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Monthly Archives: June 2020

The Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts of 2020

June 27, 2020 No Comments

Every year, PPC Hero releases the Top 25 Most Influential PPC Experts of 2020. The final Top 25 must be voted for and be actively educating their peers on PPC.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

June 27, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Podcasting can add a new dimension to your brand and content marketing strategy.
  • There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 
  • Georgi Todorov shares a comprehensive guide on podcast content which encompasses the benefits, SEO perks, types of podcast content, publishing and marketing platforms, and a lot more!

If you have a content marketing strategy already in place, you’re no stranger to the fundamental principles that guide it. Your goal is to naturally attract more readers, fans, and followers by providing them with information and/or entertainment they want to consume. There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd, reach new audiences, and capitalize on a medium with enormous momentum, you should consider starting your own podcast. But how can you integrate podcasting with the rest of your content marketing campaign? 

Why podcasts?

First, let’s talk about why podcasts are so valuable in the context of content marketing. A podcast is a series of pieces of audio content, usually released regularly in the form of episodes. These episodes vary in length and format, with some primarily unfolding as interviews and others attempting to provide an entire narrative experience.

Five big benefits of podcasting

In any case, there are several benefits to using podcasts: 

1. Current popularity

Podcasts have become incredibly popular in the past several years. There are currently more than a million podcasts, with 30 million episodes between them, and more than half of all households are podcast listeners. Podcasts still seem to be on a fast growth trajectory, as more people discover and become immersed in the medium. 

2. Ease of entry

Podcasts are also valuable because of how easy they are to create. Make no mistake, you’ll still need to put the effort in, just as you would with any kind of content. However, you can get started with a relatively inexpensive assortment of equipment, and you don’t need any special training in audio engineering to make an episode that sounds good. 

3. Cross-medium potential

Podcasts are also a gateway to produce multiple forms of content simultaneously. For example, you could record video of an interview you conducted with an industry leader, then release it as a video, a podcast, and as a blog (with a written transcript), capitalizing on the content in three ways. 

4. Collaborative potential

The interactive audio experience lends itself well to collaboration, you can benefit by going on other podcasts, and other industry experts can benefit from attending yours. This cross-pollination effect allows you to spread your influence more easily, while also getting help creating new content. 

5. New audience segments

Some people who prefer listening to podcasts may never discover your work unless you break them in with audio content. In any case, you’ll be able to reach new segments and existing segments in new ways, broadening your audience. 

Podcasting as a new content marketing channel

With those benefits in mind, the best way to think about podcasting in content marketing is to think of it as a new content marketing channel. Content marketing always has the same overarching goal. You want to give people content they want. This could mean providing them with answers to their questions (which is especially important if you’re optimizing for search engines), or merely entertaining them. 

Take ASAP Science as an example. The popular Youtube channel has racked up over 9.3 million subscribers since launching over seven years ago. About two years ago, they launched a podcast called Sidenote to supplement their popular video content.Podcasting example app science

Each content marketing channel represents some way for consumers to find your content and consume it. For example, there’s blogging, email marketing, social media marketing, and videocasting – in some ways, podcasting is just another lead generation channel to add to your repertoire

As with the addition of other channels, the best way to harness the power of podcasting is by treating each channel as a complementary unit in a broader whole. For example, you’ll use your email newsletter to showcase your best blogs, and you’ll call for email newsletter signups in the body of your blog posts. This allows channel-specific consumers to discover your other mediums and helps keep your brand top-of-mind in many areas. 

If you decide to podcast, you’ll need to take advantage of this, leveraging your existing channels to push your podcast and using your podcast to deliver listeners to other channels. 

This is what Neil Patel and Eric Siu did to launch their four-year-old podcast, Marketing School. Both are well-recognized experts in the field of online marketing, and they leveraged their existing content channels, including their blogs and email lists, to launch Marketing School, which now enjoys over 1 million downloads per month. 

Podcasts and SEO

Podcasting also requires attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in two main ways. First, if utilized properly, podcasting can boost the search engine visibility of your main site. 

You can list and distribute your new podcast episodes as individual pages of your site, much like a blog, and if you provide adequate titles, meta information, and episode transcripts, you’ll easily have a new way to optimize for specific keyword phrases. Each new podcast episode will also be a piece of content that can be discovered in search engines. This is the approach Shane Barker takes with his podcast, Marketing Growth Podcast.

Podcasting and SEO

Over time, as your podcast becomes more popular, it will attract more citations and other types of links. This is vital for improving your domain authority, which in turn will make it easier for your site to rank. If you’re interested in building a separate domain, you can do that too, using your podcast as an engine of exclusive support. 

There’s another way to think about SEO, however. Podcasts are an avenue to grow the authority and visibility of your main site—but you also need to think about promoting the podcast’s authority and visibility. Most people discover podcasts by browsing podcast distribution networks and conducting searches for topics that interest them. Accordingly, you’ll need to optimize for these podcast-specific search engines. 

The process for optimizing a podcast for podcast networks is very similar to website-specific SEO, you’ll need to optimize for specific keywords and improve your reputation. Take, for example, the aptly-named podcast The Fantasy Footballers, who rank very well in search results for their niche, “fantasy football.” 

Podcasting example fantasy foot ballers

In addition to your podcast’s name, you’ll need to collect as many ratings and reviews as possible, which means calling listeners to action each episode and ensuring you provide them with high-quality material. 

