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Google will not build or use alternate identifiers to track users across the web

Google reiterated that its products will use Federated Learning of Cohorts to enable advertisers to target audiences.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

How Gootkit trojan distributes ransomware via Google SERPs

Unknowing developers that search forums for script help can fall victim to Gootkit trojan and ransomware attacks

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

10 Steps to Blend STAT Ranking Data with Site Performance Metrics

Posted by AndrewMiller

Too often, we assume that SEO best practices will work in any industry against any competitive set. But most best practices go untested and may not be “best” in every situation.

We all know that tactics that worked in 2020 won’t necessarily move the needle in 2021 as Core Web Vitals (CWV) and other signals shuffle to the front. We have to do better for our businesses and our clients.

I’m a data nerd at heart with lots of battle scars from 15 years in SEO. The idea of analyzing thousands of local SERPs sounded like too much fun to pass up. I found some surprising correlations, and just as importantly, built a methodology and data set that can be updated quarterly to show changes over time.

I analyzed 50,000+ SERPs in the retail banking sector so I could make sense of the massive shifts in rankings and search behaviors during the lockdown period. We have a lot of historical data for bank websites, so comparing pre/post COVID data would be easier than starting from scratch.

I’ll share how I did it below. But first, I want to share WHY I think sharing this type of research is so important for the SEO community.

Why validate SEO best practices with data?

It’s a great time to be an SEO. We have amazing tools and can gather more data than ever. We have thriving communities and excellent basic training materials.

Yet, we often see our craft distilled into overly-simplified “best practices” that are assumed to be universally true. But if there’s one universal truth in SEO, it’s that there are no universal truths. A best practice can be misinterpreted or outdated, leading to missed opportunities or outright harm to a business.

Using the increasing importance of CWV as an example, SEOs have an opportunity (and obligation) to separate fact from fiction. We need to know if, and by how much, CWV will impact rankings over time so we can prioritize our efforts.

We can elevate our SEO game individually and collectively by testing and validating best practices with research. It just takes a curious mind, the right tools, and a willingness to accept the results rather than force a narrative.

Failing to validate best practices is a liability for SEO practitioners and shows an unwillingness to challenge assumptions. In my experience, a lack of data can lead to a senior stakeholders’ opinions carrying more weight than an SEO expert’s recommendations.

Start by asking the right questions

Real insight comes from combining data from multiple sources to answer critical questions and ensure your strategies are backed by valid data. In my analysis of local banks, I started by listing the questions I wanted to know the answers to:

  • What characteristics are shared by top-ranking local bank websites?
  • Who are banks actually competing against in the SERPs? Is it primarily other banks?
  • How do competitive SERPS change based on when/where/how users search?
  • How can smaller, local businesses gain an edge over larger competitors from outside their region?
  • How does SERP composition affect a bank’s ability to rank well for targeted keywords?
  • How important are Core Web Vitals (CWV) for rankings? How does this change over time?

You could run this same analysis by replacing “banks” with other local business categories. The list of potential questions is endless so you can adjust them based on your needs.

Here’s an important reminder – be prepared to accept the answers even if they are inconclusive or contradictory to your assumptions. Data-driven SEOs have to avoid confirmation bias if we’re going to remain objective.

Here’s how I analyzed 50,000 search results in a few hours

I combined three of my favorite tools to analyze SERPs at scale and gather the data needed to answer my questions:

  • STAT to generated ranking reports for select keywords
  • Screaming Frog to crawl websites and gather technical SEO data
  • Power BI to analyze the large data sets and create simple visualizations

Step 1: Determine your data needs

I used US Census Bureau data to identify all cities with populations over 100,000, because I wanted a representation of local bank SERPs across the country. My list ended up including 314 separate cities, but you could customize your list to suit your needs.

I also wanted to gather data for desktop and mobile searches to compare SERP differences between the device types.

Step 2: Identify your keywords

I chose “banks near me” and “banks in {city, st}” based on their strong local intent and high search volumes, compared to more specific keywords for banking services.

