Fast Five in Search – Week 46, 2014

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Social media seems to be dominating my newsfeeds more so than search marketing this week. Both Facebook and Twitter have released some interesting usage data, while content marketing trends seem to be favoring social media over traditional search when it comes to online conversions. Accordingly, this week’s Fast Five reflects the trend.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Facebook says Government data requests up 24 percent by Josh Wolford of WebProNews. This month, Facebook released something they call a transparency report, which provides info on how many data and content removal requests it receives, as well as national security requests initiated through FISA. According to the report, US Government requests for data increased by 24 percent in the first half of 2014.

2) How many college students tweet daily? New and updated Twitter stats by Craig Smith of Digital Marketing Ramblings. Twitter revealed their latest usage data late last month, as well as their third quarter 2014 financial results. In this post, Craig links to the report and shares some of the more notable highlights from the released figures.

3) Though people trust other consumers most, brands still have a role to play by Katy Keim of Marketing Land. In this intriguing article, Katy looks at the tug-of-war going on between traditional brand-driven marketing campaigns and consumer trust-driven social marketing campaigns when it comes to purchasing decisions. Online reputation and consumer trust are proving to have more influence over brands than ever before.

4) Search vs. social: How to drive website traffic with evergreen content by Skip Besthoff of SiteProNews. Another tug-of-war going on in digital marketing is the competition for traffic between search marketing and social marketing. This post looks at why webmasters can’t afford to ignore either when planning their content marketing strategies.

and finally…

5) 9 Real life conversion rate optimization tests to try yourself by Ginny Sosky of HubSpot. Just for fun, we’ll end this week’s Fast Five with some conversion rate tests that seem to buck the trend. The one that surprised me was the Call to Action form placed way below the fold resulting in over 300 percent conversion increase!  Looks like I’ve been designing my landing pages wrong all this time ;-)

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 42, 2014

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This week, I’ve been setting up social media accounts for a new start up biz. We’ve been discussing what content would be the best to invest time in and things are starting to get exciting, especially in the lead up to Christmas.

So the inspiration for this week’s Fast Five is: “Where should you invest your time in terms of content marketing and how can you use social media channels to get your shiny new content out there amongst the great unwashed?”

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Should You Invest Your Organic Efforts on Twitter or Facebook? by Ryan Ernst of Social Media Today. In this post, Ryan makes the argument that organic reach on Twitter is currently outperforming organic reach on Facebook and explains why.

2) Digital Business: Getting Real About Social Media Results by Daniel Newman of Social Media Today. I like this article, because it tears down the unrealistic expectations that many businesses have about the impact social media can have on their bottom line. Yes, you can get that occasional magic bullet social piece that goes viral overnight. But in all likelihood, your investment in social channels will take just as much time – if not more – to pay off as your regular marketing efforts.

3) The Top 10 Corporate Blogs of 2014 by Nick Cicero of Social Fresh. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, if you’re stuck for original ideas, perhaps your content marketing can imitate that of the 10 corporate blogs independently voted as having the best content in 2014.

4) Tip: The Vanilla Ice Rule of Content Marketing by Jason Keath of Social Fresh. The title of this post caught my eye straight away, perhaps because I’m a bit of an 80’s tragic. But the post is basically explaining the 80/20 rule – where you can concentrate most your efforts on a single piece of content that you know has been / will be successful – just like the one hit wonder Vanilla Ice. So spend more time on less content. Easy, right?

and finally…

5) How to Increase Your Conversion Rate With Social Media by Neil Patel of Social Media Examiner. This post has actionable tips on how to use Social Login, Social Checkout and Social Sharing methods that you can apply straight away to boost your conversions. I was especially intrigued to see the use of Social Checkout – a method of allowing your customers to purchase on your site by logging in via one of their social accounts, rather than forcing them to sign up to your site first. Great tip!

Happy reading.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 40, 2014

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Lots of very interesting tech and search news this week. A couple of game changers for those of us using search channels to market products and services.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Google AdWords Offers Ad Creatives at Scale for PPC by Jessica Lee at Search Engine Watch. This month, Google launched the ability for AdWords advertisers to create ads using custom parameters that you want inserted into your ads. Using a spreadsheet you pre-fill, the feature allows AdWords to retrieve product information that is most relevant to what each customer is searching for and dynamically insert it into your ad text.

