What is the first thing you do when you need new marketing ideas?
What about when you decide it’s time to change the way you keep the books finally? Or even notice a flat tire in the car?
My guess: you turn to Google. But did you know that 89% of B2B buyers and 81% of online shoppers do the same? Faced with a problem, challenge or even a choice, they google it. Simply.
And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence in Google, your business is unlikely to survive long.
In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy to build this presence — Search Engine Optimization (SEO.)
You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, and what you must do to position your site in search engine results.
But before we begin, I want to reassure you of something.
So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, focus on advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.
I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.
In the following pages, I’m going to break SEO into its most basic parts and show you how to use all its elements to construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends.
Keep on reading to understand SEO, or jump ahead to the section that interests you most.
What is SEO?
At its core, SEO focuses on nothing else but expanding a company’s visibility in the organic search results. It helps businesses rank more pages higher in SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages.) And in turn, drive more visitors to the site, increasing chances for more conversions.
When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to call it a strategy to ensure that when someone googles your product or service category, they find your website.
But this simplifies the discipline a bit. It doesn’t take elements like different customer information needs into consideration. However, it does reveal its essence.
In short, SEO drives two things — rankings and visibility.
This is a process that search engines use to determine where to place a particular web page in SERPs.
This term describes how prominent a particular domain is in search engine results. With high visibility, your domain is prominent in SERPs. Lower search visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries.
Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic and conversions.
There is one more reason why you should be using SEO. The discipline helps you position your brand throughout almost the entire buying journey.
In turn, it can ensure that your marketing strategies match the new buying behavior. Because, as Google admitted themselves — customer behavior has changed forever.
Today, more people use search engines to find products or services than any other marketing channel. 18% more shoppers choose Google over Amazon. 136% more prefer the search engine to other retail websites. And B2B buyers conduct up to 12 searches, on average, before engaging with a brand.
What's more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own. 77% people research a brand before engaging with it.
Forrester revealed that 60% of customers do not want any interaction with salespeople. Further, 68% prefer to research on their own. And 62% have developed their own criteria to select the right vendor.
What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.
Finally, Demand Gen’s 2017 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 61% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad web search. In comparison, only 56% go directly to a vendor’s website.
But how do they use search engines during the process?
Early in the process, they use Google to find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.
Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on reviews or social media hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.
And so, the only chance for customers to notice and consider you is by showing up in their search results.
How does Google know how to rank a page?
Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.
Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. And then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.
To deliver the right information to users, search engines analyze two factors:
And to analyze all this information they use complex equations calledsearch algorithms.
Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.
As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.
Three Core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, and links. So, let’s go through them in turn.
1. Technical Setup
For your website to rank, three things must happen:
First, a search engine needs find your pages on the Web.
Then, it must scan them to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And finally, it needs to add them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.
Seem simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing to worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?
Unfortunately, there is a catch. A web page looks different for you and the search engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.
To a search engine, it’s nothing but text.
As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible to the search engine. And so, in spite of your website looking fine to you, Google might find its content inaccessible.
Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical search engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.
Notice some things about it:
That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:
Website navigation and links
Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page and use links to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and links as text-only.
Simple URL structureSearch engines don’t like reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Set them up to include as little beyond the main keyword for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.
Page speedSearch engines, use the load time — the time it takes for a user to be able to read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool for suggestions how to improve your pages.
Dead links or broken redirectsA dead link sends a visitor to a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points to a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent search engines from indexing your content.
Sitemap and Robots.txt files
A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify what pages to crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what content not to index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want to appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.
Duplicate contentPages containing identical or quite similar content confuse search engines. They often find it near impossible to determine what content they should display in search results. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate content as a negative factor. And upon finding it, can penalize a website by not displaying any of those pages at all.
Every time you use a search engine, you’re looking for content— information on a particular issue or problem, for example.
True, this content might come in different formats. It could be text, like a blog post or a web page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, and even a business listing.
It’s all content.
And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.
Here are two reasons why:
While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements like page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.
The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.
SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want to attract people who need what you sell and can become leads, and later, customers.
However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the keywords those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the top of the search results.
That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into search engines.
The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. And finally, conducting extensive research to uncover related terms your audience would use.
We’ve published a thorough guide to keyword research for beginners. It lays out the keyword research process in detail. Use it to identify search terms you should be targeting.
With a list of keywords at hand, the next step is to optimize your content. SEOs refer to this process as on-page optimization.
On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that search engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it to relevant searches.
Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends to optimizing some elements in the code.
You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags like title or description are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a list of the most crucial on-page optimization actions to take.
Note: Since blog content prevails on mostwebsites,when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on blog SEO — optimizing blog posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.
a) Keyword Optimization
First, ensure that Google understands what keywords you want this page to rank. To achieve that, make sure you include at least the main keyword in the following:
The alt tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since ALT tag resides in the image code, search engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.
Also, add semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevancy better.
Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main keyword is “Apple.” But do you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?
Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice what queries to rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?
That’s what semantic keywords do. Add them to ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.
b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization FactorsOn-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility and authority too:
From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance and authority.
In their quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant to their queries but also, popular.
The first two areas — technical setup and content — focused on increasing relevancy (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)
Links, however, are responsible for popularity.
But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.
What is a backlink?
Links, also called backlinks, are references to your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site.
For example, this article in Entrepreneur.com mentions our marketing statistics page. It also links to it allowing their readers to see other stats than the one quoted.
Google uses quantity and quality of links like this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its logic behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.
But note that I mentioned links quality as well. That’s because not all links are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.
Links Quality FactorsLow quality or suspicious links — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately to make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.
That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on buildinganylinks. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.
Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:
Link BuildingIn SEO, we refer to the process of acquiring new backlinks as link building. And as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.
Link building, if you want to do it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. To generate quality links, you need to come up with a link building strategy. And that’s no small feat.
Remember, your links must pass various quality criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.
Here are some strategies to do it:
Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.
The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.
How to Monitor & Track SEO ResultsTechnical setup, content, and links are critical to getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.
Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. And though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:
Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in search results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.
And it’s well worth it.
97% of customers use search engines to find local information. They look for vendor suggestions, and even specific business addresses. In fact, 12% of customers look for local business information every day.
What’s more, they act on this information: 75% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.
But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking all along?
Yes and no.
Search engines follow similar principles for both local and global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need to analyze some other ranking factors too.
Local search results look different too:
For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”
Note that these results contain no links to any content. Instead, they include a list of restaurants in the area, a map to show their locations, and additional information about each:
Often, they also include a company’s phone number or website address.
All this information combined helps customers choose which business to engage. But it also allows Google to determine how to rank it.
Local Search Ranking Factors
When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity to a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, “near me,” it’s only fair that Google will try to present the closest businesses first.
Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, and phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer to it as the NAP.
Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to assess the company’s location.
Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.
Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.
The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones to get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.
What is black hat SEO?
The final aspect of SEO I want to highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to use. I mean it.
Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.
Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, cloaking (hiding keywords in code so that users don’t see them, but search engines do,) and buying links.
So, why would someone use black hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.
Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of link building, for example. Keyword stuffing allows to rank one page for many keywords, without having to create more content assets.
But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.
And the reason I mention it here is that I want you to realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good to be true.
SEO Resources & Training
This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.
Here are online training resources to try next:
You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their blogs. Here are some worth reading:
By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, and in turn, conversions and sales.
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.
PPC Don't forget to share this post!
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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If you’re anything like me, you may have grown a bit tired of hearing the word “pivot” this past year. As much as I’ve grown weary of the term itself, I still get excited about the pivot toward integrating SEO with PR trends. Here are a few of the trends I’ve noticed, along with my thoughts on where I think we’re going.
All of a sudden, publications have fallen in love with SEO
About 10 years ago, when I started writing for major media outlets, I’d get some quizzical looks. “Are you link building?” was one of the more frequent questions I was asked. Comments such as “We want to stay focused on creating great content” or “We can’t be too concerned about SEO tactics” were also common.
Nowadays, I’ll get at least one inquiry a month from a major publication seeking help optimizing search traffic. These outlets not only seek to better understand SEO, but they highly prize contributors and journalists willing to adjust their writing style to accommodate traffic optimization. In addition to scoring initial viewer hits, publishers are increasingly looking for their content to serve long-term readership needs, months and years after publication.
One of the main reasons I invested in Relevance was because the company combined the strategies of thought leadership with SEO and PR. To hit the sweet spot where all three overlap, you have to publish consistent source content that offers helpful thought leadership. And that content will need to be written in a way that it is optimized for SEO.
Journalists increasingly rely on search to get their job doneIn the past, journalists were typically given more time to conduct research and hit deadlines than is the norm today. Writers often used that time to research an industry in-depth, deciding along the way which pieces of information to keep and which to discard.
Showing up on third-party lists and having your own content chart high are obvious wins for anyone hoping to achieve industry leadership. In addition to potential clients, though, you’ll also come to the attention of journalists writing about your industry. While they will be expected to cover the major players in any space, they won’t have time to evaluate all of the options. That means being featured on these “top x players” lists is key.
When we implemented a search strategy for my company Calendar, we focused on charting in the top 3 for searches that included the phrase “top calendar apps.” Not only did this article chart in the top 5, but results at that time also included list pages from other companies.
In 2020, our company received more than 100 free mentions simply because someone sourced an article where we also received a mention. This boils down to free PR. Your company can benefit as well by incorporating the idea of “influence by search term” into your thinking and strategies.
New SEO strategies require patient and thorough testingAs any new PR strategy takes off, you’ll want to make sure the technical aspects of your SEO are all in a good place. Any reliable SEO expert will tell you straight up that you can’t know everything about how Google manages its algorithm, but do the best you can to test effectively to see what changes drive better search results.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to test out different approaches to make sure you are doing all you can to optimize for SEO. You’ll want to conduct split testing to figure things out, just as you would with any other paid strategy.
Many marketing strategies will conduct split testing but without including search, typically because an SEO expert has been blinded by the one way they engage in best practices. Intent-based strategizing, along with split testing, can help confirm that the steps you’re taking are yielding the results you were hoping for.
In addition to making sure you have conducted a full technical audit to make sure your house is in order, remember to review your site thoroughly. You’ll want to make sure it, too, has been optimized for targeted search terms.
Limitations on in-person events will increase digital strategy budgets
Much as we all might wish otherwise, the Covid-19 pandemic still presents a huge challenge to holding in-person events. The money is moving toward anything digital that looks like a reasonably viable alternative.
Prior to the pandemic, event companies were more or less obligated to split their budget between a lot of different marketing and sales strategies. With attention swinging more and more to the digital realm, there has been a commensurate interest in aligning PR with SEO strategy. No one wants to host an online event that doesn’t show up in search.
As they do so, these brands are simultaneously seeding their industry with quality content that points to these sources. When everything aligns as it should, the results can surpass all expectations.
As I’ve implemented these strategies, I’ve routinely been amazed at how fast a company can show up in search results for competitive terms and begin to own them.
A combination of natural link-building and surgical methods will be best
Recently, the head of communications at one of my favorite payroll companies told me he’d spent a certain number of dollars creating some whitepapers. All the publications contained solid data, and others had begun linking to them.
I love seeing brands implement inbound techniques, but my friend’s company needed more than just this start. It had to apply a layer of SEO surgery on top. Google needed not only to index the credible links pointed in his company’s direction, but it also needed to see an area of placements that provided a consistent pattern of offering expertise in that field.
Combining organic links with what you say about yourself yields the best results. When what you say about yourself matches up with what others say about you, the content on your site will seem that much more credible.
PR tools will soon be used the same way we use search
Many companies have already implemented something similar, but not nearly as many have a PR strategy that plays nicely with these tools.