Step 3: Generate a STAT import file in .csv format

Once you have your keywords and market list, it’s time to prepare the bulk upload for STAT. Use the template provided in the link to create a .csv file with the following fields:

  • Project: The name of the new STAT project, or an existing project.
  • Folder: The name of the new folder, or an existing folder. (This is an optional column that you can leave blank.)
  • Site: The domain name for the site you want to track. Note, for our purposes you can enter any URL you want to track here. The Top 20 Report will include all ranking URLs for the target keywords even if they aren’t listed in your “Site” column.
  • Keyword: The search query you’re adding.
  • Tags: Enter as many keyword tags as you want, separated by commas. I used “city” and “near me” as tags to distinguish between the query types. (This is an optional column that you can leave blank.)
  • Market: Specify the market (country and language) in which you would like to track the keyword. I used “US-en” for US English.
  • Location: If you want to track the keyword in a specific location, specify the city, state, province, ZIP code, and/or postal code. I used the city and state list in “city, st” format.
  • Device: Select whether you would like Desktop or Smartphone results. I selected both.

Each market, location, and device type will multiply the number of keywords you must track. I ended up with 1,256 keywords (314 markets X 2 keywords X 2 devices) in my import file.

Once your file is complete, you can import to STAT and begin tracking.

Step 4: Run a Top 20 Report in STAT for all keywords

STAT’s built-in Google SERP Top 20 Comparison report captures the top 20 organic results from each SERP at different intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) to look at changes over time. I did not need daily data so I simply let it run on two consecutive days and removed the data I did not need. I re-run the same report quarterly to track changes over time.

Watch the video below to learn how to set up this report! 

My 1,256 keywords generated over 25,000 rows of data per day. Each row is a different organic listing and includes the keyword, monthly search volume, rank (includes the local pack), base rank (does not include the local pack), https/http protocol of the ranking URL, the ranking URL, and your tags.

Here’s an example of the raw output in CSV format:

It’s easy to see how useful this data is by itself but it becomes even more powerful when we clean it up and start crawling the ranking URLs.

Step 5: Clean up and normalize your STAT URLs data

At this point you may have invested 1-2 hours in gathering the initial data. This step is a bit more time consuming, but data cleansing allows you to run more advanced analysis and uncover more useful insights in Screaming Frog.

Here are the changes I made to the STAT rankings data to prepare for the next steps in Screaming Frog and Power BI. You’ll end up with multiple columns of URLs. Each serves a purpose later.

  1. Duplicate the Ranking URL column to a new column called Normalized URL.
  2. Remove URL parameters from the Normalized URL fields by using Excel’s text to columns tool and separating by “?”. I deleted the new columns(s) containing the URL parameters because they were not helpful in my analysis.
  3. Duplicate the new, clean Normalized URL column to a new column called TLD. Use the text to columns tool on the TLD column and separate by “/” to remove everything except the domain name and subdomains. Delete the new columns. I chose to keep the subdomains in my TLD column but you can remove them if it helps your analysis.
  4. Finally, create one more column called Full URL that will eventually become the list of URLs that you’ll crawl in Screaming Frog. To generate the Full URL, simply use Excel’s concatenate function to combine the Protocol and Normalized URL columns. Your formula will look something like this: =concatenate(A1, “://”, C1) to include the “://” in a valid URL string.

The 25,000+ rows in my data set are well within Excel’s limitations, so I am able to manipulate the data easily in one place. You may need to use a database (I like BigQuery) as your data sets grow.

Step 6: Categorize your SERP results by website type

Skimming through the SERP results, it’s easy to see that banks are not the only type of website that rank for keywords with local search intent. Since one of my initial questions was SERP composition, I had to identify all of the different types of websites and label each one for further analysis.

