Calculate Bid Modifiers

There is data out there to help you understand your customers at the zip code level, the city level and the state level to help you maximize the impact of your enhanced ad campaign.  Bid modifiers are a great way to tailor your campaign to reach the people who it is most relevant to, and who will likely click on your ads. However, like most things, there is some debate over how to calculate the bid modifiers for an AdWords campaign. The formula the presenters recommend is: [(Revenue per click for a segment divided by revenue per click of the whole) minus 1] * 100.

Use Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA)

This new feature allows you to create different audiences based on the value you think they might have. You can bid on those people in Google search results differently helping customize your ads. Segmenting on granular level has proven to bring the best results when leveraging this new capability. This deeper level of segmentation will allow you to guide those searchers to where you want them to go on your site, and help make those landing destinations more relevant.

This works well for eCommerce sites by adding value to the items in a shopper’s cart and targeting based on the value of the total items in their cart. The only limitation to this capability is that 1,000 people have to be in a segment for you to bid on it.

Mobilize Your Campaigns

Design ads that are mobile preferred. This will require specific imagery and a tailored call to action that’s easy for mobile users to complete and that assures them it really is ok to click. With the impressive surge in mobile usage, it is important to convey your messages to the mobile users that are visiting your site.

Follow an Action Plan for Capturing Opportunity

When faced with an opportunity, it’s important to not only capture it but to bring it full circle to enhance mobile experiences. Raehsler provided the following action plan for helping brands do so:

  • Increase bid modifier for mobile to increase visibility
  • Increase bid modifier on top states
  • Create ad copy to mobile + location

Use Data to Craft Mobile Adjustments, Targeting and Experience

There is an abundance of data in anything related to Google. Google Analytics can help you see whether or not people are engaged with what you’re showing them based off of how much time they’re spending on your site, how many pages they look at etc. In AdWords you can break down your insights by gender and age. Seeing who is more likely to visit your site can help you target a more engaged user.

Don’t Limit Yourself to AdWords Enhanced Campaigns only

Did you know Bing had enhanced campaigns? Yeah I didn’t either, but they do. They also allow deeper segmentation and more filtering. Don’t limit yourself to using only Google enhanced campaigns, there’s no reason you can’t use both.

Get to Know Bid Strategies

There are 5 bid strategies when it comes to enhanced AdWords campaigns. The last two in the list below are the newest, and most impressive, of the strategies.

  1. Maximize Clicks: this is a flexible version of the Automatic CPC bidding strategy
  2. CPA Bidding: this is a flexible version of Conversion Optimizer used in the target CPA (average CPA) capacity
  3. Enhanced CPC: this is a flexible version of the existing enhanced CPC capability
  4. Search Page Location: AdWords will increase/decrease bids to target a top-of-page or fist page position with ads. This bid strategy works with Search Network only and doesn’t specify a position on the page (so you can’t choose to be in the second, third, fourth position on the page etc.)
  5. Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): AdWords predicts future conversions and values based on conversion values advertisers set up. Used for Search Network only or the Search Display Networks, Adwords will try to reach the ROAS targets across all keywords, ad groups, and campaigns.

Use PPC/display results to further design & author

Ad campaigns aren’t a one-and-done type deal. Use consumer reactions and the results you see through analytics to tweak, redesign, and rewrite your content to continuously appeal to audiences and maintain relevance.


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New SEO Best Practices with Schema Markup http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/new-seo-best-practices-with-schema-markup-seschi/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/new-seo-best-practices-with-schema-markup-seschi/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 23:18:17 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15969 Web Developers often faint at the mere mention of ‘schema’. The mysterious term conjures up thoughts of impossible code to implement with benefits that seem difficult to pinpoint. At least, those were some of the perceptions surrounding schema markup. Anne F. Kennedy, the sessions first speaker and member of the SES Advisory Board, wants to reduce [...]

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SEO Schema Markup

Web Developers often faint at the mere mention of ‘schema’. The mysterious term conjures up thoughts of impossible code to implement with benefits that seem difficult to pinpoint. At least, those were some of the perceptions surrounding schema markup.

Anne F. Kennedy, the sessions first speaker and member of the SES Advisory Board, wants to reduce that fear among the SEO community surrounding schema markup and explain the benefits derived from their usage. Kennedy polls the office and asks ‘how many currently use schema markup?’ With what appears to be a little over half raising their hands, a little step back is needed.

So Kennedy starts us with the basics: What is a ‘schema’ anyways?

Schema is ‘a cognitive framework that helps organize and interpret information.’ Why it matters in search – and why this particular session is well attended – is because search engines crave information that help them categorize content, both literally and contextually. More importantly, they need that information to be organized in a way in which it can be easily understood.

But schema markup is not new, as Kennedy notes. Schema.org – a joint effort by Google, Bing & Yahoo to develop a universal set of structured data – actually launched in June, 2011. However, in the wake of Google Hummingbird, where context is becoming even more important in search – as opposed to literally matching keywords to onpage ‘matches’  – providing more signals that can help search engines understand context is a necessity. Or as Kennedy more succinctly puts it ‘[g]et over keywords! Feed the search engines entities’ of information.

Rich Benci, COO of Algebrize, takes over the floor and guides the conversation towards results.

Schema Markup in Action

If you’re needing proof of this new SERP reality, try searching for a celebrity. What you’ll undoubtedly find, like the example below for one of the more famous Chicagoans, is SERPs are highly influenced by schema markup. In this case, ‘Person’ schema markup is driving results that include a Knowledge Graph that clearly organizes certain information about Kanye West.

Kanye West Knowledge Grap

While talking results, Benci passionately clarifies the difference between ‘schema markup’ and ‘rich snippets’. To summarize Benci’s point, schema markup is a classification of code, where as rich snippets is one of several ways that the subsequent information can appear in SERP (Knowledge Graph is another).

Schema Classifications

Schema.org includes a lengthy list of categories of information that can be organized with schema markup. While too numerous to mention all, the full list can be found at schema.org. Key categories include:

  • Action
  • Class
  • Event
  • MedicalEntity
  • Organization
  • Person
  • Place
  • Product
  • Property

If you aren’t able to locate a category of information that applies to your company, you can provide feedback to schema.org and make the case for additional categories.

How Fast Does it Work?

Schema markup does not yield results immediately, according to Benci. While he shares that he has seen dramatic progress in how quickly search engines are reading, interpreting and presenting new results based on schema markup, he cautions that businesses should expect it to take 5-6 weeks – provided the code is properly installed – before results are present.

He also makes an important point, and one that many SEOs may struggle with: we are not entitled to rich snippets appearing in SERP. There’s no guarantee that the schema markup will produce results in SERP. Instead, Benci counsels practitioners to view successful results as being ‘awarded’ rich snippets. A result that is made more likely in Benci’s opinion by the comprehensive (and correct) implementation of schema markup on a site.

Getting Started with Schema Markup Tools

Two of Benci’s favorite tools come directly from Google:

  • Structured Data Markup Helper: This tools helps you decipher what schema markup needs to be added to a page. Simply select a data type and enter the corresponding URL for the page you would like to markup.
  • Structured Data Testing Tool: Useful to diagnose any issues or code errors after implementation. Users can enter a URL and immediately receive direction on what changes are needed to yield the code correctly.

With a few new tools in our arsenal and a better understanding of how schema markup impacts SERPs, the session ends. Is it a coincidence attendees immediately locate the nearest flat surface so they can unfold their laptops and pull up their site? That’s not for me to say.

 


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Maximizing Usability and Findability Among Multi-Screen Users http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/multiscreen-usability-findability/ Tue, 05 Nov 2013 21:13:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15972 Remember the days of just watching TV? Or just working on your computer? How about finding what you needed from one source—like a book, phonebook, or one website? Those days are over. Completely. Google released a study earlier this year that revealed 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish their goals, using up [...]

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Web ArchitectureRemember the days of just watching TV? Or just working on your computer? How about finding what you needed from one source—like a book, phonebook, or one website? Those days are over. Completely.

