In this post, you’re going to learn exactly how to create and implement an effective digital marketing strategy, step-by-step.
So, if you want to learn how to use digital marketing to grow your traffic, this strategy guide is for you.
What is a digital marketing strategy?
A digital marketing strategy is a plan of action that describes how to use one or more online marketing channels to reach your target audience. It has a list of steps and specific digital marketing goals.
Having a digital strategy is important because it will help you orchestrate the different online marketing strategies so that they all work towards achieving your business goals.
Together with his team, they will make sure that every marketing activity is part of your digital marketing plan.
How to create a Digital Marketing Strategy
These are the steps to follow to create an effective marketing strategy.
1. Specify measurable business goals
The first step in creating a digital marketing strategy is to specify your business goals. In other words, to determine what you want to accomplish with digital marketing.
Any goals you set have to be measurable and well-defined. Everything in a digital marketing campaign is measurable (from start to finish) and you need to take advantage of this and form a digital marketing plan that has specific milestones and targets.
Some typical goals are:
While the above is a good starting point, they are still vague. A better version would be:
Raise brand awareness by:
Increase organic traffic by:
Here is an example to understand this better.
A typical step could be, “Publish 3 new blog posts per week”, which needs to be broken down further to specify which/topics keywords the blog posts will target and what would be the expected outcome in terms of traffic increase.
Experienced digital marketing specialists know that this is not always easy to calculate because digital marketing is a dynamic industry and changes all the time. But, having a detailed plan will help you adjust your strategies so as to get closer to your goals as possible.
The bottom line is that you need to have a digital marketing plan to follow and not start running campaigns on different channels without knowing what you want to achieve. It goes without saying that your plan has to be realistic, taking into account the competition and complexities of your industry.
Also, to be able to analyze data and make informed decisions, you first need to track it correctly and accurately so, having a good analytics system in place is more than essential.
2. Identify your target audience
The second step is to identify your target audience. In other words to specify in detail who you want to target with your campaigns.
Some marketers, place this as the first step in the process and this is not wrong. What is certain is that this is an exercise you need to perform in the early stages and before finalizing the next steps of your marketing strategy.
What does identifying your audience means? Specifying in detail the characteristics of people that might be potentially interested in your offerings.
In your audience identification, you should include things like:
Learn as much as you can about your audience
The exact details depend on the industry you’re in and the products/services you are trying to promote.
A good way to start crafting your buyer personas is to analyze the data you already have available.
Digg into your Google Analytics reports, Facebook audience insights, Google Ads reports, and start creating your customer profiles.
3. Understand users needs and search intent
Once you know the profile of your target customer, the next step is to use different techniques and try to understand their needs and how they express this when searching for information using a search engine or a social network.
There are two ways to approach this process. The first method is to take the typical digital sales funnel and identify what your customers might need at each stage.
Digital Sales Funnel
The second method is to take the different customer profiles created above, and come up with a separate sales funnel for each.
This is my recommended method because it makes it easier to set up and run dedicated digital marketing campaigns for each customer profile.
Let me give you an example to understand this better.
So, by analyzing each buyer persona separately, you can come up with a more accurate plan of how your content, products, or services can help them solve their problems and needs.
In the digital marketing world, the needs of users are expressed through search queries. When a user types a search query in Google, it has a specific intent and if your content/products or services do not satisfy it, your digital marketing strategy will fail.
That’s why it is important to perform keyword research from the very beginning and capture all topics, keywords, and phrases throughout the buyer journey, from awareness to conversion.
Social media networks don’t reveal the ‘searchers’ intent’, what happens then?
It’s true that users browsing Facebook may not have a specific intent in mind but they have a particular profile.
To increase your chances of targeting the right type of audience, you can analyze the profile of your search visitors (using Google Analytics) and using custom audiences to find matching audiences (Lookalike Audiences) on Facebook.
Always use any available data that you have as your starting point for research. The results will be more accurate than using data that is external to your website.
Resources to Learn More About Digital Marketing
The next strategic step you need to make is to create a library of content assets. You know your audience and their needs, now it’s time to create various types of assets to use in your campaigns.
A digital asset can be a blog post, infographic, image, video, podcast, cover image, logo, and anything else you can publish on your website or social networks.
In the digital marketing world, this is what content marketing is all about. Content marketing is important because it’s the process used to decide what kind of content to create, when, and where to publish it.
I prefer to execute this step in the beginning and before running any campaigns because it’s more efficient to have a pool of content assets ready in advance rather than having to do this every time you’re about to start a campaign.
When you follow the steps in the order described in this guide (set goals, create customer personas, identify needs, and search intent), then you have all the information you need to work on your content assets.
It’s also easier to assign the content creation part to the different members of your team to work in parallel.
Content Marketing Strategy Plan
5. Start with SEO as early as possible
A strategic decision to make that can positively impact your digital marketing efforts is to start with SEO as early as possible.
SEO is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies but it has a caveat. It takes time to work.
Unlike other digital marketing strategies, when you start an SEO campaign, it may take 4 to 6 months to generate any results. This is a long time to wait so most marketers tend to focus on other digital channels first (like Facebook Ads, Google Ads).
That’s a good approach but the common mistake is that they forget about SEO and only re-visit SEO after they realize that they cannot build a successful digital marketing campaign based solely on paid advertising.
So, a better strategy is to allocate a portion of your marketing budget from the very beginning on SEO related tasks. In parallel, you can start working on your paid campaigns and other channels.
This way, you’ll reach a point sooner where most of your traffic and sales will come from SEO and rely less on paid ads. In business terms, this means an increase in revenue and profit and this is exactly the goal of a successful digital marketing strategy.
How to get started with SEO
SEO is a huge topic. Search engines take hundreds of parameters into account before they decide which webpages to show in the results for a particular query.
To make it easier to handle, SEO can be broken down into three main sub-processes: Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO.
Each process is responsible to optimize your website for a number of parameters that will eventually lead to higher rankings and traffic.
SEO is important because the majority of search traffic is distributed to websites that appear in the first 5 positions of the search results. So, if you want to get traffic from search engines, you need to appear in the top positions for search terms related to your business.
The best way to get started with SEO is to follow a step-by-step approach:
Step 1: Review your technical SEO and make sure that search engines can access and index your content without any problems. This is important since any issues at this stage will be catastrophic for your efforts.
Step 2: Optimize your content for search engines. In Step 4 above, you will create content that satisfies the needs of the user. Before publishing, you need to make sure that it’s SEO optimized.
This means, giving the right signals to search engines (through your titles, descriptions, headings, etc) to help them understand your content better.
Step 3: Promote your website and content. One of the most important SEO ranking factors is how other websites on the Internet ‘think’ of your website. If other relevant websites trust your website and they express this through a backlink, this is a strong signal to Google that your website deserves to be on the top positions.
If SEO is something that you haven’t done before for your website, the best way to approach this is to add it to your digital strategy and assign this task to SEO experts.
You can also use the resources below to learn more.
6. Explore paid advertising channels
When you start an online business, you know in advance that a large portion of your marketing budget will be allocated on PPC marketing (paid ads).
But, not all PPC platforms are the same. Based on your previous analysis (steps 2 and 3 above), you need to choose which platforms are more suited for your audience.
You can use the table below to get an idea of how the user profile looks for the most popular social networks.
Social Media Platforms Demographics.
For example, if you have an eCommerce website selling directly to consumers (B2C) then Facebook is probably a good choice. If on the other hand, you are targeting Business executives, then LinkedIn is more appropriate.
Run Pilot Campaigns First
The best way to find out which platforms to incorporate in your digital marketing strategy plan is to run pilot campaigns.
A pilot campaign will not waste your budget and at the same time, it will give you enough data to make an informed decision. A common mistake made by digital marketers is to blindly allocate all their budget on one channel because it’s the trend without testing or considering all of the available channels they can use.
Here is a list of the most popular advertising platforms you can use to reach your target audience:
Facebook Ads – ideal for all kinds of businesses. Works better for B2C. The best platform to raise brand awareness.
Instagram Ads – suitable if you want to reach a younger audience.
Twitter Ads – Business oriented. Great for informing your community of updates.
Linked Ads – Strictly for business-related advertising. Use it to reach decision-makers.
Google Ads – The most reliable platform to get targeted traffic to your website through paid search ads.
Google Display Ads – Use it for retargeting purposes and to reach your audience in the various Google products (YouTube, Gmail) and thousands of websites that participate in Google AdSense.
Bing Ads – Not as powerful as Google but a good alternative to get more search traffic to your website.
7. Use email marketing segmentation and automation
The end goal of a digital marketing campaign is to generate more revenue for a business. But in order to get to your ultimate goal, you first need to consider micro-conversions.
Micro-conversions are actions taken by users that are part of the funnel that leads to sales.
For example, while one of my goals is to sell my digital marketing course, an intermediate goal is to get people to subscribe to my email list (micro conversion).
I consider this an important step because I know from my statistics that a large percentage of people that subscribe to my list, will eventually convert.
The same concept can be applied to any business or product. You need to give incentives to users to sign up for your email list and then send them personalized emails that will help them make the final decision, which is to convert by buying your products or services.
An important element to make this work is segmentation and automation.
With email segmentation, you segment your list into groups of people that share the same interests and send them customized content.
For example, people registering to my list to download the SEO Checklist will get different email content than people who register to receive my posts updates.
If email marketing is a new concept for you, then you can realize that it involves a lot of work and that’s where email automation comes into play.
Here is a visual example of how email automation works.
Email Marketing automation example.
With email automation, you can orchestrate the whole process to run without intervention and manual work. Your job is to set up the automation campaigns, monitor their performance, and take corrective actions.
In addition to micro-conversions, email marketing is a great way to raise brand awareness and build a community around your brand. This is something that can positively influence the performance of all your digital marketing campaigns.
Resources to Learn More About Email Marketing
A complete digital marketing strategy should not only take into account the traditional online marketing channels but should also cater to new digital marketing strategies that rise to the surface.
To be more precise, at the time of writing this post, there are a number of new channels that you can explore like:
These channels are new and most probably less competitive than established channels. This means you can get better results at a lower cost.
Will these help your strategy? The only way to find out is to test them by running pilot campaigns (as explained above).
9. Use retargeting and personalization
So far, all of the above strategies are related to how you can reach more people but it’s equally important to follow up on users that already know your brand, but are not yet customers.
This is known as ‘retargeting’ or ‘remarketing’. With retargeting, you can show specific ads to users that visited your website (or social network page) but did not convert.
How Remarketing Works
It’s a very powerful technique that has higher conversion rates and less CPA (cost per action) than other marketing techniques.
The ‘marketing rule of 7’ (established in the 1930s by marketers), states that prospects are more likely to convert if they see or hear an ad, at least 7 times.
Unsurprisingly, it is a rule that is applicable today, and remarketing is the way to implement this.
The most popular platforms to run remarketing campaigns are Facebook and Google Display Network.
The concept is simple. You connect your website with Facebook and Google by adding a piece of code provided by the platforms.
You then create custom audience lists that include the people who visited your website but did not convert.
You then create campaigns and ads that are shown to these users as they browse Facebook or visit other websites on the Internet.
To make remarketing more effective, you can also add the element of personalization. Instead of treating all visitors as one group, you can add rules to show different ads to people based on the actions they took on your website.
For example, you can create a retargeting campaign for people that added an item to their shopping cart but did not checkout. To give them an incentive to come back and finish the process, you can offer them a discount via coupon code.
As a matter of fact, retargeting should be a strategy to include in your digital marketing plan from the early stages. This way you’ll maximize the return for any money spend on paid ads or SEO.
10. Work on conversion optimization
Another area that needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy is conversion optimization.
I can tell you from experience, that 90% of digital marketing campaigns focus on how to get traffic and forget about conversion optimization.
What is conversion optimization? In simple terms, conversion optimization is the process to follow to optimize your website so that a higher percentage of your visitors will perform the desired actions.
This starts with your website design, content, landing page optimization, email signup forms, shopping cart, checkout process, and other elements that contribute (directly or indirectly) to conversions.
One of the techniques to use is A/B testing. By applying a/b testing principles you can measure the effect on conversions by carefully changing parts of your website or sales funnel.
I’ll not go into the details on how to perform A/B testing or conversion optimization (you can follow the links in the resources below to learn more), but from a strategic point of view, it’s important to add conversion optimization activities in your digital marketing plan.
Here is an example of how a conversion optimization plan looks like:
Conversion Optimization Plan
You can add it as a step to be executed as part of a single campaign or as part of your general strategy review process.
What I advise my team to do is to review conversion optimization after a campaign is considered to be optimized in terms of traffic.
In other words, it’s better to try and optimize your campaign to get as many visits as possible with the lower cost and then start testing different landing pages, messages to see which one performs better in terms of conversions.
As a rule of thumb, when doing A/B testing, you should focus on specific changes so that you can accurately measure their effect on conversions.
Resources to Learn More About Conversion Optimization
11. Evaluate and revise your strategy
Digital marketing is a highly dynamic industry. ‘Rules’ change all the time and it’s extremely important that you evaluate and revise your digital marketing strategy to stay current and relevant.
The best way to evaluate your campaign is to do it based on KPIs and other metrics. The most important metrics for any kind of digital marketing campaign are:
If you have a good analytics system in place and can track these for every campaign that is part of your strategy, then it will be easier to make informed decisions.
Don’t forget that part of your evaluation should be to look for new channels you can add to your strategy.
It’s always a good idea to take a look at your competitor’s strategies and identify which of their strategies you can include in your marketing mix.
A digital marketing strategy is a plan that describes in detail how to use various digital marketing channels to grow your business.
To create an effective digital marketing strategy, you start by defining your goals. Then through research, you identify the characteristics and needs of people to target with your campaigns.
Once you have this information, you translate that into content marketing assets, having always in mind the ‘intent’ of the user. Creating the right type of content that can satisfy the user’s needs, it’s a critical success factor.
Then you start with SEO. SEO is the most effective digital marketing channel but it’s not the fastest one. While waiting for your SEO to generate results, you can start testing paid advertising channels by running pilot campaigns.
Once you figure out which channels are more likely to work for the satisfaction of your business goals, you concentrate on those.
Besides generating traffic to your website, you also need to incorporate other strategies for converting traffic to customers such as email marketing, retargeting, and conversion optimization.
At regular intervals, you should evaluate and revise your strategy to include new traffic sources and trends.
Call Swift at (216)339-6041
Web design is the process of planning, conceptualizing, and arranging content online. Today, designing a website goes beyond aesthetics to include the website’s overall functionality.
Web design also includes web apps, mobile apps, and user interface design.
Did you know that web design can have a huge impact on your performance in search engines like Google? This article will give you some helpful insight into how to create a website that not only looks good, but functions properly and ranks highly in search.
In this article we will cover:
Are you looking to create a website? Get started with Pagecloud! You can publish a one page website at no cost with access to Pagecloud's powerful design features, and unlimited draft pages.
Designers look for inspiration everywhere. Here are some of the best sites to help get your creative juices flowing:
Check out our blog post for more tips on finding inspiration
Choosing a Web Design Tool
There are two main ways to design a website: using a desktop app or using a website builder. The tool you decide to use will vary greatly based on your team size, your budget, and the type of site you wish to build and its technical requirements.
1. Desktop Apps
Desktop apps require designers to create their design and send it to a development team who can then convert the design to code. The most popular desktop apps for designing websites are Photoshop and Sketch.
Typically, this is the standard for large and/or complex websites because it allows the designer to focus on the overall look and feel, while all the technical challenges are transferred to the development team. Unfortunately, this process can be expensive and time-consuming because multiple resources, skill sets, and team members are required.
To avoid involving a developer, it is beneficial to use a website builder to design a website with fewer technical requirements.
2. Website Builders
There are many website builders on the market today that offer a wide range of features and services. Wix, Squarespace, Webflow, and Pagecloud, are a few examples of popular website builders that vary in design capabilities, template options, price, and overall editing experience. Be sure to do your research, experiment with free trials, and determine which platform best fits your website needs.
Website builders create either adaptive or responsive websites, which offer different building experiences. These concepts will be discussed in more detail below so you can best understand which builders will work for you.
If you don’t know how to code, becoming familiar with the freedoms and limitations of various website design tools is essential. For example, although Wordpress is the most used website platform, it’s not popular with visual designers because of its limited customization options.
Before you start building a website, determine your website needs: Are you creating a photo gallery? How often will you update your site? Do you need a contact form? Choose a website builder that can help you effectively accomplish those goals.
Web Design Elements
When designing a website it’s important to consider both the site’s appearance and functionality. Integrating these elements will maximize the site’s overall usability and performance. Your site’s usability includes elements such as an easy-to-navigate interface, appropriate use of graphics and images, well-written and well-placed text, and a color scheme. Your site’s performance refers to its speed, ranking, searchability, and ability to capture your audience.
Here’s a quick overview of the elements you should consider while designing your website to make sure everything works well together. Each section will provide tips and tricks to help you get started.
Fundamentally, your website’s appearance and text go hand-in-hand. It’s important to have your content writers and designers work together in order to create a cohesive design with balanced elements. Focus on creating chunks of text (using text blocks) in order to compliment your graphics and images.
Choose a font that compliments your overall design. Font should pair with your color scheme, graphics, images, and strengthen the overall tone of your website. Tools like Canva’s Font Combinator can help you find a perfect match for your font. Web design tools like PageCloud even include numerous font pairings within their app.
Colors are one of the most important elements to consider when designing a website. Keep in mind there are many misconceptions about the psychology of color, and it’s more important to focus on colors that compliment your overall design and tone of your website. Align your color scheme with your brand and the messages you want to convey to your audience.
How you decide to arrange your content will have a dramatic impact on both the usability and functionality of your site. There are no specific rules to follow when choosing a layout, however, there are a few main principles to keep in mind. Make sure to consider the needs of your target audience and avoid using an overstimulating layout that might detract from the messages you want to convey.
The use of graphic elements in web design can help seamlessly integrate text and images, and help with the site’s overall appearance. Combining beautiful colors and shapes can help direct the attention of your sites visitors and contribute to your site’s overall flow.
Spacing is a key element to creating visually pleasing and easy to navigate websites. Every element in your design will incorporate spacing in one way or another. Appropriate use of whitespace is crucial in creating a design that perfectly balances text, photos, and graphics. Keeping your spacing consistent can help your users navigate your website with ease. The concept of whitespace is definitely a priority of modern web designers.
Images & Icons
Amazing designs can communicate a lot of information in just a few seconds. This is made possible with the use of powerful images and icons. Choose images and icons that support and strengthen your message. A quick Google search for stock images and icons will generate thousands of options. To help simplify your search, here are a few favourites:
Free images and icons
Premium images and icons
Integrating videos into web design is becoming increasingly popular amongst designers. When used properly, videos can help your users experience or understand a message that can’t be properly conveyed through text or image.
Keep in mind that like having a TV screen on in a restaurant, visitors’ eyes will be drawn to moving images. Make sure your videos don’t compete with or detract from other important elements.
These functional elements are imperative to consider when designing your website. A website that functions properly is crucial for ranking highly on search engines, and giving your users the best possible experience.
Your website’s navigation is one of the main elements that determines whether your website is functioning properly. Depending on your audience, your navigation can serve multiple purposes: helping first time visitors discover what your site has to offer, giving easy access to your pages for returning visitors, and improving every visitor's overall experience.
Check out these best practices for more tips on navigation.
Your site visitors have multiple ways of interacting with your site depending on their device (scrolling, clicking, typing, etc.). The best website designs simplify these interactions to give the user the sense that they are in control. Here are a few examples:
There are tons of web animation techniques that can help your design grab visitor’s attention, and allow your visitors to interact with your site by giving feedback. For example, adding “like” buttons or forms can keep your site’s visitors engaged. If you’re new to web design, we’d recommend keeping your animations simple to avoid developer intervention.
No one likes a slow website. Having to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load can quickly deter a visitor from remaining on or returning to your site. Regardless of how beautiful, if your site doesn’t load quickly, it will not perform well in search (i.e. won’t rank high on Google).
Top site builders typically compress your content for faster load times, however, there are no guarantees. Make sure to research which site builders will work best for the content you will have on your site. For example, PageCloud optimizes your images to ensure fast loading times for sites with large and/or multiple photos.
Google’s Page Speed Test
A website’s structure plays an important role in both user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). Your users should be able to easily navigate through your website without encountering any structural issues. If users are getting lost while attempting to navigate through your site, chances are “crawlers” are too. A crawler (or bot) is an automated program that searches through your website and can determine its functionality. Poor navigation can lead to a poor user experience and site ranking.
Cross-browser & cross-device compatibility
A great design should look polished on all devices and browsers (yes, even Internet Explorer). If you’re building your site from scratch, we’d recommend using a cross-browser testing tool to make this tedious process faster and more efficient.
On the other hand, if you’re using a website building platform, the cross-browser testing is typically taken care of by the company’s development team allowing you to focus on design.
Types of Website Design: Adaptive vs. Responsive
Understanding the pros and cons of adaptive and responsive websites will help you determine which website builder will work best for your website design needs.
You might come across articles online that talk about a whole bunch of different website design styles (fixed, static, fluid, etc.). However, in today’s mobile-centric world, there are only two website styles to use to properly design a website: adaptive and responsive.
Adaptive websitesAdaptive web design uses two or more versions of a website that are customized for specific screen sizes. Adaptive websites can be split into two main categories based upon how the site detects what size needs to be displayed:
1. Adapts based on device type
When your browser connects to a website, the HTTP request will include a field called “user-agent” that will inform the server about the type of device attempting to view the page.
The adaptive website will know what version of the site to display based on what device is trying to reach it (i.e. desktop, mobile, tablet). Issues will arise if you shrink the browser window on a desktop because the page will continue to display the “desktop version” rather than shrinking to the new size.
2. Adapts based on browser width
Instead of using the “user-agent”, the website uses media queries (a CSS feature that enables a webpage to adapt to different screen sizes) and breakpoints (certain width sizes) to switch between versions. So instead of having a desktop, tablet, and mobile version, you will have 1080px, 768px, and 480px width versions. This offers more flexibility when designing, and a better viewing experience as your website will adapt based on screen width.
Responsive websites can use flexible grid layouts that are based on the percentage each element takes up in its container: if one element (e.g. a header) is 25% of its container, that element will stay at 25% no matter the change in screen size. Responsive websites can also use breakpoints to create a custom look at every screen size, but unlike adaptive sites that adapt only when they hit a breakpoint, responsive websites are constantly changing according to the screen size.
It’s important to note that website builders can include both adaptive and responsive features. For example, Pagecloud recently introduced a series of features that allow your content to act responsive even though the website itself is still adaptive.
Adaptive Website Builders Wix and Pagecloud are arguably the two best visual website builders on the market today. Both use an adaptive approach, meaning their drag-and-drop and WYSIWYG capabilities are second to none. You can build just about anything without having to write a single line of code.
Wix has been around since 2006 and has since developed a wide range of features and templates to suit just about every business need. Today, it’s considered one of the easiest tools for beginners.
Wix has been around since 2006 and has since developed a wide range of features and templates to suit just about every business need. Today, it’s considered one of the easiest tools for beginners.
Although it’s hard to choose a winner in this category, here are few things to keep in mind:
As both platforms offer free trials, we’d recommend trying them both before deciding.
Responsive Website Builders Tools like Squarespace offer responsive website builders, however, this means your editing experience is more limited. Creating a fluid responsive website is hard, and without knowing how to code, it is nearly impossible to build unique websites using responsive website builders.
This is where more complex web design tools, like Webflow and Froont, come into play. Here are some of the pros and cons to consider when looking to adopt one of these tools:
E-commerce websites are an important part of website design. Creating an online store that is easy to navigate, informative, and accurately displays your products is crucial to creating the best online shopping experience for your customers.
If you want to learn more about starting an online store, check out our article for 5 easy steps to creating an e-commerce website!
Next Steps Hopefully this article helped you to better understand the essentials in web design. To review, let’s take a look at some key elements in designing a website that is both beautiful and functional:
1. The user always comes first: user experience should be at the forefront of your design, as your users will ultimately be the ones to determine whether your website is worth visiting.
2. Choose the best website builder for your needs: ask yourself what your website’s major functions will be, and choose a website builder that will ensure those needs are met.
3. Balancing visual elements: it’s important to maintain a balance between your text, graphics, multimedia, and color scheme to avoid an overstimulating website that detracts from the messages you are trying to convey.
Now that you’ve mastered the basics in website design, be sure to check out more posts to learn more about types of website builders, design trends, design elements, and much more.
Any marketing that uses electronic devices and can be used by marketing specialists to convey promotional messaging and measure its impact through your customer journey. In practice, digital marketing typically refers to marketing campaigns that appear on a computer, phone, tablet, or other device.
It can take many forms, including online video, display ads, search engine marketing, paid social ads and social media posts. Digital marketing is often compared to “traditional marketing” such as magazine ads, billboards, and direct mail. Oddly, television is usually lumped in with traditional marketing.
Maximize your digital marketing. Use Swift to promote your brand, reach your target audience, and grow your business.
Did you know that more than 3 quarters of Americans go online on a daily basis? Not only that, but 43% go on more than once a day and 26% are online “almost constantly.”
These figures are even higher among mobile internet users. 89% of Americans go online at least daily, and 31% are online almost constantly. As a marketer, it’s important to take advantage of the digital world with an online advertising presence, by building a brand, providing a great customer experience that also brings more potential customers and more, with a digital strategy.
A digital marketing strategy allows you to leverage different digital channels–such as social media, pay-per-click, search engine optimization, and email marketing–to connect with existing customers and individuals interested in your products or services. As a result, you can build a brand, provide a great customer experience, bring in potential customers, and more.
What is digital marketing?
Digital marketing, also called online marketing, is the promotion of brands to connect with potential customers using the internet and other forms of digital communication. This includes not only email, social media, and web-based advertising, but also text and multimedia messages as a marketing channel.
Essentially, if a marketing campaign involves digital communication, it's digital marketing.
Inbound marketing versus digital marketingDigital marketing and inbound marketing are easily confused, and for good reason. Digital marketing uses many of the same tools as inbound marketing—email and online content, to name a few. Both exist to capture the attention of prospects through the buyer’s journey and turn them into customers. But the 2 approaches take different views of the relationship between the tool and the goal.
Digital marketing considers how individual tools or digital channels can convert prospects. A brand's digital marketing strategy may use multiple platforms or focus all of its efforts on 1 platform. For example, a company may primarily create content for social media platforms and email marketing campaigns while ignoring other digital marketing avenues.
On the other hand, inbound marketing is a holistic concept. It considers the goal first, then looks at the available tools to determine which will effectively reach target customers, and then at which stage of the sales funnel that should happen.
As an example, say you want to boost website traffic to generate more prospects and leads. You can focus on search engine optimization when developing your content marketing strategy, resulting in more optimized content, including blogs, landing pages, and more.
The most important thing to remember about digital marketing and inbound marketing is that as a marketing professional, you don’t have to choose between the 2. In fact, they work best together. Inbound marketing provides structure and purpose for effective digital marketing to digital marketing efforts, making sure that each digital marketing channel works toward a goal.
Why is digital marketing important?
Any type of marketing can help your business thrive. However, digital marketing has become increasingly important because of how accessible digital channels are. In fact, there were 5 billion internet users globally in April 2022 alone.
From social media to text messages, there are many ways to use digital marketing tactics in order to communicate with your target audience. Additionally, digital marketing has minimal upfront costs, making it a cost-effective marketing technique for small businesses.
B2B versus B2C digital marketing
Digital marketing strategies work for B2B (business to business) as well as B2C (business to consumer) companies, but best practices differ significantly between the 2. Here's a closer look at how digital marketing is used in B2B and B2C marketing strategies.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. A B2C company with a high-ticket product, such as a car or computer, might offer more informative and serious content. As a result, your digital marketing strategy always needs to be geared toward your own customer base, whether you're B2B or B2C.
Take a look at your current audience to create well-informed and targeted online marketing campaigns. Doing so ensures your marketing efforts are effective and you can capture the attention of potential customers.
Types of digital marketingThere are as many specializations within digital marketing as there are ways of interacting using digital media. Here are a few key examples of types of digital marketing tactics.
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is technically a marketing tool rather than a form of marketing in itself. The Balance defines it as “the art and science of making web pages attractive to search engines.”
The "art and science" part of SEO is what’s most important. SEO is a science because it requires you to research and weigh different contributing factors to achieve the highest possible ranking on a serch engine results page (SERP).
Today, the most important elements to consider when optimizing a web page for search engines include:
In addition to the elements above, you need to optimize technical SEO, which is all the back-end components of your site. This includes URL structure, loading times, and broken links. Improving your technical SEO can help search engines better navigate and crawl your site.
The strategic use of these factors makes search engine optimization a science, but the unpredictability involved makes it an art.
Ultimately, the goal is to rank on the first page of a search engine’s result page. This ensures that those searching for a specific query related to your brand can easily find your products or services. While there are many search engines, digital marketers often focus on Google since it's a global leader in the search engine market.
In SEO, there's no quantifiable rubric or consistent rule for ranking highly on search engines. Google and other search engines change their algorithm almost constantly, so it's impossible to make exact predictions. What you can do is closely monitor your page's performance and make adjustments to your strategy accordingly.
As mentioned, the quality of your content is a key component of an optimized page. As a result, SEO is a major factor in content marketing, a strategy based on the distribution of relevant and valuable content to a target audience.
As in any marketing strategy, the goal of content marketing is to attract leads that ultimately convert into customers. But it does so differently than traditional advertising. Instead of enticing prospects with potential value from a product or service, it offers value for free in the form of written material, such as:
Content marketing matters, and there are plenty of stats to prove it:
As effective as content marketing is, it can be tricky. Content marketing writers need to be able to rank highly in search engine results while also engaging people who will read the material, share it, and interact further with the brand. When the content is relevant, it can establish strong relationships throughout the pipeline.
To create effective content that’s highly relevant and engaging, it’s important to identify your audience. Who are you ultimately trying to reach with your content marketing efforts? Once you have a better grasp of your audience, you can determine the type of content you'll create. You can use many formats of content in your content marketing, including videos, blog posts, printable worksheets, and more.
Regardless of which content you create, it’s a good idea to follow content marketing best practices. This means making content that’s grammatically correct, free of errors, easy to understand, relevant, and interesting. Your content should also funnel readers to the next stage in the pipeline, whether that’s a free consultation with a sales representative or a signup page.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing means driving traffic and brand awareness by engaging people in discussion online. You can use social media marketing to highlight your brand, products, services, culture, and more. With billions of people spending their time engaging on social media platforms, focusing on social media marketing can be worthwhile.
The most popular digital platforms for social media marketing are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, with LinkedIn and YouTube not far behind. Ultimately, which social media platforms you use for your business depends on your goals and audience.
For example, if you want to find new leads for your FinTech startup, targeting your audience on LinkedIn is a good idea since industry professionals are active on the platform. On the other hand, running social media ads on Instagram may be better for your brand if you run a B2C focused on younger consumers.
Because social media marketing involves active audience participation, it has become a popular way of getting attention. It's the most popular content medium for B2C digital marketers at 96%, and it's gaining ground in the B2B sphere as well. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 61% of B2B content marketers increased their use of social media this year.
Social media marketing offers built-in engagement metrics, which are extremely useful in helping you to understand how well you're reaching your audience. You get to decide which types of interactions mean the most to you, whether that means the number of shares, comments, or total clicks to your website.
Direct purchase may not even be a goal of your social media marketing strategy. Many brands use social media marketing to start dialogues with audiences rather than encourage them to spend money right away.
This is especially common in brands that target older audiences or offer products and services not appropriate for impulse buys. It all depends on your company's social media marketing goals.
To create an effective social media marketing strategy, it’s crucial to follow best practices. Here are a few of the most important social media marketing best practices:
To learn more about how Swift can help with your social media strategy, check out the comparison of our social media management tools versus others.
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of digital marketing in which you pay a fee every time someone clicks on your digital ads. So, instead of paying a set amount to constantly run targeted ads on online channels, you only pay for the ads individuals interact with. How and when people see your ad is a bit more complicated.
One of the most common types of PPC is search engine advertising, and because Google is the most popular search engine, many businesses use Google Ads for this purpose. When a spot is available on a search engine results page, also known as a SERP, the engine fills the spot with what is essentially an instant auction. An algorithm prioritizes each available ad based on a number of factors, including:
PPC ads are then placed at the top of search engine result pages based on the factors above whenever a person searches for a specific query.
Each PPC campaign has 1 or more target actions that viewers are meant to complete after clicking an ad. These actions are known as conversions, and they can be transactional or non-transactional. Making a purchase is a conversion, but so is a newsletter signup or a call made to your home office.
Whatever you choose as your target conversions, you can track them via your chosen digital marketing channels to see how your campaign is doing.
Affiliate marketing is a digital marketing tactic that lets someone make money by promoting another person's business. You could be either the promoter or the business who works with the promoter, but the process is the same in either case.
It works using a revenue sharing model. If you're the affiliate, you get a commission every time someone purchases the item that you promote. If you're the merchant, you pay the affiliate for every sale they help you make.
Some affiliate marketers choose to review the products of just 1 company, perhaps on a blog or other third-party site. Others have relationships with multiple merchants.
Whether you want to be an affiliate or find one, the first step is to make a connection with the other party. You can use digital channels designed to connect affiliates with retailers, or you can start or join a single-retailer program.
If you're a retailer and you choose to work directly with affiliates, there are many things you can do to make your program appealing to potential promoters. You'll need to provide those affiliates with the tools that they need to succeed. That includes incentives for great results as well as marketing tools and pre-made materials.
Native advertising is digital marketing in disguise. Its goal is to blend in with its surrounding content so that it’s less blatantly obvious as advertising.
Native advertising was created in reaction to the cynicism of today's consumers toward ads. Knowing that the creator of an ad pays to run it, many consumers will conclude that the ad is biased and consequently ignore it.
A native ad gets around this bias by offering information or entertainment before it gets to anything promotional, downplaying the "ad" aspect.
It’s important to always label your native ads clearly. Use words like “promoted” or “sponsored.” If those indicators are concealed, readers might end up spending significant time engaging with the content before they realize that it's advertising.
When your consumers know exactly what they're getting, they'll feel better about your content and your brand. Native ads are meant to be less obtrusive than traditional ads, but they’re not meant to be deceptive.
Like affiliate marketing, influencer marketing relies on working with an influencer–an individual with a large following, such as a celebrity, industry expert, or content creator–in exchange for exposure. In many cases, these influencers will endorse your products or services to their followers on several social media channels.
Influencer marketing works well for B2B and B2C companies who want to reach new audiences. However, it’s important to partner with reputable influencers since they’re essentially representing your brand. The wrong influencer can tarnish the trust consumers have with your business.
Mobile marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to engage with your target audience on their mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. This can be via SMS and MMS messages, social media notifications, mobile app alerts, and more.
It’s crucial to ensure that all content is optimized for mobile devices. According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of Americans own a smartphone, so your marketing efforts can go a long way when you create content for computer and mobile screens.
The benefits of digital marketing.
Digital marketing has become prominent largely because it reaches such a wide audience of people. However, it also offers a number of other advantages that can boost your marketing efforts. These are a few of the benefits of digital marketing.
A broad geographic reach
When you post an ad online, people can see it no matter where they are (provided you haven’t limited your ad geographically). This makes it easy to grow your business's market reach and connect with a larger audience across different digital channels.
Digital marketing not only reaches a broader audience than traditional marketing but also carries a lower cost. Overhead costs for newspaper ads, television spots, and other traditional marketing opportunities can be high. They also give you less control over whether your target audiences will see those messages in the first place.