2) New Panda Update Rolling Out, Google Takes Another Stand Against Thin Content by Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal. Earlier this week, an analyst at Google UK let slip that a new Panda update was in the process of being rolled out to the Google algorithm. Matt has the scoop on what you can expect from this update.

3) The Yahoo Directory – Once the Internet’s Most Important Search Engine – Is to Close by Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land. This news came as a bit of a shock. As someone whose job (for years) consisted of submitting client sites to the Yahoo Directory, it was an *end of an era* moment to hear the Directory would be closing down. I’m with Danny on this one – Yahoo has cruelly glossed over the closure of the Directory that started the entire company AKA “Jerry and David’s Guide to the World Wide Web”. So long Yahoo Directory.

4) Want to Improve Your Blog’s Conversion Rates? 11 Tests to Try by Pamela Vaughan of HubSpot. In this post, Pamela shares some logical testing formulas for improving your blog’s conversion rate. Suggested items for testing include Click Through Rate, content balance, calls to action and publishing rate.

and finally…

5) 14 Conversion Rate Optimization Tools Every Expert Needs by Steven Macdonald of Search Engine Journal. This one does exactly what it says on the label. Steven has provided a handy list of tools for testing your conversion rate, conveniently categorized by topics such as Analytics, Research and Testing. Be sure to bookmark this one.

Happy reading!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 22, 2014

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It’s a mixed bag of links for you this week. We’ve got three juicy links about blogging and a couple of news items relating to the search industry and search engines. Here we go!

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Google Hits eBay with Manual Penalty – by Search Engine Land. I did a double-take when this headline came up in my Twitter feed. But apparently it’s true! Even the big guys – in this case eBay – have been hit hard by Google’s latest Panda algorithm tweaks. But on top of that, it seems eBay have been put in the naughty corner by Google in the form of a manual ranking penalty as well. Ouch.

2) The Boring Niche’s Secret Weapon (and How to Use it) by Copyblogger – This post spoke to me loud and clear. It contains a key piece of advice I have been giving my search marketing students and clients for years: You can always find something to blog about or write copy about, related to your niche. ALWAYS.

3) Optimize Blog Content for Social Media With These 4 Effective Tactics by ProBlogger – Speaking of blog content, this article over at ProBlogger demonstrates 4 simple, but effective tactics you can use within your blog content, to help it gain more traction via social media.

4) DuckDuckGo Relaunches & Starts to Look Like a Real Search Engine by Search Engine Land - DuckDuckGo showed a lot of promise when they launched back in 2008. Their point of difference has always been the fact they are community-driven, but a big component of their appeal is their approach to user privacy. Unlike the larger search engines, DuckDuckGo don’t track your usage and therefore they don’t collect personal or private information. Their relaunch this week sees DuckDuckGo roll out some powerful search features previously lacking, which should help them compete with the big boys.

and finally…

5) Dear Hubspot, My Blog Isn’t Generating Leads. Please Help? by Hubspot – Ah yes, we’ve all been here. The nasty case of Blogger’s Block when your conversions just dwindle away and you can’t think of anything to reverse the trend. So what’s a Miserable Marketer to do? Ask Hubspot for advice! This Q and A style post outlines the problem a blogger in Milwaukee is having generating leads with his blog and some logical suggestions from Hubspot for how he can clear the blockage and kick-start his blog back into converting again.

Happy blogging!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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SMX Melbourne : How to Make Conversion Optimization Work for Your Business

webtrafficThis is a summary of the presentation given by Alan Long, from Experian Hitwise at SMX Melbourne last month, about how to make conversion optimization work for your business.


Survey of Australian Marketers

Conversion optimization is basically like product placement in a store, says Alan. In retail stores, you switch your products around, change signage etc. to see where/how they are best placed to produce the most sales. This is what Conversion Optimization is all about, but using your web site content.

Experian researched 300 Australian marketing professionals from multiple industries about conversion optimization via an independently commissioned study. The idea was to explore how Australian organizations are using online marketing channels and assess their understanding of conversion optimization.

