Google’s recent release of a new markup specification, the speakable schema, brings the digital technology to another leap. The term speakable currently points to the ability of Google Assistant and News to provide internet users with excellent results that fit their needs.
The new schema SEO is useful when asking for specific topics and news related to a particular brand or happening. The returned results are then read back by Google Assistant with speakable texts.
Google’s new feature is currently intended to provide users with a summary of a story’s key points but has a later possibility for expansion.
Available documentations from schema.org points out to the text to speech conversion of a news article and available online documentation supporting the new feature.
What is Google’s new speakable schema markup?
Current technology is heading towards speakable-friendly smartphones and gadgets supporting voice searches. Google’s speakable schema markup tool allows businesses to indicate content sections that support voice search technology.
This new Google algorithm will allow businesses to pick the most crucial information relating to their business, highlight such content, and give them better visibility to their intended audience.
This is similar to how featured snippets work only that the information is delivered via voice assistant that reads to your website content to the visitors.
The new Google speakable schema markup is currently in its beta version, which can only be accessed by news publishers. It also has a limited audience reach, exclusively servicing the US for now and only working with Google Home devices including the Google Assistant.
How does Google’s speakable schema markup work?
Similar to the traditional way we get our websites to rank, optimizing your voice searches require you to input significant information fragments featured in your SEO campaign.
It means sections of your campaign material can be optimized for voice search.
The schema helps Google’s algorithm determine the importance of your chosen content fragment with your specific niche, helping it rank in the SERP. Content that is found relevant by Google, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Home streamlines that information and finds a way of reading them back to your website’s intended audience.
The way Google pulls up that information is based on its sophisticated algorithm. News publishers, though, are solely responsible for selecting text fragments that they want Google to feature.
The search engine will determine how relevant the information is and how it relates to their user’s voice search queries before voicing it out.
The current setup of Google’s speakable schema is only accessible to news publishers, allowing them to highlight parts of a news feature in voice search optimization.
Though the technology is still in its early stages, news publishers have the option of presenting the most accurate answers to any internet user’s query.
In its initial state, Google’s speakable schema is a powerful way of obtaining information about recent news and current events.
There are several points to consider when having your content optimized for the speakable schema. Most of these requirements fall under the precepts of meeting the demands of current and possibly future inquiries.
- The topic should focus on one subject and storyline with understandable and relevant writing
- All the information presented in the publication must be accurate in all aspects and must be factual
- The text should not contain ad campaigns
- The content cannot contain vulgar words or hate speech directed towards a person or entity
- The news should include the author’s information, including the publication data and contact details
Speakable content is available to businesses creating content but is currently limited to news publications. The points highlighted are just some of the specifications for the new Google schema to ensure all new information meets industry standards.
How will the speakable schema affect SEO?
The tech industry continually shapes itself with innovations like the speakable SEO feature of Google to accommodate existing and future demands.
The rise of voice-enabled searches primarily impacts the search engine optimization landscape, making it more demanding for businesses to ramp up their website performance.
Speakable is still in its beta form, and there are currently no effects on a website’s SEO performance. But as the industry adapts voice searches, we can see speakability becoming one of the forefronts of ranking in the Voice Assistant tools.
As such, the speakable schema will have a tremendous impact on how we use the internet and search for information. This predicament will also be another burden for some companies as they start figuring how to provide better services to their customers.
More and more companies will fine-tune their website content, so it adopts the voice-friendly features of Google. It entails restructuring current content and shifting their market options to include voice-search enabled gadgets and devices.
How to prepare your business for the speakable schema markup?
In the meantime, speakable is still in its early stages. The tech giant continually tests and further enhances its speakable schema markup to strengthen its capabilities. Nonetheless, it won’t take long before companies, and their website starts feeling its effects.
Getting ahead of Google’s SERP race will give your company a better chance of landing the top spots considering your site is at par with the latest algorithm demands of most search engines.
Here are the best practices to implement so your website content meets with the future SEO demands or hire an SEO agency to make it easier:
- Create coherent and conversational statements on your website relevant to your business niche. This will help stay ahead with speakable-type technology and make it easy for you to determine which information effectively relays to your intended audience.
- Using short and understandable sentences makes them acceptable to your website visitors. Remember that most people have only a minute of attention span, and you want to capture your audience in that small timeframe to get their interests.
- Writing in a conversational voice tone is the best way to reach a broader scope of website visitors. You want your audience to get a full grasp of what you are offering, so a short, concise, and simple-worded statement will get them glued to what you are providing.
How do you use speakable markup?
To start using the TTS suitability of Google’s speakable schema, you need to follow four critical requirements set by the search engine.
- Following all guidelines, including the technical side, content, webmaster, and structured data protocol, is the starting point of enabling the audio playback capabilities of your website texts
- Include Google’s speakable structured data semantics into the code of your web page
- Test and approve your chosen structured data
- Submit the content for eligibility and onboarding process
What are the benefits of speakable schema markup?
There are a lot of undeniable benefits to using Google’s newest schema platform. Though the speakable SEO is available for an online publisher, for now, future expansions will include almost every business with a website.
Among some of the benefits of using the speakable schema include:
- There are better opportunities for improving SERP ranking positions
- A speakable schema improves brand recognition
- It increases the click-through-rates of your website
- Position your website for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa’s voice search
- Increase your website’s social media following
- Provide your audience with a sneak peek of what your content offers without looking at their device screens
Depending on your market niche, Google’s upcoming speakable schema offers your business with industry-related benefits. This includes getting more views for your music and videos, getting more job applicants on your page, or increasing the popularity of a specific product or service.
