AdWords Expanded Text Ads: Post-Deadline Update

7 Mar

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CoreyMorrisGuest Contributor: Corey Morris
Director of Digital Strategy

With the deadline now passed for migration to expanded text ads in Google AdWords, we can look back at the big push to get to the new format and what it’s impact has been. (Want background? Check out my previous post on what they are and the transition) The ad format update was a big change for advertisers who managed large campaigns, and even more daunting for marketing agencies (like us) who manage thousands of ad groups across all our clients. This was just one of the big updates Google made as it officially went “mobile-first” in how it approaches the web. Expanded text ads didn’t change the world, but they did have an impact on advertisers through pushing us to adopt a new standard and to get hands on within our campaigns at a granular level.

 The new standard isn’t really that surprising. While it was big news at the time, the deadline for converting ads passed with little fanfare. We are continuing to see performance trends more closely linked to the early 2016 update Google made removing ads from the right rail putting all of the focus on a single column of ad and organic search results content. In cases where we have ads in the first through third ad slots on the page when they appear at the top of the page, we’re seeing increased click through rates and lead generation performance; however, when ads fall to the fourth slot (and sometimes even the second) that appears at the bottom of the page after the organic search results, engagement drops off dramatically.

 A benefit for marketers who are mostly focus on both PPC and SEO is that we saw organic traffic increase. The increases ranged from 30-80% on average, and some of that can be attributed to there being less noise above the fold on the search results page. In the long run, organic traffic is often cheaper (but don’t always assume so).

 Our conclusion is that expanded text ads are a good thing. They offer the opportunity to take up more real estate [and when ads are in the top few slots at the top of the page, can really attract attention]. Couple that with the ad extensions available and it sometimes isn’t fair to the long-entrenched top organic search results below the ads; however, advertisers pay a premium to be on those top slots and that is something that won’t change any time soon. We must work harder and smarter to try to find the right mix of terms that fit our ROI equation for being in those top slots. The big takeaway is that more is better when it comes to exposure on the search results page and the expanded text ads update allows us to have it if we’re willing to invest.

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Why B2B Marketers Should Care About Algorithmic Attribution

20 Feb

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Successful companies in the B2B market space must prioritize attribution in order to fully understand how marketing affects sales. Attribution creates a convenient and precise way to match marketing efforts to the successful movements of the sales funnel. The data that attribution cultivates revenue, lead generation, etc., that each channel generates – and helps to map out the customer journey.

One of the most successful methods of quantifying attribution is the algorithmic model. Algorithmic attribution was created as a response to simpler, less effective models such as the first touch and the last touch model. It is a hybrid model that avoids much of the criticism of the simpler models; algorithmic attribution employs less of the predetermined rules that reduce the complexity of the customer journey too far.

Creating a Viable Model for Marketing

As analytical technology improves, it is no longer necessary to reduce model complexity in order to fit into limitations on the delivery or timeliness of information. As models become more detailed, accuracy naturally increases. The improved number of touchpoints within the algorithmic attribution model as compared to, say, the first touch model, greatly improves the viability of the conclusions lifted from its data inputs.

An AdRoll report seems to show that marketers believe the algorithmic attribution model to be more effective than any other methodology. Models that utilized machine learning as the data intake method were the most impressive.

The Method Behind the Algorithmic Madness

The major difference between algorithmic attribution and its simpler cousins is the custom weight that the algorithm places on data as it moves through the sales funnel. Instead of relying on assumptions or old data, algorithmic models rely on historical data that is already proven to be valid and useful to your company.

Why the B2B Market Should Prioritize Algorithmic Attribution

Many B2B marketers make the mistake of treating customers like businesses instead of individuals. Although the scale of B2B sales is usually larger than B2C, individuals within the company are making those purchases. These individuals exhibit the behavior of a commercial consumer in most cases, and treating them as such has many positive effects.

The successful B2B company of the future learns its customer most accurately. The algorithmic attribution model allows a company to access the data that is most appropriate for the current analysis. B2B marketers are able to see the stages in the customer journey that should be of the highest priority. This is especially important for a company with a multichannel or omnichannel approach to sales – the channels that are most successful can be identified accurately as well.