The saturation dilemma: Finding a unique angle

The 30 million podcast episodes currently in circulation are a sign of podcasts’ popularity, but this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good sign that you’re onto a hot channel, but it also means you’re facing a ton of competition. The podcast market is, in some ways, saturated, and if you want to succeed, you’ll need some way to stand out. 

Four ways your podcast can be unique in some way

1. A new topic

You could introduce an entirely new topic to the podcast world — something no one has covered before. Given the length of time podcasting has been around and the sheer number of people trying to do this, finding a truly unique topic may be exceedingly difficult. 

2. A different format

You may also try to take an existing topic and cover it in a different format. Instead of short episodes, you could do deep, two or three hour dives. You could also try to produce bite-sized segments, five minutes in length, to capitalize on audiences with minimal free time. If most people in this space are doing interviews, you could create a narrative or vice versa. It all depends on your goals. 

3. Strong opinions

It’s also possible to differentiate your podcast by offering strong opinions on a given subject. It’s okay to be controversial, even if some people disagree with you, they’ll be inclined to voice their contradicting opinions, which will only bring more attention to your work. Just make sure you’re still being respectful in your expression of your opinions. 

4. A different tone

You can also consider introducing your topics with a different tone. For example, if people usually treat this topic overly seriously, you could give it a cheeky, tongue-in-cheek spin. 

However, you choose to be unique, make sure you’re also showcasing your authentic self. People listen to podcasts in part because they feel like they get to know the hosts; if you’re trying too hard to put on airs or if you try to use a personality that isn’t your own, you’re going to turn people away. 

The quality factor

It should go without saying that your podcast needs to be “good,” or people won’t listen to it. But what exactly is a “good” podcast? 

As with written content, there are some easily identifiable hallmarks of “good” work, but also some harder-to-place subjective qualities you’ll need to consider. Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. 

The most important quality to strive for is value; are you providing listeners with something they find valuable? Beyond that, you’ll need to think about the integrity of your recording; are your voices coming through loud and clear, with little to no background noise? 

Distribution and promotion

Much of your podcasting success will depend on your ability to distribute and promote your work. Let’s say your podcast is objectively the best podcast ever recorded, it’s funny, informative, and has something for everyone. That’s still no guarantee of success. If people aren’t able to find and listen to it, they’ll never even know what they’re missing out on. 

Accordingly, you’ll need to make additional efforts to improve its visibility. As we already covered, it’s important to optimize your podcast for search engines. It’s also important to distribute your podcast on as many podcast distribution networks as possible. Spotify is the biggest podcast platform currently, but Apple Podcasts is also a major player, and there are several smaller platforms to consider. It doesn’t take much effort to list your work in these channels, so you might as well do it. 

You’ll also want to publish new work on a consistent basis. Many podcasters strive for a weekly new episode or even a daily new episode, but the frequency isn’t nearly as important as the consistency. Consistency is what allows you to retain your existing audience and snowball new listeners into your fanbase. 

In addition to distributing your podcast on multiple platforms, you’ll want to promote your work so people can find it easily. Again, cross-promotion on your other content channels is ideal here, but if you want a quicker route to early momentum, consider paying for advertising. 

As your podcast begins to mature, you’ll want to spend extra effort nurturing your existing audience to encourage their loyalty (and hopefully get more referrals). Respond to comments on your podcast episodes when you can, thank your listeners regularly, and get involved on social media; you can even consider starting a Facebook Group or similar network for your fans. Here’s a guide with 101 tactics to promote your podcast.

A note on monetization

This guide assumes that you’re using podcasting as a way to market your brand or website overall. Accordingly, it’s a form of advertising on its own. However, it’s worth noting that if your podcast accumulates a significant enough listener base, you may be able to monetize it. 

Ads, sponsorships, and affiliate deals can all help you offset the costs of recording and establish a separate stream of revenue — but they may also turn some audience members away. 

Content marketing touchstones: Measurement and analysis 

As with other elements of your content marketing strategy, the only way to tell if your podcasting strategy is working is to measure and analyze your results. How many new listeners and subscribers are you getting? How many times is each episode downloaded? Is your podcast responsible for generating new traffic to your site? How many site visitors eventually download a podcast episode? 

Set up Google Analytics or your platform of choice to track these metrics, then experiment. Do people respond better to a certain type of episode that you release? Did your numbers drop off when you took a big risk? More importantly, what trends do you see emerging over time? 

Conclusion

Podcasting is a powerful complement to your existing content marketing efforts, and it can stand on its own as a path to revenue generation if you treat it right. But to be successful, you’ll need some way to distinguish yourself from your numerous competitors, a high emphasis on quality, and constant refinement with the help of measurement and analysis. 

It’s a complex and nuanced content marketing channel, but getting started is easier than most people think. Give it a try, and see if it can work for your brand.

Georgi Todorov is a digital marketing specialist at Green Park Content. He can be found on Twitter @GeorgiTodorovBG.  

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Facebook will show users a pop-up warning before they share an outdated story

June 26, 2020 No Comments

Facebook announced Thursday that it would introduce a notification screen warning users if they try to share content that’s more than 90 days old. They’ll be given the choice to “go back” or to click through if they’d still like to share the story knowing that it isn’t fresh.

Facebook acknowledged that old stories shared out of their original context play a role in spreading misinformation. The social media company said “news publishers in particular” have expressed concern about old stories being recirculated as though they’re breaking news.

“Over the past several months, our internal research found that the timeliness of an article is an important piece of context that helps people decide what to read, trust and share,” Facebook Vice President of Feed and Stories John Hegeman wrote on the company’s blog.