But all these benefits are what we can foresee in the future. The fact is, Google’s speakable schema is still in its easy concepts, and it is not clear whether the tech giant would put the feature outright. The Beta version of the new algorithm already allows news publications to read featured information off a webpage.
The future of speakable markup depends on how the general population will receive it. Adaption of the new schema would mean expansion outside of its current scopes to include all aspects of the web. Additionally, industry acceptance of this new schema will only be derived depending on how universally the markup is put to use.
And as voice search becomes an accepted method of looking for information on the web, we might see Google pushing the new schema into its existing ecosystem. Regardless if these search engine changes are seen as a threat to existing methods or an opportunity for advancement, we can look at it as an answer to the changing needs of internet users.
Emily Browne is a web content enthusiast with three years of experience in SEO writing. She can be found on Twitter @Emilyrownee.
The post What is speakable schema markup and how does it impact the future of SEO? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Google, Amazon and Microsoft are the landlords. Amidst the coronavirus economic crisis, startups need a break from paying rent. They’re in a cash crunch. Revenue has stopped flowing in, capital markets like venture debt are hesitant and startups and small-to-medium sized businesses are at risk of either having to lay off huge numbers of employees and/or shut down.
Meanwhile, the tech giants are cash rich. Their success this decade means they’re able to weather the storm for a few months. Their customers cannot.
Cloud infrastructure costs area amongst many startups’ top expense besides payroll. The option to pay these cloud bills later could save some from going out of business or axing huge parts of their staff. Both would hurt the tech industry, the economy and the individuals laid off. But most worryingly for the giants, it could destroy their customer base.
The mass layoffs have already begun. Soon we’re sure to start hearing about sizable companies shutting down, upended by COVID-19. But there’s still an opportunity to stop a larger bloodbath from ensuing.
That’s why I have a proposal: cloud relief.
The platform giants should let startups and small businesses defer their cloud infrastructure payments for three to six months until they can pay them back in installments. Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, these companies’ additional infrastructure products, and other platform providers should let customers pause payment until the worst of the first wave of the COVID-19 economic disruption passes. Profitable SaaS providers like Salesforce could give customers an extension too.
There are plenty of altruistic reasons to do this. They have the resources to help businesses in need. We all need to support each other in these tough times. This could protect tons of families. Some of these startups are providing important services to the public and even discounting them, thereby ramping up their bills while decreasing revenue.
Then there are the PR reasons. After years of techlash and anti-trust scrutiny, here’s the chance for the giants to prove their size can be beneficial to the world. Recruiters could use it as a talking point. “We’re the company that helped save Silicon Valley.” There’s an explanation for them squirreling away so much cash: the rainy day has finally arrived.
But the capitalistic truth and the story they could sell to Wall Street is that it’s not good for our business if our customers go out of business. Look at what happened to infrastructure providers in the dot-com crash. When tons of startups vaporized, so did the profits for those selling them hosting and tools. Any government stimulus for businesses would be better spent by them paying employees than paying the cloud companies that aren’t in danger. Saving one future Netflix from shutting down could cover any short-term loss from helping 100 other businesses.
This isn’t a handout. These startups will still owe the money. They’d just be able to pay it a little later, spread out over their monthly bills for a year or so. Once mass shelter-in-place orders subside, businesses can operate at least a little closer to normal, investors can get less cautious and customers will have the cash they need to pay their dues. Plus interest, if necessary.
Meanwhile, they’ll be locked in and loyal customers for the foreseeable future. Cloud vendors could gate the deferment to only customers that have been with them for X amount of months or that have already spent Y amount on the platform. The vendors also could offer the deferment on the condition that customers add a year or more to their existing contracts. Founders will remember who gave them the benefit of the doubt.
Consider it a marketing expense. Platforms often offer discounts or free trials to new customers. Now it’s existing customers that need a reprieve. Instead of airport ads, the giants could spend the money ensuring they’ll still have plenty of developers building atop them by the end of 2020.
Beyond deferred payment, platforms could just push the due date on all outstanding bills to three or six months from now. Alternatively, they could offer a deep discount such as 50% off for three months if they didn’t want to deal with accruing debt and then servicing it. Customers with multi-year contracts could offered the opportunity to downgrade or renegotiate their contracts without penalties. Any of these might require giving sales quota forgiveness to their account executives.
It would likely be far too complicated and risky to accept equity in lieu of cash, a cut of revenue going forward or to provide loans or credit lines to customers. The clearest and simplest solution is to let startups skip a few payments, then pay more every month later until they clear their debt. When asked for comment or about whether they’re considering payment deferment options, Microsoft declined, and Amazon and Google did not respond.
To be clear, administering payment deferment won’t be simple or free. There are sure to be holes that cloud economists can poke in this proposal, but my goal is to get the conversation started. It could require the giants to change their earnings guidance. Rewriting deals with significantly sized customers will take work on both ends, and there’s a chance of breach of contract disputes. Giants would face the threat of customers recklessly using cloud resources before shutting down or skipping town.
Most taxing would be determining and enforcing the criteria of who’s eligible. The vendors would need to lay out which customers are too big so they don’t accidentally give a cloud-intensive but healthy media company a deferment they don’t need. Businesses that get questionably excluded could make a stink in public. Executing on the plan will require staff when giants are stretched thin trying to handle logistics disruptions, misinformation and accelerating work-from-home usage.
