Beautiful blue skies. Palm trees swaying in the light afternoon breeze. You'd be forgiven for thinking this was some sort of holiday. But last week saw over 20 industry experts descend upon sunny San Diego to speak at Distilled's first West Coast event at Paradise Point. If you made it along to the conference, this will hopefully serve as a handy refresher (particularly after those pool side drinks after day one!) and if not, you'll be joining us next year right?So, without further ado, don your best shades and sun hat as we head down to Paradise City to revisit some of the key takeaways and insights from all of our speakers at SearchLove San Diego Day One.
Microsoft former Digital Evangelist, Mel Carson kicked off proceedings with anecdotes about digital innovators and entrepreneurs who have shaped the online marketing industry from his book “Pioneers of Digital: Success Stories from Leaders in Advertising, Marketing, Search and Social Media.”
So how on earth does one go about choosing the kind of entrepreneurs and thought leaders to be involved in this type of publication? The crux was that they would need to be awesome, to have done amazing stuff but to touch on a cross section of advertising, social and marketing.
Mel hoped to provide some inspiration for your own work space and to serve up some tips and tricks from the search world to those sat in the audience here today who might well deserve a chapter in the next one.
So here are just a few of the lessons learned from a few of the people behind the pixels.
The secret to an enduring legacy
Qi Lu is currently Executive Vice President at Microsoft, leading the company's work on the Bing search engine, Skype and Microsoft Office. Lu formerly worked as technology developer and manager for Yahoo!'s technology search division but he didn’t always dream of this. Lu began life dreaming of building ships which was seen as a prestigious career choice back in 70s China. Sadly, his dreams were somewhat quashed when they told him he was too small so he thought ‘OK, I’d like to be a scientist’. He was rejected again for his eyesight being too poor.
He finally decided on computer science and ended up becoming a teacher at Fu Dang Uni in Shanghai. Until he was approached about coming to the US for an IBM research post at Carnegie Mellon. When IBM first demoed ‘Backrub’ (the original Google provider created way back in 1996) back then they couldn’t work out the best search result for this but managed to score a ton of visits from the keyword Bill Clinton who at the time was awash in the media. Chi worked out then that this phenomena had something to do with a thing called Anchor text.
Chi continued to rise through the ranks in the next ten years - building Yahoo Shopping with a a couple of devs - and became the Head of Engineering there. He then decided he’d had enough and went back to China. This was when Steve Ballmer approached him (the man behind Bing) and the rest is history.
Imagine the incredible feeling of meeting someone with that kind of commitment and with such a vision of the future and what technology is capable of. What makes an enduring legacy? It’s all about having a greater impact and making life greater for people.
Don’t let technology dictate
Thomas Gensemer had the bold and audacious goal of putting the first black US President in the White House. His story within the book goes to show they managed to persuade people within the party to really think about, and consider, social media or as Gensemer states himself:
“When it comes to brand especially big traditional brands, social media is this grey area between communications and PR”
Above all, Gensemer confirmed that with his campaigns, the technology shouldn’t dictate what you are doing - you still need to have the great idea. “Technology needs to support core business instead of dictating how it works”. A great example of this was the initiative behind sharing this tweet on the day of Obama’s re-election.
Microsoft studies contest that ‘the brain can assimilate an image 40 times faster than text’. So here it is. Lots of kudos. Lots of sharing.
One of the other things that comes out of the book is the idea of being more agile as marketers. With all the different devices we’re working on and consuming content through, we should all be acting like this, surely?
Making decisions in real time
“Don’t assume you know what your audience wants. What works for other media might not work online, so survey, test, learn and optimise”
June Cohen has just celebrated over 1 billion views from her Ted Talks. She was responsible for leading the effort to bring the conference online, launching the podcast series in 2006.
There was some initial reluctance to the series though, particularly for TV consumption. When the BBC turned her down that was when she knew she had a problem….Cohen went back and looked to online video just when YouTube was coming along. She knew it had to be different because of the smaller screen - so her and a technical friend started setting some stuff up, trying some different styles and camera angles. But remember these videos are slick, they work hard to edit the series to make them utterly engrossing (no coughs, splutters etc)
Cohen was one of the first people to upload a video to The Stamford internal intranet (where she gained a BA in political science) with some footage of one of the rowers at The Olympics. So when the Ted Talks series came along, she knew she had that idea in her back pocket.
Remember, don’t let technology dicate - video is a vehicle. Cohen still needed great speakers and a great subject matter for these podcasts to be a success online.
Make things that satisfy needs (think about the value exchange)
Vanessa Fox is a pioneer in terms of pushing Google to be more transparent and allowing useful data to surface for site owners. She is a search engine optimization consultant, writer and consultant known for her work creating Google Webmaster Central and as a Google spokesperson.
Back in the day, there was no way to verify sites. In 2005, Shiva Shivakumar talked about such a leap of faith by saying “an experiment that will either fail miserably or succeed our wildest dreams…”
No one had thought to communicate with webmasters in the way that Fox realised. One of the things they fixed - reducing tickets down by 90 odd percent. Equally on the pioneering front, it’s important to stress this idea of being part of a community and giving that value exchange back to them. The way Fox influenced people by spending time with colleagues and partners was crucial for interfacing in the industry.
Jaron Lanier, the father of virtual reality, started as a goat herder and milk farmer and then just got into all this crazy virtual reality stuff at Atari. Lanier was credited as one of the miscellaneous crew for the 2002 film Minority Report, again showing how the evolution of virtual reality is total immersiveness within the internet. His book ‘You are not a Gadget’ stressed the importance of not letting this stuff strip away at your personality though and how, he believes, you can’t be creative if you’re part of this big monolithic brain.
His latest book, ‘Who Owns The Future’, is based on the idea of data and privacy and how he thinks that Google should be paying back some revenue for using our data. We need people like Lanier to make us think.