Image Credits: Facebook

The notification screen is an outgrowth of other kinds of notifications the company has experimented with recently. Last year, Instagram introduced a pop-up notification to discourage its users from sharing offensive or abusive comments with a similar set of options, allowing them to click through or go back. The company said that its initial results with the experiment showed promise in shaping users toward better behavior.

In a blog post announcing the new feature, Facebook said that it is now considering other kinds of notification screens to reduce misinformation, including pop-ups for posts about COVID-19 that would provide context about source links and steer users toward public health resources.


Social – TechCrunch


Four perspectives: Will Apple trim App Store fees?

June 26, 2020 No Comments

The fact that Apple takes a 30% cut of subscriptions purchased via the App Store isn’t news. But since the company threatened to boot email app Hey from the platform last week unless its developers paid the customary tribute, the tech world and lawmakers are giving Apple’s revenue share a harder look.

Although Apple’s Senior Vice President of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller denied the company was making any changes, a new policy will let developers challenge the very rules by which they were rejected from the platform, which suggests that change is in the air.

According to its own numbers, the App Store facilitated more than $ 500 billion in e-commerce transactions in 2019. For reference, the federal government has given out about $ 529 billion in loans to U.S. businesses as part of the Paycheck Protection Program.

Given its massive reach, is it time for Apple to change its terms? Will it allow its revenue share to go gently into that good night, or does it have enough resources to keep new legislation at bay and mollify an increasingly vocal community of software developers? To examine these questions, four TechCrunch staffers weighed in:

Devin Coldewey: The App Store fee structure “seems positively extortionate”

Apple is starting to see that its simplistic and paternalistic approach to cultivating the app economy may be doing more harm than good. That wasn’t always the case: In earlier days it was worth paying Apple simply for the privilege of taking part in its fast-expanding marketplace.

But the digital economy has moved on from the conditions that drove growth before: Novelty at first, then a burgeoning ad market supercharged by social media. The pendulum is swinging back to more traditional modes of payment: one-time and subscription payments for no-nonsense services. Imagine that!

Combined with the emergence of mobile platforms not just as tools for simple consumption and communication but for serious work and productivity, the stakes have risen. People have started asking, what value is Apple really providing in return for the rent it seeks from anyone who wants to use its platform?

Surely Apple is due something for its troubles, but just over a quarter of a company’s revenue? What seemed merely excessive for a 99-cent app that a pair of developers were just happy to sell a few thousand copies of now seems positively extortionate.

Apple is in a position of strength and could continue shaking down the industry, but it is wary of losing partners in the effort to make its platform truly conducive to productivity. The market is larger and more complicated, with cross-platform and cross-device complications of which the App Store and iOS may only be a small part — but demanding an incredibly outsized share.

It will loosen the grip, but there’s no hurry. It would be a costly indignity to be too permissive and have its new rules be gamed and hastily revised. Allowing developers to push back on rules they don’t like gives Apple a lot to work with but no commitment. Big players will get a big voice, no doubt, and the new normal for the App Store will reflect a detente between moneyed interests, not a generous change of heart by Apple.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Tracking Your Free Google Shopping Ads

June 25, 2020 No Comments

Tracking for Surfaces Across Google clicks in Google Merchant Center leaves something to be desired. The step-by-step process in this post is an alternative.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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How Google May Annotate Images to Improve Search Results

June 25, 2020 No Comments

How might Google improve on information from sources such as knowledge bases to help them answer search queries?

That information may be learned from or inferred from sources outside of those knowledge bases when Google may:

  • Analyze and annotate images
  • Consider other data sources

A recent Google patent on this topic defines knowledge bases for us, why those are important, and it points out examples of how Google looks at entities while it may annotate images:

A knowledge base is an important repository of structured and unstructured data. The data stored in a knowledge base may include information such as entities, facts about entities, and relationships between entities. This information can be used to assist with or satisfy user search queries processed by a search engine.

Examples of knowledge bases include Google Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Vault, Microsoft Satori Knowledge Base, DBpedia, Yahoo! Knowledge Base, and Wolfram Knowledgebase.

The focus of this patent is upon improving upon information that can be found in knowledge bases:

The data stored in a knowledge base may be enriched or expanded by harvesting information from a wide variety of sources. For example, entities and facts may be obtained by crawling text included in Internet web pages. As another example, entities and facts may be collected using machine learning algorithms, while it may annotate images.

All gathered information may be stored in a knowledge base to enrich the information that is available for processing search queries.

Analyzing Images to Enrich Knowledge Base Information

This approach may annotate images and select object entities contained in those images. It reminded me of a post I recently wrote about Google annotating images, How Google May Map Image Queries

This is an effort to better understand and annotate images, and explore related entities in images, so Google can focus on “relationships between the object entities and attribute entities, and store the relationships in a knowledge base.”

Google can learn from images of real-world objects (a phrase they used for entities when they started the Knowledge Graph in 2012.)

I wrote another post about image search becoming more semantic, in the labels they added to categories in Google image search results. I wrote about those in Google Image Search Labels Becoming More Semantic?

When writing about mapping image queries, I couldn’t help but think about labels helping to organize information in a useful way. I’ve suggested using those labels to better learn about entities when creating content or doing keyword research. Doing image searches and looking at those semantic labels can be worth the effort.

