Are consumers blind to your digital banner ads?

Every day, consumers are bombarded with banner display advertisements.  In fact, the Banner Blindnessaverage internet user is exposed to 1,707 banner ads on a monthly basis!  This has resulted in a phenomenon called, “banner blindness” which is defined as when consumers either consciously or subconsciously ignore the majority of banner display ads they encounter.  86% of consumers today suffer from banner blindness.  This phenomenon has caused to average click rate of a banner ad to drop to a mere .11%.

However, despite these dismal numbers, banner display ads still play a very crucial role in today’s marketing efforts.  So what is a marketer to do?

Below are a few ways you can give your banner ads the best chance of engaging consumers:

  • Develop goals before brainstorming the goals of the ad.  For example, brands looking to boost engagement metrics should leverage interactive, rich-media ads, while brands looking to convert consumers should leverage retargeting ads.
  • Keep it simple. Cluttered designs tend to underperform.  Headline copy concise and benefit-oriented to drive engagement and conversions.
  • Give value to your call-to-actions. Avoid the standard “Click Here” call-to-action and swap it out for something that invokes a stronger emotional response from the user such as “Download the report”” or “Get Coupon.”
  • Validate authority and brand awareness by placing your logo on the ad. However, a recent Rocket Fuel study revealed that digital ads with logos in the lower left-hand corner averaged 81% higher than ads with logos in other locations.

Digital display ads logo placement

  • Maintain campaign cohesiveness.  This includes color combinations, font, and layout.  Ads should have a synergistic connection across a multi-channel campaign.

Of course, like any other marketing channel out there, there isn’t a “single recipe for success.”  So it’s important to A/B test your digital ads, compare your results, and go with what is working best for you.

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Examining LinkedIn’s new “Add to Profile” certification feature

On November 20, 2014, LinkedIn released its new “Add to Profile” certification feature, which allows members to add professional certifications to their LinkedIn profile in one-click.

The process itself is pretty simple.  Credential brands simply create and “Add to profile” button and can place it in its emails and/or website.  Users then click the button and immediately see the credential added to their personal LinkedIn profile.  Brands can promote their button through LinkedIn’s free, customizable email templates, on the brand’s website, and on social media.

The new “Add to Profile” button supplies benefits to both consumers and brands.

Consumer benefits:

  • On average, LinkedIn members with certifications and degrees receive 6x more profile views than others who don’t
  • Displaying a certification provides LinkedIn users with the ability to better market their expertise
  • When users add a certificate to their profile, an update gets posted on their feed for all of their connections to see

Brand benefits:

  • Builds brand awareness
  • When a user adds a certificate to their profile, the user is set to automatically begin following your company page
  • Your company’s URL is linked to the brand certification, which can drive traffic back to a particular URL of your choice

The downside to this new LinkedIn feature is that once it is added to a person’s LinkedIn profile, there is nothing a brand or organization can do to remove it if the credential holder falls out of good standing with an organization.

So is the new “Add to Profile” button worth implementing?  In my opinion, the answer is yes.  “Add to Profile” buttons allow end users to quickly and easily promote your organization and credentials with just a click of the button.  Yes, this new option adds some policing concerns.  However, users can still add your credential to their LinkedIn profiles without your consent through the blue box that appears above a user’s profile picture when they edit their LinkedIn profile anyways.

Brands can create an “add to profile” certification button or view LinkedIn’s Top 100 Certification Providers by clicking on the respective links.

Social Media and SEO: The perfect pair

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), you have probably heard of the technical best practices before.  You know, the one that include placing targeted keywords in your page title and meta-description, placing links in your content, and more.  But did you know that social media directly impacts your business’ search engine results?

Below are 5 ways that social media and SEO work together.