This step is by far the most time consuming and insightful. I spent 3 hours categorizing the initial batch of 25,000+ URLs into one of the following categories:

  • Institution (banks and credit union websites)
  • Directory (aggregators, local business directories, etc.)
  • Reviews (local and national sites like Yelp.com)
  • Education (content about banks on .edu domains)
  • Government (content about banks on .gov domains and municipal sites)
  • Jobs (careers sites and job aggregators)
  • News (local and national news sites with banking content)
  • Food Banks (yes, plenty of food banks rank for “banks near me” keywords)
  • Real Estate (commercial and residential real estate listings)
  • Search Engines (ranked content belonging to a search engine)
  • Social Media (ranked content on social media sites)
  • Other (completely random results not related to any of the above)

Your local SERPs will likely contain many of these website types and other unrelated categories such as food banks. Speed up the process by sorting and filtering your TLD and Normalized URL columns to categorize multiple rows simultaneously. For example, all the yelp.com rankings can be categorized as “Reviews” with a quick copy/paste.

At this point, your rankings data set is complete and you are ready to begin crawling the top-ranking sites in your industry to see what they have in common.

Step 7: Crawl your target websites with Screaming Frog

My initial STAT data identified over 6,600 unique pages from local bank websites that ranked in the top 20 organic search results. This is far too many pages to evaluate manually. Enter Screaming Frog, a crawler that mimics Google’s web crawler and extracts tons of SEO data from websites.

I configured Screaming Frog to crawl each of the 6,600 ranking pages for a larger analysis of characteristics shared by top-ranking bank websites. Don’t just let SF loose though. Be sure to configure it properly to save time and avoid crawling unnecessary pages.

These settings ensure we’ll get all the info we need to answer our questions in one crawl:

List Mode: Paste in a de-duplicated Full URL list from your STAT data. In my case, this was 6,600+ URLs.

Database Storage Mode: It may be a bit slower than Memory (RAM) Storage, but saving your crawl results on your hard disk ensures you won’t lose your results if you make a mistake (like I have many times) and close your report before you finish analyzing the data.

Limit Crawl Depth: Set this to 0 (zero) so the spider will only crawl the URLs on your list without following internal links to other pages on those domains.

APIs: I highly recommend using the Pagespeed Insights Integration to pull Lighthouse speed metrics directly into your crawl data. If you have a Moz account with API access, you can also pull link and domain data from the Moz API with the built-in integration.

Once you have configured the spider, let it rip! It could take several minutes to several hours depending on how many URLs you’re crawling and your computer’s speed and memory constraints. Just be patient! You might try running larger crawls overnight or on an extra computer to avoid bogging your primary machine down.

Step 8: Export your Screaming Frog crawl data to Excel

Dumping your crawl data into Excel is remarkably easy.

Step 9: Join your data sets in Power BI

At this point, you should have two data sources in Excel: one for your STAT rankings data and another for your Screaming Frog crawl data. Our goal is to combine the two data sources to see how organic search rank may be influenced by on-page SEO elements and site performance. To do this, we must first merge the data.

If you have access to a Windows PC, the free version of Power BI is powerful enough to get you started. Begin by loading your two data sources into a new project using the Get Data wizard.

Once your data sets are loaded, it’s time to make the magic happen by creating relationships in your data to unlock correlations between rankings and site characteristics. To combine your data in Power BI, create a many-to-many relationship between your STAT Full URL and Screaming Frog Original URL fields. 

If you are new to BI tools and data visualization, don’t worry! There are lots of helpful tutorials and videos just a quick search away. At this point, it’s really hard to break anything and you can experiment with lots of ways to analyze your data and share insights with many types of charts and graphs.

I should note that Power BI is my preferred data visualization tool but you may be able to use Tableau or some equally powerful. Google Data Studio was not an option for this analysis because it only allows for left outer joins of the multiple data sources and does not support “many-to-many” relationships. It’s a technical way of saying Data Studio isn’t flexible enough to create the data relationships that we need.

Step 10: Analyze and visualize!

Power BI’s built-in visualizations allow you to quickly summarize and present data. This is where we can start analyzing the data to answer the questions we came up with earlier.

Results — what did we learn?

Here are a couple examples of the insights gleaned from merging our rankings and crawl data. Spoiler alert — CWV doesn’t strongly impact organic rankings….yet!

