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Using search query reports to optimize PPC campaigns

When talking about search marketing it starts and ends with keywords.

The concept of understanding the keyword the user is searching for and matching it with what your brand is offering has created one of the most successful and profitable companies of all time.

Recently, we have been having a lot of conversations about keywords and how they should be used. I would categorize these into three strategic discussions:

  1. Specificity: How detailed should any company get in their keyword list? Example; Running shoes for men with flat feet in the summer vs. Running shoes
  2. Campaign Structure: How should these keywords be grouped to be the most effective and map to their corresponding ad copy? 
  3. Brand vs. Non-brand: Should I be bidding on my branded terms? What is the value of non-branded keywords if they are below my ROI goals?

This article will focus on specificity – how to determine the starting point of your keyword list and then how to refine it using available search query report data that is made available by Google.

Getting started

If this is your first campaign you are running, welcome. If not, then you should skip this section.

There are lots of various keyword tools you can use to help set up your account. While they might be slightly different I find that any are good enough to start with.

I typically use Google’s tool. Enter in your website or some base keywords you know you want included and let the tool derive your list.

From there it is all your own intuition. You won’t know just yet what your results will be and there really isn’t a way to know prior to getting real data how deep you should go, especially considering your product set. You just have to start somewhere.

Some common questions are:

  • Are you a local business? If so, including some of those local keyword variations makes sense
  • How big is your budget? Your ability to fund a broader keyword list or target the more expxensive head terms will be informed by your budget
  • How much volume do your search terms get? If you are in a heavy volume area you might see more volume on larger tail terms that make sense to include.

Starting with some grouped structure that keeps your related keywords together and aligns well with your ad copy and landing page. This is important for relevance and quality score.

Don’t try to overstuff an ad group. If a keyword doesn’t belong, put it where it does, even if it’s alone.

Always include at least phase match and negative keywords. Every business knows keywords that don’t align with their business or doesn’t match with their product set.

Similar with phrase match, where you want to be able to have some visibility into what consumers are searching for. This is where the real magic and refinement happens.

Refining your keyword list with a search query report

Once your campaigns are live you start to get actual data on not only the keywords you bid on, but you also get keyword information on the search terms Google matched to your keywords. This gives you the opportunity to refine your list by either adding negatives or bidding specifically on those variants. 

You can access this data from the main keywords menu by selecting ‘search terms,’ or you can access this data by running a search terms report in the reporting reports section. Google provides more details in their help text here.

I prefer the keyword menu in the main interface because you can directly manage the keywords based on the data you see. Below is an example of the option to add as a keyword or negative. 

I like to start by sorting by impressions. This helps me work through keywords I may have missed by volume. The ones that will make the biggest impact on results. I’ll include cost per conversion data as well.

What I’m looking for is pretty simple. If a search term has a lot of volume and is getting conversions, or I feel like is strategic to the account (meaning it may not have conversions yet, but I can optimize the bid or other items to bring value) I will add it as a keyword. If the opposite is true I will add it to the negative list. 

What I find you see often are search term variants that give you some great insight into how consumers are thinking about your products.

You’ll often see search terms that give you insight into things you may have assumed about things like; color, size, location, or price. It can help you understand content or landing pages you may need to build to better answer these queries.

By adding these search terms you didn’t originally consider you can better select the landing page for those keywords, or the ad copy that more specifically speaks to the needs of that term. 

In the keyword section of the menu you can also add a variety of segments in the data that can also be very insightful. The segment menu option is right next to columns, download, or expand in the top row:

You can break the data down by time (day, week, month, etc…), conversions, device, or network (Google vs. Search Partners). These segments can provide deeper insights into consumer behavior and give you some keys to further optimization. 

There is no right or wrong number of keywords to have in your account

It is driven by the category, your budget, and consumer behavior. The key is to use the data to drive your decisions.

The search query report provides excellent insights into search terms to help you build landing pages and content that will help you improve the customer experience, your relevance, and overall conversions.

Keyword research tools are the starting point, but nothing is going to beat your search query report data. 

The post Using search query reports to optimize PPC campaigns appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google tests new SERP feature that gives searchers Perspectives

Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that it is testing a new search feature named Perspectives.

Google explained this feature is an experiment to help searchers in new ways to find helpful information that they are seeking. However, Google declined to answer more specific questions on how to trigger this, when this might show and how publishers can have their content show in this new search box.

What are search Perspectives? Basically, Perspectives appear to be multiple short featured snippets that give searchers a wider and more diverse set of answers for their query. Again, Google would not give us any official definition, Google would only say this is an experiment and Google does a lot of experiments.

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot I was able to replicate myself:

It looks like two separate feature snippets in one, called multifaceted featured snippets, which we know Google does.

Brodie Clark posted another example over here and Brian Freiesleben also noted these tests without the Perspectives label at the top.

Other tests. We have seen Google test these other featured snippet variations, such as from the web and various card-based featured snippets. So Google is clearly stepping up testing new user interfaces and experiences for the featured snippet section of the search results.

