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What is Marketing, and What's Its Purpose?

Dictionary.com defines marketing as, “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

If you work in a marketing role like I do, it’s probably difficult for you to define marketing even though you see and use it every day — the term marketing is a bit all-encompassing and variable for a straightforward definition.

This definition feels unhelpful.

The selling part, for instance, overlaps a little too snuggly with a “what is sales” definition, and the word advertising makes me think of Mad Men brainstorming sessions.

But upon digging deeper, I began seeing that actually, marketing does overlap heavily with advertising and sales. Marketing is present in all stages of the business, beginning to end.

At first, I wondered why marketing was a necessary component during product development, or a sales pitch, or retail distribution. But it makes sense when you think about it — marketers have the firmest finger on the pulse of your consumer persona.

The purpose of marketing is to research and analyze your consumers all the time, conduct focus groups, send out surveys, study online shopping habits, and ask one underlying question: “Where, when, and how does our consumer want to communicate with our business?”

Here, let’s explore the purposes of marketing, along with types of marketing, the 4 P’s of marketing, and the difference between marketing and advertising.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer looking to refresh your definitions, or a beginner looking to understand what marketing is in the first place, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in. 

Modern marketing began in the 1950s when people started to use more than just print media to endorse a product. As TV — and soon, the internet — entered households, marketers could conduct entire campaigns across multiple platforms. And as you might expect, over the last 70 years, marketers have become increasingly important to fine-tuning how a business sells a product to consumers to optimize success.

In fact, the fundamental purpose of marketing is to attract consumers to your brand through messaging. Ideally, that messaging will helpful and educational to your target audience so you can convert consumers into leads.

Today, there are literally dozens of places one can carry out a marketing campaign — where does one do it in the 21st century?

Types of Marketing

Where your marketing campaigns live depends entirely on where your customers spend their time. It’s up to you to conduct market research that determines which types of marketing — and which mix of tools within each type — is best for building your brand. Here are several types of marketing that are relevant today, some of which have stood the test of time:

  • Internet marketing: Inspired by an Excedrin product campaign that took place online, the very idea of having a presence on the internet for business reasons is a type of marketing in and of itself.
  • Search engine optimization: Abbreviated “SEO,” this is the process of optimizing content on a website so that it appears in search engine results. It’s used by marketers to attract people who perform searches that imply they’re interested in learning about a particular industry.
  • Blog marketing: Blogs are no longer exclusive to the individual writer. Brands now publish blogs to write about their industry and nurture the interest of potential customers who browse the internet for information.
  • Social media marketing: Businesses can use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and similar social networks to create impressions on their audience over time.
  • Print marketing: As newspapers and magazines get better at understanding who subscribes to their print material, businesses continue to sponsor articles, photography, and similar content in the publications their customers are reading.
  • Search engine marketing: This type of marketing is a bit different than SEO, which is described above. Businesses can now pay a search engine to place links on pages of its index that get high exposure to their audience. (It’s a concept called “pay-per-click” — I’ll show you an example of this in the next section).
  • Video marketing: While there were once just commercials, marketers now put money into creating and publishing all kinds of videos that entertain and educate their core customers.

Marketing and Advertising

If marketing is a wheel, advertising is one spoke of that wheel.

Marketing entails product development, market research, product distribution, sales strategy, public relations, and customer support. Marketing is necessary in all stages of a business’s selling journey, and it can use numerous platforms, social media channels, and teams within their organization to identify their audience, communicate to it, amplify its voice, and build brand loyalty over time.

On the other hand, advertising is just one component of marketing. It’s a strategic effort, usually paid for, to spread awareness of a product or service as a part of the more holistic goals outlined above. Put simply, it’s not the only method used by marketers to sell a product.

Here’s an example (keep reading, there’s a quiz at the end of it):

Let’s say a business is rolling out a brand new product and wants to create a campaign promoting that product to its customer base. This company’s channels of choice are Facebook, Instagram, Google, and its company website. It uses all of these spaces to support its various campaigns every quarter and generate leads through those campaigns.

To broadcast its new product launch, it publishes a downloadable product guide to its website, posts a video to Instagram demonstrating its new product, and invests in a series of sponsored search results on Google directing traffic to a new product page on its website.

Now, which of the above decisions were marketing, and which were advertising?

The advertising took place on Instagram and Google. Instagram generally isn’t an advertising channel, but when used for branding, you can develop a base of followers that’s primed for a gentle product announcement every now and again. Google was definitely used for advertising in this example; the company paid for space on Google — a program known as pay-per-click (PPC) — on which to drive traffic to a specific page focused on its product. A classic online ad.

Where did the marketing take place? This was a bit of a trick question, as the marketing was the entire process. By aligning Instagram, Google, and its own website around a customer-focused initiative, the company ran a three-part marketing campaign that identified its audience, created a message for that audience, and delivered it across the industry to maximize its impact.

The 4 Ps of Marketing

In the 1960’s, E Jerome McCarthy came up with the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, promotion.

Essentially, these 4 Ps explain how marketing interacts with each stage of the business.

Product

Let’s say you come up with an idea for a product you want your business to sell. What’s next? You probably won’t be successful if you just start selling it.

Instead, you need your marketing team to do market research and answer some critical questions: Who’s your target audience? Is there market fit for this product? What messaging will increase product sales, and on which platforms? How should your product developers modify the product to increase likelihood of success? What do focus groups think of the product, and what questions or hesitations do they have?

Marketers use the answers to these questions to help businesses understand the demand for the product and increase product quality by mentioning concerns stemming from focus group or survey participants.

Price

Your marketing team will check out competitors’ product prices, or use focus groups and surveys, to estimate how much your ideal customer is willing to pay. Price it too high, and you’ll lose out on a solid customer base. Price it too low, and you might lose more money than you gain. Fortunately, marketers can use industry research and consumer analysis to gauge a good price range.

Place

It’s critical that your marketing department uses their understanding and analysis of your business’s consumers to offer suggestions for how and where to sell your product. Perhaps they believe an ecommerce site works better than a retail location, or vice versa. Or, maybe they can offer insights into which locations would be most viable to sell your product, either nationally and internationally.

Promotion

This P is likely the one you expected from the get-go: promotion entails any online or print advertisement, event, or discount your marketing team creates to increase awareness and interest in your product, and, ultimately, lead to more sales. During this stage, you’ll likely see methods like public relations campaigns, advertisements, or social media promotions.

Hopefully, our definition and the four Ps help you understand marketing’s purpose and how to define it. Marketing intersects with all areas of a business, so it’s important you understand how to use marketing to increase your business’s efficiency and success.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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The 20 Best Video Editing Apps for 2021

Using a video editing app is critical for creating a winning video marketing strategy. 

And if you’re reading this blog post, chances are you already know you should incorporate more video content into your marketing, especially after the rise of remote living. 

But like most new strategies, you’ll need to prove its ROI before you get budget. And that can be tricky, because to make a great video, you need a few things — like a camera and editing software.

You might already have a high-quality camera built into your smartphone, but editing your raw footage and preparing it for publication requires a third-party mobile app. You might even need to hop on the computer for the more extensive post-production projects.

There’s a good chance you already have video editing software installed on your computer. For Windows, that’s Movie Maker, and for Macs, it’s iMovie. But depending on the purpose your video is serving — and the content channel to which you’re distributing it — you may find that these options aren’t packed with enough features.

The good news: There are several free and inexpensive video editing apps you can download that run the gamut from super simple to Hollywood-level powerful.

Editing Apps for Videos: Standard Features

Every editing app will be different, but there are a few features you’ll want to look for. Because most apps will have a free and paid version, it’s important to know what’s essential and what might be worth an upgrade. 

Make sure that you can do the following without paying for a premium version: 

  • Either import videos and photos from your camera, or film them from the app itself. 
  • Scrub through the video as you edit it. 
  • Add music to the video. 
  • Choose an aspect ratio that fits with your target platform (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo, and so on). 
  • Export video with at least 480p quality. 
  • Either save the video to your camera roll or to the app’s cloud service. 
  • Add text and common shapes at the minimum. 
  • Speed up or slow down the video by 1-2X. 

Premium features that you might run into include: 

  • Stickers, filters, gifs, and unique fonts 
  • Professional transitions between shots
  • Premium music choices and quality stock footage
  • High-definition exports (720p, 1080p, or 4K)
  • Layering, masks, and green-screen detection technologies
  • Multi-track editing and timelines
  • Extreme speeding up and extreme slowing down of the footage (>4X) 
  • No branded watermark

The following solutions can help you make video magic — whether your video is meant for Instagram, YouTube, or a similar channel where you audience is hungry for content. Click one of the links below to jump to a specific type of app, or keep reading to learn about them all.

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Instagram Video Editing Apps

The following apps allow you to edit and quickly upload beautiful videos to Instagram. None of these apps are limited to Instagram, but are known for their support of this social network.