In 2021, brands that are adept at both PR and SEO are going to see their rankings increase significantly.
In the wake of all that happened last year, I’m hesitant to make many predictions. One I will hazard is that, even after in-person events resume, audiences will hold fast to their digital lives. Companies that intentionally integrate SEO with their PR will reap huge rewards.
Credibility will be critical in a landscape marked by a heightened lack of trust. When your online footprint mirrors the messages being put out by your PR team, you’ll score points for integrity. Your existing clients will be reassured, and prospective clients will get an extra nudge to sign on.
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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
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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!
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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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The best billboards demand your attention with bold fonts, in-your-face messages, and bright, eye-catching graphics. The best Facebook ads take the exact opposite approach.
If you want to reach and engage with potential customers on Facebook, you need to create ads that blend as seamlessly as possible into the rest of the content on their newsfeeds. This means focusing on simple, high-quality images, straightforward messages, and most importantly: minimal text.
Facebook has found that the best performing ads include images with little to no text. Formerly, they had a “20% rule,” which stated that in order to run an image-based ad on Facebook, your image must contain less than 20% text. It even created a text overlay tool to help advertisers determine whether their images had too many words.
The 20% rule is no longer a requirement, and the Facebook overlay tool is inactive. However, it’s still smart to follow the 20% rule and keep text to a minimum in your image-based ads.
Facebook 20% RuleThe Facebook 20% rule was a requirement that rejected Facebook ads with more than 20% of text in its images. While the rule is no longer enforced, Facebook still recommends including a 20% text-to-image ratio. The recommendation applies to both single image and carousel ads run on Facebook and Instagram.
It's important to note that you should use the 20% rule only for the text contained within images in your ad. It does not include text on your ad outside of images, like the description copy or call-to-action button.
There are a few exceptions to the 20% rule, including images of book covers, album covers, event posters, video games, and some product images that contain text (e.g., a cereal box).
Text-based logos are not an exception to the 20% rule. You should count your logo when deciding how much text to include in your image.
So, why exactly did the Facebook 20% rule exist, and why is it still relevant today? It all comes down to what users want to see and engage with in their newsfeeds. Ads with less overlay text perform significantly better than images crowded with text, so sticking to the rule creates a better experience for both users and advertisers.
Facebook Text Overlay ToolThe Facebook text overlay tool is no longer active, but it’s still wise to carefully choose the text you’ll include in your images.
While you're creating an ad, it can be tricky to evaluate the exact percentage of text covering your image. The following examples will show you some of the ways you can add text in a way that will naturally generate engagement.
Before designing your ad, be sure to review specs and sizes for your images and Facebook’s guidelines for image-based ads.
1. Ad With Acceptable Text Overlay
Your best approach when creating a Facebook ad is to use little to no text.
In this example of an ad image, there's only a small text-based logo and no other copy. This image contains 4% text.
An ad with a simple image like this will blend more easily into users' news feeds and is much more likely to gain exposure and engagement among your target audience.
The best part is that it might strike curiosity because it doesn’t share much; instead, viewers will have to read the description to find out what the ad is about.
2. Ad With Minimal Text Overlay
In this next example, there are two lines of text, bringing the text percentage to 12%. The logo has been removed from the corner.
It still works because the text doesn’t cover 20% of the image. The text also helps the viewer understand what the ad is about.
Nevertheless, consider adding the copy into the body of your ad instead of your image. Since the image and the description are visible at the same time, you can use the body only to describe your offering.
3. Ad With Excessive Text Overlay
This final example is exactly what Facebook does not want to see. It contains a whopping 44% text-to-image ratio.
While the copy is well-written and the offering is clear, this ad contains too much text over the image. The information displayed here could easily be incorporated into the body copy of your ad, creating a much cleaner look in users' news feeds.
It might be tempting to throw important information onto your images like this, but you risk alienating users who are turned off by busy copy.
Now that you have an idea of what a good ad looks like, how can you put it into practice in your own ad? Let’s take a look.
Facebook Text Overlay Best Practices
The best way to capture users' attention on Facebook is to use an eye-catching image with no text.
The 20% rule isn't just an arbitrary recommendation — it helps advertisers reach their target audiences more effectively, and prevents users' news feeds from becoming overwhelmed with disruptive advertisements.
If you do want to add text to your image, you should use the following best practices for overlaying text over your Facebook ads.
1. Choose the right font size.Believe it or not, font size is even more important than the amount of text you overlay over your image.
Smaller font sizes naturally won’t take up as much space, reducing your text-to-image ratio. Bigger font sizes will make you exceed the 20% rule straight away, even if you’re only including two or three words. That said, you don’t want to make the text too small; otherwise, viewers will have to squint to read what it says.
The font size you choose will depend on the size of your image and whether you’re adding a heading or a whole sentence. For headings, try to stay under 42 pixels; for sentences, try to stay around 24 pixels. Play around with font sizes to find what best works for the image.
2. Include only a heading or one line of text.There’s no reason to include more than one line of text in your Facebook ad. You have the body of the ad to include enough context and information for the viewer to click your link.
If you add text, consider only adding a heading — such as an offer, a call-to-action, or a discount. That’ll maximize the impact of the text and ensure viewers see something that will compel them to click.
For instance, “Buy 1 Get 1 Free,” “Apply Now,” and “30% Off” are all eye-catching phrases that will warrant a second look and don’t take up too much space. That brings us to the next point: Choose only the best and most eye-catching text to add to your image.
3. Choose eye-catching, impactful text.When adding overlay text to your Facebook ad, be sure to choose a line of text that will 1) Catch your target audience’s attention and 2) Hint at the value they’ll extract if they click through to your offer.
In the body of the ad, you can go into greater detail about your product or offer. But in your image, include only the text that will help someone decide whether they want to read more.
4. Use an alternative text overlay tool to see your text-to-image ratio.While Facebook’s text overlay tool is no longer available, you can use an alternative that mimics Facebook’s original tool. We recommend trying these:
They’re virtually identical in functionality, so simply choose the one that’s most convenient for you and your browser.
To use them, upload your image and select the squares that have text. On the right-hand column, the tool will tell you whether you’re above or under the 20% text-to-image ratio. That way, you know for sure whether you’ve added too much text to the image.
5. Take advantage of a grid to align the text.
In a free tool such as Canva, you can typically overlay a grid over your design as you’re creating it. Simply go to Elements > Grid and scroll until you find a grid that best works for your design. (Be sure to lower the transparency of the grid so you can see your ad beyond it.)
Use the grid as a guiding tool for aligning your text and ensuring it doesn’t take up too many boxes. If your grid has nine boxes and one line of text takes three boxes horizontally, then you know that the text is too big. If it only takes up one box, it might be too small.
Without a grid, you might lean on gut feeling only — and while your gut feeling can be of great help, it’s best to approach text overlays with as much exactitude as possible.
The 20% Rule Will Help You Create Better Facebook AdsWhile Facebook no longer requires advertisers to adhere to the 20% rule, it’s still a valuable guideline for adding text to your Facebook ads. Keep text to a minimum and you’ll ensure your Facebook ad packs as much impact as possible, significantly boosting your ROI and encouraging viewers to engage with your brand.
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How much are Instagram ads for a business like yours?
It’s something to consider because the beauty of Instagram ads is that any business owner can run a campaign. The process is fairly straightforward, and you can set the budget as low or as high as you want. But determining the final advertising on Instagram cost isn’t simple because it varies based on several factors. We can, however, provide you with some updated information on Instagram ads price that we’ve gathered from our research.
So, how much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?
The average cost of Instagram ads can vary, but it can amount anywhere from $0.60 to $2.00 per click. The cost depends on many factors but the most important one is the pricing model.
Advertisers can choose between Instagram ads cost per click (CPC) or cost per thousand impressions (CPM). Instagram ads CPC is the cost every time a user clicks on your ad while Instagram ads CPM is the cost every time 1,000 users see your ad.
Instagram ads CPC can cost up to $3.00 per click, and Instagram ads CPM can set you back up to $7.00 per thousand impressions. Opt for Instagram ads cost per click if you are willing to pay only when a user clicks on your ad. Advertising on Instagram cost will be higher if you use CPM, because you’ll be charged every time someone views or sees your ad — which is likely to be more times than someone clicking on it.
When you have the answer to the question, “How much does Instagram advertising cost?” you can then allot an amount according to your budget.
When setting up Instagram ads, you have the option to set a daily budget, which ensures you stick to your budget and avoid paying more. No matter how much Instagram ads cost, you can always set your budget with a fixed amount.
Note that the figures listed above are the average cost of Instagram ads and can be higher or lower than your actual Instagram ads cost. You can never truly know how much advertising on Instagram costs for your business until you run a campaign.
Why You Should Use Instagram AdsThere are many reasons why your business should take advantage of Instagram ads. Here are some convincing stats :
• More than a billion people use Instagram for business every month.
• Instagram reaches over 140 million users in the United States alone.
• An average Instagram user spends 30 minutes a day on the app.
• More than 80 percent of people use Instagram to look for products, brands or services.
• Ninety percent of Instagram users follow a brand or a business.
• Four million businesses use Instagram Story ads every month.
No matter what goal you have, from growing your followers to attracting new leads, Instagram ads can bring you faster, more accurate results.
Hiring an Instagram advertising expert like Swift can accelerate your success. An Instagram ad campaign we ran for a fitness expert generated impressive growth in just a matter of six months.
Many other businesses, big and small, have proven the impact of Instagram Story ads on their growth despite the many challenges they have faced this past year. They didn’t worry too much about how much Instagram ads cost because they understood the value and benefits it presented to their business. Whether or not they hired Instagram advertising experts, they still experienced the benefits of running Instagram ads.
Whether you’re hiring an Instagram ads company or implementing it on your own, investing in Instagram ads can be highly profitable for your business.
What Factors Affect Instagram Ads Cost?
The reason that there’s no definite answer to the question: “How much do Instagram ads cost?” is because a lot of factors affect the cost of Instagram ads. In addition to the pricing model, a number of things can have an impact on your particular business’s Instagram ads price. Let’s look at some the most common ones:
Your Ad’s Value As Assessed by Instagram
Instagram sponsored ads cost is directly influenced by Instagram itself. When you buy Instagram ads, you enter into a bidding auction, which determines the quality of your ad against your competitors. The winning bid is determined by:
• How much you bid – How your bid fares against competitors
• Estimated action rates – How likely the ad is to convert
• Ad quality and relevance – How likely users are to engage with the ad
All these factors help Instagram pick a winning ad and run it according to the advertiser’s bid. Low bids can mean less effectiveness, and higher bids can mean that your ads will create the best possible results.
Ads PlacementInstagram advertising experts claim that where your ad appears on Instagram can affect your Instagram ads cost. For instance, Instagram Story ads are known to cost less than those that appear on the user’s main Instagram feed. Instagram sponsored ads cost is also greatly affected by these factors.
When creating an Instagram ad, you will be prompted to choose a type of Instagram ad. These are:
• Instagram Shopping
These types of ads have their own placements and can determine how much Instagram ads cost. Some placements are more frequently visited than others and so would cost more.
Not sure which type of ad you should run? Consider getting expert help from an Instagram ads company that has years of experience in running successful Instagram ads for brands and businesses.
Target MarketThe average cost of Instagram ads can also vary depending on your target audience. If you’re using Instagram for business to target a specific group of people or a competitive industry, expect that these factors will have an impact on your Instagram advertising cost. An ad for a highly saturated market, like fitness, will cost more than other niche industries. The more advertisers who are targeting a specific market, the higher the cost of advertising on Instagram.
