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CallJoy, Google’s virtual phone agent for SMBs, gets an upgrade

The service is Google’s first real foray into SaaS for SMBs.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Google starts new Search Console training series on YouTube

Daniel Waisberg from Google has started a new video series to help you learn how to get the most out of Search Console.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

How to Write a LinkedIn Recommendation in 2019 [Quick Tip]

“Lisa has recommended you!”

Awww, she has?!

When I get a LinkedIn recommendation from someone I respect and admire professionally, I feel both honored and encouraged to return the favor. But for some reason, I always get writer’s block. I never know how to start or what to say — only that I like this person’s work and I want others to know it.

Unfortunately, simply writing “Lisa is the best!!!!” isn’t reflective of Lisa’s skills — plus it makes you look like a total goon.

Luckily, in the past few weeks I’ve written a couple of LinkedIn recommendations that I think turned out pretty well, and they reflected a pattern that’s easy to replicate in subsequent recommendations. I thought I’d share that pattern with others that suffer the same writer’s block.

Download our ultimate guide to LinkedIn here for more tips about how to use LinkedIn for professional networking.

Here’s a quick little “template” you can use that makes for a LinkedIn recommendation that’s specific, honest, succinct, and helpful for the person you’re recommending.

1. Explain the nature of your professional relationship.

That sounds really serious, but it’s simply a helpful piece of context that acts as an “intro” for your recommendation. Whether it’s a coworker you’ve worked closely with for years, a manager, a direct report, a point of contact at an agency, or something else entirely, it sets the stage for the reader to learn why you’re writing this recommendation.

For Example:

I’ve worked alongside Lisa for close to two years now.

2. Provide details of the position for which you’re recommending the person.

Are you recommending this person for their work in one position? Or are you writing about their work across multiple jobs they’ve held while you worked with them? Either way, a great next step is to explain some of the notable parts of their job(s). It may feel strange — kind of like you’re listing out their job description. But this is very helpful for anyone reading the recommendation, looking to get a feel for what precisely it is they did in their job.

Resist the urge to create a laundry list of their job duties. If they’ve really worn that many hats, I recommend contacting them to see if there’s a certain part of their role they’d like emphasized over others.

For Example:

In those two years, I’ve seen her not only excel at the core elements of her job — like copywriting and copyediting — but also learn other tasks that extend well beyond the scope of her role, like email marketing, event planning, and even championing our company’s internal communications.

3. Explain how they’ve grown at the company.

If this person reports (or once reported) to you, this aspect of a LinkedIn recommendation can go a long way. Explaining how the person you’re recommending has grown — either in their role or from one role to another — can demonstrate an ability to adapt as the organization expands.

Just be careful not to overstate any low points in the person’s career that can dilute the value of the growth you’re trying to highlight.

For Example:

Lisa has grown as quickly as our business has, and her willingness to learn and take on these new responsibilities is something to be desired in any professional.

4. Indicate how their contribution helped grow the team or company.

This could be an explanation of how their performance helped hit hard metrics, or it could demonstrate a contribution toward more esoteric things, like leading their teammates or fostering new initiatives.

For Example:

Lisa’s mastery for both her core role, and the projects that extend beyond it, have been critical to the company’s growth. In fact, her taking on internal company communication aligned with a sharp increase in employee happiness.

5. Explain what these achievements reveal about that person.

By now, you’ve included some specifics — so let’s explain what those specifics mean for the larger theme of your recommendation. Do the examples you’ve detailed reveal that person is hard-working? Ambitious? Great for team morale? Connect their accomplishments with their attributes.

For Example:

This rare mix of productivity and ambition sets a great example for the rest of the team, and explains why everyone loves working with Lisa — no matter where they fall on the org chart.

6. End with a note about the personal aspect of working with him/her.

In this section, hit the message home with a mention of how you felt working with the person, your hopes for their career, or simply a prediction about their future.

For Example:

While Lisa’s work has continued to pay dividends long past her tenure here, I certainly miss working with her every day. I have only optimistic predictions for her career trajectory.

LinkedIn Recommendation Examples

Recommendation From an Employee

In the recommendation below, a person discusses how their supervisor progressed at the company and how this person mentored them so they too could grow as an employee. 

Team Lead LinkedIn Recommendation

Recommendation from an Employer

In this recommendation, an employer explains how an employee progressed and executed on projects that made a big impact on their company:

Manager's Recommendation on LinkedIn

LinkedIn Recommendation Sample (for a Manager)

Now, writing a LinkedIn recommendation can seem easier said than done. What if the employee you’re recommending is your superior? This can make it more difficult to recommend the person — even if you’re saying stellar things about them.

To avoid sounding patronizing or tone deaf when addressing a higher-level professional, here’s a sample LinkedIn recommendation — written in full — that a manager would be proud to receive (notice how it embraces every step outlined above).