Google released a study earlier this year that revealed 90% of people use multiple screens sequentially to accomplish their goals, using up to an average of 3 different screen combinations each day. The key takeaway from their study? Content needs to be optimized for all channels so brands don’t run the risk of losing conversions from any one channel.

This new initiative has posed several challenges to marketers on how to make their site findable, and usable, to multiscreen users in order to retain conversions. Bryson Meunier of Resolution Media and Shari Thurow of Omni Marketing Interactive shared a few best practices and tips on how to create the best website architecture to achieve excellent multiscreen experience.

Decide What Mobile Configuration Strategy is Best for Your Site

According to Google, you have three choices when it comes to the mobile configuration of your site:

              1. Responsive Web Design: Same HTML & URLs but a different layout served through flexible layouts, dynamic grids and media queries

The main advantage of this popular site configuration is that it’s one site. However, there a significant disadvantage to a responsively designed site: the download time can significantly increase. Workarounds are available. But when you do a workaround, it requires more JavaScript which in-turn increases downtime (so realistically, it’s hard to avoid the decreased downtime).

             2. Dynamic Serving: Same URLS potentially different HTML served through device detection
             3. Dedicated Mobile Sites: Different HTML & Different URLs

You have the power to decide what’s right for your business based on user activity and what you feel fits your messaging and design best. In order to determine which web design is best for your brand ask yourself the following:

  • Are mobile users well-served by your current information architecture? If it is, changing your site architecture might not be the best idea, but again the choice is yours.
  • Do your mobile users use the same keywords as your desktop users? If you don’t have a mobile site, or even look into mobile keywords you could miss out on dozens of keywords. For example: mobile games, mobile ringtones, navigate to [insert brand name here] etc.
  • Mobile-only features won’t help users? For example Lowes provides an in-store map to help those of us (myself included) that get lost in stores easily. Enhanced mobile experiences have the added benefit of building link equity and increasing traffic.
  • Does your audience use smartphones? If not, Google does not recommend doing a responsive web design. Instead consider dynamic serving or dedicated mobile sites.
  • Is speed not important to conversions? It’s harder to make a responsive site fast than a dynamic serving site. mobitest.akamai.com is a great tool to see how fast your site is running on mobile devices. If your users are going to want an extremely fast experience, consider dynamic or dedicated mobile.

Follow Google Guidelines

Whichever configuration design you choose for your site, it’s important to follow Google guidelines to make sure your site isn’t penalized, hidden from searchers, or creating a negative searcher experience.

  1. Use switchboard tags with Mobile URLs. These tags help create a connection between your mobile & desktop sites ensuring that indexing and link equity are shared between the two
  2. Use vary HTTP header with dynamic serving. This header lets Google know that some of your content is for mobile and some is for desktop.
  3. Do not build a separate tablet-optimized site. Use responsive design if possible
  4. Don’t block Googlebot Mobile or Otherwise! If you block your site, searchers won’t be able to find it.
  5. Consider user experience. Google is starting to penalize sites for things like app interstitials, slow-loading sites, faulty redirects and unplayable videos

Cater Your Content & Site to Mobile Users:

There are several things that mobile users are going to expect from your mobile site in terms of usability and findability. Catering to those things can help enhance user experience and improve your mobile ranking. When it comes to your site make sure:

  • Clicks actually click. Accommodate for a finger, not just a cursor. It’s extremely frustrating to press over and over again on a button that’s not clicking. Make sure your site is working, and recognizes fingers. Bonus: make things look extra clickable on mobile sites because it’s harder to know what clicks and what doesn’t.
  • Information Sent is Validated: Always remember: Go. Know. Do. Where you want to go, what you want to know more about, what you want to do. Like an elevator when you press a button, you expect it to light up and do what you asked it to. Then you expect a direction sign telling you where to go. Mobile users what the same guidance. They want to have their information and queries validated.
  • Content is Organized Logically: there are several Google implications that originate from how you organize your site. But there are also user implications. Make sure your site is logical for mobile users because their needs will be different from those of desktop users. Information architecture should be decided before the site is built. If you don’t do it right, it can cost you a lot after launch.
  • Consider On and Off Page Criteria: Keywords, labels and design are the glaringly obvious on-page-criteria that are important to your site. But off-the-page criteria like link development, social and web searcher goals will factor into your success in mobile.
  • Popular Information is Included: Three kinds of content are very important to mobile users: quick facts, location and personal information. Mobile searchers want to know where things are or where they can find them, they don’t want to read pages and pages of text, and they want the ability to login.

Use Effective & Search Engine Friendly Design

Site design and layout will change based on your content–if you have huge images it will distort the rest of the page, the same thing if you have no images. However there are a few designs that are better than the rest:

  • MostFluid Design: If you have 5 or 6 navigation buttons this layout will work well. It’s a great layout for a mobile friendly responsive site.
  • Column Drop: Also an ok format for a mobile-friendly responsive site, but you have to be conscientious of where you put your call to action because it can get lost
  • Layout Shifter: Another design that is great for a responsive site. Also, great for sites that require huge images (i.e. food)

Labeling Systems

These will strongly impact your search engine rankings. They can help tell a search engine and users that your information is consistent. There are 3 kinds of labels that are important to your site content, navigation, and document. Content labels are things like your heading that tell a searcher “this page is about x”, the navigation labels & URLs also point out “this page is about x” (they both usually have a keyword in there somewhere), and document labels, like a title tag, also indicate “this page is about x”. That consistency is extremely important to website rankings.

Remember: don’t assume that responsive design is search engine friendly. Just because someone else uses it, or because there are a lot of benefits, doesn’t mean that it’s best for your site. A key take away from this session is that design isn’t universal, you really need to think about your content, your users and your graphics and design it based on those things.

Stay tuned for more from SES Chicago! We’ll be live-blogging sessions throughout the next three days.


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7 Tips and Tools to Craft a Killer Content Marketing Strategy http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/crafting-killer-content-strategy/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/11/crafting-killer-content-strategy/#comments Tue, 05 Nov 2013 18:09:23 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15970 Have you ever created content that sucks? Or worked really hard on something, dedicating a ton of resources, only to have it under-perform or not earn the reach and impact you wanted? You’re not alone. Despite the fact that content marketing has becoming increasingly popular among B2B companies this year, only 44% of them have [...]

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#SESCHI Content Marketing SessionHave you ever created content that sucks? Or worked really hard on something, dedicating a ton of resources, only to have it under-perform or not earn the reach and impact you wanted? You’re not alone.

Despite the fact that content marketing has becoming increasingly popular among B2B companies this year, only 44% of them have a documented content strategy. This creates marketing silos that limit the benefits of creative and shareable content, which basically results in crappy content.

A diverse, creative, and strategic content plan can break down silos and help create content that resonates with your target audience while increasing social shares, network size and engagement.

During today’s SES Chicago conference, TopRank’s Brian Larson and Walmart’s Alok Jain shared several tips & tools to help marketers take their content marketing strategies to the next level. Lucky attendee Andrew Webb even tweeted his way to win a copy of Optimize, authored by TopRank Online Marketing CEO, Lee Odden.

1. Know What to Create & When to Post:

Regardless of why you’re doing it, there’s something you hope to achieve with your content marketing efforts. To be successful, align your overall sales strategy with understanding the objective of your content marketing. What you’re hoping to help your prospective customers do will impact what and when you post:

  • Awareness: If you want to help increase awareness of your brand, product or sale posts should be daily and in short form. things like blogs, banner ads, and social media posts are best.
  • Research: Let’s face it–a lot of people do research online prior to purchasing. To help cater to those users post weekly content in long-form. Things like buyers guides and white papers will provide all the information these searchers are looking for.
  • Compare: When there are hundreds of other companies that do what you do, customers will naturally begin to compare you to your compeition. Try to appeal to these searchers by publishing “top 10” or “best of” lists. Be sure to always interact so
    cially so they know you’re listening (your competition might not be)

2. Collect Lots & Lots of Data:

It is important to integrate your keywords into your entire content marketing effort. Start researching keywords that fit well with your brand and that your customers are using. Make sure the words you choose are being used in search and are things you can (and plan to) generate content for. Grouping those keywords together can help make it easier to integrate them throughout your marketing mix.