Your Advertising Goal
Advertising goals can also affect the average cost of Instagram advertising. Are you using Instagram ads to grow your followers? This goal is called Engagement. If you’re aiming to sell more products with your ads, then your advertising goal is Conversion. Generally, a goal aimed for Engagement can cost less than a Conversion goal. This is because conversions result in more actual sales than engagement. For instance, Instagram ads cost per click might be more expensive because a user takes action towards conversion.
Ultimately, your question shouldn’t be “How much does it cost to advertise on Instagram?” but “How much does Instagram advertising cost for my business goals?”
Facebook Ads vs Instagram Ads: Which Platform Is Right for You?Instagram is not the only platform that has taken social media marketing by storm. Advertisers can often consider Facebook ads vs Instagram ads. How are they different and how are they similar? How much does Instagram advertising cost compared to Facebook? There’s no clear answer.
Different case studies and research have returned conflicting results, with one study saying that Instagram advertising costs are lower than Facebook’s, while others claim that Facebook ads cost less than Instagram ads.
Whichever is the case, there are certain pros and cons for both platforms. Here are some of the main points to consider when considering these two social media advertising platforms:
Audience Variety and TargetingIf you’re targeting a niche audience, chances are you can find them on Facebook. Facebook’s Audiences feature lets you access a wide range of demographics according to gender, age, occupation, interests and even marital status.
Facebook’s targeting features are more in-depth compared to Instagram, which is ideal for highly advanced advertisers. On the other hand, Instagram has a simpler, easier-to-understand list of options, which is great for beginners.
Visual vs Written ContentIt’s not enough to have an idea about how much are Instagram ads, and then go right ahead and create your first ad. You also need to know if Instagram is the right platform for your business.
If your industry is fashion, food or travel, Instagram may be the better choice for running ads. However, if you run a consultancy firm or any industry that communicates with its audience in written content, Facebook might be the way to go.
Cost-EffectivenessDespite the various factors affecting the cost of Instagram ads and Facebook ads, one question that marketers ask is this: Which platform is more cost-effective?
There is no definitive answer to this question, but most studies have shown that the engagement rate on Instagram is higher than on Facebook. This means that, even if running ads on Instagram costs higher, the click-through rate (CTR) is also expected to be higher than Facebook’s.
This is based on the general experience, but it may not be the same for your business. The best way to find out is simply to conduct a trial run and track your ad’s performance, including your engagement rate and click-through rates. Only when you run your own campaigns can you truly learn the cost of advertising on Instagram as compared to Facebook.
Want help getting started with Facebook ads instead? Check out Thrive’s Facebook advertising agency and discover how our services can help your business grow with Facebook ads.
How To Run Instagram Ads
If you’re convinced that you’re ready to face the cost of advertising on Instagram, it’s time to learn how to publish ads.
There are two ways to advertise on Instagram: from the app itself or from Facebook Ads Manager. If it’s your first time creating ads on Instagram, then it’s best to do it via Facebook.
First, create a Facebook page for your business. If you already have a Facebook page, make sure to also create a Facebook Business Manager account. This is where you can manage all your ads for both Facebook and Instagram.
Next, you need to switch your Instagram account to a Business Profile. To do this, go to your Instagram profile settings and tap the triple line on the top right corner. Go to Settings>Account>Switch to Professional Account. Select Business. Follow the next steps to connect your Facebook page to your Instagram account.
From here, you can now run Instagram ads from the app itself or from Facebook Business Manager.
From the Business Manager, go to Ads Manager. Click Create then choose any of the following objectives:
• Brand awareness
• App installs
• Video views
Next, give your campaign a name.
In the Audience section, choose your targeted audience by age, gender and interests. You can be as detailed or as general as you choose. Note that the right targeting is crucial to an ad’s relevancy score.
The next section is where you can assign a budget and schedule for your campaign. Your budget can be Per Day or Lifetime. If you choose Lifetime, you need to set a start and end date for your campaign.
The next option lets you select whether you want to be charged for Instagram ads CPC (cost-per-click) or Instagram ads CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions).
This is also where you can opt to use manual bidding or automatic bidding. Experts recommend automatic bidding for beginners as it lets the system automatically optimize ads for the best results.
The next section is dedicated to the content and format of your ad. You can specify whether you are posting a single-image ad, a carousel (multiple images) or video. Add a headline and call-to-action (CTA) buttons that will go with your ad.
Under the section Instagram Account, select the Instagram account connected to your Facebook page. You can then select where your ads will be displayed. You have the option to display your ad on both Facebook and Instagram. If you only want to run ads on Instagram, uncheck all other options and keep Instagram checked.
If you select Instagram, this is where you select the different placements or types of Instagram ads mentioned earlier in this post. Instagram sponsored ads cost can be higher or lower for different placement types.
When you’re happy with your settings, you can go ahead and click Publish. You’ll get notified when your ad is live.
If you need help from an Instagram ad expert, considering hiring an Instagram advertising company like Thrive to get better results for less cost. Hiring an Instagram advertising agency can save you time and money while getting the best possible results.
How To Optimize Your Instagram AdsNow that you’ve learned the answer to the question: “How much do Instagram ads cost?” it’s time to maximize advertising on Instagram costs while getting great results.
The cost of ads on Instagram can sometimes be daunting. Small businesses might be hesitant to invest for fear of not getting a return on investment (ROI). To help with this, Instagram ads experts recommend these steps to ensure the success of your Instagram campaigns.
Catch Your Audience’s AttentionInstagram is a visual platform. You have the advantage to use captivating images or videos to instantly hook your audience in the first two seconds of seeing your ad. Captions and other elements are not as important as the main image, so put extra time and effort to ensure your visuals pop and immediately drive your audience into clicking through your CTA.
When you invest time on a quality ad, you maximize the cost of ads on Instagram and get a better chance at a high ROI.
Use the Right HashtagsSure, you can come up with several unique hashtags that might seem like the perfect way to describe your brand. Unfortunately, hashtags that are not that common may not get a lot of engagement.
Using ubiquitous hashtags is a better strategy to get more exposure to potential customers who might be interested in your brand. Do some research into which hashtags are widely used by your market and use those.
Discover the Perfect Time To PostAfter running your ads for at least a week, you now have some data to analyze. Look at the time and day when your ads had the most engagement. Then, conduct an experiment to post your ads only on during these periods. This strategy helps lower the cost of Instagram advertising while getting optimal results. Getting help from an Instagram ads expert can make this process easier for you.
Optimizing Instagram ads requires time and lots of experimentation. If you want faster results, consider hiring an Instagram ads company to ensure the success of your Instagram ad campaigns.
Many business owners are wary of using Instagram for business because they think they don’t know anything about the platform. Others are worried that they can’t afford the cost of ads on Instagram. There are also others who are struggling to choose Facebook ads vs Instagram ads.
Fortunately, there are tons of free resources out there that will teach anyone how to successfully run Instagram ads.
However, learning all these things does take time. Besides, creating and executing a highly profitable Instagram advertising campaign goes beyond knowing the answer to how much are Instagram ads.
If you’d rather get help from an expert, hiring an Instagram advertising agency might be the better option. You can get guidance from an Instagram ads expert who can assess the average cost of Instagram advertising for your industry and help you achieve your advertising goals.
Contact us today if you’re interested to learn more about Thrive’s award-winning Instagram advertising agency and grow your business with successful Instagram campaigns.
Filed Under: Social Media Tagged With: instagram advertising, Instagram Marketing, Instagram Marketing Strategy
There’s no question that building great inbound links to your site is hard work. While many site owners resort to spamming blog comment sections to get their backlinks, that’s neither necessary nor effective for your SEO efforts.
Although there's much talk about generating inbound links, the nitty-gritty ways to actually do that are rarely discussed.
Thankfully, link building strategies aren't as tough to implement as many people say they are. Think of it like social media — if you’re a source of great content, and you get it in front of the right people, they’re going to share it.
With that in mind, we'll get you started with tested and effective tricks to help you build legitimate inbound links. Read on to see how to use these link building ideas in your SEO strategy.
What is link building?
Link building is the process of increasing the quantity and quality of inbound links to your website to gain referral traffic, boost domain authority, and increase search engine rankings.
What are backlinks?Backlinks, also called inbound links and incoming links, are a form of off-page SEO where you earn links from other websites that direct readers to your own site.
The person receiving the link is the one who refers to a link as a backlink.
Backlinks are different from outbound links (links from your website to another website) and internal links (links from one page on your website to another).
The right backlinks can do two great things for your website:
A good inbound link comes from an authoritative website, and uses natural anchor text. Anchor text is simply the text copy that's hyperlinked. For example, if I link to our blog post about backlink strategies, the anchor text is "backlink strategies.”
Natural anchor text means you're not just hyperlinking keywords left and right. Google understands the context of a link, so more generic "learn more" and "click here" anchor text can be just as valuable as keyword-optimized anchor text.
For an inside look into how Glassdoor successfully utilized backlinking to rise to the top of the search pages, check out our video case study.
Link Building Strategies
1. Maintain a steady blog with great content.Consistently creating great blog content that people naturally want to link to is one of the most tried and true ways to organically generate inbound links.
You should publish content that’s directly related to your industry and that helps your reader. That way, they feel compelled to share it. They might even link to it from their own website, if they own one.
Learn how to start a successful blog with our free guide and checklist.
2. Link to other blogs on your blog.A blog is meant to be a social tool. The more you link to others — especially when you do it in a consistent, opportunity-driven way — the greater likelihood one of those bloggers will return the favor.
Plus, you can't cover everything about everything on your blog. It makes sense to leverage the wealth of resources on the web to make your blog's experience better and more rewarding for your readers.
3. Write guest blog posts.
Write a great blog post, and shop it around to blogs it'd be a good fit for. If one accepts, they should be willing to give you an inbound link in the post. Guest blogging is a great way to both promote your expertise and earn quality white-hat links.
Don't know whom to write for? Most media outlets allow people to submit original articles on topics relevant to their readership. You should start, however, with publications directly in your niche. If you’re a branding agency, you might inquire with branding publications.
4. Curate and publish helpful resource lists.Resource lists are both great link bait and helpful content for your readers. If you create a comprehensive resource list, it'll be easy for other bloggers to link to it in their own posts instead of rehashing and curating all that content themselves. To give you an idea of what one might look like, here's an example of a list of resources we curated for beginner SEO’s.
5. Do expert roundups to build relationships.Expert roundups can be a great tool for building relationships with influencers. While these roundups may not get you a lot of inbound links or leads right away, building relationships with influencers will help you get solid backlinks from authoritative sources down the line.
After they contribute to your roundup, you can reach out to them later to ask about a guest post opportunity or something else — while thanking them again for contributing to the previous expert roundup.
In one of our expert roundups, we reached out to successful marketers and asked them to share their top content marketing tips.
6. Write newsjack posts. Newsjacking is when you capitalize on the popularity of a news story to amplify your own sales and marketing success. If you're the first blogger to comment on a news event, you'll rise to the top of the SERPs due to the "freshness" component of Google's algorithm, and others will link to your content in their own accounts of the story.
If you’re not sure what newsjacking can look like, take a look at a few newsjacking examples we found across the web.
7. Create case studies about your most impressive clients.If you make your clients look good in case studies about their business, you can bet they'll be linking to your site. But you've got to make them good. This means choosing companies that have seen the best results, are enthusiastic, and know your product or service well.
It also means asking the right questions and laying out the case study in an attractive, comprehensive way.
8. Volunteer to be the subject of a case study. Why not get on the other side of the case study link love? Companies are always looking for customers who are willing to be the subject of a case study. Volunteer your time for one of your major vendors, and get a backlink from the case study once it's published.
9. Administer surveys.If you conduct research, promise to share the data with others. If you do the data collection and crunching and give some high authority sites access to the findings afterwards, you can bet they'll do some promotion and inbound linking for you to make sure you have a great sample size.