With digital marketing, you can create just 1 content piece that draws visitors to your blog as long as it's active. You can create an email marketing campaign that delivers messages to targeted customer lists on a schedule, and it's easy to change that schedule or the content if you need to do so.
When you add it all up, digital marketing gives you much more flexibility and customer contact for your ad spend.
To know whether your marketing strategy works, you have to find out how many customers it attracts and how much revenue it ultimately drives. But how do you do that with a non-digital marketing strategy?
There's always the traditional option of asking each customer, “How did you find us?"
Unfortunately, that doesn't work in all industries. Many companies don't get to have one-on-one conversations with their customers, and surveys don't always get complete results.
With digital marketing, results monitoring is simple. Digital marketing software and platforms automatically track the number of desired conversions that you get, whether that means email open rates, visits to your home page, or direct purchases.
Easier personalizationDigital marketing allows you to gather customer data in a way that offline marketing can't. Data collected digitally tends to be much more precise and specific.
Imagine you offer financial services and want to send out special offers to internet users people who have looked at your products. You know you'll get better results if you target the offer to the person's interest, so you decide to prepare 2 campaigns. One is for young families who have looked at your life insurance products, and the other is for millennial entrepreneurs who have considered your retirement plans.
How do you gather all of that data without automated tracking? How many phone records would you have to go through? How many customer profiles? And how do you know who has or hasn't read the brochure you sent out?
With digital marketing, all of this information is already at your fingertips.
More connection with customersDigital marketing lets you communicate with your customers in real-time. More importantly, it lets them communicate with you.
Think about your social media strategy. It's great when your target audience sees your latest post, but it's even better when they comment on it or share it. It means more buzz surrounding your product or service, as well as increased visibility every time someone joins the conversation.
Interactivity benefits your customers as well. Their level of engagement increases as they become active participants in your brand's story. That sense of ownership can create a strong sense of brand loyalty.
Easy and convenient conversionsDigital marketing lets your customers take action immediately after viewing your ad or content. With traditional advertisements, the most immediate result you can hope for is a phone call shortly after someone views your ad. But how often does someone have the time to reach out to a company while they're doing the dishes, driving down the highway, or updating records at work?
With digital marketing, they can click a link or save a blog post and move along the sales funnel right away. They might not make a purchase immediately, but they’ll stay connected with you and give you a chance to interact with them further.
How to create a digital marketing strategyFor many small businesses and beginner digital marketers, getting started with digital marketing can be difficult. However, you can create an effective digital marketing strategy to increase brand awareness, engagement, and sales by using the following steps as your starting point.
Set SMART goals. Setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely (SMART) goals is crucial for any marketing strategy. While there are many goals you may want to achieve, try to focus on the ones that will propel your strategy forward instead of causing it to remain stagnant.
Identify your audience. Before starting any marketing campaign, it’s best to identify your target audience. Your target audience is the group of people you want your campaign to reach based on similar attributes, such as age, gender, demographic, or purchasing behavior. Having a good understanding of your target audience can help you determine which digital marketing channels to use and the information to include in your campaigns.
Create a budget. A budget ensures you’re spending your money effectively towards your goals instead of overspending on digital marketing channels that may not provide the desired results. Consider your SMART goals and the digital channel you’re planning to use to create a budget.
Select your digital marketing channels
From content marketing to PPC campaigns and more, there are many digital marketing channels you can use to your advantage. Which digital marketing channels you use often depends on your goals, audience, and budget.
Refine your marketing effortsMake sure to analyze your campaign's data to identify what was done well and areas for improvement once the campaign is over. This allows you to create even better campaigns in the future. With the help of digital technologies and software, you can obtain this data in an easy-to-view dashboard. Swift's digital marketing analytics reports will help you keep track of all your marketing campaigns in one centralized location.
Digital marketing creates growth
Digital marketing should be one of the primary focuses of almost any business’s overall marketing strategy. Never before has there been a way to stay in such consistent contact with your customers, and nothing else offers the level of personalization that digital data can provide. The more you embrace the possibilities of digital marketing, the more you'll be able to realize your company's growth potential.
TAKE YOUR BRAND TO THE NEXT LEVEL
Just like your personal identity makes you uniquely you, your brand identity is the special sauce of your business that sets you apart from every other Tom, Dick and Harry, Inc. on the block. And your brand identity design? It’s what shapes your company.
But what exactly is brand identity? What does it have to do with design? And how do you shape a strong brand identity that takes your business to the next level? Here’s the breakdown:
Table of Contents
What is brand identity?
What does the term brand identity mean?
Brand identity is the collection of all elements that a company creates to portray the right image to its consumer. Brand identity is different from “brand image” and “branding,” even though these terms are sometimes treated as interchangeable.
The term branding refers to the marketing practice of actively shaping a distinctive brand. Brand is the perception of the company in the eyes of the world.
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Let’s say you are a middle school student. As an awkward pre-adolescent, you want to be perceived as cool and get invited to sit at the best table in the cafeteria. But you can’t just force other people to have that image of you. In order to develop this brand, you need to do some work.
So you make sure you watch the right YouTube channels so you always know the latest meme. Maybe you start working on your free throw. And cultivating on an impression of Mr. Archibald, your science teacher. These actions are the work you’re putting towards develop your desired image; they’re your branding.
Finally, you need to make sure you look the part. You save up your money to buy the new Adidas shoes everyone covets. You get a new haircut. You try out for (and join) the basketball team.
Those tangible elements—the shoes, the haircut, the team membership—that’s brand identity.
Your brand identity is what makes you instantly recognizable to your customers. Your audience will associate your brand identity with your product or service, and that identity is what forges the connection between you and your customers, builds customer loyalty, and determines how your customers will perceive your brand.
How to develop a strong brand identity
Know who you are. Before you know what tangible elements you want to make up your brand identity, you need to know who you are as a brand.
A colorful, playful & fun brand identity design by pecas
Who you are as a brand is made up of a few key elements:
These elements are what define your brand, and before you start building your brand identity, it’s important you have a clear understanding of each.
If you’re having trouble figuring out who exactly you are, don’t sweat it. Sometimes, all you need is a simple brainstorm to help you get clarity on who you are as a brand.
You can also check out this awesome branding workbook from consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. While this workbook is geared towards personal branding, the strategies will work for any type of business model.
Once you’ve locked in who you are as a brand, it’s time to build the identity that will bring your brand to life and show who you are to the people who matter most: your customers.
Design: the foundation of your brand identity
Just like your Adidas built the brand identity of your middle-school-star-athlete persona, your design is what will build the brand identity of your company.
Your corporate design assets are the tangible elements that will determine how your brand is perceived. Things like your logo, your packaging, your web design, your social media graphics, your business cards and the uniforms your employees wear.
In other words, nailing your design = nailing your brand identity = building a successful business that’s an accurate representation of who you are as a brand.
So, how exactly do you nail your design and build a brand identity that will take your business to the next level?
Developing your brand designBefore you start creating your design assets, you need to start from the ground up and lock in the basics of your design structure: the building blocks of your brand identity.
The building blocks you’ll want to determine before you create your design assets include:
TypographyTypography refers to—you guessed it—the font (or type) you choose for your branding materials. It’s particularly important to choose logo fonts and brand fonts wisely. There are four major types of typography:
The typography you choose will say a lot about your brand, so choose your fonts wisely.
A brand guide with brand colors by ludibes
Next up is color. People—your potential customers included—have psychological ties to different colors, and using branding colors and logo colors strategically can have a serious impact on how your brand is perceived by your audience.
Here are what the colors of the rainbow (plus a few extras) can do to help your brand identity:
Form/ShapeWhen it comes to your designs, you also want to think about form and shape. This subtle but effective element that can be used to reinforce the desired reaction from your customers: so, for example, a logo that is all circles and soft edges will inspire a very different reaction from a logo that’s sharp and square.
Here’s how different forms can shape your brand identity (pun intended):
Designing your brand identity
Your brand identity is made of many elements. Once the building blocks of your design are created, it’s time to work with a designer to bring your brand identity to life and translate who you are as a brand into tangible design assets you can use in your marketing.
Your brand identity can be expressed in any number of elements. Depending on the nature of your business, one asset or another may be more or less important.
For example, a restaurant should put a lot of thought into their menu and physical space. A digital marketing agency, however, needs to focus more on their website and social media pages.
Common elements of brand identity include:
Logo design is the cornerstone in your brand identity. When working with your designer, you want to aim for your logo to tick off the following boxes:
You also want to make sure that your design partner delivers your logo in multiple formats (like a black and white version or multiple sizes) to ensure you always have the logo you need—and that each is in line with your brand identity.
Learn more on how to design the perfect logo.
Your website is one of the most representative aspects of your brand identity. Especially if you’re running an online business or a digital product, your customers will definitely check your website out before deciding to do business with you. Your website is where your brand identity should come through in full force.
Learn the building blocks of effective web layouts.
Rose Finch gin bottles designed by sikarame. lIf your product is a physical one, then product packaging is key to attracting the right customers. Whether you’re thinking about the bottle of a cold-brew beverage, or the mail you’ll send to your customers who purchased clothes from your ecommerce business, don’t underestimate the value of good design in improving the experience – and driving both loyalty and repeat purchases. Packaging is an awesome opportunity for your design to shine.
Business cards. If you’re doing any sort of business development (and who isn’t), you’ll want to stock up on business cards. A well-designed card offers the chance to reinforce a positive opinion of yourself in the eyes of potential clients or customers. When it comes to business card design, keep it simple: your company logo on one side of the card and your key personal details on the other side should suffice.
Learn how to design the perfect business card.
Email is a great way to engage your customers and drive business. But most people are at inbox overload, so if you want to grow your business via email, you need the right design strategy to set yourself apart from the clutter. Think about the purpose of the email.
Are you trying to make a personal connection? Then keep it short, sweet, and simple. Are you trying to educate? Then format it well so it’s easily readable and scannable and add a few images to make it pop. Are you trying to tell your customers about a new clothing line you launched? Make a few stunning product images the focus.
Create a brand style guide
A brand style guide is a must to preserve your brand identity.Once you’ve got your design assets, you want to make sure they’re used in the right way, which is why you’ll definitely want to create a brand style guide. This document—which outlines your design assets, when and how to use them, as well as any design do’s and dont’s for your brand—will ensure that any future design is in line with your brand identity and generates the right perception with your audience.
Consistency is key to create a strong brand identity. You wouldn’t want your brand to look totally different on social media than it does on your website. That would confuse customers and make your brand feel less trustworthy and professional. So, make sure to always stick to a brand guide that covers all the different elements of your brand identity. That’s what is going to enable you to build brand recognition and brand loyalty in the long term.
Brand identity in a nutshell…
Your brand identity is what sets you apart from the endless sea of competitors and shows your customers who you are and what they can expect from working with you. And if you want your brand to be perceived in a positive light, it’s crucial that you nail your brand identity and create designs that accurately portray who you are to your customers. And now that you know how to nail that identity, it’s time to start designing.
Web design is unique because it takes both a designer and a user to make it work. After all, the whole purpose of putting a design on an interactive medium like a computer is so that users can, well, use it. Interaction is also a good measure for how engaged a site visitor is because if they’re interacting, they’re paying attention. Good interactive web design will compel the user to engage with a website, scroll down and consume more content, to navigate to other pages, to share with a friend and, of course, to click that call-to-action button.
One of the challenges interactive web designs face is that there are so many ways a user can interact with a page, and even more ways that the page can respond. Some interactive designs will create a seamless user experience, giving the user feedback and directing them on what to do next. Some will be less obvious, the responses mismatched to the user’s action, or worse, nonexistent.
In order to learn how to tell a good interactive website experience from a bad one, we’re going to take our lessons from the pros. Here, we’ve compiled useful tips for interactive web design by rounding up some of our favorite examples and discussing what makes them work.
1. Take advantage of loading screen time
Loading can be one of the biggest obstacles to the web browsing experience. A business can put so much money and effort into building an outstanding, beautiful website, but if it takes more than two seconds to load, research has shown that the visitor becomes exponentially more likely to leave before seeing any of it. It’s fair to assume that users experience loading as a negative experience.
But loading screens can also be an opportunity. If you have the user’s attention, why not make the most of it? These moments provide an unexpected and, therefore, extra special opportunity to impress users through animations. They’re a novelty chance to show off brand personality and engage and excite users. Often, these animations actually give the user a sense of progress with a loading bar (or something similar) to demonstrate how much time remains before the user accesses the next page.
Ideally, these loading screens offer users something to do, such as a game to play while they wait, which creates a fun, interactive experience.
The point is that loading doesn’t necessarily mean a negative experience for the user. They don’t even have to only be quick and painless—sometimes, they’re the most exciting part of a website.
2. Organize information through animated scrolling
Scrolling is one of the simplest and most intuitive interactions that a user can make. But just because the user might not think about scrolling, doesn’t mean the web designer shouldn’t be! There are plenty of ways that designers have capitalized on scrolling animations to give the user a sense of dynamic movement throughout a website. Let’s go over some common ones.
A popular technique has been to trigger specific animations to activate as the user scrolls through the website. It’s pretty magical in bringing visuals to life and it creates the illusion that the page the user is accessing is actually being built up, in real time, in response to their interaction.
Parallax scrolling (aka asymmetrical scrolling)
A similar technique that has been gaining traction is parallax scrolling. This type of movement involves say two objects on a screen moving at two different speeds, as the user scrolls down the page. The result is a simulation of 3D depth of movement, as foreground objects usually move faster than background objects.
Scrolling page transitions
And finally, designers can use full page transitions, in which the traditional smooth scroll is replaced with either a jump to the next screen or a wholesale page change. This can create a dramatic effect, introducing not only new page elements but sometimes an entirely different color scheme, making the website feel brand new with every scroll.
Overall, these scrolling animations give users important feedback on their interaction—letting them know that they’ve just entered a new section of the website and should expect a change in the type of information being delivered. In short, they provide clear hierarchy and organization in an impressive, interactive package.
3. Breakup vertical movement with sliders and carousels
Carousels are so-called because they condense website content into rotating sections that the user can cycle through, much like the turnstile motion of a real-life carnival counterpart.
They are becoming more common on websites due to the increasing popularity of swiping interactions in mobile apps. Because they are essentially a form of horizontal scrolling, they provide the user a much needed break from the endless monotony of vertical scrolling.
But this is not the only reason why you might want to break up vertical movement. As we mentioned earlier, users tend to associate downward scrolling with progressing to a new part of the website. Carousels and sliders, on the other hand, allow web designers to incorporate more context to each section, since the user isn’t technically leaving them.
This means rather than cluttering the page with all the necessary information at once, carousels collapse site elements into more bitesize segments, allowing the user to cycle through them bit by bit.
This works best when the content is similar in format, so group together either product images, profiles or customer testimonials etc. They’re also useful for showcasing variations, such as products that come in different colors. In terms of animating these carousels, styles range from straightforward left-to-right transitions, to card shuffling, to a rotating wheel animation that’s reminiscent of retro viewmaster slides.
4. Blow up the navigation menu
Like swiping, hamburger menus are another common trend of mobile/app design that has made its way onto desktop websites. Even if the hamburger icon itself is not present, users are generally familiar with the idea that the navigation does not need to be displayed at all times. Users know that it’s there and that they can interact with it when needed. Hiding the menu can give the rest of the web page space to breathe and at the same time, the menu’s reveal is yet another interactive web design opportunity.
Since users are now choosing to pull up the menu, many designers are answering that call with navigation that takes over the entire screen. This allows for big typography, descriptive images and snazzy hover animations.
Going big with menu interaction makes sense: navigation is all about control. The user is effectively steering the ship and emphasizing the menu helps the user visualize the weight of their power over the page. All in all, menu designs are staying hidden until needed, at which point they become larger than life. If you ask me, it’s a nice change from the grey top-of-the-screen, nested lists of yore.
5. Replace forms with user questionnaires
One of the most onerous parts of interacting with a website is entering information. Users are generally wary of giving out their information on a website. The best way to mitigate this is by making the process less like filling out a form at the doctor’s office and more like a get-to-know-you question-and-answer session.
In fact, a prime example of this technique in action has come from tax services like some tax preparation companies who break down tax forms into simple, easy-to-understand questions. This is especially helpful for services that have multiple potential products to sell to a site visitor and need to help narrow down their choices by understanding their needs, tastes, budget, and more.
When it comes to animation in interactive web design, the small movements are what really sell it. And when you consider that the purpose of a website’s animation is often feedback (like letting the user know what they can and can’t interact with or whether they’ve done the right thing), it makes sense that this feedback works best on a subconscious level.
Animations that draw too much attention to themselves can be distracting to the user, overshadowing whatever feedback they were meant to impart in order to show off the animator’s skill. This is where micro-interactions come in.
Micro-interactions are a broad category that describe all of the little ways that a user might interact with a page. Some examples of micro-interactions include hovering over something, closing out of a window, pulling to refresh, and clicking icons such as star ratings, bookmarks, notification bells or add to cart.
In terms of animating micro-interactions, some popular styles include turning a button green, transforming an icon into a checkmark, or an outgoing circle that accompanies a click like an adorable, baby shockwave. The goal is to let the user know that they’ve made a successful change to the page and the design of micro-interactions should be simple and satisfying to this end.
Interactive web design is good web design
At the end of the day, interactive web design is what the internet was made for. Out of the many reasons a visitor might have to check out a website, they are ultimately there to interact, not just to find the information they need but to experience it. This is why a website that fails to capitalize on these interactions can easily get lost in competition. The tips we’ve provided here are a great place to start to make sure this doesn’t happen.
Want to get the perfect website for your business? Call Swift at (216) 339-6041.
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A great website shows the world who you are, makes people remember you, and helps potential customers understand if they found what they were looking for. Websites communicate all of that through color, shape and other design elements. Learn how to make your cosmetics website tell your brand’s story.
f you own a business, you need a website. But I’m going to guess as you’re reading an article on how to create one, you probably already know that.
by 2ché for sparkingmatt. What you’re realizing is that while using the internet is a pretty straightforward task, designing, building and creating a website is pretty flippin’ complicated. You want it to look nice. You want it to be easy to use. You want people to be able to find it on Google. You want it to actually help you convert visitors into clients… But how do you do all that? And more importantly, how do you do it right?
Our Ultimate Guide to Web Design will walk you through the process of getting a website step-by-step:
What you need to know to get started
Learn who’s who in the world of web design and development
When you design a logo for your brand it’s pretty easy to hire one person to do the job and have it turn out great. That’s not necessarily the case when creating your website. While there are individuals or agencies out there that offer an end-to-end solution, it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up working with more than one person on your adventure to build a website. Here are a few of the characters you may encounter on your journey:
Web designers are, well, designers. They take your ideas and turn them into a pretty (or badass) mockup that shows what your future website will look like. This is typically done in Adobe Photoshop or a similar type graphics program.
UX (user experience) or UI (user interface) designers focus on how your layout design impacts your users. For example, they’ll help you decide where to put buttons to get more people to click them, or how to structure your navigation to make your site flow as seamlessly as possible. (There is a difference between UX and UI.
This article explains it well.) Oftentimes, there is overlap between UX/UI designers and web designers; if you’re looking to save money, it shouldn’t be too difficult to hire a freelancer that has both skill sets.
Web developers—also sometimes called engineers or coders—are magical folks who have learned to speak computer. They take the pretty (or badass) mockup your designer made and translate it into a coding language so it can be displayed on the web. To further complicate things, there are many different coding languages out there, and most developers specialize in one or a few.
Front end developers specialize in the things we see when we look at a website (e.g. rendering images, text, animations, drop down menus, page layout, etc).
Back end developers on the other hand specialize in what’s going on behind the scenes and are necessary if your website needs to communicate with a database. (If you’re going to have a shopping cart, user profiles, or want to be able to upload any content on your own, you’re going to need a database.)
SEO specialists, content strategists, and copy or content writers may also be experts you want to consult as you build your website. They can help you figure out what needs to go on your site to help the right people find it (via search engines) and decide to buy once there.
Acquire a domain name and hostingJust like if you were opening a brick-and-mortar business, the first thing you need to do when you’re building a website is to rent a location.
When you get web hosting you’re renting server space at a data center, much like this large one in Nevada.
Web hosting is the physical space where the assets for your website will live. All those images and text and databases actually require a physical server to host them.
While you can buy your own and put it in your office/house/garage, the vast majority of people and businesses rent hosting space through a company. Hosting (like rent) is typically paid monthly.
For most businesses it will be in the $5-$20/month range, but could be much higher if you have large data needs. Here’s a list of recommended web hosting companies, but you may want to check with your web developer before purchasing (as they may have a preferred vendor).
Your domain name is what people type into their browser to get to your site (e.g. 99designs.com). Typically it is your business name. To get a domain name, you register it with a domain registrar. You will have to pay a small fee (generally less than $10/year) to purchase and retain the name. Most hosting services also serve as domain registrars; that’s generally your best bet as it’ll be the easiest to setup.
Finally, you will need to point your domain name to your servers which basically tells the internet that when someone types your domain into their browser, it should look on this server warehouse to find the right pictures and text to display. While this process isn’t complicated, it can be confusing.
This is a step you can try to DIY (the support team at your web host or domain registrar can help you) but is also something your web developer can easily help you do.
Think about structure and gather the content for your websiteYour web designer or developer is not going to write the about page on your website or take photos of your products for your store. You’re going to have to provide all of the content as well as provide the general structure of the site.
For structure you’ll want to think about what pages you need, common ones include:
Each of these types of pages will need to be laid out and designed, and each one will need to have content on it.
You don’t necessarily need to have content finalized at this stage in the process, but you do need to have an idea of what content you’ll want on your site and a plan for how you’ll get it. Do you need to set aside time to write copy (or hire someone to do it for you)? Should you hire a photographer to take product photos? You will need to provide all custom imagery (like your logo or photos of your team) for the site, but a web designer can probably help you source stock imagery if you want.
What is stock imagery? (And how to use it right.)
Pro tip: your designer (especially if they have UX/UI experience) may have some great ideas for content and structure you haven’t thought of. It is likely worth having a discussion with them early in the process.
Determine what functionality you need
When someone visits your website, what do you want to happen? Are they just getting information about your product or service, like a phone number or opening hours? Do they need to be able to purchase goods? Is their main goal to read blog articles or learn a skill? Are they filling out a form for a quote? Should they be able to create user profiles and upload their own information?
Your functionality needs are going to determine how you can get your site developed and who you need to work with. They will also have a huge impact on your budget, so you’ll need to have it sorted out in order to get accurate quotes.
Understand what a CMS is and decide if you need one
A CMS (Content Management System) is a database and web application. Essentially, it allows users (like you and your colleagues/employees) to upload content to go on different parts of your site. If you want to be able to regularly edit text or change photos on your website and you don’t know how to code you will need a CMS!
There are a lot of CMS options out there. There are fantastic out-of-the-box options for common use cases (e.g. WordPress for blogging, Shopify for hosting an ecommerce site, Six for building out a profile). But if you need advanced functionality (like you’re hoping to build the next Facebook or Uber or 99designs) you’re going to have to have it custom developed.
How to get your website created
Template sites and builders
Hire freelancers for a custom solution
If you want to have more control over the look and functionality of your site, your best bet is to hire one or more freelancers to help you build it. This is great for getting exactly what you need at a fair cost, but will likely require you to be more hands-on.
We recommend searching through designer profiles to find someone whose style matches what you had in mind. Alternatively, if you want to get lots of design ideas. We’ll help you write a brief. Designers from around the world will read it and send you their ideas for your site. You give feedback to refine the designs, and ultimately choose your favorite(s) as the winner.
Keep in mind you may need to hire both a designer and a developer for your project, though there are some freelancers who do both. Make sure you clarify up front so you can budget (both time and money) accordingly.
Hire freelance designers for a hybrid solutionIf you want a custom look, but don’t want to invest in completely custom development, you’re in luck! It’s possible to start with an out-of-the-box template solution, and customize it with your own unique template.
Note, this is also possible with several other template sites (for example, you can create custom templates or modify existing ones for Shopify or Squarespace) so if you would rather use one of those platforms, that’s also an option. Note that in any of these cases, the design still does need to be translated into code, so make sure you ask if your designer can do that, or know that you will have to hire a developer.
Hire an agency for a custom end-to-end solution
Web design and development agencies are experts at what they do. They will not only be able to guide you to help you make the right decisions, but they’ll be able to take you from wireframe to fully developed site. Of course, all of that comes at a premium cost. This is a great option for companies with complex needs, or those for whom cost is less of an issue.
How to design a custom website in 7 steps
1. Determine what you need and hire a designerHave you got your domain name figured out? Do you know what functionality you need? A list of the pages you want designed? Do you have a plan for gathering all of the custom content you need to fill out your website?
Awesome! Time to hire a designer. To find the right one, you’ll want to look through portfolios. Think about your brand’s personality and determine if the designer is a stylistic match. (For example, do you want something edgy and modern or fun and playful?) It’s generally a good idea to look for designers who have experience in your industry, or with the specific type of site you’re looking for. If you’re a photographer, look for designers who have galleries in their portfolio, if you sell goods, look for one who has experience with other ecommerce companies.
Time to hire a designer
LIf search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website for search, SEOs need at least a basic understanding of the thing they're optimizing!
Below, we outline the website’s journey from domain name purchase all the way to its fully rendered state in a browser. An important component of the website’s journey is the critical rendering path, which is the process of a browser turning a website’s code into a viewable page.
Knowing this about websites is important for SEOs to understand for a few reasons:
Imagine that the website loading process is your commute to work. You get ready at home, gather your things to bring to the office, and then take the fastest route from your home to your work. It would be silly to put on just one of your shoes, take a longer route to work, drop your things off at the office, then immediately return home to get your other shoe, right?
That’s sort of what inefficient websites do. This chapter will teach you how to diagnose where your website might be inefficient, what you can do to streamline, and the positive ramifications on your rankings and user experience that can result from that streamlining.
Before a website can be accessed, it needs to be set up!
How a website gets from server to browser
Talk to your developers about async!
Something you can bring up with your developers is shortening the critical rendering path by setting scripts to "async" when they’re not needed to render content above the fold, which can make your web pages load faster.
Async tells the DOM that it can continue to be assembled while the browser is fetching the scripts needed to display your web page. If the DOM has to pause assembly every time the browser fetches a script (called “render-blocking scripts”), it can substantially slow down your page load. It would be like going out to eat with your friends and having to pause the conversation every time one of you went up to the counter to order, only resuming once they got back.
With async, you and your friends can continue to chat even when one of you is ordering. You might also want to bring up other optimizations that devs can implement to shorten the critical rendering path, such as removing unnecessary scripts entirely, like old tracking scripts.
Now that you know how a website appears in a browser, we’re going to focus on what a website is made of — in other words, the code (programming languages) used to construct those web pages.
The three most common are:
HTML: What a website says HTML stands for hypertext markup language, and it serves as the backbone of a website. Elements like headings, paragraphs, lists, and content are all defined in the HTML.
HTML is important for SEOs to know because it’s what lives “under the hood” of any page they create or work on. While your CMS likely doesn’t require you to write your pages in HTML (ex: selecting “hyperlink” will allow you to create a link without you having to type in “a href=”), it is what you’re modifying every time you do something to a web page such as adding content, changing the anchor text of internal links, and so on.
Google crawls these HTML elements to determine how relevant your document is to a particular query. In other words, what’s in your HTML plays a huge role in how your web page ranks in Google organic search!
CSS: How a website looks
CSS stands for "cascading style sheets," and this is what causes your web pages to take on certain fonts, colors, and layouts. HTML was created to describe content, rather than to style it, so when CSS entered the scene, it was a game-changer. With CSS, web pages could be “beautified” without requiring manual coding of styles into the HTML of every page — a cumbersome process, especially for large sites.
It wasn’t until 2014 that Google’s indexing system began to render web pages more like an actual browser, as opposed to a text-only browser. A black-hat SEO practice that tried to capitalize on Google’s older indexing system was hiding text and links via CSS for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. This “hidden text and links” practice is a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.
Components of CSS that SEOs, in particular, should care about:
Thankfully, there's a way to check whether Google sees the same thing as your visitors. To see a page how Googlebot views your page, use Google Search Console's "URL Inspection" tool. Simply paste your page's URL into the GSC search bar:
From here, click "Test Live URL".
After Googlebot has recrawled your URL, click "View Tested Page" to see how your page is being crawled and rendered.
Clicking the "Screenshot" tab adjacent to "HTML" shows how Googlebot smartphone renders your page.
In return, you’ll see how Googlebot sees your page versus how a visitor (or you) may see the page. In the "More Info" tab, Google will also show you a list of any resources they may not have been able to get for the URL you entered.
Understanding the way websites work lays a great foundation for what we’ll talk about next: technical optimizations to help Google understand the pages on your website better.
How search engines understand websites. Imagine being a search engine crawler scanning down a 10,000-word article about how to bake a cake. How do you identify the author, recipe, ingredients, or steps required to bake a cake? This is where schema markup comes in. It allows you to spoon-feed search engines more specific classifications for what type of information is on your page.
Schema is a way to label or organize your content so that search engines have a better understanding of what certain elements on your web pages are. This code provides structure to your data, which is why schema is often referred to as “structured data.” The process of structuring your data is often referred to as “markup” because you are marking up your content with organizational code.
JSON-LD is Google’s preferred schema markup (announced in May ‘16), which Bing also supports. To view a full list of the thousands of available schema markups, visit Schema.org or view the Google Developers Introduction to Structured Data for additional information on how to implement structured data. After you implement the structured data that best suits your web pages, you can test your markup with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.
In addition to helping bots like Google understand what a particular piece of content is about, schema markup can also enable special features to accompany your pages in the SERPs. These special features are referred to as "rich snippets," and you’ve probably seen them in action. They’re things like:
Remember, using structured data can help enable a rich snippet to be present, but does not guarantee it. Other types of rich snippets will likely be added in the future as the use of schema markup increases.
Some last words of advice for schema success:
Tell search engines about your preferred pages with canonicalization.
When Google crawls the same content on different web pages, it sometimes doesn’t know which page to index in search results. This is why the rel="canonical" tag was invented: to help search engines better index the preferred version of content and not all its duplicates.
The rel="canonical" tag allows you to tell search engines where the original, master version of a piece of content is located. You’re essentially saying, "Hey search engine! Don’t index this; index this source page instead." So, if you want to republish a piece of content, whether exactly or slightly modified, but don’t want to risk creating duplicate content, the canonical tag is here to save the day.
Proper canonicalization ensures that every unique piece of content on your website has only one URL. To prevent search engines from indexing multiple versions of a single page, Google recommends having a self-referencing canonical tag on every page on your site. Without a canonical tag telling Google which version of your web page is the preferred one, https://www.example.com could get indexed separately from https://example.com, creating duplicates.
"Avoid duplicate content" is an Internet truism, and for good reason! Google wants to reward sites with unique, valuable content — not content that’s taken from other sources and repeated across multiple pages. Because engines want to provide the best searcher experience, they will rarely show multiple versions of the same content, opting instead to show only the canonicalized version, or if a canonical tag does not exist, whichever version they deem most likely to be the original.
Distinguishing between content filtering & content penalties
There is no such thing as a duplicate content penalty. However, you should try to keep duplicate content from causing indexing issues by using the rel="canonical" tag when possible. When duplicates of a page exist, Google will choose a canonical and filter the others out of search results. That doesn’t mean you’ve been penalized. It just means that Google only wants to show one version of your content.
Learn more about canonicalization
It’s also very common for websites to have multiple duplicate pages due to sort and filter options. For example, on an e-commerce site, you might have what’s called a faceted navigation that allows visitors to narrow down products to find exactly what they’re looking for, such as a “sort by” feature that reorders results on the product category page from lowest to highest price. This could create a URL that looks something like this: example.com/mens-shirts?sort=price_ascending. Add in more sort/filter options like color, size, material, brand, etc. and just think about all the variations of your main product category page this would create!
When we understand what makes their web browsing experience optimal, we can create those experiences for maximum search performance.
Ensuring a positive experience for your mobile visitors.
Being that well over half of all web traffic today comes from mobile, it’s safe to say that your website should be accessible and easy to navigate for mobile visitors. In April 2015, Google rolled out an update to its algorithm that would promote mobile-friendly pages over non-mobile-friendly pages. So how can you ensure that your website is mobile-friendly? Although there are three main ways to configure your website for mobile, Google recommends responsive web design.
Responsive websites are designed to fit the screen of whatever type of device your visitors are using. You can use CSS to make the web page "respond" to the device size. This is ideal because it prevents visitors from having to double-tap or pinch-and-zoom in order to view the content on your pages. Not sure if your web pages are mobile friendly? You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check!
As of 2018, Google started switching websites over to mobile-first indexing. That change sparked some confusion between mobile-friendliness and mobile-first, so it’s helpful to disambiguate. With mobile-first indexing, Google crawls and indexes the mobile version of your web pages. Making your website compatible to mobile screens is good for users and your performance in search, but mobile-first indexing happens independently of mobile-friendliness.
This has raised some concerns for websites that lack parity between mobile and desktop versions, such as showing different content, navigation, links, etc. on their mobile view. A mobile site with different links, for example, will alter the way in which Googlebot (mobile) crawls your site and sends link equity to your other pages.
Improving page speed to mitigate visitor frustration
Google wants to serve content that loads lightning-fast for searchers. We’ve come to expect fast-loading results, and when we don’t get them, we’ll quickly bounce back to the SERP in search of a better, faster page. This is why page speed is a crucial aspect of on-site SEO. We can improve the speed of our web pages by taking advantage of tools like the ones we’ve mentioned below. Click on the links to learn more about each.
Images are one of the number one reasons for slow-loading web pages! In addition to image compression, optimizing image alt text, choosing the right image format, and submitting image sitemaps, there are other technical ways to optimize the speed and way in which images are shown to your users. Some primary ways to improve image delivery are as follows:
There are more than just three image size versions!
It’s a common misconception that you just need a desktop, tablet, and mobile-sized version of your image. There are a huge variety of screen sizes and resolutions.
Learn more about SRCSET
1. SRCSET: How to deliver the best image size for each deviceThe SRCSET attribute allows you to have multiple versions of your image and then specify which version should be used in different situations. This piece of code is added to the <img> tag (where your image is located in the HTML) to provide unique images for specific-sized devices.
This is like the concept of responsive design that we discussed earlier, except for images!
This doesn’t just speed up your image load time, it’s also a unique way to enhance your on-page user experience by providing different and optimal images to different device types.
2. Show visitors image loading is in progress with lazy loadingLazy loading occurs when you go to a webpage and, instead of seeing a blank white space for where an image will be, a blurry lightweight version of the image or a colored box in its place appears while the surrounding text loads. After a few seconds, the image clearly loads in full resolution. The popular blogging platform Medium does this really well.
The low resolution version is initially loaded, and then the full high resolution version. This also helps to optimize your critical rendering path! So while all of your other page resources are being downloaded, you’re showing a low-resolution teaser image that helps tell users that things are happening/being loaded. For more information on how you should lazy load your images, check out Google’s Lazy Loading Guidance.
Improve speed by condensing and bundling your files
Page speed audits will often make recommendations such as “minify resource,” but what does that actually mean? Minification condenses a code file by removing things like line breaks and spaces, as well as abbreviating code variable names wherever possible.
By both minifying and bundling the files needed to construct your web page, you’ll speed up your website and reduce the number of your HTTP (file) requests.
Improving the experience for international audiencesWebsites that target audiences from multiple countries should familiarize themselves with international SEO best practices in order to serve up the most relevant experiences. Without these optimizations, international visitors might have difficulty finding the version of your site that caters to them.
There are two main ways a website can be internationalized:
Sites that target speakers of multiple languages are considered multilingual websites. These sites should add something called an hreflang tag to show Google that your page has copy for another language. Learn more about hreflang.