1. Magisto

Price: Starts at free | Platforms: iOS, Android, Online

Magisto video editing app for InstagramImage Source

Video automation is here — in the form of the Magisto video editor.

Owned by Vimeo, Magisto allows you to make incredible videos without ever leaving your smartphone in three easy steps: First, you’ll choose your video editing style (the type of story you’re telling), then you’ll choose the photos and video clips you’d like included, and lastly you’ll pick your music from Magisto’s built-in music library.

Using artificial intelligence (AI), this intuitive app helps organize your footage in a video that best delivers the message you have in mind. Why not stop at the free version? Upgrade to Premium or Professional for a small monthly fee and make longer movies with more of your own content.

Pros 

  • Easy-to-use templates for hassle-free creation
  • Intuitive, beginner-friendly interface
  • Online version available for creating both on Windows and macOS laptops 
  • Professional and Business plans come with a free Vimeo Pro subscription 

Cons 

  • The “Created with Magisto” watermark will be visible unless you upgrade to premium
  • No multi-track editing or 4K exporting
  • Ideal for very short social media videos (< 3 minutes long) 
  • Stock videos are only accessible with a Professional plan

2. Hyperlapse

Price:Free | Platforms: iOS

Hyperlapse is an app created by Instagram itself that condenses videos into brief, hyper-speed videos that you can upload to Instagram or Facebook.

You can choose among a few different speeds, and the app will show you how long the hyperlapsed video will be for every speed in comparison to the length of the video in real time. (So a 40-second video in real time will become roughly a 7-second video in Hyperlapse at 6X speed.) It’s a really cool way to capture something that usually lasts a while — like a sunset or an event setup.

See what happened when I used Hyperlapse to film daybreak at 12X in the video above.

Pros 

  • Easy way to speed up process videos 
  • Minimal layout that’s nearly identical to the iPhone camera  
  • You can capture videos straight from the app 
  • No sign-in required to get started 

Cons 

  • Only has one capability: speeding up videos 
  • You can’t import already-filmed videos into the app
  • The video saves into your camera roll, taking up storage space 
  • No multi-track editing, 4K exporting, or other features typically associated with apps for video editing 

3. Wondershare Filmora

Price: Starts at free on mobile | Platforms: iOS, Android, macOS, Windows

Wondershare Filmora video editing applicationImage Source

Wondershare Filmora (formerly Wondershare Video Editor) is the perfect option if you want to start out with basic video editing functionality with the opportunity to get more advanced as you go. The app is perfect for Instagram, but can create audience-ready videos for numerous platforms.

Filmora is available for Windows and Mac computers, whereas the company’s FilmoraGo mobile app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

Filmora’s “Easy Mode” strips away the complexity so you can drag and drop video clips, add some music, and produce a finished video in a matter of minutes. The FilmoraGo app has many of these features, plus an Effect Store where you can incorporate preset intros, themes, and transitions into your video creation.

Sound too good to be true? Well, you’re right: The free version of Wondershare Filmora adds a watermark to your videos that you can only remove through upgrading to their paid service.

Pros 

  • A powerful option for both beginner and advanced video editors 
  • The desktop version offers multi-track editing and more traditional video editing capabilities
  • The mobile version includes easy-to-use effects, stickers, and filters 
  • You can layer music and different sounds in the mobile app 
  • Relatively affordable (starting at less than $50 per year for Filmora X, and free for the mobile app) compared to competitors such as Adobe

Cons 

  • The desktop apps are not free, but a trial is available 
  • Videos are watermarked with the Wondershare branding unless you upgrade to a premium plan 

4. InShot

Price: Starts at free | Platforms: iOS, Android

There are the times when you just want to edit a video — no fancy collages and no splicing. For that, there’s InShot, a handy app that lets you trim, speed up, or add music and filters to video. It’s pretty fundamental, but with that comes a high ease of use. You can also add a background, if you like, though we think it’s pretty cool to have an overlap of images, like we did with the video above.

I took a simple video of a tranquil beach scene, but enhanced it with InShot’s “warm filter” and added a fitting musical track to it — a song called “Pikake Stream,” by Kalani. (I recommend viewing the video in its entirety with headphones, especially if you’re having a stressful day.)

Pros 

  • Great app for beginners and marketers who don’t have a lot of time for intensive video editing

  • Built-in music library with royalty-free options 

  • You have the ability to add voice-overs and your own music 

  • The app has a 4.8-star rating on the Apple Store and over 1M ratings 

Cons 

  • No desktop app available 

  • Filters and stickers are only available with a paid subscription

  • Your video will be watermarked unless you upgrade to the paid version

Top Free Video Editing Software

The following tools are most versatile mobile apps of all the free software listed in this article.

5. WeVideo

Price: Starts at free | Platforms: iOS, Android, Chrome OS

WeVideo editing app for video on Android

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Cloud-based video editing software (i.e., software that you access via a browser instead of downloading directly to your hard drive) is growing more and more popular. One of the programs leading the charge is WeVideo.

WeVideo definitely offers some advanced features and functionality, including audio editing capabilities, a library of commercially licensed music, and the ability to share videos in 4K resolution. However, the free version of WeVideo isn’t without its limitations.

One major downside is that you’re only given 10GB of cloud storage. If you’re making a one-off video, this is fine. But if you’re planning to edit multiple videos, you’ll definitely need more space. The free version also puts a WeVideo watermark on your videos, which isn’t ideal.

WeVideo is also available as a desktop computer product, and comes with free and paid plans. For a complete breakdown of the differences between these plans, check out WeVideo’s pricing page.

Pros 

  • You can access your videos from any device 
  • Paid versions are relatively cheap (starting at $4.99 for the Power version)
  • 4K exporting available

Cons 

  • Only 10GB of storage and 5 minutes of published video available on the free version
  • The maximum resolution is 480p on the free subscription
  • Your video will be watermarked with WeVideo’s branding unless you upgrade 

6. Splice

Price: Free | Platforms: iOS

Splice allows you — as the name suggests — to splice together different video clips on your phone to create a moving collage.

We had a lot of fun playing with this one, especially since Splice even contains a library of musical tracks that can be used as a background for your finished product. You can also use the app to trim and edit the different pieces of video, and customize transition lengths from one scene to the next.

My colleague, Amanda Zantal-Wiener, experimented with Splice by compiling the above 15-second video of her dog — using only an iPhone 6.

Pros 

  • Easy and intuitive to use

  • Familiar user-friendly interface

  • Multi-track and timeline editing with layers and masks

  • No sign-in required

  • No watermark, even for free subscribers 

Cons 

  • Subscription starts at $2.99/week, or $12.97/month, which is pricier than other alternatives 

  • Effects and music are only available for paid subscribers

7. Adobe Premiere Rush

Price: Free | Platforms: iOS, Android

Adobe Premiere Rush video editing app for Android and iOS

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Adobe’s popular video editor, Premiere, isn’t just available on your mobile device — it’s free.

Melissa Stoneburner of Examiner.com calls this app a “gateway” into the full Adobe Premiere Pro video editor for desktop, and we can see this for ourselves. Similar to Magisto (the first video editor on our list), Adobe Rush automatically sets your video to the music of your choice (using Premiere Rush’s library or your own), and offers a Freeform editor that allows you to customize your edits further after this initial audio sync.

Premiere Rush’s equally robust video editing features help you trim, drag, and drop multiple video and image clips — right from your mobile device’s photo and video album — in the order you’d like.

Then, just add proper lighting, manipulate the speed of the video, and share your final product directly on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Pros 

  • A natural choice for current Adobe users 

  • Familiar video editing interface for those with experience, and easier learning curve for beginners 

  • Paid version supports 4K exports 

Cons

  • Some users report exporting and crashing issues on the Android version

  • Limited storage capabilities (<100gb) for free users  

8. PicPlayPost

Price: Free | Platforms: iOS, Android

We’ve already covered the coolness of photo collages. But what if you could make a video collage? PicPlayPost is a simple app that lets you do exactly that. Just remember that the sound from both videos will play at the same time, so be sure they won’t clash with one another.

There are many uses for a video collage app, but my colleague, Lindsay Kolowich, particularly likes the way fitness professional Melissa Made uses it on her Instagram account. She posts video collages with her performing a workout on one side, while she explains the workout out loud on the other.

Pros

  • You can create alternative formats such as gifs and live photos 

  • 4K exporting available 

Cons 

  • Most valuable features are available on the paid version only

  • You can’t paste text from another app

  • Video will be watermarked with the PicPlayPost branding unless you upgrade 

Best Video Editing Apps for YouTube

Although the video editing services below do not offer mobile versions, they do offer easy-to-learn functionality at minimal cost. These apps are the best for sitting down at your computer and editing amazing video content for your YouTube channel.

9. Blender

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

Blender desktop application for editing videos

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The open source program Blender is more than just a video editor: It’s a full-blown 3D animation suite, which allows for modeling, rendering, motion tracking, and more.