10. Write book reviews.If you provide a comprehensive review about another author's content, there's a good chance they (and others) will link to it. Here's an example of a book review from our blog, which sums up The Challenger Sale in a five-minute read or less.
11. Conduct free webinars, and post archived copies online.If it’s informative, your attendees will absolutely share it. One easy way to do this is to turn your PowerPoint presentation slides into a SlideShare presentation, and then embed that presentation into a blog post. You can also embed it into the webinar's landing page so that anyone looking to sign up for a webinar that's already over can check out the presentation.
For an even better shot at backlinks to these archived webinar pages, partner up with another company, brand, or influencer for the webinar. Not only do two well-aligned brands make for a powerful presentation, but it'll widen the audience — even after the webinar is over. (Learn tips on creating a webinar in this blog post.)
12. Create free tools.Remember when I talked about curating and publishing resource lists for your blog? What do you think people include and link to on those resource lists? Free tools are a big one. You can get on the other side of those resource lists by creating free tools that are really helpful for your target customers.
For example, look at Website Grader, a tool that has won links from many agencies, partners, and others in our industry.
13. Create shareable templates.Like free tools, templates are another thing people will find useful enough to link to. Before you create a template, think about what kind of templates would make people's jobs easier. A designer, for example, might create a library of downloadable business card templates to which others could link to over and over. Bookmarkable content is often the kind of content that gets tons of inbound links.
14. Create compelling infographics.People absolutely love to share infographics. If you create an original infographic yourself, people will link back to you as the original source. To increase the likelihood of an inbound link, you might also share your design with the sources you cited, and make the embed code for your infographic easily accessible.
Not a designer? Anyone can create professional-looking, high-quality infographics — and quickly with templates like these free infographic templates. Before creating an infographic, you’ll want to come up with a topic that can actually be visualized and that relates to your industry.
15. Create other forms of visual content.Cartoons, content visualizations, charts and graphs, and the like are an important part of a visual content marketing strategy and a great way to win inbound links. Since they take time and money to make, others will probably skip the fuss of creating their own visual content and link to yours instead.
You can use free online design tools to create your own graphics, regardless of how tech-savvy you are.
16. Create SlideShare presentations.
Slice one of your infographics into pieces or repurpose one from your last speaking gig. You can put these up on your blog, in your website's resource center, or even on a SlideShare account for more links.
Keep in mind that the most shareable presentations are the ones that are the most compelling. That means great content and great design. Read this blog post for a start-to-finish guide on nailing your next PowerPoint presentation.
17. Do something funny.
Funny things spread like wildfire. Think about the funny inside jokes in your industry, and capitalize on it with some humorous content that's linkable. You can create a meme, a short video, or a tweet that captures the joke. Just be careful that you understand your audience and how they're likely to respond so that nothing is taken offensively.
18. Write press releases about interesting company news.By turning your PR strategy into an inbound one, you create opportunities that weren’t there before and carve out a place for your company, building meaningful mindshare in the process with your target audiences.
Once you write a great press release, post it up on your website and then push out your releases to one of the big newswires to get more coverage.
19. Send out a joint press release when your news involves another company.This can help reach thousands of other related sites that, in a press release about just your company, may not have linked to your site. This will give you a chance to reach a larger number of people — and get more backlinks as a result.
20. Do some outreach when you have big news or a great piece of content.Gaining attention from the press and getting published in industry publications can help you build your brand, increase your visible expertise, improve your credibility, and, of course, get backlinks from authoritative sources.
First, create a dedicated page about the story on your website for them to link to. Then, reach out to a handful of journalists and/or publications that you can see really valuing your story. Be sure to give context to your request, follow their rules, write a compelling subject line on your pitch email, and be helpful, not boastful.
21. Set up press request alerts and look for opportunities to send quotes.Press request alerts are requests for sources of information from journalists. These journalists are constantly looking for quotes from specific people to feature in their article, and there are several mediums they use to send requests and find those quotes.
Because of the high volume of requests you'll receive, Barby also recommends creating email filters or folders to keep yourself organized.
22. Write and pitch op-ed articles.If you have an interesting opinion to share and can express it clearly and persuasively in an op-ed article, you could have the opportunity to reach a lot of people, earn recognition for yourself and your organization, and get authoritative backlinks to your website. I find the most effective op-ed articles make a single point, embrace the author's personal voice, and then offer specific recommendations.
Once you write the article, target online versions of industry newspaper and magazine publications for an extremely valuable inbound link.
23. Partner with companies in complementary industries.It’s common practice for corporate channel partners to link to each other's great content, because they have a vested interest in one another's success.
You might consider assessing how much traffic a partner can drive to your website by taking a look at their overall web presence on Alexa and SimilarWeb. These sites can help get a rough idea of traffic, bounce rates, keywords, and sources people are using to find that site, as well as the next action they take after visiting.
24. Do some co-marketing.You can also go a step further and build co-marketing partnerships. This means partnering up with another company to promote a piece of content or product and then sharing the results of that promotion. When you leverage the relationship and reach of a partner, you'll get more links and more buzz with less work.
Effective co-marketing doesn't have to be complicated or expensive, either. You can reach out to a similarly-sized brand in another space and pitch the project to them. You can start with something as simple as a few tweets, then build your way up to creating marketing collateral.
25. Ask for reviews.
You can ask users of your product and industry experts or analysts to review new features you're rolling out, for example. Not only will you receive an inbound link, but you'll also get great feedback and strengthen your relationship with those you asked to write reviews.
Don't know where to ask for reviews? Check out our list of the best product review websites for B2B and B2C companies.
26. Make friends with other webmasters in real life.Strengthening your relationship with other webmasters will open the door for relevant inbound link requests when future opportunities arise, and make it more likely those requests don’t go ignored.
Networking is an unparalleled skill to have. The wider and more open your network, the more opportunities could be unlocked that you didn't even know existed. Here are helpful tips on networking like a pro to get you started.
27. Search for and monitor mentions of your brand.Contact webmasters about turning those mentions into inbound links, but only when it's warranted — like when they're citing data of yours, for example. This is a tactic called "link reclamation.”
Monitor brand mentions by setting up alerts using tools like Mention or BuzzSumo, and adding keywords related to your brand or products. Just make sure you exclude any mentions from your own website within the alert, which you can do in these tools' settings.
Here's an email template for reaching out to ask for a link from our VP of Marketing:
28. Identify broken links through site-crawling tools.Similar to the step above, some webmasters may link to your site but use old or broken links. This is natural as you change and update your website over time. However, these inbound links are still valuable — and you can update them.
Use tools like Dead Link Checker, Link Juice Recovery Tool, and Screaming Frog to scan for broken links on other websites. Then, using the above template as inspiration, reach out to webmasters with a correct link as replacement.
29. Search for and monitor your competitors' backlinks.Find opportunities where you can get similar links. This is a great way to find high-value link opportunities fairly easily. Run competitor research weekly or monthly to find new opportunities you can take advantage of while they're still fresh.
Use a link analysis tool like Ahrefs, Majestic, or Moz's Link Explorer to get a list of the backlinks for one of your competitors. Then, check out what types of posts are earning backlinks and benefiting from that off-page SEO.
For example, if one of your competitors is writing guest posts for certain publications, there's a high likelihood those publications would be interested in guest posts from you on similar topics.
30. Incorporate "Tweet This" links into your content.Part of getting inbound links is getting your content out to the masses. Including "Tweet This" or "Click to Tweet!" links for tweetable nuggets in your content will get people sharing your content socially more often.
The result? Greater visibility in search engines, news feeds, and Twitter streams — and thus more opportunity for your data to be referenced in other people's content.
Here's what one of these links can look like:
Researchers found that colored visuals increase people's willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. [Tweet this stat!]
You can easily create tweetable links using the ClickToTweet service — without having to learn any custom code.
31. Install social sharing widgets.Just like "Tweet This" links get your content out there, so do social sharing buttons and widgets. Put them on your marketing content like case studies, whitepapers, ebooks, and blog posts. The more often your site appears on other social media sites, the more likely someone will see it, share it, and link to it from their website.
32. Sponsor or speak at an event.Events usually give their speakers and sponsors great website publicity. They’ll either list you on their sponsors page or introduce you as a speaker on a blog post. You can also negotiate inbound links into your terms to be sure your time and resources yield a beneficial inbound link.
If you're speaking at an event, make a really awesome, shareable presentation that people will want to find, share, and even link to later.
33. Help another webmaster fix an error on their site.Remember when I said you should get to know other webmasters? This is another time those connections will come in handy. When you find broken links on others' sites, let them know (politely, of course), and provide them with a piece of your own content that would be a suitable replacement for that broken link.
Be personal, friendly, and helpful, and this could be an opportunity to start building a relationship with that webmaster, too.
34. Give away free trials and sneak-peeks of your product.When people get to see your product beforehand, they will want the world to know they're part of the VIP crowd, and might write a review with a link back to your site about it.
There are a few ways to give away free trials. You could create some call-to-action buttons for your website or blog.
You could also send a new product announcement email to folks who you think might be interested, like current customers. If you’re not sure how to announce your product, check out our guide on how to create a great product launch email.
Build Inbound Links the White-Hat Way and Increase RankingsThe days of spamming comment sections and paying for link-building services are over. With the tips and methods I’ve shared, you’re well on your way to building high-quality backlinks the white-hat way. As more links point to your site, you’ll rank much higher in the SERPs, boosting organic traffic and attracting more potential leads and customers.
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#SwiftDigital #SocialMediaMarketing #Branding
Starting a new business is exciting: There’s a fresh idea, a million to-do lists, and all the passion and drive to bring an idea to life.
As the brainstorming process gives way to a concrete plan, it’s essential to take time to articulate the vision, mission, and values behind your new endeavor. These are three key elements of the foundation of your brand identity. When you take the time to fine-tune your brand basics, you’ll have greater focus, more motivation, and a better sense of how your business shows up in the world — and online. A solid brand foundation can save time later, simplifying creative decisions and providing clear context to any employees, partners, or collaborators.
Read on to learn more about how to identify your vision, write your mission statement, and craft a list of your business’s values.
Consider your mission statement vs. vision statement Unlike the vision statement — which focuses on the big picture — your mission takes the abstract ideals of a vision and translates them into action. Since your vision statement is the why, your mission statement is the how. Learn how to craft both statements below.
Identify your vision and beliefs
Though it may feel rudimentary, taking the time to clarify your vision and beliefs is the key to establishing meaning behind your mission. Moving forward, many business decisions stem from the core beliefs of a business, so it’s worth the effort to hone in on what you care about and are building into your business from the start.
In order to figure out your vision, start by considering the following questions:
Write your mission statement
Once you’ve identified the problem you’re solving with your vision statement, get to the root of your mission statement by asking yourself:
List out your business’s values
Unlike your mission, values aren’t tangible objects or plans. Instead, they’re the core ideals of your company that inform decisions moving forward. Strive to identify roughly five or six values to create a complete guide of the principles that govern the way your business shows up.
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The Complicated Relationship Between Social Media and SEO
Inbound marketing is in the middle of an interesting evolution. Historically, search has been a major source of traffic and leads for businesses leveraging online marketing.
But, with the growth of social networks, social media marketing is even more heavily embraced today.
But, you might ask, which is more important?
The answer? Both can be key to your strategy.
Social Media vs. SEO
Social media management relates to posting and optimizing your content on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. SEO strategy relates to making your website or content more searchable so that people looking up phrases or questions about products or topics related to your industry will find your site in the results.
Search is a huge source of customers, but slowly, social media is gradually increasing in importance as a marketing platform. The important distinction to make is that search and social are not competitive forces. Instead, these two facets of inbound marketing can work together to amplify the results of each other.