I’ve worked for Lisa for two years, and in those two years, I’ve seen her quickly take on new responsibilities while having the time to teach this information back into her employees. By inheriting tasks like campaign analytics and email A/B testing — both of which extend beyond the scope of our team — she’s made our department much more agile, and set me up for a promotion last month. Lisa is as great a person as she was a manager, and her next employer will be lucky to have her.

Now proofread, and hit send. Remember, the recipient has the opportunity to review and request changes to your recommendation, so if you’re concerned you haven’t written a recommendation in the most helpful way possible, they can still get in touch with edit requests.

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally published in July 2018, but was updated in November 2019 for comprehensiveness.

Reblogged 3 days ago from blog.hubspot.com

Entries are now being accepted for the 2020 Search Engine Land Awards

Get the recognition your team deserves. Enter your best-performing campaign now.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Building a Local Marketing Strategy for Franchises [Guide Sneak Peek]

Posted by MiriamEllis

A roller is a good tool for painting a house in big, broad strokes. But creating a masterpiece of art requires finer brushes.

Franchises face a unique challenge here: they know how to market at the national level, but often lack the detailed tools for reaching their local customers at a granular level. Google has stated that localization of search results is the greatest form of personalization they currently engage in. For franchises, where local sensitivity is lacking in the marketing plan, opportunity is being lost.

Don’t settle for this. Know that less-motivated competitors are losing this opportunity, too. This creates a large, blank canvas for a franchise you’re marketing to paint a new picture which takes state, regional and community nuances into account.

One famous example of localized marketing is McDonald’s offering SPAM in Hawaii and green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico. For your franchise, it could revolve around customizing content for regional language differences (sub sandwich vs. po’ boy), or knowing when to promote seasonal merchandise at which locations (California vs. North Dakota weather).

What you need is marketing plan capable of scaling from national priorities to hyperlocal customers. Want the complete strategy now?

Get The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing

From paint roller to sumi-e brush: A franchise marketing plan

Today, we’ll explore the basics of getting to know your local customers, so that your national franchise can customize how you serve them. Build a strategy around the following:



Your step-by-step guide to how to create a local marketing strategy

Finding your target audience

First, you need to understand who your customers are. If you have an existing franchise, you can do this fairly easily by simply observing or asking them. You might run an online survey, or you might do some quick spot interviews right in your place of business. What you want to work out is:

  • Demographics: What are the common ages, genders, income levels, and other relevant characteristics of your customers.
  • Psychographics: How do your customers think? What are their attitudes, behaviors and beliefs as they relate to your franchise?
  • Pain points: What problems do your customers have that you could potentially solve? Maybe they want to eat healthy but have no time. Maybe they want a gym that will help them become better athletes.
  • Consumption habits: How do your customers decide where to buy? Are they online? Do they have smartphones? Do they prioritize reviews/recommendations? Do they like video, or podcasts? Which social platforms do they frequent? What events do they attend?

Understanding the customer’s journey

Marketers spend a lot of time thinking about what we call the “customer journey.” This is just another way of saying we want to understand what happens between us and customers before they know our brand exist, after they discover it, up until they buy, and then beyond.

The best way to do this is to divide that experience into steps, understanding that some people will drop out of the process at every stage. Most corporate franchisers will recognize this as the “sales funnel.”

Here’s a simplified version of a sales funnel. Take the time to determine what happens at each stage in your own customers’ experience, and you’ll be a long way toward understanding how you can influence and help customers from one step to the next. 

Mapping a sales funnel


  1. Awareness
    This is where a customer first discovers you exist and starts to form an opinion about you based on what they see. Often, this is managed by the activities being conducted by corporate franchisors (like a national TV ad campaign). But, it can also happen through franchisee-generated references and referrals (like a searcher discovering you via a Google Maps search on their phone).
  2. Discovery
    This is where a customer has already absorbed information about you and your product and begins to actively try to learn more about it. This stage often encompasses online research. It local word-of-mouth queries between potential customers and their friends and family.
  3. Evaluation
    This is where a customer has decided to probably purchase something similar to what you offer, but is trying to decide where to buy. They might stop by your business in this stage, or they may give you a call. They might visit your online website or listings to look at your hours, or menu or price list. This stage is influenced by both franchisor and franchisee activity.
  4. Intent
    Now the customer has decided to buy from you — which means they are your customer to lose. Franchisors can lose them at this stage through misinformation in the brand’s local business listings — like incorrect hours or bad directions that lead customers to the wrong place and cause them to give up. Franchisees could lose the business through poor on-premises experiences — like uncleanliness, long wait times, low inventory, pricing, or poor customer service.
  5. Purchase
    This is where the transaction takes place, and is generally entirely within the control of the franchisee.
  6. Loyalty
    This stage determines whether the customer will return to buy again, and whether or not they will become an advocate for your business, give you good reviews, or rate you poorly. Again, this is typically within the control of the franchisee unless the issue is a decision made at the franchisor level, such as product/menu, pricing or policy.