Why we care. When it comes to featured snippets, it is a spot most SEOs would love to be placed in. At the same time, some complain the click-through rate is not optimal on all queries when being featured in that position. Would sharing the featured snippet spot with this new Perspectives interface change result in more clicks or less? This is something to keep an eye on to see if Google does roll this out more widely and how searchers’ perspectives change around such a feature.

The post Google tests new SERP feature that gives searchers Perspectives appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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YouTube ads for beginners: All you need to know about YouTube advertising

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness and reach for your business through online advertising, there’s no better platform to turn to than the Internet’s second largest search engine. Owned by Google, you’ll be working with the Google Ads network to create your YouTube ads.

But if you’re new to the process, this guide will help determine the best types of YouTube ads for your channel and how to make them as effective as possible.

Read on to learn more about several types of YouTube ads, which ad is best for your objectives and how to create and track your own YouTube ads.

Types of YouTube ads

There are six main types of YouTube ads that your brand might consider running on the video platform.

Skippable in-stream ads

Skippable in-stream ads are longer ads that users can skip after watching the first five seconds. Many of these ads last up to an entire minute and are a great way to introduce new audiences to your business. This means you’ll want to really pull a viewer in during those first five seconds to get them to watch the remainder of your ad before skipping to their actual video.

When to use: This ad type can be used to generate sales, leads, website traffic, brand awareness or product consideration

Non-skippable in-stream ads

A GIF depicting what a non-skippable in-stream ad is.

Non-skippable in-stream ads also appear at the beginning or during a video, just like skippable ads do. However, these are much shorter ads and users are unable to skip them to get to their videos. Maxing out at 15 seconds, non-skippable ads are quick commercials that share what the business does and how it solves pain points as concisely as possible.

When to use: These types of YouTube ads are best used for brand awareness campaigns.

In-feed video ads

An illustration depicting what an in-feed video ad is.

An in-feed video ad appears at the top of YouTube search results as well as alongside related YouTube videos. These ads appear when viewers search for relevant keywords on YouTube, allowing new audiences that are already interested in their products or services to discover their business.

When to use: Use this ad for product or brand consideration campaigns.

Bumper ads

A GIF depicting what a bumper ad is.

A bumper ad is similar to a non-skippable in-stream ad but much shorter. At 6 seconds or less, a bumper ad is a great way for a brand to broadcast a quick message to potential new customers.

When to use: Use this type of ad for brand awareness campaigns.

Outstream ads

An illustration depicting what an outstream ad is.

Outstream ads appear online on mobile devices and are placed on websites and apps that run on Google video partners. These start without sound, though viewers can unmute the video if the ad grabs their attention well enough. This means you need to create a captivating ad where volume isn’t required, either by adding captions or by using visuals to pull the viewer in.

When to use: Use this ad type when working to expand your mobile reach. This is great for generating sales, leads, website traffic and brand awareness.

Masthead ads

An illustration depicting what a masthead ad is.

A masthead ad appears at the top of the YouTube homepage on both desktop and app. It plays soundless for 30 seconds on desktop and for the full time on mobile, before defaulting to a thumbnail. Masthead ads also include an information panel on the right-hand side (desktop-only), giving viewers more details and leading them to your channel. This type of ad is only available on a reservation basis when working with a Google sales rep.

When to use: Because you have to work with the Google advertising team on this to reserve your spot, save this ad type for major campaigns, product launches and generating sales.

How to create YouTube ads (step-by-step)

Now you know the main types of ads and when to use them. But how do you go about creating your own YouTube ads?

Step 1. Create your video ad

Before you can set up a video ad, you’ll need to create the actual video! First, decide the goal or objective of your ad. Do you want to:

  • Introduce people to your brand, product or services
  • Send viewers to your website
  • Generate new leads to nurture
  • Increase sales

The type of video ad you create is going to be based on the overall objective. For a brand awareness video, you’ll want to create a basic explainer video sharing information about your product. To generate sales, you’ll need to showcase how your product can solve a problem.

If you have an in-house video production team, enlist them to help create an awesome video ad. If not, you can take advantage of online video makers like Biteable, InVideo or Visme.

Step 2. Upload your video ad to your YouTube channel

Log into your business YouTube channel and upload your newly created video ad.

A screenshot of the upload box on YouTube.

Once you’ve uploaded your video, optimize it for organic YouTube search. This way you’ll get more bang for your buck—people will see your ad after you launch your campaign, but they can also find it by searching.

This includes optimizing the video title, description, tags and even adding hashtags.

Step 3. Create or sign into your Google Ads account

Because YouTube is owned by Google, you’ll be creating your ads through the existing Google Ads dashboard. This is similar to Facebook and Instagram, where you have to use Facebook Ads Manager to create your Instagram ads.

If you’ve never run Google or YouTube ads before, you’ll need to create a Google Ads account. It’s easy to do with your Gmail Workspace email address. Simply head to the Google Ads page and click the Start Now button.