You don’t need to be original
The reason ie hard entrepreneur, Gurbaksh Chahal makes it into this book is for his work with retargeting. He is quoted as saying “if you want to disrupt the marketing, don’t necessarily do something brand new”. Why not start by thinking, that’s a good idea but how can I make it better? This, of course, works alongside our previous ethos of being agile and working that bit smarter, by building these personas and then retargeting.
Business is business. “People just don’t learn….you have a birth of companies trying to do what the original dot com companies did...which all have staggering valuations but no idea how to generate profit.”He aligns well with Jeff Bezos and the key role in the growth he played with Amazon and how we can be inspired by that. You want to look at an idea and say “that’s interesting but what can I do to make it better?”
Distilling the numbers to explain the opportunities
Avinash Kaushik recounts the story of how he was held at gunpoint for taking a photos of a government building and how now, he has no fear when it comes to walking into a Fortune500 company to tell their CEO that they are doing it all wrong.
His blog has more subscribers than the Google blog and yet he only practised blogging for half a month before he began publishing it. When making the transistion to Google, there was no specific role designated to him - they simply had this innate feeling that he was someone special to come and work at Google.
Most importantly, enjoy it!
Stephen Fry is a pioneer of social media as a celebrity yet the British actor and writer is also, a manic depressive and takes this very seriously often using the tool to discuss such issues and as a place to get support.
Fry was reluctant at first to embrace the platform but after filming a documentary on endangered species within Africa was surprised at the mass traction of followers he gained through this experience and how this could then go to help the worthy cause and gain exposure online through his followers.
A perfect example of this virality is Fry’s tweet that was sent out whilst trapped in a lift which made the headlines in the UK papers the very next day.
His words of wisdom then? Be You and Enjoy it.
“ You have to love it. You absolutely have to love it. Just enjoy the ride, enjoy the creativity that gives you. What you’ve got to be driven by is what the fucking fun and how unbelievably exciting it is”.
Don’t let technology dictate
Make things that satisfy needs (think about the value exchange)
Take decisions in real time
Don’t have to be original, be relevant
What is a citation?
Well, as Darren explains it’s a mention of your name, address or phone number on the web - be that via Yahoo, Yelp or mylocally.
OK so what’s the problem with inconsistent citations?
Take a look at this Whiteboard Friday from local search expert, David Mihm who talks through the importance of this and how to set up your local business listings to appear in Google’s search results.
Just as splitting your link equity isn’t great for your search rankings, the same thing will happen with your inconsistent citations. Google can’t connect those and you’re not getting credit for them so it’s not helping with your listings or your ranking. You need to go in and edit this. If there is enough conflicting data a duplicate will be recognised and that’s really not good so it’s important to get that stuff cleaned up. Don’t just create a new listing because that leaves the old ones lying around, it is far better to take the time to update your existing listings.
OK inconsistent citations are bad, what are the benefits of making them consistent?
This was a fundamental theme at this year’s SMX Local Panel talk. All the speakers confirmed that it’s vital to have a consistent name, address and phone number (“NAP”) across all the places your business data can be found on the web.
John Denny’s case studies confirm that a site can go from not showing up at all to number one ranking for some of its key terms. Similarly, Mary Bowling presented at Mozcon 2012 and illustrated how she took sites from nowhere to top rankings with the same process.
Equally, Adam Steele saw his client move locations and their listings tank in Google - the company disconnected their citations and lost them all. Steele worked to update these and recovered their rankings.
Convinced? Well, here’s how to do it!
Step One: Gather all current and inconsistent NAP data.
Ask the business about their business names, and any addresses they may have used in the past including mobile numbers, fax and toll free numbers. All of these aspects can create confusion. Has the business changed domains or websites? Do they have a corporate mailing address or a sister company? It’s also a good idea to get any existing login information from the business where they might have created accounts with Yelp and MyLocally.
Once you’ve got all of that - you can’t really trust it. They might not have realised some stuff - so you have to do some digging of the variations on the web. Don’t start tracking yet.
Step 2 is the discovery process.
You will want to make a note of the correct NAP (name address phone number) for the business and any variations with mobile phone variants by using the query - “portion_of_business_name” - “phone_number” - “toll_free_number”. You can try tools like LinkClump for Chrome of Multi Links for Firefox to speed up this process.
As you discover different numbers, exclude each of them from the query to refine your search i.e listings that have the same phone number but a different address, listings with same phone number but a different business name etc. Even if inactive, these are problems you want to get cleaned up now. If the business shares its building with another, it’s important to recommend using a different suite number here to differentiate.
Step 3: Determine which NAP variations need to be fixed
Begin building a spreadsheet up with all this information and work out which one of these are going to be problematic. Don’t worry about the variations (caps, no caps etc) Google normalises the address variations it finds across the web.
Now you can begin to work through your NAP variations and note which ones need to be fixed.
It’s important to do this discovery process to see which ones we actually want to clear up.
Step 4: Clear up the data at the most important data sources
Don’t start with the citation sites. They could be getting data from major providers so you’ll need to go back to the route sources of the data.
Start with Gov sources, phone companies, utilities and Neustar Localeze. Don’t even start with the data aggregators as they receive data feeds as well.
So, here’s your order of operations:
1. Government sources - contact your business registry
2. Phone company - check the address and their files and take a look at the company’s online billing
4. Infogroup - Go to expressupdate.com and search for all the variations of business info on your NAP info. To edit a listing on here, you’ll need to go in and claim the listing. They will phone verify and coordinate a time to claim with the business. Remember to add as much info as you can here to enhance those existing listings. The more info you can add the better for your search rankings, so complete all of the categories, social pages, video and opening hours.
5. Neustar Localeze - Go to www.neustarlocaleze.biz and search for all variations of the business info in your NAP list. Claim and enhance accurate listings and remove others.