The Main Differences Between the Algorithmic Model and Simpler Models

  • A company may be able to add stages to its customer funnel that would otherwise go overlooked
  • Data is more actionable, because it falls into more precise and easily identifiable channels
  • Sales credit is given to the appropriate channels, allowing unsuccessful channels to be completely removed or reduced
  • The model itself translates more easily between departments, because the modeled customer journey closely resembles the actual customer journey

Knowing where to invest the human and financial assets of a company is essential to its ongoing marketing efforts. The algorithmic attribution model provides a more accurate depiction of the customer journey for marketers, leading to a more successful journey for marketers as well.

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Content Marketing Best Practices for 2017

13 Feb

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With 2017 here, it’s time to take a look at the content marketing best practices that should guide your strategy development for the year. By keeping these guidelines in mind, you can better achieve your marketing goals for the year.

  1. Marketing with a purpose

Of course your primary goal with marketing is to generate sales, but have you narrowed  down exactly how you are hoping to do so? What is the purpose of the content that is on your website? Once you define the emotions that you want your content to bring out in the visitors that come to your website, then you’ll need to be purposeful about making sure that it does exactly that.

  1. Video dominates

Content marketing encompasses a range of mediums, and the video portion is poised to expand once again. Instead of simply focusing on making viral videos this year, hop on the livestreaming trend. Sites like YouTube and Facebook make it easy to connect with visitors as an event is unfolding. Posting the video to your website afterwards ensures that the information is there as a resource later as well.

  1. Storytelling reinvents content marketing

Content marketing has always been about telling the story of how your product or service can address a need or desire that your visitor has. The way this is achieved can vary from informative to entertaining. Combining elements into a story format helps draw your visitors in. Intersperse the content with details that are relatable to those people who are most likely to benefit from what you have to offer. Sketch out a problem, grapple with trying to find different solutions and finally introduce your product or service. These points provide your audience with the connection they need to recognize that you offer them a viable solution.

  1. Content goes mobile

2017 isn’t the first year that content has gone mobile, of course; however, it’s likely that this will be the year that more content is digested by users on their mobile devices. This means your content has to meet several criteria. Not only does it need to be formatted to be easy to skim, it also needs to be engaging enough to make on-the-go users want to view it. In fact, your whole website needs to be mobile friendly or else your audience will go elsewhere.

Combining these four best practices for content marketing in your strategy for 2017 will set your business up for success. At ER Marketing, we develop strategies that deliver the results you envision. Are you ready to make 2017 the year your business scales success? Contact ER Marketing and explore their core competencies to find out how they can help.

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Do You Spy on Your Competitors Online?

7 Feb

 

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CoreyMorris

Guest Contributor: Corey Morris
Directory of Digital Strategy

The word “spying” is fun, but it isn’t really what we’re doing. It isn’t hard, as I’m talking about using timely public information and snapshots to ensure that we get ahead and stay ahead in digital marketing, content, and PR efforts. The biggest challenge for many is getting the right mix of tools, data, and information in a means that is easy to digest in order to make decisions from. Over the years we have used many different tools and want to share what we have learned so you can maximize your intelligence information.

We probably don’t need to go into detail on why it is important to know what content, messaging, and marketing your competitors are doing. I guarantee that your sales team knows what is being said by competitors and what their pitches are. However, maybe because we’re not constantly out in the field and, due to the number of big data sources coming at us each day, we’re not always paying as close attention as we feel like we should.

For search engine optimization and pay per click advertising–two specific types of intelligence information are critical to success. The first is our audience and ensuring we’re targeting the right people with our efforts. The second is our competition. We’re likely not the only ones going after our target audience so we need to profile the strength of each relevant competitor.

The first step is to identify our competitors list. This can come from the list we know off the top of our heads of the traditional competitors we go up against all the time. From there, we need to supplement with competitors who we find ranking prominently in organic search results or advertising on the topics and terms that our audience would find us through. Once we have the competitors list, we’re ready to get to work building out the competitor profile.

Here are the specific competitor metrics that I recommend starting with as you build your competition profile baseline and start ongoing tracking:

  • Organic search keywords targeted, website content, keyword rankings, domain authority score, page authority scores, inbound links
  • Paid search keywords targeted, ad copy, estimated media spend, landing page strategies
  • Social media follower audience size, post engagement, brand mentions, frequency and volume of posting, types of content posted, mix of paid vs organic
  • Email marketing frequency of sending, segments, list growth CTAs, types of content promoted, use of automation

This is a lot of stuff and we’re just scratching the surface. However, there are many tools that will help us compile this information as well as make it visible so we see it on a regular basis, can analyze it, and make informed and strategic digital marketing decisions. There are many different dashboard tools out there that are solid and combining those with the right mix of intelligence tools can get you to a goldmine of meaningful competitive intelligence.