The Google Ads homepage.

Step 4. Start a new campaign

When you create a new Google Ads account, you’ll be prompted to create a new campaign immediately. Start by selecting Get more views and engagement on YouTube.

Google ads campaign goal for a YouTube ad

Otherwise, you’ll head to your existing Google Ads account and click the blue plus sign icon under the All Campaigns tab to create a new one.

Step 5. Optimize your campaign

Next, you’ll need to optimize your YouTube campaign. Start by selecting your goal. You can choose to set a goal for sales, leads, website traffic, product and brand consideration, brand awareness and reach, app promotion, or local store visits.

Screenshot of the 8 goal options for your YouTube ad.

Then you’ll need to select your campaign type. Since we’re creating a YouTube ad, you’ll choose Video. Then, under campaign subtype, you have a few options:

  • Drive conversions
  • Custom video campaign
  • Video reach campaign
  • Influence consideration
  • Outstream
  • Ad sequence
  • Shopping

After you choose your subtype, click Continue to get started on your budget.

First, you need to decide what type of bidding you want to use for pricing. Your options are:

  • CPV (cost per view) — pay after someone has watched your video for 30 seconds)
  • CPM (cost per impression) — pay after your ad has been viewed 1,000 times)
  • CPA (cost per action) — pay when someone takes an action, like clicking on your ad or website)

Then it’s time to talk about costs. How much are you planning to spend on the ad? You can set a campaign budget so your ad runs until your budget is spent, or you can decide how much you want to spend on the ad each day and run continuously.

The next step is to set up targeting. Who do you want to view your ad? You’ll set this up by choosing:

  • Networks: Where will your ad be placed? Search results, in-stream videos, or outstream on the Display Network?
  • Language: Select the language(s) that your ad works for.
  • Location: Select the geographical locations that your ad should run in.
  • Exclusions: Input information that will keep your ad running alongside videos that may not be appropriate for your ad.
  • Additional Settings: Like choosing which devices your ads can run on and more.

Once you set up your target, you can create ad groups (if applicable) that let you dig even deeper with targeting, choosing audience demographics and interests.

Step 6. Launch and monitor your YouTube ads

Finally, it’s time to launch! However, that’s not your last step. It’s important to log into your Google Ads account daily to make sure you’re not spending too much and that your ads are showing to a relevant audience.

Four key metrics you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Total views and impressions
  • Audience
  • View rate
  • Conversions

How much do YouTube ads cost

Your YouTube ad costs will vary based on the bid strategy you choose. However, Influencer Marketing Hub’s analysis states that on average, CPV bidding costs around 1-3 cents per view. They also share that brands can expect to pay around $2,000 to reach 100,000 people.

Start running your own YouTube ads

Start ramping up your presence on YouTube by creating and launching your own ads. Use these for brand awareness, product consideration, lead generation and conversions. Learn how to get even more out of your YouTube marketing with our guide.

The post YouTube ads for beginners: All you need to know about YouTube advertising appeared first on Sprout Social.

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How to make a Reel on Instagram in 4 easy steps

By now, you may have noticed a lot more videos in your Instagram feed. Instagram has doubled down on video—and Reels are the platform’s fastest-growing format. If you want to know how to make a Reel on Instagram but you don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

With over two billion monthly users, Instagram’s popularity cannot be denied. The rise of Reels—bite-sized video posts—is the platform’s response to TikTok’s mega-popular micro videos. In fact, 66% of consumers say short-form video is the most engaging type of social content. And Reels are one of the main Instagram content formats marketers want to use to collaborate with creators.

With Reels reportedly receiving around 22% more engagement than other video posts, it’s time to strike the iron while it’s hot. Whether you’ve never made a Reel or you just want some fresh tips, we’re going to show you how to make an Instagram Reel, step by step.

What are Instagram Reels, and why should you use them?

Instagram Reels are short, multi-clip vertical videos that range from a few seconds to 1.5 minutes. Like TikTok, Instagram offers editing tools that allow you to easily create your Reel, and add entertaining features like music and captions.

Why use Reels? In short, they’re the best way to increase your audience, reach and can make it easier to strike viral gold. As Sprout’s Social Media Strategist Olivia Jepson tells us, “Our top videos on Instagram over the last year have been Reels. Specifically, Reels that inspire and offer immediate value for viewers.”

While they haven’t outright said the Instagram algorithm prioritizes Reels, the platform has made it clear that video is their priority—a recent test by Instagram turns all Instagram videos into Reels. And accounts that haven’t adopted this type of content are feeling the crunch. What’s more, the platform has made Reels the most discoverable content format, able to be shared and featured in four places: Stories, a Reels-only tab, the Explore page and the regular feed.

This presents a major opportunity—using Reels gives audiences more ways to find your content, and gives you more ways to grow. Ride the popularity wave while this format is still fresh.

How to make a Reel on Instagram

Producing a new type of content can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. With Reels, the reward is worth the learning curve.

Let’s walk through making an Instagram Reel, and tips on how to make it stand out.