Still, this is the moment when the fortunate need to lend a hand to the vulnerable. Not a hand out, but a hand up. Companies with billions in cash in their coffers could save those struggling to pay salaries. All the fundraisers and info centers and hackathons are great, but this is how the tech giants can live up to their lofty mission statements.
We all live in the cloud now. Don’t evict us. #CloudRelief
The events of the last few weeks have had a dramatic effect on millions of people’s lives. Uncertainty over health, childcare, work, food and the wellbeing of loved ones has dominated all of our thinking over the past few days.
Not only has it changed the way we’re shopping and interacting with others, an expert at online search specialist Epiphany, Paul Norris, has looked at how it has impacted what users are turning to the internet for and advises how businesses can adapt their search strategy during this tricky time.
The Prime Minister’s speech on 13th March 2020 served as a catalyst for many to search for “working from home essentials” with searches such as computer chairs increasing by 185%.
As a nation, we also considered our options for emergency deliveries, including “wine delivery” services, which nearly tripled in just one week.
As people’s searches change to reflect new (increasingly home-based and socially distant) situations, it’s important that marketers adapt to the shifts in search behavior.
Here are a few ways to navigate the next few weeks and to prepare for when we emerge from the current situation:
1. Identify and capitalize on emerging trends
Monitor your search query reports closely – look for increased use of convenience and supply modifiers as availability and fulfillment is valued more. Searches containing “near me” have started to fall as queries for “online” services have increased.
If your business offers quick deliveries (and can still fulfill them), ensure it’s prominent in messaging, listings and on-site. Searches for next and same-day delivery will only continue to grow.
2. Listen to your visitors – use your site search reports and Hotjar polls
Your on-site search function is an absolute gold mine in times like these – demand and behavioral changes from your visitors are picked up directly. Use the Site Search report in GA (found under “Behaviour” on the left-hand side) as a listening board.
Surface the most-searched-for products and services on relevant high traffic pages. Rethink, test and measure your carousels and other key product and service listing elements where relevant. Enabling Hotjar (or similar) polls can also enable you to get more specific insight.
3. Shift budget into investment channels
If you’re pulling back on sales activation because demand is dropping, look to move that budget and resource into a medium and longer-term activity that will pay dividends when demand picks up. With the previous points in mind, conduct a meta-data review and weave more highly valued services such as next day delivery into titles and descriptions. Has content taken a back seat? There are some definite benefits to content strategy, planning, and creation with the headspace you’re afforded when working from home.
4. Bypass dev queues and do what you can from your CMS
Prioritizing your activity in a busy dev queue can be difficult at the best of times. If dev time is booked up because the team is completely promo and sales activation focused, do what you can. Are you able to edit content and optimize existing pages in the CMS? Can you create new landing pages in your CMS without tech intervention? If so, now is the time to utilize those capabilities.
5. Maximize performance where demand is strong
Identify where demand remains strong (or has even picked up) and do what you can to capture and convert it. Your top landing pages and product reports are a good first port of call and can provide you with some quick wins. Segmenting and analyzing site performance by product/area/service (depending on your sector) can help you identify and capitalize on bigger emerging trends. If you’re a retailer, think about splitting out essential and non-essential products.
Paul Norris is Senior Strategist & Head of London Operations at Epiphany.
The post Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
A social media platform used to match advertisers with thousands of influencers has been hacked.
Social Bluebook, a Los Angeles-based company, allows advertisers to pay social media “influencers” for posts that promote their products and services. The company claims it has some 300,000 influencers on its books.
But in October 2019, the company’s entire backend database was stolen in a data breach.
TechCrunch obtained the database, which contains some 217,000 user accounts — including influencer names, email addresses, and passwords hashed, which had been scrambled using the strong SHA-2 hashing algorithm.
It’s not known how the database was exfiltrated from the company’s systems or who was behind the breach.
We contacted several users who when presented with their information confirmed it as accurate. We also provided a portion of the data to Social Bluebook co-founder Sam Michie for verification.
“We have just now become aware of this data breach that occurred in October 2019,” he told TechCrunch in an email Thursday.
He said affected users will be informed of the breach by email. The company also informed the California attorney general’s office of the breach, per state law.
Social media influencers are a constant target for hackers, who often try to hijack accounts with popular handles or high follower counts. Some influencers have relied on white-hat hackers to get their hijacked accounts back.
Last year, an Indian social media firm left a database of Instagram influencers online, which included phone numbers and email addresses scraped from their profiles.
Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755–8849.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hopping on Zoom with betaworks’ John Borthwick and Matt Hartman to discuss the tech world’s adaptation to this new locked-down world, the future of new media and answer questions from the audience.
We discussed whether new media companies can raise capital right now, and touched on emerging trends around audio, voice, AR, live events, travel-related companies and many other topics.
It was a delight, and I’m excited to do more of these in the future.
For those of you who missed the Zoom, here’s a rundown of what we discussed (audio embed below).
Exact match domains (EMDs) are domain names that incorporate the exact keywords that you are trying to rank for in Google’s SERPs.
Examples of exact match domains include:
In some industries, people will call their company’s name after the product that they offer, for example, Window Cleaners London.
But in the competitive world of SEO, EMDs are commonly bought by webmasters to gain a quick advantage when it comes to ranking on search engines.