Social Media and SEO
While social media management and SEO optimization are two very different strategies, they can compliment each other. While social media allows people to discover new content or brands that they or their friends might be interested in, SEO allows you to gain traffic from people who are searching questions or phrases related to your business. Leveraging both can help you gain traffic from a variety of different sources.
The key to understanding that search and social media marketing need to work together is to think about the problem both search and social solve: information discovery. People use Google to find an answer to a question. People use social media to discover answers to questions they haven't yet thought of. However, the difference between search engines and social media platforms is blurring. For example, Facebook search is one of the network's core features.
As a marketer, how can you integrate your efforts across both platforms?
Social Media SEO Strategy
1. Social Sharing Buttons on Your WebsiteIt may seem simple, but search engines like Google are starting to use social media sharing data to influence search rankings. As a marketer, it is critically important to have social media sharing buttons on your blog and website to encourage visitors to share content in social media. These buttons will not only help to increase traffic from social media but will also play an important role today and in the future for ranking positions in search engines.
2. Integrated Keyword Strategy
As I mentioned earlier, the line between search engines and social media platforms is blurring. Take the keyword strategy you are using for your website and apply it to your social media engagement when appropriate. This doesn't mean cramming tweets full of keywords. Instead, be aware of how you are wording social media messages. By incorporating keywords into social media content, you can increase the reach of your messages.
3. Include Links in Social Profiles
The links in social media messages such as tweets and Facebook status updates are traditionally no-follow links. This means they don't pass any SEO authority to the site they're linking to. While this is starting to change, it is important to understand that the URL in the actual bio of a social media account is a follow link. Keep this in mind, and make sure you are taking advantage of these extra links.
4. Incorporate Links Into Video and Presentation Content
Some of the most powerful social media platforms are those that facilitate content sharing, such as YouTube for video and SlideShare for presentations. When sharing content on these types of networks, be sure to share links to related blog posts or other content on your website. Yes, this will increase traffic to your website, but it will also help build new inbound links.
When someone writes a blog post about your content, it is likely they will also include a link from the presentation, simply because it is the "easy" thing to do.
5. Optimize Social Profiles
Think of social media profile pages as extensions of your website. In the same way that you would optimize website pages for page titles and keywords, audit your social media profiles to ensure they mirror the search engine optimization strategy of your website.
6. Build Links and Social Media Reach
Search engine optimization has long been about inbound links to your website. While inbound links are still really important, a secondary metric for marketers looking to increase search traffic should be social media reach. As we talked about earlier, social media data is becoming a factor in search engine rankings. In order to get more people to share your content in social media, you need to increase the number of fans or followers of your account. By doing this through quality content creation and engagement, you will not only build social media reach but also inbound links.
7. Establish New Relationships
The web is now a social communications channel. Similar to sales, relationships are huge for driving inbound links and social media attention. Building relationships using social media can open opportunities for guest blog posts and other link-building opportunities.
How Social Media Effects SEO
As we mentioned above, leveraging both strategies will give you more chances for audiences to discover your brand. But, it might slightly help your search results page rankings indirectly.
When you get a lot of traffic to your website, search engines that crawl your the internet will notice and think your brand is credible. Then, they might place your search result higher than others. So, if you post interesting content on social media that is incredibly click-worthy, you might see a boost in traffic.
Furthermore, if people or credible brands see your posts on social and share your website's link on their own blogs or websites, that could boost your page authority. This is something that might also move you up in rankings.
While this might not make a major dent in your rankings or total page authority score, especially when you're starting out, social media marketing couldn't hurt you.
If you've just focused purely on SEO and are ready to zone in on a complimenting social media strategy, check out our guide to social media marketing.
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Discover how to create and manage a brand that helps your business become known, loved, and preferred.
Coca-Cola is more than a soda. Starbucks is more than a coffee. Ray-Ban is more than a pair of sunglasses. Glossier is more than a tube of concealer.
Interacting with these products provide experiences, and we buy them with that experience in mind. Better yet, the companies that create and market them know exactly the experience they want you to have when you make (or consider) a purchase. That’s why they create a brand.
From the language in their Instagram caption to the color palette on their latest billboard to the material used in their packaging, companies who create strong brands know that their brand needs to live everywhere. They know their names extend far beyond the label.
The result? These brands are known, loved, and chosen out of a long lineup of options.
Who doesn’t want that? I know I do. That’s why we built this guide — to equip you to create and manage a strong brand that’ll help your business be admired, remembered, and preferred.
Use the links below to jump ahead to sections of interest, and don’t forget to bookmark this guide for later.
What’s a brand? Before I dive into the importance of branding and how to build a brand, let’s go back to basics: What is a brand?
A brand is a feature or set of features that distinguish one organization from another. A brand is typically comprised of a name, tagline, logo or symbol, design, brand voice, and more. It also refers to the overall experience a customer undergoes when interacting with a business — as a shopper, customer, social media follower, or mere passerby.
What is branding?
Branding is the process of researching, developing, and applying a distinctive feature or set of features to your organization so that consumers can begin to associate your brand with your products or services.
Branding is an iterative process and requires getting in touch with the heart of your customers and your business. It’s important for a variety of reasons — I dive into these next.
The Importance of Branding
Your brand is arguably one of your organization’s most important assets. It gives your organization an identity, makes your business memorable, encourages consumers to buy from you, supports your marketing and advertising, and brings your employees pride.
Branding can be the deciding factor for consumers when they make a purchase decision. In a 2015 global Nielsen survey, almost 60% of shoppers said they actively buy from brands they know, and 21% said they bought a product because they liked the brand.
Branding gives your business an identity beyond its product or service. It gives consumers something to relate to and connect with.
Branding makes your business memorable. It’s the face of your company and helps consumers distinguish your business across every medium (which I discuss later).
Branding supports your marketing and advertising efforts. It helps your promotion pack that extra punch with added recognition and impact.
Branding brings your employees pride. When you brand your company, you’re not only giving your business identity, you’re also creating a reputable, highly-regarded workplace. Strong branding brings in strong employees.
Branding Terms to KnowHere are some other brand-related buzzwords you should know. They further demonstrate the importance and value of branding your business.
Brand awareness refers to how familiar the general public and your target audience is with your brand. High brand awareness leads to brands being referred to as “trending,” “buzzworthy, or “popular.” Brand awareness is important because consumers can’t consider purchasing from your brand if they’re not aware of it.
Strong branding makes your business known.
Brand extensions are when companies “extend” their brand to develop new products in new industries and markets. Consider Honda lawn mowers or Martha Stewart bedding. Brand extensions allow companies (or individuals) to leverage brand awareness and equity to create more revenue streams and diversify product lines.
Strong branding brings in more money.
Brand identity is the personality of your business and the promise you make to your customers. It’s what you want your customers to walk away with after they interact with your brand. Your brand identity is typically comprised of your values, how you communicate your product or service, and what you want people to feel when they interact with it.
Strong branding gives your business more than a name.
Brand management refers to the process of creating and maintaining your brand. It includes managing the tangible elements of your brand (style guide, packaging, color palette) and the intangible elements (how it's perceived by your target audience and customer base). Your brand is a living, breathing asset, and it should be managed as such.
Strong branding requires consistent upkeep.
Brand recognitionBrand recognition is how well a consumer (ideally in your target audience) can recognize and identify your brand without seeing your business name — through your logo, tagline, jingle, packaging, or advertising. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand recall, which is the ability to think of a brand without any visual or auditory identifiers.
Strong branding keeps your business top-of-mind.
Real-life brand example: Want to test your brand knowledge? Take this Logo Quiz by Business Insider to see how well you know your corporate brands. This is brand recognition at work.
Brand trust refers to how strongly customers and consumers believe in your brand. Do you deliver on your marketing promises? Do your salespeople and customer service go above and beyond? These things can create trust among your customers, which is important in a world where a mere 25% of people feel confident in large businesses.
Strong branding builds trust with your customers.
Brand valuationBrand valuation is the commercial valuation of your brand derived from consumer perception, recognition, and trust. This concept goes hand-in-hand with brand equity. A powerful brand can make your business invaluable to investors, shareholders, and potential buyers.
Strong branding increases your business’s value.
How to Create a Brand
Here’s how you can create a brand — or begin the process of rebranding your current one.
There’s a lot that goes into a brand, and there’s a lot to consider when building a strong one. So, grab a notebook and jot down ideas as you move through this section. Recognize that branding is an iterative process, so you might be repeating some of these steps as you brainstorm and build your brand.
1. Determine your target audienceBranding leads to awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. We’ve talked about that. But let’s take a step back and understand where those stem from: consumers. And not just any consumers — your target audience and customers.
If your brand doesn’t resonate with your audience, it won’t lead to that awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. That’s where target market research comes in.
Before pressing pen to paper (or cursor to digital document), you must understand to whom your branding will be speaking. Who does your product serve? Who is your ideal customer? Why did you create your business in the first place?
What you learn about your target market and buyer personas will influence your branding decisions down the line, so make this step your first priority.
2. Establish your mission statementLet’s return to a question I asked in the previous step: Why did you create your business? Answering this will help you build your mission statement, which defines your purpose and passion as an organization.
Before you can craft a brand that your audience recognizes, values, and trusts, you must be able to communicate the purpose that your business provides. Then, every part of your brand (logo, tagline, imagery, voice, and personality) can reflect that mission and vision.
Your mission statement is a building block of your brand manifesto, which encompasses why your organization exists and why people should care about your brand.
Download our free guide to Defining Inspiring Mission and Vision Statements and learn the ins-and-outs of two of the most valuable strategic planning elements for businesses.
3. Define your unique values, qualities, and benefitsThere are probably lots of businesses in your industry and niche. It’s easy to focus on your competition (and there’s a time and place for competitive analysis), but, for now, let’s focus on you.
What’s one thing that your business has that no one else can mimic (er, legally)? Your brand.
Because of that, you must ensure that your brand is comprised of and inspired by elements that are solely yours: the values, benefits, and qualities that make your company unique.
Take a moment to jot down a list of what sets your business apart from others. I’m not talking about product features (like appearance, components, or capabilities); I’m referring to how your products or services improve lives and contribute to success.
Real-life brand example: Alani Nutrition
You’ve probably never heard of Alani Nu; they’re a nutrition company based in my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. I order their vitamins because 1) they’re proven to work, and 2) I trust and respect the brand (and it’s gorgeous!). On their website, they’ve clearly and simply outlined their unique values and benefits as part of their overall brand. Highlighting these makes it easy for customers like me to trust their products and choose them over competitors.
4. Create your visual assets
At this point, you should understand your target audience, your mission statement, and the unique qualities that make up your business.
If you can say with confidence that you’ve mastered these steps, it’s time to move onto one of the more exciting parts of branding — the visual design. We’re talking about your logo, color palette, typography (fonts), iconography, and other visual components.
As you create these elements, build a set of brand guidelines (or a brand style guide) to govern the composition and use of your visual assets. This will ensure that whoever uses your new branding does so accurately and consistently.
Note: Design can be just as intimidating as it is exciting. Consider hiring a professional with logo and identity design experience or starting with a few helpful design templates.
5. Find your brand voice. Next, consider the auditory component of your brand. What would your brand sound like if you had a conversation with it, or if it texted you?
How you communicate with your target market is also considered part of your branding. You want to define a brand voice that connects and resonates with your audience — otherwise, they probably won’t pay attention. Because of that, don’t hesitate to return to step one to get familiar with to whom you’re speaking.
From your advertising campaigns and social media captions to your blog posts and brand story, ensure your tone is consistent throughout all of your written content. Give your audience a chance to get familiar with your brand and learn to recognize the sound of your voice. Better yet, master a fun, entertaining voice, and your customers will look forward to your social media and email updates.