Who are banks actually competing against in the SERPs? Is it primarily other banks?

On desktops, about 67% of organic search results belong to financial institutions (banks and credit unions) with heavy competition from reviews sites (7%) and online directories (22%). This information helps shape our SEO strategies for banks by exposing opportunities to monitor and maintain listings in relevant directories and reviews sites.

Okay, now let’s mash up our data sources to see how the distribution of website categories varies by rank on desktop devices. Suddenly, we can see that financial institutions actually occupy the majority of the top 3 results while reviews sites and directories are more prevalent in positions 4-10.

How important are Core Web Vitals (CWV) for rankings? How does this change over time?

Site performance and site speed are hot topics in SEO and will only become more important as CWV becomes a ranking signal in May this year. We can begin to understand the relationships between site speed and rankings by comparing STAT rankings and Pagespeed Insights data from Screaming Frog reports.

As of January 2021, sites with higher Lighthouse Performance Scores (i.e. they load faster) tend to rank better than sites with lower scores. This could help justify investments in site speed and site performance.

Some CWV elements correlate more closely with better rankings and others are more scattered. This isn’t to say CWV aren’t important or meaningful, but rather it’s a starting point for further analysis after May.

So what? What can we learn from this type of analysis?

Separately, STAT and Screaming Frog are incredibly powerful SEO tools. The data they provide are useful if you happen to be an SEO but the ability to merge data and extract relationships will multiply your value in any organization that values data, and acts on insights.

Besides validating some generally accepted SEO knowledge with data (“faster sites are rewarded with better rankings”), better use of relational data can also help us avoid spending valuable time on less important tactics (“improve Cumulative Layout Shift at all costs!”).

Of course, correlation does not imply causation, and aggregated data does not guarantee an outcome for individual sites. But if you’re a bank marketing professional responsible for customer acquisition from organic channels, you’ll need to bring this type of data to your stakeholders to justify increased investments in SEO.

By sharing the tools and methodology, I hope others will take it further by building and contributing their additional findings to the SEO community. What other datasets can we combine to deepen our understanding of SERPs on a larger scale? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

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 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

Get your free MarTech pass now

Join us in two weeks at MarTech, online March 16-17, for actionable tactics to reach your changing customer.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Sitecore makes its CDP move

Acquisitions of Boxever and Four51 come two months after a big funding round

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.marketingland.com

Social media management is a full-time job, but this tool can help

Social media management is a full-time job, but this tool can help

TL;DR: Get on top of your social media game with the HelloWoofy Social Media Management tool, on sale for 91% off. As of Feb. 26, get a one year subscription for only $49.


A lot goes into running a successful social media account. You have to post at the right time of day, write engaging captions, keep track of analytics, and monitor what’s working — and what’s not. Pre-scheduling a couple posts and logging off for the weekend just doesn’t cut it.

More than just a scheduling tool, HelloWoofy uses AI technology to help you improve your business’s social media presence. Good for entrepreneurs and small businesses alike, the platform can create social media posts or blog content, recommend hashtags, suggest engaging emojis, and schedule single posts or entire campaigns.  Read more…

More about Social Media, Apps And Software, Mashable Shopping, Tech, and Work Life

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.mashable.com

Minneapolis will pay influencers to post during the George Floyd murder trials

Minneapolis will pay influencers to post during the George Floyd murder trials

Minneapolis, Minn. approved a unique program on Friday.

The city will pay social media influencers to spread “approved messages” during the trials of the police officers charged with killing George Floyd.

The Minneapolis City Council passed the program, “contracts with community organizations for public safety and engagement services,” with the intent of curbing misinformation around the cases. It includes partnerships with local media institutions and outreach with community groups as well.

The social media influencer portion of the program is described as “paid partnerships with community members who are considered trusted messengers and have large social media presence to share City generated and approved messages.” Read more…

More about Social Media, Influencers, George Floyd, Culture, and Politics

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.mashable.com

Deleting your Clubhouse account is a nightmare, especially for sex workers

Deleting your Clubhouse account is a nightmare, especially for sex workers

Clubhouse has a safety problem. 