On the video editing side, there are a ton of features, including transitions, speed control, filters, adjustment layers, and more. There are also 32 slots available for adding video clips, audio clips, images, and effects, which means you can produce some incredibly complex video.

For the amateur video editor, all the functionality that’s available can be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re looking to produce truly professional-quality video — without having to deal with watermarks — Blender is a solid option. The best part: “You are free to use Blender for any purpose, including commercially or for education,” according to its website. For the fine print, check out its licensing info.

Pros

  • Long history of use across multiple platforms 

  • You can also render, model, sculpt, and animate using this app 

Cons 

  • Steep learning curve for beginners 

10. Lightworks

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux

Lightworks video editor on Linux desktop

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Like Blender, Lightworks is definitely on the more advanced (and powerful) end of the video editing software spectrum. In fact, it’s a program that’s been used to edit some well-known and award-winning films, including Pulp Fiction, The Wolf of Wall Street, and The King’s Speech.

There are two different licenses you can choose from with Lightworks: “Free” and “Pro.” (The latter of which, as you might have guessed, requires that you cough up some cash.) The main difference between the two licenses is that the Pro version offers more features, including stereoscopic output and advanced project sharing. But the free version is still quite powerful, providing 100+ effects and supporting multicam editing.

Pros

  • Like Blender, Lightworks has a long history of use across multiple platforms 

  • You can access royalty-free videos and audio from the desktop app

  • You can export up to 4K 

  • Multi-track editing and timelines, even in the free version 

  • You can buy a lifetime license for $437.99 and never worry about renewing a subscription 

Cons 

  • Extremely steep learning curve for beginners 

  • Not many options for creating titles and subtitles 

  • Users have reported formatting issues when importing video clips 

11. Shotcut

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

Shotcut video editor in timeline view

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Shotcut is another open source video software — and it’s completely free. It’s possible to use Shotcut to create professional-looking videos, but the interface is tricky to use. Perhaps that’s because it was originally developed for the Linux platform, which looks and feels a lot different from the typical Windows or Mac UX.

With dedication — and time spent in the Shotcut frequently asked questions and how-to guide sections — it’s possible to use this software to create and export high-quality videos, completely for free.

Pros

  • Completely free—you never have to upgrade, ever  

  • Diverse list of features that rival those of paid apps 

Cons 

  • Could be difficult to get the hang of at first

  • Some users find the UI difficult to navigate

  • Less intuitive compared to other apps such as Premiere Pro and FinalCut, even for experienced editors 

12. VSDC Free Video Editor

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows Only

VSDC video editor on timeline view on a desktop

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In experienced hands, the VSDC Free Video Editor can produce some seriously professional-looking video. In addition to supporting nearly every major video format, the program offers advanced video effects, including object transformation and color correction, as well as advanced audio effects like volume correction and sound normalization. And unlike WeVideo, the VSDC Free Video Editor is truly free. You can use the program’s full feature set without having to deal with pesky watermarks.

Unfortunately, there is one catch. If you want technical support, you need to pay. (And because there is a bit of a learning curve, there’s a good chance you’ll need to.) Support for the VSDC Free Video Editor costs $9.99 for one month and $14.99 for one year.

Pros

  • Free version is packed with typically premium features such as masking, blending modes, and 4K exports  

  • You can share your video directly from the app to YouTube, Vimeo, and other platforms 

Cons 

  • You have to pay for support if you’re on the free version 

  • Not as user-friendly as other alternatives 

  • Users have reported a steep learning curve 

13. Machete Video Editor Lite

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows Only

Machete video editing software for Windows OS

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At the simple end of the spectrum is Machete Video Editor Lite, a free program allowing you to cut, copy, and paste different sections of video. As the Machete website puts it, Video Editor Lite was “designed for quick and simple ‘slicing’ of your video files.”

The program’s intuitive interface means you won’t have to waste time shuffling through technical support documents. And because Video Editor Lite doesn’t re-encode your video files when you slice them, you don’t have to worry about losing video quality.

The main downsides to the program? It only supports the AVI and WMV video formats, and it doesn’t allow for audio editing. Still, if you have zero video editing experience and only need to make simple edits, it’s a great option.

Pros

  • Offers simple but powerful slicing and editing capabilities

  • Incredibly simple and user-friendly interface; simply download and go 

Cons 

  • You can only export AVI and WMV files 

  • You can’t edit or replace the audio 

  • Outdated website with limited support documents

14. Avidemux

Price: Free | Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux

Avidemux video editing software for YouTube and animated videos

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Like Machete Video Editor Lite, Avidemux allows you to do basic video editing (no audio editing) without having to worry about loss of video quality. But Avidemux also has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

For starters, the program supports multiple video formats, including AVI, DVD, MPEG, QuickTime, and MP4. What’s more, Avidemux comes with several filters that allow you to perform a host of different functions, from flipping and rotating clips, to adding subtitles, to adjusting colors and brightness levels.

And while the learning curve for Avidemux is slightly steeper compared to Machete Video Editor Lite, the upside is that there’s an extensive Avidemux wiki that covers everything you need to know.

Pros

  • Supports multiple file formats such as AVI, MPEG, MP4, and Microsoft’s proprietary ASF 

  • Simple interface that’s best for tasks such as cutting and splicing footage

  • Easy learning curve; simply download and start using

Cons 

  • Limited capabilities compared to other apps (especially mobile apps) 

15. HitFilm

Price: Starts at free | Platforms: Windows, macOS

HitFilm video editing software in timeline view

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HitFilm Express is a free video editing and visual effects software — which means you can use it to add more than 180 special effects to your videos, including 3D editing.

Possibly the coolest HitFilm feature is its wealth of tutorial videos — users can practice applying special visual effects in movie tutorials based on Star Wars, Westworld, and more.

Of course, upgrading to HitFilm Pro grants access to more visual effects, better high resolution and 3D rendering, and better audio syncing between audio and video files. It costs $300, but if you’re not ready to fully invest, HitFilm Express users can purchase lower-cost expansions to use more tools in their software.

To see the complete list of differences between HitFilm Free and Pro, check out their “Compare Versions” page.

Pros

  • Powerful capabilities such as mask rendering, export queues, and unlimited tracks and transitions 

  • Built-in voice recorder for easy voice-overs 

  • Has been described as a mix between Adobe After Effects and Adobe Premiere Pro 

Cons 

  • Steep learning curve for beginners 

  • Users have reported some crashing issues

Video Editing Apps for Android

These video editing apps are particularly appealing for Android mobile users, though some of them are compatible with more than just the Android operating system.

16. VideoShow

Price: Free | Platforms: Android, iOS

VideoShow video editing app for Android and iOS

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VideoShow allows you to edit video content in a number of creative ways beyond cutting and pasting scenes together. The award-winning app, which has more than 400 million users, allows you to include text overlays, stickers, music, filters, and sound effects to your footage. Because of these features, it lends itself to video producers who want to add a bit more creativity to a vlog series, where the video is primarily of one person speaking directly to the camera.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use yet powerful, with HD exports available for free users 

  • Expansive music library 

Cons 

  • Your video will be watermarked with VideoShow branding if you’re not on the paid version 

  • You can’t export the video without upgrading to the paid version

17. PowerDirector

Price: Free | Platforms: Android, Windows, macOS

PowerDirector app for editing videos on Android, Windows, and macOS

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This robust video editor has a suite of creative design tools just for Android and desktop users. Developed by CyberLink, the app can help you create 4K-quality videos from footage taken with numerous devices. Special features include motion tracking, which helps you focus on specific subjects in each frame; video collages, which help you piece together numerous photos into a motion video; and video stabilization, allowing you to remove moments of “shaky camera” in your footage. PowerDirector can also help you add voice overs and creative sound effects using chroma key.

Many of PowerDirector’s features are completely free in the Android app. For a more advanced suite of editing tools, you can invest in one of CyberLink’s paid products starting at $99.

Pros

  • Powerful features such as green screen editing, motion graphics, and keyframe controls 

  • Incredibly low price compared to competitors such as Adobe 

  • Multi-track editing and timelines

  • The company constantly adds new graphics and templates for users to choose from 

Cons 

  • Some users have reported that it can be buggy

  • Steep learning curve for beginners 

18. Quik

Price: Free | Platforms: Android, iOS, macOS, Windows

Quik video editing tool inside the Android app

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Quik is a video editing tool developed by GoPro, making it the software of choice for people who are editing footage from their GoPro camera. But yes, it can edit content from any source. 