Sites that target audiences in multiple countries are called multi-regional websites and they should choose a URL structure that makes it easy to target their domain or pages to specific countries. This can include the use of a country code top level domain (ccTLD) such as “.ca” for Canada, or a generic top-level domain (gTLD) with a country-specific subfolder such as “example.com/ca” for Canada. Learn more about locale-specific URLs.
Establishing authority so that your pages will rank highly in search results.
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Google and Facebook are two of the most widely used platforms on the Internet. Google garners more than 3.5 billion searches a day, while Facebook boasts 1.4 billion active users each day. Not to mention, each offers advertising services.
What is the difference between Facebook ads and Google Ads, though?
Keep reading to learn all about Google Ads vs. Facebook ads, plus discover which platform is best for your business and various ad campaigns.
Google Ads vs. Facebook ads: What is the difference?
In digital advertising, Google Ads and Facebook ads are the top two ad platforms.
While Google ads appear in Google search results and across websites in Google’s ad network, Facebook ads display across Facebook, Instagram, and other sites in the social media platform’s network. Both platforms offer demographic and behavior targeting, though Google Ads also includes keyword targeting.
What is Google Ads?
Google is the world’s largest and most popular PPC advertising platform. Paid ads, known as pay-per-click (PPC) ads, appear at the top of Google search results.
Where do Google ads appear?
Ads created with Google Ads can get delivered through several networks, including:
When you run a Google advertising campaign, you can target audience or content features like:
Keyword targeting is one of the most popular strategies for Google Ads, especially when using the Google Search Network. If you want your ad to appear in relevant search results, you must choose the right keywords. Your keywords will determine where your ads appear in search results.
To find relevant keywords, you’ll conduct keyword research. Keyword research will help you find relevant keywords for your campaign. You’ll want to stick to long-tail keywords, which contain three or more words, because they’ll drive the best leads for your campaign.
Advertisers will bid on keywords to get their ad to appear in relevant search results. The bid you set is your maximum bid, which is the amount you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks. It’s also known as your cost-per-click (CPC).
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What kinds of ads can you create with Google Ads?With Google Ads, you can make a range of advertisements, including:
The ad format you choose will depend on your audience, goals, and offer.
What are Google Ads good for?
If you’re looking to reach leads that convert, Google ads are the best option. These leads know exactly what they want and just need to find the right business to get what they need.
A Google ad can help them choose your business.
They’ll click on your ad and see what you have to offer. If you’re a good fit for their needs, you can earn more conversions for your business. With remarketing on Google Ads, you can even bring back users that previously had an interest in your product or service, but weren’t quite ready to convert.
What are Facebook ads?
Facebook ads are paid social ads that appear in users’ newsfeeds. They’re tagged with the word “sponsored” to indicate paid content. These ads help companies expose their business to interested leads.
Where do Facebook ads appear?
Facebook ads can appear on several platforms, including:
On Facebook, your ads can earn placements in the following locations:
How can you target people on Facebook ads?With Facebook ads, you can target people based on:
These ads operate based on people’s interests and behaviors. Your ads appear in front of people that are interested in your business, products, or services. You’ll help your business connect with the right leads.
What kinds of ads can you make with Facebook ads?Facebook gives you the option to run numerous ad formats, including:
What are Facebook ads good for?Facebook ads are best if you’re looking to gain brand exposure and new leads.
These ads don’t always entice people to convert, but they do get them to follow your page or check out your website. It’s a great way for you to earn more leads for your business because these ads get people comfortable with your business.
A few additional ways (or objectives) you can use Facebook ads include:
How much does it cost to advertise with Facebook ads?Generally, Facebook ads are cheaper to run than Google ads. Facebook ads have a CPC that ranges from a few cents to a few dollars. It all depends upon your industry. Some industries are a little more expensive than others.
Facebook ads vs. Google Ads: How each platform benefits your businessIn the Facebook ads vs. Google Ads, you have to look at the advantages of each platform. While each comes with different options (and costs), they both offer benefits that can help you build brand awareness, generate sales, and more.
Take a look at their perks, and learn more about the difference between Facebook ads and Google Ads:
The Advantages of Google Ads
Here are a few benefits you’ll experience from using the Google Ads platform.
The advantages of Facebook adsFacebook has billions of active monthly users that engage on their platform.
Here are a few benefits you’ll receive by using Facebook ads.
Which is better for your business: Facebook ads or Google Ads?
In the Google Ads vs. Facebook ads debate, there isn’t a clear winner.
That’s because both platforms offer value. Whether your business operates in the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) sector, you can use Google and Facebook to grow brand awareness, increase online sales, and even generate phone calls, store visits, and more.
The best platform for your business will depend on what you want for your advertising campaign.
Keep in mind, the above dat is only a guideline.
Your business may find that Facebook ads, for example, work well for generating online sales. Or, that Google Ads performs better when it comes to earning more downloads for your mobile app. Every company and their advertising experience, so you may have to engage in some trial-and-error.
Either way, both these advertising options have their perks.
In fact, no rule says you have to choose either Google Ads or Facebook ads. These two advertising programs work well together. As long as you have the budget to run both campaigns, they can work together very effectively.
Three tips for using Google Ads and Facebook ads
1. Launch your Facebook ad campaigns with Google Ads’ data
Whether you have past or zero experience with Facebook ads, you want to use this tip for a combined Google and Facebook strategy. That’s because user data can help your business a better and stronger campaign that drives better results.
Via Google Ads, you can access a ton of helpful data points, including:
This data can help your team refine the targeting of your existing Facebook ads. Or, you can use the information to launch a brand-new and targeted campaign. Either way, Google Ads can help you make data-driven decisions about your Facebook ad targeting.
2. Leverage your Facebook Lookalike Audiences for Google Ads
While Google Ads offers a feature similar to Lookalike Audiences in Facebook ads, you can still use this Facebook-specific tool in your Google ad campaigns. For reference, Lookalike Audiences help you build an audience similar to an existing one.
That means you can find people most likely to have an interest in your products or services.
Since Google Ads includes a range of targeting options, you can update or tweak them according to your Lookalike Audiences data. Even better, you can apply this data to Facebook ad campaigns. For your business, that means stronger ads across each of these advertising platforms.
3. Target every stage of the buying funnelRemember how Facebook ads work well for brand awareness, while Google Ads excel when it comes to securing leads? You can leverage these differences with a coordinated Google Ads and Facebook ads approach.
While your Facebook ads focus on top-of-the-funnel users, your Google Ads can target middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel users. This kind of approach can prevent blind spots or openings for your competitors to target (and steal) sales from your business.
Plus, it can keep your company top-of-mind as users browse the Internet.
Our full-service digital marketing company that specializes in paid advertising campaigns. Our team of over 200 experts will bring their knowledge and expertise to your campaign. We’ll help you create a customized campaign that is unique to your business.
If you’re looking for a company that drives results, look no further than Swift. You can count on us to create a campaign that helps your business grow.
Call us today at (216) 339-6041!
What's better than acquiring one new customer?
It sounds like a trick question, but the answer isn't "acquiring two customers." It's actually retaining an existing customer.
While there's a certain allure that comes with capturing new customers, keeping customers coming back will continually result in a greater ROI — and it costs 5-25X less.
But how do you create a customer retention strategy that keeps your current customers engaged and happy?
We've broken down some of the most applicable customer retention strategies that the biggest brands are currently using to inspire loyalty. From leveraging convenience to prioritizing personalization, we’ll cover all the must-haves that any customer success or marketing team can test out today.
How to Retain Customers
1. Track and analyze churn metrics. You can't fix what you don't understand. Companies should be diligently tracking and analyzing the number of customers who churn, alongside the reasons that they may decide to churn.
2. Implement a customer feedback loop.
It's hard to improve your business if you don't know how your customers feel about it. To start retaining customers, you need a process for obtaining customer feedback and sharing that information with the rest of your organization. This is where a customer feedback loop comes in. It provides a system for collecting, analyzing, and distributing customer reviews and surveys.
There are a few ways to collect customer feedback. You can ask customers to participate in user testing and focus groups. Using a few of these methods regularly should provide your team with ample and relevant customer feedback.
Once you’ve gathered them, you should analyze your survey results by looking for trends in customer behavior and other areas to enhance user experience. Then, share this information with teams that will benefit from it most.
For example, product reviews should be distributed to engineers and development teams so they can address flaws in your product's design. By using this system to collect and share customer reviews, your business can efficiently address criticism and improve the customer experience.
3. Maintain a customer communication calendar.
Even if your customers aren't reaching out with feedback, your team should be proactive in communicating with them. If customers haven't interacted with your brand for a while, you should reach out and re-establish your relationship. Consider adopting a communication calendar to manage customer engagements and create opportunities to upsell and cross-sell.
A communication calendar is a chart that keeps track of customer communication. It tells you the last time that a customer has reached out and alerts you when existing customers haven't interacted with your brand. This makes it easy to launch promotional offers and proactive customer service features that remove roadblocks before customers know they're there. For example, if a customer's subscription is set to expire, you can send out an email letting them know they need to renew their account.
4. Send a company newsletter.
A company newsletter is a simple and cost-effective way of retaining customers. You can use email automation to send updates or offers to all of your customers at once. And, you can send the email using an RSS feed on a designated frequency, so you don't have to manually update the content or remember to click "send." Even though it's simple, newsletters can remind customers of your brand every time they open their inbox.
5. Start a customer education program.
A customer education program demonstrates a long-term investment in your customer base. Under this initiative, your business creates a variety of customer self-service tools like a knowledge base and a community forum. Then, customers use these features to locate solutions to service problems before reaching out to your support team.
This program can extend beyond your products and services as well. For example, Swift Digital Marketing courses cover generic marketing, sales, and customer service topics. That way, Swift customers know how to use tools in their everyday workflow. We'll discuss Swift Marketing Academy later on, but this approach has become a proven strategy for optimizing customer success.
6. Build trust with your customers.
Two things are true when it comes to building trust between your company and your customers:
When deciding to make a purchase, 81% of customers say that trust is an important factor in their decision. Building trust isn’t a one-size-fits-all tactic that any business can implement overnight. After all, the definition of trust is the “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.” Reliability is a key factor in building trust, so your company should be consistent in delivering value to customers.
Consistently following through on your brand promise and doing what you say you’ll do over time will have an impact on whether or not your customers perceive your brand as trustworthy.
7. Offer unique services.
Offering a product or service that’s superior to your competitors' in the eyes of your customers is no easy feat, but the reward is worth it in the long run. If you’ve developed a niche for your business that solves a critical customer pain point, you’re on the right track to retaining customers.
People ultimately buy what holds value to them.
Eliminating a bottleneck, removing a kink in a workflow, or automating a process in a way that no other company can is a strong reason for a customer to commit to your brand.
8. Start a customer retention program.
A customer retention program is an amalgamation of several types of tactics. There’s a program for just about every business case. Below, we define customer retention programs, explain the most common types, and show you examples of how to implement them within your organization.
Customer Retention Program
A customer retention program is a specific initiative designed to encourage customer loyalty. Customer retention programs can be company-led, such as instituting a customer onboarding process, or customer-led, such as downloading and using a mobile app to make purchases.
Client Retention Program Ideas
There are several types of customer retention programs you can start for your business. If you're not sure which is right for your company, here's a list of client retention programs you can implement to delight your existing customers.
1. Onboarding Program
Onboarding is a customer success function that teaches new customers how to use your product or service. Rather than learning by themselves, customers are taught by a company representative who personalizes the training according to their needs. This way, customers not only save time but also understand how the product can help them achieve goals.
Onboarding is an effective customer retention tool because it prevents churn with new customers. When users are first working with your product, they may get frustrated if they don't understand how to use it. Customers have deadlines and they can't afford to spend time learning how to master your product. Onboarding ensures customers know how to utilize your products or services so they can complete their goals on time.
2. Customer Loyalty Program
While it's important to focus on customers who are at risk of churn, you shouldn’t forget about your loyal customers in the process. After all, what will these customers think if they see you putting all this effort in for users who don't love your brand yet? It doesn't seem too fair, does it?
A customer loyalty program should reward customers for their continued commitment. The more they shop and interact with your business, the more they're rewarded. This keeps customers happy because they're getting more from the experience than just your product or service. And, since the top percentile of your customers spend much more than the rest of your customer base, you'll want to make sure these users are more than satisfied.
3. Customer Advisory Board
As we mentioned above, your most loyal customers are also your most valuable ones. Not just because of the money they spend, but also for the information they provide. They tell you why they love your brand so much and make suggestions as to where you can improve it.
Creating a panel of these customers can help you fine-tune products and services at your business. Additionally, you can increase customer advocacy by encouraging participants to publicly share their reviews. Customer testimonials are an effective method for building rapport when attracting and engaging potential leads.
4. Corporate Social Responsibility Program
Your company is more than just a product or service. Customers look at everything your business buys, sells, and advertises to its target audience. If they sense any inconsistency between your brand's messaging and its actions, they'll be quick to recognize the ingenuity.
Instead, it's important to get involved with your customers beyond product and services. Think about their values and create a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program that pursues a moral goal. While your initiative doesn't have to be as ambitious, getting involved with your customers' communities and personal goals is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to their needs.
5. Beta Testing Group
Similar to the feedback loop, customer beta testing groups serve a dual purpose — they provide your business with specific, actionable observations from the customer’s POV and they keep customers invested in the new feature your company is beta testing.
Beta testers are usually an exclusive group since every customer isn’t asked to give their feedback on a new feature due to bandwidth limitations. The exclusivity alone is usually enough to entice customers to commit to the process for a few weeks or months, but incentives like swag and gift cards can sweeten the deal.
Ideally, different customer retention programs work hand-in-hand to create a customer experience that cultivates loyalty, positive sentiment and makes customers more willing to continue purchasing.
By retaining customers, companies can help them derive more value from a product, encourage them to share feedback to influence potential new customers, and start to build a community of like-minded customers or users they can connect with. Below is a list of strategies you can start executing this week.
22 Excellent Customer Retention Strategies that Work
1. Adopt customer service tools.
Santa Cruz BicyclesIf you're an SMB, your support team may only consist of a few people. However, as you grow your customer base, service demand might spike and force you to expand the bandwidth of your support team. Hiring is expensive which is why many businesses turn to technology to supplement their customer service needs.
Santa Cruz Bicycles did exactly this when it realized its current approach to customer support wasn't sustainable. While the company was committed to providing excellent customer service, that standard became harder and harder to meet as more customers purchased their bikes. Rider Support Lead, Kyle Harder, notes this challenge in the graphic below.
Instead of hiring more reps, Santa Cruz Bicycles turned to customer service tools. It started with a CRM, using the software to record customer interactions and create support tickets.
As the company grew, the support team needed a more refined tool for its daily workflow. So, the organization decided to centralize customer service operations. What this meant was that all support inquiries were funneled into a shared inbox where reps could collaborate on complex service tickets. This made it easier for the team to streamline urgent or sensitive issues, improving their likelihood of preventing churn.
2. Apologize when you make mistakes.
Mistakes happen in business. Whether that mistake is a data breach, an outage, a billing error, or something else, a mistake can put you at risk of losing your valued customers — depending on how you handle it.
In nay cases of company error, 96% of survey respondents would continue buying from a company they regularly purchased from if they apologized and rectified the situation. So what that means is, you need to develop a plan for the inevitability of a mistake — and a plan for how to solve it promptly, apologize honestly, and move forward to retain your loyal customers.
3. Inspire with a mission.
Sometimes a brand inspires loyalty not through tactics and systems, but through what it stands for.
If you've ever watched Simon Sinek's TED talk "Start with Why," you probably already know a thing or two about the importance of having a mission, or "reason why."
TOMS has built its entire business model around making the world a better place.
The way it does this is in its "One for One" policy. For every pair of shoes that are purchased, it gives a pair to people in need, thus far donating over 60 million pairs of new shoes.
As consumers, we're focused on the altruistic and environmental effects that our buying habits have beyond consumption. Doing good is becoming more and more important to us.
This doesn't mean you should build your marketing around an altruistic message just to do it. The lesson is in finding something that people care about and positioning your brand around it.
4. Empower customers with convenience.
Starbucks. The coffee goliath Starbucks has always been innovative with its marketing, especially in the customer acquisition department.
In the early days, Starbucks founders Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin, and Gordon Bowker focused on the sounds and the smells inside their shops in order to provide a delightful customer experience.
But to grow, they had to get innovative. One of their most innovative customer retention moves is the Mobile Order & Pay feature within the app. Thanks to the feature, customers can order their coffee before they even arrive at the shop.
The simplest takeaway here is this: Make your products and services as accessible as possible. Identify the desires and behaviors of your customers and create tools and systems that empower them. Whether that be an app or other traditional methods, it's up to you.
5. Leverage personalization.
TescoThis supermarket giant has a strong presence in the UK, with nearly 4,000 stores nationwide.
For huge brands like these, coming across as authentic and human can be a challenge. Online grocery shopping and self-service scanners are convenient, but people still like dealing with other people.
Customer service is still necessary, and the folks at Tesco have chosen to use Twitter as a way of executing this with a human touch. They show they care by adding personality to their interactions with customers. Check out this recent interaction:
To get started with an approach like this, identify your audience personas and communicate with them on their preferred channels. It doesn't matter if it's email or Snapchat, as long as it's where their attention is.
From here you should encourage customers to speak directly with you through that channel. Make it part of your messaging and remind them during and after the buying experience.
And, always add personality to every message. Nobody likes a canned response, so make sure whatever you're communicating sounds like it's coming from a human.
6. Speak to your customers.
R&G Technologies. We've taken a look at several B2C examples, but what about the B2B world? R&G Technologies is an Australian IT support firm that has developed strong, long-term relationships with its clients.
It solidifies these relationships with rapid response times and strict service-level agreements (SLAs). They get back to their clients quickly, and their employees have been bought in on this by tying these KPIs to how much they earn.
However, the biggest lesson is in its customer satisfaction surveys. R&G Technologies clients have an opportunity to express what’s doing well and what isn’t. This allows the company to identify unhappy customers before they churn.
R&G focuses heavily on asking the right questions in order to gain insights it can execute on. This information is used to make better business decisions and retain customers.
Most importantly, these discussions identify the challenges of R&G's audience. This can help inform both the overall marketing as well as the retention strategy.
Don't underestimate the power of one-on-one conversations with your clients (especially if you're running an online business).
7. Use gamification and referral programs.MeUndiesTouted as the most comfortable pair of underwear in the world, MeUndies drives great retention through two elements. The first, which we've already covered, is in its"reason why."
The folks at Me
Undies were tired of the struggle that comes with finding a great, comfortable pair of underwear. To back this up, they've fostered a strong culture and are very transparent with the production process. They have an entire page dedicated to their factory (it's beautiful by the way).
Although this makes for great retention, our focus is on their clever referral program. Customers are encouraged from the moment they purchase to refer a friend, and the rewards are worth it: For every friend you refer, you get $20 and they get 20% off their first purchase.
There's a gamification element that shows how far through the buying experience your friend is, too, including a "nudge" button. If a friend adds a product to the cart but hasn't completed checkout, you can use this to send an email reminder about it. In other words, MeUndies has found a way to use their current customers to reduce cart abandonment, while providing social proof in the process.
When done well, referral systems can be really effective for retention. The key is to focus on strong incentives and gamification to get people invested. Most importantly, don't forget to empower and encourage your customers to become advocates for your brand in the process.
8. Create a divide between you and your competitors. Apple. Want your customers to see you as the obvious choice over your competitors? Make note of Apple's strategy, demonstrated by their "Mac vs. PC" ad campaign.
The campaign starred John Hodgman as the inept PC and Justin Long as the cool, collected Mac. The two would quip humorously over what made the Mac a better choice than a PC in a really entertaining manner.
The "Mac vs. PC" campaign was a very tongue-in-cheek — and it generated a lot of dispute. Not only that, but it divided the market and set Apple apart from their competitors by identifying the kind of consumers who should buy Apple products.
Sticking true to who you are as a brand shows integrity and makes it easier to attract customers that just might become your strongest brand advocates.
Can you find a cause to fight for (or against)? If your brand is more friendly than this, you can still put some fire behind your story and create a rally effect. Don't be afraid to be a little bold in your marketing to get the best results from this approach.
9. Use subscriptions to bolster the experience. AmazonIt's unusual for a commodity-based organization to implement a subscription service into their business model.
Which is exactly what Amazon created in the form of Prime. The subscription was originally created to bring customers faster delivery. It generated a lot of controversy, but quickly became popular with regular shoppers on the platform.
How can you use subscriptions to achieve growth goals and increase customer retention?
You don't need to charge a fee for your subscription model in order to gain customer loyalty. Providing benefits in the form of exclusive content and events is another way to leverage this approach without spending a ton.
If you're going to take a page directly from Amazon's playbook, then make sure you're offering something people want. This goes back to customer development and understanding your audience's desires and challenges.
10. Use experiences to elicit positive feelings.
Coca-ColaExperiential marketing has long been used as a way for brands to create positive sentiments with their customers.
Coca-Cola had a 70-day campaign around the 2012 Summer Olympics, and part of this was their "Coca-Cola Beat Generator" app. This experience brought together music, sports, and the Coca-Cola brand.
They showcased it during their roadshow around the Olympics, using samples and sounds from the games themselves. Users could then take the MP3 recording with them and share it via social media. The results? 16,500 visits to the web version and 1.78 million Facebook impressions.
Even though Coca-Cola produces beverages, they figured out a way to tap into the positive hype around an event by providing delightful customer experiences that reached beyond the point-of-sale.
Look for ways to create positive feelings in the form of new experiences outside of your main products, services, and value propositions.
11. Capitalize on social proof.
Codeacademy. Sometimes, the greatest form of advertising isn't your own. In fact, customers are more likely to trust opinions from family, friends, and other consumers more than branded content and ads.
And that's where social proof comes in. Using the power of testimonials and customer stories, Codeacademy uses social proof to show prospective customers the value of its products — with stories straight from the horse's mouth about how it helped them:
More than 97% of customers report that online reviews influence their buying decisions, and seeing that lots of other brands and individuals like you use a product actually makes you want to do it, too — FOMO is a powerful marketing and retention tactic.
Use customer testimonials and information to attract new customers, and to convince existing ones to stick around or upgrade their products. Highlight loyal customers — and their stories — on your website or your social media networks and share their successes to help you grow your own.
12. Educate your customers. Just because your customer has made a purchase from you doesn't mean you should stop trying to close the deal.
Your customers have more options available to them than ever before, and if they find a competitor of yours with a similar offering and price that seems more exciting, you could lose them.
Education is one of the most valuable things you can offer your customers (or even just your site visitors). Swift Digital Marketing offers free marketing, sales, and customer service training videos and certifications that anyone can use to learn and grow their skills — and some are only available to Swift Marketing customers and partners. These unique, exclusive offerings help make the Swift community more engaged and interested in staying in the loop with our educational programs.
13. Surprise and delight.People are passionate about how much they love their pets. (Just ask my cat Leela, who I recently purchased a condo for. It's only four feet tall, but still.)
Pet supply ecommerce company Chewy knows its customers love their pets. It also knows they can buy pet food and supplies from a variety of companies — including Amazon — for similar prices.
So it uses the principle of surprise reciprocity to delight its customers with spur-of-the-moment gifts and cards for their pets. These surprises don't need to be big or expensive, but they're memorable to their customers by demonstrating care for their fur-children. The example below is a painting Chewy had commissioned of a customer's pet — other ideas could be hand-written thank you letters or free samples of new products.
14. Offer support on the right platforms.SlackPart of knowing and understanding your customers is knowing where they spend their days using your product, and how they most want to get customer support when needed.
For the most part, Slack functions perfectly as a workplace communication tool. But like all technologies, it experiences the occasional outage that impacts its users -- many of whom immediately start asking their coworkers around them and the Twittersphere if their Slack is downtoo (or, they make jokes that maybe they were fired and had their Slack deactivated).
Luckily, Slack is there to help when things go wrong. They know their users are active on Twitter, and they keep updates frequent on Twitter in cases of outage or other customer issues.
Spending time in your customers' shoes to get to know how they look for help and information when they do encounter issues will prevent them from feeling like they're in the dark -- and will make you dependable and reliable in their eyes, even when things go wrong.
15. Thank your customers.ZapposTo the point above, taking the time to say thank you to your customers — outside of an email campaign or a customer purchase — goes a long way toward building a brand that's lovable and memorable.
Clothing and shoe ecommerce site Zappos is well-known for its excellent customer service — including its efforts to show customers how much they care by saying thank you and sending gifts.
In fact, Zappos even has an office-wide tally of how many gifts and surprises have been sent to customers during the previous month to make sure the whole team is doing their part to show customers how much they're appreciated.
Saying thank you is a simple customer retention technique, but an effective one that distinguishes faceless websites from beloved brands.
16. Provide incentives before a customer can terminate their membership.
AdobeWe’ve all been there before. Your free trial, one-year subscription, or introductory pricing is set to expire in a few days. You’ve set an alarm to cancel it before you’re charged again. Companies like Adobe recognize this all-too-common churning technique and put steps in place to mitigate it before it happens.
Adobe offers Creative Cloud Apps on a monthly subscription that locks customers into the service for one year at a time. If they choose to cancel early, they have an option to receive up to two months without payments in order to keep their Creative Cloud service.
The company is purposefully attempting to retain customers with two months of a free subscription, and they’re offering it at a time where customers are attempting to make a decision about their long-term relationship with the company. By stepping in at this stage, Adobe is giving customers a reason to stay a little longer so the brand can prove its value to them.
Your business can take this technique one step further by giving extra care to these customers. Follow up with them on a phone call or with a personalized email to understand how you can make their experience better over the next two months.
17. Build trust with your customers.
Classy Curlies Classy Curlies builds trust extremely well by doing something most business owners might scratch their heads at — they show their customers how to accomplish the company’s mission on their own.
On the website, customers will find DIY kits and tutorials on how to care for their hair and skin with everyday products they can find at home or in the grocery store. And by the way, Classy Curlies also sells these DIY kits if customers want a more specialized regimen.
By putting the customer first and offering these solutions free of cost, Classy Curlies has been able to build trust with customers and retain them. Whether they opt for the latest DIY kit or they’re a faithful reader of the DIY blog, odds are a new customer will find something at Classy Curlies that’ll keep them coming back for more.
18. Form a community around your product or service.FloFor people who want to manage their reproductive health, Flo offers a world-class platform that predicts, analyzes, and tracks individual health data. The app offers a calendar to easily view when their cycles begin and end and delivers daily health insights to make sense of all those predictions. All of these features and more are integral to managing individual health trends, but there are plenty of apps on the internet that do this.
What sets Flo apart from its competitors and helps them retain customers is the community within the app. Flo provides prompts for the users to discuss, pairs each user with a virtual health assistant, and even holds space for anonymous chat rooms where users can discuss their health concerns privately.
While none of the offers Flo provides to its users are meant to take the place of professional medical advice, the community within this app bridges the isolation gap that some people might feel while they wait for medical results, when they seek a medical professional, or when they want recommendations for the best products to use. A robust community like this isn’t easy to find, so Flo is able to retain customers with this unique value-add.
19. Become part of the customer's lifestyle. Cash App.
Repaying a friend for a round of appetizers. Collecting funds for a surprise gift to a coworker. Tipping your barber when you’re short on cash. There are virtually endless uses for a finance app like Cash App that makes money sharing simple and quick.
Their business model is simple — they make money off of a small fee that users pay when depositing money into their bank accounts. But how exactly do they retain these customers so that they’ll send and receive money through Cash App next time?
The secret to their customer retention strategy isn’t really a secret at all. The magic lies in the lifestyle that is attached to the app. It takes at least two people to use Cash App — someone to send money and another to receive it. If you have at least one friend, acquaintance, or coworker who uses the app, you’ll probably find yourself using it at some point to pay them back for grabbing your morning coffee.
So long as the app is conveniently available on our phones and at least one other person we know uses it, we’re likely to be a customer for much longer than we ever anticipated.
20. Establish loyalty with a one-of-a-kind product. Bath & Body WorksIf you’re anything like me, you’re obsessed with wallflowers from Bath & Body Works. They smell amazing, they’re usually on sale, and they last much longer than traditional candles do. But I’m willing to bet that the scents, price, and longevity are secondary to the reason the company has kept you as a brand loyal customer for so long.
Their retention strategy? The wallflower fragrance plug.
Only Bath and Body Works wallflower fragrances will work in the corresponding plug-in and that’s not on accident. AirWick, Glade, and other fragrance plug-ins are designed this way, too. If you decide to purchase one brand over the other, you’re committing to the scents that come with it. Once you’ve made the one-time purchase for the plug-ins, it’ll be a lot harder to switch brands and make that one-time investment again. So, you stay loyal to the brand and try out new scents and products as they’re released.
21. Offer a product or service that solves a problem, but not every problem.
Canva. When Canva first stepped into the graphic design market, they were competing with some of the most established brands in the industry. They were the little fish in a big pond. Now, they’ve become a household name (at least in every tech and marketing household).
This company has successfully acquired new customers and retained existing ones over the last few years by solving one problem: access to easy-to-use professional design tools for non-designers.
Long gone are the days of watching an Adobe Illustrator tutorial to whip up a great-looking social media post. Canva offers ready-to-use templates, icons, elements, images, and fonts that just about anyone can pick up and create a masterpiece with.
The company has listened to its customer feedback and developed even more features like animations and enterprise-level accounts so that non-designers can work faster and produce high-quality work. Canva recognizes that it can’t replace Adobe Creative Suite, and it doesn’t have to in order to retain its customers. It simply solves a major problem to the best of its ability.
22. Keep things interesting.
Five Below. A common shopping place for teenagers to spend their allowances, Five Below is teaching those of us in the business world some valuable lessons about customer retention.
The brick-and-mortar store sells inexpensive products which is a commonality among businesses with high customer retention rates. However, Five Below makes shopping for their inexpensive products an experience for every customer who visits a store. Every few weeks, Five Below switches up a large portion of their inventory. On average, estimates show that a customer visits a Five Below store every 99 days, so they’re bound to see something new and exciting every time they shop.
This novel, FOMO experience is a simple reason to keep people interested in visiting your store or website.
Which customer retention strategy is right for your business?
Preventing customer churn starts with understanding why they churn. Every strategy won’t work for every business. A loyalty program works well for established companies with a steady customer following while building trust is a strategy that can be started on the first day your business launches. As long as you’re keeping the customer’s needs in mind, they’ll be happy to purchase from you every chance they get.
To learn more about preventing customer churn, you’ll want to run an analysis on your current operations. .
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Many businesses find social media overwhelming — there are so many networks available, and they’re always adding new features for you to learn and integrate into your plan.
If you don’t have a full-time team of social media experts at your disposal, your success depends on creating a simple and sensible strategy that fits your resources and goals.
By the end of this guide, you'll know how to develop a social media strategy that'll not only drive traffic but will also quell that overwhelming feeling you get anytime you open Instagram or Twitter.
What is a social media strategy?
Your social media strategy is your master plan for how you create, post, and engage with your social media content.
It encompasses your social content guidelines, posting cadence, social media marketing campaigns, creative plans, and engagement strategy.
Why You Need a Social Media Strategy
The top three challenges that social media marketers face include reaching their audience, measuring ROI, and reaching business goals.
Crafting a social media strategy can help tackle these challenges and more. Social media strategies also equip you to set goals and guardrails, track their performance, and tweak your benchmarks over time. Without a starting point, you can't measure what's working and how to shift your activity to hit your goals.
A social media strategy also helps you set expectations for broader team involvement and get everyone aligned on what they should (and shouldn't) do on your social networks.
How to Create a Social Media Strategy
Let's unpack how to start building a social media strategy from scratch.
1. Define your target audience. If you haven’t already identified and documented your buyer personas, start by defining the key demographics of the audience you’re trying to reach — age, gender, occupation, income, hobbies and interests, etc.
Consider their challenges and what problems they're solving daily. Focus on no more than four types of people that represent the majority of your buyers. Don’t get hung up on the exceptions or outliers, or you’ll never get started!
2. Start blogging
Fresh content is the linchpin of a successful social strategy, so commit to creating new, quality content on a consistent basis. Compile a list of common questions from prospects and commit to addressing these questions with at least one new blog post per week.
3. Create educational content.
Create downloadable content like ebooks, checklists, videos, and infographics that address your buyer’s pains. If your content is truly helpful, people will likely share it on social media and extend your reach.
4. Focus on a few key social channels.
Most startups and small businesses don’t have the bandwidth to establish and sustain a quality social media presence on every single channel. It's also overwhelming to learn the rules of engagement on a bunch of different networks at one time.
So, start small. Research key networks to learn where your target audience is spending time and focus your effort on building, nurturing, and sustaining a community there before moving on to another channel.
5. Develop a recipe card to guide you.Social media isn’t an exact science (and doesn't work the same for every business or industry). To see results for your business, establish a consistent posting and engagement schedule.
Develop a reasonable recipe card — one you can actually stick to and get your team to follow. Set goals for your posting and engagement frequency and hold yourself accountable to following your recipe.
6. Measure your results.
There are countless things to track on your social media channels. Start by looking at how much traffic your social accounts are driving to your website or blog.
Watch your posts to see what people are responding to, and look for trends related to particular topics or keywords that generate more interest than others. Once you get an idea of your average traffic and post performance, set goals for key metrics and keep a scorecard to measure your progress.
Be sure to choose metrics that are easy to gather - if it's too time-consuming to track, you'll fall off the wagon! Examples of simple metrics (to start with) include net new fans and followers, number of interactions, and visits to your website from social.
7. Adjust your tactics.Social media won't start working overnight. It takes time to build a following, establish your brand, and start seeing results. Experiment a bit to find the right combination of channels, content, and messaging that works for your audience.
Over time, you’ll be able to adjust your recipe card, content, and personas based on the information you’re gathering — which will help you fine tune your strategy and generate more consistent results.
Social Media Marketing Strategy
Social media is a multipurpose business asset. It connects you with your audience, and it also promotes your products, services, and brand. Both functions are equally important.
Building a social media strategy for marketing is a bit different than the process we discussed above. How so? For example, your benchmarks and goals may be more specific to metrics you track for other marketing efforts.
When using social media to market your business, ensure the experience on your social networks is a positive, consistent one. All imagery and content on your social media accounts should be consistent with those on your website, blog, and other digital real estate.
Pay close attention to any questions or comments your audience posts, and be quick to address those (as that engagement could make or break a conversion or purchase).
Lastly, align the content you post and how you post it with marketing campaigns you're running on other channels (e.g., email or ads). This brings us to our next section ...
Social Media Content Strategy
Content is the crux of any social media strategy. Without content, you can't engage with your audience, promote your products, or measure performance.
The somewhat fleeting (and brief) nature of social media may lead you to believe that you don't have to plan its content as much as you do for, say, your emails or blogs. That's untrue. Social media content may not be as static as your landing pages or blog content, but it's still equally important for engaging your audience and representing your brand as a whole.
For that reason, you should also have a social media content strategy. This should include:
For more on creating a content strategy for social media, here's a helpful video by HubSpot's Aja Frost.
Social Media Strategy TemplatesSocial media is overwhelming; I get it. Starting your strategy from scratch is even more overwhelming, which is why we developed 10 free social media templates to help.
In the free download, you'll receive:
Time to Get SocialStill feel like social media is overwhelming? That's OK; I'm not sure that feeling every fully fades. You can certainly diminish it, though, by leveraging the tips in this guide and the free templates above. Remember: Tackle one social network at a time, prioritize your audience, and focus the content that works. You'll see results and traffic in no time.
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Want to grow your TikTok reach? Wondering how to boost your organic content?