3. Keep Your Content Fresh with an Editorial Calendar

An editorial calendar can house your keywords, your content plans, and your social messaging while helping you plan when to post it all. However, constantly producing brand new content can be expensive–especially when technology updates faster than we can keep up with. Include a content refreshment plan in your editorial calendar to make sure you stay up-to-date with technology while reducing the burden on your content creators.

4. Leverage the Information Around You

There is so much data available that it is impossible to wrap your mind around all of it. But there are a few things that you can, and should, leverage in your content strategy to help take it to the next level:

  • Customers: Crowdsourcing ideas are great ways to find out what your audience wants and then giving it to them. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Web Analytics & Keyword Research: Search volumes, page views, website navigation, and keyword derivatives are just a few of the ways web analytics can be baked into your content planning to make sure your content is relevant and found in search
  • Social Data: See who your customers are following, what they’re talking about. Doing so can help provide insight into opportunities for content and interaction.

 5. Find Your Engaged Influencers

An engaged influencer is someone who your content resonates with, so much so that they’re motivated to share. A few traits of engaged influencers (aka how to find them) are link backs, social shares and comments. Now, that being said, you can break influencers down into several categories: thought leaders, colleagues/coworkers, family, celebrities and even more. Regardless of what category they fall into, those influencers have the ability to help your brand reach it’s audience.

6. Amplify with Influencers, The Right Away

Influence marketing is not an afterthought it is an ongoing effort and requires a few steps.

  1. You’ll have to start softly and giving value to them, asking nothing in return. Citing or promoting them in social is a good way to signal to your influencer that you care, and that you’re willing to share their content.
  2. Connect with them on social
  3. Consistently engage with them on social. Don’t interact until you get what you want, and give up. Continue to send them signals so they know it wasn’t just a one-off connection that provides no value
  4. Then you can pitch. Lead with a value proposition for them.
  5. Restart with Step 1 to maintain the relationship you just built!

7. Use Tools for Research & Measurement

Everything from the old school industry publications to social media tools can help you find what people are talking about, see what’s resonating, and find the influencers that will be friends to your brand. Here are a few tools to help get you started

  • Topsy: Free tool that’s great for finding influencers on particular topicsOptimize Winner
  • Tweet Binder: Free tool (if you analyze less than 2,000 tweets) that lets you see the impacts, reach, contributors and follower averages for the people talking about a certain topic
  • Content Marketing Institute: Great resource for finding tools that can achieve the research you need to launch & measure your content efforts
  • ShareTally.co: Can offer insight into the number of social shares your content generated

Remember: Content marketing strategies should take into account everything from keywords, search volume and customer relevancy to posting timelines, linking (internally and externally) and integration with social networks.

Thanks to attendee, Andrew Webb, who proved to be the most active Twitter user. He was rewarded with his very own copy of Optimize and a little photo love to the right.

Stay tuned for more from SES Chicago! We’ll be live-blogging sessions throughout the next three days.


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Creative Content Marketing at Scale: Lee Odden at #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/creative-content-marketing-sesny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/creative-content-marketing-sesny/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 21:45:33 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15027 Content marketing is all the rage, though brands still struggle to attract the right audience, engage readers and convert them to buyers. Simply publishing content is no guarantee anyone is going to see it – or that they’d even want to, if quantity is currently trumping quality. Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed [...]

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Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Wallets and Minds - Lee OddenContent marketing is all the rage, though brands still struggle to attract the right audience, engage readers and convert them to buyers. Simply publishing content is no guarantee anyone is going to see it – or that they’d even want to, if quantity is currently trumping quality.

Great content isn’t great until it’s discovered, consumed and shared, says Lee Odden, our CEO at TopRank Online Marketing and SES New York speaker. Lee gave his Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds & Wallets presentation this morning to a room packed with marketers striving to improve their content strategy.

One example that highlights the importance of optimization for search, social sharing and consumption is this infographic novel from a company called Hostway. The authors took what could have been quite a dry, boring subject – internet security – and used a tale of zombies to resuscitate their message. The content itself was fantastic, though as Lee pointed out, it was difficult to share, lacking social share buttons in the PDF.

“Whether social outreach, advertising or email marketing were used, the promotion of a remarkable content object should factor in the ability to amplify increased awareness,” Lee said. “That means optimizing the content object for social sharing and discovery as well as for discovery through search.”

An infographic novel such as this one is a fantastic opportunity for content repurposing, yet several months after its release, images from the novel appeared in Google Image search only from the people – like Lee – who had taken screen captures and written about it.

That is a great example of content marketing in the stretching phase of Altimeter’s Content Marketing Maturity model; they are experimenting, their content is there, but their promotion strategy and processes are developing.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find companies like General Mills, who use their Tablespoon recipe site not only as a marketing tool, but as an additional revenue stream. Their content is very visually engaging and they’ve built an active community around recipes and cooking tips featuring their own products. The site acts acts as a hub for their social channels; they even cross-promote their other brands in ads on the site. This is just one of many sites General Mills owns, with such high quality visual content that they sell their own stock photography.

Your content has to be customer-centric and according to Lee, that’s what’s missing in brand content strategies. We have to know how people discover, consume and act on content. It’s about what your audience wants to hear, not what you want to say.

It’s Not Just About Customers

This is where creativity is essential, Lee said. Yes, you need to find out what customers want and give it to them. However, you also need to take a leadership position and show people things they may not have even thought of before. As Henry Ford said, “If I listened to my customers, we’d still be riding horses.”

Search is based on demand existing, identifying that demand and answering it with content. Content marketing is about demand creation – creating something so interesting people didn’t even know they were looking for it. Lee shared his winning content marketing formula:

  1. Brand leadership
  2. Customer empathy
  3. Storytelling & Creativity

Each aspect is critical; any two together may result in good content, but you need your content to be great, especially in competitive industries. He recommends the Optimize 360 model to help marketers understand and always keep in mind the importance of optimizing for attraction, engagement and conversion.

TopRank - Optimize across the lifecycle

Further, marketers need to optimize across the lifecycle of each piece of content to get maximum value from their content marketing investments. Lee shared 5 sources of inspiration to help marketers get their content creative on.

5 Creative Content Sourcing Ideas

1. Visualize trends to get a bigger picture look at your keywords and be inspired. Try semrush.com to see what competitors are showing up for organically, Google Keywords to see how often people search on a particular phrase. Or you might try the following:

  • Use Majestic SEO anchor text to see what you (or your competitors) get the best links from.
  • Do a search on socialmention.com and export a list of the words that are most often associated with your keywords.
  • Try ubersuggest.com, which will scrape the autosuggestions from Google Search, News and even Recipes alphabetically and across multiple languages.

Now plug your list of keywords into Wordle.net to see a visualization of your topic.

2. Use your own site. Do you have an internal search engine? See which queries prompt people to search again and create content around that topic. Or, when people fill out forms on your site, analyze the content for word frequency. For example, your contact form may have an open text field; analyze that to surface ideas for content. See which question-oriented queries are actually driving traffic to your site. Don’t forget to check your Google Webmaster Tools as well.

3. Frontline staff. Talk to your salespeople. What kinds of questions are people asking them? Can they bcc your content team when they respond to interesting questions via email? The content team could then anonymize and rewrite it into a blog post.

4. Become a publisher. Review planned stories in editorial calendars to get inspired. Watch how magazines structure content; they may have short and long form content, recurring features, monthly or weekly themes, etc. Think like a newspaper publisher and be objective. Work on your storytelling skills by modeling your content after TV shows – what are they doing to make their content interesting and how can you emulate that?

5. Know your customer journey. Understand your customer buying cycle and create content to meet the information needs of your consumer as they go through the buying cycle.
Lee also recommends 4 different types of content for a diverse, engaging content mix:

  • Repurposed
  • Cocreated
  • Evergreen
  • Curated

See an explanation and examples of each in his 4 Types of Killer Content post. Lee also offered a sample content plan template, to help marketers get organized and track the successes of each of their content efforts.

The content marketing opportunity is massive. Do you have a plan in place to attract, engage and convert your audience with high quality content?