The app can manage up to 75 photos and video clips in one project, and can even comb through this content to help you make smart editing decisions based on what the app detects in the footage. From time lapses to panoramic pieces, Quik can manipulate your media in lots of creative ways. The app has more than 20 preset themes to choose from and supports eight common file types.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use and intuitive app

  • Automatically imports photos from your camera 

Cons 

  • This software no longer receives updates from its manufacturer 

  • You only have access to the cloud when you upgrade to GoPro PLUS

19. KineMaster

Price: Free | Platforms: iOS, Android, ChromeOS

KineMaster video editor in timeline view on the Android platform

Image Source

KineMaster is a super-versatile video editing tool that allows you to edit videos on “multiple layers.” What does that mean? Content creators can add an unlimited amount of text overlays, images, audio, and even free handwriting onto their footage for the artistic detail they or their brand needs. You can also blend multiple pieces of footage and use double-exposures to customize the background in a load of creative ways.

For simpler editing tasks, of course, this app offers intuitive trimming and splitting features to make your video progress just the way you want it to.

Pros

  • Powerful features such as multi-track editing, layers, and blending modes  

  • Over 3M reviews on Google Play and an average rating of 4.5 stars 

  • You can share on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook straight from the app

  • 4K exports available 

Cons 

  • Your video will be watermarked with the KineMaster branding if you don’t upgrade to Premium 

  • Limited access to assets on the free version 

20. VivaVideo

Price: Free | Platforms: iOS, Android

VivaVideo app for editing videos on the Android operating system

Image Source

VivaVideo makes professional-level edits easy for content creators. Free for all mobile devices, the app allows you to trim, merge, speed up, slow down, and reverse clips and images in a short amount of time. The app also comes with a simple collage- and slideshow-maker, and offers a variety of camera lenses to capture new, edit-ready footage directly in the app. 

Pros

  • Fun on-trend filters, templates, and effects 
  • Expansive music library with hundreds of clips to choose from 
  • Multi-track editing that allows you to layer voice clips and music 

Cons 

  • Five-minute time limit for videos

With most people working from home, the importance of video can’t be overstated. But unless you get the right app for video editing, you’ll run the risk of publishing videos that look unprofessional and unpolished. 

With these apps, you’ll be sure to create video that attracts, converts, and delights your audience. The sooner you download one, the sooner you can sharpen your audio/video creation skills and attract more people to your brand. 

Create Better Videos for a Higher ROI 

Online video content isn’t just watched more — it’s expected more. Luckily, you have the video editing tools to help you delight your audience and improve conversion rates across your social media accounts. Grab the guide below to make the video learning curve easier and to jumpstart your video marketing efforts. 

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

video marketing starter pack

 
video marketing starter pack

Reblogged 31 minutes ago from blog.hubspot.com

Parler offered Trump an ownership stake to post there, report claims

Parler offered Trump an ownership stake to post there, report claims

Parler wanted Donald Trump, and badly. 

The team behind the social media platform known for its far-right friendly approach to content moderation and, more recently, hosting issues, reportedly offered Trump a 40 percent ownership stake in the company. In exchange, the now-former president would’ve needed to primarily post to that site — giving other social media platforms, some of which (at least for now) banned him, short shrift. 

So reports BuzzFeed News, which writes that it remains unconfirmed whether or not Trump was directly involved in the talks. What discussion there was reportedly took place over the summer, as well as after Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden in the 2020 U.S. election.  Read more…

More about Donald Trump, Social Media, Parler, Tech, and Social Media Companies

Reblogged 6 hours ago from feeds.mashable.com

Facebook says it'll ban anti-vax content, again

Facebook says it'll ban anti-vax content, again

If at first you don’t succeed, keep telling people that you’re trying again.

Facebook announced Monday that, over a year into a pandemic that has killed more than 460,000 people in the U.S. alone, it intends to do more about the pervasive anti-vaccine content sloshing across its platform. Specifically, the social media giant said it will remove a specific set of false claims about both COVID-19 and vaccines. 

Of course, we’ve heard this promise before. In March 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic, Facebook promised to crack down on anti-vaccine content. In October of 2020, Facebook said it would finally ban anti-vaccine ads. And in December of 2020, Facebook insisted it would ban COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.  Read more…

More about Facebook, Instagram, Social Media, Coronavirus, and Tech

Reblogged 6 hours ago from feeds.mashable.com

11 Tips for writing YouTube descriptions

YouTube video covers and titles might be what grab your attention but descriptions are where the search engine shines. YouTube SEO is quite similar in concept to how you would write for a blog post or website page: titles are important but so are the details. The more you understand video SEO, the more likely your video will show up in the search results. That being said, writing great YouTube descriptions does not negate poor video content. Descriptions will get your viewer to your video but your video still needs to hold up its end of the quality bargain.

The two different YouTube descriptions

Two types of YouTube descriptions exist: one for the channel and one for the video itself. Most of the tips listed here apply to the video description but some, like using the right keywords, are applicable to the channel description, too.

Channel descriptions summarize what you should expect from the channel. Much like how a company boilerplate is written, a channel name is repeated a few times, along with a few keywords that should be associated with the channel.

Video descriptions tell you far more details on what to expect from the video, can include related links and will also use repeating keywords. You have a lot more room to be descriptive for videos and those first few lines are important to viewers.

Why are YouTube descriptions important?

When you use a search engine or YouTube’s native search, many factors play into how your video shows up in the results. YouTube descriptions are one of those factors. If your video description contains popular search terms or their associated keywords, it is more likely to show up in results and in the sidebar for related videos. If you’re familiar with how website SEO works, think of this as the meta description.

However, it doesn’t mean you should keyword stuff your description. People still read YouTube descriptions and click through important links. Here are a few tips on how to write some great YouTube descriptions.

Make your video description match your video title

The video title has about 75 characters where you can instantly grab a viewer’s attention. Whatever you use for keywords should be present in your title and used a few more times throughout the description itself.
Star Trek's YouTube channel uses keywords in their video title and description.
In the example above, Star Trek aims at keywords “Star Trek” and “video effects” in both the title and the description. The description does go on further than the screenshot but you can tell in just the first few paragraphs how it would be very difficult for a search engine to miss that this video is about Star Trek video effects.

1. Make those first 200 characters count

Yes, the full description is important but what’s even more important are those first 200 characters. You get 5000 characters to be wordy but those first 200 are the ones that show up in search results and “above the fold.” In YouTube’s case, it’s approximately the first line or what displays above the “show more” expansion.

The first line should include the most important keywords that you want to be associated with the video and written in a way that grabs a viewer’s attention. Much like how one would write a Tweet, headline and copywriting tips apply here, too.

2. Repeat video keywords

As hinted at before, keywords are important in both SEO and in YouTube video descriptions. Whether you’re writing for an existing video or researching which ones are best for your channel, Google’s Keyword planner tool comes in handy for keyword research.
Screenshot of YouTube keywords driving traffic videos and the number of views.
A few keywords are all you need and once those are identified for your video, make sure they’re sprinkled throughout your description.

3. Add complementary keywords

Think you’re done with keywords? Think again. You still need to consider the complementary ones, which are additional keywords that are similar to the first targeted set. For example, you might search for “eco-friendly products” but additional keywords could include “green,” “earth” and “zero waste.” These are synonymous and adding these will help YouTube understand how your video could be associated with “green products,” too.

4. Add call-to-action words & links

It’s wise — and best practice — to link your social media handles in your YouTube descriptions. And separate from sharing those links are the ones associated with the video. These links can be calls-to-action to read a blog post, purchase a product or general additional information. If you mention several products in your video and your viewers often ask about them, it’s a good idea to put those links in the descriptions.
Red Bull's YouTube video description includes call-to-action links related to the video and their brand.
In the above example, Red Bull links not just their On Demand apps but also the two people who are involved in the video itself. To go further, their own link and additional social media ones further down, are shortened and branded for easy analytic tracking.

5. Add default video upload settings

Are you tired of copying and pasting the same 10 lines that you include with every video? Add a default setting to your description that can show up without your manual addition. Most often, these include your company’s description, calls to subscribe and social media follow links.

6. Write like a human not a robot

Who wants to read a description stuffed to the brim with repeating keywords? That’s frustrating to both read and write. Use the first 200 characters to hook the viewer in and the rest of the space to be more informative. Web copywriting tips like keeping sentences short, sweet and understandable are useful here.

Living Big in a Tiny House includes a YouTube description that summarizes the video content.

In the above description, Living Big In A Tiny House writes the main paragraphs as a narrative of tiny living and provides basic details about the tiny home shown in the video. They could’ve easily not included these words but having them adds to the video appeal.

7. Add a few hashtags

Like keywords, hashtags are there to help other viewers find your video. These hashtags appear above the video title and can be added anywhere within the video description. It’s recommended to keep hashtags to just a few important ones so someone reading the description doesn’t get turned off by a mass of them.
Sephora's YouTube description includes hashtags for a better search experience.
In the example above, Sephora wrote the major three hashtags to include their brand name, the product’s brand name and the product category. Additional hashtags are also searchable terms associated with the hashtag. You’ll note that the words used in the hashtags also show up in the video’s title and elsewhere in the description. Keep in mind when using hashtags with multiple words or phrases to write them in title case so screen readers can recognize each word.