In this article, you’ll discover how to use the TikTok Promote ad feature to amplify your content and reach more people.
What is TikTok Promote?
After months of testing, TikTok has released its new Promote feature, which allows you to promote your organic videos to reach new audiences. This is exciting news for anyone looking to find their target audience without their organic reach getting penalized or shadowbanned. TikTok may even reward those who hop on the new trend quickly.
Similar to Facebook Boost, TikTok Promote is a tool for advertising to people on the platform. It allows creators, businesses, and influencers of any kind to push posts out to a larger pool of consumers. This feature can help you grow your community on TikTok by connecting with more like-minded audiences in a cost-effective and straightforward way.
For this type of campaign, you can only promote public videos with original sound, or a sound specifically created for commercial purposes. (There are more than 100,000 free-to-use sounds available in the TikTok library.) The Promote feature isn’t available for videos containing copyrighted sounds.
Here’s how to set up a new video campaign to promote an organic video and analyze its performance.
1: Choose a Goal for Your TikTok Promote Video CampaignThe first step in creating a Promote video campaign is setting a specific goal based on your overarching business objectives. You have three options: more views, more website visits, or more followers.
If you’re trying to reach a larger audience on TikTok to get the word out about your business or offering, choose More Views as your goal when setting up your campaign.
This goal will get more people to watch your video, boosting your potential for higher engagement on your post and profile. If consumers like what they see, they’ll be more likely to engage with additional posts, follow you, and maybe even check out your website to learn more.
More Website Visits
Promote offers you an option to guide people straight to your website. If this is your goal, choose More Website Visits for your campaign. When setting up your ad, you’ll enter your website URL and select a call to action (CTA) button. CTA options include Shop Now, Learn More, Contact Us, and Sign Up, among others. This feature works similarly to Instagram’s swipe-up feature.
If your main objective is to grow your TikTok following and community, choose More Followers. Increasing the size of your audience can also help you reach other goals like boosting engagement, as long as you target people truly interested in your business. Having a more significant following will also give you a larger community to market (and eventually sell) to.
If you’re a new business, new to TikTok, or haven’t successfully grown an audience on the platform, growing your following could help you create a solid foundation to build from.
Identify Organic TikTok Videos to Promote
Now that you’ve chosen a goal for your campaign, it’s time to identify the best video to help you reach that goal. You can choose any TikTok video you’ve created as long as it’s an original, public video without copyright issues.
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Try to choose a video that has already performed well organically. The video should also authentically show off your brand. Using your most popular content—the video with the most reach and engagement—is a logical way to reach and engage more people. You’ll gain views, traffic, and followers on top of the organic engagement you’ve already earned.
To find your top-performing TikTok videos, start by visiting the analytics section of your account. Simply tap on the hamburger menu in the top-right corner of your TikTok profile. This will take you to your settings.
Next, click on either Business Suite or Creator Tools and then Analytics.
The first screen you’ll see in your TikTok analytics is the Overview tab, where you can view account data ranging from the last 7–28 days.
Note: You can download data if you use the desktop version instead of mobile.
To dig into the analytics for your TikTok videos, click on the Content tab. Here, you can view your posts from the past week and see which ones are trending. Click into a specific video for deeper insights like total play time, total views, average watch time, and audience information.
Identify your most popular TikTok content in terms of views, reach, play time, total watch time, and engagement (likes, shares, and comments). Your top-performing video has the best chance of performing well through promotion.
3: Set Up Your TikTok Promote Video CampaignTo set up your campaign, you can use either the Promote button on a post or go through TikTok Business Suite.
Using the Promote Button. To start setting up your campaign with the Promote button, you have a couple of options.
The first way to access Promote is to go directly to the video you want to use and tap on the three dots near the bottom-right corner of your screen.
Tap the Promote button to begin setting up your campaign, starting on the “What is your goal?” page.
The second way to access Promote is via your settings. Tap on Creator Tools and then Promote. Next, choose the video you wish to promote and select your goal.
If you chose More Website Visits as your goal, you’ll enter the URL of your landing page and a CTA to encourage people to click.
Next, choose the audience you want to target. You can select Automatic for TikTok to choose for you or Custom if you have specific preferences.
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If you customize your targeting audience, you can select a gender, age range, and interests. When making selections, think about who you want to reach. Are they interested in a product like yours or a form of entertainment that relates to what you sell?
Let’s say, for example, that you sell hiking shoes for people in the U.S. Your audience is comprised of avid travelers, digital nomads, and adventure-seekers. They’re active, most of them have a dog, and they love trying a good beer in a new city (or small mountain town). They also love the simple life and are primarily female, working from home, and in their mid-20s to mid-30s.
You could make the following selections for your target audience:
After you’ve customized your audience, tap Next to set a budget and duration for your campaign (how long you’d like to run your promotion).
If you have an Android device, you’ll need to add payment information before submitting your ad for review. If you’re an iPhone user, you can recharge your account with virtual coins. TikTok Coins are the app’s currency that you can purchase using real money. The value of these coins changes over time, but you’ll see how much they cost when you’re ready to buy.
Finally, tap on Start Promotion. Once TikTok approves your campaign, it’ll begin running.
Using TikTok Business Suite
Using Business Suite to set up your promotion is very similar to using the Promote button. If you have a business account, you can navigate to Settings and Privacy > Business Suite > Promote. Then follow the same process described in the previous section to set up your ad.
4: Analyze the Performance of Promoted TikTok Videos
During and after you run your promoted TikTok video campaign, you can check its performance. To view the analytics of your post, tap on the three dots in the bottom right-hand corner of the post. Then tap on Analytics. You’ll see this screen filled with the data from your video ad:
Here’s a rundown of what each metric means and how it pertains to your ad’s performance.
Analytics for Website Visits
If your goal is to drive traffic to a landing page on your website, you can measure referral traffic through TikTok. The Promote tool allows you to track the number of people who visit your website by clicking on your link.
To view these analytics, go to Settings and Privacy > Creator Tools > Promote. On the Promotions page, tap on See Details.
Insights for Video Views
If your goal is to increase video views, you should primarily focus on monitoring views and reached audience. You can also calculate your post reach percentage to determine what percentage of your audience saw your post.
Here’s the formula:
Post reach percentage = (Reached audience / Total number of followers) x 100
As you run future campaigns with the same goal, you can begin comparing each post’s performance in terms of views and reach.
Follower Growth Rate
To find the analytics for your follower count, go to Settings and Privacy > Business Suite > Analytics. You’ll find analytics for your entire account in this section, including engagement metrics, follower information, and content data.
If your goal is to grow your following, focus on the graph on the Followers tab. It will show you your total number of new followers, the growth rate, and demographic information.
You’ll also gain insight into what countries your followers are from and their activity (which times and days they’re most active on TikTok). Studying these analytics can help you optimize future campaigns and posting times.
Marketers can experience numerous outstanding benefits by investing in TikTok and its new Promote feature. Jumping on the latest trend just might push you ahead of competitors who haven’t yet taken advantage of the opportunity.
TikTok Promote could be an effective way for you to spread brand awareness, gain new fans for your business, and send leads straight to your website.
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The great thing about the internet is that it's full of brilliant marketers sharing great information.
Social media is no exception.
If you have some extra time in your week to add more blogs to your reading list, we recommend you consider subscribing to some of these 33 blogs specifically about social media marketing.
Social Media Calendar Template
HubSpot Marketing Blog
On the HubSpot Marketing blog, we strive to cover every topic that a modern-day marketer would need to know about. This includes social media. Not only can you find general posts about social media marketing, but you can also find content and original research about specific platforms, like Instagram.
2. Social Media Explorer
Social Media Explorer, founded by Jason Falls, is constantly pumping out great posts on social media's impact on marketing and public relations.
3. The Future Buzz
Adam Singer's blog, The Future Buzz, takes a clear approach to social media marketing and SEO topics, and isn't afraid to take a stance against ideas and tactics he thinks are bad for marketers.
4. Duct Tape MarketingI
f you're a small business owner, Duct Tape Marketing is a must-read for strategic and tactical advice about leveraging online marketing and social media to grow your business.
5. Social Media Today
Social Media Today offers a diverse mix of news on social networks' latest developments and cutting-edge tips to perfect your use of each platform. The blog also hosts live Twitter chats from its Twitter hashtag, #SMTLive, on various social media topics twice a month.
6. Small Business Trends
The Social Media section of Small Business Trends, a large news property for entrepreneurs, is filled with expert social media advice and multimedia content for the small business.
7. Web Ink Now
Author and speaker, David Meerman Scott shares great theories and real-life examples of social media's impact on marketing, as well as easy-to-understand content that is great for non-marketing executives.
8. Rebekah Radice
Rebekah Radice is an award-winning social media influencer, and her blog is evidence of her expertise in this industry. Her blog packages common social media topics into solution-based content that tells marketers what they need to know. She also hosts a podcast called Brand Authority, further expanding on the challenges she examines on her blog.
9. Mari Smith
Mari Smith has been called the "Queen of Facebook," and her Facebook-specific blog is a testament to this generous title. Smith uses the latest Facebook trends to create up-to-date insights for the modern social media marketer -- with ample video marketing advice to boot.
10. The Social Media Hat
From social media to email marketing, this simple-looking property is an all-in-one resource for content marketers. The Social Media Hat also includes a recommended list of marketing tools, giving you opportunities to apply what you learn from the blog to your marketing operations.
11. Jon Loomer
Jon Loomer is a blogger and podcaster whose website offers both articles and video tutorials on all things Facebook marketing.
12. Top Rank Online Marketing Blog
The TopRank blog has a long history of delivering a great blend of search engine and social media marketing information in easily digestible lists and posts.
This comprehensive blog breaks down its social media content into News, Business, How-To, and Marketing topics -- providing a reader experience that is sorted according to the unique social media challenges you might face in your career.
DreamGrow is dedicated to social media in the context of content marketing. The blog caters to both content creators and marketing strategists, showing readers how to use social media to grow as businesses and as individuals.
15. MarketingProfs Daily Fix
While MarketingProfs reserves some of its content for paid members, its Daily Fix blog offers great daily marketing content for free.
16. Social Business
Eileen Brown's blog, a property of ZDNet, is an expansive resource for emerging trends relating to social media's impact on business.
17. Ask Aaron Lee
Aaron Lee is a social media manager from Malaysia, who uses his experience as an entrepreneur to educate half a million readers worldwide on using social media to grow a business.
18. Altitude Branding
For thoughtful and honest commentary and advice on social media and conducting business on the web, check out Amber Naslund's blog.
19. Dave Fleet
Dave's blog provides valuable information regarding how social media has an impact on brands and traditional communications functions like public relations and advertising.
20. Social Media Examiner
With tons of great guest authors and consistent how-to content, Social Media Examiner offers a ton of free advice for marketers across industries.
21. Convince & Convert
Jay Baer provides actionable information about the best ways to use social media to improve reach and convert new customers.
22. Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
For an analyst's perspective on high-level social media concepts and emerging trends like social CRM, take a minute to check out Jeremiah's blog.
23. Search Engine Land
Long-time search engine marketing resource Search Engine Land provides expert advice on search marketing.
For those who are interested in improving and expanding their blog across all their digital channels, ProBlogger discusses the strategies and tactics needed to become a successful blogger.
25. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media management tool whose Insights blog is always tuned to the latest best practices in social media marketing -- from what content to post to using chatbots for better customer service.
26. Bad Pitch Blog
The Bad Pitch Blog points out mistakes other marketers have made so that you won't make them, too. You'll find some important perspective on media relations -- across all digital channels -- in these posts.
27. The Moz Blog
Moz is known for offering expert tools and advice on search engine optimization (SEO). What you might not know is that the famous Moz Blog also gives you social media advice from the unique perspective of SEO.
28. Peg Fitzpatrick
Peg Fitzpatrick is the author of the best-selling book, "The Art of Social Media," and her blog is an equally creative take on social media marketing for today's content producers.
RazorSocial's social media blog is one of nine content categories that shows you different ways of thinking about content strategy, as well as how to perfect your use of certain marketing tools.
30. Socially Sorted
This award-winning marketing blog comes from Donna Moritz, an Australian content strategist who writes about using social media to become a better storyteller.
31. Neil Patel
Neil Patel is a marketing expert, entrepreneur, and consultant who's worked with a number of major companies like Amazon, NBC, and GM.
While Patel's research and insights have been featured on our own blog a handful of times, he also publishes content on his own site. While many of his posts relate to SEO, you can also find content around other digital marketing topics, including social media.
Later is primarily known for its Instagram scheduling platform. However, they also have a pretty comprehensive social media blog that HubSpot's social manager, Kelly Hendrickson, personally loves to read.
Similar to other blogs on this list, Buffer posts a handful of social-media related posts per day. Buffer, which is a personal favorite of our social media community manager, Krystal Wu, also use videos, original data, and infographics to tell visual stories about social media tactics.
Reading Up on Social Media Trends
The list of social media blogs is endless, and could be quite overwhelming to you. You might be asking yourself, "How do I keep up with all 33 blogs on this list?"
The truth is that you don't need to read every single blog on this list every day. You just need to skim the ones that value your team and strategies most.
To eliminate the need for constant surfing, when you find a blog you love, subscribe to its email list for daily notifications in your inbox.
To learn more about social media marketing, be sure to check our blog posts for more insights
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Let's say you're tracking the performance of your pay-per-click (PPC) ad campaigns. After all that hard work and PPC strategizing you put toward improving your performance grade, how's the traffic looking? Is it a steep climb, or are you unimpressed with the result?
Some of us come off as natural all-star rock climbers, while others are left frigid, timid, and stuck to the crevices of the wall.
What's the secret? As with most things: proper training. And if you don't have any, don't worry -- there's still hope.
Below, you'll learn how to run a PPC campaign on a few of the most common platforms, followed by five tips for how to maximize your campaign's performance.
How to Run a PPC Campaign
1. Choose a platform for your PPC campaign.Your first step in running a new PPC campaign is to decide on which platform to run it. Google Ads are perhaps the most popular PPC campaign among today's marketers, but did you know social networks like Facebook and Twitter also offer pay-per-click advertisements?
Here's how each of these common ad platforms work.
Facebook Ads allow you to place "sponsored" posts on the newsfeeds of users who identify with specific audience characteristics set by you, the advertiser. Using this platform, you can choose your ad's objective -- including brand awareness, website traffic, and store visits -- your target audience, budget, and ad format. Facebook will then place your ad on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Twitter Ads work similarly to Facebook Ads. Using Twitter's PPC ad platform, advertisers can choose between eight different advertising objectives -- including app installs, new followers, tweet engagements, and website traffic -- as well as their target audience for the ads they run. Twitter will then "promote" your post on the newsfeeds of users who match your choices, and charge you every time this ad is clicked.
Google Ads allow you to pay for high-ranking real estate on Google's various web properties -- including search engine results pages (SERPs). Your campaign can take the form of a Display Ad, a Search Ad, an App Ad, or a Video Ad -- the latter of which places your video on YouTube.
These PPC campaigns allow you to set your ad budget, customize your audience, and/or commit to groups of search terms on which you want your search result to appear. Google then charges you each time this search result is clicked.
For the purposes of explaining how to run a PPC campaign, we'll focus on Google Ads in the steps below.
2. Choose a type of ad to invest in.Each platform described above will give you options for the type of ad you want to pay for clicks on. On Facebook, for example, you can choose between a single image, a single video, or a slideshow to be your ad's main asset. On Google, your ad options are:
Banner ads can appear anywhere in the Google ecosystem, such as Gmail, YouTube, and similar domains within Google's "Display Network."
This ad type is what you most likely associate with PPC. A method of search engine marketing, Google's Search Ads show your chosen landing page in the form of a hyperlinked search result when users enter specific search terms. You can choose these search terms when setting up your Google Ads campaign.
Ads help to promote an app you've developed for sale on Google Play, the company's app marketplace. Using this ad type, Google automatically synthesizes each ad's artwork using the contents of your app's download page. Google then runs these ads in your chosen languages and locations. App Ads can appear across the Google ecosystem, including Google Search, Google Play, and YouTube.
Google's Video Ads appear across YouTube and certain Google partner platforms. Advertisers can run their video ads before, during, or at the end of various videos that share a similar audience with the advertiser.
3. Determine your ad budget and bidding strategy.
Your PPC campaign budget will dictate how much you're willing to pay for the clicks you get on your ad placements. On Google Ads, you'll set a daily budget, whereas platforms like Twitter and Facebook will have you select the increments you want your payments to be in.
So, for example, if your marketing team is allotted $1,000 for PPC, you'll first want to find out how many campaigns you're running. Let's say that number is eight, which would theoretically make each campaign worth $125. Having determined how much of that budget is available to each campaign, you'll then divide this number by the number of days you want this campaign to run. If you want it to run for 14 days, your daily budget would be roughly $8.93/day.
However, there is another element of budget-setting in the world of PPC: Not all topics and audiences are equal in value. This means certain interests, audience segments, and especially search terms will cost different amounts per click.
Most PPC platforms have "auction" systems that help you decide how much your audience criteria will cost you. In turn, you have several bidding strategies available to you to help you make the most cost-effective purchases for your campaign. On Google Ads, these bidding strategies include:
4. Customize your target audience, interests, location, and search terms.In any PPC platform you choose, you have ability to choose who you want your ads to reach. The "who," in the context of Google Ads, includes your audience's location, interests, apps they use, and of course the searches they perform. You can also create custom audiences each with their own "custom affinities" and "custom intents" to help you further tailor your PPC campaign to the right people.
Once you've established your target audience, you'll top it all off with specific search terms, whose SERPs you want your ads to appear on (this is assuming you're creating Google Search Ads). Be careful how many keywords you choose for each ad. Contrary to what Google Ads might suggest, the more keywords you choose to place an ad on, the higher the chance you'll wind up in front of the wrong audience.
Start with just one or two keywords that are high in search volume and match the intent of your target visitor (we'll talk more about intent in step 6, below).
5. Organize your campaign into "ad groups."Assuming you're creating Google Search Ads, you'll take the keywords you selected in step 4, above, and put them into "ad groups." If you're creating PPC ads on Twitter, you'll use a similar campaign framework.
In each ad group, you can further customize the search terms associated with that ad to be sure your ads are appearing in front of the people who are most interested in your content. For example, instead of simply selecting two keywords that both sound alike and have high monthly search volume, you can parse the specific words within your search terms and set your ad to appear in any search engine query that contains those words. Here's an example of both scenarios:
A Bad Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with the search term "ice skates." Then you discover the search term, "ice skating," and decide to add it to your PPC ad. The second search term, "ice skating," weakens the ad group. Why?
While "ice skates" appeals to those who are looking for ice skates to buy, "ice skating" stretches your audience to include those who might be looking for ice skates, ice rinks in their area, or even instructions on how to start ice skating -- searches that don't apply to your target audience and therefore limit the chances you'll find interested customers among the people who click on your ad.
A Good Ad Group
If your PPC ad is promoting the sale of ice skates, you might start with this search term and decide to branch out into other search terms that include this term, but carry different or additional wording.
For example, using Google Ads features like Modified Broad Match, you can also pick up searches like "skates for ice rinks." Using Phrase Match, you can pick up searches like "ice skates for hockey." This way, you can diversify your ad with more search terms without sacrificing the interests of your audience.
6. Identify and design landing pages that match the intent of each search term.It's not a good idea to make the destination of your PPC ad your website's homepage. This only serves to confuse your visitors and, ultimately, scare them off. Whether you choose from an existing webpage on your domain, or design a new one, make sure you're sending your visitors to a destination that helps them find what they're looking for. This is known as "intent match," and search engines like Google take it very seriously.
Let's go back to our "ice skates" example from step 5, above. If someone searches for "ice skates," clicks on your ad, and they're taken to a page on your website offering ice skating lessons, you haven't matched the intent of their search -- even if this page is set up to convert visitors using a signup form for paid skating lessons. These people are looking to purchase ice skates, not lessons. Therefore, a better destination page for this ad would be a product browsing page with all of your available ice skates listed and optimized for purchasing.
7. Track your PPC campaign's performance in context of your larger marketing initiatives.The platform on which you're running your PPC campaign will have an analytics dashboard where you can track how your ads are performing. Take full advantage of it -- here, you get to see the fruits of your labor. This includes the traffic you're receiving to your ad's landing page, how much you're spending, and even how well this traffic is converting into leads or revenue.
With this data, you can find out if you're getting the bang for your buck. But don't be afraid to consider a more holistic view of your PPC ads' performance, as well. By integrating your Google, Twitter, Facebook, or even LinkedIn ad campaigns into your company's marketing software, you can associate these PPC campaigns with the rest of your marketing initiatives -- helping you determine how the business is performing as a result of your paid efforts.
1. Include "negative keywords" in your PPC campaign.Just as there are keywords and search terms that dictate where each PPC ad you run will appear, there are keywords that you can specifically omit from your campaign. These are called "negative keywords," and they prompt your ad platform to avoid placing ads on results pages that are produced when a user enters these search terms.
In the example group of search terms, above, an advertiser on Google Ads has elected to place their ad on the SERPs of the search terms, "blue tennis shoes" and "running gear" -- but not "blue running shoes," "shoes running," and "running shoes." This allows the advertiser to avoid audiences who are searching for these products, since they're looking for something similar but that the advertiser doesn't actually sell.
Learn more about how to select negative keywords here.
2. Use the "Iceberg Effect" to gain more control over your PPC campaign.The search terms that you end up paying for and the keywords that you're actually targeting don't always line up the way you want.
Too often we see the "Iceberg Effect" in action, where miscellaneous search terms below the surface are tacked onto keywords that we think are working properly in our ad campaigns. It gives us an unhealthy search-to-keyword ratio that might look something like this:
Not being in control of all those search terms? Not ideal. With a search term to keyword discrepancy ratio of 132:1, it can be challenging to continually improve your clickthrough rates and lower your cost-per-click averages.
How do you gain control of this icy situation? We use something called Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGs) to shoot for a 1:1 ratio of search terms to keywords, allowing for more control over the entire ad group.
Here's what a non-SKAGs search term report might look like:
It's not that any of these search terms are bad, it's that each search term has a different conversion and sales rate. And by keeping them as search terms and not turning them into keywords, you will never be able to control them to take your PPC campaigns to the next level.
So what does a search term report look like if we use this granular PPC tactic and use SKAGs?
Everything in the search term column matches the keyword column. With the SKAGs tactic, you can get super granular and isolate one variable at a time, which means you have more control over your entire PPC account.
And with the ability to lower your search term to keyword ratio to 1:1, you can take it one step further and do the same from keyword to ad. When this happens, you're able to increase your clickthrough rate, which in turn:
3. Keep tabs on conversions vs. sales.
With your PPC tactics now upgraded, your PPC campaigns should be driving up conversion volumes and making you more money. But do you know which keywords, audiences, or placements are actually making you money?
If you don't track the components of your campaign and attribute them to your sales, you might be missing out on where to focus your efforts. By implementing Google's ValueTrack parameters you can automatically track data within URLs when your visitors convert.
When you tie your hidden field sales tracking back to your CRM, you can find out specific details about which leads are making you the revenue (doesn't apply to ecommerce). Hidden form fields can reveal to you things that happen during a conversion, like which landing page URL your conversion came from, where the visitor is located, or what keyword they typed in.
You can also do this with manual UTM parameters. Here's an example of how on the surface, you would think Keyword #1 is converting better:
Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion.
Here's an example of what hidden field sales tracking can reveal to you on a deeper level:
Now Keyword #2 looks better, right?
Although Keyword #1 has a lower cost-per-conversion, Keyword #2 has a much higher sales rate, which is making you more money. See the benefits of tracking the sale vs. the conversion?
Knowing these types of details can help you understand where you should be crediting your sales success, so you can be more aggressive in bidding on those keywords, audiences, or placements. With this PPC tactic, you can ease up your budget on the areas that aren't contributing to sales, and allocate to the areas that are.
4. Gauge your visitors' intent on the CTA temperature scale.Not all PPC visitors come through to your landing pages with the same conversion intent.
Typically, those that come through from display tend to be colder, while visitors that come in from search tend to be warmer. Here's a visual we've learned works well across the multitude of client verticals we service:
There's a temperature scale that varies depending on visitor origin. Knowing where your visitors come from can help you immensely when it comes to matching your call-to-action with their temperature in the conversion funnel. We recommend testing out various CTAs to match the intent temperature of your visitors -- after all, a small CTA tweak could've made all the difference.
Here are some ideas to make your offer more relevant to your visitors:
In short: the warmer your visitor's intent the warmer the CTA can be. Traffic that comes in from the display network will likely respond to colder CTAs, since those visitors are in the awareness stage.
5. Use micro PPC conversions to break down the larger conversion into smaller pieces.As you know, the more granular and detail-oriented you can get with you PPC campaigns, the more control you can have over the success of them.
When it comes to conversions, you can break down your larger macro conversion into micro conversions to figure out where your issues are.
An effective way to figure out which part of your PPC campaign is causing the conversion bottleneck is to analyze the micro conversions. Let's say that you're running some new Facebook campaigns but for some reason, no one is converting. If you knew, however, that visitors spend an average of four seconds on your site/landing page, then you know that your Facebook ad targeting may be off. Instead of thinking it's the ad or landing page that needs some tweaking, it could be your targeting instead.
Here are some common types of micro conversions we use to analyze the path towards a conversion:
What can each of these common micro conversions tell you about your landing page? Let's break it down:
By isolating micro conversions you can zero in on where exactly the conversion friction is located, which can help you alleviate the issues quickly and reach your larger conversion goal.
Whether it's addressing the Iceberg Effect, tracking your sales vs. conversions, testing CTA temperatures, or analyzing your micro PPC conversions, each of these PPC tactics can have a significantly positive impact on the performance of your campaigns.
And the best part, there's a good chance your competitors don't even know about them.
Now it's your turn to up your PPC performance game. With these useful PPC tactics, you'll be climbing your performance incline to the top with utmost ease.
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Social media management is a core part of digital marketing. Leveraging social media allows brands to engage with audiences, create and publish relevant content, and access a whole world of potential new customers.
With the right tools and knowledge, you can unlock the audiences—and huge marketing potential—of each social media platform.
What is social media management?
Social media management is the process of creating, publishing, and analyzing organic (unpaid) and paid content on social media profiles to support business objectives.
Business objectives can include earning sales, growing an audience, or increasing customer engagement.
Managing social media includes engaging with audiences and influencers on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It can also include tracking your social media performance against competitors.
While some companies were initially slow to include social media in their marketing strategies, the ability to reach enormous audiences on networks like Facebook (which has over 2.32 billion active monthly users) makes it impossible to ignore the platforms’ commercial potential.
Businesses now use social media to manage and nurture relationships with customers by responding to reviews, and informing and entertaining their audience with tailor-made content.
Why is social media management important? In the United States alone, as many as 295 million people use social media; that’s around three-quarters of the total population.
Companies that effectively leverage social networks in their marketing plans can be rewarded with a growing audience and strong customer engagement. One of the most effective ways to manage social media is to run a mixture of paid and organic marketing campaigns.
Paid social media (think ads) is a great way to get your brand message in front of new audiences. The algorithms deployed by social networks can make it difficult to reach new profiles with unpaid content. Paid ads can also be used to amplify your organic content such as videos or blog posts, or promote an offer that is converting well for you on other marketing channels.
Organic social media campaigns may not be as potent as paid social for reaching new customers, but it’s an excellent method for maintaining strong customer relationships and nurturing your audience. Organic social can be especially effective when content is published regularly.
Studies suggest that, in many cases, posting once or twice per day is optimal for an organic social posting cadence, depending on the platform.
If your content is high quality and published regularly, your audience is likely to stay engaged and rely on your content as a source of updates, information, and entertainment.
Content can also help build trust and position your brand as an authority.
A busy social media schedule with multiple profiles on multiple platforms invites complexity. It’s important to work efficiently across a variety of social tasks, and accurately measure the ROI of your social media campaigns to ensure your budget is not going to waste.
As managing social media for business can be a time-intensive process, many companies choose to automate their tasks with social media tools.
Social media tools can be an affordable and effective way to manage your profiles. Tools facilitate more efficient workflows by automating or reducing time-consuming tasks, like scheduling your content. They can also provide valuable insights that help you execute better campaigns, analyze ROI, track audience engagement, or check on your competitors’ social media performance.
What social media management tools are available?
There are a wealth of social media management tools available for social media scheduling, tracking, and more. However, you’ll benefit by working with a toolkit that tackles each part of your workflow.
There are many social media tools that can help you manage your social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Pinterest, Google My Business, and LinkedIn.
You can plan, deploy, and measure the performance of your entire social media strategy, all in one place. The toolkit is designed to manage multiple profiles for multiple businesses with an easy-to-read dashboard.
Tool 1: Social Media Ads
If you’re looking to market to new audiences and break through the barriers presented by social media algorithms, then a great way to start is with some ads. The Social Media Ads tool helps you build and launch ad campaigns for Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook Audience Network.
The intuitive interface makes creating a new campaign easy. Select your objective (reach, traffic, or conversions), set your budget, schedule, bidding strategy, then choose your placements, and you’re ready to launch your campaign.
The Quick UTM option makes accurately tracking your campaigns a breeze. Simply generate UTM codes with the name, source, medium, content, and term parameters of your ads with the click of a button.
With Performance Report, you can check 46 different metrics for your published ad campaigns. Review each of your ad’s strengths and weaknesses to quickly discover optimization opportunities. Scale your good ads or fix those that need a bit of extra tweaking.
Create & Manage Ad Campaigns with the Social Media Ad Manager
Tool 2: Social Media Poster
Social Media Poster benefits content creators and others managing a busy content schedule. Draft and schedule content or post directly to Facebook (business pages), LinkedIn, Instagram, Google My Business, Pinterest, and Twitter from the tool:
The friendly calendar interface provides a clear view of your content schedule and easily creates an automated queue.
You can find out the most effective times to post, or set up RSS feeds to get a stream of inspiration and ideas for your own content.
Scheduling large batches of content is also easy. You can bulk upload your existing content calendar from a CSV. To save time, edit images, or add UTM codes to any hyperlinks in your posts directly in the editor without having to switch in and out of the interface.
Tool 3: Social Media Tracker
The Social Media Tracker lets you dive into your competitors’ performance metrics so you can quickly see where you’re winning, and where opportunities for improvement lie in your social strategy.
Compare your engagement and growth rates to those of your competitors on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram Business, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, then quickly generate PDF reports to share with clients or managers.
Social Media Tracker also lets you see which hashtags your competitors are using in their campaigns. Use the Twitter Mentioners report to monitor customer interactions and see how often your brand is being mentioned versus your competitors.
With this report, not only can you see which brands and topics are hot, but you can also be ready to react quickly when you need to manage potentially difficult situations, such as concerns or complaints.
Track Your Competitors’ Social Media with the Social Media Tracker
Social Media Monitoring
Social media monitoring is the process of listening to what your existing and potential customers are saying about your brand and your competitors online.
When you understand your audience, it allows you to create and publish content that’s strongly aligned to their needs and desires—and this content is likely to perform well.
With our social media toolkit, taking a comprehensive approach to social media becomes easier.
Manage profiles across multiple platforms, keep your audience engaged with a regular schedule of relevant content, and compare your competitors’ performance to ensure that you’re not falling behind—or missing an opportunity to outdo them.
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If your ecommerce business isn't offering your customers multiple ways to make payments online, you're leaving money on the table.
While there's no way to escape some transaction fees and currency fees, there are ways to reduce payment processing costs and receive payments online for free.
In this post, we'll talk about the software options available today for accepting free online payments as well as details about how to actually go about accepting those payments.
But first, let's review some additional reasons you'd want to use a payment processing software.
Why should you use payment processing software? Here's a look at some of the advantages payment processing software will bring to your business.
Convenience is one of the main factors that influence conversion rate. The more steps a customer has to take to make a payment, the more likely they are to abandon their purchase and go elsewhere.
Payment processors can transfer most payments between shoppers and sellers instantly. On the other hand, transfers to and from bank accounts can sometimes take 24 hours or more.
Many payment processors are brands that are globally recognized. If a customer already uses payment software, they're more likely to trust your payment system.
Payment processing companies add an extra layer of protection to online transactions. You can set limits, flags for activity on your account, and sometimes even a time frame to recall payments.
With payment processors, you'll have access to your account online and can manage your contacts, recurring payments, and other account activity via desktop or mobile.
Top Online Payment Processing Providers
Once you've developed a strategy for accepting payments online, you'll need to decide which payment processing provider to use. Here are seven of the most popular options:
Price: 3.49% plus $0.49 per transaction (as of August, 2021).
PayPal is one of the most trusted and widely recognized payment processing companies. It's free to join and they provide all the tools you'll need to integrate PayPal payments into your website and set up a secure payment gateway for visitors. Additionally, comprehensive coverage makes the platform a good choice for international companies.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Stripe offers a wide range of options for online businesses such as customizable checkouts as well as subscription management and recurring payment features. Stripe supports all major credit cards, mobile paying apps, wallets, and more.
Price: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
Square entered the payment processing space by introducing a dongle that sellers could insert into a mobile phone to accept credit card transactions.
They've since expanded their software to cover all the major payment processing options and have included some useful tools for online businesses as well as high-street stores.
You can even create a basic website for free and integrate all of their point-of-sale (POS) solutions at the same time. They also have paid options for a custom website.
4. Google Pay
Price: Google Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Google Pay has a payment tool for businesses, websites, and apps. Google Pay's APIs work to create a delightful checkout and payment experience for your customers.
If you use Google Pay on your website, you'll gain secure and easy access to hundreds of millions of cards saved to Google Accounts worldwide so customers can pay for your products safely and at the touch of a button.
5. Apple Pay
Price: Apple Pay doesn't charge any fees — merchants only pay transaction fees as usual with credit/ debit sales.
Apple Pay can be used on websites, in stores, by app, and via Business Chat or iMessage. It allows Apple users to quickly and safely input contact, payment, and shipping information during checkout.
Rather than having your ecommerce customers look around for their credit cards, Apple Pay allows them to checkout at the click of a button within apps and websites. On a website, an Apple users will simply click "Apple Pay" as their payment option, confirm the payment with one tap (via their iPhone, Apple Watch, etc.), and they're good to go.
6. Venmo For Business
Price: 1.9% plus $0.10 of the payment.
Venmo For Business is a mobile payment software and app owned by PayPal. You can choose to allow users to pay via your mobile app or your website.
You can set up a business profile on Venmo so users can quickly find your profile on the app. And if you add Venmo to your website, it'll appear as a payment option right next to where it'll give customers the option to pay with PayPal.
Once a customer selects the Venmo option at checkout, they'll be directed to their Venmo app to complete the transaction. The Venmo payment option can be added to any of the pages of your ecommerce site that would also show the option to pay with PayPal, including your product pages, shopping cart page, and checkout page.
Price: 2.38% plus $0.25.
Helcim is an online payment solution for ecommerce businesses — you can choose to start an online store from scratch or add a payment solution to your current website.
The easy-to-use and secure online payment system integrates on your website, shopping cart, billing system, and/or app, thanks to Helcim's API. In addition to in-app and via website, Helcim works over the phone, in person, and by invoice, and it integrates with your accounting tools to save you time when it comes to bookkeeping.
Next, let's cover the steps involved in receiving payments online for free.
How to Accept Payments Online for Free
1. Create a secure online payment gateway.
There are a couple of ways you can approach creating a secure online payment gateway. You can hire an outside developer or use your website development team to create a bespoke gateway. Or, you can use third-party software.
Setting up a secure gateway is essential. You're also putting automated processes in place, which will save time on manual processing, especially as you scale your business and handle more transactions.
The more payment methods you make available within your payment portal, the wider the audience, and the easier it'll be for your customers to send you money.