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The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce: Google & Mel Carson on Social ROI at #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/social-commerce-secrets/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/social-commerce-secrets/#comments Thu, 28 Mar 2013 11:00:37 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15028 In advance of their SES New York session on social commerce, I wanted to see what tips and tricks moderator Mel Carson and speaker Deitra Mara could share with our readers. At 9:30 am March 28th, the two will join Tami Dalley from Salesforce to present Social Media Meet ROI: The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce. Carson and Mara [...]

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Secrets to Driving Social CommerceIn advance of their SES New York session on social commerce, I wanted to see what tips and tricks moderator Mel Carson and speaker Deitra Mara could share with our readers. At 9:30 am March 28th, the two will join Tami Dalley from Salesforce to present Social Media Meet ROI: The Secrets to Driving Social Commerce.

Carson and Mara graciously participated in interviews prior to their session, to share their experience and advice with marketers looking to improve their social media channel awareness, content creation and social ROI.

Carson, formerly of Microsoft, is the founder of social, PR and personal branding consultancy Delightful Communications. As moderator, he’ll have his hands full with the two powerhouse speakers.  Carson told us, “I’d encourage anyone to come to see two very powerful women in the industry speak. Deitra and Tami bring a lot of insight into different tools and products, best practices and disciplines on how to prove the ROI in social media commerce exists and how to get more of it.”

Deitra Mara, GoogleMara is Google’s Head of Social Solutions for North America. She started at Google in 2003 as a Creative Maximizer, working with advertisers to improve their ad performance primarily via keyword, ad text & campaign optimization.  Over the next nine years, Mara’s experience across Google ranged from Vertical Sales & Operations to her role as a Search Lead, where she worked on global knowledge sharing & broader search adoption programs.  She kicked off 2012 by moving into her current role, in which Mara helps brands to get the most out of Google+.

Understanding the Social Data Available to You

One of the features of the platform she’ll speak to in her session is Ripples, with reporting that creates a visual representation of the way post content has been publicly shared across the Google+ ecosystem. Circle size is commensurate with the impact of an individuals share, she explained, so if an individual has a large circle, their share has a larger impact than the share by an individual with a smaller circle.

Mara explained to us why this feature is significant for brands looking to improve their social ROI: “These Ripple reports are available for any post that has had public shares, so a brand that’s monitoring these reports will begin to see if there are particular individuals that are consistently sharing their content & doing so with a significant impact.  These individuals are likely brand advocates & savvy brands are beginning to put them into their own circle so that they can then message to them directly or invite them to virtual focus groups via Hangout, etc.”

See this example for a Ford post with a significant public share by Gabriel Vasile:

Google Ripples

Insights like these, especially presented in a visual and easy to digest format, are valuable for marketers, said Carson. When asked what he feels is the greatest untapped opportunity for marketers today, Carson told us, “Just the sheer wealth of big data that is out there, that we’re not tapping into as comfortably as we have done with search metrics. It will come though. It’s great to see social platforms like Pinterest, Google and Twitter getting more serious about providing richer analytics and targeting options.”

The Integration of Search & Social – Each Has Unique Value; Together They’re Better

Social annotations are another of Google’s tools that marketers should absolutely take advantage of, according to Mara. Advertisers who enable social annotations on their search ads see an average CTR increase of 5-10%, she said, with some advertisers reporting significantly greater impact.

H&M, as an example, reported +22% CTR increase, while Interflora reported +31% CTR increase using social annotations, according to Mara. “We’re seeing the impact of social endorsement on conversions, as well,” she said. “Recent Compete studies indicate a 91% lift in conversion rate on auto sites for unbranded auto terms when social annotations are present on ads – ie.: locating a dealer, requesting a quote, building your own model, etc.”

Google social annotations

Integrating your search and social efforts is key, said Mara. “We certainly wouldn’t say that search or social is more important than the other, as each has it’s unique value independent of the other,” she explained.  “The integration of the two is where we see savvy marketers really benefiting, because it’s a better experience for consumers.”

As a consumer, she said, “I want to see the recommendations of my friends & family as I search, I want to see more information from brands that I like, and I want those preferences integrated seamlessly into my search experience.”  Based on the CTR & CNV impact of social annotations, they know that consumers find the integration valuable and that they’re delivering an improved search experience.

Moving Toward More Accurate Social ROI Measurement

To help make brand content more discoverable, Mara recommends that brands first create and verify their Google+ Page, so that Google knows it’s the official page for the brand.  “Then, begin posting engaging content & begin growing your following,” she advised. “We’ll do the rest, working to surface your content to users when they search for your brand on Google.com, highlighting brand endorsements in annotations & promoting particularly relevant posts to your followers when they search for terms specific to your post content.”

Marketers are closer to understanding the value of social and accurately measuring ROI, Carson said. “We’re catching up for two reasons: One, we’re getting better at translating what the data is telling us into words and wisdom that CMOs and non-digital purse string holders can understand,” he explained.

Secondly, said Carson, “…it’s a bit of a moving target (as most things are in the digital industry) as new platforms come onto the scene and others move the goal posts.” There is no doubt there is enormous value in having social media – or real-time digital response mechanisms – as part of the marketing mix, as participants will learn in this session at SES.

Do you have your social ROI down pat, or are there areas you could stand to improve? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments.

Image from Shutterstock.com.


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Real-Time Marketing Tips from Twitter’s Joel Lunenfeld at #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/real-time-marketing-tips-twitter/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/real-time-marketing-tips-twitter/#comments Wed, 27 Mar 2013 18:07:59 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15024 “We’re moving from a world where we plan campaigns for the future, to one where we adapt campaigns to the moment.” – Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s VP of Global Brand Strategy and the keynote speaker this morning at SES New York. Lunenfeld shared his vast experience and insight in real-time marketing in Optimizing Second Screen Engagement: [...]

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Twitter's Joel Lunenfeld“We’re moving from a world where we plan campaigns for the future, to one where we adapt campaigns to the moment.” – Joel Lunenfeld, Twitter’s VP of Global Brand Strategy and the keynote speaker this morning at SES New York.

Lunenfeld shared his vast experience and insight in real-time marketing in Optimizing Second Screen Engagement: Trends, Data & Insights. Mobile has certainly changed the way people find, consume and engage with information. Twitter came of age with the right tools, at just the right time, to answer the need for a real-time communication platform.

Now, said Lunenfeld, 85 percent of users say the phone is their primary way to access Twitter and the average mobile user follows 11 brands. Every 2.5 days, there are a billion tweets sent and over the past year, the amount of Twitter users has doubled.

Brands see the opportunity to connect with consumers in real-time via Twitter, yet many are still falling down when it comes to actually doing so in practice. Oreo’s infamous Super Bowl tweet made clear the possibilities when brands think on their feet and are poised to react quickly. Yet one recent study shows that only 29 percent of retailers with Twitter accounts actually respond to customer questions and complaints.

Here are a few tips from Lunenfeld’s keynote to help brands better connect with consumers in real time:

Plan ahead to react to and win the moment.

You can’t plan real-time content, but you can put yourself and your team in the best position to react quickly to opportunistic situations. This means having the people and policies in place to allow for creativity, taking calculated risks, production or design and publishing all in rapid succession. This is a challenge for brands, yet the potential payoff is huge.

Integrate Twitter by designing ads with hashtags.

Designing ads for Twitter by using hashtags helps brands increase the conversation. For example, SuperBowl commercials  with hashtags averaged 1.6 times more Twitter engagement than those without. Brands can take that one-way message that is a television commercial and make it the beginning of a two-way conversation by pointing people to Twitter.

Use Promoted Tweets and other Twitter Ad products to increase your reach.

Twitter Ads help brands take their social presence to the next level. Promoted Tweets increase brand favorability by 30 percent and purchase intent by 53 percent, according to Lunenfeld. Try Promoted Tweets, Accounts or Trends to get your brand in front of a greater – and relevant – audience.

Be part of the conversation.

Once you’ve gone to the work of getting users active and engaged, don’t leave them hanging. Being part of an amazing conversation can actually create your Twitter campaign, Lunenfeld pointed out. Being there and active in the space allows marketers to see opportunities and react quickly.