8. Match your social voice

Remember when we talked about writing like a human? Your brand’s social media voice should also be taken into account. Bland descriptions don’t do anything for your brand. You want to add your brand’s personality, vocabulary and writing style to the description.

For similar video types, it might make more sense for you to write some YouTube description templates. For example, how-to video descriptions would be written in a similar fashion: two sentences for a summary, some call-to-action links, links to products and then your social media links. Creating description templates make it easier on you and keep you on-brand.

9. Make video descriptions easy to read

This isn’t so much about the actual written content but how you format it. No one likes reading giant blocks of text but neither do people enjoy reading 10 one-liners in a row. Break up your description into sections with header titles that stand out, either with emojis, symbols, capitals or line breaks. When checking on the format, skim read your description and see what catches your eye and what you completely skip.

10. Preview your video description

Current YouTube stats say that 70% of the total watch time with viewers is on mobile. You might write your descriptions on desktop but make sure they also make sense on a phone and tablet. In addition to a mobile preview, check how the description shows up in search results and watch pages.

11. Check your analytics

As with any social media network, YouTube analytics are helpful in seeing which videos are performing well.
Screenshot of YouTube channel analytics.
With analytics, you’ll be able to see if certain keywords are working over others, which videos might increase in popularity with a keyword change and the general type of video that’s resonating with your viewers.

Conclusion

YouTube descriptions should not be put on the back burner of your YouTube marketing strategy. Video descriptions are important in not just the usual ranking in SEO keyword search results but also serve as a place where you can get your viewer to stay on the video for longer. With the right initial copy that pushes the viewer to read more, use the 5000 character limit to incorporate your brand voice and important links. And now that you have the descriptions down pat, it’s time to think about how to promote your YouTube channel.

This post 11 Tips for writing YouTube descriptions originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 11 hours ago from feedproxy.google.com

Calling social marketers “gurus” is not the compliment you think it is.

Anyone who’s worked in social media has been called a social media guru or wizard at some point in their career. And while on the surface those terms sound complimentary, the reality is they can be more harmful than helpful. .

Think of it this way. If your director of sales closes a deal, you would never chalk it up to the sales guy being a ninja. Even if a salesperson was called a wizard in passing, there is no mystery as to what someone in sales actually does or how they do their job.

But a social marketer might be referred to as a guru or their work attributed to magic, particularly when the person giving the compliment isn’t sure why a social campaign performed so well. Not only is this discouraging for social marketers to hear, it can also reveal a marketing leader’s knowledge (or lack thereof) about social marketing. What you might mean as a compliment can come across as a sign that you’re not entirely confident what a social marketer’s job entails or the skills that they employ day to day.

Hear me out…

When marketing leaders remove social media guru and wizard from their vernacular, they can get to work strengthening their relationship with the social team, filling in knowledge gaps and ultimately getting better results for their business.

Not sure what professional social media management looks like? Consider starting with some initial research! Read up on the difference between social managers and community managers, or hit up #MarketingTwitter to hear from social marketers directly. You’d be surprised at the answers you’ll find when you search up questions like “what does a social media manager do?”

If you find you still have questions around the ins and outs of social marketing, then reach out to a social media manager. When you meet with your social media team, come with a list of specific questions you have, like what skills are most valuable for their role or what challenges they frequently encounter. Learning about the specifics of what your social media manager does and help you replace phrases like ‘social media wizard’ with creator, analyst, strategist and more.

Removing words like “magic” from your vocabulary also creates space for productive conversations around how social media can support your broader marketing efforts. “Magic,” for example, doesn’t indicate how much money is needed for paid campaigns or how many creative assets are needed for a month’s worth of content. And it doesn’t tell you if there’s a staffing issue that’s creating bandwidth concerns for the social team. Knowing the time and resources needed for certain tasks can help managers overseeing social teams better plan and manage workloads to protect social marketers from burnout.

When leaders and social teams are on the same page, it can lead to greater collaboration and even stronger performance results. Marketing leaders, for example, are better equipped to ask for the metrics and recommendations that will move the needle on business goals. And social teams can ask for the resources and support they need without feeling like they have to re-educate their leaders on what it is they actually do.

Demystifying the social marketer’s role starts when leaders are able to answer the question “what does a social media manager do?” without using words like magic, wizard or guru. By eliminating those phrases from your vernacular, you stand to empower your social team and create opportunities for bigger and better collaborations.

Looking for more inspiration on how to empower and grow your social team? Check out our article on what to look for when hiring a new social manager and how to successfully onboard them onto your team.

This post Calling social marketers “gurus” is not the compliment you think it is. originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 11 hours ago from feedproxy.google.com

The most important Instagram statistics you need to know for 2021

Looking for Instagram statistics to guide your strategy in 2021?

Good!

Because the platform is perhaps the most rapidly-evolving across all of social media. And trust us: plenty changed in 2020 that’ll ultimately influence how you approach the ‘gram moving forward.

Below we’ve broken down an up-to-date list of Instagram stats to help you make the most of the network in 2021.

Instagram user and usage statistics

Let’s start with a basic question: how many people use Instagram?

Fun fact: Instagram surpassed the 1 billion global user mark as 2020 came to a close. A massive milestone that was seemingly only reserved for the likes of Facebook, this stat is a testament to Instagram’s staying power. In fact, Instagram’s user growth has been consistent and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.

Graph from Emarketer forecasting worldwide Instagram usage statistics from 2019-2023

So, how many downloads does Instagram have versus other social apps? According to data from Sensor Tower, Instagram was among the top five most-downloaded apps in both the App Store and via Google Play last year. The app scored ~13 million downloads in Q2 2020 alone. As of January 2021, the app is second only to TikTok in the App Store in terms of downloads (occasionally sparring with Facebook).

Bar graph showing the most-downloaded apps in the U.S. in Q2 2020

 

Now, let’s take at some Instagram statistics that shed some light on who’s using the platform. Recent social media demographics continue to point to a predominantly female (34.3%) user base that’s under the age of 34.

Although there are still older users present, the platform is largely still dominated by Gen Z and Millennials. This is further driven home by some recent Instagram stats compiled by Statista.

Statista bar chart showing Instagram demographics by age and gender as of October 2020

Beyond appealing to the younger crowd, Instagram is known for its rabid user base. Case in point, 63% of Americans say they check Instagram daily. Couple this data with research conducted in Australia which notes the average Instagram user spends at least 7 hours per week on the platform.

Key takeaways

  • Instagram’s user growth has been steady and consistent, especially among the younger crowd.
  • Building on the point above, Instagram’s users are among the most dedicated in terms of how frequently they log in.
  • The sheer number of app downloads signals the importance of mobile optimization for your Instagram marketing strategy.

Instagram content statistics

The Instagram algorithm has tripped up marketers in the past and that trend looks to continue in 2021.

Recent Instagram statistics tell us that organic engagement has fallen from 2020, which was at 1.60%. For reference, research from RivalIQ puts the average engagement rate at 1.22%. Long story short? Organic engagement isn’t what it used to be.

Bar chart from Rival IQ showing Instagram engagement rate across all industries

So, which types of content should brands prioritize to fight the phenomenon of lower reach? Research from Bannersnack highlights that Carousel posts score the highest engagement rate (1.94%) followed by images (1.74%) and video posts (1.45%).

 

Average engagement rates per carousel, image and video post on Instagram

This might come as a bit of surprise given that Carousels aren’t talked about as much compared to, say, Reels or Stories.

That said, video content is still booming. Interest in binge-watching content grew significantly in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic with 70% of marketers looking to up their investment in video. This comes hot on the heels of Instagram Reels and looming competition from TikTok.

Speaking of which, TikTok (29%) just barely edges out Instagram (25%) as teens’ preferred social platform of choice. In terms of content, expect Instagram to continue to push Reels. With Reels ads seemingly on the horizon, brands should consider double-dipping their short-form video across both Instagram and TikTok rather than choosing between them.

Graph showing Gen Z/U.S. Teen's favorite social platform, Instagram being 25%

But the big story when it comes to our Instagram stats surrounding content is, well, Stories.

According to Instagram themselves, 500+ million people use Stories daily and one-third of the most-viewed stories come from brands. Stories should remain a staple of your content strategy, especially as they allow brands to “skip the line” in followers’ feeds and aren’t restricted by the Instagram algorithm.

Wrapping our Instagram content statistics, we’ve found that the best time to post is Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday from 10–11 a.m. Posting at the times when your audience is most likely engaged should be common practice. Scheduling tools like Sprout Social can help with that.

Heat map showing the best times to post on Instagram

Key takeaways

  • Stories, Carousels and short-form video should remain central to your content strategy.
  • With fierce competition and so much content floating around, even the smallest aspects of optimization (think: timing, captions, bio) count.
  • As engagement rates dip, brands should consider supplementing their content with Instagram ads.