2. Facilitate credit and debit card payments.
Although it may change as mobile payments become more prevalent, using debit/ credit cards is still the most popular way people pay for products and services online. You can easily facilitate accepting card payments through established payment providers such as PayPal or Stripe. These will accept the most-used credit cards worldwide -- Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
3. Set up recurring billing.
If you offer subscription plans or ongoing monthly services, the most efficient and reliable way to invoice and receive payments is via recurring billing. Most of the major payment processing software also includes recurring billing features. For example, Growth Marketing Pro built an SEO tool that charges subscribers on a monthly basis and they used Stripe to set this up.
Sites like Paysimple also offer a suite of tools to set up custom, automated recurring billing if you already have a payment processing system in place.
Using automation is essential. It removes most human error and the stress of keeping track of invoicing and payments.
Your customers can commit to recurring payments with just a few clicks, and you won't have to worry about manually managing your customer base.
4. Accept mobile payments.
These days, people are often more likely to have their phones on hand than debit cards — plus, mobile payment apps are more convenient than ever.
For instance, Apple Pay has quickly become one of the most popular mobile payment systems in the United States. With an estimated 43.9 million users, you'd miss out if you didn't accept Apple Pay.
Google Pay, Venmo, and PayPal also have mobile apps with a decent market share.
5. Accept cryptocurrency payments.
If you're okay with handling cryptocurrencies, it's a way you can extend your reach to a broader online audience. Sites like Bitpay provide all the tools you need to accept crypto payments online, send invoices, request payments, and receive money on the go-through apps.
Because they're a decentralized exchange, cryptocurrencies offer some unique benefits for businesses. You can accept payments from anywhere in the world without incurring currency exchange fees or bank handling fees. There's also a reduced risk of fraud.
6. Use email invoicing.
Email invoicing is a proactive way to request payments. You can share a payment form through email or add a link redirecting the recipient to a payment portal. However, there are a couple of issues with this method: Email isn't the most reliable form of communication, and customers can have trust issues making payments via email.
Expect a failure rate, but it's a vital part of payment processing for a lot of businesses.
7. Accept electronic checks (eChecks).
To accept eChecks for payment, you need a form where the user can input their information, which you can see using payment processing software. It's basically a way to pay by check online. It's a quicker and more reliable way than sending a paper check through the post, so offering this to your customers will make the process run smoother.
Start Accepting Payments Online For Free
No matter which payment processing software you choose, the most important part is making it easy for the customer to pay. And the more ways they can pay, the more likely your customers will follow through on a purchase.
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Marketers, can we be honest with each other for a second? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you really understand the world of paid advertising?
Although 45% of small businesses do some form of online advertising, pay-per-click is still a concept that eludes many of us.
As a marketer, PPC is a skill that you should have in your tool belt — or at least have a basic understanding of.
This guide will help you grasp pay-per-click marketing in its entirety. To start, we’ll begin with the benefits of paid advertising and then get into some key definitions that you’ll need to know.
What is PPC?
Pay-per-click, or PPC, is a form of advertising that allows you to pay a fee to have your website on the search engine result page (SERP) when someone types in specific keywords or phrases to the search engine. The SERP will display the ads you create to direct visitors to your site, and the fee you pay is based on whether people click your ad.
When done right, PPC can earn you quality leads. If you can create a seamless user journey (which you’ll learn how to do later in this piece), it could mean a massive ROI for your PPC efforts.
Pay-per-click advertising is most common in search engine results pages, like Google or Bing, but is also used on social channels (although CPM is more common).
If you’re wondering where you can find pay-per-click ads, they’re the results you see before and to the right of the organic search results. For instance, check out the ad that came up in my search for "cards.”
PPC Terms and Definitions
What’s a marketing channel without a few acronyms and a little jargon? If you’re going to enter the paid advertising space, there are a few terms you should know. Below, we review the main elements of a PPC campaign, ranging from broad to the more specific.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
The objective of all forms of digital advertising is to rank for a target keyword, which you can do in several ways. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) refers to any digital marketing (paid or unpaid) done on a search engine, like Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
SEM is an umbrella term that encompasses both paid advertising and search engine optimization, that is, ranking organically for keywords. It’s important to note that not all PPC occurs on search engines — social media has PPC ads, too (think: Facebook Ads).
CPCCost-per-click (CPC) is the amount that an advertiser pays for each click on your ad. CPC acts as your bid in an auction that determines where your ad will be placed. As you can imagine, a higher bid equates to better ad placement.
You set your CPC at the maximum price you are willing to pay per click on your ad. What you actually pay is determined by the following formula:
This value determines the position of an ad on a search engine results page. It’s equal to Maximum Bid and Quality Score. Quality ScoreThis is the score that search engines give to your ad based on your clickthrough rate (CTR) — measured against the average CTR of ads in that position — the relevance of your keywords, the quality of your landing page, and your past performance on the SERP.
Maximum Bid. This is the maximum you're willing to pay per click on your ad. You can set your CPC to manual, where you determine the maximum bid for your ads, or enhanced, which allows the search engines to adjust your bid based on your goals. One of these enhanced options involves bid strategies that automatically adjust your bids based on either clicks or conversions.
CPM (Cost per Mille)CPM, also known as cost per thousand, is the cost per one thousand impressions. It’s most commonly used for paid social and display ads. There are other types of cost-pers… like cost-per-engagement, cost-per-acquisition (CPA), but for the sake of preserving your mental space, we’re going to stick with clicks, a.k.a. CPC.
CampaignThe first step in setting up your PPC ads is determining your ad campaign. You can think of your campaign as the key message or theme you want to get across with your advertisements.
Ad GroupOne size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you’ll create a series of ads within your campaign based on a set of highly related keywords. You can set a CPC for each ad group that you create.
KeywordsEach ad within your ad group will target a set of relevant keywords or key terms. These keywords tell search engines which terms or search queries you want your ad to be displayed alongside in SERPs. Once you determine which keywords perform best, you can set a micro CPC specifically for keywords within your ads.
Ad TextYour keywords should inform your ad text. Remember, your Quality Score is determined by how relevant your ad is; therefore, the text in your ad (and landing page, for that matter) should match the keyword terms you’re targeting.
landing page is a critical piece of your paid advertising strategy. The landing page is where users will end up once they click your PPC ad. Whether it’s a dedicated webpage, your homepage, or somewhere else, make sure to follow landing page best practices to maximize conversions.
Best PPC PlatformsNow that you understand the PPC basics, I’m guessing your next question is: Where should I advertise? There are dozens of online spaces where you can spend your coveted ad money, and the best way to vet them is by taking a close look at your potential ROI on each platform.
The most popular advertising platforms are effective because they’re easy to use and, most importantly, highly trafficked. But for a smaller budget, you might consider a lesser-known alternative to these key players.
When choosing a platform, some other things to consider are the availability of keyword terms, where your target audience spends their time, and your advertising budget.
Here a non-exhaustive list of some of the top PPC platforms. Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords)
How many times a day do you hear the phrase “Let me Google that?” Probably more than you can count … hence why Google Ads is the king of paid advertising.
On average, Google processes over 90,000 search queries every second, giving you plenty of opportunities to target keywords that will get your intended audience to click. The downside is that keywords are highly competitive on this platform, meaning a larger ad spend.
The perks of using Bing Ads over Google Ads is a slightly lower CPC at the expense of a larger audience, of course.
Facebook AdsFacebook Ads blend in with other posts on the platform.
Facebook Ads is a popular and effective platform for paid ads (more commonly used as CPM than CPC), mainly due to its specific targeting options. Facebook allows you to target users based on interests, demographics, location, and behaviors.
Also, Facebook allows for native ads, which means ads are introduced and blend into the social feed. Not to mention, you can use Facebook Ads to advertise on Instagram as well.
AdRoll is a retargeting platform that advertises to people who have already visited your website. For instance, say someone read your article on cheese making. You can retarget them on other sites they visit with display ads that advertise your online cooking classes.
While retargeting is possible with Google Ads, the benefit of using AdRoll is that it can display ads on Google and social media sites, which gives you more opportunities to capture clicks or impressions, depending on your goal.
RevContent focuses specifically on promoting content through PPC. It has the same impact as a guest post, where your content is displayed on an external site, except it’s in the form of an ad. You still bid on keywords, and your advertisement is displayed next to content relevant to those keywords. With this platform, you’ll reap the benefits of a low CPC and highly engaged traffic.
How does PPC work?
Pay-per-click, PPC, is a paid advertising model that falls under search engine marketing (SEM). With PPC, the advertiser only pays when people interact with their ad through impressions or clicks. With that explanation out of the way, now let's look at some benefits of PPC ads.
Benefits of PPC
1. PPC ads are cost-effective.With PPC ad campaigns, you have complete control over how much you’re willing to spend. Since you only pay when visitors click the link leading to your website or landing page — with a high chance of conversion — you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
2. PPC ads produce fast results.Although organic ranking is great, it sometimes takes months or even years to get on the first page on SERPs. If you’re a startup or small business, you likely don’t have the time to wait for the effect of organic, social, or direct traffic to kick in. That’s where PPC ads come in. With optimized PPC ads, you can shoot yourself to the top of the SERP within hours of launching your campaign.
3. You can easily control and test PPC ads.It’s easy to control the keywords you’re targeting, ad placement, or budget with PPC ads. You can also run A/B split tests with different ads to identify the one that produces the highest return on investment. You can then scale the ads that do well until it no longer produces desirable results.
4. PPC ads allow you to target your ideal customers.With PPC ads, you can skip right past cold audiences to target a warm audience that’s ready to buy your products and services. You can bid on keywords that solution-aware personas would search for online. Aside from keywords, PPC ads also offer targeting options like past online activity or demographics.
Another excellent use of PPC ads is to create retargeting campaigns targeting visitors who didn’t purchase after landing on your site.
5. Algorithm changes have little effect on PPC ads.Between the numerous Google algorithm changes and the 200 ranking factors, trying to get free traffic from search engines is a bit unstable compared to PPC advertising.
With PPC ads, you don’t have to worry about algorithm changes but instead focus on how well your campaigns perform.
6. PPC ads help you rank even with low domain ratings.Keywords have become increasingly competitive. This makes it more difficult for a business with a low domain authority to get into the top rankings on a search engine or in front of its target audience on a social platform.
With PPC advertising, you can quickly rank for keywords your audience is searching, irrespective of your domain ratings.
7. Data from PPC ads can improve your SEO strategy.You shouldn’t ditch all your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts altogether — your paid advertising should complement your SEO strategy instead of replacing it.
When people search for your keywords, you know their search intent and can display the most relevant ad to your audience. This means more clicks and a greater chance of conversion.
SEO vs. PPC
SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website to rank high and gain free traffic from search engines. On the other hand, you’ll have to pay for clicks with PPC. Although different, businesses see the best results when they align SEO and PPC in their marketing.
PPC vs. CPC
PPC and CPC are not technically the same thing. PPC refers to a style of marketing that includes paying for advertisements. CPC, or cost-per-click, refers to the amount of money you spend on a single click on your ad.
How to Build a PPC Campaign
Now that you understand the benefits of PPC and have your key terms, let’s dive into crafting a quality PPC campaign using Google AdWords or some other platform.
You don’t need to tackle these items step-by-step, but you will need to work through each of them to ensure that you create an effective marketing campaign.
I know I said that you don’t need to do these things in order, but you should do this step first. Without parameters, you risk your ad being untargeted and ineffective.
You want to put your ad campaigns into the context of your ultimate business goals. Consider how your paid campaigns will contribute to those goals. Then, think about what you want to accomplish with your ads — whether that be visits, sales, brand awareness, or something else — and how much you’re willing to spend to achieve that goal.
Your ads should encompass a few things:
Create Goals and Goal MetricsYour campaign goals will give you something to show for your ad spend as long as you determine how you will measure those goals. Your goal metrics should not be confused with your campaign metrics, which we’ll discuss below.
Let’s touch on some common PPC goals and how to measure them.
Brand awareness is how familiar your target audience is with your company. It might be a good idea to look into display ads for this goal so you can supplement your copy with engaging imagery. You can measure brand awareness through social engagement, surveys, and direct traffic.
Lead generation is the direct result of having a relevant and engaging landing page to follow your paid ad. Since you will create a separate landing page for each ad group, you should be able to easily track lead conversions either in the Google Ads interface via a tracking pixel, or through UTM parameters.
Offer promotion is great if you’re running a limited-time offer, product or service discount, or contest. You should create a dedicated sign-up page or a unique discount code so you know which users came from your ad.
Site traffic is a great goal if you have high-quality content throughout your website. If you’re going to spend money getting people to visit your site, you want to have some level of confidence that you can keep them there and eventually convert them into leads.
Choose Your Campaign Type
You don’t only need to know where you’ll advertise but also how. There are many different types of paid advertising campaigns, and the one you choose depends on where you can reach your audience. That isn’t to say that you can’t advertise through various means; you can also try a combination of campaign types as long as you’re consistently testing and revising.
Search Ads are the most common type of PPC and refer to the text ads that show up on search engine results pages.
Display Ads allow you to place ads (usually image-based) on external websites, including social. There are several ways to buy display ads, including Google Display Network (GDN) and other ad networks.
Social refers to any ads that you see on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram. You can pay to show up in your target audience’s social feed or somewhere else within their profile, depending on the platform.
Remarketing can use either cookies or a list of contacts that you upload to target people who have previously engaged with your company through some action. That action could be filling out a form, reading a blog, or simply visiting a page on your website.
Google Shopping is most effective for ecommerce sites. Your ad — including image, price, and a short product description — will show on a carousel on a search page based on your target keywords.
Perform Keyword ResearchEach ad group you create needs to be assigned a set of keywords to target — that’s how search engines know when and where to display your ad. The general rule of thumb is to select between one to five keywords per ad group, and those keywords should be extremely relevant — your Quality Score depends on it.
Select keywords that are closely aligned with the specific theme of your ad group. If you find keywords you want to target that fall outside of one theme, you should create a separate ad group for them.
It’s important to note that you’re not stuck with the keywords you start with. In fact, you should closely monitor your keyword list throughout your campaign — eliminating those that don’t bring in the types of visitors that you’re looking for and increasing your bids on those that do. Do your best to select the most relevant keywords, but don’t feel pressured to get it 100% right the first time around.
Set Up Google Analytics and Tracking
Google Analytics is free to use, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t install it on your website. The tool provides insights into how your website is performing, how users interact with your pages, and what content is attractive to visitors. The information gathered from Google Analytics can be used for PPC and beyond.
Best Practices for a Quality PPC StrategyYou didn’t think we’d let you spend your hard-earned money on advertisements without providing some best practices to follow, did you? Of course not. We want to make sure you succeed with your next PPC campaign. So, let’s get into some PPC strategies that will help you maximize your efforts and your budget.
As a note, we’re going to dive specifically into paid search ads (those little guys you see in search engines) here.
PPC Ad Copy
Bidding on targeted keywords will get your ad in front of the right people; good ad copy will get those people to click on your ad. Like your keywords, your ad needs to solve for the intent of the searcher — you need to give the searcher exactly what they’re looking for and make sure that is clear through the words you use.
Search ads are comprised of a headline, a URL, and a short description, and each of these has limited character requirements to follow. To make the most of this space, make sure your ad copy does the following:
Landing Page Best Practices
Arguably the most important element of PPC (after your ad copy) is the page that you send leads to after they click on your ad. This page needs to be highly targeted, relevant to your ad, deliver what was promised, and present a seamless experience.
Why? Because the point of your landing page is to convert your new visitor into a lead or customer. Not only that, but a high-converting landing page will improve your Quality Score, leading to better ad placements. There’s nothing that will diminish PPC profits like a poorly crafted landing page.
What should a PPC landing page include to increase conversions? Glad you asked.
A/B Testing Your PPC Ads
As a marketer, you’ll rarely throw something out to your audience that works without testing it. PPC campaigns are no different. A/B testing is as critical to your paid ad campaign as is every other element. The goal of testing your ad is to increase both your clickthrough rate and your conversion rate.
The good news is that ads comprise just four parts that you’ll need to test: headline, description, landing page, and target keywords. Minor tweaks to just one of these elements can significantly alter your results, so you want to make changes one at a time so you can keep track of where improvements come from.
Since there are many variations that you could test one at a time, it’s a good idea to list out all the potential tests you can run and prioritize them by most significant impact. Finally, you should allow your ads to run long enough to gather the data you need and test them early enough, so you don’t waste budget on a poor-performing ad.
Maximizing Your ROI
At a high level, maximizing ROI on your ad campaigns means considering customer lifetime value and customer acquisition costs, which will help you determine how much is worth spending on a new lead and how much of that spend can come from paid advertising.
To get more granular, we need to talk inputs and outputs, that is 1) lowering your input (cost per lead [CPL]) and 2) increasing your return (revenue).
There are a few factors to keep an eye on that will affect both, so let’s break it down.
Ways to Decrease Inputs
Ways to Increase Revenue
Google allows you to tailor your audience so you save marketing dollars and get in front of the right people. You can upload a customer list so that you don’t waste money on people who have already bought from you.
Google also has options for prospecting audiences. For instance, In-Market Audiences employs user behavior tracking to put you in front of prospects who are in the market for a product or service like yours.
You can also increase your bid for more relevant subgroups within your target audience — a practice called layering audiences.
Bid Adjustments. Bid adjustments allow you to increase or decrease your bids based on performance. You can even make these adjustments based on different categories, like device, demographics, language, and more.
For example, if a keyword isn’t performing as well on mobile as on desktop, you can add a negative bid adjustment so that when someone searches your keyword on mobile, you’ll bid X% lower than your normal bid.
Custom Ad SchedulingYou can set up ad scheduling in Google Ads to display your ad only during specific days and times. This can cut down on ad spend and improve relevance for your target audience.
Sitelink Extensions. Sitelink extensions allow you to supplement your ad with additional information. For instance, if you’re running an ad for a seasonal promotion at a local store, you can add a sitelink extension to display your store hours and location. These extensions take up more real estate on SERPs and, therefore, stand out. Not only that, but they play a role in improving your Ad Rank.
Conversion tracking monitors how your landing page is performing via a tracking code that you place on the page where people land after completing your form (usually a “Thank You” page). By enabling this feature, you’ll be better equipped to make adjustments that can improve your conversions.
Keyword Monitoring. Don’t let too much time pass before you check how your keywords are performing. You can place higher bids on the keywords that are creating the best results for your campaign, and “defund” or eliminate others.
Match Types. Match Types in Google Ads allows you to choose how closely related you want your ad group to be associated with a search team. There are four match types: broad, modified broad, phrase, and exact match. Google will display your ad in results according to your selection.
For example, if your keyword phrase is “how to catch geese” and you select “broad match,” then Google will display your ad for queries that include any word in your key phrase in any order, including “geese catch” and “geese catch how.”
Negative KeywordsA negative keyword list tells search engines what you don’t want to rank for, which is equally as important as what you do. You might know some of these upfront, but likely you’ll determine these keywords by what isn’t performing so well within your campaign.
Social Media Ads
Although CPM is more common on social platforms, social media sites do offer PPC that works similarly to search engine ads in that you set a budget and bid on ad placements.
The difference is social media ads can show up directly in your news feed on most platforms, decreasing the effectiveness of ad blockers. Social platforms, like Facebook, let you set targeted demographics and target people based on interests. While paid search is more keyword-focused, paid social broadens into a demographic focus, leading to more ways to target your persona.
Social media has two paid ad functions that are critical to ad success — retargeting and Lookalike Audiences. Retargeting is remarketing to people based on site visits or manually uploaded contact lists. Lookalike Audiences reviews the people on your marketing list and creates an audience that parallels your list, expanding your potential target. Paid social also allows for a wider variety of ad types, like images, videos, text, and more.
PPC Management and TrackingPaid advertising is not “set it and forget it.” You need to manage and constantly monitor your ads to ensure that you’re reaching optimal results. Management, analysis, and tracking are crucial to a PPC campaign because they provide you with valuable insights and help you create a more effective campaign.
What is PPC management?
PPC management covers a wide range of techniques, including creating and adjusting goals, split testing, introducing new keywords, optimizing conversion paths, and shifting plans to reach goals.
Managing your PPC means looking at your strategy and ad spend. On the one hand, it means iterating on your plan to optimize keyword effectiveness. On the other hand, it means thinking about how to allocate resources to specific keywords and how to adjust those resources to maximize ROI.
A good management strategy also pays attention to providers — like search engines, social platforms, and ad networks — to monitor changes and updates that could affect paid campaigns.
Overall, PPC management is a hefty undertaking, which is why investing in solid PPC management tools could be a great idea.
PPC Tools and Software
With all of the variables that you need to track, PPC management tools should make things easier. You can opt to monitor your ads within the platform, but if you’re looking for additional assistance and organization, a robust, easy-to-read spreadsheet or sophisticated software that gives you insight into your ad performance is vital.
If you plan to go the software route, there are some features that you want to look for: multi-user support, cross-platform management, A/B testing, scheduling, reporting, and ad grading.
Here’s a list of some popular, highly-rated PPC software and resources. PPC Metrics to TrackMetrics are everything (but you already knew that). Here are some key metrics to track within your PPC campaign.
Clicks refer to the total number of clicks you receive on an ad. This metric is affected by your keyword selection and the relevance of your ad copy.
Cost per click (CPC) measures the price you pay for each click on your ad.
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the percentage of ad views that result in clicks. This metric determines how much you pay (CPC). CTR benchmarks vary by industry.
Impressions are the number of times an ad is viewed. Cost per mille (CPM) is determined for every thousand impressions. Impressions are most relevant for brand awareness campaigns.
Ad spend is the amount you are spending on your ads. You can optimize this by improving your Quality Score.
Return on ad spend (ROAS) is the ROI of your ad campaign. This metric calculates the revenue received for every dollar spent on ads.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of people that complete the call-to-action on your landing page and become a lead or customer.
Cost per conversion refers to the cost to generate a lead. This is calculated as the total cost of an ad divided by the number of conversions.
Quality Score (QS) determines ad positioning, so it’s an important metric to keep an eye on.
By paying close attention to each of these metrics, you can increase the ROI of your paid campaign and spend less for better results.
Go Paid! Whether you just started your business yesterday or have been around for decades, PPC just might be the boost you need to get an edge on your competition — or at least ahead of them in the SERPs.
Applying the lessons found in this guide about building a PPC campaign and the best practices for a quality PPC strategy would set you well on your way to improving your website’s traffic and conversions.
Have you ever double-tapped an image on Instagram, reacted to a video on Facebook, or clicked a search result in Google, only to realize afterward that it was actually an ad?
Maybe you never realized it was an ad at all — you just thought it was a cute picture of a dog.
More than ever, ads can be contextual, relevant, targeted, and helpful in ways they never could before. In short, ads today are content.
But the online advertising landscape is changing.
New platforms, ad types, and targeting capabilities are popping up all the time.
Let's dig into everything you need to know about online advertising across ad platforms for social media, paid search, display, and native advertising.
If you're only interested in learning about a certain type of online advertising, you can use the table of contents below to navigate to each section.
How to Advertise Online
93% of all online interactions start with a search engine, and with those odds, you can catch the attention of the audience you want through online advertising.
There’s plenty of ways to advertise your business strategically. Think about who you’re trying to reach when you start. Ask yourself “What target demographic am I advertising to?” and “How can I place my product or service offering in front of my target?”.
The answer is to see where your target demographic spends the most time online. Research their most frequented social media channels and most searched keywords. You can take this information and translate it to organic and paid marketing.
Not all online advertising has to cost money, people can find your business organically through social media marketing. Making a business page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even TikTok can capture people’s interest through engaging posts and content.
Now if you want to use pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, most social media offers business pages the ability to pay a fee to promote posts/ads within the interface. Or if you are looking to advertise on a search engine for targeted keywords, Google Ads or sixads can guide you through the process of payment and execution.
There are three key ways that digital advertising can help you improve the performance of your organic marketing efforts.
With digital ads, organic performance can benefit from:
The goal of any ads strategy should be to get a positive return on your investment, which comes down to whether you're getting more revenue out of the ad campaign than the cost you're putting in.
How can you determine what your ad spend should be to get the most return on your investment? To start answering that question, we'll need to understand the bidding system used by the ad networks.
A bid is the maximum amount of money you're willing to pay for the desired action on your ad. If it sounds like an auction, that's because it is an auction. Ad networks have a limited amount of ad space, and to determine whether or not your ads are shown to your target audience, they run an auction to see how much each advertiser is willing to pay for ad space.
Just like in an auction, the highest bidder wins. Let's say you bid $10 for a click on your ad, and the next highest bidder only pays $5 for a click.
Each ad network will only make you pay the lowest amount possible to win the bid. In this example, you might be willing to pay $10, but in reality, you'll only have to pay $5.01 to win the bid. Winning this "auction," in addition to the overall quality of your ads, will determine how your ads are displayed on the different ad networks.
At this point, you might be thinking, "Okay, I get how the auction system works. But how do I figure out how much I should actually spend to see a return on my investment?"
My advice is to work backward from your revenue to determine what your maximum bid should be.
Use this equation:
Lifetime Value (LTV) x Average Lead-to-Customer Rate x Average Conversion Rate
Your LTV is how much a customer is worth to you throughout their relationship with your business. The average lead-to-customer rate is the rate at which your leads become paying customers. And your conversion rate is the rate at which new contacts convert on your content offers by filling out a form.
Combined, these metrics show you how much you should spend on your paid ads to break even.
Let's say that you want to use digital ads to promote your new content offer. You're going to need to know what your maximum ad spend should be to see a positive return on your investment. Assume that you know the following about your business:
Types of Online AdvertisingNow that we know more about how to advertise online, let's dive into the various types of online advertising.
Social Media Advertising
Every month, there are nearly 2.5 billion active users on Facebook, 1 billion on Instagram, and 330 million on Twitter worldwide.
Whether it's to chat with friends, stay connected to people across the globe, or for business and networking purposes, consumers are on social media for a multitude of reasons — and marketers know it. Because of the sheer number of active users on these platforms, advertising spend invested in social media channels is at an all-time high. Social media advertising across the world is projected to exceed $8.5 billion this year.
Advertising on social media comes with many advantages. You can:
Let's take a look at eight popular social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat, and TikTok. We'll cover the audiences and ad types available on each one.
1. FacebookFacebook is the most widely used social media network. Almost 2.5 billion people around the world use Facebook. That's more than 30% of the world's population.
With so many people using Facebook, you're almost guaranteed to be able to reach an audience that's relevant to any type of business. That's where one of the most powerful features of advertising on Facebook comes in: audience targeting. The targeting capabilities on Facebook are unmatched by any other social media network.
There are three types of audiences that you can target on Facebook:
Facebook's advanced targeting can be used to target your ads to the most relevant audience — and even tap into new audiences you'd otherwise never reach with organic content alone.
Advertising on Facebook includes a range of ad types, including:
Photo ads are great for sharing collections of image content. Video ads are great for product explainer videos and branding. Story ads allow you to use a combination of photo and short-form video content.
Personally, my favorite way to advertise on Facebook is with lead ads because they give you the best of both worlds: sharing visual content and generating leads all at the same time. Facebook Lead Ads allow you to capture lead information without directing people out of the Facebook platform.
No matter your business' size or industry, you can use lead ads to find potential customers who are likely interested in your products or services. With lead ads, you provide a helpful piece of content that encourages viewers to sign up for a newsletter, receive a price estimate, or request additional business information. In return, when the viewer fills out the form, the business receives a new lead.
Another way to advertise on Facebook is through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook Messenger is a separate messaging app that comes with its own advertising opportunities. Facebook Messenger is the go-to messaging app in countries including the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Other messaging apps like WhatsApp and WeChat are the more popular choice in countries throughout South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Across the world, 20 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses every month on Facebook Messenger. Ads play a big part in initiating conversations on Facebook Messenger.
There are a few different ways you can use Facebook Messenger as part of your advertising strategy.
All of these ad types come together to encourage your audience to kick off conversations with your business. They can be used to get in contact with a sales team, request more information on a product, or even share other content like blog posts or ebooks.
My favorite way to advertise on Facebook Messenger is retargeting. Retargeting ads in Facebook Messenger are a great way to start targeted conversations and send personalized offers and content.
Sponsored messages allow you to advertise to people who have already interacted with your business in Messenger. This is a great way to re-engage your audience in a personalized way.
You can also advertise on Instagram through the Facebook Ads Manager. Instagram has over 1 billion monthly users globally. That's a little less than half of the number of users on Facebook. The majority of users are between the ages of 18 and 34.
There are three ways that you can advertise on Instagram:
I recommend taking the third option and creating custom campaigns for your audience on Instagram.
Instagram has similar ad types to Facebook, including:
By far, the most interesting ad types right now are ads in the Explore Tab and Shopping Post ads. People using Instagram Explore are exploring their interests and discovering new content creators. Ads in Instagram Explore are a great opportunity to put your brand in front of a new audience.
Shopping Post ads allow you to include a tag that shows the product's name and price within your image. Clicking on the tag takes your prospects directly to a product page where they can purchase the item — all without leaving the Instagram app.
3. LinkedInThe LinkedIn platform has over 660 million monthly active members worldwide. Users on the platform are largely made up of working professionals which makes LinkedIn a great place for B2B (business-to-business) advertising. LinkedIn is the go-to platform for working professionals, which provides B2B advertisers a large audience pool to reach.
Plus, the advantage of advertising on LinkedIn is its unique targeting capabilities. On LinkedIn, you'll have access to unique targeting criteria that isn't available on other platforms.
You can target users on LinkedIn by unique demographics, including job title, job function, and industry. Maybe you only want to advertise to potential customers at the director level who work in customer service within the recruiting industry. LinkedIn's targeting capabilities make that possible.
Plus, with the option to include lead gen forms in your LinkedIn ads, LinkedIn can be a lead generation machine. This will allow you to not only reach a very specific audience but drive leads without directing them outside of the LinkedIn platform.
The most interesting ad type of LinkedIn is Message Ads. Message Ads allow you to send direct messages to your prospects to spark immediate action.
How to use LinkedIn Message Ads:
But a word of warning: Don't send too many Message Ads to the same people or it will come off like spam. And, make sure the messages sound authentic – if you were writing a LinkedIn message to a friend, what would you write in it?
If your Message Ads are too stiff, they'll come off as spammy, too. Remember: This channel is a one-to-one conversation. Direct messages are sacred spaces – if you're going to advertise there, you need to be extra careful about taking the time to make your Message Ads feel personal and relevant to your end-users. Make sure you're delivering value to them in a way that feels authentic.
Digital advertising is less common on Twitter because organic reach is still a significant driver of a brand's performance on Twitter. This is very unique to Twitter – but even so, ads can still deliver strong results depending on what your goals are. Twitter has over 330 million monthly users globally. The majority of users are between 35–65 years old.
Advertisers have discovered a few niches that have high engagement on Twitter: B2B and e-commerce. Many B2B companies are using Twitter as a digital marketing tool, and Twitter users are known to spend a lot of money online. This makes advertising specifically to these audiences a great strategy.
Twitter breaks down its ads into five goals:
All of these can work together to help you grow your audience on the platform and convert users into customers.
Pinterest is a unique social media platform with 300 million users who are highly engaged and predominantly female. Some people say that Pinterest is the only platform where users actually want to see ads from brands they love because Pinterest is all about visuals.
How to advertise on Pinterest in four steps:
Pinterest is great for businesses relying on photography to sell their products and who have a female target buyer persona.
YouTube is the second largest search engine, second only to Google, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Ads on YouTube appear before and during other YouTube videos or as a stand-alone promoted video that's displayed after performing a search.
Since you can target demographic information and interests, you can serve your videos to specific relevant audiences already watching videos from similar brands or on related topics.
Snapchat's 218 million users are predominantly made up of people between the ages of 18–24.
Snapchat offers a few ad types, including story ads, sponsored tiles in Snapchat Discover, and augmented reality (AR) lenses.
Snapchat's ad types feel pretty similar to the advertising options on Instagram. What really makes Snapchat unique is the augmented reality lenses. AR lenses are sponsored by a business to create interactive moments that users can use and share with their friends. It might be hard to believe, but in this example from Dominos that pizza isn't really there — that's the AR lens at work.
One of the newer — and most popular — players in the social media advertising world is TikTok. TikTok is all about creating short, creative, and oftentimes funny videos. TikTok has exploded in the past few years and has reached 500 million monthly users.
Advertising options are still limited; they are mainly geared towards driving awareness. TikTok doesn't hyperlink posts to websites and only recently started allowing advertising, so businesses advertising on TikTok focus on boosting brand awareness rather than leads or traffic.
Promoting TikTok videos allow brands to build awareness with a young target audience. Most of the posts you'll see on TikTok are aimed at getting laughs. From a brand perspective, you'll want to create videos that are funny and align with other content on the platform. Think of things like dance challenges and memes. This type of content is the most effective.
Paid Search AdvertisingPeople searching online are looking for something specific and will click on the first result they believe is going to be the most helpful to them.
You might be thinking: "I already appear in organic results on search engines. Why should I pay to advertise too?"
Well, there are three key reasons:
Paid search advertising allows advertisers to capture the attention of their audience in a more targeted way than with organic search alone.
Search ads allow you to anticipate the wants, needs, and desires of your potential customers and serve ads to them that are highly contextual. Over time, the analytics of your search ads can help you analyze and improve those ads to reach even more people.
But how does Google know how to deliver the right ad to the right person? That's where keywords come into play. A keyword is one word or phrase that someone uses to describe what they need in search. Advertising on search platforms takes the targeting capabilities available on social media platforms, like demographics and location, and layers it with the addition of keywords.
When a Google user types a query into the search field, Google returns a range of results that match the searcher's intent. Keywords align with what a searcher wants and will satisfy their query. You select keywords based on which queries you want to display your ad alongside.
Keyword research is just as important for paid ads as it is for organic search. That's because Google matches your ad with search queries based on the keywords you selected. Each ad group you create within your campaign will target a small set of keywords and Google will display your ad based on those selections.
Let's say Mary is moving to a different house and is looking for a home mover. So she goes into Google and types "who are the best movers." By searching "best home movers," she's going to see results for advertisers that targeted keywords like "moving companies" and "top-rated movers."
Search engines also consider your intent when choosing the types of ads to display.
In the example above, search ads were the most helpful resource. But what if you're looking for a location-based business, like a coffee shop? In Google maps, you might see “Promoted Pins” like these, shown in purple on the map and in the search results on the left. Promoted Pins are a great way for businesses to attract customers to their business based on location.
What if you're looking to make a purchase? Well, Google might show you a different kind of post to match your intent, such as Shopping Post Ads.
In this example below, Google shows you shopping post ads for the keyword "buy snowboard." Since my query includes the word "buy," Google knows that I'm interested in making a purchase, so I am shown ads for products I might be interested in.
So how do you select your keywords?
Keywords typically fall under two categories: brand and non-brand.
Brand and non-brand keywords play a role in your digital advertising strategy. Brand keywords help you protect your brand from your competitor's ads.
If you don't run ad campaigns for brand keywords, you'll leave your business vulnerable to losing website traffic to the competition who is bidding on your brand keywords. Non-brand keywords still have a role to play, too. Non-brand keywords allow you to reach new audiences unfamiliar with your brand.
When it comes to when your ad is displayed, you don't just want to pick a certain group of keywords and have the ad shown only when those keywords are entered into the search engine.
This is where match type comes in. Since there’s an infinite number of ways that people can actually search for one term, Google gives you three match types to choose from: exact match, phrase match, and broad match. You can even use a broad match modifier and exclude negative keywords to optimize where your ads are delivered.
