Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing
- When writing a survey, clarify your objectives before you start writing questions—time spent writing a strategy is well worth it if it means you didn’t forget a vital question (or include an irrelevant one).
- Don’t get stuck in your old habits when writing surveys—keep trying new things.
- Phrase questions in a way to get the most specific and clear answers from your survey respondents. Get granular.
- When writing surveys, draw connections. How might one question relate to other areas of people’s lives?
- Fractl’s Creative Strategist shares five powerful ways and details on how you can create successful surveys.
In my (sometimes) humble opinion, well-written surveys can be a reliable and effective method of generating newsworthy content.
Surveys allow you to deeply explore personal beliefs and behaviors. They can be tweaked and tailored specifically for your goals, and they appeal to our seemingly universal need to care way too much about what other people think.
I’ve written a lot of surveys in my time at Fractl, and all that experience has taught me plenty of lessons. So, here are five tips that you can employ today to make your next survey a winner.
Tip #1: Embrace the opportunity of survey creation
As content creators, we get paid to be curious, and that’s awesome. Running a survey is a unique opportunity — don’t waste the chance to ask questions worth asking.
We take for granted that our respondents open up about their deep thoughts and personal experiences, maybe even ones they haven’t shared with anybody else. You can write better surveys by simply appreciating that.
Here’s how I like to think of it: Do you want to think up some questions and find out how basically all of society would answer them? If you asked that to just about anybody, I’ll bet they’d take you upon it.
The point is simple: It’s pretty freaking cool to find out how thousands of people think, feel, and behave.
When you’re engaged, your findings will be more engaging.
Tip #2: Draft a survey brief and actually use it
A well-developed campaign brief is the absolute most important part of any project. A survey brief provides structure and strategic direction for your survey. By immersing yourself in the topic, you’ll yield better, more insightful questions.
Let’s dive into each one of those elements a little further.
Here’s something I thought I’d never say: All of those English teachers were right. Every essay did need an outline, and so does every survey.
(I still don’t believe them that the green light over the river was a carefully crafted metaphor for something-or-other, but that’s a discussion for another article.)
Outlining your survey will give you a clear path to follow. This allows you to focus on the more interesting, nuanced aspects of your topic. Having structure, perhaps counterintuitively, actually makes it easier to improvise and take chances.
Clients aren’t paying us to write surveys because they know we enjoy it, they’re paying us because we achieve their goals.
Drafting a brief will help you clarify your objectives and strategize how to meet them. Referencing that brief throughout the process will keep your survey and your goals aligned.
For example, we often have the goal to build brand awareness for a client. We do this by earning media coverage through the content we create.
When we run surveys that serve as the foundation of our content, we have to consider what journalists (and their audiences) will find interesting. If we don’t keep this in mind, we won’t meet our goals.
Immersion in the topic
A brief isn’t just about planning and outlining; it’s about digging into the topic and sparking curiosity.
This allows you to get the obvious angles out of the way and tap into what’s really newsworthy: a novel, personal, unexpected, nuanced, and humanistic takes on a topic (no matter how common it may seem).
My writing process for a brief typically follows a simple formula:
- Research and contemplate the topic: Think about it while your boss sits next to you wondering why you’ve done nothing but stare at your computer for 10 minutes.
- Take as many notes as you can: In fact, takes notes as quickly and as incoherently (in my case) as possible. Brainstorm, ask open-ended questions, get lost in the rabbit hole, and get as many thoughts onto the page as possible.
- Go back into your notes and make sense of them: Condense them into a clear and ordered outline of the angles you intend to explore.
- Leave it and come back: Tweak a few things, give it a spit shine, and send it over to your boss or client for feedback.
By the time you get to your actual survey, you’ll have immersed yourself in the topic. You’ll also have a clear understanding of what you hope to achieve, and you’ll have a detailed, strategic plan.
Tip #3: Be specific when writing survey questions
Specificity doesn’t just ensure clarity and accuracy. It enables you to ask targeted, insightful questions.
“It’s not what you said, Dad, it’s how you said it.” – me, all the time
Choose your words — and your questions — carefully. Detailed, nuanced perspectives make topics more interesting, more relatable, and more newsworthy. Specificity is how you get that.
There are a lot of areas where you can employ specificity to write better surveys, but I’ll focus on the most important: How to ask your questions and set up potential answers.
Here’s an example: “How many times per week do you shower?”
If you’re me, the answer is “not enough, according to my wife,” but if you’re most people, that question could be interpreted in more than one way. Are you asking how many total showers a person takes in a week, or how many days out of the week that person showers? Are you asking about this week, last week, or whatever random week they might be thinking of?
Some better ways to ask this would be: “In a typical week, how many total showers do you take?” You could also ask more specific questions like, “What’s the longest amount of days that you’ve gone without a shower?” or “In your opinion, to what extent is it acceptable to skip a daily shower occasionally?”
When it comes to providing answer choices, I often aim for the option that will give me the most actionable, most specific data. You can’t unmix paint, so give yourself a good palette instead of a few pre-mixed colors. You can always bucket, convert, and manipulate your detailed data later.
For example: Don’t ask for age ranges. Ask for ages. Do you plan on using age ranges? Great, it’ll take you 10 seconds to make them later if you have each age. Income brackets? No. Why? Ask for income and create your income brackets later, after you’ve done all the interesting things (average, median, percentiles, and more…) that income brackets wouldn’t have let you do.
By phrasing your questions specifically and thinking about how you’ll use the answers, you’ll avoid confusion and being too vague. You’ll also be able to ask more targeted questions. Have you ever done X? Have you ever considered X (even if you haven’t done it)? Have a clear idea of why you’re including each question, and what specifically you hope to do with it.