The invite-only social media app, which lets people gather in audio-only “rooms” for free-flowing discussions, is in the midst of an explosive growth spurt. With reportedly over 10 million users as of mid-February, the demand for accounts is so high that people are trying to sell them for as much as $100. The real challenge, however, lies in deleting an account — a potentially serious safety concern for users now struggling to do so as they see their professional and personal lives unwillingly mixed. 

The problem is twofold. Clubhouse requires users to sign up with phone numbers, and also requires access to users’ entire phone contact lists to send out invites to other people. As the app is still invite-only, this forces people to share their contact lists if they want to invite their friends or colleagues to the platform.  Read more…

More about Privacy, Social Media, Clubhouse, Tech, and Social Media Companies

Reblogged 1 year ago from feeds.mashable.com

Save Time With Agile Email Marketing: Everything You Need To Know

“Hey, would you mind sending a follow-up email?” 

You’re already barely keeping up with your workload when you get the dreaded, last-minute email request.

With everything else on your plate, you now need to pause to get that second email out the door, and then play catch-up with everything else on your plate… 

Sound familiar? 

We know you’re constantly being asked to send more emails with less resources.

And sometimes, it’s unavoidable. When your business’ and subscribers’ needs change, you must be able to adapt quickly to stay relevant or risk your email marketing program suffering.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be so difficult. 

Enter agile email marketing.

Here, let’s break down what agile email marketing means, why it matters, and how you can use it to scale and send more effective emails faster — without breaking a sweat.

What is agile email marketing, anyway?

Agile email marketing is a way to be flexible and adapt to change by focusing on data and your subscribers’ needs while using a modular process so you can send effective emails faster.

Before diving deeper into agile email marketing, we first have to mention the agile methodology.

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The agile methodology is a project management process that started in software development, giving teams the flexibility to adapt and respond to changes quickly. This way, teams could constantly improve and innovate, staying on top of their users’ needs and beating their competition to market.

There are many ways this agility is possible, but the three things we carry over into agile email marketing are: 

  • Focusing on customer needs
  • Making data-driven decisions
  • Collaborating across teams

So while agile email marketing doesn’t require using the agile methodology, it takes its essence to create a more efficient way to send emails.

In other words, agile email marketing helps you prioritize your emails, gets all stakeholders on the same page, and maximizes your teams and resources to streamline your production process. With teamwork and a clear understanding of goals, you won’t bat an eye at last-minute email sends or changing priorities.

Sound too good to be true?

Agile email marketing does require a shift in mindset — instead of planning the big campaigns you’re used to, you’ll need to plan for iterative change in a test-and-learn environment.

For example, instead of mapping out and creating all the emails in your entire welcome or onboarding journey, start small with only the first email. Do some A/B testing to figure out what your audience is most receptive to, optimize, and use what you learn to continue building out the rest of your nurture journey — one email at a time. 

Your goal is progress, not perfection. But don’t worry, this shift isn’t all or nothing. Even the smallest steps toward changing how you think about emails and the workflow to become agile can have huge payoffs, as I’ll explain next.

Why Being Agile is Critical to Success

Sure, email professionals may seem like magicians, but emails aren’t done with the wave of a wand. There’s a lot that goes on under the hood. 52% of marketers spend two weeks or more to complete a single email from conception to hitting the send button.

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Source: Litmus’ 2020 State of Email Workflows

Not to mention, 55% of marketers are juggling at least six emails at a time. So it’s never “just” one more email.

The traditional email marketing process uses linear and interdependent steps. You can’t move forward without completing the step before. For example, you need to write copy before creating imagery, or have design done before coding the email.

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Look at that process! It’s no wonder it can take a long time to create and send an email.

But this pace can hurt your email marketing program — or worse, your brand reputation. Things can change in an instant … Think natural disasters, a health crisis, the socio-political climate, rules and regulations, etc. If you can’t adapt, your email campaign may fall flat or even offend and turn away your subscribers. 