6. Axciom - Go to https://mybusinesslistingmanager.myacxiom.com/ search for all of your variations - claim and enhance your existing listings and remove others here too.
8. Dun and Bradsheet - Also important and commonly scraped source. Claim, update and enhance.
9. Factual location is pretty new to the local listing data space - correct maps and a tons of mobile apps. Search at factual.com, it’s a great local data source that is growing in importance.
10. Get listed.org - Fantastic tool as it covers a lot of really important data services, shows you which listings are missing, listings that are unclaimed, the different photos you have on there, the duplicates that you might have, they’ll go through the Found pages.
What about Yext?
This is great for new businesses that want to build out key citations and can help you make changes across dozens of citations near instantly in real time - with savings or discount.
You’re also able to add in enhanced data to all of your team profiles. In terms of the cleanup process though, it’s only your existing info. They may miss incorrect citations. Sometimes they will miss duplicates and create new ones instead. The platform also costs $499 yearly fee and if you cancel then all those old listings resurface which doesn’t really make this cost effective in the long term unless you keep paying.
Step 5: Find and record all citations across the web
Courtesy of David Mihm, here is the Local Search Ecosystem and all the different sites that feed each other.
You’ll need to search Google for all accurate and inaccurate NAP’s as well as searching for all possibly query combinations. Go through every result and record whether or not it needs to be dealt with and record the listings in your audit spreadsheet.
There is a better way to help with this!
Put all your queries into a custom report on the Link Prospector and set the depth to a 1000. Load Whitesparks' list of 363 reverse phone lookup sites into the exclusions. Add “site:/intitle” searches for Phil Rozek’s Definitive list of local search citations to find any duplicates. Let the system do all the work and behold!
Your list de-duped, domain grouped PR and DA sortable with titles and descriptions. Of course, someone still has to work through that list and record listings that need attention into a spreadsheet but your audit is now done. You’ll just need to work through and fix those citations.
Google can help with this.
Step 6: Fix those citations
Look for update information on each listing that needs to be updated. You’re looking for things like
Google can help. If they have no claim/edit/update functionality, then contact them. There’s a great outreach template here. Be sure to contact them from an email address on the domain for a much higher success rate.
Now you finally check Google. Sure, Bing too. Search Google Maps for duplicate listings. Search Map Maker too for all the listings. Any problems that you can't fix in the Places dashboard, you can fix in Map Maker. Any problems, get Google to call you! You can manage your Bing listings here.
Download some of Darren’s quick and easy resources by following this link: http://bit.ly/citation-audit
Content Marketing is hard. It takes time and it’s often hard to see the direct ROI from one piece of content. Brands are spending tons of money on this so, understandably, expectations are high. So what can you do to make it all a bit easier?
Divide and conquer
Let’s take a look at some of the tactics you can use in the short term, mid term and long term.
Short term - Tactical
The major problem here is normally sub par promotion, be that the wrong amount of promotion (it’s pretty safe to say we want to “skip all Ads” Youtube!) or the wrong type of promotion. So how can you fix this issue?
1. Building and borrowing influence
2. Match branding to the funnel.
Awareness. This means contests, giving people free stuff, data viz and infographics for social.
Trigger. Share valuable content through your blog posts.
Search. Make your eBooks free to receive.
Consider. Get people to sign up to hear more from you and to review your product.
Buy. Why not offer coupons or discount codes and make evangelists from your followers?
Stay. Host contests and be active within forums (influencing new people to come across from these channels.)
Another common issue is ineffective pitching.
Try and get to understand what motivates gatekeepers -these are the people that control whether or not their customer base will see your brand. In some cases this might be money in which case, when it comes to bloggers, just pay up. Or it might be authenticity - journalists will often want credible resources. Make sure you’re qualifying your content as credible.
It could be a case of visibility - this is the target demographic open for outreach. Approach your pitch as a partnership here. For further reading, Adria’s written more on the subject of how to master working with bloggers.
Sometimes you might be faced with the inability for a client or company to let go.
When it comes to fixing this one, don’t compromise the idea because of the data. (It’s going to compromise your outcome. Get into the research process earlier.) Create a “checks and balances” system so that everyone within the project has a voice ie. the PR and Outreach team will be promoting it, the content team will be building it etc and consider testing the final thing by getting some outside perspective. You could try tools like FEEDBACK Army or UserTesting.com for this.
What about something like crappy execution right? Something that is hidden behind a paywall and asks a ton of information from you before you can access it. You don’t want to lose the impact.Or it could just be a poor idea executed at the wrong time, place or on a subject your brand shouldn’t be talking about. This can seriously damage your brand and lose a lot of trust from your community on your social channels.
How to fix this? The Epic Content Checklist
OK, onto mid term goals ie. the more strategic ideas that are going to take a little bit longer to execute with a piece of content.
First issue you might be faced with here is unsuitable (or, in fact, no) goals. How to fix it?
The Five Why’s Game
Ask yourself why you are producing this particular piece of content until you are able to distil the idea down into its most granular form to get to the root, and purpose, of the piece.
Visualise the goal cycle (the funnel)
Another issue you could face is an insignificant amount of research but what can we do to fix this?
Well, there are tons of different types of research content that you can work from and use:
Benchmark audit (content audit, looking at your GA, What is your USP? Good understanding of your brand)
Competitor research (identify the gaps in the market, what do customers in your industry care about - that’s how you form a strategy)
Market Research (online) offline too in the customer research, looking into KWR, Google Trends, where are the opportunities?
Customer research: focus groups, surveys, personas, what is important to your customers?
The Issue: Inconsistencies
You’ve developed a confusing user experience with your content. You’re not publishing frequently. Your brand tone isn’t effective and isn’t talking to your customer correctly
How to fix it?
Determine a brand message and make it sticky (even if it’s an internal message) Great example is Moz’s TAGFEE.