This new patent tells us how Google may annotate images to identify entities contained in those images. While labeling, they may select an object entity from the entities pictured and then choose at least one attribute entity from the annotated images that contain the object entity. They could also infer a relationship between the object entity and the attribute entity or entities and include that relationship in a knowledge base.

In accordance with one exemplary embodiment, a computer-implemented method is provided for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The method includes assigning annotations to images stored in a database. The annotations may identify entities contained in the images. An object entity among the entities may be selected based on the annotations. At least one attribute entity may be determined using the annotated images containing the object entity. A relationship between the object entity and the at least one attribute entity may be inferred and stored in a knowledge base.

For example, when I search for my hometown, Carlsbad in Google image search, one of the category labels is for Legoland, which is an amusement park located in Carlsbad, California. Showing that as a label tells us that Legoland is located in Carlsbad (the captions for the pictures of Legoland tell us that it is located in Carlsbad.)

Carlsbad-Legoland-Attribute Entity

This patent can be found at:

Computerized systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries
Inventors: Ran El Manor and Yaniv Leviathan
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 10,534,810
Granted: January 14, 2020
Filed: February 29, 2016

Abstract

Systems and methods are disclosed for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. According to certain embodiments, images are assigned annotations that identify entities contained in the images. An object entity is selected among the entities based on the annotations and at least one attribute entity is determined using annotated images containing the object entity. A relationship between the object entity and the at least one attribute entity is inferred and stored in the knowledge base. In some embodiments, confidence may be calculated for the entities. The confidence scores may be aggregated across a plurality of images to identify an object entity.

Confidence Scores While Labeling of Entities in Images

One of the first phrases to jump out at me when I scanned this patent to decide that I wanted to write about it was the phrase, “confidence scores,” which reminded me of association scores which I wrote about discussing Google trying to extract information about entities and relationships with other entities and confidence scores about the relationships between those entities, and about attributes involving the entities. I mentioned association scores in the post Entity Extractions for Knowledge Graphs at Google, because those scores were described in the patent Computerized systems and methods for extracting and storing information regarding entities.

I also referred to these confidence scores when I wrote about Answering Questions Using Knowledge Graphs because association scores or confidence scores can lead to better answers to questions about entities in search results, which is an aim of this patent, and how it attempts to analyze and label images and understand the relationships between entities shown in those images.

The patent lays out the purpose it serves when it may analyze and annotate images like this:

Embodiments of the present disclosure provide improved systems and methods for enriching a knowledge base for search queries. The information used to enrich a knowledge base may be learned or inferred from analyzing images and other data sources.

Per some embodiments, object recognition technology is used to annotate images stored in databases or harvested from Internet web pages. The annotations may identify who and/or what is contained in the images.

The disclosed embodiments can learn which annotations are good indicators for facts by aggregating annotations over object entities and facts that are already known to be true. Grouping annotated images by the object entity help identify the top annotations for the object entity.

Top annotations can be selected as attributes for the object entities and relationships can be inferred between the object entities and the attributes.

As used herein, the term “inferring” refers to operations where an entity relationship is inferred from or determined using indirect factors such as image context, known entity relationships, and data stored in a knowledge base to draw an entity relationship conclusion instead of learning the entity-relationship from an explicit statement of the relationship such as in text on an Internet web page.

The inferred relationships may be stored in a knowledge base and subsequently used to assist with or respond to user search queries processed by a search engine.

The patent then tells us about how confidence scores are used, that they calculate confidence scores for annotations assigned to images. Those “confidence scores may reflect the likelihood that an entity identified by an annotation is contained in an image.”

If you look back up at the pictures for Legoland above, it may be considered an attribute entity of the Object Entity Carlsbad, because Legoland is located in Carlsbad. The label annotations indicate what the images portray, and infer a relationship between the entities.

Just like an image search for Milan Italy shows a category label for Duomo, a Cathedral located in the City. The Duomo is an attribute entity of the Object Entity of Milan because it is located in Milan Italy.

In those examples, we are inferring from Legoland being included under pictures of Carlsbad that it is an attribute entity of Carlsbad and that the Duomo is an attribute entity of Milan because it is included in the results of a search for Milan.

Milan Duomo Attribute Entity

A search engine may learn from label annotations and because of confidence scores about images because the search engine (or indexing engine thereof) may index:

  • Image annotations
  • Object entities
  • Attribute entities
  • Relationships between object entities and attribute entities
  • Facts learned about object entities

The Illustrations from the patent show us images of a Bear, eating a Fish, to tell us that the Bear is an Object Entity, and the Fish is an Attribute Entity and that Bears eat Fish.

Anotate images with Bear (Object Entity) and Fish (Attribute-Entity) entities

We are also shown that Bears, as object Entities have other Attribute Entities associated with them, since they will go into the water to hunt fish, and roam around on the grass.

Bears and attribute Entities

Annotations may be detailed and cover objects within photos or images, like the bear eating the fish above. The patent points out a range of entities that might appear in a single image by telling us about a photo from a baseball game:

An annotation may identify an entity contained in an image. An entity may be a person, place, thing, or concept. For example, an image taken at a baseball game may contain entities such as “baseball fan”, “grass”, “baseball player”, “baseball stadium”, etc.

An entity may also be a specific person, place, thing, or concept. For example, the image taken at the baseball game may contain entities such as “Nationals Park” and “Ryan Zimmerman”.

Defining an Object Entity When Google May Annotate Images

The patent provides more insights into what object entities are and how they might be selected:

An object entity may be an entity selected among the entities contained in a plurality of annotated images. Object entities may be used to group images to learn facts about those object entities. In some embodiments, a server may select a plurality of images and assign annotations to those images.