  1. Social shares are the new form of link building. Link building has always been an important factor when it comes to SEO.  Search engines use link building to determine whether other websites view your website as a quality source of information.  Today, links to your content on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, and more help search engines understand what websites are credible and what sites should be ranked for keyword phrases.
  1. Social media quickly increases the search engine’s process of indexation. The speed at which content is indexed is affected by many factors, including how many people shared the content, the influence of the people who share the content, and the time frame in which the content was shared.  In fact, content that has been extensively tweeted about can cut indexation time by 50%.
  1. Quality social connections build better search engine ranking. The amount of quality connections, followers, or friends a person or business has on social media factors into how content is ranked.  The more quality connections, the more they are viewed as a reputable source.  Moreover, when other reputable companies or influencers share your content, you begin to gain traction with the different search engines.  Notice, my emphasis on the word “quality.”
  1. Search engines pull information from social media profiles. When it comes to search engine crawlers, the name, about section, and URL are the most important aspects of your social media profile.  Therefore, it’s important to make sure all social media profiles are filled out in its entirety, including any keywords when applicable.
  1. Search engines leverage location-based social networking sites when users search on a mobile device. 79% of mobile phone owners and 81% of tablet owners use their mobile devices for local searches.  Therefore, it’s important to add your physical location to all of your social media profiles.  Google is heavily integrated with Google+, while Bing integrates with Facebook.  For this reason, it’s important to utilize and update all of the major social media channels, not just one.

So there you have it!  Listed above are 5 ways social media affects search engine rankings.  I know there have been many articles written that say social media doesn’t affect search engine rankings.  However, those articles are outdated.  Below is a quick clip of Google Engineer, Matt Cutts setting the record straight.

Can anyone hear me? Anyone?

Did you know that only 16% of your business’ Facebook posts are reaching your fan base?  That’s correct, only 16%!  This may come as a surprise, disappointment, and/or frustration to marketers who invested time in Facebook marketing efforts.  Therefore, in this week’s blog post I’ll discuss why this is occurring, how Facebook filters its news feed, what you can do to expand your reach, and if Facebook is still worth your time and effort.

Why organic reach declining

Facebook’s organic reach is declining due to the surplus of content and lack of space.

Mobile devices have made it easier than ever before to share content, videos, images, and photos.  Thus, there is now far more content being created than there is time to absorb it.  On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they long onto Facebook.  For those with lots of friends and page likes, as many 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log in!  That’s pretty overwhelming, right?

To prevent losing users, Facebook designed their News Feed to only show each person on Facebook the content that is the most relevant to them.  This means that instead of seeing over 1,500+ posts, News Feed displays approximately 300.

How Facebook filters its News Feed

So how does Facebook decide which 300 posts to display?  Facebook developed a News Feed Sorting Algorithm called EdgeRank that analyzes roughly 100,000 different indicators of importance to determine the relevance of each post to each person.  Facebook displays the top 300 most relevant posts to each user.  The most powerful determinants of whether a post is shown in the feed are:

  • How popular the post creator’s past posts are with everyone (Ranked based on likes, comments, shared, and click rates)
  • How popular the post is with everyone who has already seen it
  • How popular have the post creator’s post posts been with the viewer
  • Does the type of post (such as status updates, photo, video, links) match what types have been popular with the viewer in the past

Notice, the trends seem to be based in popularity and personalization.  Also, I should note that it doesn’t matter if the post is from a friend or a business; Facebook just tries to show people what they want to see.

What you can do to expand your reach

One of the easiest, fastest things you can do is utilize Facebook’s Boost Post feature.  I found a great how-to video that describes this feature and how to utilize it.

However, if “free” is more your style, you can still increase the likelihood your posts will be seen by following the best practices below.

  • Keep your post between 100 and 250 characters
  • Be visual by utilizing videos, images, and infographics
  • Ask simple, opinion-driven questions
  • Post daily
  • Keep your posts relevant to your brand, not about your brand
  • Post at the time of the day where your audience is mostly likely to engage with you (this will require some testing on your part)

Is Facebook still worth the time and effort

The answer is yes.  Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, should always be integrated into your marketing efforts.  16% may seem like a dismal number.  However, it’s important to remember that the typical open rate for email marketing is only 20%.  16% doesn’t seem so bad now does it?