Other studies have shown that having an EMD can help clicks with PPC, given that it targets a particular search enquiry.
The history of exact match domains
Looking back at the evolution of SEO over the past 20 years, having an exact match domain was originally a sure-fire way to rank top of Google.
Even dating back 10 years ago, many SEO practitioners benefitted from just buying an exact match domain, adding a bit of content and getting links from directories and this was enough to secure a page one position.
A new market emerged from domain-name selling. Many entrepreneurs were eager to get their hands on a valuable domain name, whilst thrifty businesspeople held onto domain names hoping to ‘flip’ them at a higher price.
This market continues today, with companies like GoDaddy and 123 Reg offering a marketplace for buying and selling domains, amongst other products.
But webmasters holding onto domains for their potential value has seen the most promising businesses never seen to be made, with websites such as cars.com, food.com, loans.com offering affiliate sites but not transpiring into major brands.
With long-winded exact match domains starting to rank such as buybluejeans.com and carinsurancequotesonline.com – Google responded with an EMD update in 2012 to penalize and filter these out.
Is using exact match domains a problem in 2020?
Not necessarily, there is a place for EMDs in 2020 and the right level of SEO can make it successful.
You do not get penalized just for having an EMD and in some cases, you will get a boost.
However, for the larger part, using exact match domains is going to be like walking on thin ice and could make you very prone to Google penalties.
For instance, creating new landing pages becomes an issue and you risk the possibility of keyword stuffing or over-optimization.
Your homepage should be the welcome page for your website and you should have nicely optimized landing pages coming off it and this where a lot of your SEO traffic will go to. The issue is that if your homepage is homeinsurance.com, using the right words for landing pages becomes tricky. Would you realistically create a page homeinsurance.com/home-insurance and would Google rank this?
When your homepage is likely to have more links pointing to it initially, there will be difficulty in ranking for other landing pages for that exact match keyword.
However, it is link-building that really becomes tricky.
Whatever anchor text you use, you risk the chance of using too much exact match anchor text – and this is a simple way to get a penalty. There are ways around this, such as using a wide range of anchor text, but finding the balance is tricky and it only takes one link of yours to be shared numerous times to make it look like you are running an exact match anchor text campaign.
The role of partial match domain names
Partial match domain names are a combination of the main keyword you are trying to target and something that is not related. A number of successful brands have used other words with the main keyword such as “hut”, “hub”, “network”, “market”, and so on.
Some examples of partial match domain names:
These brands only use half the target keyword, service or object, such as “sunglasses” or “fashion”.
This approach means that natural landing pages can be created without the risk of keyword stuffing and there is no risk of anchor text causing penalties when the brand name is linked.
Another partial match option is that you take a different word, which is more of an adjective or selling point.
A good example is a price comparison site, Forces Compare, which benefits from having ‘compare’ in its domain, and therefore gets a boost for every product it compares across cards, accounts, loans, and more.
There is also the business provider, Funding Invoice, which benefits from having the word “invoice” in its domain.
Some smart uses of partial matches could involve using words such as “free”, “cheap”, and “best” or locations such as “London” and “California”.
Using the right words by association
If you want to generate brand value, but do not want to risk the chance of a Google penalty, you can use a domain that has an association. You do not gain any immediate benefits from Google, but it will certainly look good from a user’s perspective and gaining a good click-through rate (CTR) will notably benefit your rankings.
This includes the infamous doorbell company, Ring.com, the dog food provider, Paws.com and the dating site, Match.com.
Are some industries better than others for using exact match domains?
Yes, we have to accept that Google treats some sectors very differently and when it comes to very competitive industries such as fashion, insurance and finance, they do not want to give anyone a quick advantage just because they own an EMD.
The best approach is to look at each industry and the SERPs that you are targeting. For some industries such as loans and insurance, there are very few (if any) in the UK search results, where “loans” and “insurance” are mentioned in the domain and they are positioned on page one.
However, if you look at the key term “casino bonuses”, around seven to eight sites on page one have the word “casino” in their domain name – highlighting the importance of researching each industry.
For industries where there is less competition and fewer penalties handed out (and this is particularly in local listings), there is only going to be a handful of people searching for “good plumbers in Orange County” or “pizza places in Brooklyn”– you are more likely to be successful using an exact match domain.
Is it too late to change my exact match domain?
No, if you have started with an EMD and have struggled to get it to rank or have been subject to penalties, you can look at changing the domain and you will still hold a lot of the good SEO you have built up.
Doing a 301 redirect to the new domain will hold 90% to 95% of the SEO value and also have a very quick turnaround time, providing that you have good content and UX to back it up.
A recent rebrand of the company Bridging Loan Hub to Octagon Capital showed that the rankings were restored within two weeks and continued to grow back to their original positions, and higher.
Conclusion: Do your research and focus on the brand
Exact match domains (EMDs) still have a role to play in successful SEO and this includes some target industries and local searches.
One has to be careful if they have a large SEO strategy depending on optimizing an exact match domain since this could see initial growth but also be high-risk in the penalty department.
The best advice is to research the industry and see who is ranking on pages one and two of Google. Do they use exact match, partial match or neither?
Either way, Google does not want SEO to be easy and they want it to be earned through other factors such as good design, UX, content, and link-building.
Every time, the most effective and risk-free approach will be to create a keyword-free brand name and build an online brand using good, clean SEO. This should be complemented with other traffic sources such as direct, email, referral and social media to see the maximum effect.