A server may select an object entity based on the entity contained in the greatest number of annotated images as identified by the annotations.

For example, a group of 50 images may be assigned annotations that identify George Washington in 30 of those images. Accordingly, a server may select George Washington as the object entity if 30 out of 50 annotated images is the greatest number for any identified entity.

Confidence scores may also be determined for annotations. Confidence scores are an indication that an entity identified by an annotation is contained in an image. It “quantifies a level of confidence in an annotation being accurate.” That confidence score could be calculated by using a template matching algorithm. The annotated image may be compared with a template image.

Defining Attribute Entities When Google May Annotate Images

An attribute entity may be an entity that is among the entities contained in images that contain the object entity. They are entities other than the object entity.

Annotated images that contain the object entity may be grouped and an attribute entity may be selected based on what entity might be contained in the greatest number of grouped images as identified by the annotations.

So, a group of 30 annotated images containing object entity “George Washington” may also include 20 images that contain “Martha Washington.”

In that case, “Martha Washington,” may be considered an attribute entity

(Of Course, “Martha Washington Could be an object Entity, and “George Washington, appearing in a number of the “Martha Washington” labeled images could be considered the attribute entity.)

Infering Relationships between entities by Analyzing Images

If more than a threshold of images of “Michael Jordon” contains a basketball in his hand, a relationship between “Michael Jordan” and basketball might be made (That Michael Jordan is a basketball player.)

From analyzing images of bears hunting for fish in water, and roaming around on grassy fields, some relationships between bears and fish and water and grass can be made also:

inferences between entities

By analyzing images of Michael Jordan with a basketball in his hand wearing a Chicago Bulls jersey, a search query asking a question such as “What basketball team does Michael Jordan play for?” may be satisfied with the answer “Chicago Bulls”.

To answer a query such as “What team did Michael Jordan play basketball for, Google could perform an image search for “Michael Jordan playing basketball”. Having those images that contain the object entity of interest can allow the images to be analyzed and an answer provided. See the picture at the top of this post, showing Michael Jordan in a Bulls jersey.

Take Aways

This process to collect and annotate images can be done using any images found on the Web, and isn’t limited to images that might be found in places like Wikipedia.

Google can analyze images online in a way that scales on a web-wide basis, and by analyzing images, it may provide insights that a knowledge graph might not, such as to answer the question, “where do Grizzly Bears hunt?” an analysis of photos reveals that they like to hunt near water so that they can eat fish.

The confidence scores in this patent aren’t like the association scores in the other patents about entities that I wrote about, because they are trying to gauge how likely it is that what is in a photo or image is indeed the entity that it might then be labeled with.

The association scores that I wrote about were trying to gauge how likely relationships between entities and attributes might be more likely to be true based upon things such as the reliability and popularity of the sources of that information.

So, Google is trying to learn about real-world objects (entities) by analyzing pictures of those entities when it may annotate images (ones that it has confidence in), as an alternative way of learning about the world and the things within it.


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Nine tips to increase the average order value (AOV) of your ecommerce store

June 24, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Running an ecommerce store makes it a must to know customers’ buying habits, insights about your marketing campaign performance, and how well your pricing strategy is performing.  
  • However, your average order value (AOV) can be a key to getting more into customers’ carts and increasing your revenue.
  • Kevin Payne lets you in on how you can increase your AOV through some smart, simple, and effective methods.

When you’re running an ecommerce store, you should know that average order value (AOV) can help you get to know your customers’ buying habits, insights about your marketing campaign performance, and how well your pricing strategy is performing. 

In this post, we’ll talk about what AOV is, the simple formula to calculate it, and how to increase the AOV of your own ecommerce store. 

What is “Average Order Value” (AOV) and how it works

Average order value refers to how much each customer spends per cart checkout with your store. It’s calculated by dividing your total revenue in a given period by your total number of orders in that same period. 

So say your total revenue in a single month was $ 40,000 and you had 1,000 total orders that month. That means your AOV is $ 40. 

Increasing your AOV may be more effective at boosting your overall sales and revenue than, say, focusing on getting more store visitors. This is because you’d be earning more per customer from the start who are purchasing more or higher-priced products instead of trying to get more customers to purchase, say, one item at a time. 

Nine tips to increase your ecommerce store’s AOV

With all the newest developments we see in ecommerce software and seeing better research about consumer ecommerce habits, there are several new tactics you can try to increase your AOV in 2020. Let’s take a look at them here. 

1. Create a free shipping incentive

Offering free shipping when a customer hits a minimum purchase amount is a classic tactic you can take. This still works today because free shipping feels like an added value to your store.  

For your customers, they’re more likely to want to get more products for their money than to put into a shipping fee. So make the most of this insight by setting a minimum purchase amount for consumers to be eligible for free shipping. 

Tips to increase AOV - Shipping incentiveSource: Ulta Beauty 

2. Start a minimum spend discount tier 

If you’re running a promotion, creating special discount tiers can do great to increase AOV. For example, during an end-of-season sale, you can offer discount tiers for 15%, 20%, and 25% off if consumers hit different minimum purchase amounts. 

This works by introducing bigger savings for customers. So if they were already eyeing multiple products from your store, this incentivizes them to check out all these items to get the most savings. 

Tips to increase AOV

Source: Core dna

3. Introduce limited time offers 

Another way to get customers to purchase more in a single transaction is by introducing some limited time offers, like a seasonal product or discount code on a specific collection. Be sure these are compelling enough to inspire people to take action.  

Set an end date for your promo, and make sure the added value consumers get is irresistible in their eyes. 

Your limited time offer also isn’t limited to simply discounts either. Think outside the box. Can you offer next-day or even same-day shipping if customers order by a certain time? Can you include freebies if they buy within the next two hours? 

Tips to increase AOV for ecommerce store - Limited time offersSource: Core dna 

4. Have a flexible exchange and returns policy 

One way to encourage customers to purchase more from your store is if they know they’re able to return or exchange items that either don’t fit or meet their expectations.  

Assuming your items are things like clothing or gadgets and not items like facial brushes or hygiene products, you can create a fair exchange and returns policy that gives people a reason to buy.  

Also pair this with other tactics above, such as a minimum purchase for free shipping or discount tiers so you’re sure customers will be adding more items to cart without fear that they can’t return or exchange items later. 

Tips to increase AOV

Source: BigCommerce  

5. Display a related products section

With the right ecommerce platform and integrations, you can display a “Related Products” section on your product pages to display items that are similar to the one customers are currently viewing.  

This works especially well for products that have different styles or colors or belong to the same category.  

This section essentially shows your customers that, if they aren’t really liking the specific product they’re viewing, there are related ones they can check out instead. 

6. Offer valuable add-ons

Add-ons may be displayed like related products but they vary in their use in that add-ons are offered as a way to complement something users have in their cart. 

For example, when a customer adds a shaving set into their cart, they’re offered supplementary items like a post-shave balm or a razor stand. 

7. Promote products in sets 

Another way to increase AOV is by bundling your products into a higher-priced set. If customers were to purchase these items separately, they would end up spending more – but a well-curated set can offer them all the products they want with a small discount. 

This tactic also works well with travel-sized items or trial packs for customers who are either new to your store or are looking to try new things from your brand.  

The example below by Joy Organics uses this tactic well. They put together their best-sellers into one “Sampler Pack” so customers can try their top-selling products without purchasing things in either a full size or complete pack. 

Tips to increase AOV - Promote products in sets

Source: Joy Organics 

8. Include trust badges and customer reviews

You can increase AOV by increasing the level of security and trust that customers feel when browsing your store. After all, customers are more likely to purchase from an ecommerce store that they’re sure is reputable. 

Tips to increase AOV - Trust badges and customer reviews

Source: Book Your Data 

Book Your Data does a great job of showing how rust badges and reviews featuring loyal and even popular customers can establish trust with new visitors right away. 

Sprinkle in trust badges like “Safe Checkout” or “Money-back Guarantee” across your site. Icons like free shipping or free returns can also entice customers to check out more items. 

Yet another way to establish trust right away is through customer reviews. Display reviews on product pages or for your entire store. If customers loved your next-day shipping perk or easy exchange process, you can talk about those to ease new customers’ minds. 

9. Nurture existing customers so they become repeat customers

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure your existing customers become loyal to your store. Loyal customers have been shown to spend 67% more than new customers – they’re more likely to make repeat purchases or check out more items per transaction. 

So you’ll want to do some retention marketing. This can be as easy as implementing a content marketing strategy that aims to nurture existing customers with high-value content like inspirational blogs, relatable lifestyle quotes, and the like. 

Plus, with content marketing, current marketing and sales efforts like excellent customer service and great products just become elevated in the eyes of customers. They see that you’re serious about meeting their needs and solving their problems in the long-term, so they will be more likely to stick around. 

Source: Rankings.io

Start earning more per customer 

Make your ecommerce store work better for you by implementing the tips and tactics above to increase average order value. Keep experimenting and creating new campaigns, and soon you’ll find which strategies work best with your customers. 

The post Nine tips to increase the average order value (AOV) of your ecommerce store appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The Loupedeck CT is a fantastic, flexible editing console for Mac and PC

June 24, 2020 No Comments

For photographers and videographers spending a lot less time on location and a lot more time at the desk right now, one great use of time is going back through archives and backlogs to find hidden gems, and hone those edit skills. One recently-released device called the Loupedeck CT can make that an even more enjoyable experience, with customizable controls and profiles that work with just about all your favorite editing apps – and that can even make just using your computer generally easier and more convenient.

The basics

Loupedeck’s entire focus is on creating dedicated hardware control surfaces for creatives, and the Loupedeck CT is its latest, top-of-the-line editing panel. It’s essentially a square block, which is surprisingly thin and light given how many hardware control options it provides. On the surface itself, you’ll find six knobs with tactile, clicky turning action, as well as 12 square buttons and eight round buttons, each of which features color-coded backlighting. There’s also a large central control dial, with a touch-sensitive display in-set, and a 4×3 grid of touch-sensitive display buttons up top – each of which also includes optional vibration feedback when pressed.

Loupedeck CT connects via an included USB-C cable (though you’ll need an adapter or your own USB-C to USB-C cable if you’re using a modern MacBook) and it draws all the power it needs to operate from that connection. Small, rubberized pads on the back ensure that it won’t slip around on your desktop or table surface.

When you first set up the Loupedeck, you’ll need to download software from the company’s website. Once that’s installed, the setup wizard should see your Loupedeck CT hardware when it’s connected, and present you with configuration options that mirror what will show up on your device. By default, Loupedeck has a number of profiles for popular editing software pre-installed and ready to use, and it’ll switch to use that profile automatically upon opening those applications.