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Empathy is crucial, and being agile keeps you attuned to your subscribers’ needs so you can pivot at a moment’s notice — and keep your customers for the long-haul. This also gives your work purpose. 

You know you’re always delivering the highest value work instead of falling into the trap of the sunk cost fallacy: continuing work that’s not relevant or worth it anymore simply because of what you’ve already invested in it. Your work is no longer about you, it’s about your subscribers!

Even if you’re in no rush, if your competitor is just one day ahead of you, that can put you at a significant disadvantage. An agile email marketing workflow gives you greater speed to market which can be just the edge you need for campaign success.

How to Make Your Email Workflow Agile

So how do you go from a linear email workflow to an agile one?

You’ll first need to start with your audience and put them at the center of your campaigns, make data-driven decisions, and collaborate across roles and teams.

With these tenets in mind, you can begin building a new workflow that allows many parts of your email marketing process to be either automated or done in tandem, as shown in this agile email workflow chart:

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Ready? Let’s dive into how you can go agile.

1. Get your team and tools in place.

Crucial to the success of agile email marketing is your people and your tools. Without this strong foundation, you’ll more likely face challenges with adoption.

Make an assessment of the skills and tools needed so you know who to tap to join you and how you can get emails done together.

Cross-Team Collaboration

One of the cornerstones of agile email marketing is cross-team collaboration, which means taking advantage of a wide variety of existing roles and skills already within your company to create and send emails.

That’s right: You don’t have to hire new people or have a large, dedicated email team. Instead, by leveraging other people’s strengths and, if needed, running through email marketing best practices to hone their craft specifically for email, you can work efficiently as a team. Make sure you communicate your needs and get everyone on board, first!

The skills you need will depend on your email marketing program, but the main ones to consider are:

  • Strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Design
  • Development
  • Operations
  • Analysis

In one scenario, for instance, you might want to pull people from your content and website teams to help with copywriting, design, and development.

Tools and Technology

The second part of an agile email marketing foundation is the tools.

Make an assessment of your current technology and review the rest of the agile email workflow steps below to see where your gaps are. Do you have what you need to send emails, simplify and automate steps in your process, and collaborate effectively across teams?

At the very least, you need an email marketing tool and a collaboration tool.

2. Align on email strategy.

With your team and tools in place, you need to make sure everyone — including reviewers and approvers — is on the same page, setting your team up for success as you all work toward a common goal. 

A solid strategy ensures copy, design, and development are aligned. Without alignment, there can be miscommunication and confusion. And this can slow you down or throw your email off track, resulting in even more work and time wasted. Not agile at all.

If putting together an email marketing brief stresses you out, know that it doesn’t have to be complicated or extensive. As long as you have these basics, you’re golden:

  • Define your email’s purpose, goal, and audience.
  • Define your content strategy for getting opens and clicks.
  • Define the hierarchy of your email’s copy and images.

Remember the key to being agile is your subscribers. When their needs intersect with your business’ needs, you get… magic.

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If you find that your email doesn’t meet your subscribers’ needs, consider changing your email — or not sending it at all.

Continuous improvement is essential to being agile, and you can re-center your email around your subscribers by learning from the past and present to inform your future strategy.

You can extract insights from industry news or your email marketing tools to identify design improvement opportunities or improve segmentation, targeting, and personalization.

Now that everyone’s expectations are set and in sync, email production can begin.

3. Write, design, and build at the same time.

The time it takes to write, design, and build an email adds up in a linear process. When they’re each done in tandem, it’s like cutting production time by over 50%.

The secret? Standardized email design and a visual email editor.

Creating every email from scratch is a huge waste of time. And if you want to ensure brand consistency and reduce errors, standardized emails are the way to go.

There are a few ways of doing this, in order of complexity:

  • Snippets: reusable lines of code for commonly used elements like HTML buttons or hyperlinks so you don’t have to code the same thing over and over again.
  • Partials: reusable lines of code for globally-used content blocks like your header and footer so any updates made to them are automatically applied across every email.
  • Templates: reusable coded emails with a set layout on which to simply add or replace copy, images, and links.
  • Design systems: a collection of reusable email components with a guide on how they can be mixed and matched to create more flexible — yet still standardized — email designs.