Sometimes this whole funnel can take place in the time it takes to spot a sign for ice cream and purchase a double scoop sundae. Sometimes it may take weeks, as your customers labor over the right financial advisor to choose.

Understanding how your customer is thinking and what goes into making the decision to use you is important and will guide decision-making and sales activity at both the franchisor and franchisee levels.

Scoping out the competition

Most brands have already worked out their positioning with regard to other national brands, so this one is mainly for franchisees. Take some time to figure out who your direct competitors are in your local market. They might be other big brands, but there will also probably be local SMBs that are not on the corporate franchisor’s radar.

Understand:

  • Where they are stronger or weaker, compared to you
  • Who they attract, compared to you
  • How they are marketing their business

Having this information should help you to position yourself to win a bigger piece of the local pie. Is your competitor a gym that has better weight training and machines than you? Are they marketing mainly to younger men and athletes? Are they advertising on local radio? Perhaps you should double down on your cardio and yoga classes and try to attract more women or older clientele. Maybe adding some nutrition classes will encourage people trying to lose weight. And so on.

Building your authority

Once you’ve figured out who your customers are, how they buy, and how you plan to position your franchise in the local market, it’s time to put that plan into action by creating some content to support it.

For franchisors at corporate this means putting in the time to create an informative, interesting brand website with dynamic, engaging content. Your content should aim to educate, inform and/or entertain, rather than only sell. The more points of engagement your website offers to customers, the more reason they have to read, share, and link to your content, building authority. Your most valuable content will, of course, be the elements or pages that directly convert visitors into customers.

The content you put out over social media should follow this same precept, and lead back to your site as often as possible. Experts suggest that “60% of your posts you create should be engaging, timely content, 30% should be shared content, and only 10% should be promoting your products & services.” (Medium)

Invest some time in link building, in order to show Google’s algorithm how influential your site is and boost your authority and ranking.

Here are a few tips:

    • Use Moz’s “Find Opportunities” feature to locate sites which are linking to your competitors and not you (yet).
    • Look for people who are already referencing your site and ask them to hyperlink to you.
    • Do a little PR or news-making and ask articles to link to your site. (This is something local franchisees can excel at.)
    • Ask for links from local trade organizations, community organizations or commerce groups.
    • Sponsor events and ask for a link.
    • Start a scholarship and post it on local .edu sites.

Find out more about link building and unstructured citation and how to increase them in The Guide to Building Linked Unstructured Citations for Local SEO

Managing channels and budgets efficiently

Armed with good, authoritative content and an effective website, you’ll want to focus on how you manage all the channels available to you. This also includes managing your budget effectively. Most franchisor budgets are focused on the brand, and many franchisees don’t have a lot left over for local marketing, but here are some things to think about.

  • Listings first: Your listings aren’t expensive to manage, but they give your marketing it’s biggest overall value — in some cases literally guiding people to your registers. Make great local business listings your top priority.
  • Claim everything: Franchisors, be sure you are the one in control of your directory listings and social profiles. Complete your Google My Business profile and establish a presence on key social media and review platforms like Facebook and Yelp.
  • Budget wisely: Do the strategy work to understand who your customers are and how best to reach them before you allocate your franchisor or franchisee marketing dollars.


Pointillism for franchises

Adept franchise marketing requires the eye of Seurat: the ability to see life in hundreds of tiny points, making up a masterpiece. For you, franchise pointillism includes:

  • Points representing each customer
  • Points for the customer’s community, as a whole
  • Points representing your locations on the map
  • Points across the web where engagement happens
  • Points offline where engagement happens
  • Points of resource at all levels of the franchise, from franchisor to franchisee

Ready for expert help from Moz in seeing the finer points? Download your copy:

The Practical Guide to Franchise Marketing

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 3 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

TV ad spending has peaked, will be less than 25% of total pie by 2022 — forecast

TV will generate just over $70 billion in ad revenue this year.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.marketingland.com

LinkedIn adds Data Validation to Sales Navigator

In addition to new integrations and features, Data Validation will sync data between users’ CRM and LinkedIn, keeping contacts up-to-date.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 3 days ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Brands vs Ads

About 7 years ago I wrote about how the search relevancy algorithms were placing heavy weighting on brand-related signals after Vince & Panda on the (half correct!) presumption that this would lead to excessive industry consolidation which in turn would force Google to turn the dials in the other direction.

My thesis was Google would need to increasingly promote some smaller niche sites to make general web search differentiated from other web channels & minimize the market power of vertical leading providers.

The reason my thesis was only half correct (and ultimately led to the absolutely wrong conclusion) is Google has the ability to provide the illusion of diversity while using sort of eye candy displacement efforts to shift an increasing share of searches from organic to paid results.