Social listening and monitoring tools are great for drawing insights from your social community, but they don’t replace an active brand presence. If you want to kill it in real-time marketing, you have to be there… in real time. It sounds simple, yet brands have built-in obstacles to overcome by way of corporate policies, lack of buy-in across the organization, legal or other concerns. The opportunity to grow as a truly social brand with Twitter for real-time engagement is there. Is your company keeping up or falling behind?

 


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A to Z Tips for Improved B2B Digital Marketing ROI #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/a-to-z-tips-for-improved-digital-marketing-roi-from-ses-new-york/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/a-to-z-tips-for-improved-digital-marketing-roi-from-ses-new-york/#comments Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15021 In Driving ROI Across B2B Marketing Strategies at SES New York yesterday, Maura Ginty from Autodesk aimed to teach marketers the context of B2B digital, alongside the principles of B2B marketing. In sharing her A to Z tips on B2B ROI improvements, Ginty gave marketers 26 great takeaways to help prove and build the value [...]

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Maura Ginty and Laura Roth on B2B Marketing ROIIn Driving ROI Across B2B Marketing Strategies at SES New York yesterday, Maura Ginty from Autodesk aimed to teach marketers the context of B2B digital, alongside the principles of B2B marketing. In sharing her A to Z tips on B2B ROI improvements, Ginty gave marketers 26 great takeaways to help prove and build the value of their digital marketing strategy.

With host Laura Roth, Senior Conference Manager, SES Conference & Expo on hand to guide the conversation and Lauren Vaccarello, Senior Director of Online Marketing, Salesforce.com at our digital disposal (she was tweeting in to the session), there was a lot to be learned from these experienced marketers.

A- Audience. You have to be able to reach the right audience members with the right message, at the right time.

B- Brand. Consumers want to make the safe choice, especially for bigger purchases. People want to go with the most trusted version, though the economy has opened the doors wider for competition on price. You want to be there when consumers go in search of information; building brand awareness is critical.

C- Content. Look for different ROI in different areas; tailor your content to the right person in the right place. Don’t make the mistake of thinking content is something fluffy or ineffective; test conversion using different content and landing pages, even edited content and not, and you’ll see a difference that translates directly to ROI.

D- Data and CRM. We live in a Big Data world, but what are we going to do with any of it? We have lots of numbers at our disposal, but we’re looking at all these numbers we’re not going to do anything with. B2B marketers need to set value goals for each action and know what to measure in order to achieve those goals. The first thing you should be doing as B2B marketers is integrating analytics with your CRM so you know how to approach your account holistically.

E- Enablement. Your job as a marketer is to make sure your consumer has the right content in the right context. You need to know where the responsibility lies for drops in revenue, whether marketing or sales are dropping the ball and how to identify and correct the issue.

F- Forecasting. You aren’t going to do anyone any favors by aiming too low or high, so forecasting must be realistic. We have access to tools and data in digital marketing that make this far easier.

G- Goals. You can’t discuss ROI with executives if you aren’t looking at the same goals. If you don’t know what your goals are, you have even bigger problems! Goals must be manageable, specific and measurable, then align with your data.

H- Hippo. How do you deal with someone who wants ROI but is still disruptive? Put tests together to show based on fact and not opinion the course of action. Numbers don’t lie.

I- Innovation. Mobile is one of the leading innovations in digital marketing. Stay ahead of innovations and trends and always be testing to find opportunities to improve ROI.

J- Justification. We’re all trying to defend our budgets, constantly. Marketers need to understand how to prove their justification over time and also at any given point in time.

K- Know Your Customers. We can get incredibly specific now, whether we’re targeting by geography, profession, behavior or some other signal.

L- Lead Automation & Nurturing. This is important from the data side, but also in terms of segmentation and content. Who are these people and what are they thinking? How do we know whether they’re hot, medium or cold leads? You need to know their propensity to purchase to keep your CRM clean, then construct different ways of reaching out to them and using content to meet their needs.

M- Multi-touch Marketing. There may be quite a few factors contributing to a purchasing decision. How do budget cuts impact revenue downstream, or revenue from other channels? Marketers need to understand the influence of each channel and tactic as part of their consumer’s decision-making process.

N- No. Learn how to say it! You can’t be everything to everyone, and marketers need to know how to justify not taking certain directions when they can prove their position on the issue.

O- Organic. How do you treat your copy and construct your links? How is your site architecture? You need that current stable underneath to navigate the choppy waters of the online marketing world.

P- Paid. Whenever you can show an increase in conversion, you’ve shown an increase in ROI. Paid complements your organic strategies and allows for retargeting.

Q- Questions. Ginty encouraged the audience to ask questions, not only here but in their day to day work. Seek out answers. Try to find alternate perspectives and see if this can help you develop new tactics to improve your ROI and better meet your goals.

R- Retargeting. It has a bit of a bad rap, but the good thing about retargeting is that you can cap it and control how aggressively you pursue and target your audience. Retargeting is one of the best ROI tools Ginty has seen in a long time, she noted, with up to 19 to 1 ROI.

S- Social. Social advertising, monitoring, content and analytics are all critical components of a social media marketing campaign designed for lead gen or sales. Consider location and context when promoting content through social – or creating content for social. Use tools to help you identify where the conversations you need to be a part of are happening in order to reduce the workload and improve your ROI.

T- Trust and Loyalty. The number one thing you have to do is maintain trust. It’s so easy to break customer trust and takes time to rebuild. Checklists are a great way to ensure that you are executing your strategy flawlessly, to ensure a great experience for every customer.

U- Unaided and aided awareness. You can present unaided and aided awareness tests in paid search and organic search very easily. How does each perform against the other?

V- Video. It’s become the unexpected hero of the mobile universe, but video is also making email marketing more engaging and effective. Anytime you can assist a consumer in learning what they want or need to know faster and more easily, you win. Video still needs to be optimized and quality is going to become more and more important.

W- Web optimization. You can test just about anything in the design phase, but need to think seriously about how you’re constructing your tests and accounting for variables. If you don’t have a hypothesis, go back and start over.

X- Xena. Be strong and powerful – this was the best Ginty (and I) could do with the letter X. She asked us to try, giving us only Xena as the theme. We say, go forth strong and proud into the world, young marketer. That’s all I’ve got.

Y- You. Understand the choices you can make, and those you have no control over. Know your limits, skill set, opportunities, tools, budget, etc and this will point you to new opportunities to improve your ROI.

Z- Zimbabwe. Reward yourself by sharing your knowledge. Write a book. Start a blog. Make videos. These are all personal brand building opportunities that can also be monetized; your own experience may become part of your ROI. Once your systems and checks and balances are in place, you can reward yourself with trips to cool places like Zimbabwe (as Ginty has done) or whatever else it is you love outside of marketing.

B2B is a very different animal; the time to purchase can range over quite a long period of time. Use these tips from Maura Ginty and stay tuned to Online Marketing Blog and the TopRank Twitter channel for more great online marketing insights from SES New York and beyond.


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Mobile Marketing Tips from Google, ESPN & Medialets: Connect with Your Audience on the Go http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/mobile-marketing-panel-sesny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/mobile-marketing-panel-sesny/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 20:17:05 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15019 The afternoon of Day One at SES New York featured a high-level mobile marketing panel  hosted byDana Todd, SVP of Global Marketing at Performics.  Michael Bayle, Senior VP and General Manager at ESPN Mobile, Eric Litman, Chairman & CEO at Medialets and Brendon Kraham, Head of Global Mobile Sales and Product Strategy at Google shared the [...]

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SES New York Mobile MarketingThe afternoon of Day One at SES New York featured a high-level mobile marketing panel  hosted byDana Todd, SVP of Global Marketing at Performics.  Michael Bayle, Senior VP and General Manager at ESPN Mobile, Eric Litman, Chairman & CEO at Medialets and Brendon Kraham, Head of Global Mobile Sales and Product Strategy at Google shared the stage and their extensive knowledge on the current and coming states of mobile marketing.

The following is a collection of mobile marketing tips and takeaways based on today’s presentation, plus liveblog selection from the panel. Note that this is not a verbatim transcript, but the highlights from the panel discussion.