Step 1: Set a strategy

The secret sauce behind successful Reels is the same as any other content: Let your brand’s voice and values guide you.

To create your strategy, consider the following:

  • Set your goals: Think about how Reels fit into your larger social media goals. What do you want to accomplish with them? Increasing engagement? Reach? Knowing this ahead of time will help guide the types of Reels you make.
  • Know your audience: Your audience should inspire all of your content. Consider what topics, styles and sounds appeal to them.
  • Form your content topics and buckets: Reels should be entertaining, but they don’t need to involve dance trends. They can be educational, funny, dramatic or inspiring. Start by looking at your top-performing content to identify topics and themes that work.
  • Do your research: How do your competitors use Reels, and what gaps can you fill?

Once you start posting, check your analytics to see which Reels perform the best. This will help you refine your content strategy. Using a reporting tool like Sprout Social, you can even see how your Reels perform against all of your content—on Instagram and beyond—to prove their impact.

Data for Instagram Reels appearing in Sprout Social's reporting and analytics tools

Step 2. Gather your footage

This is where the fun begins—grab your phone and open Instagram. Tap the “+” in the upper right corner. Then, you’re ready to get started.

There are two ways you can gather footage for your Reel: filming or using existing footage.

Filming new footage

Lights, phone, action! Start filming by holding down the round white recording button. Use the double arrow icon to flip the camera toward yourself, or to film what’s in front of you.

While you film, a pink border will appear around the white button. This shows you how much you’ve filmed so far.

A pink progress bar showing up on the recording button while making an Instagram Reel, showing you how much you've filmed so far.

Use the tools on the side of the screen to spice up your content. Here’s what they do, from top to bottom:

  • Music notes: Add music or sounds while you’re filming.
  • Set the length: Limit your Reel to 15, 30, 60 or 90 seconds.
  • Speed adjustment: Speed up clips you film, or film in slow motion.
  • Layout mode: Feature multiple videos or photos on screen at once.
  • Self timer: This tool is helpful for hands-off filming, and will give you a countdown before filming begins.
  • Dual feature: Film yourself, as well as whatever is in front of you at the same time.
  • The align tool: Use this to see a translucent version of your previous clip to align it with the next clip you film. This is helpful for creating seamless transitions, like when an outfit “magically” changes while the person wears it and more—see this tool in action below.
  • Filters and AR effects (sparkle icon): Search for filters including ones you’ve saved. This is where you can use popular effects, like greenscreen.
A demonstration of how the align tool works. A plant pot is filmed. Then, using the align tool, the image of the pot in the previous clip becomes translucent, so the user can align the previous and new clips.

How to make an Instagram Reel with existing photos or videos

Repurpose videos and even photos you already have. Transform previously posted TikTok or Instagram content. Or break up existing YouTube videos into short, snackable Reels.

To select existing visuals from your phone’s library, tap the square image and plus sign icon in the bottom left corner.

A demonstration of how to upload existing footage from your camera library to your Reel and how to shorten uploaded clips.

If a lot of your videos are horizontal, upload them to your Reel and tap the “scale” icon. Alternatively, upload your footage as if you’re creating an Instagram Story. Once in the Story editing window, use your thumb and forefinger to stretch your footage into vertical, full screen content. Then, hit the three dots in the upper right corner and tap “save.”

A GIF showing how to upload a horizontal video to your Story to stretch it into a vertical video that you can save and use for a Reel.

Level up: Create your first Reel by piggybacking off of someone else’s. Remix allows you to post your own reaction or commentary to an existing Reel—just open the Reel you want to use and tap the three dots in the bottom right.

A demonstration of how to Remix a Reel using one of Sprout's Instagram Reels.

Step 3. Editing your Instagram Reel

Time to put your video editor hat on. Once you have your footage, hit “Next” to start editing.

Edit the length and order of your clips

Tap “Edit clips” in the bottom left corner. You’ll then see all of your clips lined up at the bottom.

  • To make clips shorter: Tap a clip. Drag the left and right ends of the progress bar at the bottom of the screen to shorten your clip.
  • To move clips: Hold your finger down on a clip you want to move. When it enlarges, drag it back and forth.
  • To delete one clip: Tap the clip you want to delete. A delete button will appear at the bottom of the screen. Or, hold your finger down on one clip and tap on the minus signs that appear.
A GIF showing how you can rearrange the order of clips, as well as shorten clips in an Instagram Reel.

Add music or sounds

Music adds immediate entertainment value—in fact, it’s one of Instagram’s main tips for getting discovered.

While editing, tap on the music notes icon. This will take you to an audio editing screen. Adjust your video volume and the volume of added audio, like songs, by dragging your finger down the columns that appear.

A GIF showing how you can adjust the volume of your Instagram Reel and how you can add music that you've searched or saved in the music and sounds library.