As long as any market has at least 2 competitors in it Google can create a “me too” offering that they hard code front & center and force the other 2 players (along with other players along the value chain) to bid for marketshare. If competitors are likely to complain about the thinness of the me too offering & it being built upon scraping other websites, Google can buy out a brand like Zagat or a data supplier like ITA Software to undermine criticism until the artificially promoted vertical service has enough usage that it is nearly on par with other players in the ecosystem.

Google need not win every market. They only need to ensure there are at least 2 competing bids left in the marketplace while dialing back SEO exposure. They can then run other services to redirect user flow and force the ad buy. They can insert their own bid as a sort of shill floor bid in their auction. If you bid below that amount they’ll collect the profit through serving the customer directly, if you bid above that they’ll let you buy the customer vs doing a direct booking.

Where this gets more than a bit tricky is if you are a supplier of third party goods & services where you buy in bulk to get preferential pricing for resale. If you buy 100 rooms a night from a particular hotel based on the presumption of prior market performance & certain channels effectively disappear you have to bid above market to sell some portion of the rooms because getting anything for them is better than leaving them unsold.

Dipping a bit back into history here, but after Groupon said no to Google’s acquisition offer Google promptly partnered with players 2 through n to ensure Groupon did not have a lasting competitive advantage. In the fullness of time most those companies died, LivingSocial was acquired by Groupon for nothing & Groupon is today worth less than the amount they raised in VC & IPO funding.

Most large markets will ultimately consolidate down to a couple players (e.g. Booking vs Expedia) while smaller players lack the scale needed to have the economic leverage to pay Google’s increasing rents.

This sort of consolidation was happening even when the search results were mostly organic & relevancy was driven primarily by links. As Google has folded in usage data & increased ad load on the search results it becomes harder for a generically descriptive domain name to build brand-related signals.

It is not only generically descriptive sorts of sites that have faded though. Many brand investments turned out to be money losers after the search result set was displaced by more ads (& many brand-related search result pages also carry ads above the organic results).

The ill informed might write something like this:

Since the Motorola debacle, it was Google’s largest acquisition after the $676 million purchase of ITA Software, which became Google Flights. (Uh, remember that? Does anyone use that instead of Travelocity or one of the many others? Neither do I.)

The reality is brands lose value as the organic result set is displaced. To make the margins work they might desperately outsource just about everything but marketing to a competitor / partner, which will then latter acquire them for a song.

Travelocity had roughly 3,000 people on the payroll globally as recently as a couple of years ago, but the Travelocity workforce has been whittled to around 50 employees in North America with many based in the Dallas area.

The best relevancy algorithm in the world is trumped by preferential placement of inferior results which bypasses the algorithm. If inferior results are hard coded in placements which violate net neutrality for an extended period of time, they can starve other players in the market from the vital user data & revenues needed to reinvest into growth and differentiation.

Value plays see their stocks crash as growth slows or goes in reverse. With the exception of startups frunded by Softbank, growth plays are locked out of receiving further investment rounds as their growth rate slides.

Startups like Hipmunk disappear. Even an Orbitz or Travelocity become bolt on acquisitions.

The viability of TripAdvisor as a stand alone business becomes questioned, leading them to partner with Ctrip.

TripAdvisor has one of the best link profiles of any commercially oriented website outside of perhaps Amazon.com. But ranking #1 doesn’t count for much if that #1 ranking is below the fold.

TripAdvisor shifted their business model to allow direct booking to better monetize mobile web users, but as Google has ate screen real estate and grew Google Travel into a $100 billion business other players have seen their stocks sag.

Google sits at the top of the funnel & all other parts of the value chain are compliments to be commoditized.

  • Buy premium domain names? Google’s SERPs test replacing domain names with words & make the domain name gray.
  • Improve conversion rates? Your competitor almost certainly did as well, now you both can bid more & hand over an increasing economic rent to Google.
  • Invest in brand awareness? Google shows ads for competitors on your brand terms, forcing you to buy to protect the brand equity you paid to build.

Search Metrics mentioned Hotels.com was one of the biggest losers during the recent algorithm updates: “I’m going to keep on this same theme there, and I’m not going to say overall numbers, the biggest loser, but for my loser I’m going to pick Hotels.com, because they were literally like neck and neck, like one and two with Booking, as far as how close together they were, and the last four weeks, they’ve really increased that separation.”

As Google ate the travel category the value of hotel-related domain names has fallen through the floor.

Most of the top selling hotel-related domain names were sold about a decade ago:

On August 8th HongKongHotels.com sold for $4,038. And the buyer may have overpaid for it!

Google consistently grows their ad revenues 20% a year in a global economy growing at under 4%.