Mobile Marketing Tips & Takeaways from Google, ESPN & Medialets:

  • The opportunities in mobile are huge and the future is exciting, but marketers need to get their basics down first. We have a long way to go to get compliant with today’s standards before worrying about what’s on the horizon.
  • Responsive design and mobile apps are both necessary, serve different functions, and are not interchangeable or competitive.
  • Think through what it is the consumer wants to do on the device and ensure your content and systems support your efforts in providing that.
  • Don’t get wrapped up in being a mobile company; think from the perspective of a mobile consumer.
  • Marketers need to come together and establish a standard set of metrics and a taxonomy if we’re to move forward with more accurate measurement.
  • Consider cross-device tracking and sequential usage; focus on ways to more accurately measure the effects of each.
  • Engagement can be an incredibly important metric; learn how to measure its effect and capitalize on your real-time audience.

Connecting with Your Mobile Audience: Highlights

Dana Todd: What is the biggest challenge in mobile and what is the greatest opportunity?

Brendon Kraham: ESPN reaches close to 60 million unique users monthly, 35 million of those on mobile. 20 million access them exclusively on mobile. They see the opportunity for partners who have succeeded on broadcast and print to succeed in mobile and digital, as well. Challenges are, the way that we measure, though that’s not anything we can’t overcome eventually.

Michael Bayle: Marketers that dive in, do it early, test and develop a strategy are going to win. We see this time and again; those who embrace the opportunity have a chance to get in early and build brands for themselves. There is an opportunity for brand preference to change through the experience in mobile.

Dana Todd: What are the challenges and opportunities for early adopters?

Eric Litman: There are audience goals that need to be obtained across a number of channels, and the number of those channels is ever increasing. People are putting more and more time into consuming and even creating media via mobile as their attention spans grow shorter and shorter. The lack of components for global organizations go across the entire organization: ensuring consistency across the organization, proper budget allotment, etc. You have these thoughtful marketers who are trying to close the gaps who are up against technology that might not be ready for the space and time, or other organizational challenges.

Dana Todd: We know people are using multiple screens, but we don’t know quite how they’re using them yet. Can you describe some best practices on the technical challenges in measurement?

Brendon Kraham: One example is in search; when you’re looking to use a marketing campaign to effectively distribute a download, for example, you can measure that investment to see whether it was actually effective or not. In video, the display doesn’t really look all that much different on different devices. Where you do see the differences are in interactivity. It might not make sense to drive people to mobile if you’re actually getting interactions in the ad itself.

Eric Litman: Reach and frequency are the fundamentals, yet they’re really not well done yet. People are measuring all these different things and what you end up with are these frustrated teams who want to do more, but are challenged constantly. Smart marketers need to push through this and overcome the measurement challenges. Audiences are moving to mobile faster than brands are able to fulfill their reach statistics on the platforms.

Brendon Kraham: We generally see three types of concerns over mobile.

  1. Upper funnel brand stuff – building interactive formats.
  2. Application download – it’s very direct response perspective and is unique to mobile, thanks to the prevalence of app downloads.
  3. The attribution model for mobile is unique and different. We can convert in different fashions. Marketers are looking at, how many conversions happen on the device itself? Yet with mobile, we have to think of the different paths to purchase.

Do you track and measure the effect across these different paths? We have to consider cross-device tracking and sequential usage – where someone starts a transaction on one device and completes it on another. You also have transactions in physical stores that were influenced by mobile and some way. HowToGoMo/fullvaluemobile is a new Google initiative to help marketers make more informed marketing decisions.

Dana Todd: In television, we’re okay with reach and frequency as metrics. Why are we all so uncomfortable in digital with a pretty good approximator that we model on?

Eric Litman: There’s a tremendous amount more data available about people now. Think of how many cameras you passed on the way to work or here today. Think of your social activity, your credit card transactions.

Dana Todd: How are media buyers approaching the media space?

Michael Bayle: On weekends, during NFL, we might see upwards of 350,000 fans engaged at any given minute. Let’s think about it: we don’t even carry those games. Social media has made this engaged audience metric so compelling, because you can’t go watch a sports game anymore at a later time without already knowing the score. Those people who are tuned in, in real-time, are incredibly important.

Dana Todd: How are companies thinking through convergence events such as live events, or in-store purchases? How are people planning for that as a crossover pathway?

Michael Bayle: Mobile commerce emulates digital commerce; 10% of e-commerce transactions now happen on a mobile phone. Then you have the secondary issue of mobile payments. These are opportunities to remove friction in transactions, but what’s interesting is the ability to bridge the gap between the online world and the real world. The days of actually buying that magazine or tictacs at the checkout counter are long gone. Mobile commerce is the number one area of exploitation in mobile.

Dana Todd: Google has made huge investments in Android and other areas; how is Google thinking of mobile and the connected experience?

Brendon Kraham: Consumers are on four screens; the simplest version of that is making sure the experience flows across the four screens. Responsive design is your absolute basic, low-hanging fruit; you need to make sure your audience can see your content, that it renders for their device. Marketers need to be present in front of the devices of their audience and the system should work more seamlessly to ensure the flow of that interaction and experience. Understand the behavior that is happening, comes to terms with it, and plan around it. Build a strategy around the behaviors we all exhibit using connected devices.

Dana Todd: Eric, talk to us about frictionless buying.

Eric Litman: It’s a huge opportunity for marketers to get right in terms of complexity. Marketers need to figure out how to allocate budget between those different screens and channels and it’s incredibly complex. We’re not that far from a world where companies like Google and others start to think of data from different channels as an output rather than an input. We’re getting closer to more responsive ads. Yet we can’t even agree in digital right now what an impression is, so as excited as I get about building the technology to do this stuff, it’s going to take a while for the market to get there. If you have a really smart, forward-thinking media team, they should absolutely lead this process. Or maybe it’s your creative team, go with whoever can get the job done.

Dana Todd: Mobile is unique; it’s where search was 15 years old. It’s completely different and requires a very specific technical set.

Michael Bayle: Agencies and companies just don’t have the talent yet. You have a double-edged sword; we have search specialists, mobile specialists – they know the topic from a technical standpoint and need to work with others to achieve what we need to do.

Dana Todd: Is there going to be something beyond HTML5? Are apps dying? Do we still continue to approach an apps strategy as well as responsive design for mobile?

Michael Bayle: At ESPN, we’re 50% audience each on mobile web and apps. You’re never going to have convergence between apps and mobile web, so you build both. Look at the Starbucks app, where they’re actually pulling out their app to pay, rather than using a credit card or cash. Apps can do more than mobile web can; you almost have to invest in an app, like you had to invest in a website 10 years ago.

Tune in to Online Marketing Blog and follow TopRank on Twitter for more tips, tricks and advice from SES New York 2013. Share your mobile marketing questions or comments below!


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Building the B2B Social Media Machine with Adriel Sanchez and Jasmine Sandler at #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/b2b-social-machine-sesny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/b2b-social-machine-sesny/#comments Tue, 26 Mar 2013 15:17:28 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15016 Social media marketing for B2B brands requires creativity, scalability and buy-in across the organization. Just after the Tuesday morning keynote at SES New York, Adriel Sanchez, Senior Director of Demand Generation at SAP and Jasmine Sandler, CEO at Agent-cy, shared with attendees a framework for building a B2B social media machine in their session led by TopRank Online [...]

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Lee Odden, Adriel Sanchez and Jasmine SandlerSocial media marketing for B2B brands requires creativity, scalability and buy-in across the organization. Just after the Tuesday morning keynote at SES New York, Adriel Sanchez, Senior Director of Demand Generation at SAP and Jasmine Sandler, CEO at Agent-cy, shared with attendees a framework for building a B2B social media machine in their session led by TopRank Online Marketing CEO Lee Odden.

Social media management changes constantly, Sandler reminded participants as she took the stage. The opportunity for B2B brands continues to grow; one-to-one conversations are happening across social platforms, blogs, forums, and elsewhere across the web.