The study showed that 2.043 billion was spent in Australia on online marketing to the end of June 2010. That’s a 13 percent increase over last year. Aussie marketers are pumping more budget into online marketing to drive higher volumes of traffic.

Are marketers missing a trick when it comes to boosting web ROI? Yes, Alan says. Lots of money being spent, but very little of that is put into converting visitors into customers or measuring success.

At the moment, site visitors are the main measure of web site success for many marketers. However, conversion is a more a valid measure of success, with conversion rates typically running at 1-5 percent. The trend in Australia is towards boosting traffic rather than reviewing site performance to drive conversion.

But, Alan says, why attract large volumes of traffic to your website if no-one is buying or doing what you wanted them to? This failure likely stems from a lack of awareness around conversion optimization and how to measure success.


Six Signs Your Business Should be Doing Conversion Optimization:

1) You have a high spend on attraction activities or advertising that drives consumers to your website.
2) You have a high spend on website content look and feel.
3) You have a large amount of online traffic.
4) There is pressure to increase profitability but you’re unsure how to measure it.
5) You’re frequently making website changes based on guesswork.
6) You’re operating in a highly competitive industry.


Warning, Scary Statistics Ahead!

Almost half of Australian online marketers surveyed spend over 40 percent of budget driving traffic to their sites. Their biggest increase in spend will be on website updates (55 percent).

Of annual budgets allocated to online marketing:

  • 17% = creative and design
  • 13.5% = content development and updates
  • 13.2% = hosting, software and licenses
  • 11.3% = usability
  • 10.4% = programming and development
  • 8.2% = SEO
  • 7.1% = analysis and measurement
  • 7.1% = conversion optimization

Despite ongoing investment in web site design and traffic generation, 90% of marketers surveyed spent less than 10 percent of their budget on persuading existing visitors to take action! (conversion optimization). You need to compliment traffic generation with a website that provides the right experience, leading visitors to the desired action, says Alan, otherwise your web site is as effective as a billboard in the desert.


Big Brands Make the Same Mistakes

It wasn’t just the small companies making the mistakes either. The study showed that large brands throw big bucks at getting traffic with conversion rates of less than 5 percent. They have large volumes of traffic, however, they continue to compete for more online traffic by investing in expensive advertising and marketing, despite low conversion rates of sales or customers – many less than 5 per cent.

By focusing on attracting more customers to your website you are competing against your peers who often use similar tactics (e.g. display, pay-per click and search engine optimization). Instead of competing with others for traffic and squandering the traffic you get, you should be competing against yourself by optimizing your site for more conversions. This is a competition you’re guaranteed to win. How much better could you be doing? Why does one change work but another doesn’t? How much impact could it have on traffic and conversions if you tweak your landing pages or checkout process?


Lack of Understanding About Conversion Optimization

There is a significant lack of understanding of conversion optimization in Australia – 89 percent do not do ANY. Most of these companies don’t have the tools or knowledge to accurately measure it, let alone act on it. Meanwhile, 62 percent of those surveyed have never even heard of conversion optimization or don’t understand what it is.

Research found that 30 percent of Australian marketers either do not evaluate the success of their website or only evaluate it on an annual basis, while 26 percent don’t know what factor/s contribute most to the success of their websites. Almost 45 percent of marketers surveyed that DO evaluate the success of their websites believe total visits/unique visitors or page views per visit are the key indicators of success. Wow.

Of those marketers that know about and conduct conversion optimization, over half have a website conversion rate of over 11 percent – double the figure claimed by respondents who have never heard of it. Marketers who are using conversion optimization are gaining competitive advantage by maximizing the engagement and sales opportunities of their sites. They understand what impacts the performance of their web site and what needs to change in order to increase sales and/or participation.


Getting started with Conversion Optimization

Conversion optimization doesn’t require significant budget or a fresh online marketing strategy to be effective. The critical factors are using web expertise to research and identify what online clients want and taking the necessary steps to build engagement, says Alan. Here are 8 ways to get started:

1. Know what your customers want.
2. Present an appropriate call to action.
3. Design your layouts & forms with users in mind.
4. Test your processes.
5. Use reviews, ratings and endorsements.
6. Use promotions and find synergies.
7. Improve navigation search and filtering functionality.
8. Increase credibility.

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