Real-life brand example: MailChimp
MailChimp is a great example of a brand that speaks with a clear, consistent tone. When I used their free plan for my small business, I always chuckled when receiving their emails and working in their interface. From its web copy to its email blasts and social media captions, MailChimp has established a brand voice and personality that is personable, fun, and accessible — it can be hard to explain the technical parts of a software product (like A/B testing), but MailChimp has mastered that, too.
6. Put your branding to work
Your brand only works if you do. Once you finish designing and creating your new brand (or rebrand) integrate it throughout every inch of your business. Pay extra attention to ensure it’s displayed anywhere your business touches customers. Here are a handful of tips for applying your brand across your organization.
Splash your logo, color palette, and typography across your website. Don’t use anything but your predefined assets in your brand guidelines. Your website is a major part of your company identity — if it doesn’t reflect your brand, it will only provide a jarring customer experience. Also, be sure that all web copy, calls-to-action, and product descriptions reflect your brand voice.
All profile photos, cover art, and branded imagery should reflect your brand. Consider putting your logo as your profile photo — this will make it easier for customers to recognize your business. As with your website, be sure all profile information, posts, and captions reflect your brand voice.
If you have a physical products business, your product is probably the most tangible way that customers interact with your brand. For that reason, your packaging should reflect your new branding — in its design, colors, size, and feel.
Real-life brand example: Chobani
I love Chobani yogurt (confession: I’m eating it right now). Their new branding immediately tells me that they produce authentic, healthy Greek yogurt. That’s one of the main reasons I buy Chobani. Recently, I realized that their yogurt packages are made with a very earthy, textured material — an intentional decision that supports the overall experience they’ve paired with purchasing and eating the Chobani brand.
Because advertisements (digital and print) are often used to establish brand awareness and introduce consumers to your brand, it’s critical that they reflect your branding. In fact, your branding should make the ad creation process easier — with your brand style guide, you already know how your ads should appear and what type of copy to write.
Sales and customer serviceA brand is only as powerful as the people behind it, and if your people aren’t putting your brand to work, it won’t work for you. Moreover, your brand applies to more than your marketing. Inform your sales and customer service folks of your brand guidelines and tell them to use it, especially when they engage directly with customers. Whether they are sharing a branded product demo or answering customer support inquiries, encourage them to use your logo, tagline, imagery, and brand voice.
Branding Tips for Small Business
Treat your brand as a personTo best wrap your head around the branding process, think of your brand as a person. Your brand should have an identity (who it is), personality (how it behaves), and experience (how it’s remembered).
Ask yourself these questions about your brand:
The purpose of branding is to create relationships with your customers. The easiest way to do this is to treat your brand as a person and understand that you want your customers to do the same.
Real-life brand example: Whiskey Riff
Whiskey Riff is another brand you’re probably not familiar with. It’s a two-man media company based here in Chicago that’s dubbed themselves “the most entertaining country music site ever”. I’m a fan because I love country music, enjoy their written and podcast content, and proudly wear some of their awesome apparel.
If Whiskey Riff was a person, here’s how I’d think it would answer the questions above:
Build and follow a brand strategy
A brand strategy is more than your brand guidelines; it’s a plan with specific, long-term goals that can be achieved as your brand evolves. These goals typically revolve around your brand’s purpose, emotion, flexibility, competitive awareness, and employee involvement.
Remember how I said that branding is a continuous process? There’s a lot that goes into it. A brand strategy can help you turn that process into a well-oiled practice that keeps your brand moving toward success and recognition.
Don’t let inspiration turn into imitationCompetitive analysis is important. Not only does it educate you on where your competition stands and how they are excelling, but it can also give you ideas on how you can improve or further set apart your brand.
However, be conscious to not fall into an imitation trap. Keep your competitive research limited and focus on what your organization brings to the table. Just because a competitor (or two) has branded their company in a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to follow suit. New, unique, provocative brands are memorable brands.
Use branding to hire
Strong branding makes your employees proud. Leverage your branding to attract talented people. If hiring is a strong initiative for your organization, dedicate some of your resources to employer branding.
Employer branding is how you market your company to job seekers and current employees. If you’re publically proud of your organization, others will be, too.
Ready, Set, Brand
Branding is your organization’s name, logo, color palette, voice, and imagery. It’s also more. It’s that intangible feeling your customers have when they interact with your brand. You know … that experience we talked about in the beginning.
That’s how powerhouse brands deviate from all the others. The tangible components contribute to this — a gorgeous logo, a clever tagline, an authentic manifesto, and a clear brand voice — but truly strong brands thrive when they focus on the big picture of their brand. Get to the heart and soul of your target audience and your organization, and a successful brand will follow.
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For every piece of content we write, SEO is on our radar. We want our content to rank high so visitors come to our site.
But do certain content writing techniques impact SEO?
And in this post, we’ll cover ten SEO content writing tips for improving search ranks. We also tossed in a few bonus tips to take your content writing to the next level. Let’s get into it.
Looking to sharpen your SEO?
Write an Enticing Page Title and Description. To kick things off, let’s start with our look in search engines.
The goal of SEO content writing is to get search engine traffic. This means searchers need to click.
By writing irresistible page titles and descriptions.
Here are a few tips to use.
For page titles:
Use Headings and Subheadings
Headings and subheadings go a long way.
They break up your content. Because visitors are reading from a screen you have to keep your page light. This means avoiding walls of text.
And you can also inject SEO juice into your content by mentioning target keywords. This is good on-page SEO practice.
I try to mention the target keyword in my main heading and in a few subheadings when possible.
Pro Tip: If your target keyword doesn’t make sense in a heading or subheading, scrap it. Forcing keywords for the sake of SEO will hurt you in the long run. It turns readers off, making them jump ship.
Use Appropriate Keyword Density (and LSI Keywords)You know mentioning keywords throughout your content is a must.
But how much is too much?
Keyword density is a time-tested SEO concept. Because we’re writing content with SEO in mind, mentioning your target keywords throughout your copy is wise.
But you have to be careful. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Don’t spam your content to improve SEO. First, it creates a bad user experience. And second, search engines will pick up on your attempt. In the end, both hurt SEO efforts. Instead, mention your keyword when it makes sense.
You can see good keyword density in action on the RyTech blog. Their writers mention target keywords naturally every 1 – 2 paragraphs.
You can also use latent semantic keywords to build around your topic. These are variations of your target keyword.
Use Internal and External LinksLooking to add credibility to your content and boost SEO?
Then link to other resources.
From a credibility perspective, linking to other content (internal or external) gives users the option to explore subjects deeper. Also, if you’re sharing stats in your content, links provide a source. This goes a long way for improving user experience.
Next, SEO. Linking your content to relevant pages shows search engines you know what you’re talking about. How? Because you’ve done the homework. You know where to send your visitors for more details.
Pro Tip: Use authority websites when linking to other pages. These are sites that have built credibility in their space.
The Garfield Group blog shows good examples of how to link. They reference authoritative domains and link to their own relevant content throughout blog posts.
Answer User Search IntentThis SEO content writing tip isn’t technical. It’s about providing value.
Because searchers are asking questions and looking for solutions, you need to provide the answer.
And in doing that, make sure you answer search queries quick. Once you’ve done that, then you can elaborate.
Here’s why: New visitors coming to your site expect answers immediately.
It’s different when you have a subscriber base returning regularly. For this type of content, you can take your time to warm up.
But for new visitors, you have to be direct. So make sure you’re answering user search intent at the outset of your content.
Use a Simple URLHere’s a quick SEO content writing win. Not so much to do with content, but more for search result look-n-feel. There are also SEO points to win here.
A simple URL gives searchers instant recognition.
Also, Google prefers simple URLs. As a rule of thumb, try using your target keywords as your URL slug.
The content team at Evus shared this tip with us in the past. And you can see they practice what they preach when it comes to optimizing URLs.
Writing SEO-friendly URLs is straightforward, so don’t miss out on this quick win.
Use Bullet ListsBullet lists pack a ton of info into a few points.
And this is exactly what search engine visitors reading your content are looking for.
It also doesn’t hurt to throw your target keyword into the mix.
Pro Tip: When you have a long paragraph that’s a goldmine of information – transform it into a bullet list. You might even be able to get away with using your target keyword in unique ways.
Here’s an example from the TrustedPros content team. They use bullet lists to explain complex ideas. This takes cognitive load off readers.
Use Call-to-ActionsFor any content writing, your goal is to create action.
Whether you’re writing content for a blog, landing page, or homepage, you want visitors to take the next step.
This is where a strong call-to-action come in.
CTAs guide your readers. If your web content does its job, you should see users moving on to other pages.
But how is this good from an SEO perspective?
A combination of great content and a CTA improves site dwell time.
Pro Tip: Dwell time is the amount of time visitor spend on your site before returning to a search engine. Search engines use dwell time as an indicator for content quality.
Back to our call-to-action technique. This is one of my favorite SEO content writing tips because it funnels visitors through the lead-gen cycle and it also improves SEO.
Here’s how we use CTAs on the Swift blog. We want to provide a great experience to our readers. And to do that, we use a CTA that leads to relevant content.
Use Shorter Sentences. Shorter sentences keep visitors reading. It makes content more digestible. Similar to the headings and bullet list tips.
Make sure you’re practicing shorter sentences on your company blog.
When visitors find your blog through search, you want them to stick around and read through the entire piece. This shows Google that searchers prefer your content.
Make a Promise and Deliver. Let’s walk through a scenario.
A visitor searches for a topic and finds your landing page.
So: What made the visitor click on your result and not your competitors? It’s because you made a promise. You offered a solution to their query.
But once the visitor is on your site, they realize you’re not meeting their needs.
So what happens? They bounce.
From an SEO perspective, this is bad news. Bounce rates are a major factor in dwell time. Your goal is to keep visitors on your site.
And this starts with the promise you made in your organic result. So as a rule of thumb, don’t make a promise and not deliver. You might get more clicks, but at the expense of a bad experience.
SEO Content Writing Bonus TipsYes! You’ve reached the SEO content writing bonus tips. These are bonus tips because they’re applicable to specific types of content. Nonetheless, make sure your boosting SEO performance with them.
Long-Form Content for Blog PostsIf you’re familiar with the SEO game, you know about long-form content.
And you can use your blog to drive site traffic for unique keywords. So when you do hit publish on that blog post, make sure it’s the definitive answer on a subject.
So how long should posts be?
Try writing content that’s at least +750 words. This gives you enough time to introduce the subject, and dive into the details.
Anything less and your content is going to be thin. Meaning search engines won’t give it the quality stamp.
Use Emotion-Driving WordsI touched on this idea earlier in the post. But it’s worth mentioning as it’s own SEO content writing tip.
Emotion-driving keywords are important to use for your organic CTRs.
Spicing up your organic headline and description are going to help improve click-through rates. This, in turn, improves SEO performance in the long run.
Help Content Succeed in Search Engines with These SEO Content Writing TipsYou have to keep SEO in mind when writing content.
But there’s a fine line to walk here.
You never want to sacrifice quality content for SEO. Search engines have become smart enough to see through that.
Instead, you can use these outside the box content writing tips. They work for both copywriting and SEO.
What did you think of our SEO content writing tips? Would you include anymore? Let us know in the comments.
And make sure you’re maximizing organic visitor traffic to your site with the On-Page SEO Checklist Download for Digital Marketers.
The Secret to Building Large Websites: Website Architecture
When I started writing about website architecture, the idea of a skyscraper construction project came to mind.
I thought of a huge skyscraper with restaurants, retail stores, offices, gyms, and residential spaces — a large self-contained, compact community all by itself.