This doesn’t mean you have to settle for boring, ho-hum designs. You can still be creative in your imagery and in how different reusable components come together to create an email.

Standardized email design and development not only frees up your time for innovation, but also sets the stage for being able to write, design, and build at the same time within a visual email editor.

Once a template has been defined for your email, then you already have the specifications for the copy that needs to be written and the images that need to be created. Then, it’s a matter of plugging them into your email template. 

Loaded with your email snippets, partials, and/or template, a visual email editor tool can then empower everyone to work on their part of the production process at the same time and collaborate along the way.

Images can be created based on the content outline in your email marketing brief from step two, while the copy is being written. Copy can even be written within your visual email editor to help ensure it’ll fit inside the design, making copy edits a breeze.

Even if you don’t have a visual email editor, development can begin with placeholder images and text. With everyone on the same page on strategy, there’s no need to wait for design and copy first.

4. Collect feedback in one place.

With email strategy alignment across all stakeholders, the review process should be less painful. Still, juggling feedback can be difficult coming from different people across different tools. What if there are contradicting comments? Or you miss an important piece of feedback altogether?

This time-saving tip is simple: Consolidate everyone’s feedback in one place. 

Stop sending individual screenshots or test emails. Share one email test with stakeholders in a single location so everyone’s collaborating together. 

First, you’ll need to grab the URL in the “view in browser” or “view online” link of your email. You can also create a web-based version of your email to share. The important thing is that you have an email where people can test links and interactive elements.

Then, pick a single spot — not an email thread — to share your email for feedback. This could be as part of a group message in your communication tool or as a single task in your project management tool.

You could collect feedback in those same places. Or you might find it faster and easier to create a separate spreadsheet to track feedback, conversations on specific comments, as well as progress on implementing feedback.

The key thing is that all reviewers and approvers are together and can see each other’s feedback.

There are also tools made specifically for collaboration where you can not only share a live version of your email, but also leave feedback directly on it, check off when changes are made, and track approvals.

5. Analyze & share insights.

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After your email is sent, see how it’s performing so you can evolve to meet your subscribers’ needs. In the agile methodology world, you might consider this the end of a sprint, working in small increments to improve the success of your emails.

The email marketing metrics you should look at depends on your goal. Your email marketing tools will provide at least the basics — opens, clicks, and unsubscribes — and may even provide deeper engagement-level metrics like how long someone spent reading your email (read rate) or how many people shared your email (forward rate).

If you’re tempted to skip this step, don’t. 

Email analysis tends to be what people skip if they’re short on time. Onto the next email, right? In the long run, though, this hurts your email marketing program.

It might be hard to believe, but analyzing your emails will actually save you time. It’s what makes agile email marketing work in the first place. If you remember, I mentioned that being agile relies on data, whether that’s internal (e.g. email performance) or external (e.g. the news).

Data is how you can keep a pulse on your subscribers’ preferences, and how those preferences might change over time.

It gives you the power to say no to the emails that don’t matter. Otherwise, you’re shooting in the dark and wasting time on emails your subscribers don’t care about. And this affects your company’s brand reputation, and bottom line.

Final Thoughts on Going Agile

Remember, even achieving some agility in your email workflow has its rewards, like giving your team some time back or being able to quickly flex to your subscribers.

While there’s nothing wrong with the linear email marketing process —completing one step at a time — you won’t be able to move as fast in today’s ever-changing environment. To rise above your competition and ensure you always meet your subscribers where they are, you need speed and efficiency. That’s where agile email marketing comes in.

Make sure you have the right team and tools in place with everyone on the same page on strategy. Then you can be off and running to create great emails in no time.

So the next time someone asks if you can send just one more email, you can confidently say ‘No’ (because it’s not the right fit for your subscribers), or embrace it with open arms (because it is the right fit for your subscribers). Either way, it won’t be your workflow holding you back.