Instagram advertising statistics

Piggybacking on the Instagram stats above, social ads are becoming more and more popular.

According to research by Smartly.io, a staggering 50% of marketing teams spend half of their marketing budgets on social ads. Specifically, 29% of marketers spend the majority of their ad dollars on Instagram.

Graph showing on which platform the most ad spending occurs; Instagram is 29%

 

Data from Merkle highlights how Instagram Stories ads have been performing especially well for brands lately. Their research noted that Stories ads generated 35% of impressions and 29% of total Instagram ad spend for brands in Q3 2020. Also notable is the fact that Stories ads boast a lower-than-average CPM despite their recent growth.

Another fascinating Instagram statistic from the Merkle report highlights how many companies are running side-by-side ads on Facebook and Instagram In fact, Instagram accounted for 33% of Facebook ad spend and 36% of impressions for brands rolling out campaigns on both platforms.

Bar chart showing Instagram and Facebook ad share by spend and impression

Meanwhile, a recent Socialbakers report highlights how much cost per click (CPC) has dropped for Instagram Feed (~20% YoY) and Stories ads (~15% YoY).

Bar graph showing the cost per click by platform position with Instagram feed and Stories in the lead and growing year over year

We can’t talk about Instagram statistics without talking about influencers, though.

While there’s been some skepticism about whether or not influencers would stand the test of time, the numbers don’t lie. According to Instagram, 87% of people say that an influencer has driven them to make a purchase. They also note that 70% of “shopping enthusiasts” turn to Instagram for product discovery.

Even if people aren’t buying from influencers directly, there’s no denying their impact on cementing Instagram a shopping hub. For those that do purchase from influencers, standard image posts (78%) and Stories (73%) are regarded as the most effective types of influencer content according to MediaKix.

Key takeaways

  • Although not quite at the level of Facebook’s popularity, Instagram’s ad platform is definitely growing.
  • With new ad types rolling out every year, brands have more freedom than ever when it comes to their campaigns (signaling both challenges and opportunities).
  • Influencers still have staying power despite rumblings from critics both prior to and during the pandemic.

Instagram statistics for brands

To wrap things up, let’s look at some general Instagram stats for brands to keep in mind for 2021.

An oft-cited stat that has ticked upward year-over-year, 90% of people now follow a business on Instagram. Look no further than the consistent roll-out of new business features and shopping options for ecommerce merchants as evidence of how the platform is becoming more brand-friendly.

Perhaps this explains why Instagram is now the popular platform for following brands. This showcases not only the opportunities to sell products on Instagram, but also provide customer service and support.

Bar chart showing the use of social media to follow brands, with Instagram leading all other social platforms at 36%

However, remember that Instagram isn’t just a B2C network anymore as 46% of B2B content marketers used organic Instagram within the past 12 months. Not quite as much as LinkedIn (95%) or Twitter (86%), it’s still telling that Instagram is growing in popularity for B2B. For example, business influencers and SaaS marketers are slowly but surely staking their claim on the platform.

Pie charts showing how B2B content marketers used in the last 12 months

Key takeaways

  • Organic Instagram is valuable for both B2C and B2B brands for the sake of building brand awareness.
  • More people are following brands on Instagram than ever before, signaling how the platform could rival Facebook in terms of shopping and ads in the long-term.
  • Even if Instagram isn’t resulting in direct sales, the network remains a key component of any social marketing funnel for educating and nurturing customers.

Which Instagram statistics stand out to you?

Listen: Instagram is a fast-growing and ever-evolving network.

Making the most of the platform means knowing how to adapt. Hopefully, the Instagram stats above can help you master the platform this year.

And if you’re still in need of advice or inspiration on how to make the most of 2021, make sure to check out our most recent guide on how to build your social media marketing strategy.

This post The most important Instagram statistics you need to know for 2021 originally appeared on Sprout Social.

Reblogged 11 hours ago from feedproxy.google.com

SEO in 2021: What your organization’s executives and senior leaders must know

30-second summary:

  • Did you know that 53 percent of trackable web traffic is organic?
  • A study from BrightEdge revealed that search (organic and paid) still delivers more traffic to websites than any other channels, including social and display
  • These statistics prove that the role of SEO in 2021 is elevated across all industries since an organic flow of traffic is now more critical than ever
  • Merkle Inc.’s VP Head of SEO, Eryck Dzotsi discusses six key focus areas that leaders across organizations must clearly understand about the role of SEO to drive organic search performance

2020 wasn’t a year that we will soon forget. Life and the way we do business changed forever. Ecommerce grew more last year than it has grown in the past five years combined. As a result, many businesses had to adapt their marketing efforts to these changes. The role of SEO in 2021 is elevated across all industries since an organic flow of traffic is now more critical than ever.

As we navigate this year, leaders across organizations must clearly understand the role of SEO and focus on driving organic search performance. Let’s dive into some key areas of focus:

1. Define the integration of SEO within other channels going forward

Did you know that 53 percent of trackable web traffic is organic? A study from BrightEdge revealed that search (organic and paid) still delivers more traffic to websites than any other channels, including social and display. This statistic alone demonstrates why brands need to realize that organic traffic is not going away, and they need to value SEO in 2021 and beyond. They need to integrate SEO with their other media channels. Organic search is the only channel that has a touchpoint across each stage of the customer journey.

While TV and display are generally associated with awareness, paid search is typically aligned with the mid to lower funnel as customers are making a decision about the product or service and converting. The story is different for organic search.

  • When interested in a product or when they have a problem they are trying to solve, users search (often as a result of interacting with an ad)
  • When making a decision and comparing options, users search
  • When customers are ready to convert, they search again, and often, after the purchase, search is again involved in learning how to use the product, service, and more

SEO is about answering users’ questions and helping them find what they were seeking. As a result, SEO is one of the few channels where the engagement is initiated by the user and the ad does not disrupt the customer journey. This makes SEO the channel that ought to be the point guard to a cross-channel line-up, playing assist to the other channels.

2. Organizations must hold SEO to the same accountability and scrutiny as other channels (ROI)

Organizations need to deploy a clear SEO analytics plan going forward. Often, because SEO does not have an associated cost, marketing prioritization is low, and measurement is laxed. ROI can seem abstract, and teams fail to properly track the measurement of success based on levels of effort, this is not ideal. SEO teams must have a systematic measurement plan and resources in place to make the right level of attribution and adjustments happen.

To start, align your goals with the other media channels – look at the impressions and have a clear understanding of your share of voice within your industry, click-throughs, visits, and conversions as part of the full view – what percent are you gaining compared to the market?

This accountability must be demanded from your SEO team going forward.

3. Organizations must optimize to one search experience by harmonizing SEO and SEM

In the first half of 2020, and throughout some of the social unrest periods that marked the year, many advertisers paused their campaigns. In those instances, this was a real-time experiment in organic vs. paid traffic acquisition. The conclusion many have walked away with is that you need both, but the programs which invested heavily in organic search showed the best results in aggregate.

Since non-branded keywords are becoming increasingly expensive, it is not always efficient to deploy a non-brand campaign in paid search. As a result, many campaigns have been reduced to maximizing visibility on branded terms. So, how do you win in search when you cannot buy your way out with paid campaigns? Organic search is the answer. An analysis should be conducted to properly find the balance between paid and organic so that you are optimizing the total search experience. Organizations that win here will have a clear strategy around leveraging where they are winning and where they have gaps.

4. Marketing teams must align SEO and user experience

Many lessons were gained in terms of reducing friction in the customer journey and optimizing the conversation between customers and brands. As a result, many brands set out to either redesign their websites or migrate to a new platform. When redesigning or overhauling a website, it is vital to involve SEO in the project from the beginning, or you will likely end up adding an extra step when a botched overhaul of content starts to affect performance. Start the project with SEOs involved from the beginning to save time, money, and headaches in this process. Additionally, ranking factors are becoming more aligned with items that are controlled by the UX team. SEO connects your media team to your user experience team, and collaboration between the two is necessary to bridge the gap in 2021 and beyond.

“Page experience” is already a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm and represents a set of aspects considered important in a webpage’s overall UX (mobile-friendliness, security, and the others). There are a couple of things happening this year that are specifically highlighting Google’s continued focus on rewarding websites that provide a great experience. First, Google is finalizing the switch to mobile-first indexing, which means all websites and their content will be crawled, evaluated, and indexed from a mobile device standpoint. Then the Core Web Vitals will be included in the larger page experience ranking factor.

5. Technical priorities for web must include SEO, Core Web Vitals, and user experience

If you ask 1,000 SEOs what the big trend for SEO in 2021 will be, 1,000 will tell you that it will be the year of Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals are a set of aspects that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience. There are several things happening this year that specifically highlight this – the most impactful being Google’s switch to a mobile indexing environment, which is the end of an era as we know it. This means that Google will largely use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. In the past, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Many websites have done great work to prepare, but complying with your technical foundation is a non-negotiable going forward.