There are only about 6 ways they can do that

  • growth of web usage (though many of those who are getting online today have a far lower disposable income than those who got on a decade or two ago did)
  • gain marketshare (very hard in search given that they effectively are the market in most markets outside of China & Russia)
  • create new inventory (new ad types on Google Maps & YouTube)
  • charge more for clicks
  • improve at targeting by better surveillance of web users (getting harder after GDPR & similar efforts from some states in the next year or two)
  • shift click streams away from organic toward paid channels (through larger ads, more interactive ad units, less appealing organic result formatting, etc.)

Wednesday both Expedia and TripAdvisor reported earnings after hours & both fell off a cliff: “Both Okerstrom and Kaufer complained that their organic, or free, links are ending up further down the page in Google search results as Google prioritizes its own travel businesses.”

Losing 20% to 25% of your market cap in a single day is an extreme move for a company worth billions of dollars.

Thursday Google hit fresh all time highs.

“Google’s old motto was ‘Don’t Be Evil’, but you can’t be this big and profitable and not be evil. Evil and all-time highs pretty much go hand in hand.” – Howard Lindzon

Booking held up much better than TripAdvisor & Expedia as they have a bigger footprint in Europe (where antitrust is a thing) and they have a higher reliance on paid search versus organic.

The broader SEO industry is to some degree frozen by fear. Roughly half of SEOs claim to have not bought *ANY* links in a half-decade.

Long after most of the industry has stopped buying links some people still run the “paid links are a potential FTC violation guideline” line as though it is insightful and/or useful.

Ask the people carrying Google’s water what they think of the official FTC guidance on poor ad labeling in search results and you will hear the beautiful sound of crickets chirping.

Where is the ad labeling in this unit?

Does small gray text in the upper right corner stating “about these results” count as legitimate ad labeling?

And then when you scroll over that gray text and click on it you get “Some of these hotel search results may be personalized based on your browsing activity and recent searches on Google, as well as travel confirmations sent to your Gmail. Hotel prices come from Google’s partners.”

Zooming out a bit further on the above ad unit to look at the entire search result page, we can now see the following:

  • 4 text ad units above the map
  • huge map which segments demand by price tier, current sales, luxury, average review, geographic location
  • organic results below the above wall of ads, and the number of organic search results has been reduced from 10 to 7

How many scrolls does one need to do to get past the above wall of ads?

If one clicks on one of the hotel prices the follow up page is … more ads.

Check out how the ad label is visually overwhelmed by a bright blue pop over.

Worth noting Google Chrome has a built-in ad blocking feature which allows them to strip all ads from displaying on third party websites if they follow Google’s best practices layout used in the search results.

You won’t see ads on websites that have poor ad experiences, like:

  • Too many ads
  • Annoying ads with flashing graphics or autoplaying audio
  • Ad walls before you can see content

When these ads are blocked, you’ll see an “Intrusive ads blocked” message. Intrusive ads will be removed from the page.

The following 4 are all true:

And, as a bonus, to some paid links are a crime but Google can sponsor academic conferences for market regulators while requesting the payments not be disclosed.

Hotels have been at the forefront of SEO for many years. They drive massive revenues & were perhaps the only vertical ever referenced in the Google rater guidelines which stated all affiliate sites should be labeled as spam even if they are helpful to users.

Google has won most of the profits in the travel market & so they’ll need to eat other markets to continue their 20% annual growth.

Some people who market themselves as SEO experts not only recognize this trend but even encourage this sort of behavior:

Zoopla, Rightmove and On The Market are all dominant players in the industry, and many of their house and apartment listings are duplicated across the different property portals. This represents a very real reason for Google to step in and create a more streamlined service that will help users make a more informed decision. … The launch of Google Jobs should not have come as a surprise to anyone, and neither should its potential foray into real estate. Google will want to diversify its revenue channels as much as possible, and any market that allows it to do so will be in its sights. It is no longer a matter of if they succeed, but when.

The dominance Google has in core profitable vertical markets also exists in the news & general publishing categories. Some publishers get more traffic from Google Discover than from Google search.

Publishers which try to turn off Google’s programmatic ads find their display ad revenues fall off a cliff:

“Nexstar Media Group Inc., the largest local news company in the U.S., recently tested what would happen if it stopped using Google’s technology to place ads on its websites. Over several days, the company’s video ad sales plummeted. “That’s a huge revenue hit,” said Tony Katsur, senior vice president at Nexstar. After its brief test, Nexstar switched back to Google.” … “Regulators who approved that $3.1 billion deal warned they would step in if the company tied together its offerings in anticompetitive ways. In interviews, dozens of publishing and advertising executives said Google is doing just that with an array of interwoven products.”

News is operating like many other (broken) markets. The Salt Lake Tribune converted to a nonprofit organization.

Many local markets have been consolidated down to ownership by a couple private equity shop roll ups looking to further consolidate the market. Gatehouse Media is acquiring Gannett.