The list is fantastic, with one notable (and somewhat painful) exception – Lightroom CC. This isn’t Loupdeck’s fault: Adobe has changed the way that Lighroom is architected with the CC version such that it no longer offers as much interoperability with plugins like the ones that make Loupedeck work with such high integration. Loupedeck offers a Lightroom Classic profile, and one of the reasons Classic is still available is its rich support for these plugins, so you can still access and edit your library with Loupedeck CT. Plus, you can still use it to control Lightroom CC – but you’ll have to download a profile that essentially replicates keystrokes and keyboard shortcuts, or create your own, and it won’t be nearly as flexible as the profiles that exist for Photoshop, Photoshop Camera Raw, and Lightroom Classic.

That one exception aside, there are profiles for just about any creative software a creative pro would want to use. And the default system software settings are also very handy for when you’re not using your computer for doing anything with image, video or audio editing. For instance, I set up basic workflows for capturing screenshots, which I do often for work, and one for managing audio playback during transcription.

Design

I mentioned it briefly above, but the Loupedeck CT’s design is at first glance very interesting because it’s actually far smaller than I was expecting based on the company’s own marketing and imagery. It’s just a little taller than your average keyboard, and about the same width across, and it takes up not much more space on your desk than a small mousepad, or a large piece of toast. Despite its small footprint, it has a lot of physical controls, each of which is actually potentially many more controls though software.

The matte black, slightly rubberized finish is pleasing both to look at and to the touch, and the controls all feel like there was a lot of care put into the tactile experience of using them. The graduated clicks on the knobs let you know when you’ve increased something by a single increment, and the smooth action on the big dial feels delightfully analog. The buttons all have a satisfying, fairly deep click, and the slight buzz you get from the vibration feedback on the touchscreen buttons are a perfect bit of haptic response, which, combined with the raised rows that separate them, mean you can use the Loupedeck CT eyes-free once you get used to it. Each knob is also a clickable button, and the touchscreen circular display on the large central dial can be custom configured with a number of different software buttons or a scroll list.

Despite its small size, the Loupedeck CT doesn’t feel fragile, and it has a nice weight to it that feels reassuring of its manufacturing quality. It does feel like a bit of a compromise when it comes to layout to accommodate the square design vs. the longer rectangle of the Loupedeck+, which more closely resembles a keyboard – but that has positives and negatives, since the CT is easier to use alongside a keyboard.

Ultimately, the design feels thoughtful and well-considered, giving you a very powerful set of physical controls for creative software that takes up much less space on the desk than even something like an equivalent modular system from Palette would require.

Features

The Loupedeck CT’s primary benefits are found in its profiles, which set you up out of the box to get editing quickly and effectively across your favorite software. Each feels like a sensible set of defaults for the software they’re designed to work with, and you can always customize and tweak to your heart’s content if you’ve already got a set of standard processes that doesn’t quite match up.

Loupedeck’s software makes customization and addition of your own sets of tools a drag-and-drop process, which helps a lot with the learning curve. It still took me a little while to figure out the logic of where to find things, and how they’re nested, but it does make sense once you experiment and pay around a bit.

Similarly, Loupedeck uses a color-coding hierarchy system in its interface that takes some getting used, but that eventually provides a handy visual shortcut for working with the Loupedeck CT. There are green buttons and lights that control overall workspaces, as well as purple actions that exist within those workspaces. You can set up multiple workspaces for each app, letting you store entire virtual toolboxes for carrying out specific tasks.

This allows the CT to be at once simple enough to not overwhelm, and also rich and complex enough to offer a satisfying range of control options for advanced pros. As mentioned, everything is customizable (minus a few buttons like the o-button that you can’t remap, for navigation reasons) and you can also export profiles for sharing or for use across machines, and import profiles, including those created by others, for quickly getting set up with a new workflow or pice of software.

The Loupedeck CT even has 8GB of built-in storage on board, and shows up as a removable disk on your computer, allowing you to easily take your profiles with you – as well a tidy little collection of working files.

Bottom Line

At $ 549, the Loupedeck CT isn’t for everyone – even though the features it offers provide efficiency benefits for many more than just creatives. It’s like having an editing console that you can fit in the tablet pocket of most backpacks or briefcases – and it’s actually like having a whole bunch of those at once because of the flexibility and configurability of its software. Also, comparable tools like the Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve Editor keyboard can cost over twice as much.

If your job or your passion involves spending considerable time adjusting gradients, curves, degrees and sliders, than the Loupedeck CT is for you. Likewise, if you spend a lot of time transcribing or cleaning up audio, or you’re a keyboard warrior who regularly employs a whole host of keystroke combos even for working in something like a spreadsheet app, it could be great for you too.

I’ve tested out a lot of hardware aimed at improving the workflow of photographers and video editors, but none has proven sticky, especially across both home and travel use. The Loupedeck CT seems like the one that will stick, based on my experience with it so far.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Adjust Your Small Business Strategy With Google Analytics

June 24, 2020 No Comments

Do you work with/for an SMB that’s struggling with low-funnel ads? Use Google Analytics to redefine your goals to make data-driven, informed decisions.

Read more at PPCHero.com
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How to manage a high-performing content marketing team

June 23, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • What’s the difference between a regular content marketing team and a high-performing content marketing team?
  • A high-performing content marketing team creates, promotes, and distributes content that helps not only their team but their business to scale. 
  • Kevin Payne shows you the exact steps to build and manage your own high-performing marketing team.