Let's take a look at each match type:
Google vs. Bing vs. Yahoo
There are a few advertising platforms out there for search, including Google, Bing, and Yahoo. But Google is by far the most used search engine out there. With 3.5 billion search queries a day, over 71% of the total searches made daily around the world are done on Google. Google brings in six times more searches every day than Bing and Yahoo, combined.
But this doesn't mean you should entirely rule out advertising on these other platforms. In some cases, you can achieve impressive results with a smaller ad spend on Bing and Yahoo than you could on Google since there is less competition from advertisers.
My recommendation is to dig into your organic traffic to identify if Bing or Yahoo make up a significant amount of traffic for any given keywords or topics. This might indicate that advertising for those keywords on Bing or Yahoo could be profitable.
Regardless of where you advertise, the good news is that advertising on all of these platforms more or less work and look the same. So knowing how to advertise on one will make advertising on the others easier.
Publishers like BuzzFeed and The Dodo produce content that snowballs in popularity on social media almost every day. And they make money by helping other brands do it, too. Brands will pay these publishers to craft posts and videos that follow the publishers' formula for virality. They also pay publishers to distribute this sponsored content to their massive audience through social media and their website.
When you pay for a publisher's native advertising services, you'll be able to leverage their editorial expertise and audience reach to help your brand tell captivating stories to a bigger and better viewership. And each publisher is going to support different ad formats and creative types.
During the creative process, you'll collaborate with publishers to craft sponsored content that covers one of their main topics and looks like a regular piece of content on the publisher's website.
This way, even though your post is technically promotional, it won't disrupt their audience's browsing experience. They'll enjoy reading your post and won't feel like you or the publisher are advertising to them. This exposes your work to a huge, engaged viewership and attracts new followers to your brand.
Native advertising creates a symbiotic relationship between publishers and brands. Publishers who do sponsored content right reap the benefits of another revenue stream and gain more audience trust if they promote a native ad from a trustworthy brand.
For brands, collaborating with prominent publishers can unleash unprecedented amounts of creativity to help them win over the publishers' audience and boost engagement — as the click-through rate on native ads far exceeds traditional. For example, T Brand Studio, the New York Times native ad business, crafted sponsored posts that captured as much engagement as some of nytimes.com's highest-performing articles.
To find the optimal native advertising opportunities for your brand, try using StackAdapt or Nativo.
Display ads are a controversial topic in the digital marketing community. For almost 25 years, advertisers have abused them by tricking internet users into clicking misleading ads — some malicious display ads have even infected people's computers with viruses. It's easy to see why people have developed banner blindness and can't stop downloading ad blockers: display ads have the reputation of being intrusive, distracting, and irrelevant.
On the other side of the spectrum, though, display advertising technology has advanced to the point where ad networks can leverage data and machine learning to offer advertisers more effective targeting strategies and consumers more relevant ads.
Ad networks like Google Display Network and Facebook's Audience Network are the leaders in the banner ad renaissance. They can display your ads to the right target audience at the right place and time. And if you want more control of your advertising, they'll let you decide where to place your ads. Below, we'll cover each ad networks' features and targeting capabilities:
1. Google Display Network
When you use Google's Display Network, you can design visually appealing ads and place them on over two million websites and apps, YouTube, and Gmail.
You can also build new audiences by targeting people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service and remarket website visitors just by importing a list of their contact information.
If you don't want to build out your ideal audience or deal with bidding, you can let Google Ads do it for you. Its automated targeting and bidding features can identify your highest-converting audience for the best return on investment.
Display ads can be most effective when retargeting an audience that's already familiar with your brand.
2. Facebook's Audience Network
With Facebook's Audience Network, brands can expand their Facebook ad campaigns and use the same targeting data they use on the platform to advertise on a huge collection of websites and apps.
Brands can place native ads, banner ads, full-screen ads, in-stream video ads, and rewarded video ads (for example, "Watch this video ad to get more tokens!") on the network's websites and apps that their Facebook audience frequently visits.
This type of advertising can be particularly effective for mobile games, like in the example below from 5agame who was able to attribute 80% of their revenue through their rewarded video.
Now that you know about all of the digital ad types that are available, the next step is to learn how to leverage the right ads for your business to achieve your goals.
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For some marketers, Google Discover is not part of their digital marketing toolbox. Whereas some are using it to grow their business, this content marketing tool has gone unnoticed to others. But Discover is a remarkable source of web traffic for marketers. It can help you build your brand authority faster.
The software lets users conduct searches faster and find engaging topics. However, the best part is that it allows you to find what you are searching for without performing a search. As a component of the Google search engine, it uses your previous search history to show your related materials that you might love.
In consequence, content marketers are using the Google application to drive increased traffic to their websites. The renamed Feed produces more traffic because Google developers optimized the software and customized it for mobile devices.
But, note that the rebranded Google Discover is not Google News. These two are different. Here is everything I am going to cover:
Google News vs. Google Discover, What are the Differences?Google news allows consumers to discover trending stories and suitable materials of what is happening globally. The major news feature presents results for a searcher's news topic based on his search query.
But Google Discover shows consumers information of interests that engages users without them searching. Also, when using Discover, it gives you the ability to customize your content of choice. You can quickly do that by following topics.
Nonetheless, for your marketing content to appear on Discover, it should be of top quality with your web pages index by Google.
What is Google Discover?Google Discover is an updated Google Feed that offers web content to consumers following their search history. The software recommends information before you even perform a search. In other words, you will find fascinating subjects without entering a keyword.
For this, Google described the new Discover in three crucial shifts. The shifts are:
So, the Discover feed allows you to discover recent topics and content about your interest. Here is the rebranded Google Discover below:
Image via Google
A closer look shows you that developers personalized the Feed for mobile devices. You can essentially customize your Feed to display only your content of choice. To make it happen, tap the header of any content you find interesting.
Once you do that, Google Discover will start showing you exciting, relevant content. Additionally, by following your choice of content, you will only see related materials from that point onward. But you can stop following topics by tapping the "More" button at the right corner below your mobile screen.
When you tap the "More" button, scroll a little down and tap the "Your data in Search" to see your search history. From there, scroll down to delete items that no longer interest you.
So, because Discover can drive massive web traffic to your website, it should be an element of your digital marketing strategy.
Why Should You Care About Google Discover? Where are several reasons
Why Discover matters to your online business. But we will consider a few of them.
Did you know? Google Discover is a search engine platform that also offers you a space to organize interesting content pieces you find across the web. This space is called "Collections." You can add web pages that fascinate you, including products, and other vital content pieces.
Also, you can invite others to contribute to your collections. But what is cool is that the Google application also functions as an analytic tool that helps you measure the traffic you are getting from the Discover platform.
Google also called the reporting tool, "Discover." It allows you to view and gauge web traffic that is coming from Google Discover. Thus, the data helps you define the content that performs best─those that drive the most traffic and those that are not performing.
From there, you can update the under-performing materials and replicate the ones generating results to improve SEO and drive more traffic. That is why Google noted that they added the new Discover report feature to Google Search Console to give users helpful information that provides answers to some pressing questions.
Some of the new Discover report data are:
These pieces of information will help you enhance your content strategy and Google rankings. So since all search engines love engaging content, optimizing for Google Discover is important because it represents this trend. It provides users personalized, engaging content.
8 Secret Ways to Optimize for Google DiscoverIn this article, you will discover the eight secret ingredients that will help you optimize your content for Google Discover.
1. Strengthen Your Content Quality
Content is the essence of digital marketing, so without content, your marketing effort will be a waste. But it doesn't mean that you should publish any piece of material. For instance, tin content is less substantial and will add no value to your readers.
So if you continue to publish these types of materials, you will hardly appear on Discover, and you will gradually lose your readership. If your articles barely answer your readers' queries, and your competitors offer them something better than what you are offering, It is logical to say that your competitors will win their loyalty.
Similarly, Google Discover gives consumers relevant, engaging content. Be it articles, blog posts, videos, and more. Your posts must be highly-informative because Discover is programmed to offer users quality materials.
For this, when creating content for publishing, or updating old blog posts, use trending data, current statistics, and marketing strategies to amplify your articles. Use more long-tail keywords, semantic keywords phrases, high-quality images, and illustrative graphics to optimize your post.
Also, try to understand user intent—the search terms your marketing personas will likely search on Google. Make a list of related keyword terms and use them to strengthen your content.
Ensure that it has all the essential components that will glue your readers on the page. For example, use rhetorical questions to capture readers' attention from the start. A rhetorical question does not require an answer. Instead, it is a ploy used to influence readers into thinking about your message. Content marketers also use this writing style to emphasize important points.
Using this approach will help you increase:
A survey by Swift of 1,200 marketers in 39 countries revealed some exciting results. Among other things, the content marketing statistics for 2020 show that several marketers are struggling to create engaging content.
Source graphic by Swift. According to the survey results, producing quality content is one of the biggest challenges for businesses.
As a consequence, if you fall into the above categories, it will be difficult for Discover to pick your content. But you have two available options that can help you.
They will help you create top-quality content for humans and search engines. In fact, top influencers and content marketers are using freelance writers to create marketing content for their blogs and other marketing channels.
To back this claim, the Swift 2020 research results show that the top content format for 86% of businesses is blog posts. 53% of these marketers are outsourcing their content writing activities.
Graphic by Swift
So if you can't write, outsource writing jobs to freelance writers or learn to do it DIY.
2. Use High-quality Visuals
The rebranded Google Discover underscores the need for more visual content. It means that to increase your odds of showing up on the platform, you should create more quality visuals and optimize them appropriately.
Google pointed out that Discover content could rank on searches due to the quality of material and the link between consumer's interest and the content. For this, you should do two things to boost your content ranking on Google Discover:
Furthermore, replace thumbnails with large images. Why? Because Google stated that large pictures perform better on Discover cards. Please, consider these statistics as reported by Google:
All thanks to high-quality large photos. But ensure that your photos are at least 1,200 px wide.
3. Create Exciting Videos
The new Google Feed will make your content more irresistible to consumers if it has quality visuals. Additionally, since videos have become more prominent in recent times, Discover is centered on visual materials.
Therefore, produce different types of videos that will engage your target market and solve their problems. I advise you to look at your top-performing blogs and create videos from them. These content pieces are already generating more social media engagement and ranking on Google and other search engines.
So, transforming them into video content will help improve website engagement, SEO ranking, and appear on Discover.
For inspiration, you can produce the following videos:
The concept is to enable you to produce compelling video materials your audience can't resist. Ultimately, consumers prefer to see more videos from marketers they support.
According to research by HubSpot, more than 50% of customers want to see more videos than other content types. It means that the more quality videos you create, the more your chances to appear on Google Discover.
4. Observe Google's Content Policies
Google made clear that if you want Discover to pick your content and show it to searchers, you must comply with their content policies. The Google guidelines include "Search Quality Rating," which covers Page Quality (PQ)" and "Needs Met (NM) ratings."
Screenshot via Google
The heads up means that any post you publish should abide by the Google News guidelines.
This step does not mean that your content will appear on Google News. Instead, it indicates that if Discover picks your content, it observed Google content policies and could make it to Google News.
Therefore, ensure that the blogs you publish conform with Google publishing policies to improve your likelihood of appearing on Discover.
5. Tell Your Community to Add You on Google Discover
Discover software is remarkable with fascinating capabilities. Do you know that the application software lets you choose what sources of information to add to your collections? Yes, it does! It allows you to select the topics of interest you want to follow.
But your target buyer may not know that he can add you to his topics of interest or collections unless you tell him. That is why you should inform your community of readers to add you to Google Discover. In this manner, when you publish a post or when Discover selects content from your blog, they will get notified.
It is like a call-to-action on your website. Visitors may not take your desired action without a call-to-action. Similarly, if you don't tell them, they may not add your blog on Discover.
How to Add Exciting Topics to Google Discover
Adding your interests to Discover is a straight-forward method. As an example, I add Swift to my list of exciting topics. Here is how to do it:
Open the software and enter your focus in the search bar. For this article, I searched for Swift. See the screenshot below. So by the addition of Swift, I will get updates from Swift through Google Discover.
However, your results page may not reveal the "+ Follow" button. My search result didn't show the tab. So I scrolled a little down and found it, as you can see on the screenshot. Similarly, if you enter your topic or blog on the search and don't see the follow button, don't stress. Just scroll down a little, and you will find it.
When you see the button, tap the "+ Follow" to start following a blog or topics that excite you. After you tap the follow button, the (+) sign will adjust to a checkmark (✓). The checkmark means that you are now following the topic or publication.
For this reason, when there is a new post from the Swift blog, Google Discover will show me the article. This helps to boost traction with existing readers.
Even without backup data for this, you agree that when more people add your blog to Discover, it will signal Google that your content pieces are helpful and relevant to your readers. It will boost your search engine ranking and cement your position on Discover.
6. Optimize for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)
Why should you optimize for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages? Because AMP is ideal for enhancing website user experience (UX). So, as you may know, improved user experience is a Google ranking factor. Hence, Google developers designed AMP for speed.
A web page that loads faster helps in improving UX, which increases consumer satisfaction. Put differently, if your site is not up to speed, it decreases your search ranking, and your chances of getting picked by Discover become slim. It contributes to why people leave your blog for your competitors.
Therefore, optimizing for Google Accelerated Mobile Pages is vital if you want your posts on Discover. It is for this reason that the Discover report feature on the Google Search Console (GSC) offers you comparison options for AMP and non-AMP data.
From your search console, you can measure the AMP and non-AMP data, respectively. So, optimize your website for AMP to boost UX and appear on Discover.
7. Publish Evergreen and Trendy Content Frequently
Earlier in this article, I stated that Google Discover displays both fresh and evergreen content that is relevant to the searcher's query. These results follow the user's past search history. It helps users keep up to date with what is trending in the industry.
Discover will show both the trending content and evergreen materials that relate to your search. Also, Google Discover presents the evergreen materials to engage, solve a problem, and entertain the reader. Whereas, popular posts engage the reader and keep you aware of the latest happenings.
Interestingly enough, it is a win-win marketing strategy. Because when you create news-worthy, evergreen content pieces, Discover will pick and present it on relevant search results. As a consequence, you will increase traffic to your site, improve brand awareness, generate targeted leads, and make more sales.
8. Conduct Competitor Research
Why conducting competitor research is vital. If, after everything your post is not on Discover, it would be wise to perform competitor research to know why Discover is overlooking your content.
Try to figure out:
Your data will help you understand users' behavior and why Discover selects your competition over you.
Do You Want to Appear on Google Discover?
Now that you understand what Google Discover is and how to optimize for it, apply these tips to improve your odds of appearing on the platform. The more you boost your content quality, the better your chances. So keep implementing and testing to pinpoint what works best for you.
Are there other tips you can add that will help our readers? Please, tell us in the comments!
For your reference, we compiled a list of the 100 top trending Google searches and most Googled questions from our database of 20 billion keywords.
This list of top trending searches is being regularly updated every quarter for the most up-to-date information.
If you want to try your own Google searches, our Keyword Magic Tool or Google's Keyword Planner will help you to find keywords for your strategy and campaigns.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms Globally Keyword
Average Apr – Jun 2021
Search volume is the average number of times a specific search query is entered on a search engine per month. In this study by search volume we mean an average number of monthly searches for the last 12 months.
Top 100 Google Most Searched Terms in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021
Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. facebook 151.0M 151.0M
2. youtube 151.0M 151.0M
3. amazon 124.0M 124.0M
4. weather 101.0M 101.0M
5. nba 33.0M 68.0M
6. home depot 64.3M 55.6M
7. gmail 61.8M 55.6M
8. walmart 43.0M. 55.6M
9. google translate 45.5M 37.2M
10. yahoo mail 45.5M 37.2M
11. yahoo 37.2M 37.2M
12. target 40.3M 30.4M
13. restaurants 33.0M. 30.4M
14. ebay 30.4M 30.4M
15. fox news 30.4M 30.4M
16. food near me 30.4M 30.4M
17. restaurants near me 27.7M 30.4M
18. google maps 24.9M 30.4M
19. hotels 23.5M. 30.4M
20. nba scores 19.3M 30.4M
21. amc stock 9.3M 30.4M
22. instagram 30.4M 24.9M
23. translate 30.4M 24.9M
24. amazon prime 24.9M 24.9M
25. weather tomorrow 24.9 M24.9M
26. starbucks 34.6M 20.4M
27. mcdonalds 29.6M 20.4M
28. costco 26.9M 20.4M
29. best buy 25.4M 20.4M
30. lowes 24.9M 20.4M
31. usps tracking 22.7M 20.4M
32. craigslist 20.4M 20.4M
33. espn 20.4M 20.4M
34. zillow 20.4M 20.4M
35. you tube18.5M 20.4M
36. spanish to english 20.4M 16.6M
37. cnn 18.5M 16.6M
38. news 16.6M 16.6M
39. traductor 16.6M 16.6M
40. food 20.8M 13.6M
41. walgreens 20.8M 13.6M
42. calculator 20.4M 13.6M
43. bank of america 17.0M 13.6M
44. twitter 15.1M 13.6M
45. wells fargo 15.1M 13.6M
46. dominos 13.6M 13.6M
47. facebook log in 13.6M 13.6M
48. macys 13.6M 13.6M
49. netflix 13.6M 13.6M
50. maps 13.6M 13.6M
51. indeed 12.4M 13.6M
52. trump 11.4M 13.6M
53. covid vaccine near me 18.0M 11.1M
54. cvs 13.9M 11.1M
55. etsy 13.6M 11.1M
56. hotmail 13.6M 11.1M
57. autozone 12.9M 11.1M
58. fedex tracking 12.4M 11.1M
59. kohls 12.4M 11.1M
60. msn 12.4M 11.1M
61. aol mail 11.1M 11.1M
62. shein 11.1M 11.1M
63. speed test 11.1M 11.1M
64. ups tracking 11.1M 11.1M
65. dogecoin 10.1M 11.1M
66. gas 9.3M 11.1M
67. google flights 9.1M 11.1M
68. southwest airlines 9.1M 11.1M
69. dr. wu lien-teh 5.6 M11.1M
70. walmart near me 5.0M 11.1M
71. gas station 22.7M 9.1M
72. google docs 17.0M 9.1M
73. taco bell 12.0M 9.1M
74. dollar tree 11.4M 9.1M
75. pizza hut 11.1M 9.1M
76. roblox 11.1M 9.1M
77. sam's club 10.5M 9.1M
78. old navy 10.1M 9.1M
79. usps 10.1M 9.1M
80. grocery store 9.9M 9.1M
81. airbnb 9.1M 9.1M
82. capital one 9.1M 9.1M
83. linkedin 9.1M 9.1M
84. omegle 9.1M 9.1M
85. paypal 9.1M 9.1M
86. american airlines 8.3M 9.1M
87. donald trump 7.6M 9.1M
88. lakers 12.9M 7.5M
89. irs 11.4M 7.5M
90. burger king 9.3M 7.5M
91. fedex 9.3M 7.5M
92. ikea 9.3M 7.5M
93. hentai 9.1M 7.5M
94. pinterest 9.1M 7.5M
95. credit karma 8.3M 7.5M
96. chipotle 8.3M 7.5M
97. discord 8.3M 7.5M
98. dow jones 7.5M 7.5M
99. facebook marketplace 7.5M 7.5M
100. mlb 7.5M 7.5M
Find keywords for your business
1. what to watch 9.1M
2. when is mothers day 3.8M
3. when is fathers day 3.4M
4. what is my ip 3.4M
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 3.2M
6. how to delete instagram account 3.1M
7. where does vanilla flavoring come from 2.3M
8. what time is it 1.8M
9. how to screenshot on mac 1.7M
10. when is father's day 202 11.7M
11. where am i 1.5M
12. how many ounces in a cup1 .3M
13. when is mother's day 202 11.3M
14. how many weeks in a year 1.2M
15. what song is this 1.2M
16. what the font 1.0M
17. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M
18. how to lose weight fast 882.0K
19. how are you 823.0K
20. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K
21. when is memorial day 2021 740.8K
22. what time is it in california 673.0K
23. how many liters in a gallon 673.0K
24. how many ounces in a pound 673.0K
25. what is love 673.0K
26. how to delete facebook account 673.0K
27. when is mothers day 2021 647.5K
28. what is the factorial of hundred 637.8K
29. where does vanilla flavouring come from 637.4K
30. what lies below 634.0K
31. what is the meaning of 632.0K
32. is ariana grande married 611.4K
33. what is critical race theory 601.7K
34. when is the next full moon 591.0K
35. is today a holiday 591.0K
36. how to tie a tie 591.0K
37. how many grams in an ounce 591.0K
38. how to download youtube videos 591.0K
39. what is 100 factorial 578.8K
40. when are taxes due 2021 566.7K
41. how long to boil eggs 557.7K
42. how old is queen elizabeth 555.7K
43. how many countries in the world 550.0K
44. what is the weather today 550.0K
45. how to solve a rubik's cube 550.0K
46. how to draw 550.0K
47. how old is bernie sanders 528.0K
48. who called me 516.7K
49. when calls the heart 489.7K
50. how old is donald trump 486.3K
51. how to pronounce 483.3K
52. what day is it today 483.3K
53. what is today 483.3K
54. how to earn money online 483.3K
55. who won yesterday ipl match 481.1K
56. what is mean in math 456.0K
57. how many people are in the world 450.0K
58. what is the 450.0K
59. how many 450.0K
60. how to deactivate facebook 450.0K
61. what does 450.0K
62. what is cryptocurrency 447.3K
63. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K
64. is reddit down 441.3K
65. when is eid 2021 435.5K
66. when will senate vote on stimulus4 28.1K
67. what is the meaning 422.7K
68. how to screenshot on windows 422.7K
69. how many cups in a quart 422.7K
70. how to delete snapchat account 422.7K
71. why are flags at half mast today 411.3K
72. when is ramadan 2021 407.7K
73. when is mother's day in 2021 403.3K
74. where i can find happiness 400.3K
75. how many quarts in a gallon 395.3K
76. who is the richest person in the world 395.3K
77. what is a verb 395.3K
78. what is the time 395.3K
79. how many oz in a gallon 395.3K
80. what time is it in the uk 395.3K
81. how many seconds in a day 388.0K
82. when does summer start 382.0K
83. when is easter 380.0K
84. what if 373.0K
85. what time is it in hawaii 373.0K
86. what is computer 373.0K
87. how many days in a year 368.0K
88. what we do in the shadows 368.0K
89. what is an adjective 368.0K
90. how to make money online 368.0K
91. how to lose belly fat 368.0K
92. what is a noun 368.0K
93. how many centimeters in an inch 368.0K
94. how much 368.0K
95. how to lose weight 368.0K
96. when is eid 366.0K
97. how old is the queen 366.0K
98. how to register for covid vaccine 364.0K
99. what to mine 354.7K
100. how to take a screenshot on a mac 345.7K
The Top 100 Most Googled Questions in the US Keyword
Average Apr – May 2021Average Apr – Jun 2021
1. what time is it 5.0M 3.7M
2. what to watch 4.5M 4.4M
3. when is mothers day 3.7M 2.5M
4. when is mother's day 202 11.3M 891.7K
5. what dinosaur has 500 teeth 1.1 M 1.3M
6. how many ounces in a gallon 1.0M 1.0M
7. when is memorial day 2021 946.5K 647.5K
8. how to screenshot on mac 911.5K 882.0K
9. where am i 911.5K 882.0K
10. when is memorial day 900.5K 620.5K
11. when is fathers day 873.0K 2.2M
12. when are taxes due 2021 836.5K 566.7K
13. how many weeks in a year 823.0K 823.0K
14. how many ounces in a cup 823.0K 823.0K
15. where does vanilla flavoring come from 817.5K 565.2K
16. when does senate vote on stimulus 757.4K 509.9K
17. when is father's day 2021 710.5K 1.2M
18. how to delete instagram account 673.0K 673.0K
19. what is my ip 673.0K 673.0K
20. why are flags at half mast today 562.0K 404.8K
21. how many ounces in a pound 550.0K 550.0K
22. what time is it in california 550.0K 550.0K
23. what song is this 550.0K 591.0K
24. when is mothers day 2021 550.0K 372.7K
25. what lies below 545.3K 383.7K
26. how old is bernie sanders 500.0K 483.3K
27. what time is it in australia 500.0K 415.3K
28. what time is it in arizona 500.0K 415.3K
29. how old is queen elizabeth 479.0K 374.3K
30. how to lose weight fast 450.0K 450.0K
31. how many grams in an ounce 450.0K 450.0K
32. is today a holiday 450.0K 450.0K
33. when is the next full moon 450.0K 450.0K
34. who is kits mom bachelor 441.8K 441.8K
35. when will senate vote on stimulus 428.1K 296.4K
36. is ariana grande married 416.5K 332.6K
37. how long to boil eggs 409.0K 395.3K
38. how many cups in a quart 409.0K 395.3K
39. how old is donald trump 409.0K 422.7K
40. how many quarts in a gallon 409.0K 395.3K
41. how to tie a tie 409.0K 395.3K
42. how many oz in a gallon 368.0K 368.0K
43. how many liters in a gallon 368.0K 395.3K
44. what is the weather today 368.0K 368.0K
45. when is easter 366.8K 255.5K
46. how did dmx die 356.8K 246.9K
47. when does the senate vote on stimulus 343.9K 234.2K
48. what day is mother's day 334.5K 227.0K
49. what is mean in math 334.5K 259.7K
50. what time is it in hawaii 334.5K 345.7K
51. how many seconds in a day 307.0K 249.7K
52. how many cups in a gallon 301.0K 301.0K
53. how many tablespoons in a cup 301.0K 301.0K
54. how many teaspoons in a tablespoon 301.0K 282.7K
55. how many feet in a mile 301.0K 301.0K
56. when calls the heart 301.0K 225.3K
57. when are taxes due 301.0K 203.4K
58. why are flags at half mast 292.5K 208.5K
59. what is memorial day 288.6K 203.4K
60. is jennifer love hewitt on 911 really pregnant 281.1K 281.1K
61. what is critical race theory 280.0K 593.3K
62. where is sugar bowl 2021 280.0K 186.7K
63. did dmx die 277.7K 186.1K
64. what is april 24277.7K 185.8K
65. how many square feet in an acre 273.5K 249.3K
66. how much house can i afford 273.5K 264.3K
67. what time is the super bowl 2021 270.3K 180.2K
68. how old is joe biden 266.5K 300.3K
69. when does summer start 266.5K 300.3K
70. when is easter 2021 262.0K 188.2K
71. what time is the kentucky derby 2021249.8K 166.7K
72. how many steps in a mile 246.0K 246.0K
73. how many people are in the world 246.0K 231.0K
74. how many ounces in a quart 246.0K 246.0K
75. how many oz in a cup 246.0K 246.0K
76. how to screenshot on windows 246.0K 231.0K
77. how to write a check 246.0K 246.0K
78. what time does walmart close 246.0K 264.3K
79. what time is it in the uk 246.0K 246.0K
80. what is the weather 246.0K 231.0K
81. what is today 246.0K 246.0K
82. what is cinco de mayo 245.3K 166.8K
83. how to boil eggs 233.0K 210.3K
84. how to buy safemoon 233.0K 166.4K
85. what is cryptocurrency 233.0K192.0K
86. which wich 233.0K 222.3K
87. what happened to dmx 230.0K 156.0K
88. who is the most powerful doctor in the world 229.3K 158.9K
89. what did meyers leonard say 225.0K 225.0K
90. how to solve a rubik's cube 223.5K 231.0K
91. how to take a screenshot on a mac 223.5K 216.0K
92. how many grams in a pound 223.5K 216.0K
93. where am i right now 223.5K 231.0K
94. who is the richest person in the world 223.5K 204.0K
95. what is ramadann 221.0K 152.3K
96. where is my stimulus check 218.0K 170.0K
97. what is non binary 214.3K 197.8K
98. how to hard boil eggs 205.5K 173.7K
99. is reddit down 205.5K 237.3K
100. how many days in a year 201.0K 189.0K
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Think of your social media content strategy as your blueprint for your business's success across social platforms. If you don't take the time to put together a solid strategy, you will find that your social efforts lack direction and don't deliver the results you expect to see.
You need to dedicate the time and resources to plan your approach, map out exactly what you want to achieve, how you will get there, and how you will measure the impact that your efforts have on your goals.
But it isn't always easy to know where to start, especially if you have never put one together before.
In this guide, we will walk you through a proven 7-step process to developing a social content strategy from scratch, specifically looking at:
Continue reading, and you will learn a simple but effective process that you can use to plan your social content and take your growth from your chosen platforms to the next level.
Why You Need a Social Media Content Strategy? Strategy is underrated.
Sure, you might get away with posting something every day on your social channels without ever giving much thought to what you are posting, or more importantly, why.
But this isn't going to drive growth or real, impactful results.
You will not acquire new fans and followers or convince these individuals to visit your website or convert into a customer or client by blindly posting whatever you feel like pushing out that day. That is just not how it works.
You need to know what you want to achieve to figure out how you will get there. And this is what a strategy is.
When you can craft a strategy that maps out the route you need to take to meet your goals, your chance of achieving these massively increases. It also helps everyone involved to focus their efforts, something that, in itself, can help to improve performance and returns.
Social media should be a channel that drives sales and inquiries; it is not just a vanity channel. But for this to happen, you need to have a strategy that everyone on your marketing team works towards.
How to Develop a Social Content Strategy in 7 Simple Steps
The reality is that developing a social content strategy is easier than you probably think.
And following a proven process can help you define your goals, create and publish content to a schedule that is right for your audience, and measure your efforts' impact.
Keep reading to learn how you can do this in just 7 simple steps, including a look at the tools you should be using to make the whole process that little bit easier.
1. Setting Goals for Your ContentHave you ever heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals?
It is important that you start creating every strategy by knowing what you want to achieve, as this will help shape the path you take to make this happen. Otherwise, you are working blindly. And that is not very strategic at all.
Without goals and KPIs, you will also not be able to measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
Setting goals is all about having an indicator of success that allows you to determine your social strategy's ROI.
If you are not familiar with S.M.A.R.T goals, these are goals that are:
Your social content strategy should start with goal-setting, as this is something that will help to shape the following steps in the process.
Having clearly defined goals means that you can align every piece of content, and every post that you publish, with these.
2. Know The Profile of Your Audience and When You Should Post
Knowing your audience's profile means that you can tailor your content to talk directly to these people.
After all, taking a targeted approach is almost always more effective than trying to engage too wide of an audience with a single strategy.
Knowing the times when your audience is the most active on each channel can also help you to generate an increased level of engagement by sharing your content at the right time. And the great news is that you can gain these insights from your main social channels.
Facebook Insights provides an absolutely phenomenal amount of data on your audience, and if you are not already using this to inform your social efforts, then you need to dive deep into the tool.
Head to your Facebook Business Page, and you will see an 'Insights' tab on the left-hand menu:
From here, you can gain a wealth of data around the performance of your page. But, for the purpose of putting together a solid strategy, you need to head to the 'people' tab where you can see information around who your key audience is:
Next, head then to the 'posts' tab to gain an understanding of the times and days when your audience is most likely to be online:
Unfortunately, Twitter deprecated its powerful audience insights dashboard earlier this year. However, you can still use the Analytics tool to gain some insights into your own Tweets' performance.
Head to Twitter Analytics and hit the 'Tweets' button at the top of the page:
On this page, you can see the days when your recent Tweets have performed the best:
While this isn't as useful as Facebook Insights, it can help you to spot patterns of the days when your Tweets are the most likely to perform to the best of their potential. We will have some upcoming tips on how to get more insights on each of the social platforms.
If you are a B2B marketer, LinkedIn can give you a phenomenal amount of insights about your audience and those who follow your company page.
Head to the 'analytics' tab on your company page dashboard and navigate to 'Followers.'
From here, you can access insights on:
However, when it comes to understanding your audience, the 'follower demographics' section is insanely valuable, helping you to understand the exact profile of those who follow your page.
You can also gain insights into your audience on Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. However, the most powerful insights are those that we have walked through above.
3. Choose the Right Social Platform(s)You don't have to use every available social platform.
Let's repeat that — you don't have to use every available social platform.
In most instances, it makes sense to focus your efforts on the platforms where your audience is active and likely to engage with your business, rather than spreading your time and content too thinly across every available platform.
You will no doubt already have a good idea, by this stage, as to the platforms where your audience is the most active, but we recommend choosing a couple of these and executing a really solid strategy.
Trust us when we say that you will see far better results doing this than trying to be present everywhere.
As a general rule of thumb:
Facebook is effective for both B2B and B2C businesses, with support for a whole load of different content formats, ad targeting options, and users. There are very few businesses that should not include Facebook as one of their core channels.
Twitter isn't for every business, due to the platform's fast-moving nature and the fact that it is still very much based around a simple Tweet format. However, it is the perfect customer service platform for businesses that deal with high volumes of support and service queries.
LinkedIn is perfect for B2B service businesses and is the perfect place to position individuals and companies as experts through a content strategy based on thought leadership and a strong focus on editorial content.
Pinterest is a favorite amongst eCommerce retailers and owners of businesses that are easily promoted visually.
YouTube is the world's second-largest search engine, and pretty much all sectors can benefit from the platform. However, you need to be prepared to consistently publish engaging video content, something that not all businesses are set up to do.
Instagram is often the first or second-choice platform for B2C businesses that have access to (or can take) engaging photos and images and engage their audience. It is usually of lesser-importance to B2B businesses.
TikTok is the newcomer to the social scene, and there are plenty of examples of brands winning big on the platform, but the format and nature of the content isn't for everyone. It is perfect for lifestyle-focused B2C brands.
4. Plan Social Content and Choose Formats
Once you have chosen the main social platforms that you are going to focus your efforts upon, you need to plan out your content and the formats that you are going to create.
And our guide on 15 Social Media Content Types (with examples for ideas and inspiration) is a great starting point to inspire you to create awesome content that resonates with your audience.
A great starting point is to map out the key messages that you want to share with your audience (ideally mixing sales-focused product or service posts with educational, information, or inspirational content), alongside the formats that you can create content around.
You need to balance different formats to ensure you are getting your key message across effectively, and some of the more popular ones that we recommend include:
Don't rely on a single content format if you truly want to drive engagement from your audience, but be sure to balance the time needed to produce each different piece with the importance of maintaining a consistent publishing schedule.
5. Create a Content Calendar
Once you have started planning out your content, you need to set up a content calendar that your team can use for organizational purposes.
And this is important for a simple reason; it keeps you accountable.
Once you have set a publishing schedule and mapped it out on a content calendar, you have made a commitment. And this is often what is needed to keep your efforts focused and on track. It also helps you work with other teams to complete goals.
For example, if you know in 2 weeks, you are launching a new campaign and need graphics, your content team and graphics teams can both view the calendar and ensure tasks are done on time.
And creating a content calendar couldn't be easier to assign your social content with your wider digital marketing campaign:
Just make sure to keep your calendar updated so your whole team can use it as a reference point.
Get into the habit of adding in your planned social content and sticking to it; this is often the motivation that most marketers need to keep on track.
And let's not forget that committing to regular social publishing is one of the main drivers of success. It is hard to stick to, and very few do. But this means that those who keep on track are typically the ones who gain a competitive advantage.
In terms of how frequently you should be posting on each platform, we recommend a baseline schedule that looks like this (depending on the platforms you are using):
6. Publishing Your Content
Publishing your content on social media can be a time-consuming task.
And that's why many marketers choose to schedule their content in advance, making it easier to block out time each week to create your content and have it automatically post across your platforms at the time that you deem to be the most impactful.
Start by connecting your chosen social networks:
Once you have connected your channels, you will be able to schedule posts across each of these to have shares go out at your chosen time.
We recommend setting aside a regular time in your calendar each week to schedule your social content for the coming days. Again, this keeps you focused and on track to consistent publishing.