Daniel Tannenbaum is co-founder of Tudor Lodge Consultants.
The post Comprehensive guide to exact match domains in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
The estimated size of the global collectibles market is $ 370 billion.
People have an innate propensity to collect, which drives purchases of collectible goods like art, games, sports memorabilia, toys and more. But given that the world is rapidly adopting digital each day, how likely is it that this market can continue to grow as is?
Won’t this primarily physical market have little choice but to evolve with the times?
With an increase in digital adoption, a step-function innovation is emerging; digital collectibles. The new medium is gaining in popularity and its influence is spreading relatively quickly.
The potential impact on the cryptocurrency landscape, while seemingly unrelated, is quite profound. Businesses already present in the collectibles market have new offerings, demographics and economic impacts to take into account. Even household brands are acknowledging their significance and building strategies around them.
Digital collectibles have taken a foothold and are well on their way to increase their presence in our daily lives.
What is a digital collectible?
When Eliot Buchanan tried to use his credit card to pay his Harvard tuition bill, the payment was rejected because the university said it doesn’t accept credit. Realizing the same problem exists for thousands of different transactions like board, rent and vendor payments, he launched Plastiq. Plastiq helps people use credit cards to pay, or get paid, for anything.
Plastiq today announced that it has raised $ 75 million in venture capital in a Series D round led by B Capital Group. Kleiner Perkins, Khosla Ventures, Accomplice and Top Tier Capital Partners also participated in the round. The round brings the company’s total known venture capital raised to more than $ 140 million.
To use Plastiq, users enter their credit card information on Plastiq’s platform. In return, Plastiq will charge you a 2.5% fee and get your bills paid. While Plastiq was started with consumers in mind, SMBs have now accounted for 90% of the revenue, according to Buchanan. The new financing round will invest in building out features to give SMBs faster services around payments and processing.
Plastiq provides a way for SMBs and consumers to pay their bills and make sure they have reliable cash flow. For example, restaurants sometimes have a drop in revenue due to seasonality or, as we’re experiencing now with COVID-19, pandemic lockdowns. Or tourism companies for cities that are struggling to attract visitors. Those companies still need cash flow, and using Plastiq’s service, they can use credit cards to pay suppliers even in an off season.
There is no shortage of competition from other companies also trying to solve pain points in small-business cash flow. According to Buchanan, Plastiq’s biggest competitors are traditional lenders, as well as companies like Kabbage and Fundbox. Similar claims could be made about Brex, which offers a credit card for startups to access capital faster.
Kabbage provides funding to SMBs through automated business loans. The SoftBank-backed company landed $ 200 million in a revolving credit line back in July, fresh off of landing strong partnerships with banks and giants like Alibaba to access more customers. Kabbage loans out roughly $ 2-3 billion to SMBs every year.
Plastiq, according to its release, is also on track to make more than $ 2 billion in transactions. But unlike Kabagge, Plastiq doesn’t issue loans or credit, it just unlocks a payment opportunity.
“SMBs don’t need to be burdened with additional debt or additional loans,” Buchanan said. “So rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, let’s use a behavior they have already earned.”
Buchanan would not disclose Plastiq’s current valuation or revenue, but he did say that it’s not too far away from $ 100 million in revenue run rate. The company’s revenue has grown 150% from 2018 to 2019.
The company also noted that it has surpassed “well over 1 million users,” up 150% in unique new users from 2018 to 2019.
In terms of profitability, Buchanan said that “we could be profitable if we wanted to be,” noting that Plastiq’s revenue and margins could lead them toward profitability if they wanted to focus less on growth. But he added they don’t plan to “slow down” the growth engine any time soon — especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because the Series D round closed at the end of 2019, Buchanan said the pandemic did not impact the deal. However, the company had planned to time the announcement with tax season. Now, as small businesses struggle to secure capital and stay afloat due to lockdowns across the country, Plastiq’s new raise feels more fitting.
“Our customers are more thankful for solutions like ours as traditional sources of lending are drying up and not as easy to access” Buchanan said. “Hopefully, we can measure how many businesses make it through this because of us.”
The 140-person company is currently hiring across product and engineering roles.
Video is not only a content type anymore, but it has also become a culture. Before that, theater movies and TV had driven the culture, and the only thing that has changed over the past few years is the platform.
Culture is what drives the marketing around it, and 83% of marketers believe that video is becoming increasingly important; a clear indication of more brands using them as a part of their marketing strategies. It can be clearly seen how important video has become for every platform and marketing channel.
And, if you’re not creating videos for marketing campaigns, then you will be left behind this decade.
According to Cisco, 82% of internet traffic will be through videos by 2022. And according to TechCrunch, people watch 1 billion hours of YouTube video per day (That’s more than Netflix and Facebook video combined).
In our digital times, everyone is capable of publishing videos and everyone is publishing videos; all you need is a good camera and an internet connection. This culture-driven ability now belongs to anyone who can create a video and is so captivating that the right group of people choose and prefer to watch videos.
A person who will never read a 100-page book will gladly watch a 10-minute IGTV.
Video is more than just cute babies and funny animals. It’s so powerful that, even mentioning the word “video” in your email subject line can increase the open rates by 19%.
In this article, I’ll unveil all the fundamentals, tactics, and best practices for video marketing.
What is video marketing?
Video marketing is all about creating a video to market and promote your product/service, educate your audience, increase engagement on social media, widen your brand awareness and reach your audience with interactive content. There are some popular platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat that businesses are using for video marketing.