The Washington Post – owned by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos – is creating an ad tech stack which serves other publishers & brands, though they also believe a reliance on advertiser & subscription revenue is unsustainable: “We are too beholden to just advertiser and subscriber revenue, and we’re completely out of our minds if we think that’s what’s going to be what carries us through the next generation of publishing. That’s very clear.”

We are nearing many inflection points in many markets where markets that seemed somewhat disconnected from search will still end up being dominated by Google. Gmail, Android, Web Analytics, Play Store, YouTube, Maps, Waze … are all additional points of leverage beyond the core search & ads products.

Google is investing heavily in quantum computing. Google Fiber was a nothingburger to force competing ISPs into accelerating expensive network upgrades, but beaming in internet services from satellites will allow Google to bypass local politics, local regulations & heavy network infrastructure construction costs. A startup named Kepler recently provided high-bandwidth connectivity to the Arctic. When Google launches a free ISP there will be many knock on effects causing partners to long for the day where Google was only as predatory as they are today.

Categories: 

Reblogged 3 days ago from feedproxy.google.com

12 Email marketing best practices for sales

Everybody may be talking about witty tweets, quick-tip videos, and memorable memes, but there is one marketing tool that remains powerful after all these years: emails.

But an effective email marketing strategy in the 2000s may not work in 2019 anymore. Chances are, sales offer sent to inboxes will be marked as spam and forever left unopened. In March 2019, spam messages accounted for 56% percent of global email traffic. The challenge is to develop email campaigns that are as appealing and informative as other marketing tools heavily consumed in this age of social media and apps.

Times have changed, and so are email marketing trends. Know what works and what does not. Here is a roundup of 12 effective email marketing tactics you should know about.

1. Truly connect with your audience

At one point in your online life, you may have received tons of offers to buy to join a matchmaking community for veterans or something that’s not even remotely connected to you or your interests. Random mass email blasts like these don’t benefit anyone.

Create an email marketing campaign that connects with your readers. You can do this by dividing your email list into more targeted groups. The Annual Email Optimizer Report by Lyris found numerous benefits of email list segmentation including increased open rates, greater email relevance, and lower opt-out or unsubscribe rates.

You may segment the readers based on age, gender, and location. This will help ensure that you’re sending the right communication to the right people.

Check out this example of a geographically segmented email by UBER for Chicago

2. Customize your blasts

Email marketing tools, like tweets and Instagram ads, should speak directly to a specific reader. There is no better way of doing this than by customizing the content of your emails.

After segmenting your email recipients, get to know them better. What appeals to them? What are they looking for when browsing for products and services? How do they define good customer service? What made them visit a website and subscribe? By familiarizing yourself with your readers, it’ll be easier to customize your emails, follow-ups, and reminders.

For instance, your millennial recipients would love to receive informative yet concise messages with appealing images. The best way to do this is via infographics, which they can also easily share with their circle.

3. Grab your audience’s attention, and keep them interested

Today’s consumers are multi-taskers. They are scrolling their news feeds and checking for work-related emails in between. You are in for a cutthroat competition for your reader’s attention.

Craft creative ways to grab their attention, and hold it until you have delivered your message. You can use witty headlines, visually-appealing images, and straightforward emails. Strictly no click-baits.

You can create urgency, tapping on today’s culture of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Try using “You’re missing out on amazing rewards”, or “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to read this…”.

Humor never fails. The Muse has used the subject, “We like being used” while OpenTable cracked “Licking your phone never tasted so good” in one of its email campaigns.

Example of adding catchy CTAs to marketing emails

Source: Artem Beliaikin via Pexels

4. State a clear call-to-action

So you have successfully earned the attention of your target audience. They also read your message in its entirety. Now what?

Your emails should have a clear purpose which you could achieve with a call-to-action. Do you want your readers to visit your website or subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want them to “Like” your Facebook page or make a purchase in your online store? Lead them to these goals with an effective CTA.

Researchers at Marketing Experiments recommend offering your visitors value at low or no costs in exchange for a click. Avoid asking too much too soon. The researchers found that tweaking commonly-used CTAs have amazing benefits. By changing “Find your solution” to “Learn more”, the clickthrough rate rose by 77%. Using “Subscribe and save” instead of  “View subscription options” led to a +181% clickthrough rate increase.

To encourage a purchase, you can use these CTAs like the ones given below

  • Shop now
  • Save today
  • Yes! I want one
  • Claim your coupon
  • Get 20% off now

To promote content, here are sample CTAs

  • Curious? Read on
  • Read the full story
  • Download now

5. Limit your email blasts

Do you know that an average office worker receives 121 emails per day? That’s a lot. You wouldn’t want your message to be sent to the infamous spam folder for sending too many emails to your subscribers.

People signed up for your updates and newsletters because they are interested in your brand, products or services. They want to stay connected. But this doesn’t give you permission to bombard them with emails. Limit your messages once a week.