Create editorial standards (consistent flow to your content and your brand, you want your content to be known as yours
Develop an editorial calendar (all of your contributors on the same page)
Long Term stuff: Internal
The Issue: Insufficient workflow - this could be down to some confusion internally.
Identify internal stakeholders - who will be producing the content? Are they working together? Who leads those teams and how can I bring them together to make a lean process to collaborate?
The easier it is to understand, the more likely it is to be adopted so make the workflow as accessible for all those involved
Create deadlines and governance (who is responsible? what happens if deadlines aren’t met?)
The Issue: No Buy In
For your initiatives to be successful, they have to be ingrained in your culture. How can you gain influence in these situations?
Invite others into your process (brainstorming content)
Scratch their back
Provide ninja education (figure out ways to slowly educate others rather than dictating)
Let the results do the talking (external case studies to get buy in, work on your silo and just ship some stuff)
Further Reading: How To Get Your Boss to Care about Content Marketing
Above all, Divide and Conquer
Tactical = short term
Strategic = mid term
Internal = long term and effecting your culture.
This marketing stuff has been done before. We all know the process - someone has a decent marketing idea and then everyone is pumped and we see around 300 posts on the very same thing for the next two days. But if you’re going to flog the crap out of something, make sure to look it up first yeah? Behold, the graph of shame!
Tons of people are jumping on the (twerk) bandwagon so what do you do? Write a counter post on why it’s dead, of course! The point being that marketing has not changed. All this stuff we do is marketing - you can pick up a word and stuff it in your blog posts but marketing is about significance and making you, your product and your brand significant.
The definition of signficance:
“The quality of being worthy of attention”
Ian’s Marketing version:
“The quality of being worthy of attention to people who may never buy, but will always spread the word about you and your brand”.
But you can’t get it from content marketing .You can’t force significance, it’s something you invite by making yourself useful and through consistency. You invite significance by standing out to those who are compelled to respond (aka the weird) Take a look at Seth Godin’s book, ‘We Are All Weird’ which makes the point that it’s really hard to stand out from the crowd. So don’t hang out with the crowd.
The formula for becoming significant then? Standing out from the crowd (weird), by making yourself useful and and through being consistent.
So how do you find your ideal weird? You should look for overlap between two ideas of any kind. For example, a person needs appliances and the very same person might like seeing stuff get smashed and so, Will It Blend was born. What about targeting marketers and gamer nerds or marketers who are gaming nerds. It’s all about finding the overlap for every tactic and channel and that’s a tactic nearly as old as marketing.
Plus, it works:
If you’re a cartoonist and you like Star Wars, you do a post on how to draw a cartoon R2D2.
OK so how to find that overlap?
Think. You’re marketing to dog owners for example. Perhaps, these dog owners are out of shape therefore your niche comes from dog owners who need exercise.
Check the chatter on Google. Are people talking about this? You can check for the questions and discussion with the search term ‘phrase + “” + ?’. Or you can try checking for questions and discussion ‘phrase + “” + ? site:quora.com’. Try site likes Topsy and search for the same question. There may only be three people on there talking about your specific niche but those three people you find will be able to spread the word.
Another way to find overlap, is random affinity.
By that we mean, any two ideas that are linked by the fact that a group of people like both of them.
Pick Networks and Research
Go anywhere where people participate Quora, Amazon, Reddit to find people who liked this and then subsequently, liked that.
Say you’re a travel company but you really want to find another way to stand out and find the weird. You could start by doing a search for those people buying Lonely Planet and looking at the suggestion additional sales to find those random affinities that can drive your content as well as your ad targeting.
This is still not truly data though, right? Get your nerd on a little bit. There’s no numbers associated with this to really prove the value of these affinities. Likester is a great place to find them as it measures brand affinities through Facebook data. Wisdom does the same thing and can provide fantastic data. This platform doesn’t look at ‘likes’ but instead the social activities, to see how people are interacting online. Or you can do the search on Google like this:
“site:facebook “ian lurie” “likes this” -inurl:ian.lurie”
BUT weird only gets you so far.
Significant must have real value to the audience. Weird gets an audience but useful provides definite value that retains an audience. Start by finding the questions and then answering them. Where can you find these types of questions? Google suggest, of course or via places like Quora; a focus group but dipped in chocolate.
Install the Scraper Chrome app which you can pick up over here and use Quora to figure out what people want. Find a topic, view the questions and remember to add a few periodically. Keep scrolling down and you’ll find loads more questions. You can then highlight one and scrape for similar. Scraper will pull the entire page and you can then simply export and paste to excel. Use the bullet within Excel to separate the answers from one another and delete the followers column. You can then look for the questions with the most people following them (and if you want to get fancy you can pull out the answer count too.) You can do this process for a ton of sites. Now you can find questions with lots of followers and still very few answers.
No niche is truly boring
How exciting is under arm deodorant after all and those guys did pretty well, right?
Go on to Google and do a search. Use Followerwonk to find your audience and reach out to these folks. Put your information on slideshare.net. Upload your video content for your community. Do an eBook and make it free - this will get thousands of people signing up, not to mention the tons of people getting auto-notifications about all of these new releases.
Don’t be afraid to pay. Try stumbleupon paid discovery and Facebook’s promoted posts.
Tell people if it’s free and there are no strings attached.
Isn’t significance just about content?
Not just - it’s about everything. Finding the weird. Make sure that you are useful. Be consistent. Consistency of all things confirms significance. Significance is conversation building. Remember:
Significance plus consistence makes rankings, social, sales and your brand.
This takes work but it does pay off. Invest in significance and this can help you win the internet.
In today’s world of eCommerce, we work with big retailers. Five years ago with Google, it wasn’t like that but if the smaller companies aren’t outsmarting their competitors, then they’re screwed.