No one would ever start the construction process of a skyscraper like that until everything is properly planned and drawn out.
In this article, I’ll share our company’s process for architecting large websites.
The website architect. Let’s first figure out whose role it is to do this thing called website architecture.
To me, this job is carried out by a website architect.
The website architect needs to have a solid understanding of usability, in-depth knowledge of web development tools, online marketing technologies, and everything else involved in the construction and maintenance of a website.
Just like an architect of a skyscraper or a residential home, she must be well-versed with the tools, materials, and processes of construction in order to plan the product efficiently and effectively.
This person, our website architect, should possess strong logical thinking, has an analytical mind, is smart with commercial aspects of websites, and be attentive to details.
Of course, for a guaranteed quality product, the architect can/should consult other specialists: designers, developers, etc.
As you see, the ideal web architect in my mind should be a broad specialist, because, as you’ll soon see below, there’s no getting away from that.
Overview of the website architecture processI’ll give you just a general overview of my company’s website architecture process.
The process is divided into these 11 stages:
Let’s discuss each stage.
Stage 1: Project brief
Gathering the needed data from the client and your team can usually take 2 days. Though you should be as thorough as possible, also keep in mind that there’s always room for elaboration and additional data-gathering in the other stages of the website architecture process, so don’t get too off-track if some pieces of information haven’t been transmitted to you.
Determine goals and expected outcomes.What is the client’s goals and expected outcomes of this project, and how does she envision the end result of the project?
You should be clear about the evaluation criteria of these goals and expected outcomes to make sure you’re both on the same page.
You have to be as specific as possible; goals and outcomes should be quantifiable and measurable.
Brainstorm with the clientAsk the client to tell you everything he has on his mind. Listen to what he says patiently and thoughtfully. Take notes. Focus on what they’re saying and resist the urge to chime in. Your ideas and remarks can wait.
If the client is passionate about his ideas for the project, he can spend hours talking about it, which is completely normal.
When the client is really into the project, he’s a great help and pleasure to work with.
Client idea summary. At the end of your brainstorming session, you should ask the client to sum everything up — if he succeeds in boiling his idea down to one sentence, then the idea is clear. If not, you will need better clarity and focus.
Determine the target audienceWho is the client’s target audience? Who’s going to use this site, and how might they benefit from the site?
The client should have a clear idea of who the end-user is so that we can produce a website for them. Otherwise, it’s like playing darts with your eyes closed: You know where the target is, but it’s going to be nearly impossible to hit it.
You can also start discussing what the client already knows about their target demographic: gender, age, location, etc.
Determine competitors. Who are the website’s direct and indirect competitors? The client and the website architect should be aware of the existing competitive environment.
There are always competitors. Even if the website’s idea is completely unique, there are at least indirect competitors.
Meet the decision-makersMeet with the people who make decisions. Discuss the deadlines, the budget limit, resource availabilities, and so forth.
Organizational matters, matter.
Results and deliverablesSome of your other questions will need to wait to be answered later on in the website architecture process. What you get out of the project briefing stage will be basic data and just to get a general feel of what your client already knows about his project.
It’s crucial to understand the client’s needs and expectations at this early stage, and to choose the right direction for the project right at the starting line. The price you pay for not giving enough time to this simple but critical first stage exponentially grows as the web architecture process and website production progresses.
The deliverable of the briefing stage is a written document with detailed information given to you by the client and the decision-makers. This document should be approved and verified by the client. It can be in the form of a design brief.
Stage 2: Website goal definitionA website needs goals. The client’s goals might be these: to monetize the site, to increase the offline market share through online marketing, to better engage customers online, and so forth.
The goals define the direction of the entire website production process.
Besides determining the website’s goals, you also need to define success criteria according to the client.
A good way to establish goals is by using the SMART criteria. That is, each goal should be:
This document needs sign-off by the client/decision-makers.
Stage 3: Define the target audienceThis stage involves researching the target audience. We need to identify what types of users will go to the site, and also define the needs of each group.
Gather characteristics dataWe need to create a common persona for each group. The user interface design depends greatly on the results of this stage. To get started with this, we first need to define what our audiences’ common characteristics are.
Define socio-demographic characteristics: We should figure out the sex, age, education level, and occupation of our target audience. Targeting teenagers (15-18) is going to differ from a site meant for people over 60.
Define wants/needs characteristics: We should figure out why our user would want to sign up to our website, what problems they’re looking to solve with our site, etc. We define their pain points and aim to solve it with our website.
This information is vital, though it’s hard to find. If you’re working on a website redesign project, the client may already have this information if they have user feedback tools in place.
Sometimes the competitor can have it (but good luck getting them to share it with you). In this case, you need to perform user research studies and conduct surveys.
Geographic location characteristics: Country, city, region, continent — these are all helpful information. Being online does not completely eliminate the location factor.
Sometimes geotargeting is the first thing to think of when creating a national site, government website, or any location-dependent website.
Moreover, website content and website copywriting is heavily determined by the audience’s location.
To get a better image of your target audience you can interview potential users. This is about marketing research at this point.
Stage 4: Competitor analysis.
To ensure the success of the project, you need to know your competitors and have good ideas on how to get ahead of them. You should discover their strong points and weak points.
There are several methodologies involved in conducting competitor analysis research, including market participant polling, and Internet and print media research.
If you’re creating a local website, don’t limit yourself only to your country. Look through international websites that are doing similar things. Most likely, there are similar or analogous projects up and running somewhere in the world. Some of these projects can be rather inspiring.
For example, we’ve been working on a social networking site for pet lovers for a client in Russia. We didn’t find direct competitors in the local market. However, there are several foreign sites and indirect local competitors. They are:
www.dogster.cominternational, popular, quality
www.dogster.ruRussian project, quite popular, satisfying quality
www.catster.cominternational, popular, quality
Your website’s competitors can be direct competitors or indirect competitors.
SWOT — which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats — helps indicate the strong points and weak points of your competitors, and more importantly, aids you in figuring out project opportunities.
SWOT matrix. Source: wikipedia.org
While analyzing competitors, you can discover useful site features and ideas worth adapting onto your own website — general, universal site features like commenting systems, web forms, etc. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel in these cases.
All good ideas you end up with during the competitor analysis stage will be needed for the mind mapping stage (which we’ll discuss later on).
Results and deliverablesYou should now have:
Every person has short-term and long-term goals.
There can also be sub-goals. For example, a person might desire to improve his career, but first he needs to find a job. The sub-goal is finding a job to reach the goal of improving his career.
For our website project, we identify a person’s goals, problems, and we look towards providing solutions for them.
All goals should be designed well. Fuzzy goals won’t help, as it’s impossible to solve all problems within one site. Focus on primary goals and keep the list of goals short.
Some clients think if users listen to music online, their site should also provide such a service, even if their website isn’t looking to solve this problem. The more features we add, the more diluted our core objectives become.
User problemsWhen we have a list of concrete goals, we can determine concrete problems.
For example, a user goal on our website might be to find a contractor that can build his construction project. That goal is more complex than it seems: How do we locate the right contractor for the user’s specific construction project? Is it important that the contractor is located close to where the construction project is? How do we allow them to quickly evaluate many candidates? Due to questions like these, you’ll generate ideas easily.
When we’re done identifying goals and problems, it’s time to design and develop solutions for them through website architecture design.
This process brings great fulfillment to the website architect because she’s looking to solve pain points that her users have.
Results and deliverablesAs the result, we’ll have a goal-problem-solution matrix designed for each persona we’ve developed for our website.
Find your list of ideas and divide them into logical categories. For example, let’s say we’re working on a real estate website. The real estate website’s sections might be:
If an idea fits in more than one category, choose the best fit for it.
Brainstorming will help sift out the useless and unneeded features, web pages, etc.
Each website section should be planned logically. Don’t forget about section-dependent features (such as the user being able to rate each property, in our example). Mark this connection with an arrow to remember the dependence (in our example, it would go to the Property Catalog).
You can design your own symbols to indicate different functional sections. If the web architect, for example, is undecided in terms of which section a certain site feature belongs to, she can mark it with a question mark. These symbols are really important if the project is large.
Results and deliverables
As a result, we have a bird’s-eye view of the interconnections of site features and sections.
Stage 8: Information architectureNow that we have a detailed mind map of our website, we can start working on the website’s information structure, which will be the foundation of the website’s prototype.
The website’s IA can be created with the help of flowcharting software like Visio.
Results and deliverablesYou should end up with an information architecture (IA) design after this stage.
Stage 9: Prototyping/Wireframing
You will need prototyping software for this stage. I recommend Axure, though there are a number of other similar programs.
The home page prototype doesn’t necessary have to be prototyped first. For example, in the case of an online shop or a blog, the product page or blog post page should come first, because these are critical pages, and will typically be the landing pages of most users on the site.
The website architect is going to lean on the mind map and information architecture diagrams to develop this prototype.
When creating each web page prototype, you should focus on how the user can achieve his/her goals. Before prototyping, you should refresh your knowledge of your target audience using the previous stages in the site architecture process.
Prototype the primary navigation menuThe primary navigation menu is the first to create. We need to figure out the number of menu items and the number of drop-down menus.
Prototype the header sectionThen we design the header section that typically contains these items:
The first web page prototype should be shown to decision-makers, and the reason for the layout should be explained to them. The client might revise and suggest some adjustments. That’s OK, because having this done on a low-fidelity prototype is much easier than if we had a higher-fidelity prototype.
After the first page is approved, we can move to the next prototypes. All the ideas represented in our mind map should be found in these prototypes. It’s crucial not to forget about the smallest detail, as it can turn to hell in the long run if you do.
Test the prototypes against scenario mapsOur scenarios will help test the mockups to ensure the logical order of every action.
This is the most time-consuming component of this stage and requires a lot of patience and attentiveness. In the case of large websites, there could be over 100 unique interface prototypes.
Results and deliverablesThe deliverables after this stage are low-fidelity prototypes/wireframes of all web page types.
There are 90 some such prototypes for the example project above. As you can see, each prototype was broken down in detail. This way, no questions and uncertainty arose during the design of the functional prototypes and finished web designs.
Usability testing at this stage will help you notice gaps and flaws in the architecture.
For testing purposes, we invite some representatives of the target audience and observe how they manage to reach certain pages and results within the site.
Then, the users can be interviewed regarding the site in general.
After usability testing, we make final corrections.
Results and deliverablesAs the result, we will have validated and improved the user-friendliness of our web page prototypes and we get a better picture of how users would be interacting with the site.
Stage 11: Project specificationThe final stage of the website architecture process is to create the project specification document. This should contain a detailed description of each stage of the site architecture process.
The project specification is the result of all the stages you’ve gone through. It typically will contain a detailed description of each prototype, user flows, and so forth.
The specs should be full and unequivocal. Be detailed and thorough, but also keep it as succinct and as concise as possible.
The project specification should contain all the information regarding software and web technologies required for the website.
Design requirements should be clear.
Once the project specification is approved, website development starts.
8 Tools to Help You Create Better Blog Posts
Creating a blog is one of the best ways to attract traffic and potential customers to your website, regardless of your industry. It shows readers that your business not only provides great products and services but also serves as a helpful and interesting source of information.
But if you have experience with blogging, you know that writing and publishing new posts on a regular basis is often easier said than done. When you’re brainstorming new ideas, researching your topics, writing the copy, and finding visuals to accompany it, creating one blog post can easily take up an entire day.
Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case. These 8 tools will help you create better blog posts and manage each step along the way more effectively.
Blog structure for seo
To understand your audience: Google AnalyticsMuch like every other aspect of Internet marketing, you can improve your blog with Google Analytics. This is especially true if you already have a lot of existing content on your site.
Log in to the platform, then navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. If you have a subfolder for your blog (like /blog/), you may want to narrow your results to those pages only.