On this screen, you can add three kinds of audio:

  • Music: Find songs in Instagram’s music library, select sounds and music you’ve saved or import your own. This is also where you can add sounds from other Reels. Be aware: music selections are limited for business accounts.
  • Voiceover: Record a voiceover to speak directly to your audience.
  • Sound effects: Choose from a variety of engaging sound effects.
A GIF demonstrating how to easily add voiceover to an Instagram Reel.

You can use all of these together, or pick and choose.

When you add music, the name of the song will appear on your Reel. If you don’t, when people watch your Reel, your Reel’s sound will be marked as “original audio”—if your account is public, other people will be able to create Reels using that audio.

Level up: Find trending sounds and songs on Reels. When you open a Reel, a little arrow will appear next to the name of the audio if it’s trending. Tap on it to save it for later.

A screenshot highlighting an upward-facing arrow next to the name of a song playing over a Reel. This indicates that the song is trending.

Add closed captions

Video closed captions are key for social media accessibility. They also keep people watching—even when their phone is muted.

To add closed captions, tap the square smiley face icon at the top of your screen. From here, you can add GIFs, stickers, polls and more to your Reel. For now, select “CC CAPTIONS”.

A demonstration of how you can easily add closed captions to an Instagram Reel.

Once Instagram has transcribed your audio, customize the style of your captions at the bottom of the screen, and change the text color at the top of the screen.

A demonstration of how to change the highlight and text color, and the style of text for your closed captions.

Level up: Auto-captions aren’t perfect. Edit them by tapping the text as it appears. Then, tap the words you want to correct, and hit done.

A demonstration of how to edit closed caption text for accuracy in Instagram Reels.

Customize your video with text

If you’ve ever created an Instagram Story, this process will look very familiar.

Tap the “Aa” icon in the top right corner of the screen. Then, type in your text and customize the look and color. To add more, tap the “Aa” icon again.

Adjust where your text appears by tapping and dragging it to where you want it to be on the screen. And set when it will appear and disappear in the video by tapping the corresponding text at the bottom of the screen. Then drag the left and right bars to choose when the text’s duration starts and ends.

A demonstration of how to add and adjust text in an Instagram Reel, and how to adjust where it starts and ends.

Delete text by tapping and dragging it to a trash icon that appears at the bottom of the screen.

Add filters and AR effects

Whether you want to add aesthetic filters or a crown of cartoon hearts, tap the sparkles icon at the top of the screen to search for and add new filters and effects, or ones you’ve saved.

Step 4. Preparing and sharing your Reel

When you’re done editing, tap “Next”—this is where you’ll prep your Reel before you publish. Here are the three most important preparation steps to complete every time:

  • Edit your cover: Tap “Edit cover” on your Reel to choose how it will display on your profile. You can use a moment from your Reel, or upload an image—just make sure it’s relevant.
  • Write a caption: Keep it short and sweet.
  • Choose whether or not to share your Reel to your Feed: In my experience, sharing to the Feed increases your reach.
The final editing screen where you prepare your Instagram Reel for publishing by adding a cover image, caption, choosing whether or not to share on your feed and more.

Once your Reel is prepped, you have three sharing options: Publish immediately, save a draft or schedule it.

Option 1: Publish your Reel immediately

Publishing quickly is crucial for jumping on trends. Once you’ve prepared your Reel, simply hit “Share” to send your Reel out to the world. Then, share it to your Story for extra amplification.

If you don’t want anyone to be able to remix your Reels, head to your Settings and Privacy section to restrict this.

Option 2: Save your Reel as a draft

If you’re not ready to publish your Reel, you can save it as a draft. Once you’re in the window where you can prep your post, tap “Save Draft” at the bottom of the screen. Then, find your Reels drafts later by going to your profile and tapping the Reels icon under your bio.

A demonstration showing how to save a reel as a draft rather than publishing right away.

Option 3: Schedule your Reel, or set a reminder

Scheduling Reels ahead of time with a tool keeps your content flow consistent, and takes one more thing off your plate.

Using Sprout Social, you can easily schedule your Reels. When your Reel is ready, download it from Instagram by tapping the download arrow.

A screenshot highlighting an arrow button in the editing screen where you can download your Instagram Reel.

Then, upload it into Sprout where you can prep it in many of the same ways as on Instagram.

A desktop view of scheduling a Reel using Sprout Social.

Keep in mind: you can’t use Sprout for Reels with sounds from Instagram’s music library—but we’re still here to help. Use the Sprout Mobile Workflow to get a reminder on your mobile device on the day and time you want to publish your Reel.

Start making Reels to grow your channel

The only constant in life is change, and that adage could not ring more true for social media. Reels may require a little practice. But it only takes making one Reel to unlock your video editing abilities and start connecting with your audience in a new way. You might even find that you love the process.

Use this guide to make creating Reels reel-y easy. Before you know it, it will feel as simple as one, two, post. Now that you know everything about how to make a Reel on Instagram, check out our article about creating an Instagram marketing strategy to elevate your channel.

The post How to make a Reel on Instagram in 4 easy steps appeared first on Sprout Social.