Free Google shopping traffic is dead. Paid traffic took over and free traffic is pretty much gone. Just take a look at Google shopping vs other CSE’s and how it’s dominating in this, revenue and cost of sale comparatively. Google performs the best in terms of traffic, revenue and ad spend.
Typically the traffic on a google product listing is going to be cheaper but that’s changing pretty quickly - and this traffic often converts better. The Text ads long tail for the eCommerce products is Almost Dead. Google's Product Listings has replaced the majority of that text ads.
Which brings us to the five stages of the Google shopping grief:
Denial (Google can’t be doing this)
Anger (I hate Google)
Depression (what am i going to do?)
Bargaining (OK, maybe I’ll put some of my top sellers on Google)
Acceptance (some smart people are saying this isn’t the worst thing in the world and I should be open to this fact.)
So here are 8 Google shopping tips for you guys to embrace:
Get a Data Feed Guy or Gal:
You’re going to need someone technical to manage your data feed - that’s where all of the management and strategy goes through. Smaller retailers have one person do both of these positions- data feed and analyst for the results. Who is managing your feed? Make sure they understand how to manipulate them.
Learn how to bid properly
When you are breaking out the ad groups, make sure you put the all products lower than the stuff within the ad groups to give it some visibility.
Once product groups went into the search territory, now you’re going to need to start to use technology in a way that will help you dominate. Start with ten to twenty ad groups - maybe best sellers; you should have an idea of which segment performs the best with your product. But don’t go crazy, if the Ad Groups are tight it will give your products the most exposure.
Data Feed Labels
Set these Ad Groups up with labels across the data feed. Build out your Ad Groups with the segmentation strategy you have decided on.
Discover your product search terms’
You can see, just like Google Adwords, you’ll just need to go to ‘dimensions’ and ‘search terms’ to correlate these to your particular product. There’s still some work to be done but it’s hard to manage a good strategy without these dimensions.
Average position does not increase CTR
Within product listing ads, it’s just a block of products - the user doesn't care what position the product is on, they care about the image not the position. Don’t just increase bids, that’s just going to damage your ROI.
Bid modifiers by state
Segment the traffic by state and then change the bids by state. Which states have money? Figure out what states perform the best for your products to help alter your bids.
Sold SKU strategy
This one is for retailers for whom it’s impossible to find a strong ROI. Pull out the report of GA SKU’s and start the campaign with only the bids that have received any sales. Having trouble getting a positive return on ad spin? Start with SKUs that you’ve had a sale on in the past.
Changes are afoot
Google offering feed services
Now this is something that is changing in our industry which is really interesting. It’s predicted that within the next 30 days there will be an announcement that Google is going to start to offer feed services. Google’s going to take your feeds and optimise it for your clients which benefits the agencies and, of course, Google itself. Feed services won't be available to smaller retailers but expect an announcement in the next thirty days for larger retailers.
The Google Marketplace is coming
In the case of its long term vision, Google is serious about eCommerce. There’s really no one else to disrupt what Amazon is doing right now. Eventually within the next 12-18 months Google will start their own marketplace to compete with Amazon.
Building a community is hard not least because community building is different for every single company out there. What we see with Mack Web is one and a half years of effort. They’ve spent the last 18 months building a community and have seen some great results but it’s been the most work to do it. Take a look at Wistia. Those guys have been working on building an audience for five years of effort and, deservedly so, they have some great engagement on their blog. With Think Geek it’s quite a different story or Distilled even - that’s seven years of effort.
So why even bother to build a community?
There’s three pretty good reasons.
1. Crush your competition.
Many companies don’t invest in community building. You should get in there and start pushing your existing relationships by building your brand and thinking about what people really need.
2. Get the right customers
A community is full of people who know other people who like are them. Look to other communities to gain followers and support and engage with these community members to build your own and get more of the right customers.
3. Low acquisition costs. Communities develop brand advocates. These guys are going to sell your products or services. They are going to become your business development team. You don’t have to pay them in fancy cars.
"It’s making that shift “from interruption to being a part of a customer’s life”.
Building a community is making that lifetime relationship with your customers
Are you from a company that’s in a boring niche? If so, it might be hard to sell this community thing but in the real world, it’s never easy to build communities. Safe Built are a services based company. They have a pretty non savvy tech audience. If we can build community for them, we can build it for anybody. Working with Mack Web Solutions, the business saw a 74% increase in traffic year on year, expanded their social platforms across Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to gain referrals across a variety of sources and email marketing and the blog driving over 4,000 visits to the site in 12 months.
So here’s what Mack planned on doing, what actually happened and what some of the key takeaways gained from the project:
1. Accelerating the process
2. Build from goals not tools
3. Measure all the right things (and earn those budgets)
1. Accelerate the process
This community stuff takes a long time to gain traction therefore you’re going to need to be able to be flexible and learn to adjust quickly.
What Mack Web planned for Safe Built was a three phase process:
Phase One, Foundation: This meant tasks like revamping their nav and addressing the site’s lack of content. They weren’t on social and they didn’t have a blog.
Phase Two, Community building: Building out the company’s relationships and their social following across platforms
Phase three, Real Company Stuff: Building more of an experience with their content by producing products that indirectly promotes their company but that also serves to help their community (think Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO)
In terms of community building, here’s some of the foundational stuff:
Research and persona development
Social media and email marketing setup
Revamp nav structure
But in fact, the original structure planned for the client didn’t work out in terms of timelines and so Mack ditched the initial package and ended up creating an approach that integrated all this stuff together at once. What can we take away from this?
2. Building from goals and not tools
Focus your efforts on getting the right things done to grow your community and your business. Stay grounded in the stuff you really need to be focussed on.
Mack worked to develop a basic routine and then worked to develop a new strategy once/quarter. Once you’ve developed these initial strategies, don’t waste time fleshing out the details. You’re going to need to be communicative with your clients constantly i.e ‘here’s what we’re planning high level’ and then you can work to change things as you go along and get moving.