For additional resources on Facebook’s EdgeRank, view The Moz Blog or refer to the infographic below.

edgerank-101-972

5 benefits of business blogging

BlogThe other day I had a friend ask me about blogging and websites.  As a new Beachbody coach, she was instructed to create a blog or website.  She didn’t know much about either marketing platform.  So to make sure she had her bases covered, she chose to create a website that included a blog.  Smart move Julie!

However, it occurred to me that even though blogging is a very beneficial, cost-efficient marketing platform, it can also be intimidating to first-time bloggers.  Therefore, for this week’s post, I will be covering the benefits of business blogging as well as sharing some best practices and tips to get you started.

Benefits of business blogging  

  1. Blogging generates revenue. You might be surprised to learn that 57% of companies have acquired a customer from their blog.  61% of online consumers in the United States have made a purchase decision based on recommendations from a blog and small businesses with blogs generate 126% more leads than businesses without them!
  1. Blogging drives traffic to your website. Every time you add a new blog post to your website, you have a chance to increase your website’s page ranking.  15 blog posts per monthEach post you publish adds another indexed page to your site, demonstrating to search engines that your website is actively maintained and updated.  This is great for improving your search engine rankings.  But how many times a month should you blog?  The answer is as much as you can.  However, keep in mind that companies who blog 15 times or more a month, get on average 5 times more website traffic that companies without a blog.  However, only blog if you have relevant, keyword-rich content to share.

blog trafficOnce you have created these blog posts, it’s time to share them on social media.  Social media allows users to find your blog and share it with others who will also find the information useful and helpful.  Moreover, SEO rankings are partially determined by social interactions.

  1. Blogging helps convert website traffic into leads. Every blog post is a new opportunity to generate new leads.  By simply putting a lead generating call-to-action on every blog post, you have the opportunity to gain new leads.  Call-to-actions should be written in a clear, concise, actionable request to your potential customer.  For example, Julie could write a blog post on clean eating.  At the end of the blog post, she can put a call-to-action that asks readers to submit their contact information in exchange for a week of clean eating recipes.  This exchange of information helps Julie generate a list of new leads.
  1. Blogging helps you build credibility, trust, and distinguishes you as an industry leader. This is one of my favorite benefits of blogging.  Some of the best industry blogs answer common questions that their leads and customers have.  By answering those common questions, you are positioning yourself as a credible, trustworthy, industry expert.  For example, one of the most frustrating things about weight loss is hitting that dreaded plateau.  You know the one that I’m talking about.  The one where no matter what you seem to do, you just can’t lose any more weight.  Well, blogging gives Julie the opportunity to address this common challenge, share how she has overcome this obstacle, and provide readers with tips that worked for others.  Would this blog post make you trust Julie as your Beachbody coach?  In fact, 81% of consumers trust advice and information from blogs!
  1. Blogging drives long-term results. Once a blog post is published, it will continue to attract web traffic and leads.  For example, a blog post may attract 50 new leads this week, 25 the following week, and so on.  Just remember to keep marketing your blog posts through social media!

Are you ready to start writing your first blog post?  Check out 10 best practices for corporate blogging to get you started on your first post!

 

QR Codes:  Still relevant or a thing of the past?

A few years ago, Quick Response (QR) codes seemed to be “the next big thing” in mobile marketing.  It seemed that everywhere we looked, there was a QR code.  QR codes could be found on store windows, product packaging, band fliers, bus stops, magazine advertisements, restaurant menus, and more.  Marketer’s loved using QR codes for it was a simple, cost-efficient way to drive people to a specific website, landing page, or URL.  Moreover, QR codes removed the space limitations and static nature of traditional media.  With QR codes, a traditional media piece was now transformed into an ever changing, engaging medium.  In addition, an Experian survey stated that 29% of marketers found QR codes to be very effective, 66% found it to be effective, and only 5% did not find it to be effective.

But how many consumers were actually using them?  Surprisingly, a 2013 survey found that only 21% of American smartphone owners said they’ve ever scanned a QR code and only 2% said they scan a QR code once a day.  Adding to these numbers, Inc published an article, which stated that 97% of consumers did not know what a QR code is or how to use them.