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Best Practices for Using Email Sign-Up Forms

If lead generation is a goal (which it should be), you’ve undoubtedly spent a lot of time and effort towards generating website traffic. And while increasing site traffic is a terrific goal to achieve, what you do with that site traffic is even more important.  It isn’t enough to just send people to your site.…

The post Best Practices for Using Email Sign-Up Forms appeared first on Benchmark Email.

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6 eCommerce Personalization Strategies to Boost Customer Experience

Customer segmentation, knowing your target audience, and highly targeted social media advertising are a few examples of personalized marketing dimensions. Each of these forms the foundation of personalized marketing and advertising, but in eCommerce, personalized marketing goes beyond market segmentation and targeting. In this new era of eCommerce, it’s recommended that you customize the consumer…

The post 6 eCommerce Personalization Strategies to Boost Customer Experience appeared first on Benchmark Email.

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The creator economy boom, bust, and need for SEO!

30-second summary:

  • The content creator economy has created the influencer marketing boom which has been accelerated and growth heavy
  • However, bubbling under the surface is a growing climate of inflated risk, unstable ROI, and a shooing-away of vital practices in lieu of, what can be perceived as, a “faster track” to success
  • Influencer and CEO of Gamactica, Anthony DiMoro shares a topline view of influencer marketing, social channels, and the need to use SEO for amplified digital marketing results

Not long ago, many internet marketing strategies were divided into very specific categories, from search engine optimization (SEO) to search engine marketing (SEM/PPC) and from online reputation management (ORM) to social media marketing (SMM), aside from a few wrinkles, these were the roads most often traveled.

Fast forward to today and the climate has shifted, as brands look for viable ways to penetrate the creator market, and build ROI in a very turbulent space that has a number of variables and differing angles.

The content creator economy has been mostly responsible for the boom of influencer marketing, and the boom has been so accelerated, growth heavy, that it has created a lot of successes. But with those successes, bubbling under the surface, there has also been a growing climate of inflated risk, unstable ROI, and a shooing-away of vital practices in lieu of, what can be perceived as, a “faster track” to success.

Where Instagram once ruled, seemingly by itself, TikTok is now becoming a major threat, so much so that Facebook is making sweeping changes to catch the trend of success that TikTok has had.

TikTok hasn’t just pushed Facebook, it has also pushed platforms such as YouTube to incorporate their own version of short-form video content, ‘Shorts’.

But, is it funneling the marketing dollars to show the viability of these trends?

The marketing spending, on this newer wave of content marketing and social media marketing, is illustrated below, via The Insider.

stats on influencer marketing, the creator economy and SEO

Source: The Insider

There is no denying what the creator economy has become.

But as the creator economy continues to burst through ceilings, it has practically reached a point where now there is an inflation of creators, but more and more aren’t cashing in. And it begs the question – does this apparent dilution hinder the overall successes of the platform and the creators?

According to The Information, more than 39,000 TikTok accounts have more than one million followers. Whereas more people are finding fame, not everyone is cashing in on it.

A snapshot of why every social media channel wants to be TikTok

It’s fair to assume that this can negatively impact brands that use influencer marketing as a pillar of their digital marketing strategy.

TikTok’s short form approach is more closely associated with television content, where entertainment is at an instant push of the button, or in this case a swipe of a finger. But is it the best form of new influencer marketing that delivers viable ROI?

Or, are platforms such as YouTube, where channels have a more long-term journey to success, reliant on branding and community building, delivering far better returns for advertisers and companies?

Surely, there is no clear answer here, and it varies from industry to industry and niche to niche, but TikTok’s success and immense popularity are forcing a shift in the creator economy that is having a serious impact on other platforms.

Amazon’s Twitch platform continues to stand atop the live-streaming game, but how long will Twitch streams be a major player with all the issues the platform has had to navigate through, such as toxicity, hate, and harassment?

And is it fair to consider Twitch streamers as vibrant aspects of influencer marketing the way that TikTok creators and YouTubers clearly are?

Furthermore, while platforms seem to fluidly move with the market trends, Twitch has seemingly stayed the course, for better or worse. Perhaps it’s a bullish vision, or perhaps even Twitch is out of touch in this aspect.

Businesses are showing the willingness to invest market dollars into platforms that have a vibrant influencer marketing value to them, and agencies are focusing on serving these needs.

“Working with content creators and influencers is different than traditional advertising for sure” Brendan Gahan, Partner & Social Officer at Mekanism said earlier this year (via Gamactica).

“Ultimately, the way to be successful with an influencer campaign is to make sure that three things happen:

  1. The audience gets the content they love
  2. The creator has a great experience
  3. The brand gets it’s message across

“When you’re not working with creators you are really starting from a blank slate. It’s wide open. But, the beauty of working with creators is their community. That community (in theory) knows them, trusts them, pays attention and wants to hear from them. As a result, advertisers need to collaborate. They need to focus much more on those first two points.”