Developing a brand routine to reach your goals to build a community
Content should be the cornerstone of what you do, be that a blog post, a video or an infographic. In the case of Safe Built, Mack focused on pushing out two blog posts a month. You can then work to develop and optimize the content each month. This should be a mix between promotional and value driven content. Your content needs to be chocked full of value even when it’s self promotional.
Conduct pre and post outreach for all content, especially if you are in this kind of non tech savvy niche and the community is a little bit slower in order to leverage other people and businesses.
Send all your content via email marketing. By signing up to your emails, your customer has already said ‘yes, you can market to me’ so use this. Start pushing that content out on social media as well as sharing other valuable content from other people.
It’s also important to work to build relationships both on and offline, that’s the only way that social media will work. Make sure you are taking pictures at events and tweeting them and connecting with those people that attended.
Communicate every week with stand ups and monthly evaluations. Look at the data and make sure that everything you’re doing is moving towards your goals.
And remember when it comes to social, it’s not always about the numbers. You need to have the right targets in place.
Quality vs Quantity
You or your client might not really be on social media but your customers of the future might just well be and that’s the exciting stuff.
What we’re really focussing on here is how do you work this community through your company funnell? What content do you need to feed them within that 18 month process and how can you leverage this community that might already exist offline? By transforming your friends into brand advocates and increasing subscribers to blog and email and increasing that pre and post outreach.
3. Measure all the right things
You must prove the value of your efforts so that you can earn budgets.
Most important stuff. How do you measure this stuff?
Set up some basic things:
Track events in GA.
Form submissions tracked.
Place annotations in GA on content.
Utilize social media tracking tools.
All that data, all that work, but it doesn't prove any ROI right?
You have to prove the value of your efforts with the right metrics.
This stuff works and not just through a click through rate. It’s hard to measure this but it all contributes to brand awareness that then affects your sales and then affects your revenue.
So when you can't track ROI, what do you track instead? Take a look at this blog post over on the Mack Web Solutions blog on ‘Measuring community: KPIs and social media metrics for community building’ from Tyler Brooks for some further reading.
The Obvious Community Building Indicators:
Engaged followers, social shares and applause
Advanced segments related to content (What’s working well, what are people engaging with?
Click through rates on socially shared content (what’s sending users to your site)
Brand mentions and conversations
Traffic from social: visits and pageviews
Comments and subscribers
ROI related metrics
Customer acquisition cost
With community building, you want people to come back again and again and you want them to become those lifelong brand advocates.
“Just because an activity doesn’t have tangible ROI doesn’t mean that it’s not valuable or useful” Work harder to qualify and quantify what you’re doing but it works.”
Good things come to those who work their asses off and never give up.
More risk, more effort, bigger reward.
Mark Suster - Marketing in Today’s Open and Social World
When we think of the history of marketing, it was almost certainly easier in an offline world of TV, print and radio. Then we eased into online with display, email, SEO and SEM and that was OK because it was easy to calculate. But since about 2008, we've been in a social world and this continues to drive more sales. Facebook and Twitter is the highest amongst those social indicators but this all depends on the individual, their follower base and the content.
Now we’ve entered the era of mobile, video and images and this will go on to be important for the next ten years.
In the 80s, there were already social networks but they weren't open. The era of social networking happened ages ago but then in the 90s, we saw AOL bridge the gaps of the closed world of gEnie and the like.
Web 1.0 - Publishing websites like Geocities
Web 2.0 - Blogging platforms are introduced as well as video platforms like YouTube
And we all know that social is now going mobile with apps like Instagram and snapchat. All of these major networks are battling for primacy of your time but there is limited share of mind. Any time you spend more time on one platform that the other, that’s time that is taken away from something else. Twitter is now trying to be an open media centric whilst LinkedIn focuses primarily on business networking.
Quick view of our bets on the future. What’s coming?
1. The world is going from a social graph to an interest graph. The interesting thing about social networking is not just that you spend time on it but understanding who you link up to can derive a hell of a lot of value. Money comes through advertising and third parties.
What you like is specifically more important and people call this the Interest graph. Facebook does this. Facebook launched its mobile advertising platform which encourages you to download applications.What advertisers are telling us now is that the targeting on FB is so good, we should all be shifting our ad budgets to Facebook. The number one reason is the interest graph - they know what you like and, therefore, there is a higher click rate and a higher chance that you will buy.
The platform Gravity is trying to bring these interest graphs to everyone. They track everything you are doing across the web. They don’t release your name but they can follow you - it drives more content consumption for ecommerce platforms so that we can serve up more suitable products to them. When you think about how good Amazon is at serving you what you actually want that’s the kind of personalisation that we’re really talking about.
2. Moving from a world that’s closed to open.
Is Facebook the new AOL then? Facebook has an algorithm called Edgerank and it determines what goes into peoples’ feeds. People spent a lot of money trying to drive likes whilst it actually turns out people don’t want all that shit. So, they introduced something new; the Open Graph. Now that’s something people do want that. Stuff that goes in the Open Graph is five times more likely to go on your fan page. Likes have value, they just don’t have as much value as you think.
In-stream advertising matters more than advertising off to the sides. No one sees the stuff on the side. I understand why it worked for Google because we backed the first company - Overture. We know that business - the biggest difference to that is the idea of ‘intent based marketing’. When you type something on Google, you are looking for that thing. When you head onto Facebook, you aren’t doing that. These social ads need to go in the stream. Adly has been doing that since 2009.