6. SEO anchors on optimizing content across the entire customer journey

Marketers must create content that caters to the user’s journey – answering the demand and questions they will have across each stage of the funnel. As you plan content, have clear keyword governance to manage your content strategy across the organization, clearly defining each owner. For example, for large financial institutions, which business unit of banking, credit card, and mortgages owns the SEO performance for the keyword “credit score”? It is imperative that copywriters work hand-in-hand with SEO to have a functional content strategy to optimize the journey. You shouldn’t just use SEO to prioritize your content and keywords, but use it to determine the voice and narrative around those keywords.

According to a new Google update on December 3, Google is favoring information and user-focused sites. As a result, there has been a shift in ranking for organizations that are providing value and nurturing their customers. User-focused content across the journey is no longer a nice-to-have for organizations, but a must-have to properly rank.

Organic engagement with customers throughout the customer journey is and will continue to be a key element to marketing success. As the data shows, the channel is healthy. Brands that have invested in an institutionalized approach to SEO have achieved and sustained levels of success that span across other channels. There are many more opportunities for growth, and with ecommerce and customer expectations continue to grow at a rapid pace, the outlook for SEO in 2021 is optimistic.

Eryck Dzotsi is VP Head of SEO at Merkle Inc.

The post SEO in 2021: What your organization’s executives and senior leaders must know appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 11 hours ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Why You Should Diversify Your Traffic Sources

The post Why You Should Diversify Your Traffic Sources appeared first on ProBlogger.

Why you should diversify your traffic sources

This post is based on episode 62 of the ProBlogger podcast.

If there’s one thing we can all learn from Facebook’s recent spat with the Australian Government, it’s that you should never rely on a single source for all your blog traffic.

When Facebook decided to stop sharing news on its service in Australia, it blocked a lot more than just Australian news. It also blocked government web sites related to the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health, emergency services, and even the Bureau of Meteorology.

It also affected a lot of bloggers who use Facebook to bring traffic to their blogs.

Facebook eventually removed the restrictions on these sites, and has since struck a deal with the Australian Government to bring news content back to Facebook in Australia. But losing traffic even for a day can have a devastating effect if you rely on it for your income.

As I discovered back in late 2004.

How I lost 85% of my income overnight

It was about a week before Christmas when it happened. I was blogging full-time, having quit my part-time job about three months before. My wife was working as a lawyer, but she’d just started out and so wasn’t earning a lot of money. So my blogging income was pretty much all we had to live on.

Like a lot of bloggers, I started the day by checking my stats. And it didn’t take long to realize something was seriously wrong. According to the stats package I was using at the time, my traffic had plummeted overnight to around a fifth or what it normally was.

My blog (a camera review blog) was ranking number one in Google for most cameras, at least in Australia. But it seemed my site had pretty much disappeared from Google completely.

And so had my traffic.

I’m still not sure what actually happened. I suspect Google had made a change to its algorithm (back then they didn’t announce their changes like they do now). But whatever reason, my traffic dropped by around 80%.

And because that’s where nearly all of my traffic was coming from, my income dropped by around 85%.

Lesson learned

Having spend the past two years working on getting more and more traffic from Google, this was a major blow – especially considering it was Christmas. And for the next few weeks I felt quite depressed about it all.

I ended up getting another part-time job to get us through the next few months. But I also started working really hard on my blog, and working out how to diversify my traffic sources.

In retrospect, losing all that traffic was a good thing. It forced me to make changes that have really helped with my blogging over the years. Still, I wouldn’t with it on anyone, and so I’d like to share ten things I did that will help you diversify your traffic sources.

1. Identified my ideal reader

Up to this point I wasn’t paying much attention to who was reading my blog. All I was interested in was the traffic. But having lost all that traffic and income, I started thinking about the kind of readers I should be trying to attract – not just their demographics, but also their needs, problems and challenges.

I’ve talked about creating reader profiles a lot over the years (particularly on episode 33 of the podcast), and so I won’t go into it here. But I can tell you that knowing who I was trying to reach made finding those readers a lot easier.

2. Focused on solving those readers’ needs

One the reasons I was getting so much traffic from Google is I was optimizing everything I wrote to rank as highly as possible.

Unfortunately, I now realized that building traffic that way was like building a castle on sand. One small shift and it all falls down.

So I started writing for the people I wanted to bring to my blog instead. I thought about their needs, problems and challenges, and then wrote content to try and help them.

Switching my attention away from Google and towards my readers was a great move. Not only did it help me attract the readers I wanted, it also helped me increase my traffic. Why? Because a lot of people look for answers to their problems by typing them into Google. And guess whose blog they’re going to find in the search results?

Whether you’re an established blogger or are just starting out, asking about your readers and what their needs are is a great idea. It doesn’t need to be full-blown survey. You can just ask a few questions on your blog.

3. Worked on getting on other people’s blogs

While my own site had pretty much fallen off Google’s radar, a lot of other blogs in my niche were still there. And so I started thinking about how I could make an appearance on those blogs and try to grab some of the traffic they were getting.

Writing posts for other people’s blogs (guest posting) wasn’t really a thing back then. But that’s what I set out to do. I started reading their blogs a lot more, and commenting on their posts. And then I offered to write articles for them and be interviewed by them.

This not only brought traffic to my blog, but also helped me become known as an authority in my niche.

4. Started a newsletter

As I learned back then (and Facebook users have learned in the past few weeks), the only guaranteed way to avoid losing traffic this way is to use a platform you have complete control over.

Such as email.

And so I started writing a newsletter, and encouraging people to subscribe by giving me their email address. At first I was only getting a handful of subscribers each week. But over time the numbers grew, and these days I have more than a million subscribers.

Starting a newsletter and collecting people’s email addresses is probably the most powerful thing I’ve ever done, and I really wish I’d started doing it earlier.

Just make sure you’re not just collecting emails for the sake of it. Unless you’re actually sending out a newsletter, or at least regular updates, it’s not much use.

5. Started promoting other ways to subscribe

As much as I love email and the power it can provide, I realized I didn’t want it to be my sole connection with my readers. After all, not everyone like receiving emails.

Back then RSS feeds were big, and so I started promoting my RSS feed in case people wanted to connect that way. But these days I tend to focus more on getting subscribers and followers on social media.

Exactly what social media platforms you focus on will depend a lot on where your readers hang out. (You might want to ask your readers which platforms they prefer.) But if you’re not sure where they are then Facebook and Twitter are two good platforms to start with.

6. Started networking more

These days we tend to take networking online for granted. But back in 2004 there were only a couple of options – email and forums.

And I wasn’t doing much networking with either of them.

But after my traffic scare I started putting aside a bit of time each week emailing getting to know other bloggers in my niche and asking if I could help in any way.

I even tried to meet them in person, which was a big step for me.

But my efforts paid off. Not only did it lead to some great friendships (and even a couple of profitable partnerships), it opened up opportunities to link to other bloggers, and for them to link to me.

And we know how much Google likes other sites linking to yours.

These days we have plenty of ways to network online – Facebook groups, Twitter, and even apps such as Clubhouse. But the best way to network is still face to face, and once we get past this pandemic you should look for ways to meet people in your niche. The chats you have with people during a session, over a meal, and even in the queue for a coffee can lead to all kinds of fruitful relationships.

7. Started running my own events

As well attending other people’s events, I started running my own.

The first event I ran was at my local library, which hosted workshops on various topics that people volunteered to run. I asked if they’d be interested in me running a class on how to use digital cameras.

“Sure,” the librarian said. “We’ve never had a photography class before. You can do it.”

So I put up a sign in the library, and in the end around 20 people came along to learn about photography. I ended up running a few of them, and while 20 people may not sound like many, some of our readers on Digital Photography School have stuck around simply because I met them in in one of those workshops.

And I’ll bet they introduced a lot of their friends to my blog as well, which has helped us increase our traffic numbers.

I’ve attended a lot of events, meetups and conferences over the years. And these days we have around 500 people attending our ProBlogger conferences. And they’ve all provided me with a great opportunity to meet people who have then become readers, and quite often advocates and evangelists for our sites.

8. Started having personal interactions with readers

Something else I started focusing on more was having more personal interactions with my readers.

As I just mentioned, your readers can become advocates and evangelists for your blog. But for them to do that they need to feel they have a connection with you.

And for that happen you actually need to connect.

So respond to their comments, interact with them on Twitter, and even email them out of the blue occasionally. Showing that you’ve noticed them and value them is a very powerful thing.

9. Started pitching to other bloggers

If you’ve written something that other readers in your niche might be interested in, you may want to try pitching it to other bloggers in that niche. Just shoot them a note on Facebook, Twitter or whatever platform they like to be contacted on and say, “Here’s something I wrote. It might be useful to your readers.”