A one-track approach could be a potential pitfall

As with most things, being diverse in your approach is key, and this point comes into focus more as we continue to delve into the industries providing the content that drives influencer marketing.

Where we celebrate the successes of this new form of digital marketing, other aspects are being left behind in certain spaces, such as gaming and content creation.

But we have gone over this a few times in the past.

However, little has changed, and despite the metrics, despite the proven formula, and despite the years of data, the absence of SEO continues to be troublesome.

And as the influencer marketing landscape continues to evolve, it will have its own struggles and present its own “risk and reward” and “boom or bust” scenarios, forcing the vertical to shift yet again, and platforms to reshuffle.

It still remains difficult to keep SEO in respective corners, where local businesses in Florida use Miami SEO, and surgeons use Medical SEO, but content creators and influencers don’t.

It seems short-sighted to continue that trends, especially as internet marketing evolves to bring influencer marketing into the spectrum.

Only time will tell.

The SEO element

While many may not automatically, initially, link SEO and influencer marketing together, there is a lot of symmetry, and it begs the question as to why SEO isn’t incorporated in most influencer marketing campaigns.

Influencer marketing is mostly about building relationships and optimizing those relationships in a manner to create impact, and ROI potential – the two appeals of a successful marketing campaign.

But coupling it with SEO is a “cherry on top” of the sundae.

By using SEO to boost the content marketing aspects of influencer marketing, there can be a real added value to both the impact and visibility of the campaign.

We, at Gamactica, have demonstrated that SEO can be viable within the industries and niches of gaming and content creation, both on an organic global level and a targeted search level. This indicates that these specific elements can indeed work to boost potential success, ROI, and impact for any influencer marketing campaign.

These integrations are critical in evolving the influencer marketing landscape so that it is more viable and valuable as these niches and industries grow and evolve. It also helps the SEO sector push forward to become more organically immersed in the new age of digital marketing.

Anthony DiMoro is CEO of Gamactica. He can be found on Twitter @AnthonyDiMoro.

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Google adds Asian-owned attribute to business profiles

Google has announced it has added a new attribute to Google Business Profiles for Asian-owned businesses. This new attribute can be added to your verified Google Business Profile and it makes it easier to find Asian-owned businesses in their own community.

What the attribute looks like. Here is what the new Asian-owned attribute looks like in a business listing in Google Maps or Google Search:

How to add the attribute. Here are the steps to add this attribute to your Google Business Profile:

  1. Go to your Business Profile. Learn how to find your profile.
  2. Select Edit profile and then Business information
  3. Near the top, select the More tab. 
  4. Select the category you want to change. 
  5. Next to the attribute, select Yes or No.
  6. When you’re finished updating your attributes, select Save.

Other attributes. Yelp has had this type of attribute since May 2021, this is another case of where Google is playing catch up to Yelp. In 2018, Google introduced family-led (which is no longer available), veteran-led, and women-led attributes, in 2020 Google added black-owned attributes, in 2021 Google added a Latino-owned attribute in business profiles and recently Google added the LGBTQ+ attribute in business profiles.

Why we care. Attributes like these can help generate visibility for your profile, so if you qualify for any of these Business Profile attributes, you should add them to your profile – and at least test it out. Businesses need to leverage any advantage they can to help grow their revenue and their customer base.

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The Facebook live shopping feature is going away

Meta has announced that they’re going to shift their focus on Reels, and their live shopping feature will be sunset on October 1. 

What it means. After October 1 users will still be able to use Facebook Live to broadcast events, but you’ll no longer be able to host new or scheduled live shopping events. The feature was created two years ago as a way for creators and brands to connect with shoppers, find new buyers, and connect with viewers. 

Facebook says. “As consumers’ viewing behaviors are shifting to short-form video, we are shifting our focus to Reels on Facebook and Instagram, Meta’s short-form video product,” the company said in the blog post. “If you want to reach and engage people through video, try experimenting with Reels and Reels ads on Facebook and Instagram. You can also tag products in Reels on Instagram to enable deeper discovery and consideration. If you have a shop with checkout and want to host Live Shopping events on Instagram, you can set up Live Shopping on Instagram.”

Following in TikToks footsteps. Last month TikTok announced they were abandoning plans to bring a live QVC-style shopping video feature to the US. The announcement came after a disastrous UK launch, though popular in Asia. 

Read the blog post. You can read more details about the announcement on Facebook’s blog post.

Why we care. Brands and creators that used Facebook live shopping to expand their reach and promote products will have to find another way. However it seemed like live shopping served a different purpose and demographic, so swapping it for Reels doesn’t make much sense at the moment. 

Since you can tag products in Reels, we suggest that brands and advertisers who use videos to promote shift their focus and cross their fingers.

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Using lookalike audiences to reverse the marketing funnel and generate quality leads

As marketers, we got used to letting social media platforms (and Facebook in particular, a.k.a. Meta) do our work for us.

We let these platforms follow the customer journey from our ads all the way to conversion. We let them watch. We let them learn and we let the algorithm optimize and target the proper audience.