Awe.sm is a tool that measures top end and bottom end conversons. If you drive one person to your website from one click, they are not all equal. They come from different sources and they have different values. If you want to see where that traffic came from and hierarchical relationships, you can do that with this tool by following and finding the shared links; the parent and child relationships. Awe.sm allows you to set up just like you would with Google Analytics to track metrics but in this case of any social interactions and any tweets, you can look into the actions behind this- their followers, who interacts more, whether or not these people are influential and then how you can work to get your content across to them.
If you don’t have full funnel attribution you won’t have access to this data. Datasift is one of the most powerful tools when it comes to extracting social data. It has full research rights for Twitter data and allows you to build databases and filter through results. You can then go on to use this data to make marketing, customer support and training decisions. We live in a quantifiable world. You can use this implicit information to determine your income, where you travel etc and it’s all open information that someone has put out there.
Social media and marketing spend expected to continue to grow
Awe.sm is a social media analytic tool that allows full funnel attribuion. It can serve up the lifetime results of each post, the number of impressions, reactions and traffic. You can start to understand the pageviews that piece of content may have driven.
3. From web to mobile.
Ringrevenue. As we move to a mobile world, the best performing ad unit is the ability to drive a telephone call.
Burstly/Test Flight is the leading testing platform for building mobile apps and allows people to measure the ROI. You can then set up your segmentation so that you can message your users differently according to their background or for retargeting customers - you used to like us, why not come back?
Call based marketing has increased exponentially
Inbound voice calls convert 30-35% more vs 1-2$ clicks because you have a significantly higher intent when you pick up the phone. ⅔ of shopping abandonment is because they can’t get someone on the phone. More often than not, you just want to talk to somebody.
Cost Per Lead advertising: If you get a lead and you call them back, 90% of the time it will take more than one call to get through. You want them at the point when they had interest - when they filled out the form. That was when they had the ‘intent’. In fact, The Power of Talk, makes clear economic sense.
We know the world is moving from texting to images to video but what will this mean for online marketing? We know that history looks like this - the banner on top, the skyscraper on the right. Then there was an explosion of visual web. No one is looking at banners and skyscrapers, people are looking at the images. So why don’t the ads go in the image if that’s where people are already looking?
Google is one big fucking ad
Long term search works well on this but for the rest of it, good luck. Google has become vulnerable to social networking. Social drives about 30% of traffic and that is only increasing.
People are consuming > 6 hours of video a day and that won’t change. The future of the Internet will be video.
YouTube is the biggest source of where those videos live. 63% of market share in total live on YouTube. YouTube has the biggest number of uniques as a platform and the online video spend is massively trending out across the board.
The market leading studio in video consumption is Maker Studio. We are now significantly bigger than traditional TV audiences. Videos are being consumed a lot more than traditional TV. Cost per impressions are lower. It’s the phenomena called the Innovator's Dilemma. We are a powerhouse because our productions costs are much lower and distribution is infinite.
Millennials are distracted
83% of our generation browse the web whilst they watch TV and 78% use social media whilst they watch TV. So, at the end of the day, you’ve got to reach people across all those channels because that’s where the future of marketing is.
International is so often messed up. There are two common situations in which this applies:
Situation 1. Businesses see charts like ‘Internet Users across the globe = $$$”
Situation 2. Businesses travel and they see their competitors ranking for those terms and go back to their team and say let’s go international.
But international can go bad.
Just take a look at the Heineken’s design campaign for the 1994 soccer World Cup where the flags of all the participating countries were printed onto the side of the beer bottles. Saudi Arabia’s flag, however, features a religious verse from the Koran and all of the bottles had to be taken back off the shelves. If they’d just taken the time to understand the culture, that would have saved themselves tons of money and time.
Now, we see less fail and more confusion. Going international requires a business specific strategy. For web based businesses, expanding online is hard and it requires a strategy. People mistake languages and countries as the same thing. They might think they’re targeting languages but what they’re actually targeting is countries.
The strategy you need to figure out is:
Geo-targeting (targeting your content at a specific country)
Take this to heart, Geo-targeting is not translation.
Translation is one part of geo-targeting to reach a specific culture. Geotargeting is always best. For most companies in most situations, you are going to want to Geotarget.
1. Culture Changes
Meet Nathalie Nahai, The Web Psychologist (and consequently speaking at this year’s SearchLove London) She firmly believes there are certain different things about websites that are dependent on culture.
Targeting an international audience means more change to your marketing plan than just language. Nathalie also talks through Hofstede’s Cultural Dimension Theory and the idea of Power Distance and Individualistic vs Collectivistic culture. When we talk about individual culture, we mean that which is focused on the individual, an individual appreciation, the idea of us and we. Collectivistic represents more of an act for the society as a whole, as a family decision not for yourself but everyone else.
For Samsung, their website is focused to what you want, not what’s best for everyone. Their Japan focus site is all about the collective and user’s relationships. These are small site considerations but that speak to that culture.
Power Distance : The degree to which the less powerful members of a society accept and expect that power is distributed unequally ie. how you view how important people are.
For the University of Malaysia, this is a high power culture - it’s all about the professors because those are the really important people in their culture. By contrast in the Netherlands, there is a low power distance as the students are the really important people in their culture.
2. Search Engines Operate by Country
This is Google Estonia. google.ee (yup, it exists!) They operate by country not by language. What they do though, is offer Google Estonia in the languages that are relevant to that country. In Google Webmasters Tools, you’ll find no mention of language. You can’t set languages and you can’t do it in Bing either. Trust in the fact that search engines know how users want things to be done. Users operate on what they know and what they want to see.
3. Laws, Rules and Regulation
Shipping on your site internationally and offering a currency and tax that’s different per country per area. Now, this is hard, and it’s costly. To really Geo-target and get the content right to a user's country you’ve got to buy the domain and keep up the hosting. Any major retailer that’s made a global business knows how hard this is. Just because the web is inherently global doesn't mean it’s easy.