6. Craft catchy subject lines or headlines

Email subjects or headlines are deal-breakers. Readers can easily ignore or delete your email with a boring or clickbaity headline. MailChimp conducted an email marketing study and found that short and descriptive subject lines could entice readers.

You can include words that suggest urgency, ask a question or challenge a common notion. Use your segmented email list to craft direct and catchy headlines customized to your readers.

7. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly

recent study suggests that the number of mobile Internet users will hit five billion in 2025. More people are browsing the web, scrolling through social media pages and checking their emails via their handheld devices. Make sure that your email promotions are mobile-optimized. To create a mobile-friendly digital asset, consider the length of texts and visuals. Some image files may not display on smartphones, and others may slow downloading time.

8. Write professional emails

How would you perceive a business that sends out emails fraught with typos and grammar errors? These mistakes will definitely reflect badly on the sender. Always prepare your messages well. Email promotion is no different from any other marketing campaign. Take the time to plan out and draft an outline. Write a copy and proofread it several times. Use a voice that is consistent with your brand.

9. Build an inclusive community

People no longer surf the internet to just get quick information online. They meet others, join groups, and essentially create a world that is as real as their offline sphere. Go the extra mile with your email marketing campaign by letting your readers in an inclusive community. You can share personal updates about your life that don’t necessarily relate to your usual promotions. Perhaps a sneak peek into your work routine or a photo of your puppy or cat? Make your audience feel at home.

Another tip is to keep the conversation going by sending email notifications to users every time someone replied to their comments or whenever a new topic of interest is opened. You can also send updates on community stats such as a list of top users, top comments and most popular topics. These can encourage your users to play a more active role in the community.

10. Giveaway rewards

Giveaway rewards keep subscribers excited for your next blasts and increases the chances of them even sharing your promotions with their network. Budget airline companies are a great example of this as they’re winning the email marketing game through amazing rewards and promos. Their email subscribers get the latest updates on promos and the chance of winning all-expenses-paid trips. Giving away rewards and gifts is a smart way of acknowledging your loyal subscribers.

11. Stay consistent

You may not hit your target email subscribers right away, but that shouldn’t put off your email marketing campaign. Run your campaigns according to schedule. If you promised a special promo to your current list, make sure you deliver on time.

You may get 50 new subscribers this week and only 10 the next, but that should be no reason for you to hold off. Stick with your schedule and the effort will pay off.

12. Run a regular assessment of your campaigns

Know what’s working and what’s not by running a regular assessment of your email marketing campaigns. Wield the power of analytics in deciding how to proceed. You can choose the appropriate metrics, based on your goals. You may measure the clickthrough rate or the rate of readers who clicked on links in an email promotion or the conversion rate or the percentage of readers who completed the desired action such as purchasing a product.

Consider using analytics tools such as EmailAnalytics, Sortd, or Todoist. EmailAnalytics provides pertinent data such as the number of emails received in all your Gmail folders, the number of emails you send every day, who you email and how the conversations proceed. Sortd primarily helps organize email inboxes. It allows you to create categories and set priorities for each. The email workflow you can make in Sortd gives info on how you are performing at each stage of the email campaign. With Todoist, you may convert your inbox into a to-do list in relation to your campaign. It allows you to identify, organize and complete tasks, and run reports on your daily performance.

For sure, email marketing isn’t dead. It just evolved over time. As an entrepreneur or a marketer, it is your task to keep abreast of trends in digital marketing. Consumers today want you to speak to them on a more personal level. Get to know them. Engage them. Reward their loyalty. Remember that your email recipients are people, so connect with them in the most natural way possible.

The post 12 Email marketing best practices for sales appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 3 days ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them

Imagine visiting a website that takes more than 10, no two seconds to load. We know that the mouse is going to hover to the top right corner because honestly, no one has the time to wait nowadays. 

A Forbes article mentioned that a mere one-second delay in page load time means a seven percent decline in sales, 11% fewer page views, a 16% decrease in customer satisfaction, and a seven percent loss in conversions. 

Your website may be a work of art with awesome features. It can have lightning speed chat responses but with slow loading time, none of that matters. 

Attention spans are growing smaller and patience is thinner than ever. Other than that, slow loading sites impact your SEO because it affects how Google sees your page. Speed is a ranking factor Google uses to measure your page. Sure, content may be king, but speed can change how your content performs in search. 

We’ll dig deep and find the silent killers of loading time – both common and uncommon causes.

1. Uncompressed images and bizarre image dimensions

The quality and size of an image affects its loading time. Having a high-resolution image on every page means your site will load slower.

How you can fix this

A couple of ways we found included installing plugins. The first one is with a jQuery Lazy Load plugin. This plugin allows the images that are only appearing to load “above the fold” or on a part a visitor is currently viewing. 