Providing what you’ve written is useful, you’ll be amazed how many people will share it. After all, helping their readers by providing more useful information makes them look good too.

10. Ran a content event

The last thing I did was to start running what I’d now call a content event.

Around this time the ‘Idol’ shows (American Idol, Australian Idol, etc.) were quite popular, and so I decided to do ‘Blogger Idol’. I’d suggest a topic (I think the first one was ‘The ’80s’) and then encourage everyone to write a post about it and publish it on their blog. They’d then send me the link to it, and I’d publish a post with all the links.

Of course, most of them would then share my blog post, which sent traffic to both their site and mine. (Later on I repeated this as part of our 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge.)

Getting people involved in something like this is a great way to not only build traffic, but also get them coming back to your site.

An ironic footnote

By doing all of these things, I now get getting traffic from all sorts of places–other blogs, social media, my email and newsletter list, and even word of mouth. So if any one platform disappears, or my blogs disappear from it, I’ll still have traffic coming in.

Ironically, about six weeks after losing all my traffic, Google changed its algorithm and I got it all back.

Where is your traffic coming from?

Take a look at your Google Analytics, and see where your traffic is coming from. If you see a lot of it coming from a particular source, you should think about using some of the techniques I tried to diversify your traffic sources.

Because who knows what the future holds.

 

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

The post Why You Should Diversify Your Traffic Sources appeared first on ProBlogger.

     

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How Did US Stimulus Checks Impact On-Site Traffic and Conversions? [Case Study]

Posted by OeuyownK

As a Senior Analytics Strategist working at an agency with clients across industries, I’ve seen wildly contrasting performance throughout the pandemic. Certain online retailers and auto sites were far surpassing any historical performance, while others had to cut back budgets significantly. The variances in revenue performances also empirically correlated with time frames when the public received more support, in the form of stimulus checks.

My team at Portent conducted the study detailed below to verify our hypotheses that the pandemic caused revenue increases in online retailers and auto industries, and that those spikes correlated with stimulus distributions. We discovered a few specific factors that increased the probability of confirming our hypothesis along the way.

“Unprecedented” has undoubtedly been the word of the year, and it’s touched all aspects of life and business. There have been changes in consumer behavior across all industries — we’ve unfortunately seen swaths of shutdowns in particular markets while others have sustained or are even thriving. This post will provide some observations in online behavior along with some consumer data that should be used as predictive indicators through the rest of the pandemic.

The study

The observations of changes in online behavior were pulled and anonymized from 16 of our clients across 8 different industries. We narrowed those 8 industries down to three categories defined by Google Analytics for the purposes of this analysis: Shopping (10), Travel (3), and Autos & Vehicles (3).

The sites included in this analysis were limited to the US where possible and ranged in monthly revenue from $16K to $103K and in monthly sessions from 4K to 44K.

Observation #1: Stimulus checks resulted in increases in online behavior

Stimulus checks initiated the first revival of spending since the start of the pandemic. Granted, it was only about a month between the first notice of a lockdown and the beginning of stimulus payments. However, that increase in spend remained at higher levels after the majority of stimulus checks were distributed for most sites in this analysis—of course, excluding the Travel sites.

The first round of stimulus checks provided some form of relief to single Americans that made less than $99K a year, with those who made less than a $75K salary receiving the full $1,200. There were differences in limits depending on whether you have children or how you filed your taxes.

There was a noticeable jump in both sessions and revenue during the (1) week of April 13th, when $80M worth of stimulus payments were deposited for taxpayers who had direct deposits set up. By the (2) week of April 20th, additional rounds of deposits were made to those who manually set up direct deposits through the IRS. And by the (3) week of June 3rd, the IRS had delivered $270B in stimulus checks to Americans. At this point, revenue and sessions began to normalize below that period of stimulus distributions until the undeniable Black Friday sales occurred.

Observation #2: The impact depends on the market

There were obvious industries that were impacted most by the changes in consumer behavior and are still barely recovering: travel, in-store retail, and restaurants, to name those that were hit the hardest. On the other hand, some industries are actually performing better than before, such as online retail sales and food and beverage stores.

The analyses from S&P Global and the U.S. Census Bureau were accurately reflected in our study as well. Through the end of November, the average revenue for the Shopping sites in our analysis was 27.5% higher than our dip seen in March while sessions were 24.4% higher.

What came as a surprise, however, was that the Autos & Vehicles sites actually sustained higher averages than the Shopping sites. The sites in this industry saw 26.8% higher sessions and 36.8% higher revenue compared to the dip seen in the beginning of the pandemic and also well above prior levels in the beginning of the year.

The stark jump in sessions and revenue also aligned with when the distribution of stimulus checks began. In hindsight, the increase in consumer spending in this industry could have been anticipated considering the limitations and fear associated with traveling by plane. Online behavior is higher in the summer months as well, as those who were becoming restless from quarantining began to take road trips to satisfy their wanderlust.

There were a few other predictable trends that we identified in our study:

  1. There was one quick spike in athletic wear purchases with the average sustaining higher than pre-pandemic levels.
  2. There was a prolonged spike in revenue and especially traffic for baking goods and flour purchases, which remained at much higher levels compared to prior numbers. Then there was the seasonal influx of interest during the holidays. Interestingly, the conversion rate was 123% higher during the holidays compared to its peak in the beginning of the pandemic.
  3. With parents and families stuck at home, there was an exponential and lengthy growth in online behavior for children’s toys. Although the growth has tapered, it continues to see an upward trend.
  4. As expected, travel sites have taken the largest hit out of our study with a significant drop that has resulted in little to no recovery. The increase in revenue and sessions in the summer is almost entirely attributed to a resort that saw a similar increase in interest from the wanderlusts of the Autos & Vehicles sites.

Observation #3: There’s a positive correlation between AOV and % change in revenue

There was a fairly strong correlation of 0.76 between average order value (AOV) and % change in revenue YoY* for Shopping sites only. The consumer behavior on Autos & Vehicles sites was more dependent on stimulus checks and weather while the behavior on Travel sites was dependent on the feeling of safety.



*The data in this chart was pulled with the following notes:

  • YoY comparison was for November 2019 vs. November 2020 (November being the highest performing month based on seasonality)
  • Two anomalies were excluded from this data: (1) A flour company and, (2) A company with an AOV of nearly $2K

This one makes intuitive sense if you think about who’s been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Industries that are still thriving are ones that were able to more easily transition to 100% remote work and ones that had enough funds to weather some dropoff in clientele. Those who were fortunate enough to be employed in those industries during this time are also more likely to be paid higher than the median. In fact, only 30% of parents earning $200K or more lost their jobs since the pandemic, compared to 65% of parents earning less than $25K. Those who lost jobs in higher income brackets were also more likely to be able to find work again.

High-income spenders weren’t significantly impacted by the pandemic aside from the first few months, during which the change in consumer spending came from uncertainty. Although high- and low-income brackets both saw significant drops in spending initially, high-income consumers returned to levels comparable to January 2020 while low-income consumers were still about 10% below on average through September 2020.

Considerations to forecast future performance

There’s quite honestly nothing novel in this analysis that hasn’t been surfaced through market research, and these observations have been corroborated by economic data. The key takeaways here are to pay attention to the trends we’re seeing, think about how they relate to your target audience or customer, and pay attention to new developments that may signal a shift toward normalcy once again as you re-enter the digital marketplace.

Stay informed of economic trends

Keep up-to-date with economic research published by S&P and monitor news releases from the Bureau of Economic Analysis to identify trends in Personal Income, Disposable Personal Income (DPI), Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE). The PCE started dipping in July, which correlates with the changes in consumer behavior we saw in our study. Although the reports don’t come out immediately, staying updated on the direction of these trends could inform your efforts.

Consider your target audience

It’s important to narrow down your research to your target audience. If your business is international, you likely won’t be as impacted by future stimulus checks in the US. However, different international markets will recover at differing rates.

Similarly, it’s important to keep your industry in mind. S&P is already estimating that the most-affected industries may not recover fully until 2022. This means that industries like in-store retail, travel, and service will have to find alternative ways to pivot during this time to return to normal levels.

Once you’ve considered your market and industry, weigh the risks based on your AOV and the income level of your average consumer. The higher the average income level, the more likely it is that your market has already recovered or the higher your chances are of being able to adjust successfully.

Additional federal support

Although the support from the US government throughout the pandemic has been lackluster at best, there’s a possibility of additional support. The recent round of stimulus checks were more limited than the first, meaning the impact on consumer behavior might be less noticeable. Economists are guessing that consumers would rather save this smaller amount than put it back into the economy. However, these bills should be accounted for in forecasting with the hopeful potential of additional (and more significant) federal support.

The distribution of vaccinations is likely to take at least several months to be impactful and possibly even longer to reach herd immunity. During this time of forward movement in the pandemic, we will all need to monitor and predict consumer behavior in unprecedented ways until we begin to see normalcy again.

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