There are 29 French speaking countries. Most of them are in Africa so you might be wrong in thinking that there can’t be a lot of big web users in Africa - most web users have to be citizens of France, right? Well, if you did think that then you would be leaving out a huge portion of your online community.
Keep calm and don’t machine translate
Yes, it’s cheaper, yes it’s easier but it’s not the best. If you’re going to spend all this time and all your money, building brand and community do not lose all of that with machine translating.
What Strategy is Right? Well, let us introduce you to the new and improved International Search Strategy Tool.
This quiz will help to determine how to expand internationally online by getting you to answer a series of questions about your business set up and customer needs. i.e Does your business product content or change in different countries? (eCommerce, yes - if you provide a service, it doesn’t change between countries) Are you targeting countries that have a different language than your native language?
In the case described above, your international strategy would be to Geo Target only. There’s no need to use HREFlang. There are no translations within each of those different geo targeted sites. They will need to change the content and will have to pick the URL structure. Stick with it. Set up GWMT Geo Targeting and don’t use IP detection for country targeting - ask them first. Use people who are native to the country for outreach
Use the free tool and go and find your strategy.
Don’t machine translate
On the agenda today.
3. Favourite Interview Questions
4. Team Structure and Organisation
5. Empowering Marketing
Great work attracts great talent. Being included in ‘Best of’s and getting mentioned in these types of posts isn’t just about pride, it makes your brand more appealing to great marketers.
Reputation matters so treat everyone well. This reputation stuff is huge. For Moz, it has been challenging to hire software engineers and testers. As a company, they are hosting and speaking at a ton of events but none of them are in Seattle and so that’s why no one has heard of us in this city.
As a company, work to leverage your size and focus on your strengths. There’s a way to make your company appeal to great marketers. We don’t have a huge growth pattern. You can make that a strength. Think of your job pages like landing pages - it’s embarrassing that the page building your team gets short changed against a landing page or a webinar that will only exist for one day. It doesn’t work like that. You all know marketing. Apply it.
For Moz, referral bonuses weren’t effective long term. Initially, they worked from a scheme whereby if you referred a software engineer, you would be paid $12,000 for finding them. The idea was to not use recruiters but instead those people referring and the engineers themselves but this caused internal issues. Moz’s own engineers were complaining. A lot of the candidates applying were purely motivated by the money and it created first class and second class citizens within the team ie. if you’re a software engineer, you are worth more to us. Of course, that’s not a reality but that doesn’t take away from the statement that we have created.
Let’s move into hire.
A common mistake in retaining talent - they look at culture fit vs performance. If someone is doing great work and they are a great fit, that’s an easy hire. Low performance and high culture fit, that person can improve their performance. After all,
“you can train the head, you can’t train the heart”.
Now we’re not talking whether you like to rock climb and/or catered lunches - thats not culture. Culture is things like the company mission and vision, your values, hiring, firing and promotional criteria. By sharing values and priorities, we work well together.
The T shaped marketer
The T shaped marketer has a wide breadth of basic knowledge across many overlapping disciplines and some inch deep knowledge across the rest of the marketing fields. You want to be building a team of marketers who know a little bit more about the other stuff so that they can work to help brainstorm, take a look at your campaigns but most importantly, understand others work and what goes into it.
Reference check process
You might want to find shared connections that the candidate hasn't listed on his resume and who don’t work with them right now via LinkedIn and reach out to these people. During the interview process, think about what you want to learn - determine the candidates culture fit, assess whether they’re good at problem solving and the kind of stuff you need them to do. Are they honest, ethical and what are their motivations?
Some favourite interview questions:
1. Walk me through your professional history.
How did you start out? Why did you leave there? This questions reveals a tremendous amount about the candidates motivation.
2. Draw and explain a company’s marketing funnel.
3. What parts of the job do you think will be easy vs hard? (do they get the role? Have they paid some attention in the recruiting process? Do they have the right dose of humility? Pride is almost equivalent with downfall)
4. One for the SEO folks: How would you rate these ranking factors in Google?
Justify those responses. One of Avanish’s question for people who come to Google is to ask the candidate their favorite website and then what three metrics they would use to measure this site’s success? Even if they provide the best answers, challenge them.
5.What questions do you have about the company, team, job and work?
Team Structures and Organisation
Don’t let your role define your influence.
Let your influence define your role.
Project Product Based Terms
Adventure Team: Full time adventurers (web devs product manager)
Part time adventurers (UX architect, inbound marketer, copywriter)
Consultant adventurers (database admin, customer service, finance)
What makes us happy at work? In this illustrated video, Daniel Pink identifies three factors that lead to better performance and personal satisfaction:
- Autonomy: I am self directed in my job
- Mastery: I strive to get better and better at my skill set
- Purpose: I believe in what I am doing
Sometimes, however, there can be some team structure stuff that holds people back from this. So, what is the right team structure? This is how most companies are structured.
This is a better way to think about it.
Because if management is the only way up, we’re all F’d.
Moz has established an individual contributor and people wrangling track which works to empower everyone and doesn’t force great ICs to become mediocre PWs. PW is totally different beast to being good at your jobs.
You need the failures to learn. A lot of companies fail to connect these tactics to the big picture which makes purpose insanely hard.
Make goals and progress transparent
Every team presents a slide so you all know how everyone is doing. Accomplishments, what’s up next. People can only be accountable for something that is fully under their control. If you find yourself in a situation like this, make sure you are pushing back.
The two people that are allowed to define the delivery of a project are the people doing the work. Setting a completion date is foolish. Instead, set a complete date for the very first part of the work and see if it gets done. Then, you can work to give a better estimate about when the work will actually be complete. There is an ecosystem that Google users call OKR’s; these objectives are then set and tracked. The team has their goals and they are accountable to themselves and the rest of their team through them.
Training and conference budgets
Give your employees the ability to upgrade their skills, with education, training resources and conferences like this.
Finally, some tools Rand likes: