Top three marketing trends for the COVID-19 era

May 26, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The COVID-19 era dramatically impacted the world, and marketers are scrambling to adjust. 
  • If you want to stay on top of whats going on in the marketing industry, you have to meet people where they are. 
  • Founder and CEO of  Teknicks, Nick Chasinov, shares three marketing trends that can help businesses meet consumer demand and capitalize on the industry dynamics.

Today, marketing shifts happen without warning and seemingly overnight. The novel coronavirus caused the initial wave, and now the industry is impacted by the surf. People under stay-at-home orders are spending more time online, leading to Facebook traffic spikes, Google search adjustments, and the rise in popularity of social channels like TikTok. The COVID-19 era impacted the world, and marketers are scrambling to adjust. 

Before the internet, changes in the marketing space occurred at a glacial pace. Marketers would develop best practices for the rare emergence of a new channel and stick to them for a long time. For example, TV induced the creation of video commercials in the late 1940s, but those advertisements remained mostly unchanged for decades. 

However, the most successful marketing campaigns of all time leveraged new innovative marketing strategies. If you want to stay on top of whats going on in the marketing industry, you have to meet people where they are. Here are three marketing trends that apply during the COVID-19 era: 

1. Featured snippets

Search evolves quickly, and thats made even more evident by how were searching amid the COVID-19 era. People have specific questions they want answers for, such as Can I freeze milk? or Does X restaurant deliver?”. Because of this, featured snippets — boxed search results that appear at the top of the screen — are extremely coveted. 

These spots provide instantaneous answers to user queries, and they provide more than a twofold increase in click-through rate, which means more traffic and potential leads than the piece that ranks in the coveted number-one position on the SERPs. Additionally, in a 2019 search algorithm update, Google announced that it would prioritize high-quality educational, authoritative, and trustworthy content over traditional SEO factors like keyword density. Marketing and advertising professionals need to be aware of how this trend will impact the industry moving forward. 

If you want to land a featured snippet, create content that answers very specific questions relevant to your audience (especially questions for which the current featured snippet is held by a low-authority webpage). Definitions, tables, step-by-step types, and lists are the four most common types of featured snippets. If youre wondering what people are looking for right now, check out current coronavirus-related search trends. 

2. Mobile optimization

While quarantined, more and more people are turning to home delivery, video games, online shopping, and social media. Despite the economic downturn, retail jumped 34%, and large companies like Amazon are hiring more employees in order to keep up. The coronavirus is having a huge impact on ecommerce. 

There are more mobile browsers than ever before, yet desktop conversion rates are almost double what they are on mobile platforms. Current events and Googles 2018 decision to make site speed a factor in page rank underscore the urgency of a lightning-fast browsing experience. A site that takes just one second longer to load can reduce conversions by 7%, while sub-second load times boost conversion by 15% to 30%.

Now is the time to invest in a new mobile website built with user-friendly formats. Progressive web apps, for example, can give your brands website app-like speed, instant logins, and seamless page transitions. PWAs speed up the purchasing process when used in conjunction with accelerated mobile pages and server-side rendering. Not only will your customers have a better mobile experience, but theyll also have a more pleasant time shopping. 

2. Shoppable social

Since everyone began practising social distancing, social media has seen a huge uptick in traffic. In particular, Instagram has been buzzing with new trends like Dalgona coffee, house party, fitness videos, and more. If youre a marketer for a small to midsize brand, you should consider creating shoppable posts to meet people where they are. 

A few years ago, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms began enabling consumers to make in-app purchases by clicking a call to action in a post. In-app purchases allow social media users to buy products theyre interested in without ever leaving their feeds. 

Marketers were initially sceptical about the strategy, but these posts are here to stay. One study showed that 72% of Instagram users have purchased something on the platform. This marketing technology trend is the lifeblood of influencers who monetize their personal styles and promote other brands. Next time you post a flat lay to Instagram, tag products from the share screen. Your customers will appreciate the easy access, and youll be able to collect data on your buyers, which you can use to create other targeted shoppable social posts. 

If youre not sure where to focus your marketing efforts amidst the COVID-19 era, start with one of these three trends. Its time to meet consumer demand and capitalize on the growing momentum of these marketing methods.

Nick Chasinov is the founder and CEO of  Teknicks, a research-based internet marketing agency certified by Google in Analytics, Tag Manager, and a Google Premier AdWords partner.

The post Top three marketing trends for the COVID-19 era appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

How Twitter is contributing to support masses during the Coronavirus outbreak

May 23, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • When it’s about spreading information, social media platforms are the biggest medium.
  • As search and social giants are providing special measures, this article takes a look at what Twitter has done to support people around the globe during these testing times.
  • Twitter condemned any spread of misleading information on its platform.
  • Twitter further donated a million dollars to support journalism during the pandemic.
  • More details on all these and a list of reliable Twitter accounts you can follow for accurate information.

The Coronavirus pandemic has created some unusual times and as we know unusual times call for extraordinary measures. As search and social giants are providing special measures, this article takes a look at what Twitter has done to support people around the globe during these testing times.

The role of social media during the pandemic

Social media platforms account to entertain almost 4.6 billion people from all around the world. The leading platforms Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are among the top contributor to creating a well-connected platform for active users. News and updates spread within second on these platforms reaching to millions, fastest than the one broadcasted through television channels. So, when it’s about spreading information, social media platforms are the biggest medium.  

At present, every single platform is making their efforts to creating the safest channel to spread information and to soothe the people down while guiding them about the havocs of the pandemic and ways through which they can save themselves. In this struggle, let’s discuss the role of Twitter, one of the most crowded social media platforms. 

How Twitter is taking care of its users

Twitter is a free platform to socialize. With the use of hashtags and a seamless interface, users are connected with each other despite the region they belong to. During the first three months of 2020, active users on Twitter maximized which reflects its authenticity and positioning among the active social media users. In fact, Twitter ad engagement is up 23%.

With the onset of the pandemic, social media platforms have to face a number of accusations. One of the most important accusations was the spread of false information. 

Banned misinformation from the platform

Twitter condemned any spread of misleading information on its platform. As the platform entertains millions of users, the spread of misinformation was creating panic among the users and misleading them regarding the seriousness of the Pandemic. At last, the microblogging platform got updated and any information that was verified as false or manipulative gets instantly deleted. Much like Facebook, the platform began to promote information by verifying it from credible sources. Whether it’s about the global healthcare spending statistic or the count of infected patients around the world, the accurate numbers began to spread. 

Twitter tweet

Source: Twitter Safety Status

Among the prominent aspects been observed to banning the content involved untrue information about the affected ones, reasons that triggered the virus claims about specific religious groups or communities getting prone to the disease, racism, and discrimination. Anything related to these aspects gets deleted and banned in an instant. 

Apart from this, Twitter authorities also informed about efforts being taken to automate the removal of abusive and manipulated posts. With the help of machine learning, the platform gets scrutinize and any content that can cause harm to an individual gets restricted to share or post. In the following words, the authorities made their claim about the updates, “As we’ve said on many occasions, our approach to protecting the public conversation is never static. That’s particularly relevant in these unprecedented times. We intend to review our thinking daily and will ensure we’re sharing updates here on any new clarifications to our rules or major changes to how we’re enforcing them,” 

Twitter Donates a million dollars to support journalism during the pandemic

Just when the news about banning misleading information on Twitter was making the headlines, Twitter released a new update about its contribution. The platform is donating a million dollars to two organizations The International Women’s Media Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists to report authentic news about the COVID-19 pandemic. It proves to be a great step in keeping the world safe from the pandemic any guiding more and more people about ways to prevent getting affected. The journalist will shed light on all the stories that can prove to be helpful in fighting the outbreak. 

As journalists are playing a major role in getting into the government and healthcare sectors and scooping out authentic and rich information about the Coronavirus, it’s imperative to appreciate and help them. Journalists all around the world are among the front line warriors to defeat the pandemic and making it easier for people like us to get the updates. Considering their efforts, Twitter stepped forward to support them and help them in gathering news more efficiently 

Best Twitter accounts to follow during the pandemic

Twitter can help you out in many ways to overcome the stress of the isolation or to pas days of being quarantined. To those who are looking for authentic accounts to grab information and updated about the pandemic, they must follow the below-listed accounts.  

The accounts of Dr. Sylvie Briandand of Dr. Kate Lovett who share the most authentic updates about the pandemic and steps to prevent it. 

Twitter accounts to follow during pandemic

If you want to seek professional advice about the common health issues you are experiencing you can get the updates from the account of David Juurlink. He explains and talks about the symptoms and ways to prevent them. 

Apart from all of these accounts, the organizations are also contributing to connecting with the people. You can also opt for the U.S. FDA Twitter handle.

Twitter accounts to follow US NDA

If you want to kill your time, you can find some great entertaining accounts as well. Like the one of Tret Andrew who is literally sharing his day’s updates with the followers connecting with them after every few hours. Or you can tune in to the house party session of Z THE DOM and stir more fun to your day.  

Wrap up  

Whether it’s about Twitter or any other platform, efforts are being made to prevent the Coronavirus outbreak and guide people to stay calm and prepared to handle any healthcare urgency. With such unparalleled efforts of every platform and organization, the world will soon be free from the havocs of this COVID-19 pandemic.  

The post How Twitter is contributing to support masses during the Coronavirus outbreak appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Ecommerce and SEO: Past, present, and post COVID-19

May 19, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19.
  • Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending.
  • In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).

As countries including the USA head into phased reopening, countless questions remain about the business landscape ahead. Will changes in consumer behaviour persist and if so, to what degree? Is there a second wave coming that will derail recovery efforts and send consumers back into lockdown? How can you plan for recovery when no one really knows quite what “recovery” means?  

In the face of such uncertainty, one thing is for sure, companies need to get in position to gather and analyze data quickly—to be agile and respond to whatever twists and turns Coronavirus throws our way next. Regardless of industry or location, that responsive, adaptable strategy is going to rely heavily on ecommerce and SEO. 

Ecommerce is suddenly a reality for millions of businesses who may not have had online selling on their radar prior to COVID-19. And while search optimization is a discipline as old as search engines themselves, dramatic differences in consumer behaviour may require an entirely new approach to SEO going forward. In this post, we’ll take a look at the current state and how businesses will need to adapt their ecommerce and SEO strategy to succeed post-COVID-19 (whatever that may end up looking like).

Consumer behaviour and ecommerce: Present state 

Fresh off of an unprecedented leap of $ 8.5 billion in U.S. CPG (in-store and online) sales during the first two weeks of March, conditions have quickly shifted once again. Panic buying gave way to record-high ecommerce sales in mid-March, after which we saw a week-over-week decline (-22%) in online sales between March 21-28. Overall, according to Nielsen, U.S. ecommerce sales right now are above the rates of one year ago. CPG, in particular, is soaring and up nearly 42% over the week ending April 4, 2019. 

Consumers in most countries are cutting back on discretionary spending as optimism for economic recovery has fallen. Groceries, household supplies, personal care, and entertainment are among the categories in which consumers plan to maintain spending. As of April 19, 32% of US respondents to a McKinsey survey were anticipating a drop in their household income and over half expect the impact on their household finances to persist for four months or more. 

Kantar/Google research shows even greater pessimism and pegs 71% of consumers in G7 countries as expecting their income will be impacted by Coronavirus. 

Ecommerce and SEO COVID-19 times

Source: Think With Google  

Online and phone ordering with contactless delivery or curbside pickup has become the modus operandi for millions of businesses. 

Businesses need to be able to listen closely to consumer fears, needs, and preferences as they evolve. Customers may not be comfortable heading straight back into crowded retail environments. Vacations closer to home may be preferred by many. Businesses will be challenged to understand the customer experience as it’s happening and to respond with optimizations in real-time to meet the individual’s needs.   

In addition to this increased listening and awareness, consumers want to hear from the companies with whom they choose to do business. Even prior to COVID-19, 64% of consumers and 84% of business buyers expected companies to respond to them in real-time, according to Salesforce research. Right now, consumers are looking to brands for guidance and expertise in solving the challenges they are experiencing navigating the path to a new normal. The vast majority of consumers across sectors want to hear from brands just as often or even more than before the Coronavirus pandemic. 

How SEO will drive ecommerce success as the coronavirus pandemic evolves 

The relationship between ecommerce and SEO has become far more complex than how you optimize product listings for search.  

But whether you’re ecommerce first, selling online as a sideline, or now enabling ordering and payment online with curbside or in-store pickup options, the insights gleaned from SEO will power more effective operations across the board. Here’s why: 

SEO provides real-time insight

BrightEdge (disclosure: a client company), back in 2019 surveyed a sample of over 200 digital marketers and found that over 86% of marketers stated the real-time research is critical to success. Furthermore, SEO insights are being used in all manner of digital marketing campaigns across paid search, video, email, and display. 

BrightEdge stats on research

Real-time search insights – especially now – enable us to tap into localized pockets of demand and appear in front of customers with rapidly evolving needs and intent. SEO insights, more than any other type of data, give us a clear line of sight into the voice of the customer through search queries, interactions with local search results, site analytics, and more. 

SEO paves the way for both desktop and mobile experience

Consumers may not be searching for restaurants during the commute home from the office right now, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of mobile-friendliness, especially when it comes to ecommerce. As Google itself says, when it comes to mobile marketing, “speed is table stakes.”

Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean switching to desktop, particularly where multiple family members may each be home and browsing on their own mobile device.  

Consider switching to next-gen image formats like JPEG 2000 or WebP for mobile, with PNGs or JPEGs for desktop browsers. Look out for render-blocking resources, inefficient code, unused CSS and other page speed or site speed issues that may be hindering your performance. Use Google’s Test My Site as a starting point.  

Search trends are key in staying on top of customer expectations

Who was even thinking about curbside pickup this time last year? Today, it’s pretty much expected that if you are open for business, you’ll provide this fulfilment option for customers who are not comfortable entering your store (in some places, entering the store may still be prohibited by public health regulatory agencies). 

Stats on curbside pickup for ecommerce and SEO

 Those businesses that caught onto the trend in early to mid-March were ahead of the groundswell in early April. Being among the first in your space to catch onto a massive change in consumer demand such as this can help you win over new business and better serve your existing customer base. Google Trends has a Coronavirus Trends resource business should be keeping an eye on. These are helpful insights for marketing but could influence operations, sales, and customer service, as well. 

Search spans Google, Amazon, YouTube, and more

Organic search commands the largest proportion of channel share, accounting for 53.5% of site traffic, on average. A comprehensive ecommerce SEO strategy accounts for Google, but other product search opportunities, as well. Amazon, for one, cut back its service to third-party sellers but as this comes back online, there may be opportunities to expand your ecommerce presence in the world’s largest marketplace. Check out this guide to improving rankings on Amazon to get you started. 

Video search is another massive opportunity for companies now selling online, as Nielsen reports video streaming is up 100% in some markets due to Coronavirus. Even before lockdown, YouTube was both the world’s second-largest search engine and second-most visited website.  

YouTube SEO takes into consideration factors ranging from watch time and keyword targeting to sentiment, engagement, channel authority and more. Learn more about optimizing this channel in SEW’s YouTube Optimization: Complete Guide.

Post-COVID-19 SEO tips for ecommerce   

Whether you’re an experienced online seller or just transitioning to ecommerce as a result of physical distancing, your customers may be entirely different from who they were even three months ago. A few tips to help you get in front of the right people with the right content: 

  • Revisit your adherence to ecommerce SEO best practices. You may need to renew your keyword research, update on-page optimizations to reflect changes in consumer behaviour, reorganize your site structure and optimize for the new customer journey, refresh and add new content (particularly around how you are responding to COVID-19-related issues such as food safety or package handling).

    Ensure that you are monitoring trends in real-time whilst planning for ease of lockdown restrictions, seasonal and product demand. For example, above we can see large demand for products related to how people now are investing in their dwellings, particularly, with spring here and summer coming, and in outdoor spaces, it is important to seize opportunities where demand is high and also plan for future trends and new normal(s).  
  • Optimize your ecommerce site for voice search. Make sure you’re positioned to trigger a response when consumers ask their voice assistant for a product like yours. If you are not yet familiar with speakable schema, there’s a good primer here to help you get ready for it. 
  • Automate SEO intelligently. Taking the legwork out of routine SEO tasks can make marketers more efficient, freeing up valuable time for more creative optimizations and strategy. Of course, intelligent automation can dramatically improve search performance, too, by recognizing and optimizing for opportunities in real-time.  
  • Consider your headless commerce and content options. Make your products and content even more accessible, removing barriers to conversion in the process, by incorporating headless commerce into your strategy. This is the process of separating the front and back ends of your ecommerce application so you can sell directly through social media, for example.   

Most important of all is that you are set up to measure, analyze, and activate the mass of user signals consumers are sharing with you across search interactions and your ecommerce website. Whatever economic conditions and user preferences COVID-19 generates next, those businesses that are able to quickly understand and move on new opportunities will win the day.

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Search Engine Watch

How influencer marketing can survive the oncoming recession

May 16, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The marketing and advertising industry is bracing itself for a slowdown, with analysts steadily adjusting ad spending forecasts. Marketers will keep a close watch to determine what drives the most value.
  • Influencer marketing has surged in popularity recently, and investment was expected to hit $ 15 billion in 2022, according to pre-pandemic forecasts. However, COVID-19 has skewed the current picture for influencer marketing. 
  • To better understand what survival looks like, we’ll examine two distinct brand scenarios that enterprises are experiencing at this moment, how these different circumstances are likely to impact their influencer strategies, and what they can do to get the most out of influencers going forward. 

As millions of Americans continue sheltering in place and weekly unemployment numbers continue to bring bad news, it’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative effect on the global economy — the U.S. real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020.  

The marketing and advertising industry is bracing itself for a slowdown, with analysts steadily adjusting ad spending forecasts. Different components of marketing and partnership plans may be impacted differently by these changes in spending, but marketers will be closely examining all of their spendings throughout the year to determine what drives the most value.  

Influencer marketing in the age of recession 

Influencer marketing has surged in popularity recently, and investment was expected to hit $ 15 billion in 2022, according to pre-pandemic forecasts. Even with this level of interest, influencer programs are likely to face scrutiny amid shrinking budgets. To ensure their survival, partnership managers will need to fully grasp the ROI of their influencer programs and leverage them to the fullest, ensuring that they can reach engaged, receptive, attentive audiences, in this moment and beyond.  

To better understand what survival looks like, let’s examine two distinct brand scenarios that enterprises are experiencing at this moment, how these different circumstances are likely to impact their influencer strategies, and what they can do to get the most out of influencers going forward. 

Two economic scenarios, one shared outcome 

Many brands find themselves either watching business slow amid the belt-tightening brought on by a restrictive economy, or they are unexpectedly booming because their products have become more important than ever for consumers sheltering in place. The irony is that these brands are commonly reacting the same way, they are cutting back on their spend, especially with influencers, much to their detriment. No matter the current scenario, brands have ways to strengthen, rather than weaken, their influencer programs. 

Scenario 1: Feeling the strain 

Travel, high-end retail, financial services and insurance, in particular, have felt the cultural and economic impacts of COVID-19. As a result, these businesses are slashing marketing spend out of necessity, directly impacting their influencer programs. Net-a-Porter, Ralph Lauren, Victoria’s Secret, and other retailers have suspended their affiliate marketing programs, while others are pausing or even abandoning influencer relationships. 

With social media and YouTube usage on the rise, there are clear opportunities for influencer partnerships to deliver value. The question these brands have to answer is how they can continue to win investment for influencer programs as overall marketing budgets tighten. The answer is in evaluating influencer partnerships as an acquisition channel, not a branding channel. 

Solution: Make every dollar accountable

Brands that are upholding pay-per-post or fixed fee partnership terms can still prioritize influencer activations that can be evaluated on a direct-response basis, by unique links, QR/promo codes, and landing pages. In doing this, partnership managers can account for the return on each dollar going into the influencer channel, removing any risk and ambiguity. Understanding ROI is essential to winning organizational buy-in and growing investment, and many operationally mature influencer programs were already heading this direction before the pandemic. Now, this strategy is critical to the survival of all influencer marketing programs.

Another option is for brands to consider building out performance-based influencer partnerships, only spending money when you make it. In this time of uncertainty, influencers may be willing to shift their terms, moving from a fixed-fee model to one based around performance, in order to keep their own partnerships intact. 

Scenario 2: Business is booming 

While COVID-19 is taking a toll on some verticals, others are watching their business grow as the result of a drastically changing market landscape. Packaged food and beverage, athletic wear, and home goods are all seeing upticks in online sales. Unfortunately, these brands may also deprioritize marketing spend because their organic growth is so high. This could result in slashing commission rates, as well as pausing partnerships altogether because they feel they don’t need to promote themselves as heavily at this moment. 

We are already seeing this in the affiliate space, with Amazon cutting commission rates as much as five percent for some product categories. This will hurt publishers that have long relied on the revenue from their partnerships with Amazon (and have certainly helped Amazon sell products along the way). Amazon’s actions violate the principles of a successful partnership relationship — namely the sustained collaboration, term optimization, and trust needed to drive mutual benefit for both parties. Fortunately, partners hurt by Amazon’s actions can turn to other programs. 

Solution: Make decisions that ensure program survival

Amazon’s play for short-term savings is shortsighted, and the strategy would be equally ill-considered for any brand that slashes commissions to its influencer program. Brands should be making all of their decisions around the goal of ensuring their partnership programs survive — and even flourish — during this global moment. 

Influencer partnerships are long-term relationships, so it’s better to operate with smaller budgets rather than cancel these programs outright. After all, these are partnerships with individual people who get hurt when their contracts are zeroed out. 

Partnerships provide an incredibly powerful growth channel when they’re supported. In operationally mature partnership programs, partners are more than just hired guns brought on to drive brand awareness and deliver promotional offers. They’re an extension of the brand itself. Steadfast partnerships can secure new audiences, enhance customer loyalty, and multiply customer lifetime value —  benefits that withstand market upturns and downturns. 

With creative studios closed and social distancing making it next to impossible to coordinate professional photoshoots, brands are running into issues producing content through traditional methods, according to Jordie Black, an influencer marketing expert with Zine.co. 

Brands that have active, well-established influencer partnerships have an advantage in this moment because they can leverage the deep connection to the influencer’s audience, as well as the influencer’s familiarity with the brand to maintain a flow of content. Consumers look to influencers as a voice of authority at all times, so brands that can leverage those relationships can still influence and engage consumers will succeed, according to Black. 

Invest in influencer partnerships now for future success 

No matter the situation, the bottom line remains the same: it’s more important than ever to invest in influencer programs. The channel was already moving towards an attributable model, and the unfortunate events of this pandemic are accelerating that evolution. Feeding an influencer program with resources and support, while simultaneously turning it into an acquisition channel will pay long-term dividends for brands.  

Molly Doyle Young is a Product Marketing Manager at Impact, where she brings her B2B SaaS background to the partnership automation space.

The post How influencer marketing can survive the oncoming recession appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

How to increase online sales in three easy steps through PPC ads

May 12, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Coronavirus and related quarantine measures led to an increase in online sales, the amount of video content consumed, and the time people spend on the internet in general.
  • PPC ads are relevant more than ever.
  • In this article, you’ll find the most common errors in contextual advertising and get practical recommendations on setting up effective PPC ads.

Coronavirus and related quarantine measures led to an increase in online sales, video content consumption, and the time people spent on the internet in general. That’s why PPC ads are more relevant than ever now for your business. Well crafted ads can be a great way to improve your conversion rate and profit. 

In this article, you’ll find the most common errors in contextual advertising and get practical recommendations on setting up effective ads. 

The most common errors when setting up ads

1. Contactless ads

Advertisements without contact information take up less space in SERP and lose to competitors’ ads due to the fact that they are less noticeable and informative.

2. Lack of quick links and favicon

This error leads to a decrease in traffic, CTR, and means that the ad budgets will rise.

3. Ads are not optimized for the Google Display Network

A search engine ad campaign is different from one shown on the Google Display Network. If you just copy ads, you’ll not get a good result.

The main difference between campaigns on the thematic sites and in search:

  • Images are not displayed in search but on thematic sites, they must be added.
  • Advertising on thematic sites should be more creative than in search. There are many different formats in GDN you can experiment with. 

4. Lack of division into the industry and regional campaigns

Without this separation, you can waste the budget. Dividing the campaign, you’ll identify which industries or regions are more effective, which part of the campaign should get more attention and budget.

5. Improper structure of PPC ads campaigns

The campaign structure does not appear from scratch but is created on the basis of internet demand and customer market analysis (customer needs and requirements, product demand, and other such parameters). 

For example, you can create the following groups from your PPC campaign: On a company brand, on general keywords, on regions, on types of the product, on promotions, and on competitors.

6. The site doesn’t load when clicked

Often, a campaign is running but a server is not configured to process the labels of advertising systems. Therefore, when you click on an ad, the site may not load. 

How to set up an effective PPC ads campaign

Work with contextual advertising involves continuous analysis. Before launch, it’s an analysis of the target audience, the strengths and weaknesses of the product, the activities of competitors, and niche filling. Since the situation on the market is changing dynamically, before running an advertising campaign, you should carry out a direct analysis of contextual ads, their results, as well as competitors.

Before starting a PPC campaign

As I’ve already said, you should make a deep analysis before setting up your advertisements. You should learn:

1. The target audience

These are people whose attention you want to capture and convert them into buyers.

A specialist should understand their pains, determine triggers of influence, find out which style works best to communicate with them. 

You can do it with the help of different polls and surveys among your clients, talking to your customer support team, and studying your competitors. 

2. The product

How are you selling the product? How is it made? How is it different from competitors? What value does it create for buyers? What are its strengths and weaknesses? You should know answers to all these questions because it’ll be rather difficult to sell a product or service without them. 

3. The niche

Each business has its specifics. It can be something more familiar to each of us (for example, retail, like Amazon) or something non-standard from B2B (business to business) sphere (for example, content marketing services). Study sites from given examples to see the difference between niches. 

Therefore, before selling, you need to understand:

  • Whom to sell to?
  • How to sell?
  • What difficulties could arise?
  • What kind of competition you’re surrounded by?

4. Competitors’ ads

A strong competitor can appear at any second. So, you should not lose vigilance at any stage of contextual advertising. High competition always threatens high CPC (cost per click) and lower outreach. 

To help an advertiser, there are a number of tools for monitoring the market and creating your successful PPC campaign or optimizing it. You can get the following information from them: 

  • The quality of the texts, relevance of the ad to the user’s request, benefits which it brings to the buyer.
  • Keywords which are used in ads.
  • What the landing page looks like if it’s able to convert visitors into buyers due to the unique selling proposition, and convenience of making the order.
  • The dynamics of changes in the effectiveness of ads.

There are tons of tools on the market for this but from personal experience, I can share that one of the most popular and easy tools is Serpstat. Here you can find:

  • Information about ads campaign entering only the domain of the competitor;
  • Keywords and their volume
  • Keywords competition
  • Links to landing pages
  • Main performance metrics

Basic checklist to set up an effective PPC ad campaign

A full checklist for setting up contextual advertising includes hundreds of points. Here, I’ve shared the minimum, most essential requirements that everyone can implement.

1. Separation of B2B and B2C (business to consumer) keywords. It’s a top-level of the structure. You need to study your audience segments in detail.

2. You should optimize ads for different devices. Campaign for mobile search should be a separate one with different keywords and settings.

3. You need to make good ads:

  • Keywords in the title
  • Qualifying words
  • Keyword in the display link
  • Keyword in the description
  • Call to action
  • Quick link with a keyword
  • Contacts

4. To increase the effectiveness of your ad, I recommend using different ad extensions: Structured snippets, call, location, price extensions, and more.

5. For high and medium search volume keywords your campaign should be built on the principle – “one keyword = one ad”. Low search volume ones need to be grouped.

6. Launch campaign for near-niches. For example for car dealers, such niches will be car services, leasing, components, and other segments you may find relevant in this niche.

7. Limit budget for ineffective keywords, platforms, channels.

8. Work in GDN but filter platforms not to get rubbish traffic.

9. Try new instruments: ads in Gmail, such campaigns as call-only ads, local search ads, true view, and the others.

10. Use dynamic remarketing on incomplete activities, and abandoned baskets. It allows you to contact users who have already been on your site. 

11. Use other promotion channels. One of the best schemes is: bring a new visitor with the help of PPC ad, return him/her to the site with the help of social networks remarketing, lead to a decision on the call or order after the third contact through MyTarget. 

12. Remember that ads can be displayed at the wrong time for your company. For example, if you have a B2B offer, you should not spend budget at night or on weekends. 

13. Fill in the list of negative keywords. 

Analysis of your ads campaign

To estimate your contextual advertising you should use two tools: A site analytics system and Google Analytics or Google Ads. 

To analyze your site and its traffic, you can use the Finteza tool. It’s a service that can provide you with information about your audience by 15 basic parameters such as visit sources, events, UTM parameters, page addresses, countries. Everything you need to do here is to filter data by parameters appropriate for your PPC campaign. As a result, you’ll get information in diagrams and funnels.

Indicators you should use to analyze the effectiveness of your advertising according to Google Analytics or Google Ads:

CTR (click through rate)

CTR should increase while CPC needs to decrease. If this doesn’t happen, your ads are of poor quality for this system and you should change your tactics.

CR (conversion rate)

It shows how many users from the ad made a targeted action on the landing page (made an order, left some request, signed up, or followed a link). This point should always increase.


The cost of attracting a customer who will make a purchase should always decrease.


Investments pay off if the indicator is more than zero. It’s great when it increases also. 

CAC (customer acquisition cost)

You need to evaluate it to understand how much a new client costs you. Business is fine when this amount is less than the average bill.

LTV (customer lifetime value)

It shows how much money every customer brought to you from the first deal. The larger the number, the better it is for you.

To round up

At first glance, setting up contextual advertising may seem to be easy. In reality, it’s a continuous work with the analysis of your ads and competitors, the full niche. To create an effective campaign you need to have basic marketing knowledge and an analytical mindset.

Contextual advertising will bring profit only if it’s set up correctly and thought out in detail.

The post How to increase online sales in three easy steps through PPC ads appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Five digital marketing tips for freelancers

May 9, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Freelancers are responsible for handling every aspect of their business to see growth – and digital marketing helps boost business growth. 
  • Your freelancing career involves marketing yourself while also handling client relationships. For different stages of the client journey, you need to stay organized, send relevant emails, and think creatively about what you have to offer.
  • Digital marketing opens opportunities for you to market your freelance business with the best possible website content, start new client relationships, reassure clients about their worries, and send personalized, automated emails at each stage of your client relationships.  

Freelancers have to execute work for their clients, but they also need to promote their business to get new clients. Digital marketing can be a powerful way to grow a business, but it’s also an additional skill set that not all freelancers practice.  

When it comes to building your brand, creating a compelling website, and generally marketing yourself online, what are the best ways to get started?  

Here are five digital marketing tips for freelancers.  

1. Focus on these four important website pages

As a freelancer, your website is one of your most essential tools. One of the reasons that people trust businesses is because of what they have on their website. 

And no website is complete without these four most important pages: 

  • The homepage 
  • The “About me” page 
  • The portfolio and work experience page 
  • The “Contact me” page 

Your website is the easiest and most direct way for a prospective client to learn about who you are, your skills, and how to work with you in the same successful way previous clients have.  

The homepage is where you should include your value proposition, and proof, like a client testimonial – of how working with you helps people see their desired results. A website visitor leaves a page within 10-20 seconds of arriving. However, a web page with a clear and immediate value proposition is known to keep web visitors on a page longer – long enough to (hopefully) convert them into clients.  

The “About me” page is where you show people what kind of a person your clients will work with – and that’s important to them. A report by BBMG states that 73% of people care about the company, not just the product or service when making a purchase. People want to buy from people. Authentic, similar, and likeable people.  

The portfolio and work experience page is where you can show off your best work. Clients often want to see a sample of the work that they’re going to get, to see if your style matches what they’re looking for. This page is that sample. 

The “Contact me” page is key. This is where people can hire you, so it’s a great place to answer any outstanding questions — to lay out the next steps and reiterate your value proposition. It’s also a good place to collect important information, like the budget, from people who contact you. 

You can have all other types of pages on your site. But start by getting these four right. 

2. Create an online course 

According to a Stratistics MRC report, the global elearning market is projected to account for over $ 275 billion by 2022 (which is way up from the $ 165 billion accounted for in 2015). 

Creating an online course can feel like a lot of work, but it’s become easier than ever to sell your expertise. Online platforms like Thinkific or Podia give freelancers the tools they need to productize their experience — and potentially introduce some recurring income. 

When it comes to creating your course, keep a running list of the questions you get most often from your clients. Which projects come your way the most often? What information do you wish all your clients understood? 

Each of those questions can serve as the backbone for a new course — and most technology platforms will give you more ideas about how exactly you can package your product to sell.  

It takes an up-front investment to get an online course off the ground, but once you launch you can create a revenue stream that isn’t hourly or project-based billing (and expands beyond selling your time directly). 

You can host online courses on your website or through another platform, and you can promote courses via social media posts, paid advertising, and segmented emails.  

3. Create a client onboarding checklist 

When you have a new client, your first step is not to immediately start work on their project.  

Up until now, you and your new client have talked about things like your skills, the types of projects they have in mind, and the cost you agreed on for your services. You made a general plan for your work together. Now is the time when you put the plan in motion. 

A client onboarding process can make sure that everyone is on the same page. More importantly, onboarding is where you show new clients what you can do.  

As you begin work with a new client, you can upsell them on an online course, gated content, and other helpful resources. And as you start, it helps to have an onboarding checklist to keep track of each necessary step to sustain productive client relationships.  

A client onboarding checklist includes steps like

  • Send an automated welcome email with details about what to expect next 
  • Send an invoice email for the first half of payment 
  • Set up a shared project management tool for project progress visibility 

The structure is an important part of any relationship – and especially your client relationships. You can’t expect clients to follow your lead on a project if they don’t know what path they are walking. Clearly lay out a client onboarding process for yourself and use a checklist to stay on track.  

4. Address these three most common client objections 

Any prospective client is going to have questions for you – and they are also going to come ready with reasons why working with you won’t work out. 

But you have to remember – they are talking to you because they need your help. When common client objections arise, it’s up to you to be able to handle them. 

You can use your digital marketing to handle client objections before they even reach you. Your website copy, blog content, social media posts, and emails can all showcase how you deal with your clients’ problems. 

For example, a prospective client who is worried about the cost of hiring a freelancer may respond positively to website copy that says, “Pricing is month to month with no contracts, no extra fees, and no hidden gimmicks”. 

When you are directly dealing with a client through emails and phone calls, being prepared with a list of objections and your responses can help with them over 

Three common client objections you can encounter are

  1. It’s too expensive: Instead of leading with price, focus on the value and benefits of your service. Circle back to what the client gets with your offering, and the problems or pain points it solves.  
  2. You don’t understand my business: Respond with curiosity instead of getting defensive. Agree with them and let it be known that you want to learn about their business, then ask them to tell you about it. 
  3. I don’t have the time or resources for this right now: Instead of asking them when the best time to talk later is, ask them what time and resources they DO have right now. This helps you learn what support you can offer them in the meantime.  

Some clients might be worried that hiring you is too expensive. Instead of a reply that defends your pricing, focus on the value and benefits of your offering. Circle back to what the client gets with your offering, and the problems or pain points it solves.  

5. Send automated follow-up and thank you emails to clients 

Throughout a client relationship, certain emails are required. During a project, you should send multiple check-in emails. After a project is done, you should still keep in contact with clients through follow-up and thank you emails. 

Follow-up emails can go to past clients that you want to work with again. In many email marketing platforms, you can find customizable follow-up email templates to cut down on communication time for you.   

When you have a new client, it’s important to build on your existing relationship and keep communication open. Sending a personal thank you note after you complete a client’s first project shows that you care. 

Personalized, thoughtful communication is the root of good customer experiences – and a big reason why clients continue to work with businesses. However, it can sound like a lot of time-consuming work to send out all of the necessary types of emails to clients. Automation exists to help you send every email you need without extra work from you.  

Nucleus found that marketing automation improved business productivity by an average of 20%. It can help you track and maintain communication with your clients. You should use marketing automation to send a thank-you email to first-time clients and follow-up emails to past clients.  

I hope freelancers everywhere can benefit from these tips and other free resources for freelancers. Manage clients, promote your freelance brand, and grow your business by taking hold of your marketing strategy.

Lauren Minning is a Content Marketing Specialist at ActiveCampaign.

The post Five digital marketing tips for freelancers appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

How to improve your digital marketing with competitor analysis

May 5, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • SEMrush have created the guide ‘How to Do Online Competitor Analysis’ to help you start looking at what your competitors are doing.
  • Analyzing your competitors’ digital marketing strategy can help you optimize your campaign and your upcoming ideas to improve both your short and long-term wins.
  • A website traffic analysis can help you learn more about your biggest competitors, their performance the past months, their audience and whether there had been any big changes to their results.
  • A good way to get started is to explore the general overview of your competitors’ digital strategy, their traffic, the most popular locations and whether there are any seasonal trends. The analysis will help you dive deeper into the market trends and how they compare to your own performance.
  • You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to run a successful advertising campaign. It’s okay to look at your competitors’ ads to find inspiration for your upcoming campaigns.
  • You can analyze your competitors’ online mentions, social media presence, their overall reputation and the number of backlinks to get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Competitor analysis can help multiple teams for both short and long terms goals in your business. Start by looking at different strategies and channels and make sure you gather the findings in one place to evaluate your own performance.

A frequent review of your digital marketing strategy can help you stay successful with your tactics. However, focusing on your own tactics is not enough nowadays. You should be able to know what your competitors are doing and how you can outperform them.

Analyzing your competitors’ digital marketing strategy can help you optimize your campaign and your upcoming ideas to improve both your short and long-term wins.

SEMrush have created the guide ‘How to Do Online Competitor Analysis’ to help you start looking at what your competitors are doing.

Here are some ideas on how to get started:

Content produced in partnership with SEMrush.

Analyze the competitors’ site traffic

A look at your competitors’ website traffic can provide many useful insights. You can start by mapping out your competitors and how their online presence is performing.

A website traffic analysis can help you discover more details about your competitors’ digital marketing strategy, their performance over the past months and whether there had been any big changes to their results.

You can also look at their most popular channels to decide how you can adjust your digital marketing strategy based on the findings.

After the first review of their website traffic, you can narrow down the analysis to focus on your closest competitors.

It can also be useful to review any trends and seasonal changes that might affect the traffic and what these changes could mean to your own tactics.

Analyze the competitors’ SEO tactics

digital marketing strategy

If you want to build a long-term digital marketing strategy then you need to include SEO to your plans. Improving your ranking in search results can lead to a consistent number of views to your website every month.

You should also look at your competitors’ ranking to explore how you can rank higher than them.

A good way to get started is to analyze a target website’s organic search visibility on a daily basis.

The analysis can help you explore your competitors’ best keywords, their average monthly search traffic but also their most successful pages.

The learnings can help you optimize your campaign and your content so that you target the right keywords. You can also explore potential keyword gaps to help you rank higher at a shorter time.

Analyze your competitors’ online ads

digital marketing strategy

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to run a successful advertising campaign. It’s okay to look at your competitors’ ads to find inspiration for your upcoming campaigns.

Analyzing your competitors’ online ads can help you find out useful information, such as:

  • the number of keywords bidding on
  • average traffic coming from keywords
  • estimated paid traffic cost
  • websites your rivals are competing with
  • historical data to analyze seasonal changes in your competitors’ ads

The learnings can help you spot opportunities that your competitors might be missing or even specific markets that you can tap into.

You can even use the data to explore new ways to improve your ROI, from picking different keywords to trying out new channels and audiences.

Analyze your competitors’ content marketing and PR efforts

If you want to improve your content marketing strategy then it’s good to look at what your competitors are doing in terms of content and PR.

You can analyze your competitors’ online mentions, social media presence, their overall reputation and the number of backlinks to get a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.

An analysis of their content marketing and PR efforts can help you understand your target audience and also the opportunities that you can explore.

For example, if you want to reach a very niche audience and your competitors have already created too much content and are popular then you may want to explore the missing opportunities that you can tap into.

It can be a new channel, a new content type or an opportunity to think outside the box.

You can also get inspired by their content marketing tactics and adjust them to fit your own objectives.

Analyze your competitors’ social media presence

Your social media presence can tell a lot about your digital marketing strategy. Imagine looking at your competitors’ social media presence!

Your competitor analysis can include a closer look at your competitors’ social channels, their frequency of posting, their engagement rate and their most popular channels.

It can help you discover opportunities of standing out by learning from your competitors’ mistakes.

Whether it’s the tone of voice, a sudden post that got viral or even the use of the new channel, there are many useful insights that you can explore.

Putting the learnings into action

Right after understanding how your competitors are doing in digital channels, it’s time to make the most of these learnings.

The best way to use competitor analysis is to incorporate the findings to your digital marketing strategy and your upcoming campaigns.

How can you use the findings then?

Here are some ideas from the SEMrush team:

  • Reevaluate your benchmarks and your performance based on your objectives
  • Compare your digital marketing strategy and results with your competitors’ tactics
  • Include the learnings to your understanding of the target audience
  • Be flexible and open to change based on your findings
  • Share the learning with other internal teams or agencies you work with

Competitor analysis can help multiple teams for both short and long terms goals in your business. Start by looking at different strategies and channels and make sure you gather the findings in one place to evaluate your own performance.

To find out more details on how to perform a competitor analysis, download SEMrush’s guide here.

The post How to improve your digital marketing with competitor analysis appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy

May 2, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for ecommerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.
  • The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving.
  • Some things the search trends have shown is that consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for.
  • leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month.
  • Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward.
  • As a “topic”, interest in instrument playing tutorials has increased by 72%.
  • Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.
  • Director of SEO at Stella Rising, John Morabito shares lots of insights and shines a light on how businesses can use these trends in their content creation.

With the coronavirus pandemic now nearing its peak in many parts of the U.S., search trends are rapidly evolving in ways many search marketers have never seen before. Changes are happening almost daily, and traditional search volume as a monthly average metric has become practically useless. Google Trends, however, offers useful, daily analysis of what’s trending in search. At present, Google Trends can be an invaluable tool, as it helps to uncover opportunities for e-commerce brands, publishers, and local businesses.

In this post, we’ll cover ways that search marketers can use Google Trends and other tools to discover opportunities in today’s fast-moving landscape, and review how the team at Stella Rising has been using Google Trends to inform our strategy during the pandemic. 

The obvious Google Trends

Medical suppliers will be aware that, amidst the overall demand for masks, behaviours have shifted from favouring N95 masks to surgical masks. The CDC recently revised their recommendation. In this case, we see that search demand for masks is already starting to decrease.

Surgical Masks (7 Day View) – Down 68% (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)

COVID-19 Google Trends

Full Year View

 The less obvious: Search evolution in unexpected places

The real benefit to Google Trends is that it can help us understand and predict consumer behaviour post-pandemic. Additionally, we can see how categories are evolving. For example, at first glance, one might not think that the beauty segment would find success in a pandemic. However, social distancers are turning to self-care. “Peel masks” are seeing a huge increase in interest with a 58% increase in over the last few weeks. Google Trends - Peel masks search

Searches for skincare are skyrocketing, as are those for foot care. Consumers need help finding resources they often rely on salons for. Note the following trends from Spate:

Search trends - Foot care search graph by Spate

Source: Spate.nyc

Hand moisturizer has similarly seen an even larger increase, jumping up 156% since February (April 5-11th vs Feb 16th-22)

COVID-19 search trends - Moisturizer Leveraging the trend

When it comes to the growth in demand for skincare products, skincare brands have a number of options at their disposal when it comes to their content efforts. Make sure your product pages are being listed in Google shopping’s new free listings, and ensure that you have robust on-page content for each of your skincare product or category pages. Lastly, in a time where making returns is not an easy task, and consumers want to minimize contact with the outside world, content that helps guide users to the right product selections can be extremely valuable.

For example, this article from Bucklers Remedy, a skincare brand ranks top three for “choosing the right hand lotion”. In another example, we see a Vaseline article about how to deal with dry cracked hands ranking for a total of 1,100 keywords.

Example - Vaseline hand moisturizer search trend

For apparel companies

Apparel companies should shift their messaging as consumers browse for clothing on their devices. Right now, leisurewear is king and we have seen an abnormal increase in demand for sweatpants over the last month. 

COVID-19 Google Trends - leisurewear is the king

Consumers also want to know “how to look good on zoom”. That term has increased from 0 to 100 from March 14th onward. 

"how to look good on zoom" search trend in COVID-19 times

Leveraging the trend

Everyone from publishers to apparel and beauty brands can get in on the need for Zoom/video conferencing related content. If you fall into one of those categories, consider producing looks and tutorials for your captive audience.

For instrument makers

For instrument makers like Fender and Les Paul, there has never been more interest than now in learning how to play the guitar. 

instrument related search trends

Leveraging the trend

Fender and Les Paul both offer instructional content, but now is the perfect time for them to ramp-up efforts and even consider partnering with musicians who are out of work and can easily produce tutorial content on their behalf. 

People are also interested in learning about all sorts of topics. As a “topic”, interest in tutorials has increased by 72%.

Leveraging the trend

If you’re a brand with a product that has any sort of instructions or bares any type of explanation in how to use it, I would recommend using this time to produce tutorial content for each of your products or for the things your products help people to do. For example, makeup brands can not only product tutorials on how to use a specific product which can help them to rank for both nonbrand and branded terms, but they can also target things like “zoom makeup looks” which can help them to rank for an even broader set of nonbrand terms.

Sometimes, search trends are influenced by necessity. We’ve seen more interest in “how to cut your hair” than ever before. 

The not so fun part

While there are search trends dealing with keeping consumers busy, there are also new trends around more serious subjects. Some of our clients at Stella Rising are writing about these. One of our clients in the small business formation space is writing about how their customers can get loans and stay in good corporate standing. Small business loans are seeing more search demand than ever before, with an increase of 2111%.

Estate lawyers may want to consider online-only services as “get a will online” has seen a steep rise. 

How to get started

Now that you’ve seen some of the ways that search trends are evolving—and how to check—start by inspecting your website’s most valuable target keywords and see how searches are moving for those items. You may be surprised by what you find. Finding interesting trends can be tough, so think carefully about how behaviour will evolve in the future, not simply how it has changed today. 

Bonus tool tip

Explodingtopics.com is a tool that shows exploding topics using Google Trends data and provides two key metrics: gradient and exponent. Essentially, the exponent is a mathematical expression that defines how much like a “hockey-stick” a curve is. The tool breaks up Google Trend data by category and presents which topics are “exploding” versus which have peaked in interest. This analysis is useful when wishing to stay relevant with content writing.

John Morabito is Director of SEO at Stella Rising. John has over nine years of experience in SEO, PPC, and other digital marketing channels. 

The post Google trends in COVID-19 times and how to use them in your content strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

COVID-19 and Pharma paid search: How should SEM marketers optimize amid the changing landscape?

April 28, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky has said that the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most significant events ever experienced.
  • Pharma search engine marketers want answers to these key questions – “How are these shifts impacting the search messaging landscape? How to adapt SEM campaigns to remain relevant to shifting patient/provider needs and stay competitive in the search auction?”
  • Ian Orekondy shares insights from AdComplyRx analysis of 50k+ SEM text ads from over 500 prescription treatment brands serving on thousands of keywords.
  • The analysis showed that copy messaging with search terms like “savings” and “coverage” has rapidly risen.
  • He highlights some quotes from industry veterans to help paid search marketers gain clarity on these conundrums.

Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky said on Tuesday’s earnings call that the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is “one of the most significant events that any of us have ever experienced”.

It has caused more than 120,000 deaths and is impacting every industry, especially the pharmaceutical sector.    

According to IQVIA’s ‘COVID-19 Market Report’, published April 10th with data through March 27th, “increasing unemployment pushes more patients onto Medicaid and into economic fragility. [Likewise], providers are financially strained due to decreased visits, reduced elective surgeries, and lower reimbursement rate [and] many pharma companies are expanding patient support in response to the COVID-19 crisiswith free branded drugs through Patient Assistance Programs…and copay reduction & patient savings programs. 

These companies include Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Allergan, Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbvie, and more. 

So the question for pharma search engine marketers is? 

How are these shifts impacting the search messaging landscape?

And how do we adapt our campaigns to remain relevant to shifting patient/provider needs and stay competitive in the search auction?

To help answer this question, AdComplyRx analyzed over 50k SEM text ads from over 500 prescription treatment brands serving on thousands of keywords (condition, treatment and brand terms) comparing the frequency of mentions of various pandemic-relevant messages over two time periods: 4/1-4/13 (post-stay-at-home orders) vs 3/1-3/13 (pre-stay-at-home orders).

Pharma search ads shift to “savings” and “coverage” amid COVID-19 pandemic 

Since Google’s ad policy restricts ad messages containing terms like COVID-19 or Coronavirus, AdComplyRx also measured terms like “cost”, “savings”, “co-pay”, “supply chain”, “availability”, “fill”, and “delivery” in terms of frequency of mention within paid search (SEM) text ad copy from prescription drug brands in the U.S. 

Based on this analysis, AdComplyRx is observing the following shifts in Rx Pharma SEM advertising during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mentions of “savings” grew by 11%

These included “savings card”, “co-pay card savings”, “patient savings, register for savings.

Mentions of “coverage” grew by 40%

These included “insurance coverage” and “formulary coverage” saw the most significant increases in the frequency of mentions within Rx pharma brand SEM text ads. 

Category-level insights  

The top categories that showed the greatest increase in the frequency of the words “savings” or “coverage” were Hematology, Diabetes and Respiratory.

The Oncology category showed little change in the frequency of any of these messages during these time periods. 

Mentions of “savings” in paid search (SEM) ad copy messaging 

  • Haematology (+96%) 
  • Diabetes (+48%)

Mentions of “coverage” in paid search (SEM) ad copy messaging

  • Respiratory (+184%) 
  • Haematology (+156%) 

COVID-19 and Pharma paid search (SEM) insights infographic by AdComplyRx

Since it is unlikely most pharma brands have already created new search ad messages and received approval from their med-legal team, this data suggests that Google’s advertising platform may be dynamically adjusting existing pharma brand search campaigns to better serve patients and providers based on their search behaviour (for example, search interest and click behaviour).  

How should pharma brands shift their search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns? 

  • Search Engine Machine Learning algorithms are working on behalf of advertisers by prioritizing the most engaging messaging themes thanks to functionality like:
  • Responsive search ads
  • Optimized ad rotation
  • Extension prioritization

In light of this, GVP of Search at Publicis Health Media, Peter Levin suggests,

“Think beyond refreshing creative through new asset submissions.”

“Brands should strive to maximize the impact of already approved assets and prioritize patient assistance and treatment accessibility messages.

Pharma brands can ensure a nimble response in the short term by enabling these features and making sure priority messages are available across campaigns while trimming away lower priority message themes. Don’t neglect planning out long-term responses with new messaging strategies and landing page content, as well as the potential for new paid keywords as the editorial landscape evolves.” 

Sri Nagubandi, Director of Search at Syneos Health suggests that,

Pharma brands should take both a shortterm and a long-term approach as this will be an ongoing concern globally until there is a viable vaccine. In the short term, brands should begin tracking ‘Brand name + Covid and ‘Category Name + Covid’-related search volume to understand how patients and providers are searching around their specific brand situationFor example, we are seeing some categories like oncology where search activity is increasing as patients and caregivers seek to understand the impact on ongoing treatment, especially for the immunocompromised.”

Additionally, from an organic SEO perspective, Nagubandi cautions,

“Do not use a takeover modal window on your brand.com website to communicate Covid-19 related messaging. Google has not suspended best practices because of the pandemic. Instead, use an updated header above the top navigation.” 

How can these insights impact pharma brands SEM campaigns to improve patients’ lives? 

With marketing budgets in flux and paid search (SEM) being one of the few marketing channels that many marketers will continue to invest inbrands will be relying more than ever on search traffic to support their business and serve patients and providers during this challenging time. Since search advertising is a competitive, auction-based marketplace where advertisers with the most relevant and engaging ad copy typically see improved ad click-through rate (CTR) and reduced cost per click (CPC), ensuring your brands’ search campaigns contain frequent mentions of the above messages can help brands reach more patients and providers with potentially life-saving treatment messages within limited marketing budgets.

Ian Orekondy is the founder and CEO of AdComplyRx, a pharma ad tech stack based in New York.

The post COVID-19 and Pharma paid search: How should SEM marketers optimize amid the changing landscape? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch

How Instagram hiding likes affected influencer marketing

April 25, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Back in November 2019, Instagram removed “Likes” in order to improve engagement, boost mental health, and user participation.
  • As influencer marketing by its nature was very reliant on the likes count, it is still proving to be one of the best ways for marketing in the COVID-19 situation.
  • So how have Instagram influencers managed to measure performance?
  • Founder of Spark Eighteen Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd shares some observations and insights with examples.

Likes have been an important part of influencers’ businesses and the removal of Instagram likes has impacted them both positively and negatively. Due to this change, we can see them moving to new platforms.

In November 2019, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri provided an official statement of expanding the test of hiding “likes” to more markets around the globe. The statement came months after the initial implementation of the idea in countries like Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand. Currently, it is being tested in India as well and only a few accounts can see this feature in their accounts.

Why did Instagram feel the need to do that?

Since the beginning “Likes” had been an important algorithm to check engagement on the posts. Therefore, the removal of it will make a huge impact on how users will engage with posts.

According to CNBC, Facebook, (which owns Instagram) has touted this move as an effort to reduce bullying on the popular social app. While other experts feel that Instagram’s take on hiding likes will make users feel less self-conscious about their posts not getting much engagement.

Some also argue that it will lead to more people sharing content while not thinking about the number of likes they want to achieve on it. It will create a more healthy environment online.

In the end, social media is a place where one should feel free to express themselves and not feel pressurized by the number of likes they should possess.

Also, it is important to note that, you can still see the number of likes on your posts — just not others. This makes it problematic for some Influencers who often gauge on likes to see how well a post is performing. How will the phenomenon of Instagram hiding likes affect them?

The effect as seen on influencers

Likes are important for an Influencer. It gives validation to their work.

Influencers have always seen likes as a measure of performance. Since likes as a phenomenon will be no more, these influencers will have to search for better ways to engage with their audience or maybe just focus on meaningful content eh?).

According to Business Insider, several influencers may haven’t seen any change in their business and brand deals. The influencers who have been affected are already seeing a lesser number of likes on their posts which makes it harder for them to reach new audiences.

Think of it from a marketing perspective. Although influencers might still be able to see likes on their posts, brands and agencies will have to create direct access to find out this information.

Brands and agencies approaching an influencer can see the number of followers they have but that metric alone cannot define how “engaged” an audience is.

Likes are powerful. If we see a post that has a huge amount of likes, it instantly becomes attractive and grabs our attention. But now organic growth will be paid more attention.

Shift of social media platforms

With the growth of social media platforms, it is very clear to assume that Instagram is not alone in the game. It might be the most popular social app currently but it will not take any other app much time to take over.

Take TikTok for example. Many influencers have shifted their gear towards this platform for the major advances it provides.

It has only been three years since the app has been in the market and it is already growing at an immense rate. Over a billion people now use this social media platform worldwide. @lorengray, American singer and social media personality is now TikTok’s most successful account outside China, with 42.1 million fans.

With influencer marketing reaching TikTok, the app has provided a platform for influencers to make content and generate an audience through it. Since the app has such a wide reach, brands want to find ways to promote their products here. What better way than through an influencer, right? There were a lot of hashtags in the past that worked amazingly well on Tik Tok.

Example of #toofacedpartner

Instagram influencer marketing #toofacedpartner

Influencers posted videos of themselves doing makeup routines with a before and after demonstrating their transformations. A lot of famous influencers participated in this campaign and the reach was a staggering 35 million TikTok users. The campaign’s tag has so far got a relatively meagre 9.4 million views and was a huge success. (Source: MediaKix)

Did you know that TikTok influencers with 2.5 million or more followers charge $ 500-800 per post? On the other hand, Instagram influencers earn an average of $ 100 per 10000 followers. ( Source: 99Firms )

Also, even Instagram promotes itself on Tik Tok.

Other than TikTok the other two growing platforms, Snapchat and Pinterest, are also making moves in the market. The US Snapchat users in January 2020 stood at over 101 million. On the other hand, 58% say that Pinterest helps them make shopping and purchasing decisions. (Source: Sprout Social )

So it looks like Instagram might have to face some competition.

What new can we look forward on Instagram?

Loyalty over Likes

Brands build relationships with influencers who have better engagement. Somehow, likes have been seen as a way to measure engagement. It isn’t true since you cannot judge how the audience is engaging with a user only through likes. The removal of likes will help a brand understand if the influencer has a loyal and trustworthy audience or not. The engagement rate will play a huge role here.

Instagram influencer marketing loyalty over likes example Instagram influencer marketing loyalty over likes Dalgona coffee example

Shivesh is a self-taught baker and a food blogger. He posts amazing recipes on his social media channels. He gives importance to the visual part while presenting anything on Instagram and that is the major reason why people connect with him. Apart from this, he helps his audience with delicious recipes as well.

More meaningful content

Likes grab attention but what will an influencer do if likes aren’t visible anymore? Maybe focus on meaningful and real content? Instagram will be a much better place if users start focusing on the right content.

Studies show that people are influenced by authentic and relatable content that brands and influencers can easily generate. For example, Ranveer Allahbadia of beer biceps leaves no stone unturned when it comes to helping people with fitness, fashion, motivation, health, and lifestyle-based content.

Instagram influencer marketing creating more meaningful content

Not focusing on vanity measures anymore

Likes are already out of focus and it’s high time that people stop focusing on metrics like follower counts as well. It will help users not focus on whether they are having more followers/like and focus on other relevant stuff. This will create a more positive and healthier space online.

With this shift on Instagram, brands can focus on real marketing and look ‘behind the scenes’ at how a creator is performing. Some of the key areas that they can focus on are:

  • Comments: It includes the conversations built up by influencers with their audience and helps in tracking the engagement with them.
  • Insights: Ask for metrics of how the posts are performing and evaluate them through the number of saves, shares, and reach.

Follower growth

Insight on the increase in followers in past months/ weeks can give you a fair idea of how well audience is willing to connect with a particular influencer Brands and influencers can seek the help of these tools to measure metrics and ways to measure performance.


It helps marketers measure the impact of social media & influencer campaigns. It also helps you figure out which of your internal trends are providing the best results, giving you a glance into what activities are driving the most follower growth over time.


It is a paid app that provides analytics and tools to grow your business on Instagram and Facebook. It also offers post scheduling and content planning tools and helps in understanding how your posting frequency relates to or drives either new followers or ones that are lost. There are many more tools. You can also use Instagram’s built-in analytics section which gives accurate data.

For so long, Influencers (and even normal users) have relied on likes as a measure to check progress. Instagram, by hiding likes, has given hope for a better online environment.

Although, it may (or may not) completely change the game for some influencers online. Any which way, we are looking forward to what will be this new deal.

What are your views on this feature, let us know in the comments.

Aayush Narang is the founder of Spark Eighteen Lifestyle Pvt. Ltd a digital marketing agency. He is a startup evangelist, an entrepreneur, business and tech enthusiast.

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