Brands are making videos to help customers make better purchasing decisions by understanding and analyzing their favorite products and features in an engaging way.
Share of businesses using video on their landing pages worldwide from 2016 to 2018
According to HubSpot, 72% of consumers prefer to watch a video about a product than a read product description and more than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands more than any other type of content.
A quick question.
Why do videos work so well?
Because our brain can’t resist the visual outburst, videos are easy to follow-through and we get addicted to them. We remember dialogues from the movies we watched in the past decade but we hardly remember some paragraphs from some book we read a few years back. Movies are just a visual representation of the scriptwriter and storytelling of the director.
Half of the internet users look for a video before visiting a store (Google) and your campaign can’t survive without video in your marketing strategy where 87% of businesses now use video to help market their product and services (WyzOwl).
Using video marketing for business isn’t something brand new but to obtain the best results, implementing a proper video marketing strategy is a must.
Gone are the days when throwing some random video in your strategy worked, it’s now more than 80% of the content on the internet and the field has become highly competitive.
Developing a video marketing strategy that works
According to HubSpot research, customers and consumers prefer low-quality authentic video than high-quality inauthentic video. Simple, mundane videos don’t work all the time in the world of marketing. Today, documenting your different work processes like BTS (behind the scenes), vlogs, live videos, and product walkthroughs seem more real and human than videos created filled with artificial effects.
The versatility of the video content you publish also makes it a successful marketing strategy. Be it the branding of your ecommerce business or tapping into new audiences, videos have always got your back.
93% of businesses reported getting a new customer on social media, thanks to video. It’s also very important to create a sound strategy when you’re planning to implement video in your marketing which should include:
- Creating a script based on customer’s pain points
- Designing a template that reflects your branding
- Distribution of video on different platforms
- Feelings or emotions you want to evoke
- The persona you’re targeting with the video
- Recording and editing the video
- Integrating video into different marketing content
- Coming up with new topics and trends
- Analyzing the video performance
- Improving your strategy based on your data
As we have discussed before, that video is accessible to everyone and any type of business, you only need the right strategy to kick-off. Whether you’re executing operations in the service team or the marketing team, the usefulness of video is apparent everywhere.
Let’s dig deep into the types of video you can create for the different marketing campaigns:
Types of marketing videos
You will be having different objectives for your marketing campaign and based on that you’ll choose the type of video you’re going to create. So, here is the list of top marketing video types to choose from:
1. Explainer videos
The primary purpose of explainer videos is to educate your audience whether it’s your product/service or some concept in your industry. They generally are short in length and it shouldn’t be more difficult than curating decks of slides in the presentation. It’s kind of a scripted journey of your customer’s problem and how they can resolve it.
2. How-to videos
How-to videos are the most popular type of video which customers love to consume and revolve around the educational concept to teach your audience in a step-by-step manner. These types of videos are compelling because they literally show you how to do something.
3. Customer testimonial videos
Customer testimonial videos are the best way to showcase social proof and brand advocacy for your brand. You can ask your consumers to tell their story on camera, what challenges they faced, and how your brand helped them overcome those obstacles.
4. Demo videos
In this type of video, you have the ability to brief your product or service to your audience in a systematic way. It can be an unboxing review, walkthrough or run your physical product through some tests.
72% of people would rather use video to learn about a product or service (WyzOwl).
5. Personalized video messages
Are you out of ideas for your email marketing campaign?
Try creating video messages.
Nothing can be more personalized, charming and captivating than this type of video message. It will not only improve engagement rate but it will also move your prospect down the funnel towards conversion. See how Marketo used personalized video messages to invite their audience to the summit.
6. Live videos
According to Livestream.com, users watch live videos 1.8x times longer than non-live video, representing the present aspect of your brand. It allows your audience to participate, engage, and connect with your brand in the live video.
You can use live video content to stream events, Q&A sessions, presentations, interviews with experts and foster your audience to interact with your brand.
In this Facebook live video, Martha Stewart prepares viewers for holidays with some outdoor decorating ideas and encourages them to buy each product at Home Depot.
7. AR/VR and 360° videos
Everyone in the industry knows that AR/VR is the future and its market has already reached $ 16.8 billion US. These are future tech that will skyrocket your customer’s experience and you should be integrating your products by now.
VR and 360° videos are important videos that let you put your customers into another person’s shoes, for example, Oreo ran this fun campaign which lets you experience the Oreo virtual world. On the other hand, AR allows people to check out products while sitting in their homes. Everyone knows IKEA furniture App did this beautifully by showcasing their furniture and homeware in your specific living rooms.
Customer experience journey through video marketing
Everyone is familiar with the customer journey or the funnel as we say in which a customer goes from showing interest in your products or services to buying them. Videos are not any piece of content that you can introduce to your audience at any time or any platform. I say that no content should be introduced to the customer in the funnel at the wrong time.
Customers can be offered an additional incentive to push them towards buying a certain product. According to the latest coupon statistics, 86% of millennials say that deals and discounts impact their purchase decisions. This makes coupons a perfect weapon of choice for video marketers.
Here’s a brief to every stage of the customer journey and what type of videos you should introduce to your audience at each stage of the funnel:
This is the initial stage of the customer’s journey where you show them who you are and what you represent.
- Your prospect has a great product but he is unable to generate revenue.
- Prospects try to find the solution on Google by typing their issue.
- He ends up watching YouTube videos and learns that his problem is ‘A’.