Companies need to first understand the social media landscape – where are we today. where are we going, who is already here? If you’re into social media, you need to have a global perspective, Sandler said. Marketers must be thinking of social and its relationship with:

  • search marketing
  • mobile
  • content

Your social strategy has to be integrated with search and Google has made sure of this by stressing authorship, she noted. Original content that is relevant to your brand is crucial; marketers must invest in contributors and writers who have your brand voice and story in hand. Optimized content, such as properly tagged videos or images, or optimized written blog posts, drive social signals back to search.

Building a Scalable Social Presence

The first critical step is a social audit, Sandler advises. Companies need to understand their current positioning and that of their competitors. What assets do you already have? Which properties are you employees and customers involved in?

Next, companies need to align their social team. Having a plan and resources, then knowing where to put them and measure their success is critical. Organizations should have an editorial team and Social Media Manager, who get sales involved, ensure executive buy-in, and help hold all team members in the organization accountable for their involvement in social.

Sandler recommends that marketers have a deep understanding of what they are trying to accomplish as a social brand. Engagement, data mining and market research all work together to help brands understand how effective their efforts are in servicing customers, acquiring leads, driving sales and improving targeting.

You have to be able to measure your success, she reminded attendees. Many still struggle with this aspect of B2B social, but goal-setting and analysis is crucial.

Once you have set goals and have a plan, content planning is the next big step. “No B2B brand will survive in social without a content plan,” said Sandler. Think about your content in terms of themes to plan content around interesting, engaging and fun topics. Use a calendar to track upcoming themes and specific pieces of content.

Email marketing plays an important role and goes hand-in-hand with social, Sandler noted. At all points in social engagement, you want to think about email capture and opt-in.

Companies need to look outside their own social presence to understand where they sit in the larger social ecosystem. Where do you sit amongst competitors? Who does your brand influence and who influences your brand?

The SAP Experience in Building the Social Media Machine

Adriel Sanchez heads up SAP’s Latin America demand generation in social and shared his team’s experience in building a scalable social presence across platforms.

SAP has a vibrant, active online community with great engagement, but it wasn’t always this way. Just a year ago, they had no content framework, no centralized governance, and no clear strategy on community management.

SAP first thought a lot about their objectives and what, exactly, they wanted to accomplish with their social presence. Their social objectives had to tie directly to what they wanted to accomplish as a business.

When it came time to hire someone to head up their social strategy, they looked for a journalist. Sanchez said it’s critical that organizations hire a content person, not a social person. Social tools and platforms can be learned.

The mission that informs their content and social media marketing strategies dictates that their marketers not think of social in terms of a tool that helps salespeople sell. Rather, social is meant to help customers buy. This is a critical distinction, said Sanchez.

SAP established guidelines to help ensure a good content mix without overt self-promotion. They use:

  • 90% helpful content
  • 10% offers

On measurement, Sanchez notes that metrics must vary by funnel stage. No one has quite figured out ROI in B2B social media yet, he noted, but marketers need to try. This doesn’t mean attaching a dollar value to a social channel. As Einstein said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”

A company as large as SAP needed a workable infrastructure in place in order to scale their social presence. They worked with an agency on monitoring, content, reporting and community management. Internal subject matter experts are still critical.

Social is a paradigm shift in the organization and belongs to everyone, but you need clear processes and guidelines in order to be successful, Sanchez said. Governance, transparence and processes are key.

>Once your organization has a scalable social plan in place, it’s time to listen, learn and adapt, said Sanchez.

Tool Recommendations

Social monitoring and management tools will enable brands not only to see what is happening around them, but to take action in real-time. A few of the recommended tools from today’s session included:

One audience member asked a question of the panel: how can non-profits possibly keep up with the amount of work required to do social at scale, given their limited time and budget? Sanchez and Sandler pointed out that many tools have a free version or a very inexpensive monthly fee. The more expensive paid tools are fantastic, but may not make sense for non-profits. There are still solutions within their reach.

What challenges have you faced in your organization as you’ve tried to scale your social efforts? Share your tips or questions in the comments!


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Maximizing Twitter and Facebook Ads for Lead Gen, Engagement & ROI at #SESNY http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/twitter-facebook-ads-sesny/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/twitter-facebook-ads-sesny/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 11:00:49 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=15008 Recent changes to social ad platforms mean marketers may have a bit of catching up to do in the social advertising arena. Twitter recently launched their new advertising API, allowing marketers to work with Ads API Partners to manage Promoted Products and Accounts ads; eMarketer expects Twitter ad revenue to grow to over $800 million [...]

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SES New York 2013Recent changes to social ad platforms mean marketers may have a bit of catching up to do in the social advertising arena. Twitter recently launched their new advertising API, allowing marketers to work with Ads API Partners to manage Promoted Products and Accounts ads; eMarketer expects Twitter ad revenue to grow to over $800 million by 2014, to account for 12.7% of all social network ad revenues.

Meanwhile, Facebook doubled their mobile ad revenue YoY in Q4 2012. Their emphasis on mobile, added capability for targeting based on web browsing history and the debate over ROI have even seasoned marketers on the lookout for advanced ad optimization and performance advice. The opportunity for lead gen and customer acquisition through paid social is massive, with proper planning, quality content and great optimization.

Optimal Social Ads Performance Requires Advanced Platform & Campaign Knowledge

Tomorrow morning at SES New York, marketers Tal Baron and Jennifer Wong will take attendees on a deep dive into Facebook and Twitter ads in their 11:45am session moderated by TopRank Online Marketing’s Miranda Miller.

Tal Baron SES New York

Baron is the Client Services Social Lead at DataXu, which utilizes real time bidding across many digital advertising channels including online, video, mobile and social. His presentation on best practices for FBX and Facebook Marketplace ads is a can’t-miss, with tactical goal-setting, KPI and optimization advice backed by case studies and his own extensive experience. Baron’s company has been with FBX since the beginning; that, with his previous experience with one of Facebook’s API partners who executed Facebook marketplace ad campaigns for Jaguar, Volvo, Choice Hotels, Philips, and Green Mountain Coffee, among others, makes his insight particularly valuable.

Jennifer Wong SES New YorkWong is a marketer I’ve personally followed for some time and had featured previously in a social advertising best practices article. Now leading Marketing at HasOffers, Wong will share her extensive experience in an advanced Twitter Ads optimization presentation. She will discuss actionable tactics such as the planning process to ensure a successful output: defining goals and KPIs, content and offer alignment, seamless user flow that leads to the end goal and ensuring sales is attributed to the social media efforts.

“Research has shown that that the half-life of a tweet is approximately four minutes. That means the majority of the clicks a tweet is going to get is in the first four minutes after it is tweeted. With that statistic, it’s not very likely that one of your tweets is going to be seen by your Twitter followers,” Wong told us at TopRank. Twitter Ads can be an effective way to get your tweets (and offers) seen by a greater audience on Twitter, she advised. Her tips and recommended tactics will also be validated with results from experiments she has  conducted in the past 18 months, using Twitter Ads for demand generation.

I asked each of these speakers a series of questions to give the audience a sneak peek into their SES New York presentations. Here are all the great pieces of advice and tips they had to share.

What opportunity are marketers currently missing on Twitter or Facebook and how can they maximize their efforts there?

Baron points to the wealth of data available to Facebook marketers as an area of opportunity to enhance ROI and social content. “Facebook provides a lot of insights that advertisers can leverage both in and out of the Facebook environment. Page insights were really enhanced in 2012 to provide rich data about fans and post engagement,” he said. He believes marketers can do a better job at leveraging page post insights to influence both organic page post strategy and paid, by promoting the most engaging content.

Wong told us that there needn’t be confusion around the value of social ads as part of an integrated marketing strategy.  “Social advertising is starting to mature as a predictable marketing tactic to add to your marketing program, as long as you approach it in a smart way and are able to measure your success,” she said, pointing out that Twitter ads can be use for branding and awareness, demand generation or even customer acquisition. “Users are becoming more acceptable of social advertising as long as marketers are doing it right,” Wong added.

What should marketers know about the changes Facebook recently made to their newsfeed?