7. Analyze and Measure Your Content's PerformanceRemember the goals you set when mapping out your strategy?
You need to track your content's performance against those goals; otherwise, you won't know how successful your efforts are. But how you track this very much depends upon the goals that you set.
We talked about ensuring that each goal is measurable, and this is where you should have identified what you will measure success as and how you will do it.
If you have set a benchmark for your performance, you can easily identify which posts are exceeding this.
We recommend analyzing the performance of your social efforts on a weekly basis and measuring these against the goals and KPIs that you set.
If you are on your way to achieving your goals, great. If not, a weekly check-in on progress means you are able to make adjustments and improvements to your strategy to get things back on track.
Don't underestimate the power of putting together a solid social content strategy.
It is your roadmap to success, and having a clear plan of action that can be communicated across your team and key stakeholders and time invested in putting this together is time well spent.
Just be sure to follow a clear process, know your goals and checkpoints, and maintain a consistent approach to publishing great content!
Don't forget to share this post!
Brands need a video marketing strategy — this idea isn't new. What has changed is how important video has become on every platform and channel.
Video is no longer just one piece of your overall marketing plan. It's central to your outreach and campaign efforts … especially your social strategy.
Video has absolutely dominated social. Swift Digital Marketing Research shows that four of the top six channels on which global consumers watch video are social channels.
Why is this important? If you aren't creating video, you're likely falling behind. But don't fret. For most videos, the more simple and raw it is, the more authentic the content seems … and that's what really matters to your audience.
Better yet, video production is more cost-effective than ever — you can shoot in high-quality, 4K video with your smartphone.
Regardless, between camera equipment to lighting to editing software, the topic of video marketing can still seem pretty complicated. That's why we compiled this guide.
Continue reading learn everything you need to know about video marketing strategy, or use the links below to jump to a specific section.
Video marketing is using videos to promote and market your product or service, increase engagement on your digital and social channels, educate your consumers and customers, and reach your audience with a new medium.
Why should you focus on video marketing today?
The last handful of years saw a surge in the popularity of video as a content marketing format.
Specifically, in 2017, video rise to the top of your marketing tactic list. Video as a tactic was likely streamlined by your creative team as a one-to-many awareness play, with lots of focus on expensive production and little analysis to show for it.
2018 and 2019 transformed video from a singular marketing tactic to an entire business strategy.
Today, video is a holistic business approach, meaning video content should be produced by all teams in a conversational, actionable, and measurable way.
More than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands … more than any other type of content.
Video on landing pages is capable of increasing conversion rates by over 80%, and the mere mention of the word “video” in your email subject line increases open rates by 19%. 90% of customers also say videos help them make buying decisions.
But video hasn't only transformed how businesses market and consumers shop; it's also revolutionized how salespeople connect with and convert prospects and how service teams support and delight customers. In short, video is incredibly useful throughout the entire flywheel — not just to heighten brand awareness.
Video can be a versatile tool for salespeople throughout the entire customer buying journey, and it can do much more than increase engagement. Backend analytics also help salespeople qualify and prioritize cold or unresponsive leads.
According to Gary Stevens, head of research at HostingCanada.org, "retargeting our website visitors on social media has led to a 47% increase in visitor value site-wide." The granularity of video analytics on platforms like Facebook is one reason why, in 2018, 93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media thanks to video.
The options are also endless for service teams — onboarding videos, knowledge-based videos, meet the team videos, support video calls, and customer stories are just a few ways that video can create a more thorough, personalized customer support experience.
Lastly, according to Swift Research, consumers and customers actually prefer lower quality, “authentic” video over high-quality video that seems artificial and inauthentic.
Video is within reach for businesses of virtually any size — team and budget alike. 45% of marketers plan to add YouTube to their content strategy in the next year. Will you join them?
The 12 Types of Marketing Videos
Before you begin filming, you first need to determine the type of video(s) you want to create. Check out this list to better understand your options.
1. Demo Videos
Demo videos showcase how your product works — whether that's taking viewers on a tour of your software and how it can be used or unboxing and putting a physical product to the test.
2. Brand Videos
Brand videos are typically created as a part of a larger advertising campaign, showcasing the company's high-level vision, mission, or products and services.
The goal of brand videos is to build awareness around your company and to intrigue and attract your target audience.
3. Event Videos
Is your business hosting a conference, round table discussion, fundraiser, or another type of event? Produce a highlight reel or release interesting interviews and presentations from the gathering.
4. Expert Interviews
Capturing interviews with internal experts or thought leaders in your industry is a great way to build trust and authority with your target audience. Find the influencers in your industry — whether they share your point-of-view or not — get these discussions in front of your audience.
The video above is more than just a surface-level interview, it's a deep-dive with an industry expert offering concrete takeaways for viewers interested in creating viral content. Don't be afraid to get tactical with your interviews — your audience will grow from your hard work.
5. Educational or How-To Videos
Instructional videos can be used to teach your audience something new or build the foundational knowledge they'll need to better understand your business and solutions. These videos can also be used by your sales and service teams as they work with customers.
6. Explainer Videos
This type of video is used to help your audience better understand why they need your product or service. Many explainer videos focus on a fictional journey of the company's core buyer persona who is struggling with a problem. This person overcomes the issue by adopting or buying the business's solution.
7. Animated Videos
Animated videos can be a great format for hard-to-grasp concepts that need strong visuals or to explain an abstract service or product.
8. Case Study and Customer Testimonial
Your prospects want to know that your product can (and will) solve their specific problem. One of the best ways to prove this is by creating case study videos that feature your satisfied, loyal customers. These folks are your best advocates. Get them on-camera describing their challenges and how your company helped solve them.
9. Live Videos
Live video gives your viewers a special, behind-the-scenes look at your company. It also draws longer streams and higher engagement rates — viewers spend up to 8.1x longer with live video than with video-on-demand. Live-stream interviews, presentations, and events, and encourage viewers to comment with questions.
10. 360° & Virtual Reality Videos
With 360° videos, viewers “scroll” around to see content from every angle — as if they were physically standing within the content. This spherical video style allows viewers to experience a location or event, such as exploring Antarctica or meeting a hammerhead shark. Virtual reality (VR) allows viewers to navigate and control their experience. These videos are usually viewed through devices such as Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.
11. Augmented Reality (AR) VideosIn this style video, a digital layer is added to what you are currently viewing in the world. For example, you can point your phone's camera at your living room and AR would allow you to see how a couch would look in the space. The IKEA Place app is a great example of this.
12. Personalized Messages
Video can be a creative way to continue a conversation or respond to someone via email or text. Use videos to record yourself recapping an important meeting or giving personalized recommendations. These videos create a delightful, unique moment for your prospects and can drive them further down the purchase journey.
How to Make a Video for Your Business
There's a lot that goes into making a video. This section will walk you through the detailed process of creating and publishing a video for your business. Grab your camera and follow along.
1. Plan your video.
Before you set up, record, or edit anything, start with a conversation about the purpose of your video. Why? Every decision made during the video creation process will point back to your video's purpose and what action you'd like your audience to complete after watching it.
And, of course, without a clear purpose agreed upon by your team, you'll find yourself in a whirlwind of re-shooting, re-framing, editing … and wasting a lot of precious time.
There are typically a lot of players when making a video. How can you ensure they're all aligned?
Create a questionnaire using Google Forms or SurveyMonkey and pass it along to the stakeholders of the project. This way, you can ask the same questions of everyone and aggregate your answers in one place.
Who's your target audience?
What buyer persona are you targeting? This may be a segment of your company's typical buyer persona.
What's the goal?
Is it to increase brand awareness? Sell more event tickets? Launch a new product? Ultimately, what do you want your audience to do after watching the video?
Where's the video going to live?
On Facebook? Behind a landing page form? You should begin with one target location — where you know your audience will discover the video — before repurposing it for other channels.
What are the creative requirements?
With your budget, skills, and resources in mind, think about the creative roadblocks that might arise. Do you need a designer to create lower third graphics? Are you going to create an animated video or a live-action video?
What will constitute success for the video?
Choose several key performance indicators that correspond with your video goals — or hop down to the chapter in this guide on measuring and analyzing video.
2. Script your video.
There's a time and place for videos to be off-the-cuff and completely unscripted. You have tear-jerking documentaries, vlogging rants, and, of course, the holy grail: cat videos.
That being said, most business videos need a script.
If you skip this step, you'll find yourself editing more than you need to, releasing a video longer than it should be, and probably losing your audience along the way.
Start writing your script the way you would begin a blog post — with an outline. List out your key points and order them logically.
Do all of your drafting in Google Docs to promote collaboration and real-time commenting. Use the “Insert > Table” function to adopt one of television's traditional script-writing practices: the two-column script. Write your audio (script) in the left column and insert matching visual ideas in the right column.
Don't make the viewer wait until the final seconds to understand the purpose of your video … we promise they won't stick around. Similar to a piece of journalistic writing, include a hook near the beginning that states the purpose of the video, especially for educational and explainer videos.
Notice, in our example below, that we don't let the audience get past the second sentence without understanding what the video will be about.
As you begin creating videos, you'll notice a key difference between video scripts and your typical business blog post — the language. Video language should be relaxed, clear, and conversational. Avoid using complex sentence structures and eloquent clauses. Instead, connect with your audience by writing in first person and using visual language. Keep the language concise, but avoid jargon and buzzwords.
Following the “Little-Known Instagram Hacks” example, note how a section from the original blog post could be transformed for video by using fewer words and relying on visuals.
Most video scripts are short … probably shorter than you think. Keep a script timer handy to check your script length as you write and edit. For example, a 350-word script equates to a video that is nearly 2 minutes long.
Words on paper sound a lot different than they do when read out loud. That's why we encourage organizing a table read of your script before you start filming. The point of a table read is to smooth out the kinks of the script and nail down inflection points.
Have a few people (writer and talent included) gather around a table with their laptops and read the script multiple times through. If you accidentally say a line different than what the script prescribes, think about why and consider changing the language to make it sound more natural.
3. Understand your camera(s).Too often the fear and uncertainty of equipment keep businesses from trying out video marketing. But learning to shoot video doesn't have to be overwhelming.
It's likely you have a great, easy-to-use camera right in your pocket: your iPhone.
Shooting with Your iPhoneBefore filming with your iPhone, ensure your device has enough storage. Also, don't forget to enable your iPhone's Do Not Disturb feature to avoid distracting notifications while filming.
Once you open the iPhone's camera, flip your phone horizontally to create the best possible viewing experience. Then, move close enough to your subject so you don't have to use the zoom feature — it often makes the final video look pixelated and blurry.
Shooting with Prosumer and Professional Cameras
While iPhones are great for filming on the fly or becoming acclimated with video, at some point you may feel ready to graduate up to the next model. With all the digital cameras on the market, there are a ton of choices to pick from. Below we've identified a few options to simplify your search.
The first choice you make will be between purchasing a “prosumer” camera and a professional camera.
Prosumer cameras are considered the bridge between basic compact cameras and more advanced cameras. They're perfect for someone interested in creating more video but want the option to just press record. Most have a fixed lens to keep things simple.
Professional cameras, like DSLRs, give you fine control over the manual settings of shooting video and allow you to achieve the shallow depth of field (background out of focus) that people rave about. While they're primarily used for photography, DSLRs are incredibly small, work great in low light situations, and pair with a wide range of lenses — making them perfect for video. However, DSLRs do require some training (and additional purchases) of lenses.
ApertureAperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens. Like a human eye, a lens opens and closes to control the amount of light reaching the sensor. Aperture is measured in what's called an f-stop. The smaller the f-stop number, the more open the lens is, while a larger number means the lens is more closed.
This is where you can begin to see how the three factors of the Exposure Triangle work together. When you have a low-lit situation, for example, you may choose a lens that can shoot with a low f-stop to let more light into the camera and avoid making the shot too noisy with a high ISO.
If you're just starting out with manual video settings, don't be overwhelmed. Understanding the ins and outs of the Exposure Triangle takes time and a lot of practice. Here are two tips to beat the learning curve:
While aperture, shutter speed, and ISO may be the three main pillars of manual photography and videography, there is a fourth piece of the puzzle that's just as important: white balance.
White balance tells your camera the color temperature of the environment you're shooting in. Different types of light have different colors. For example, incandescent bulbs (like what many people put in a lamp) have a very warm color. The fluorescent lights (if you're reading this in an office, look up) are a little bit cooler. Daylight is cooler yet. Before you begin shooting, you have to adjust your camera's white balance according to your setup.
To help you understand the importance of setting your white balance, consider the difference between these two photos. The environment is lit with yellow fluorescent lights. You can see how the appropriate setting looks natural, while the daylight setting adds a blue tint to the scene.
Focus isn't one of the key settings of shooting, but it's definitely important to keep in mind. With a DSLR, you have the option to shoot with autofocus or manual focus. It depends on the camera and lens you have, but typically autofocus is not the most accurate.
4. Set up your studio.
When you begin building your in-office studio, the purchases can add up quickly. Not only do you need a camera, but the more you read, the more you realize you need tripods, lights, microphones, and more.
Take a breath. With a little bit of know-how, building your studio doesn't have to be overwhelming. There are plenty of cost-effective choices and DIY hacks to make sure your videos look top-of-the-line.
Always shoot with a tripod. It should go without saying, but the handheld method you use for your Snapchat story isn't going to cut it. Tripods will ensure you maintain a steady shot and not break any expensive equipment in the process.
Along with the tripod, stock up on camera batteries and SD cards. Recording video will cause you to run through both much quicker than taking photos.
If you've begun testing out your camera's video capabilities, you've probably noticed that it has an internal microphone to record audio … don't use it.
If you set up your camera at a reasonable distance from your subject, you'll quickly learn that the internal microphone isn't powerful enough to adequately record audio. Instead, you should begin investing in a few pieces of quality sound equipment.
When you're shooting with your iPhone, there are a ton of microphone options that are all easy to use and decently cheap. For example, the Movo MA200 Omni-Directional iPhone microphone will give you a plug-and-play solution for capturing audio on the fly.
Opinions vary greatly among sound engineers on the best method and equipment for recording audio with a DSLR. You've likely seen many videos that use a lavalier microphone — the small piece that clips below the collar of the talent's shirt.
Lavaliers come in both wired and wireless options. However, lavaliers can be a bit obtrusive both for the talent (who has to have a wire threaded down his or her shirt) and for the viewer (who has to see a microphone for the whole video).
Instead, if you know you're recording in a controlled environment (like a conference room in your office) we suggest recording with a shotgun mic. They're reliable, remain out of the shot, and record background noise in a natural-sounding way.
The Zoom recorder will allow you to record audio separately on an SD card and adjust the gain for the environment you're shooting in.
5. Prepare your talent.
If you have experienced, confident actors in your company, you're lucky. Video talent is a rare resource. But with a little bit of coaching (and a fair share of nervous laughter), you can help your teammates thrive in front of the camera.
No matter if it's your first video or your fiftieth, remember that getting in front of the camera is scary. Schedule plenty of time and give your talent the script early — but make it clear they don't need to memorize it.
Instead, place a laptop below the eye-line of the camera. Break the script into short paragraphs and record it section by section until you capture a great take of each. If you plan in advance when the final video will show b-roll (supplementary footage or screenshots), you can have your talent read those lines directly off the laptop like a voice over.
During the shoot, your job goes beyond pressing record. First and foremost, you need to be a coach. Balance critical feedback with support and be quick to give encouragement after each take. This is why conducting a table read during the scripting process is so important: It's easier to give feedback when there's not a camera in the room. Remember, be a little silly during the shoot or your talent will be on edge and uncomfortable — and it will show in the footage.
But while you're maintaining the fun level on set, remain vigilant. It's your job to pay attention to the little things, like making sure all of the mics are on or noticing if the lighting changes. Record each section many times and have your talent play with inflections. When you think they've nailed the shot … get just one more. At this point, your talent is already on a roll, and options will help tremendously during editing.
Finally, circle back to the beginning of the script at the end of your recording. Chances are your subject got more comfortable throughout the shoot. Since the beginning is often the most crucial part of the video, record that section again when they're feeling the most confident.
There are some films that are simply beautiful. It's not the story or even the picturesque setting. In fact, the scene might take place in the dingiest of sets, but somehow each shot just feels right.
That's the power of composition. When objects appear where they should in the frame, the quality of your video increases exponentially.
For video, the rules of composition are similar to what you may have learned in a photography or art class. First, consider the rule of thirds — the idea that you can create a sense of balance by imagining the canvas with two horizontal lines and two vertical lines. Key elements should occur at the intersection of these lines.
For example, if you are shooting an interview or a how-to video, the subject's eyes should align with the top horizontal line around one of the two intersections. For this “talking head” shot, you can also improve your composition by leaving enough (but not too much) headroom. This is the empty space above the person's head.
One of the best ways to improve the look of your video is to include b-roll. B-roll is the supplementary footage included as a cutaway. This might include shots of a customer service rep talking on a phone, a designer editing your website, visuals of your office, or even screenshots of your product. The key with b-roll is to make sure each and every piece enhances the story.
When you're collecting b-roll, include a mix of shots from varying angles and distances. In fact, film professionals use different names to describe these variations.
As practice, try telling a story with your b-roll and planning out a shot sequence. For example, your subject might open a door from the hallway, walk into their office space, sit down at their desk, open their laptop, and begin typing. Seems simple, right? But a shot sequence showing this 10-second scenario might consist of six or more different b-roll clips.
Here's where the final lesson of composition comes in: continuity.
Continuity is the process of combining shots into a sequence so that they appear to have happened at the same time and place. A key part of continuity is making sure any ancillary objects in the scene — for example, a cup of water on a desk — stay in the same place (and have the same amount of water) throughout all of the shots.
The other part of learning continuity is match on action. For the scene described above, you'd want to record the subject opening the door and walking in from both inside and outside the room. In post-production, you could then flip between the clips at the exact right time to make the cut seamless.
6. Shoot for the edit.
When it comes to video, some are better at shooting while others are better at editing. Whatever side you claim, you should understand the process and pain points of each.
For instance, as the person behind the camera, you may believe you collect ample footage and ask all the right interview questions. But to the editor, you may actually be shooting too much of one type of shot and missing out on some that would make their job easier.
Filmmakers teach a valuable lesson here: shoot for the edit. By remembering that the footage you record will be edited later, you can make smarter decisions and save countless hours in the editing room.
The first step in adopting a shoot-for-the-edit mindset is remembering to leave a buffer at the beginning and the end of each clip. There are called handles and can save editors from the headache of cutting too close to an important shot.
In the section on preparing talent, we discussed how to record your script in short sections. If the editor were to stitch these sections together side-by-side, the subject's face and hands might abruptly switch between clips. This is called a jump cut, and for editors, it poses an interesting challenge. Thankfully, this is where b-roll comes in handy, to mask these jump cuts.
Example of a jump cut
As a producer, your job is to capture plenty of b-roll to make sure your editor never runs out. Create a shot list of more b-roll ideas than you think you'll need and mark them off as you record them.
To mask jump cuts, you can also shoot with two cameras, especially if you're recording an interview without a script. Camera A would be the traditional, straight-on shot. Camera B should be angled 30 to 45-degrees to the side and capture a distinctly different shot. The editor could then flip between these two views to make the cut appear natural.
A note about shooting with two cameras: Your editor will need to sync the footage between the different views. To help them do this, clap your hands loudly in the view of both cameras right before you ask the first interview question … yes, just like an old fashion clapboard. Modern editing software has auto-sync features, but this loud clap will help you initially line up the clips.
Finally, mark your good clips. Even if you're recording a scripted video, you might have to record each section 10 or more times. Once your subject nails the take, wave your hand in front of the lens. That way, the editor can scrub directly to this visual cue and save time on footage review.
7. Organize your footage.
Yes, file organization is boring. But when video editing, it just might save your project.
On your external hard drive, you should create a separate top-level folder for each project. Within this folder, there should be a prescribed set of “buckets” to store your video footage, audio, design assets, and more. Create a template project folder that you can copy and paste for each project using the image below as a guide.
When you import your footage from your camera, place it in the “footage” folder on your hard drive.
Even with a perfectly organized external hard drive, you're not yet out of the weeds. You need to back up your files (and maybe even back up your backup files). It's not uncommon to have an external hard drive for everyday work, another external for backups, and a third set of backups in the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive.
8. Edit your video.
Okay, you've filmed your video footage. Congrats — you're halfway there!
Now it's time to talk about editing. We get it, video editing can be confusing. It's easy to feel overwhelmed at first, especially when you see software price tags! Luckily, there are many options for video editing based on your skill level, operating system, and budget. There are even free programs and mobile apps! Let's go over a few options.
Intermediate: Apple iMovie
iMovie is Apple's video editing software. Compatible with Macs and other iOS devices, iMovie is simple, user-friendly, and free on all Apple products. iMovie allows you to create and edit your videos by cutting together clips, adding titles, music, sound effects, basic color correction, filters, and special effects.
The program even provides helpful templates that simplify the editing process. The platform supports high-quality clips like 4K video footage and makes it easy to share your work directly to a video hosting platform. Limited access to advanced color correction and editing features mean it isn't commonly used by professionals, but iMovie is still a great option if you're just starting out.
Advanced: Adobe Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro is a leading video editing software program used by amateurs and professionals alike. With a customizable interface and numerous advanced editing tools, the platform is often called the industry standard for video editing and has been used to edit major Hollywood movies like Gone Girl and Deadpool.
Premiere makes it easy to collaborate with other editors, organize your material, and sync with other programs in the Adobe suite like After Effects and Photoshop. The platform supports high-quality footage (4K and higher) and includes advanced, built-in color correction and grading tools that set it apart from cheaper or free options like iMovie.
The only downside to Premiere is the cost. A year-long subscription to the latest Premiere Pro CC comes in around $240. If you're new to video editing, you may want to experiment with a cheaper option like iMovie or Adobe Premiere Elements before investing in the Premiere Pro. On the fence? Check out some Adobe Premiere Pro tutorials here.
9. Choose your music.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think about video? I'm guessing the actual video footage. While it's important to concentrate on your video footage, don't forget to factor music into your overall plan and budget.
Music is a powerful tool that can alter your video's mood and tone — just watch the videos above! Choosing the right music often makes the difference between an amateur project and a professional piece of content. When used properly, it can help keep your viewer's attention, evoke emotions, and define your overall editing style.
Next, consider your audience and the overall mood for your production. Are you targeting a small audience that will appreciate the newest, underground hip-hop track, or do you need something that will appeal to many demographics? Are you creating a practical product tutorial or an upbeat event recap? Be sure to choose music that enhances the overall tone of your video.
In addition to considering your audience, be sure to contemplate the purpose of the music. Do you need background music or something with real impact? Will you be narrating or speaking in the video? If so, don't let the music get in the way of your content. Sometimes the best music is the music you don't remember at all.
After you've determined the type of music you need, it's time to start analyzing potential songs. Consider the song's pacing. Songs with a steady rhythm are easy to change to suit your video style. Hoping to include your favorite, Top 40 hit?
Try to choose simple songs that are easy to loop. If you're looking for an instrumental song, be sure to find something that was recorded with real instruments. Songs made with digital samples can make your video feel unprofessional and out of date.
Finally, consider adding intro and outro music. Intro and outro music, or bookends, can serve as a theme for your content. These are a great choice if you don't need music throughout your entire video. Bookend music can help set the tone for your video, naturally split your content into chapters, and leave your viewers feeling they had a complete experience.
While some videos feel unfinished without background music, others just need a few tunes to tie the project together. Pay attention to videos that have a similar style to see how others utilize music.
10. Record your voice over.
You have your video footage and music — now it's time to chat about voice overs. A voice over is the separate video narration that's not spoken by the speaker on-camera. Voice overs are an effective tool that can help make your content more relatable, emotional, and fluid.
It's important to remember that video audio is just as important as video visuals. The good news is that you don't have to be the next Don LaFontaine or hire a professional to record a great voice over. Below are a few tips to capture audio on a budget.
You're ready to publish your video. You shot the footage, edited it together, added music and a voice over, and exported it for the web. Now it's time to get your video online so your audience can start viewing, sharing, and engaging with it.
You have several options for hosting videos online, and in this section, we'll talk about some of the best ones.
YouTubeWhen you ask your friends which online video platform they use, the answer you probably hear the most is YouTube.
YouTube is the largest video hosting platform and the second largest search platform and second most visited website — both after Google.
Every single day, people watch over five billion videos on YouTube. It's also free to upload your videos to YouTube and optimize them for search.
In addition to its massive audience, YouTube offers several other features that make the platform a good option for hosting your video. Because YouTube videos are hosted on individual channels, the platform allows you to build a dedicated audience of subscribers. Users who follow your channel are more likely to see additional videos you upload.
Within your channel itself, you can also organize videos into playlists, making it easy for your audience to search within your content.
As a social platform, viewers can engage with your videos by liking and commenting on them, providing you another chance to interact with your audience. YouTube also offers a variety of advertising options for more sophisticated targeting.
Although YouTube offers the benefit of reaching a large audience with no cost to upload and host videos, there are several downsides to the platform. While video ads can be a great tool for promoting your own content, the number of ads on the platform from other advertisers can detract from your viewer's experience.
YouTube is also (surprise, surprise!) highly addicting. 83% of viewers prefer YouTube over any other video platform. Once viewers are on the platform, they usually stick around to watch another video … or 20. This can make it difficult to drive traffic back to your site from the platform. Despite these barriers, YouTube is a great platform for hosting videos and growing your audience.
VimeoIf your friends didn't answer your earlier question with “YouTube” then they most likely responded with Vimeo, the second largest video hosting platform.
Vimeo's audience is significantly smaller (715 million monthly views) than YouTube's, but there are still many benefits that make it a favorite for content creators and viewers alike.
Among these is a simpler, cleaner, user interface that makes it easier to navigate the platform. Unlike YouTube, Vimeo has very limited ads and commercials that would otherwise detract from your viewers' experience. Videos on Vimeo also tend to be higher quality than on YouTube, and the audience on the platform is likely to be more professional.
Vimeo offers several different premium account options to better suit businesses. The premium accounts provide additional storage, advanced analytics, customer support, player customization, access to lead generation tools, and much more. In addition to premium accounts, Vimeo also partners with businesses to produce quality marketing content.
If you're looking to showcase high quality, artistic content, Vimeo might be the platform for you. Its engaged audience and beautiful aesthetic make it a great place to host creative videos. However, if you're focused on quantity over quality and increasing your reach, you may want to explore other platform options.
Vidyard is a video hosting platform built specifically for businesses. It's not just another option to store and manage your videos; instead, it allows you to become a fully video-enabled business. Here's what we mean.
These days, we know posting your video to YouTube isn't enough. You need channel-specific video content for Facebook and Instagram, not to mention for your website. Enter: Vidyard. The platform allows you to publish and update to all of these places from a central location.
From this portal, you'll find all sorts of viewer insights. Discover what types of video content your audience likes and how they watch their videos. Then, channel those insights directly into your marketing automation software or CRM. For example, if that prospect you've been monitoring views your latest case study video, you'll be notified straight away.
One of the coolest features of Vidyard is the ability to personalize videos with the viewer's name or company directly in the video design. This is a creative addition as you begin working video into your marketing and sales strategies.
How to Create a Video Social Media StrategyWe've learned how to create high-quality videos for your business. Now, let's make sure those videos fit within each social network's best practices.
Creating and posting videos on social media should always help you drive toward your existing marketing goals.
For example, if your goal is to get more people to download an ebook, you could create a short teaser or how-to video and post the full link to the ebook's landing page in the copy of your social post.
Let's drill down into best practices for each social network.
Promote a new blog post, engage with your audience, or even drive viewers to a landing page with Twitter videos. When teasing a blog post or piece of content on Twitter, always keep your video short and sweet – brevity is a core factor on this channel.
Short clips that are easy to consume tend to perform the best. Try pinning your video to the top of your profile for some added exposure.
If you want to get a little more experimental with using video on Twitter, you can try making short, custom videos to engage with your audience. These highly personal, one-to-one response videos are an awesome way to make your brand more human while building personal connections with your engaged followers.
Facebook and Instagram
When you walk onto a bus or train for your morning commute, how many people are scrolling through their smartphones to see the news and content they've missed overnight? Pretty much everyone – but not everyone is wearing headphones.
For this reason, make sure your video works with or without sound. BuzzFeed is the master of silent auto-play — just take a look at their Facebook page. The reason their silent auto-play strategy works so well is because of this rise in mobile video views and the way people scroll through and consume content on social media. They often post quick recipes or quick how-to’s, often with easy-to-follow imagery or helpful text to describe what is happening.
Facebook also favors longer videos in their newsfeed algorithm. The goal with this shift is to better surface videos that are most relevant to the viewer.
So what does this mean for you? Don't panic; this just confirms what we already know is true. Creating the "right" content for your audience is more important than churning out it out for the sake of it.
Secondly, upload videos directly to Facebook. Facebook continues to make a compelling case for uploading your videos natively to the platform — the primary reason being that your content will be seen by more eyes.
Brand awareness videos that are light-hearted and entertaining tend to perform well on Facebook for this very reason – their algorithm takes into account a user's previous video-related actions when determining what videos to show them on subsequent visits. Make a video that's super relevant to your audience, share it on Facebook, and see what type of engagement you can drum up!
Lastly, grab attention instantly... and keep it. Did you know that Instagram was the first social channel to initiate silent, auto-playing videos? It's true! Shortly after, Facebook followed suit, so it's safe to say that catering to this type of video when creating content for social media is the way to go. It might seem daunting to try and grab someone's attention so fast and without sound, but here are a few best practices you can use to make things easier:
On YouTube, post with a specific strategy in mind. Think of YouTube as a giant library of video content where people go to either educate themselves or to be entertained. YouTube reports over 1 billion unique users per month – sounds like a social media gold-mine, right? Well, sometimes, yes.
There are, however, a few questions you should ask yourself before going forth with posting every video you've ever made to your YouTube account:
Establish and grow a dedicated channel of subscribers by creating informative, educational content that is in high demand, and you'll start to see some real success!
Live Video: Facebook & Instagram
While Instagram's traditional features let users record short video clips and post them online afterward, new live features on Facebook and Instagram take a different approach, allowing users to post live video streams of what they're doing at that very moment.
When you’re setting up videos for Facebook Live or Instagram Live, make sure you’re following the steps in the first section of this guide. If you do this, you’ll have much higher quality live videos, which will set you apart from other live videos being shown. In addition to these steps, we have a few more things to keep in mind.
Keep in mind that your live video will be broadcast from the platform (Facebook or Instagram) itself, so that's where you'll be promoting your broadcasts primarily. Do some research on your Facebook/Instagram audiences to find out when they're most engaged with your posts.
Even if some of your followers miss out, the app will save your videos to the app by default (although you can delete them manually if you want to), and they'll be available for viewing by your followers after the fact.
As for the length of your video broadcasts, remember that most people's attention spans are fairly short — especially on mobile. If your broadcasts aren't captivating from the get-go, users will likely stop viewing your stream.
Spend time coming up with a compelling title.It's vital that your title describes what your video is and why people should either tune in now or replay your stream later (up to 24 hours). Here are a few styles that make effective titles:
Respond to comments live.
One of the coolest features on Facebook is that people who are watching your stream in real time can comment and "like" the broadcast (which show up as hearts, like on Instagram). Other viewers are able to see these comments and the number of hearts your video has. Acknowledge or even respond to these comments out loud on the live broadcast to encourage engagement and make the experience feel like more of a two-way conversation.
Experiment with use cases.
Since Facebook and Instagram Live features are still relatively new, there aren't solidly defined ways to use it, especially for brands. This is a unique opportunity for you to experiment with different ways of using it and what type of content your audience likes most.
Facebook Live lets you analyze a few key stats you'll want to keep track of while you're figuring out what works. Once your video ends, the app lets you see how many live viewers you had, how many viewers replayed your video, and how many hearts your video received (this number updates automatically as users continue "liking" your video from the time it ends until it expires).
Considering the time, money, and resources involved, video marketing can't be an impulsive guessing game. Instead, you need to create a comprehensive video marketing strategy that applies to every facet of your flywheel. This means thinking in the context of the inbound methodology.
The inbound methodology is the marketing and sales approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. Each video you create should acknowledge your audience's challenges and provide a solution. Looking at the big picture, this content guides consumers through the journey of becoming aware of, evaluating, and purchasing your product or service.
In the following sections, we'll cover the types of videos you should create for each stage in the image above. To start, plan to create at least two videos for each. Don't forget to include call-to-actions to help lead your audience through their purchase journey and into the role of "promoter." Over time, you can improve based on conversion rates and the content gaps you discover.
Attract The first step of the inbound methodology is to attract — or turn strangers into visitors. Consumers at this stage are identifying their challenges and deciding whether or not they should seek out a solution. Therefore, the videos you create should empathize with their problems and introduce a possible solution in your product or service.
Ultimately, the goal of this kind of video is to expand reach and build trust. Because you are looking to garner shares for your video, it'll likely be more entertaining and emotion-evoking than educational. But, you should still provide enough information to associate yourself as an authority on the topic.
Examples of videos in the “attract” stage include snackable social videos that show off your brand's personality, thought leadership videos that establish you as a source of industry news and insight, brand films the share your values and mission, or explainers and how-to videos that provide relevant tips for solving your audience's pain point.
Let your brand values and personality be your north star(s). Finally, because these videos can live on a variety of channels, keep in mind the strategies of each platform. For example, a Facebook video might have a square aspect ratio and text animations for soundless viewers.
Now that you've attracted video viewers and website visitors, the next step is to convert these visitors into leads. With most inbound marketing content, this means collecting some sort of contact information via a form. Video can aid this process by visualizing a solution to the buyer's problem, whether that's before the form on a landing page or as the offer itself. Overall, the goal of this kind of video is to educate and excite.
"Convert" videos may include a webinar filled with tactical advice, product demos sent via email, landing page promotional videos, case studies, or more in-depth explainer and how-to videos. For example, while an "attract" video might provide a quick tip for nailing a sales pitch, a "convert" video could be an animated explainer video that breaks down the inbound sales methodology.
You've attracted a new audience with your videos and converted the right visitors into leads. Now's the time to close these leads into customers. Yet, as important as this stage is, "close" videos are often the most overlooked by marketers and salespeople.
At this point, the consumer is weighing their options and deciding on the purchase. Therefore, the goal of this kind of video is to make your audience visualize themselves using your product or service — and thriving. There's a reason 4X as many customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it. Videos are able to display functionality and leverage emotions in ways a product description never could.
Great "close" videos include testimonials of customers with relatable stories, in-depth product demos, culture videos that sell viewers on your quality of service, or even personalized videos that explain exactly how your product could help their business
A purchase may have been made, but there's still a lot of video can do to leverage the post-conversion stage of your flywheel. During the "delight stage" of the inbound methodology, your goal is to continue providing remarkable content to users that makes their interaction with your product or service as incredible as possible.
It's also in hopes that they'll tell their connections about their experience or up-sell themselves. Therefore, the goal of this type of video is to encourage your customers to embrace your brand and become brand evangelists.
Your first opportunity to delight comes directly after the purchase. Consider sending a thank you video to welcome them into the community or an onboarding video to get them rolling with their new purchase. Then, build out a library of educational courses or product training videos to cater to consumers who prefer self-service or simply want to expand their expertise.
Defining Your Goals and Analyzing Results
At this point, you know how to create a video and where to host it. You're ready to get started, right? Not quite. Before you dive in, you need to define your video goals and identify the best metrics for determining whether you've accomplished those goals.
Before launching any marketing campaign, it's important to determine your primary video goal. This could be to increase brand awareness, engagement, or even conversions for a free trial. It's crucial to pick out just one or two goals for each video. When you define more than that, your video will seem unfocused, making it difficult for viewers to determine what they should do next.