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5 Things The MBTI Can Tell Us About Brand Personalities

2 Feb

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Guest Contributor: Matt Hillman
Creative Director

 

If I said that Apple was an INTJ personality or that Ben & Jerry’s was an ENFP, would you know what I mean?

Brand personalities are a common element in better identifying, understanding, and developing established brands. Through founded Mission/Vision/Values, Positioning Statements, and Brand Guidelines, the framework is laid for the brand to present itself in a regular, consistent manner. In short, it develops both a personality profile and “true to type” behavior that—like its human counterparts—are foreseeable. So what can the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the world’s leading personality tool, tell us about brand personalities?

The first real application of the idea of “brand personality” dates back more than 60 years to a 1955 article in the Harvard Business Review  entitled “The Product and the Brand.” In it, the authors suggest that brands can feature some of the same attributes of human personality such as reason, motive, and “complex systems of values and judgements.” Today, brand personality is a core element of how products, services, and organizations are marketed and understood.

Meanwhile, the MBTI is a personality assessment developed by a mother-daughter team who were students of psychologist Carl Jung. It’s based on the ideas of archetypes—fundamental characteristics common to everyone—narrowed down to preferences of how we process information, make decisions, and gather mental energy.

The result is a four-letter combination for each of 16 different “types.” And while it has plenty of detractors, the 60+ year old “Myers-Briggs” is the most utilized personality assessment tool among companies, organizations, and government agencies.

When combined, these two theories can bring about some interesting observations about what it is that makes individual brands tick.

1. Brands can be introverted or extraverted

In the Myers-Briggs, Introversion (I) and Extraversion (E) isn’t about sociability or shyness, but instead how personalities derive their energy—Introverts recharge through solitude, Extraverts through interaction. Similarly, Introverted personalities focus on depth where Extraverts focus on breadth. An introverted brand is likely one that has a singular focus with great depth of understanding; an extraverted brand likely has a shallower approach but with a broad offering. The majority of powerful B2C brands could be characterized as Extraverted, where highly specialized B2B brands would be more Introverted.

2. Brands have value systems

The Myers-Briggs calls the axis of Thinking (T) and Feeling (F) the “judging function” because of its use in decision making. The Thinking preference is rooted in linear logic, in true and false; the Feeling preference makes decisions based on the people involved, in a sense of right and wrong. Thinking brands value facts and efficiency, where Feeling brands value compassion and connection. Thinking brands tend to be operationally and even fiscally successful; Feeling brands tend to have highly loyal, even fanatical, customers.

3. Brands process information in different ways

When it comes to information, how personality types process, or perceive, it falls into two categories: Sensing (S), taking in very detailed, specific data through the senses, and iNtuition (N) where data is processed broadly as symbols or metaphors. A brand with a Sensing preference is likely to be highly detailed and practical—probably a manufacturer or working with data. An iNtuitive brand is focused on “the big picture” and more apt to be a service provider or in product development.

4. Different brands react differently

You probably have seen brands that have it all buttoned up with a plan for everything; you’ve probably also seen brands that seem to roll with the punches, adapting as they go. This is what the Myers-Briggs calls Judging (J) and Perceiving (P). Those with the J preference are those who plan ahead and seek order, where those preferring P are improvisers who are more spontaneous. Brands in the Perceiving camp tend to develop (or fail) in leaps & bounds, where Judging brands are more likely to have a long-term approach that’s slower but steady.

5. There is no right or wrong type

Mostly importantly, just as with people, there is no right type or wrong type. Each type has a list of great and unique strengths, balanced by a list of weaknesses and blind spots. It’s less about being the “best type” and more about understanding the amazing superpowers each type possesses. And while certain types are better suited for certain tasks—types with the SJ combination are remarkable administrators, NT types natural innovators, etc.—there are always surprising and successful exceptions. Just as in life, the right type in the right situation at the right time can be an unstoppable brand.

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