Then, you can see which posts have received the most page views, which have the longest average time on page, and which have the highest bounce rate. This will help you get an idea of what kinds of posts your audience likes to read.
Of course, you won’t be successful if you simply replicate previous content. But if you determine that your readers respond particularly well to posts with lots of visuals, make it a priority to include them. And if you figure out that posts with numbers in the title (like “8 Tools to Help You Create Better Blog Posts”) get more traffic, continue to use list posts in your content strategy.
To see what’s already out there: BuzzSumoHave a certain topic in mind, but aren’t sure what angle to take on it? You’ll probably find BuzzSumo extremely useful.
Type any word or phrase into their search bar, and you’ll be able to see what’s already been written about that topic, as well as how many shares it received on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
High share numbers indicate high levels of interest, so take a look at some top posts and see how they address a topic. Then, look for gaps in that topic’s coverage. Did anyone leave any questions unanswered? Do you have additional insight on any of the topics?
When you write about topics that readers already like, you’re much more likely to be successful than with a topic right off the top of your head.
To organize your ideas: Trello. As you come up with new topic ideas and build your blog calendar, one of the biggest challenges is often organization. Trello can be a huge help.
At Swift, we have a shared board where everyone can add new idea cards. When it’s time to make the monthly calendar, we simply pull those cards into the “Assigned” column and tag the writer. When the post is completed and drafted in WordPress, we drag it under the “Completed” tag, making it easy to keep track of what we’ve already posted.
If you work with a team, this is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. And even if you’re solely responsible for all of your blog’s content, it can still be a helpful tool for keeping track of your ideas.
To keep track of everything: EvernoteIf you’re the kind of person who tends to only come up with new ideas when you’re miles away from your computer (like me), Evernote could be your new best friend. With an online version and apps for smartphones, tablets, and virtually any other device you might want to work from, it allows you to keep track of your ideas wherever you are.
Personally, I find it useful for making quick notes and saving links to reference later, but Evernote also has built-in writing tools, a chat tool (for collaborating with other people on your team), and the ability to set reminders.
To make your posts readable: HemingwayAppNo matter who your audience is, your blog posts shouldn’t read like textbooks. Although the topics may be complex depending on your industry, the copy itself should be easy to understand.
That’s where Hemingway
App comes in handy. When you write in the app (or copy and paste your text), it will highlight difficult sentences and suggest grammatical changes.
It will also give you a “readability” score in terms of grade level. But contrary to what you may think, writing at a “higher” level shouldn’t be your goal.
Blog posts that are difficult to understand often drive readers away, and HemingwayApp recommends a level of 10th grade or below for most audiences.
To write great headlines: Headline AnalyzerWhen you promote your post, the title is often the only thing potential readers will see before deciding whether to click. A great one could mean tons of traffic, while a bad one could mean none – for the exact same content.
Type your working title into CoSchedule’s headline analyzer, and the tool will analyze how effective it is.
It will tell you how unusual your word choices are, whether the title evokes emotion, and whether it commands action. Depending on how you want your post to come across, you can change up your word choice to match that tone.
To provide useful examples: Lightshot. If you’re writing a post that teaches readers how to do something or introduces them to new concepts, screenshot examples are almost always necessary. There are many tools that can help you create them, but I personally prefer Lightshot.
Once you install it on your computer, pressing the Print Scrn button on your keyboard will allow you to highlight and screenshot any area on your screen. Then, you can either copy the image, upload it to their server for sharing, or save it to your computer.
You can also use their built-in editing tools to highlight certain areas, draw on the image, and add text.
To create eye-catching images: Canva. One of my personal favorites, Canva is a free image creation tool. You can use it for any visual elements you want in your posts, and also to create images for social sharing.
Best of all, it’s extremely easy to use. Even without any design experience whatsoever, their tools and templates make it possible to create professional-looking images for your blog.
Ready to start writing?Whether you’re new to blogging or have been running a successful blog for years, these tools can help you streamline the creation process.
Do you use any other tools to create great posts? Are any of them particularly helpful? Let me know in the comments below!
Swift's SEO team leverages your competitive advantages and unique selling proposition to optimize your website for organic rankings, traffic, and conversions.
At Knucklepuck, we understand that every business is different, just like every industry, every target market, every keyword, and every user is different.
A good SEO strategy identifies and captures user intent that already exists around your core products or services. By identifying all the different variations a user might search, we design and execute an on-page content strategy to secure top rankings and drive users directly to your target landing pages.
Keyword Research ServicesOptimizing your content for user intent satisfies the needs of both users and search engines. Our keyword strategy will balance broad, generic queries (ex. – search engine optimization) with queries related to specific specialization (ex. – on-page SEO, technical SEO audit), verticals (ex. – healthcare SEO, SEO for SaaS), and transactional (ex. – seo agency) to deliver a comprehensive user experience.
This service ensures that your site structure is stable and your on-page and off-page SEO efforts are attracting maximum visibility and making the highest possible impact.
Analytics & Reporting
You can’t manage what you don’t measure, so Swift Digital Marketing team makes sure you have reporting in place and properly configured to provide actionable insights on how people arrive at your site and what they do when they get there. This gives you a solid foundation for intelligent decision making.
Audit current Google Analytics (GA) configuration to identify inaccurate or incomplete tracking
Install and configure Google Tag Manager (GTM) to manage page-level analytics and conversion tracking, ensuring proper attribution and requiring limited dev resources
Advanced data collection and verification including iframe tracking, 3rd party platform tracking, and cross-domain tracking for informed decision making
Your success or failure depends on how much high quality traffic visits your site. The Knucklepuck SEO team will drive that high converting traffic to you by making Google to see you as relevant and important. Take advantage of our expertise today.
If you own a business, you know that one of the best ways to become an authority in your industry is to create informative, beneficial content (like our video on repurposing content below).
There are a lot of ways to deliver your content to your target audience, but one of the best ways is with social media.
Social media for content marketing is a dream come true because it helps you:
If you want to learn more about social media for content marketing, feel free to give us a call at (216)-339-6041. Otherwise, keep reading!
We Form Long term Partnerships
Over 90% of Swift Digital Marketing clients continue partnering with us into year 2 of their campaign.
Speak with Us Today! How are social media and content marketing related? Before we dive in, it’s important to note the connection between social media and content marketing.
Social mediaSocial media refers to any social media platform including, but not limited to:
Social media is home to billions of users, and the numbers continue to grow every year. For example, Facebook alone has a staggering 2.45 billion users.
There are a few things you can accomplish with social media marketing including:
Content marketing refers to the process of creating, implementing, and sharing written content, video content, and more.
When you market your content, the goal is to increase your customer base by informing your target audience about topics related to your industry.
You can accomplish a wide variety of goals with content marketing including but not limited to:
When two different marketing strategies have the same goals, it makes sense to use one to improve the other, and that’s exactly where social media for content marketing comes in to help.
Creating a social media content strategy helps you get the most out of your website content and accomplish all of your goals — two times over.
Let’s talk about how you can create a social media content plan that combines your current content marketing efforts with your current social media efforts.
Haven’t jumped into either marketing strategy yet? Don’t worry!
Swift Digital Marketing has a full team of social media marketing specialists and content marketers who know how to create specialized campaigns for your unique business. Give us a call today at (216) 339-6041 to learn more about what we can do for you!
Creating a social media content strategy that helps you get double the benefitsYou can reap benefits from a social media marketing strategy, and you can also reap benefits from a content marketing strategy, but what happens when you create a social media content strategy?
Not only will you make your content available to two different audiences, but you’ll likely see increased metrics across the board.
Let’s go step by step to create the perfect social media content plan for your business.
Step 1. Take inventory of what you already haveBefore you can get started, it’s crucial that you determine what you already have in place.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself, and what to do depending on your answer:
Step 2. Determine what your audience wants to see on socialThe name of the game when it comes to marketing is catering to your target audience — after all, they’re the ones that buy your products.
It’s important that you don’t create content because you think it’s important, but rather create content that you know appeals to your target audience.
For example, if you own a bakery, you might be tempted to post the brands of icing tips that you use to decorate, but make sure you think long and hard about whether or not that topic is important to your target audience.
If you own a bakery that is known for children’s cakes, a better content topic would likely be something like options for boys’ birthday cakes.
You don’t need to guess what your audience wants to read, though.
Here are a few ways to determine what your target audience wants to see on social media:
Make sure that you always pay attention to the competition and take note of what content performs best on each of their social platforms.
Also, keep in mind that just because something works on Facebook doesn’t mean that it will get the same reaction on Twitter.
Looking at your competition who already posts content on social platforms is like testing different types of content without creating it. You’ll learn a lot without even lifting a finger!
For example, if you see that your competition gets a lot of attention on their posts including a cake decorating video, it can tell you that your audience values videos.
However, if you see limited interaction on posts that talk about “quick baking facts,” you can draw conclusions from that as well — either your audience prefers longer content, or they don’t care to learn quick facts.
You’ll also come up with some ideas of your own by looking at your competition. For example, you might see that a page about quick baking facts isn’t fruitful, but quick baking tips might be a topic with opportunity. Test them for yourself!
If you’ve had a social presence for a while, it’s important to learn from the past and analyze how your previous content performs.
When you use analytics to determine how previous content performs, you’ll not only save yourself time, but you’ll save yourself the effort. When you know exactly what kind of content works on what social platforms, you’ll be able to create it without hesitation.
Step 3. Create informative website contentDon’t worry, we’re still talking about social media! You must create informative website content first to create a social media campaign for your content.
This content varies from article pages to blog posts, to videos and everything in between.
When you create informative website content, not only will you be able to rank in search engine results pages (SERPs) for important keywords, but kill two birds with one stone by posting your site content on social media.
But how do you create informative website content that will grab the attention of your social followers? Check out our tips for writing fantastic web content that you can share on any platform:
Not only do users see your video on their social feed, but to learn more, they’ll be encouraged to click the link to your website where they can learn more about the topic.
Step 4. Create a content calendar and get sharing!
Creating a content calendar helps you stay on track when it comes to social content. When your account goes silent for a while, users are less likely to trust you and your brand. A dry spell on your account might make your brand seem lazy, or too busy to handle your social accounts. Either way, it’s not a good sign to potential customers.
On the other hand, when you post often, they’ll trust you as an authority and look forward to when you’ll post again.
Creating a social media content calendar isn’t hard!
Whether you create fresh content specifically for your social platforms or repurpose content that you’ve already posted on your site, you can include it all in your social media content planner!
5 social media content marketing examples to inspire your campaignSee how other companies are utilizing social media for content marketing!
1. A recap
Susquehanna University posted one of their most popular pictures of 2019 on their Twitter feed — a genius move for engagement since users liked the photo in the past. They also provided users with a link that directed them to their Facebook account where they could see more popular 2019 images.
2.. A peek inside
Buzzfeed Food posted an article that not only takes users to their website, increasing site traffic, but to entice clicks, they gave users a peek inside the article that makes clicking hard to resist.
3. A special offer
CVS previews their pre-sorted Rx packs in their video content — an offer that is sure to get CVS loyals buzzing.
4. A piece of user-generated content
The modern toothbrush mogul Quip posted a piece of user-generated content to gain the trust of their followers. Not only do they show that others love their brand, but they show followers that their product is a must-try.
Ready to dive into the world of social media for content marketing?Swift Digital Marketing can help! We’re a full-service digital marketing agency that has over 200 marketing specialists who are well-versed in social media marketing and content marketing.
We can help you create campaigns that improve your brand awareness and your client base by using cross-channel marketing to seamlessly integrate your content marketing strategy with your social media channels.
To learn more, contact us online or give us a call at (216)-339-6041!
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