There’s a difference between a regular content marketing team and a high-performing content marketing team. 

The former creates, promotes, and distributes content. The latter creates, promotes, and distributes content that helps not only their team but their business to scale. 

In this post, we’ll show you some of the exact steps you should take to manage your own high-performing marketing team. 

Eight great tips to manage a high-performing content marketing team 

1. Align your content marketing team’s goals to your business goals 

Take time to highlight the goals that your entire company has and emphasizing these with your team members. When you’re first onboarding new members when you’re meeting for new campaigns and strategies, constantly reiterate your business goals so that everyone has these at the top of their minds all the time. 

So you don’t forget to always align new campaign goals to your company’s goals, consider putting these goals somewhere you’ll always see them, like as a section in a new campaign brief or written down on a whiteboard during a strategy meeting. 

2. Equip your content marketing team with excellent collaboration tools

It’s no secret that you can’t run an effective content marketing team if you don’t equip them with the tools they need to succeed. Here’s a rundown of some of the tools your team will need: 

  • Robust project management software to track campaigns, tasks, and deadlines 
  • A suite of content creation tools for writing, graphic design, video editing, and the like 
  • Social media scheduling and analytics software 
  • Website performance and analytics tools 
  • Team-centric communication tools for sending messages and doing video conferencing 

Investing in the right software services may seem like you end up shelling out a lot of money from the get-go. But statistics show that investing in software can help enhance collaboration between teams scattered across multiple locations, streamline work processes, and even offload tasks like maintaining and protecting data from your own team. 

3. Review your buyer journey

High-performing content marketing teams are able to create highly relevant content that meets their customers where they’re at so that customers are moved through the marketing funnel or flywheel effectively. 

Make it a habit to review your buyer journey as you create new content and promotions, and always ask the question, “How does this [content piece] serve my customer in this particular stage?” 

If your team doesn’t have a buyer journey yet, you can start by creating buyer personas that help you understand your customers’ goals and pain points. 

Then, you can start to create customer journey maps that highlight what your customers might be thinking or looking for when they’re in certain stages, such as

  • Awareness
  • Interest
  • Consideration 

Content marketing team productivity

Source: Content Marketing Institute 

4. Clarify everyone’s roles 

Your content marketing team members need to have clear roles with set boundaries. While it’s not absurd to expect that everyone knows a little about each role, it’s important to make sure every person has a role to play. 

This is important for two reasons: the first reason being that by clarifying roles in your team, you can identify if there are roles with too much overlap or roles that haven’t been filled; and the second reason is you’re giving your team the space to focus on one particular goal or outcome and doing that well, instead of spreading themselves out too thinly. 

5. Invest in diverse creators with unique skill sets 

If you can afford it, you can outsource some specialized tasks to talented contractors who have a specific skill set that you’re looking for. After all, it’s more costly to work with cheap amateurs than it is to hire experienced professionals. 

For example, if you need a parody video that’s humorous, look for video teams that specialize in just that. If you need graphics delivered in a particular art style, search for illustrators with an impressive portfolio with the style you’re looking for. 

Let your team focus on tasks they work on best as well. You may have writers who are excellent in long-form content, but other writers might be more adept at writing email campaigns or social media captions. 

6. Encourage experimenting with new creative strategies

As a content marketing team, it’s important to keep on top of new creative strategies and test new ideas regularly.  

For example, can your business benefit from creating microsites – or hyper-focused sites and landing pages designed to help customers in specific stages of your buyer journey?  

This strategy in particular means buying multiple domain names and then creating dedicated sites, blogs, and content just for this purpose. As a practical example, imagine an athleisure brand launching microsites for targeted content in mountain climbing, in snowboarding, and in city cycling.  

OfficeMax launched an entertainment microsite that lets customers create fun images from their photos.

Content marketing example

Source: ElfYourself  

7. Develop and keep a style guide

style guide will help organize and streamline your processes from the beginning, letting your teamwork more productively and spend less time creating micro-changes to content pieces. 

In your style guide, you’ll want to include guides, templates, and styles for the following things: 

  • Tone: What is the tone you use in your blog posts, social media posts, and email newsletters? What words and phrases do you avoid?  
  • Visual branding: What colors and fonts do you frequently use? How should logos and colors be used together? What is the hierarchy of your brand assets? What is the general style of your graphics and images? 
  • Content styling: What headings and formats do you use when publishing new content? How do you cite sources within articles? How do you present images and visual data? How do you use certain words or phrases?  

Your style guide may evolve as time goes on, and that’s normal. But by creating one now, you’re able to help your team structure and create content that’s as close to publishing quality from the get-go. 

8. Regularly review campaign performance and analytics

The best content marketing teams aren’t those who can churn out new content every single day – the best teams, instead, are the ones who can churn out the right kind of content regularly. 

And there is no better way to accomplish just that when you make it a habit to review your content’s performance 

Check how your campaigns are performing, evaluate top-performing, and low-performing content pieces. What do you think made these pieces get the results that they did? 

Encourage everyone on the team to constantly review the performance of their own work without judgment. You want to give your content marketing team the space to see where they can always do better, so treat everything – even posts and campaigns that performed poorly – as feedback. 

Key takeaways

Are you ready to take your content marketing team further? With a little time and effort, you can scale your team to help scale your content strategies and campaigns – just be sure to follow these eight essential tips to help you get there. 

Kevin Payne is a Growth & Content Marketer, Kevintpayne.com.

The post How to manage a high-performing content marketing team appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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