- Again, he searches “how to solve problem A” and one of your customer review videos pops up in the suggestion.
- He gets intrigued by the comments on your video and checks out your YouTube channel.
- Finds out that you have uploaded tons of helpful videos and shares them with the team.
- Every time he visits YouTube, your videos are recommended as suggestions.
“84% of marketers credit video with increasing traffic to their website.”
Type of videos to use:
- Explainer Videos
- How-To Videos
- Fun Videos
In the consideration stage, prospects know that they have a problem and want to find the solution. They try everything to find the solution, ask a friend, compare alternatives, search on Google and want a cost-effective solution to the problem.
- They know the problem and watch one of your videos on YouTube but it is just a teaser. They click on the given link to watch the full video on your website.
- They watch one video after the other because of the pop-ups.
- In between, an email submission form comes up and they fill it. Congratulations, you’ve captured a lead. It triggers an email via your automation platform.
- Just a few days later, they receive an email with a relevant video.
- After checking their watch history, the sales rep sends them a personalized video that is shockingly relevant. They end up booking a meeting.
- This kind of customer care strengthens the relationship.
“80% of marketers credit video with increasing the average time on page for their website.”
Type of videos to use:
- Testimonials and Video Case Studies
- Detailed Product Demos
- Personalized Video Voicemails
- Setup Webinars
In the decision stage, customers are quite close to making a decision to buy your product or service and it’s your job to create crystal clear smooth processes for the transaction. They should feel like they have control over the complete process and know every detail.
- Team of prospect lists out all the alternatives including your brand, then they schedule a demo but only your brand sends them a video which makes it easier to understand the product.
- Prospect sends you an email with a few concerns and you reply to them with a video walkthrough.
- During their research, they search for a solution to problem X and they find your YouTube video, which makes you the top vendor.
- After a few days, with a deal on the table, they receive a personal video from a senior executive of yours and they buy.
- Prospect receives a welcome video from the sales rep and an intro to what’s gonna happen next.
- You redirect the prospect to the on-boarding video library which makes the whole process even smoother.
- Now, when their team faces any problem, support videos with screen recording resolves every issue in minutes.
“83% of marketers say video results in a good ROI.”
Type of videos to use:
- FAQ Video
- Campaign Nurturing Videos
- Instructional Video
If someone buys your product or service, you’ll always get a chance to engage them with your content and updates that help them grow with your product and industry.
- The customer finds your product very useful and is very pleased with it.
- They create a short testimonial video and your marketing team uploads it on your YouTube channel.
- New prospects find that testimonial on Google and visit your YouTube channel. The cycle repeats again.
“86% of viewers say they regularly turn to YouTube to learn something new.”
Type of videos to use:
- Troubleshooting Videos
- Product/Brand Update Videos
- Interview Videos
- Social Live Videos
I have shown you how we can integrate videos in each stage of the customer journey. It’s not mandatory to use all of them but it’s recommended to use personalized videos as much as you can. So, design your next customer journey close to perfection with a sound video marketing strategy.
No marketing campaign can be successful without a defined goal and continued experimentation after measuring the data metrics of the campaign. Your goal for running the campaign could be brand awareness, increasing website traffic, or even conversion.
How can you define your goal for the campaign?
By considering your target audience, buyer personas, media they consume, when they consume it, and which stage of the buyer’s journey they are in.
Having a better understanding of these metrics will help you measure your campaign success and define your goal of the campaign. There are several marketing tools available that make it easy for you to evaluate different Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
Here are a few important metrics that you need to keep your eye on:
1. Rate of play
This metric helps you grasp insight into how many people are actually watching your videos. The rate of play is the percentage of people who played your video divided by the number of impressions on the video.
Factors that play an important role in improving this metric include your thumbnail, platform you are publishing the video on, the initial few seconds of the video, and many more. If you’re getting tons of impressions but no one is playing your video, then you need to optimize your videos as soon as possible.
2. View count
The total number of view count on your video reflects how many times viewers have watched your video. It’s easy to measure but tricky to derive because different platforms measure view count differently.
Facebook takes 3 seconds and YouTube an entire 30 seconds of playtime to measure one view count. This metric is also known as reach which means if your goal is brand awareness then this metric is great to track.
3. Click-through rate (CTR)
This is an important sign that signifies if your video is extremely good or not because its primary goal is to make viewers take a desired action that leads them to an already-optimized landing page with a clear call-to-action (CTA).
CTR is the number of times your call-to-action (CTA) is clicked divided by the number of times it’s viewed.
4. Social media sharing
It’s way too easy to monitor the social sharing metrics and it’s extremely important to increase your organic reach on the internet. The social sharing metric shows you how many shares you’re getting on social media from your viewers.
A “share” is the active engagement that a viewer takes to share a video with his friend when they really like the content. When one viewer shares the video, then a similar audience on his network is more likely to share and it creates a chain reaction that helps you reach a wider audience organically.
5. Conversion rate
It’s the rate of conversion for your video campaign that tells how many leads, prospects or customers were generated through your videos.
Conversion rate is the number of times visitors completed your desired action divided by the number of clicks on your CTA. However, measuring this metric is kind of difficult but you can surely track it if you work smartly.
6. Completion rate
It’s the most liable metric for videos because it shows how many people have watched your video completely.
The completion rate is the number of people who completed your video divided by the number of people who played it.
If no one is watching your videos completely then your content needs to be optimized. It shows the success rate of your video marketing campaign.