When thinking of your goals, be sure to keep your buyer persona and target audience in mind. How old are they? Where do they live? What are their interests? How do they typically consume media? What stage of the buyer's journey are they in?
All of these questions can help determine what type of video you should make and where you should post it. For example, if your target audience is not familiar with your company, you probably want to make a video that focuses on brand awareness before producing an in-depth, product video. You'll also want to host your video on a site that already has a large reach, like YouTube.
Next, let's talk about metrics. Understanding these will equip you to define and measure your success and set your goals. When you post a video, it's easy to get obsessed with one metric — view count. While view count can be an important metric, there are many others that may be more relevant to your campaign.
Finally, what about your video social media marketing strategy? How do you measure that?
Measuring performance on each social media platform provides valuable information, especially to determine whether video really is the right content type for your audience on each platform.
Across all platforms, in addition to the metrics above, be sure to measure views over time to determine the life of your videos. You may find that videos need to be refreshed every few weeks, or months, in order to stay relevant with your audience. You also want to always be tracking and comparing engagement of your videos. This will help you determine which topics encourage the most sharing, and therefore will have a higher and longer lifetime value.
Ready, Set, Action!I'm guessing you're feeling a little overwhelmed right now. Don't worry, you're not alone. Video editing and marketing can seem daunting at first, but with a little practice and patience, you can easily produce high-quality content that is unique to your brand.
With 71% of consumers watching more video online than they were a year ago, brands can no longer ignore their growing popularity. Thankfully, creating great content has never been easier!
Try turning a written blog into a video or create a product tutorial. Using video to showcase information in a new, interesting way is sure to interest and delight your audience. Pick up a camera, start filming, and watch your engagement levels increase. It's time to make video a key part of your marketing strategy!
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You know you're a marketer when you're sitting in traffic on the highway, it's completely bumper to bumper, and all you can think about is "Why can't I drive traffic to my website like this?"
If you've struggled with driving traffic to your website, you're not alone. According to 2020 research done by Content Marketing Institute, 63% of content professionals are challenged with finding enough staff skilled in content strategy which is one of the top drivers of website traffic.
Between writing a new blog post, posting on social media, and strategizing for a new email campaign, it's hard to look back and see what's driving traffic to your site and what isn't.
The list below will help you increase the traffic to your website, generate more leads, and improve ROI.
Free Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Website
1. Content Creation
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting the right people to your company. One of the best ways to do this is by creating content through blogging.
To come up with content that will attract the right visitors to your website, you must first understand the buyer persona you’re targeting. Once you know your audience, you can create content that will naturally attract them to your website.
But how do you write a good blog post that will draw in the right audience? Follow these five steps:
2. Topic Expertise
Ranking higher in Google will increase the organic traffic to your site. Google favors sites that are known to be topic experts on the subject matter they're writing about.
To be seen as an expert, you can create a pillar page, which is essentially a longer blog post that broadly covers all aspects of a topic. Then, you write "cluster content," or supporting blog posts, targeting long tail keywords that show you've covered a topic exhaustively. Focusing on long-term traffic will help you rank higher on search engines
The pillar cluster model organizes content on your site around a single topic and search term through internal linking. This organization helps search engines easily crawl and categorize all of the content that you have on a particular topic, thereby making it easier for you to rank for that search term. When the model is done right, it also helps visitors navigate your site and move through related pages, boosting traffic for all of the pages in your topic cluster.
3. Organic Social Media
Organic social media is not a new strategy, but it's still something marketers should pay attention to. Besides posting on social media platforms, you can also use Instagram Stories (hello, swipe up feature!), live video, IGTV, or Facebook Messenger. The key with organic social media is to be an early adopter of new features.
For instance, Facebook released an automated lead generation feature on Messenger, allowing businesses to create an automated chatbot experience within Messenger to link to content offers on your site. This is a great feature for sending traffic to your website.
It's also important to have a diverse social media strategy and use the right social media platforms — not just Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Platforms like YouTube or Pinterest can generate a lot of traffic to your site.
Here are two things regarding organic social media. "First, don't spam your audience — it costs a user nothing to scroll past your post, and if you don't offer them any value, that's exactly what they'll do. Know your audience, and craft content that speaks directly to them," Franco says.
"Second, stay active with community management. People love when brands like and reply to them — it'll humanize your business, and keep people coming back for more content."
4. Website Analysis
Let's do a little reverse engineering of our thought process. Before you drive traffic to your website, it's important to learn about your audience. To do this, analyze your website using platforms, such as Crazy Egg, to see where you're losing and gaining visitors. With this information at your disposal, you can create the right content to drive the right traffic to your website.
5. InfluencersWe know that customers are more likely to buy from organizations with excellent word of mouth, but how do you create great word of mouth? First, delight your customers. Second, work with influencers.
Influencer marketing isn't a passing fad. In fact, it's a budget-friendly option to drive traffic to your website. When influencers post discount codes, links, reviews, or giveaways, you are tapping into their audience to drive traffic to your website.
6. Email List BuildingUsing your current readers and customers is a great way to drive traffic to your website. When you post a new blog or content offer, you can promote it to your followers/subscribers for a quick traffic boost. With content-heavy websites, having repeat readership is helpful for traffic goals, conversions, and lead generation.
To get started with this, build an email list or grow your current list. Below are a few strategies you can use:
7. Community Engagement
The more brand recognition you have, the more traffic you will drive to your website. One way to achieve brand recognition is to be active and engaged within the market. You can implement an engagement strategy today by participating in Facebook group discussions in your industry, answering questions on public forum websites, and interacting with your followers on social media.
One of my favorite brands on social media is Taco Bell. Taco Bell delights its customers on social media just about every day. See a couple of examples from the company’s Twitter below.
Just remember to be helpful and human. No one likes spammy links or self-serving rhetoric when they're asking a quick question online.
8. On-Page SEO
On-page SEO can help your website rank higher in search engines and bring in more traffic. Some on-page SEO elements include the bpage title, header, meta description, image alt-text, and the URL (plus more). Showing up in search engines will generate more traffic for your site.
9. Quality Backlinks
In order to drive traffic to your site, you need to rank high in search engines. In order to rank higher in search engines, you need to be an authority in your industry. One way to do that, besides the topic/cluster model described above, is by acquiring quality backlinks. If websites with high authority link to your site, that gives you more credibility.
There are two main ways in which high-quality backlinks can help drive more traffic to a website: boosting ranking and driving referral traffic. On the one hand, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors for every major search engine out there. By constantly earning high-quality backlinks from relevant websites, you'll improve your rankings in SERP and, as a result, see a lift in your organic traffic.
Nica adds, "On the other hand, backlinks can also drive a substantial amount of referral traffic. That's something to be expected if you get mentioned on a popular news website. You can also see referral traffic coming through if you're mentioned (and linked to) in an article that's already ranking well for high search volume keywords and is getting a constant flow of traffic.
10. Video Marketing
It's time to add video marketing to your content strategy because the audience is looking for video content. Statista reports that 77% of internet users ages 15 - 35 are using YouTube to consume video content.
You can create videos for Instagram or Facebook Stories, live videos, IGTV, Facebook Watch, news feed videos, YouTube, etc.
11. Content Repurposing
Need content to drive traffic to your site but struggling to come up with ideas? I get it. A great way to overcome this hurdle is to repurpose old content. Take a well-performing blog post and repurpose that into a video. Or if you have a podcast that did really well, write up a blog post on that topic. Using content that has already performed well will continue to drive traffic to your site.
12. SEO Tools
To drive traffic to your website, it's important to be a student of SEO. Learning SEO tools such as Google Analytics, Ahrefs, and SEMrush will help you develop a strategy to generate traffic to your website.
These tools will help you learn and analyze what's working on your site and what isn't. Plus, these help you come up with ideas for content that has the potential to generate high traffic. Check out our roundup of the best SEO tools to monitor your website.
13. Historical Optimization
Historical optimization is the process we use at Swift Digital Marketing to update old blog content and generate more traffic and leads. If you're anything like us, a majority of your monthly blog views and leads come from older posts.
Historical optimization is a tactic best-suited for a blog that's been around for several years because you need to 1) be generating a significant amount of organic search traffic, 2) have built up a critical mass of blog subscribers and social media followers, and 3) have a sizable repository of old posts at your disposal.
Historical optimization should be a piece of your overall blogging strategy — not the whole strategy.
14. Voice Search Optimization
Remember in "The Little Mermaid" when Ariel wanted to go where the people were? That same principle applies to digital marketing. In order to drive traffic to your website, it's important to show up where people are searching.
Voice search is an increasingly important area in which to rank. In fact, according to eMarketer, voice searches will have increased 9.7% by the end of 2021. That's why optimizing your content for voice search is essential.
Here are a few tips to get started:
If your company is a brick-and-mortar store, local SEO is an important factor to consider. She says, "To gather information for local search, search engines rely on signals such as local content, social profile pages, links, and citations to provide the most relevant local results to the user."
For example, when someone types in "best soul food restaurant" on Google, the results are generated by the user's location. Tools such as Google My Business and Moz Local help businesses manage their directory listings and citations so they show up in local searches.
To rank for local search:
If there’s one thing that brings technology and the real world together better than any other tool, I’d bet my bottom dollar it’s the QR code. This interesting image of pixels can drive traffic to your website from just about anywhere with a flat surface. And they’re not just for restaurants trying to operate safely during the Covid-19 pandemic — marketers love them because they drive traffic.
The main catch with QR codes is that you have to give the user a reason to scan them, so you can’t place them haphazardly. That shouldn’t be too difficult though, think of it as creating a real-life CTA button. If you make it enticing and accessible enough, people will scan it, and you’ll get to assess the success of that QR code’s placement in real-time. That’s something you’d spend weeks figuring out in a digital-only traffic campaign.
17. A/B TestingBesides driving traffic to your website, you know you're a marketer when your motto is, "Test, test, and test again."
A/B testing is a split test that helps you determine what version of a campaign performs best. These tests can give you key information about your audience so you can create tailored content and offers that drive traffic to your site. There are a lot of tools you can use to get started.
18. Internal Linking
When a visitor comes to your blog, your goal is to get them to continue reading on other pages of your website. That's why internal links — links to other pages on your site — are very important. When visitors continue to other pages of your website they're more likely to convert and become a brand enthusiasts.
For example, you can create an internal linking structure using the pillar/cluster model described above. Pillar and cluster pages link back and forth, which boosts your site's credibility on search engines, while also increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
19. Technical SEO
Technical SEO focuses on the backend of your website to see how the pages are technically set up and organized. Factors include elements like page speed, crawling, indexing, and more.
To get started with your technical SEO, use some of the tips, including:
Building a community of brand enthusiasts is a great way to continuously drive traffic to your website. You can build a Facebook group, Twitter chat, LinkedIn Group, or Quora Space specifically for your followers and others in your industry where you create value, while also linking back to your site.
A great example of community building comes from career coaching business CultiVitae. They have a closed Facebook group where Emily, the founder, answers questions and provides networking opportunities.
These types of communities keep you top of mind in your customer's eyes. Plus, it's a great way to engage with your followers and learn more about your audience as they evolve over time.
21. Content Offers
Content offers, sometimes referred to as lead magnets, are a way to use content to drive traffic to your site and generate leads. Content offers vary depending on what stage of the buyer's journey your customer is in, but can include webinars, guides, reports, trials, demos, checklists, and more.
22. Media Coverage and Public Relations
Earned media coverage is a great way to drive brand awareness for your company and traffic to your website. If your marketing and public relations teams work together, you can generate traffic to your site and create excellent word of mouth.
Although most outlets these days try to stay away from including backlinks in their stories (it's usually against their editorial guidelines), that doesn't mean that a good story won't drive folks back to your site.
Media coverage provides great third-party validation for your company. Stories about new products or services, your company culture, or even industry thought leadership can all be great drivers for a reader who maybe hadn't heard of your company before and wants to learn more."
23. Social Share ButtonsSocial share buttons are links that make it easy for your readers to share your content on social media. When your readers become promoters of your content, your traffic will increase. Here's a quick cheat sheet on creating social share buttons.
Once you've created your social share buttons, how do you get people to share your content? Here are a few tips to get started:
Once your content is posted and you begin ranking on search engines, make sure people are clicking through to read your posts. Your click-through rate (CTR) measures who clicked on your post and read it against the number of people who viewed the link to your post (e.g., the landing page, email, or advertisement) in total.
A great tool to measure your organic CTR is Google Search Console. To get more people to click through and drive traffic to your site, it's important to write compelling and apt meta descriptions and titles. To write quality meta tags that are click-worthy, make sure your titles are short and snappy, and your description leaves visitors wanting more. This ties into on-page SEO, described above.
25. Academy and Knowledge Base Posts
One form of content that can drive traffic to your website is educational content. If you create courses, certifications, or educational posts that are helpful to your audience, you'll likely see an increase in traffic.
26. Social News Sites
Have you heard of Reddit and Quora?
These are social news sites and they’re great for driving traffic to blog articles. By nature, these platforms are similar to social media because they foster asynchronous connections between users. The difference is that these types of sites engage people around a question or topic, and external content can be shared to help explain the users’ points of view.
Another way external sites benefit from increased traffic via social news sites is when they’re shared in popular channels. You can share your website’s content on these sites yourself if you’re just starting out, but do so carefully. Just like on traditional social sites, too much self-promotion is frowned upon in the Reddit and Quora communities. You’ll fare best when you share your content in context of the topic and when it’s the best information to answer the user’s question.
Paid Ways to Get More Traffic to Your Website
1. Paid Advertising
You can drive traffic to your website quickly with paid advertising. With search engines, you can run pay-per-click or retargeting ads. With social media you can run display ads or sponsored posts. Your strategy will most likely include a combination of different types of advertising like social media, display, and search ads. In fact, according to the 2020 CMO Survey, firms expect social spending to rise by 62% over five years.
2. Contests and Giveaways
A simple way to drive traffic to your website is through contests and giveaways. This can give you a quick boost, while also rewarding your followers. You can host giveaways on social media, through your email list, or both.
Implementing a strategy like this can be simple. Just follow these six steps:
To implement a guest posting strategy, you need to find a site that would be a good fit for your company, draft a blog post, and then write a pitch.
4. Thought Leadership
According to Edelman’s and LinkedIn’s 2020 research, more than half of decision makers spend an hour or more reading thought leadership content each week. It’s clear that people have an interest in this topic, so why not dedicate more of your calendar to it?
Just about every industry has several well-respected people with words of wisdom to share. Even if they come from a completely different background than what your company specializes in, influential thought leaders have transferable knowledge that can be helpful for your readers.
When choosing a thought leader, the most well-known person isn’t your only option. Instead, look for great storytellers. The Swift Team recommends keeping your eyes peeled for up-and-coming experts as well as individuals who thrive in less hyper-digital industries like agriculture, food and beverage, and humanitarian work like Sippie Siphiwe Mungaraza does at Mealtime Limited.
Website Traffic Is Waiting For You
Driving traffic is a never-ending task, but it’s also a task that yields results long after you get started. There are so many paths your future customers can take to reach your website, all you have to do is find the one that works best for your business. Try one of these methods in your next quarter’s demand generation strategy to see a significant traffic boost.
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What is a Business Plan? Definition, Tips, and Templates
In an era where more than 50% of small enterprises fail in their first year, having a clear, defined, and well-thought-out business plan is a crucial first step for setting up a business for long-term success. The business plan is an undeniably critical component to getting any company off the ground. It's key to securing financing, documenting your business model, outlining your financial projections, and turning that nugget of a business idea into a reality.
Business plans are a required tool for all entrepreneurs, business owners, business acquirers, and even business school students. But … what exactly is a business plan? In this post, we'll explain what a business plan is, the reasons why you'd need one, identify different types of business plans, and what you should include in yours.
What is a business plan? A business plan is a documented strategy for a business that highlights its goals and its plans for achieving them. It outlines a company's go-to-market plan, financial projections, market research, business purpose, and mission statement. Key staff who are responsible for achieving the goals may also be included in the business plan along with a timeline.
What is a business plan used for? The purpose of a business plan is three-fold: It summarizes the organization’s strategy in order to execute it long term, secures financing from investors, and helps forecast future business demands.
Working on your business plan? Try using Pre-filled with the sections a great business plan needs, the template will give aspiring entrepreneurs a feel for what a business plan is, what should be in it, and how it can be used to establish and grow a business from the ground up.
Purposes of a Business Plan. Chances are, someone drafting a business plan will be doing so for one or more of the following reasons:
1. Securing financing from investors.
Since its contents revolve around how businesses succeed, break-even, and turn a profit, a business plan is used as a tool for sourcing capital. This document is an entrepreneur's way of showing potential investors or lenders how their capital will be put to work and how it will help the business thrive.
All banks, investors, and venture capital firms will want to see a business plan before handing over their money, and investors typically expect a 10% ROI or more from the capital they invest in a business.
Therefore, these investors need to know if – and when – they'll be making their money back (and then some). Additionally, they'll want to read about the process and strategy for how the business will reach those financial goals, which is where the context provided by sales, marketing, and operations plans come into play.
2. Documenting a company's strategy and goals. A business plan should leave no stone unturned.
Business plans can span dozens or even hundreds of pages, affording their drafters the opportunity to explain what a business' goals are and how the business will achieve them. To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies – from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.
To show potential investors that they've addressed every question and thought through every possible scenario, entrepreneurs should thoroughly explain their marketing, sales, and operations strategies – from acquiring a physical location for the business to explaining a tactical approach for marketing penetration.
These explanations should ultimately lead to a business' break-even point supported by a sales forecast and financial projections, with the business plan writer being able to speak to the why behind anything outlined in the plan.
3. Legitimizing a business idea. Everyone's got a great idea for a company – until they put pen to paper and realize that it's not exactly feasible. A business plan is an aspiring entrepreneur's way to prove that a business idea is actually worth pursuing.
As entrepreneurs document their go-to-market process, capital needs, and expected return on investment, entrepreneurs likely come across a few hiccups that will make them second guess their strategies and metrics – and that's exactly what the business plan is for.
It ensures an entrepreneur's ducks are in a row before bringing their business idea to the world and reassures the readers that whoever wrote the plan is serious about the idea, having put hours into thinking of the business idea, fleshing out growth tactics, and calculating financial projections.
4. What does a business plan need to include?
1. Business Plan Subtitle
Every great business plan starts with a captivating title and subtitle. You’ll want to make it clear that the document is, in fact, a business plan, but the subtitle can help tell the story of your business in just a short sentence.
2. Executive Summary
Although this is the last part of the business plan that you’ll write, it’s the first section (and maybe the only section) that stakeholders will read. The executive summary of a business plan sets the stage for the rest of the document. It includes your company’s mission or vision statement, value proposition, and long-term goals.
3. Company Description
This brief part of your business plan will detail your business name, years in operation, key offerings, and positioning statement. You might even add core values or a short history of the company. The company description’s role in a business plan is to introduce your business to the reader in a compelling and concise way.
4. The Business Opportunity
The business opportunity should convince investors that your organization meets the needs of the market in a way that no other company can. This section explains the specific problem your business solves within the marketplace and how it solves them. It will include your value proposition as well as some high level information about your target market.
5. Competitive Analysis
Just about every industry has more than one player in the market. Even if your business owns the majority of the market share in your industry or your business concept is the first of its kind, you still have competition. In the competitive analysis section, you’ll take an objective look at the industry landscape to determine where your business fits. A SWOT analysis is an organized way to format this section.
6. Target Market
Who are the core customers of your business and why? The target market portion of your business plan outlines this in detail. The target market should explain the demographics, psychographics, behavioristics, and geographics of the ideal customer.
7. Marketing Plan
Marketing is expansive, and it’ll be tempting to cover every type of marketing possible, but a brief overview of how you’ll market your unique value proposition to your target audience, followed by a tactical plan will suffice. Think broadly and narrow down from there: Will you focus on a slow-and-steady play where you make an upfront investment in organic customer acquisition? Or will you generate lots of quick customers using a pay-to-play advertising strategy? This kind of information should guide the marketing plan section of your business plan.
8. Financial Summary
Money doesn’t grow on trees and even the most digital, sustainable businesses have expenses. Outlining a financial summary of where your business is currently and where you’d like it to be in the future will substantiate this section. Consider including any monetary information that will give potential investors a glimpse into the financial health of your business. Assets, liabilities, expenses, debt, investments, revenue, and more are all fair game here.
So, you’ve outlined some great goals, the business opportunity is valid, and the industry is ready for what you have to offer. Who’s responsible for turning all this high-level talk into results? The “team” section of your business plan answers that question by providing an overview of the roles responsible for each goal. Don’t worry if you don’t have every team member on board yet, knowing what roles to hire for is helpful as you seek funding from investors.
10. Funding RequirementsRemember that one of the goals of a business plan is to secure funding from investors, so you’ll need to include funding requirements you’d like them to fulfill. The amount your business needs, for what reasons, and for how long will meet the requirement for this section.
Types of Business Plans
There’s no one size fits all business plan as there are several types of businesses in the market today. From startups with just one founder to historic household names that need to stay competitive, every type of business needs a business plan that’s tailored to its needs.
1. Startup Business Plan
As one of the most common types of business plans, a startup business plan is used for brand new business ideas. This plan is used to lay the foundation for the eventual success of a business.
The biggest challenge with the startup business plan is that it’s written completely from scratch. Startup business plans typically reference existing industry data and explain unique business strategies and go-to-market plans.
2. Business Acquisition Plan
Believe it or not, investors use business plans to acquire existing businesses, too — not just new businesses.
A business plan for an existing company will explain how an acquisition will change its operating model, what will stay the same under new ownership, and why things will change or stay the same. Additionally, the business plan should speak to what the current state of the business is and why it's up for sale.
For example, if someone is purchasing a failing business, the business plan should explain why the business is being purchased and what the new owner will do to turn the business around, referencing previous business metrics, sales projections after the acquisition, and a justification for those projections.
3. Business Repositioning Plan
When a business wants to avoid acquisition, reposition its brand, or try something new, CEOs or owners will develop a business repositioning plan.
This plan will:
Companies planning for a business reposition do so – proactively or retroactively – due to a shift in market trends and customer needs. For example, Pizza Hut announced a plan to drastically overhaul its brand, as it sees the need to shift from dine-in to delivery – a decision resulting from observing years of industry and company trends and acknowledging the need to reposition itself for the future of its sector.
4. Expansion Business Plan
Expanding a successful business venture into another location typically requires a business plan, as the project may focus on a new target market and demand more capital.
Fortunately, an expansion business plan isn’t like a startup business plan in that it starts from scratch. Instead, this type of plan references sales, revenue, and successes from existing locations. However, as great as a reference as these points can be, it's important to not be too reliant on them since it's still a new business that could succeed or fail for a myriad of reasons.
Getting Started With Your Business Plan
At the end of the day, a business plan is simply an explanation of a business idea and why it will be successful. The more detail and thought you put into it, the more successful your plan – and the business it outlines – will be.
When writing your business plan, you’ll benefit from extensive research, feedback from your team or board of directors, and a solid template to organize your thoughts.
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Who are you and why should I care? This is a very pointed question, but I don’t mean to be harsh. The truth is, when it comes to building a personal brand, it’s the question on everyone’s lips. What’s your brand about and what value will it add to my life?
Building a brand is about giving yourself more opportunities to help and connect with people in your industry. And one of the best ways to build a brand is through blogging.
A blog is a hub for your advice. It also has the added benefit of helping you rank on search engines. But building a personal brand through blogging is about more than just setting up a website and calling it a day. There’s a lot more that goes into the process than writing.
Let’s break down how you can go beyond the content itself to use blogging to build your brand and extend your social reach.
1. Build your brand (and keywords) around a niche How do you want to be known on the Internet? I wanted to be known as an online marketer. I live and breathe marketing. Every email, webinar, ad, and post I create revolves around it because that’s my niche.
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Take a look at my blog, for instance. It’s all marketing, all the time. Sometimes I add personal stuff, but even then it’s related to marketing. So what’s your thing? What do you want to be known for? Are you the friendly, neighborhood guru? Or are you more of a tough-as-nails mentor?
Look at people like Tim Ferriss (the friendly guru) or Garrett White (the tough mentor).
They’ve both done a great job of positioning themselves in a niche. Whatever your niche is, it has to be something you know and understand. And you have to be able to write about it. Because you will be writing about it a lot.
When choosing your niche, focus on the keywords. Is your niche searching for expertise like yours? Look at the search volume. Look at the queries.
Keywords will tell you whether or not people are seeking out advice in your niche already.
To do some basic keyword research, start simple. Come up with a couple of keywords and use Google to see what pops up.
If I type in “online marketing,” for example, which are my niche keywords, I’m the first two results that appear after the paid ads.
See who pops up and jot down their names or bookmark their sites. These are your competitors. You can then use other keyword tools to find relevant keywords to your niche.
I like to use Ubersuggest. Type in your main keyword, such as online marketing, and click search.
Now, click on “Keyword Ideas.” Along with a keyword list, I get average monthly searches, cost per click, paid difficulty, and search difficulty.
Taking this one step further, I like to click the “questions” tab above the results. This helps me see what my audience is searching for. Keep in mind that I’ve been doing this for a long time, and my whole brand revolves around “online marketing,” so that’s why I rank for it.
You might not rank for highly-competitive keywords right out of the gate, and that’s OK. Find your niche, identify your niche’s keywords, and use them everywhere. Once you’ve built up your brand, you’ll start ranking for the things you want.
2. Use personality to create a brand voice
When Tim Ferriss was asked about building his brand, he said, “I try hard to be myself, despite the public flak, and to be the best version of myself possible.” This mindset shows through in a lot of what he does with his brand.
Take a look at this example from his personal blog: His brand revolves around the idea that you’re getting him.
His advice. His wisdom. His personality. But he actually outsources almost all of his work to virtual assistants.
All except for his writing. Why? So he can stay true to his brand voice.
Not everyone will follow the same path, but Tim has built his brand on the idea of authenticity. His audience knows that he’s the guy who’s been there and done that, and that he has a lot to say about it. His personality is also his brand voice.
When you’re starting in the blogging world, you have to have your own brand voice. This means infusing bits and pieces of your personality into your writing. You have to understand that people are coming to your brand because of you. If they wanted any old guru, they’d go to any old guru.
What you have is unique, and you need to interject your personality into your branding.
Take a look at this example from another popular blogger, James Clear.
James’s brand is built on storytelling. He tells you this up front when you come to his blog.
As he explains it:
“In the end, my work ends up being one-part storytelling, one-part academic research, one-part personal experiment. It’s a colorful blend of inspirational stories, academic science, hard-earned wisdom.”
Stories are his brand voice.
When building your own brand voice, take your own personality into consideration.
Maybe you like to speak more casually to your readers, like Karen Marston from Untamed Writing.
Or maybe you thrive on professionalism. Whatever makes you “you,” put that into everything you do on your blog.
3. Design your blog’s theme around your brand. Once you’ve identified your niche and your brand voice, next comes the hard part: building your actual blog.
Design is one of those things that can really work for you or against you. I also keep my site really clean and easy to navigate to make a good first impression.
Studies show that 94% of the time, someone’s first impression is based on design. It only takes 50 milliseconds for that decision to be made.
So your site’s design is just as important as your brand voice. One example of brand-related design done well is Seth Godin’s site. He knows that people are there to hear from him, so he’s made himself quite literally the focus of his page.
You have to click his head to read his blog.
Once you get to his blog, he keeps things pretty simple. Notice that you can click on his head again in the corner of the screen. You then get more links to helpful stuff.
His regular navigation will lead you to all the goodies on his site, of course. But it’s more than just clicking links. You’re having fun doing it. That’s what design should be all about – getting people to interact with you.
There are two million blog posts published every day. You’re going to need your blog to stand out in some way.
Design is a really simple way to do that. You want to start by having your own website with your own name.
Why your own name? So people make the connection.
You’ll notice that most of the examples I’ve listed so far (Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, myself) all use their names as the domains as well as social media handles.
So start by building a website with your name and use a design that reflects who you are.
4. Consistently write a lot of relevant contentIf you’re not engaging with regular content, you’re not going to build a big brand.
Here are the key elements:
You want to post a lot of content because:
I know that producing quality content on a regular basis is daunting. There’s plenty of content out there already, and that will only continue to grow.
You have to come up with new ideas and spend time writing, editing, and posting. Then, you can use social media to share and engage with your audience.
But it’s important that you do it consistently if you want to build your brand. You should aim to publish at least 2-3 times per week, if not more, depending on your goals.
I do a lot of stuff to stay active and engaged. I make videos. I blog. I host webinars. I speak at conferences.
But, I’m not saying you have to be “on” 24/7.
If you can engage on other social media platforms, that’s even better.
Look at Gary Vaynerchuk, who runs VaynerMedia, for example. He has a successful personal brand geared toward entrepreneurs. He’s active on social media almost daily in one way or another. If you go to Google Trends, you can see the popularity of his brand over time:
Even though his engagement levels are up and down, he still actively posts on social media all the time.
He has 812k+ subscribers on YouTube:
He also has over a million followers on Twitter (and he Tweets a lot):
And he posts unique Facebook videos every month:
The guy stays engaged with his audience on a regular basis. He engages on multiple platforms with multiple media types.
5. Extend your reach with guest blogging
The other thing that I do a lot – and that I recommend you do – is guest blogging.
Guest blogging is a great way to build your brand and grow your following. For him, guest blogging not only improves your writing skills, but it builds your core audience.
Another thing that guest blogging does is form relationships with other influencers.
When we asked Lewis Howes his advice for building an online presence, he said that making friends provides the biggest ROI for your time and money.
One of the best ways to do this is through either emailing influencers directly or building relationships through social media.
Lewis uses LinkedIn as a way to reach out to other influencers.
He leverages these groups to find influencers for his podcast, The School of Greatness. The one thing you should know about guest blogging is that you still have to have somewhat of a following for it to really work well.
When you post somewhere like Entrepreneur or Forbes, you want something to point those followers back to.
Take a look at my contributor account on Forbes: I list my other brands. I have links to my social media. I talk about my personal stories.
I’m giving people something of value when I guest blog, but I also make sure that I’m pointing them somewhere they can connect with me further. You can grow a brand with just guest blogging.
I’ve seen it happen.
But if you really want results, you should be using guest blogging as a way to extend the reach of your current blog.
Guest blogging is the perfect way to create backlinks to your site, which will help your ranking on Google.
It can do wonders for your SEO.
The more that you post on your own blog, the more you do for other blogs, and the more your name is out there on the Web, the bigger your brand will be.
When you Google my name, for example, you see my website along with my other accounts: You can find me on Crazy Egg, Quick Sprout, Entrepreneur, Forbes, and so on and so forth.
But the number one result (and the one that I want the most traffic to) is my site.
Everything points back to my personal brand. I use guest blogging as a way to create buzz and links back to my site.
And it works beautifully.
So once you have a somewhat-established brand and you’re hoping to extend your reach, start guest blogging.
It will really do great things for your marketing efforts. Getting started won’t take much of your time, but it will pay off in the long run. Build a list of strategies and start executing them.
How long will it take to build a brand with blogging? I know it may seem like you’ll never get there, but you will. It just takes time.
Blogging is the sort of thing that won’t make you famous immediately. Your blog should provide people real value.
Relationships with other influencers, networking, and growing a following all take time and intent to connect personally.
So you want to build your brand. It takes some work, but it can be done.
And one of the best ways to do it is through blogging.
First, pick a niche. Research keywords. Fill a void that needs to be filled. Write a lot. Strive for high-quality, valuable content. Make connections. Focus on quality.
Get your name out there. That’s how you build a brand that will not only open doors for you but will also provide value for the people following you. Don’t worry about the time it takes to grow your brand, either.
What niche do you see yourself going after for your personal brand?
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How to Make an Instagram Post Template for Your Business or Brand.
Instagram is an undeniably powerful marketing tool, but with over 25 million businesses on the platform today, it's critical you take the time to create well-designed and thoughtful Instagram posts to stand out.
You'll need to apply a strategic design plan to your business's Instagram to attract a loyal following and find success on the app, long-term.
However, creating a clean and cohesive Instagram feed takes design skills you might feel you lack. Plus, Instagram's algorithm favors brands that post at least once a day — that time commitment could be adding to your stress.
If that's the case, you're in luck — there are ways you can create pre-made Instagram post templates, so you've got a stash ready-to-go. Plus, by ensuring you use the same templates for different posts, you'll have an easier time creating a cohesive and aesthetically-pleasing feed.
How to Create Posts for Instagram
1. Use Instagram Post Templates
Let's face it — you don't always have the time, resources, or personnel to design noteworthy Instagram posts. That's why we recommend using Instagram Post Templates for Business which you can build from and customize.
Here are some options to create and save Instagram post templates, so you can have stunning posts on-hand whenever you're ready to publish.
2. Choose Your Post Format
While traditional Instagram posts to your permanent timeline are more long-lasting and allow for comments and likes, you shouldn't underestimate the power of Instagram Stories, which can be used for more immediate needs and occasions.
In fact, 500 million accounts use the Instagram Stories feature daily. So, when you're creating your post, ask yourself if it warrants publication as a story or as a traditional post.
3. Choose an Image
Maybe you've decided your post doesn't need a photograph and that text overlay on a solid-color background will work for you. If that's the case, hop over to the next step.
If you've decided you do want to use a photograph – particularly if you want one as the background for text overlay – you've got a few options.
4. Add Design Elements
Instagram post templates come with design placeholders for text with special fonts and other elements. Your next step is to alter, add, or remove any elements that you see fit.
This includes updating the copy so it reflects the information you want followers to know and/or the action you want them to take.
5. Save the Photo
When you've done all you can in the template builder of your choosing, save your photo to be posted on Instagram. All you'll have to do here is click "File" > "Download" > "PNG Image" or "JPEG Image." Then, just name the photo file, email or message it to yourself, and save it on your phone so you can post it.
6. Upload to Instagram
Once you have your photo saved, it's time to upload it to share with your followers. For a traditional post, open Instagram, click the "+" button in the bottom center, choose your photo, add any filter, description, or hashtags, and click "Share."
For an Instagram Story post, click on the camera icon in the top left of your screen, access your camera roll in the bottom left of the screen, choose your image, minimize the date that shows up to the point where it can't be seen, and add any further design elements – like a GIF or additional copy – to the image. From there, click "Your Story" on the bottom left.
Other Ways to Design Instagram Posts
Here are some other options to create and save Instagram post templates, so you can have stunning posts on-hand whenever you're ready to publish.
Remember, your template is automatically saved to your Canva account. You can access it in the future, on both desktop and app versions of Canva, and edit it with new text to post the same design again.
Alternatively, you might consider creating a few posts now, and then saving them to your camera roll to post them in the future.
Besides Canva, there are a few other design editors that offer free pre-made Instagram templates. In particular, here are three tools you might consider:
If you're interested in creating a template for quote posts, it's easy to do — in fact, we've already curated a list of nine apps to help you make quotes for Instagram.
For our purposes, we'll try just one — ReciteThis.
To create a quote template for Instagram, go to ReciteThis, then follow these three easy steps:
1. Enter your quote in the text box.
2. Below, click the left or right arrows to peruse templates and choose one you like. Once you've chosen a template and written your text, click the "Create" button in the text box.
3. Click "Download Image" to post to Instagram's desktop version, or email it to yourself to post on your phone.
3. Creative MarketIf you're willing to shell out the cash, you might consider buying one of Creative Market's Instagram Template bundles.
And that's it! You're all set to create and save pre-made Instagram templates, so you can focus on attracting a loyal following without tediously designing a post from scratch every day.
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Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.