Scan QR code to view my LinkedIn profile.

Scan QR code to view my LinkedIn profile.

Why is there such a disconnect between marketers and consumers when it comes to QR codes?  First, marketers are often misusing QR codes.  For example, QR codes have been placed in subway stations where there is no WiFi and TV commercials that only have a second or two of air time.  Some QR codes lead to broken links or landing pages.  Even more frustrating, some QR codes take you to websites that are not optimized for the mobile user.  Once a consumer has had a negative experience with QR codes, he or she is less likely to pull out their mobile device to view a QR code in the future.  Marketers have also over utilized QR codes, making them as common and inconsequential as banner ads.  Lastly, some consumers simply still do not know how to use them!

So this brings me back to the question, are QR codes still relevant or a thing of the past?  I personally believe QR codes are slowly becoming a thing of the past.  If marketers are simply trying to drive traffic to their website, a short vanity URL is a better option.  However, if a marketer is trying to build their email database, QR codes may still have a place in the marketing strategy.  For example, a restaurant may place a QR code advertisement on each table asking those to scan the code in exchange for a free appetizer.  The QR code would work better in situations such as these because the consumers are patiently waiting in one location and are more likely to take notice of the QR code design than a vanity URL.  Moreover, the consumers are instantly rewarded for taking action and a server is on hand to help with any questions the customer may have.  In the end, just like any other marketing strategy, it is important to put yourself in the shoes of the target audience and understand how they will react to your marketing efforts first.

What do you think?  Are QR codes a thing of the past or do they still hold a place a marketer’s toolbox?

Google Adwords vs SEO: Which one is the better fit for your marketing efforts?

Adwords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are the main components of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and are some of the most valuable tools in any digital marketer’s tool box.  But how do you know which one is right for your business?

First let’s define what I’m referring to when I use the terms Google Adwords and SEO.

Google Adwords

While Google Adwords sounds pretty complicated, it’s simply Google’s online, paid advertising platform that allows you to drive people to your website.   Below is a short video that better describes Google Adwords and how they work.

As you can see, marketers use this platform to position their ads on top of the Good Search Result pages.  You can choose to pay for these Adwords when someone clicks on your ad or per the amount of people who see your ads (otherwise known as impressions).

SEO

Search engine optimization or SEO, is the process of getting traffic from free or organic search results on search engines.  Below is a great video that further explains SEO and how search engines rank your website.

Comparing Google Adwords vs SEO

Now that I’ve defined the definitions of Google Adwords and SEO, it’s important to see how they compare with each other.

  • Google Adwords was developed for Google Sites and other websites that use Google Adsense.  SEO is applicable to all search engines
  • Google Adwords is paid traffic.  SEO is free.
  • Google Adwords can contain videos and images.  SEO is text only.
  • Google Adwords automatically appear on the top and right of a Google Search.  When practicing SEO, it is more difficult to get to the top of the page.  SEO will always appear under Google Adwords as well.
  • Adwords are more immediate.  SEO takes time to climb up the search engine ranks.
  • Google Adwords only continue on for the length of your campaign.  SEO has a longer life-span.
  • Google Adwords allow you to target many keywords at one time.  When working with SEO you need to target just a few keywords for the best results.
  • Google Adwords allow you to advertise on other Google websites and sites that utilize Google Adwords.  SEO is only for search result pages.
  • Google Adwords is easier to determine ROI than SEO.  SEO is more difficult because there are more factors than spending and revenue.

Which one is right for your business?

Ok, so we analyzed both Google Adwords and SEO, but which one is right for your business?  In my opinion, the answer is both.  If you are a startup company, you will want to invest in Google Adwords because it will help your company get noticed and turn around sales quickly.  If your company is already on the first page of Google Search results, you can get away with only using SEO (given that you continue to push valuable content marketing to your audience).  But for the majority of us, a mixture of SEO and Google Adwords is the perfect mix!

Some tips that will help your company get started with its Google Adwords and SEO strategies can be found on the respective links.