7. Bounce rate
You might be thinking about how this metric is important in measuring video success. Sometimes, it happens that adding a video to the web page improves the session duration.
The bounce rate is defined as the rate of your video played, where the viewer actually watches some part of your video.
So, start off by noting down the bounce rate of the page before you add the video and after adding the video to the page, check if there is any improvement in the bounce rate. And how the audience is interacting with the new video content.
Bonus tips for awesome video content
As I mentioned in the beginning, everyone is capable of producing and publishing content these days and everyone is doing it. So, before concluding this blog, I would like to give you readers a few more tips, techniques, and strategies to give you an edge over other creators.
Video equipment checklist
Here’s the list of resource requirements you need to fulfill in order to start producing the video content:
- Camera: A decent quality DSLR camera would be perfect for the job and will cost you around $ 500-$ 600. A high-end camera smartphone like Samsung S10+, Google Pixel 4, or iPhone 11 Pro will also do the trick and will cost you the same.
- Tripod: It’s very effective for video stabilization and vlogging purposes as it makes your camera portable to carry. So, spend on tripods which are lighter in weight.
- External Mic: This will improve the quality of sound in your video and especially when you’re shooting for online courses and explainer videos. It will cost you around $ 100-200.
- Lighting: In the starting, you can use a reflector to take advantage of ambient light. If you want to step up to more powerful lighting, you can use something like a softbox.
- Editing Software: You just need a few skills like editing out your vocal pauses and inserting some text. This would be enough to make a good quality video, as the final content matters the most anyway. You can use expert tools like Adobe Premiere Pro in Windows and Final Cut X Pro in Mac.
- Editing Hardware: As much as you need the editing software for finishing videos, you also need some graphic power to run that software. Low-graphic power systems make it difficult to alter large size files. It should have minimum requirements – 8GB RAM, 2GB VRAM Graphic Card, Intel 6th Gen or AMD FX.
Make a great video
In this section, we will check everything that makes a video great:
- Use a script: Writing a script for your video helps you deliver 2-3x content in a short period of time. You don’t have to write each and every word; the outline structure will do just fine. For reference read: Write a Video Script
- All direction lighting: Using the omnidirectional method gives your object more sharpness and natural feel.
- Soundproofing: Shooting in an echoing room will make you sound terrible. Buy soundproofing material or throw some thick yoga mats on the floor.
- Color Correction: This can make a huge difference in the output of your raw footage. It is the most undervalued but an important editing part of the video.
- Lots of cuts: Cutting is essential to the delivery of your audio and making it clean, and precise. It can help you remove all the noise, avoid filler words, and streamline the content flow.
- Animation Effects: If you’re making explainer videos or educational content, then graphics give you a bonus in conveying your message. You can use software like Adobe After Effects and also outsource tasks to some experts in the field.
Few more strategies
Here are a few more advanced strategies that will help you give more views on your videos:
- First Impression: Capture your audience’s attention in the first 5-10 seconds by starting your video with a question, compelling story, or telling them what they will learn in the whole video.
- Longer Videos: Try uploading videos longer than 5-10 minutes on very different topics and make them detailed and filled with insights. Long-form content works greatly if created well.
- Theme Consistency: You should be consistent with your branding in each and every video. Try to create a theme consisting of your brand color, font, voice, and niche topics which will help you increase brand awareness.
- Humor: Using humor in your videos will make your content more watchable. I don’t recommend filling it up with jokes unless you’re a comedian. Just using one or two light-hearted funny lines in the script would be perfect.
- Sequence: Always ask your audience to watch the next related video on the topic. On YouTube, you can show them in suggestions and make a playlist.
Tools for video analytics
We have already learned what metrics we should measure and here’s how we can measure them:
- Vimeo: Advanced video analytics to help you learn more and decide better. It delivers quality and focuses on building a huge community.
- Wistia: It has a great feature to show you the bounce rate when a person jumps off from your video and a complete brand customization capability for embedded players.
- Vidyard: It offers a defined reporting dashboard and has integration with major marketing automation software. It also gives real-time video views data.
- Google Analytics: Firstly, it is free to use. Perfect if you’re just starting off. It gives you the ability to build a customized dashboard and can be specifically used to track conversion rates.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide for video marketing and its best practices.
Video marketing may look intimidating at first but it’s the present and future of content and you can always start slow. You’ll be able to produce good quality content with practice and don’t forget to align content with your brand.
Creating and publishing videos to grow your brand is way easier than ever and make sure to be a part of this big bubble. Start by turning your epic blogs into different, small pieces of videos in an interesting way and re-purpose all your insightful text content into videos.
Go out other and amaze your audience with your videos and keep improvising all the time.
Light, Camera, Roll, Action!
Which part of this guide intrigued you the most and what points did I miss out on?
Please have your say. I am listening.
Himanshu Rauthan is an entrepreneur, Co-Founder at MakeWebBetter, BotMyWork, and the Director of CEDCOSS Technologies. He can be found on Twitter @himanshurauthan.
The post Video marketing: The ultimate guide (You’ll only need this) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
- What is speakable schema markup and how does it impact the future of SEO?
- Tech giants should let startups defer cloud payments
- Search specialist shares five ways to adapt your search strategy in uncertain times
- Social Bluebook was hacked, exposing 217,000 influencers’ accounts
- John Borthwick & Matt Hartman of betaworks discuss coronavirus adaptation strategies