The second option is by using image optimizers such as Yahoo!’s Smush.it or use the WP Smush.it plugin which compacts images without altering their quality. With the WP plugin, it can be done automatically when you add graphics to your site.

2. Unnecessary plugins

If you have a WordPress site you’ll know that there are tons of plugins wandering around and sometimes you might feel the need to download every one because they’re “helpful” to your site. 

Before you know it, you’ll have plugins running your site and you might even have a plugin for your plugin.

Plugin overload can be a problem because the more plugins your site has, the more work it has to do when it loads. Also, not all plugins are as awesome as they claim to be. Beware of outdated plugins that can slow down your site instead of improving its performance.

What you can do to solve this problem is by evaluating your current plugins to figure out which ones you actually need. You might have multiple plugins that have the same function or have some that you’re no longer using. 

When you’re deleting plugins check to see if

– The plugin is relevant and updated

– Whether it has another similar plugin with same functions

– Whether you’re still using it the respective plugin

You can also check the performance of your plugins using the P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) which shows you the impact of each plugin has on your WordPress site load time.

3. An excessive homepage

Your homepage is the face of your brand. So, we get it if you want it to look the best. However, when you try to impress new visitors with a bunch of widgets, content, and state-of-the-art imagery, it’s going to compromise your loading time.

When you want to make an impressive site, keep in mind that a clean design can do wonders. We’re not telling you to ban widgets completely (save them for the end of your blog posts or site pages) but we’re just telling you to keep it simple.

Another thing you can do to speed up load times is by altering the WordPress options to show excerpts instead of full posts and limiting the posts per page by five to seven each.

4. Free third-party WordPress themes

Free WordPress themes may sound like the best thing since sliced bread but free things come with a price tag. When you’re looking for a theme on WordPress, you’re likely to click on those free ones made by a third-party. They’re free anyway, so what can go wrong? Right?

Apparently, a lot of things. Like how free music and movies can come with spyware or malware, free third-party WordPress themes may be one of the causes for your slow website.

How you can fix this

One of the best ways is to only use themes from the official WordPress theme repository. If you want something more personalized, consider allocating less than $100 in a premium theme you can customize to your heart’s desire.

5. Unreliable web hosting

Having a web hosting server that’s not properly configured can harm your loading times. When picking a web hosting server, more often than not, we’ll try to choose the most budget-friendly option. That may be good in the beginning when you’re just starting out. 

However, once the amount of traffic you’re receiving suddenly spikes, your host and server won’t be able to handle a huge amount of users at a single time. Sudden spikes can happen especially during times you launch a new online marketing campaign or a new product. 

Instead of looking for a free or cheap web hosting solution, it’s best to use a well-known host that usually runs between four to eight dollars a month, which isn’t so bad. 

Other than the price, you should also keep in mind how fast the server responds when it deals with problems. Sometimes your site can have emergencies and filling in forms just won’t cut it. Do your research thoroughly and read reviews about the company and its support. 

6. Invisible loading images or videos

When you’re scrolling through a page, there is some content you can’t see immediately. Some are still at the bottom of the page and are visible after a visitor arrives at the exact spot. 

So, how is this a problem? The more images you tell your server to fetch, the slower your site will load. The reality is, the server usually fetches all of these images and videos (even the ones you can’t see yet). This is a huge factor for mobile devices since they have limited speed and data.

This can be fixed with “lazy loading” which means fetching the file only if it’s needed and only when it’s on the screen. A couple of plugins you can use for your WordPress site are BJ Lazy Load and LazyLoad. 

7. Coding issue

Your website is made of code. The more elaborate your site is, the more coding is necessary. Just because you want your website to be ideal, that doesn’t mean the coding should be over the top. Irrelevant or unnecessary code will only slow down your site since the server has to work through more data in order to get to a page.

An example of a coding issue

Unnecessary redirects which happen when the code refers to two different forms of the website URL. Although this seems like something trivial, it makes a huge difference.

When a redirect takes place, a user has to wait for the page to load twice. Using too many redirects means you’re doubling the load time.

To fix this, you need to review your code in detail. Most of the time, the root cause of slow load times could be from a coding issue. This occurs when the code isn’t consistent and causes too many redirects.

8. Not using a content delivery network (CDN)

CDN is a network of independent servers deployed in different geographic locations that serves web content to visitors. Depending on the location of your website visitors, the content requested gets served by the node that’s at the nearest data center. 

The problem with not using a CDN is that many sites can be slow, especially if they have visitors from around the world. Although a CDN isn’t necessary, it can help serve your web content much faster and reduce the loading time.

Now that you’re aware of some of the most and least obvious loading time killers, it’s time to get cracking with fixing them for your website.

Got some more load time killers that you wish to add to this list? Share them in the comments.

Nat McNeely is Digital Marketing Manager of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. 

The post The silent killers of loading time and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 3 days ago from www.searchenginewatch.com