The algorithm did everything. It was comfortable and easy.

At the very beginning, Facebook used to share that information with us and we could learn at the same time as the algorithm learned. We used to be able to analyze our audience, our followers, what they liked, what age they were, what gender, marital status, what other websites they visited, and what other pages they followed. We knew as much as the algorithm did.

But then that information was no longer available. Yet we didn’t care because the algorithm was doing its thing and we were getting amazing results. So we got comfortable, too comfortable.

Fast forward to April 2021 and the iOS 14.5 release

The world for marketers using Meta imploded a bit.

For some, it imploded a lot.

Users had to be asked for permission to be tracked across apps and websites and 95% of them decided not to give such permission in the U.S. (84% worldwide).

Since then, social media platforms have had terrible visibility into what is happening to people that click on an ad. Once they leave Meta that is pretty much it!

Meta has done some work to provide estimates. But in my experience things like landing page arrivals or even conversion attributions are far from the real numbers (thanks to Google Analytics and UTMs for the backup tracking ability).

Interest-based targeting is one of the few tools we have left.

So the theory is to feed the funnel with cold leads at the brand awareness stage so that they flow through the funnel and convert without barriers.

There is one problem: because algorithms still have trouble determining positive interaction from negative interaction and, for that matter, they have trouble understanding context – engagement and interest with a particular brand may not mean that they want to be approached by that brand.

Interest-based marketing is a good starting point but misses the mark many times.

Researchers analyzed the accuracy of Facebook activity on their interest-based ads and found that almost 30% of interests Facebook listed were not real interests. That means that if your ad is based on the list of interests, you could miss the mark about 30% of the time.

This study is the first of its kind and has a relatively small dataset, but looking at comments and the engagement generated in interest-based ads I have run, I see the biggest percentage of confused and unhappy comments on this ad set, so NC State is onto something here.

If you got to this point of the article, you might be re-thinking your life choices as a paid social media marketer.

However, there is something still very useful in the platforms:

Lookalike audiences

Facebook may not have as much information about your converters as it did before, but you – or your clients – do! 

Instead of feeding this theoretical funnel to cold audiences, let’s go to the end of the funnel and find people like the converters.

The process is similar in all platforms:

  • Get your seed list of converters.
  • Create a custom audience with this list by uploading it to your social media platform of choice.
  • The platform will match the information to what they know about each person in the platform (most commonly email or phone number).
  • There are minimum matches needed for this list to be valid and each platform has its own rules for this.
  • Once the custom audience is created and valid we can generate a lookalike audience where we tell the platform “find people with similar profiles” to the people on this list.

By creating lookalike audiences we are taking the funnel and tipping it upside down. We start at the bottom and generate a list of cold audiences so similar to our current converters that they may be almost considered warm audiences.

We are now using the social media platforms to help us create personas based on data we know is accurate and then targeting them.

Platforms know a lot about our behavior within the platform. They are not perfect, but these platform-generated personas are way more accurate than inferred interests.


Because you are not targeting one interest, one element, that will be irrelevant 30% of the time. You are targeting a group of elements, interests or platform behaviors. That substantially reduces inaccuracy.

After doing A/B tests between interest-based audiences and lookalike audiences I can tell that I have had results improve up to 40% for some lookalike audiences. Sometimes the results are as small as 15% but I will take any improvements and efficiency I can get when optimizing my ads.

Wouldn’t this give too much control back to the algorithms?

Are we setting ourselves up for the same scenario we had pre-iOS 14.5 by letting algorithms run our paid media? Yes and no.

  • There is a little bit of trust we are giving back to the algorithms, but now we know not to put all of our eggs in one basket. We know that interests identified by Facebook are still 60-70% accurate, so knowing your audience’s interest is very valid, even if we miss the mark a little bit.
  • Audiences shift, their interests change, and we should be moving with them. Can you tell me your audience looks the same now as it did in 2019? My recommendation is to use lookalike audiences as often as possible but complement them with interest-based ads and continuously A/B test their efficiency.

Consider your campaign objective

Sometimes lookalike audiences are good at converting but may not be as good at engagement.

In one A/B split test I run, the interest based audience had 30% higher cost per click but the rate of positive engagement was double. This audience wasn’t converting, they were spreading the message.

We not only need audiences that follow the funnel path to conversion effectively, sometimes we also need audiences that cheer us on and help us spread awareness.

Please consider this before using lookalikes

A lookalike audience is based on a custom list (seed list), and this list should only be created with data you own and have permission to use.

Check each platform’s policies regarding custom lists to understand this better.

Keep your lists and privacy policy updated

If people unsubscribe from your communications, have a plan to update your lookalike audiences.

If people do not want to hear from you, then why would you want to advertise to somebody with the same profile?

Remember: Platforms change over time, so we must evolve with them to stay relevant and sometimes that means going back to basics. Good luck out there.

Watch: Using lookalike audiences to reverse the marketing funnel and generate quality leads

Below is the complete video of my SMX Advanced presentation.

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