There are three main areas of opportunity for marketers to focus on based on these changes, according to Baron:

  1. Different news feeds for different activities (friends, organizations, pictures, music will most likely create additional, more targeted inventory for advertisers.  In a similar move, Facebook recently provided a way to target certain sub-domains of the site such as homepage, profile page, photos page etc. through FBX. We have been testing various pockets of inventory and have found some interesting results.
  2. Larger photos for posts will provide an opportunity for larger and more visually appealing ads, which is a plus to advertisers looking for new ways to engage with the Facebook audience.
  3. A more consistent user experience between desktop and mobile. With so many users accessing Facebook through mobile and tablet devices, Facebook wants to create a consistent experience across screens for users as well as advertisers.

Why should a brand pay for advertising on Twitter if they already have a good organic strategy? 

Wong advised that marketers who already have an organic social media marketing strategy that involves Twitter have a great opportunity to lift the success of all campaigns with Twitter Ads. “Adding a layer of paid advertising can help you reach your goals faster and test new campaigns,” she said.

“The biggest benefits I’ve found from using Twitter ads are the flexibility and speed of creating campaigns. Marketing is all about sending the right message, to the right people, at the right time. With Twitter advertising, marketers can do just that – launch campaigns targeted at the right people with the right message in real time.”

Where does FBX fit in the sales funnel?

FBX can fit anywhere in the sales funnel, depending on advertising objectives, according to Baron. “For the top of the funnel, FBX can extend campaign reach by efficiently finding unique users in 3rd party data segments that advertisers are trying to reach to raise awareness for their products or services,” he pointed out.

In Baron’s experience, the most common place to utilize FBX is direct response campaigns – think lead generation for the middle and online sales for the bottom of the funnel.

What are a few of your favorite Twitter tools and why do you prefer them?

Surprisingly, Wong is pretty traditional with the Twitter tools she uses. “I’m fascinated by savvy uses of technology that add value to social marketing, but I honestly don’t have time to try out every hot new Twitter-tool-of-the-week,” she said.  Wong prefers tools in the form of a software suite designed to help streamline the process of social media management, execution, and reporting.

She noted, “I like using Hootsuite to plan out social marketing campaigns across multiple handles and channels. You can also easily learn more about your audience It’s also a great publishing tool for teams that collaborate on the content and management of social media.”

Tune in to the TopRank Social Community for SES New York Coverage

Keep your eyes and ears tuned to Online Marketing Blog for coverage of the greatest tips, tactics and strategy coming out of SES New York, March 25th to 28th. Follow TopRank on Twitter for live highlights and commentary. And if you’re heading to New York, grab your copy of Optimize to have it signed!

Image from sxc.hu


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© Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®, 2013. | Maximizing Twitter and Facebook Ads for Lead Gen, Engagement & ROI at #SESNY | http://www.toprankblog.com

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SES New York – 3 Big Reasons to Go 360 Degrees with Your Online Marketing in 2013 http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/ses-new-york-2013360/ http://www.toprankblog.com/2013/03/ses-new-york-2013360/#comments Mon, 04 Mar 2013 14:56:30 +0000 http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=14915 SES New York is coming up in just a few weeks and I really can’t wait.  New York is easily one of my favorite cities in the world and I’m looking forward to joining thousands of marketers who feel the same March 25-28. Today’s online marketing draws us in many directions and with the ever [...]

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SES New YorkSES New York is coming up in just a few weeks and I really can’t wait.  New York is easily one of my favorite cities in the world and I’m looking forward to joining thousands of marketers who feel the same March 25-28.

Today’s online marketing draws us in many directions and with the ever changing landscape of search, social media and technology, the demands on marketers to view their world from 360 degrees is more important now than ever.

At this year’s SES New York event, I’ll be giving a brand new presentation, Creative Content Marketing: Winning the Hearts, Minds and Wallets of Today’s Distracted Consumer on Thursday March 28th at 9:30am, which digs down into why, for who and how of tapping into ongoing creative ideas for content marketing that actually works.

I beta-tested this session at SES London to great reviews and it was liveblogged by Linkdex and Search Engine Watch if you’d like a preview.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to content at SES New York. Beyond the essential topics of search, social media, analytics, content and email marketing, there are 13 brand new sessions overall.

I’ve been attending SES New York since 2007 and it has been an interesting evolution of content. Back then, the singular focus was search, analytics and a hint of social. With the 2013 show, the opening keynote tells the tale of a modern, integrated approach: Social TV: How Marketers Can Reach and Engage Audiences by Connecting Television to the Web, Social Media, and Mobile.

Whether you’re a small business or an enterprise doing business globally, there will be subject matter experts at this event offering practical, actionable advice that you can put to use as soon as you get back to the office.  I have an interest in advocating for SES New York since we’ve been a media sponsor for the past 5+ years, I’ve been attending or speaking for longer and I’ve been on the advisory board for 4 years as well. But there’s more than that with this event, so I’ll share a few more compelling reasons why I think SES New York is worth your attention and attendance.

1. 360 Degrees of Marketing Content

SES New York is one of the largest digital marketing conferences in the U.S. with attendees from all over North America, the UK, Europe and abroad. Whether you’re new to digital marketing in a new position at your company or if you business wants to scale it’s internet marketing efforts, SES New York will have content to help you reach those goals.  The New York show in particular has an agency slant that should appeal to all the East coast interactive, ad agency, pr firms, web dev shops as well as the abundance of in-house marketers.

Beginner to Enterprise topics to be covered include:

  • Integrated Marketing
  • Paid Search
  • SEO 
  • Social Media
  • B2B
  • Content Marketing
  • Landing Page Optimization
  • Link Building
  • Analytics & Conversion Optimization
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Local Marketing
  • Big Data
  • Online Ads, Display, Retargeting
  • Multi-lingual Search
  • Online Advertising
  • Digital Marketing Tools
  • Industry Trends

2. 360 Degree Networking

There are numerous networking opportunities at SES New York ranging from the networking focused lunches to “Meet the Experts” roundtables.  I always recommend to my staff that they split up at events and to take advantage of the networking during meals. Meeting people over morning coffee, lunch and informal dinners in the evening have been especially productive. There are also special events hosted by the conference and sponsors.

Whether you’re looking for new employees or new consulting business, SES offers a wide range of smart marketers to connect with in person. For some SES events there is a mobile app that is promoted as well.

3. 360 Degrees of Content Creation & 10 Ways How:

If your business works in or serves the online marketing space, attending a conference presents a goldmine of content creation opportunities. Here are 10 of them:

  1. Take notes from the sessions and write up articles for your own site or pitch them to other blogs
  2. Take your camera and do some informal video interviews and post to YouTube, embed in your blog, post to Google+ and Facebook 
  3. Make a board on Pinterest or a Set on Flickr and post conference photos
  4. Take notes from sessions and use them to create 200-300 word blog posts
  5. Create your own hashtag, and livetweet sessions during the event. Then compile those tweets into daily roundup posts “45 things I learned at SES New York”
  6. Pitch Search Engine Watch with an article about one or more of the sessions you attended. Make sure it’s high quality, cited and proofed. 
  7. Create a PowerPoint presentation from your notes about the sessions you attended for: internal company training, client training or for your own use when speaking at an event. This can work the other way around too. Write an article, break it up into smaller blog posts. Or take your PowerPoint presentation and break it up into blog posts and/or articles.
  8. Interview other attendees, speakers, sponsors or exhibitors at the conference. Attendees and exhibitors are often shy, but most speakers are more than happy to (including me!)
  9. Use photos and videos taken at the conference for your own social media promotion of your blog and company’s services or at least as stock images for blog post and b-roll for video
  10. There’s a lot, lot more you can do to leverage conferences for content creation, including conferences eBooks. If your company wants to learn how or needs help, TopRank Marketing are experts. 

Need more creative content marketing ideas? Then be sure to attend my session on Thursday March 28th at 9:30am “Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds & Wallets”.

BONUS: It’s New York!

New York

New York is one of the greatest cities in the world and if you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. What better way to justify a trip than a conference where you can learn, network, create content, prospect new employees and customers, plus engage in a little competitive intelligence gathering?

For more information about the conference and registration, visit the site here.


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