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Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com

Facebook Lookalike Audiences: What Marketers Need to Know

If you’ve ever been in charge of running ads for a business, I’ll bet you’ve wondered how to get cold audiences to interact with your ads. It’s the age-old problem of online advertising.

With Facebook ads, one of the best ways to target a cold audience that is likely to interact with you is to use lookalike audiences.

Don’t worry if you’ve heard of this concept, but have been slightly worried about getting started with the process. I know I thought the process would be more complex when I was working at an agency. Lucky for us, it’s actually really simple.

Below, let’s learn everything you need to know to get started with Facebook lookalike audiences.

So, how does it work?

How does Facebook create lookalike audiences?

Well, Facebook will look at your custom list of people (called a source audience), then match emails with those Facebook profiles, and then find users who have similar interests or are in a similar demographic.

With a lookalike audience, you can reach a cold audience that is highly targeted (reaching only the top 1% of people who most closely match your custom list) and more likely to convert than other audiences because they’re similar to your warm audiences.

When you create a lookalike audience, you’ll be able to maximize your reach and improve your cost per acquisition for new leads since you’re targeting warmer audiences.

Additionally, when Facebook is creating the lookalike audiences that your ad will show up for, it makes sure to exclude anyone from the source audience (the list you uploaded).

You can use several lookalike audiences even for one ad set, that way your ad can show up to people who are similar to your web visitors as well as your email list.

Now, how do you create a lookalike audience?

1. Go to Audiences.

The first step is to log on to Facebook Ads. Then, click the nine dots in the left-hand corner, and click “Audiences.”

Facebook Ads manager dashboard.

2. Select Create Audience and choose Lookalike Audience.

Now, click the blue button that says “Create Audience” and then scroll down to “Lookalike Audience.”

Facebook ads audiences.

3. Upload your source audience.

This step is where the magic happens. Now it’s time to upload your custom audience source. You can upload a .txt or .csv file or choose a Facebook source. This audience source can be from:

  • An email list
  • Website visitors (based on a Facebook pixel you’ll need to install on your site)
  • App activity
  • A customer list
  • Facebook sources (people who have watched your videos, filled out a form, Instagram followers)

To determine which source you want to use, think about your goals. Are you trying to get new email subscribers? Then maybe your email list would be best. If you’re trying to increase sales, maybe you should use your website visitors list.

Either way, it’s important to think about the goal of your ad before you choose your source audience.

Facebook audience lookalike source audience.

Facebook ads custom audience source.

4. Choose the country you’d like to find a similar set of people in.

Once you’ve uploaded a list, choose the country that you want to target. This doesn’t mean that people in your source audience need to be from this country. This is just the country or countries you want to target for the ad.

Facebook ads audience location.

5. Decide your audience size.

Now, you can select your audience size. For example, if you choose 1%, then the people you target will include people who are most similar to your lookalike source. If you increase the percentage, then you increase your audience size. The bigger the audience size, the less precise the matching details are.

Facebook ads audience size.

6. Click Create Audience.

Last but not least, click the blue button that says “Create Audience.” It might take up to a day for the audience to be created. But once your lookalike audience is being used, it will refresh every 3-7 days as long as you have ads that are currently targeting it.

Once you’re done creating your lookalike audience, you can set even more parameters by going into the Power Editor tool and choosing a specific age, gender, location, etc.

Before I set you off to the races, though, let’s first discuss some of the requirements of creating a Facebook lookalike audience.

Facebook Lookalike Audience Minimum Size

To create a Facebook lookalike audience, your source audience needs to include at least 100 people from a single country. Additionally, it’s recommended that your source audience contain 1,000 to 50,000 people. You can also create up to 500 lookalike audiences from a single source audience.

If you’re looking to create a Facebook ad, using lookalike audiences is one of the best ways to target cold audiences. These audiences will be more likely to engage with your ad based on their similarities to your other audiences.

If you’re a HubSpot customer, you can use HubSpot’s ads tool to manage your digital ads, including ones run on Facebook.

Facebook Strategy Guide

Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.hubspot.com