Tip #4: Get personal
A survey is where the personal and the universal break even.
By tapping into the emotional, humanistic potential of your surveys, you can generate takeaways that truly resonate with a greater audience.
There are plenty of ways to write a newsworthy survey, but to me, surveys are the most interesting when they explore the human condition — when they reveal something about who we really are, why we do things, and how the world affects us.
So how do we do that? By opening up the clock and seeing what makes it tick.
Ask follow-up questions:
Don’t just ask for answers; ask about those answers. People told you that they do X? Great. How does that make them feel? Is there someone in their life who wishes they didn’t do X? How does that affect their relationships? How does X affect their health? Their life satisfaction? How do they feel about people who don’t do X?
Surveys are interesting because they tell us about ourselves. Personal takeaways are more unique and are more likely to resonate with the audience on an emotional level. What people do is interesting, but it’s not as interesting as the reasons why they do it, how it impacts their lives or the way that doing it makes them feel. Tip: If you’re getting really personal, you can make the question optional so people don’t feel uncomfortable having to answer.
Embrace nuance and ambivalence
Everything is complicated and (almost) nothing is black and white. Use your surveys to explore the underlying complexity behind people’s beliefs and behaviors. Measure ambivalence by asking respondents if they acknowledge any points that contradict their beliefs or if they ever second-guess or feel guilty about a behavior. Tap into the inherent nuance of most topics by asking questions about its underlying causes or hidden effects.
Let’s take student loan forgiveness, for example. Many people who support loan forgiveness can believe it’s unfair to some people. At the same time, plenty of those who oppose it might acknowledge that it would benefit people, but that other concerns are more important.
By exploring the layers of complexity, we give the topic a fair and detailed perspective, while also uncovering interesting, newsworthy takeaways.
Explore cause and effect. Ask yourself how the topic might impact other areas of people’s lives. Ask yourself how their perspectives on your topic might correlate to other beliefs and behaviors.
Draw connections between people’s perspectives on your topic and their behaviors: Is it making your life better or worse? What are you doing to deal with it? How has it impacted your relationships? What do you think is causing it? Do you think it’s good/bad? Do you think it’s important?
Ask questions that people haven’t asked yet. It’s really that simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
Tip #5: Try new things
Do we all get stuck in our habits? Absolutely. Do rhetorical questions seem to be one of mine? Clearly. Is it important to break out of them? Not this time for me, apparently, but yes!
Try new things in your surveys and on your survey platform, and you might be surprised at how much you’re able to pull off.
Some helpful ideas
If you don’t know what to try, here are some ideas:
- Open a blank template on your survey platform and play around with it. Look at each feature as a tool and ask what you might be able to do with it. Find a question format that you haven’t used yet, and look for settings that you usually just scroll past.
- Tweak the settings. For example: Carry responses forward but ask people about the choices they didn’t select. Ask them why they didn’t select them, or how they feel about people who might’ve.
- Use your answers in a different way. For example: Count the number of selections each respondent made in a select-all question, then create groups based on those counts. Create new demographics using one (or several) of your questions, and break your other results down by those.
- Strategically divide your sample. For example: Split your respondents into two groups and ask them complementary questions. One group, for example, could report on their habits while the other group reports on their perceptions of those habits.
You may not move forward with every experiment, but it can certainly open your eyes to new ideas.
I do have to add the caveat that self-reported information has its limitations. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t explore fascinating subject matters and gain more insight into public perception and behavior.
Approach survey creation with curiosity, attention to detail, and a sense of experimentation, and your chances of creating compelling content will increase dramatically.
John Bernasconi is a Creative Strategist at Fractl. When he’s not probing anonymous survey respondents about their innermost feelings, you’ll probably find him out in the garage covered in sawdust or in the kitchen (still covered in sawdust).
The post Five quick and easy ways to make surveys more effective for content marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
How to increase online sales in three easy steps through PPC ads
- 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
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.
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Stoop aims to improve your news diet with an easy way to find and read newsletters
Stoop is looking to provide readers with what CEO Tim Raybould described as “a healthier information diet.”
To do that, it’s launched an iOS and Android app where you can browse through different newsletters based on category, and when you find one you like, it will direct you to the standard subscription page. If you provide your Stoop email address, you’ll then be able to read all your favorite newsletters in the app.
“The easiest way to describe it is: It’s like a podcast app but for newsletters,” Raybould said. “It’s a big directory of newsletters, and then there’s the side where you can consume them.”
Why newsletters? Well, he argued that they’re one of the key ways for publishers to develop a direct relationship with their audience. Podcasts are another, but he said newsletters are “an order of magnitude more important” because you can convey more information with the written word and there are lower production costs.
That direct relationship is obviously an important one for publishers, particularly as Facebook’s shifting priorities have made it clear that they need to “establish the right relationship [with] readers, as opposed to renting someone else’s audience.” But Raybould said it’s better for readers too, because you’ll spend your time on journalism that’s designed to provide value, not just attract clicks: “You will find you use the newsfeed less and consume more of your content directly from the source.”
“Most content [currently] is distributed through a third party, and that software is choosing what to surface next — not based on the quality of the content, but based on what’s going to keep people scrolling,” he added. “Trusting an algorithm with what you’re going to read next is like trusting a nutritionist who’s incentivized based on how many chips you eat.”
So Raybould is a fan of newsletters, but he said the current system is pretty cumbersome. There’s no one place where you can find new newsletters to read, and you may also hesitate to subscribe to another one because it “crowds out your personal inbox.” So Stoop is designed to reduce the friction, making it easy to subscribe to and read as many newsletters as your heart desires.
Raybould said the team has already curated a directory of around 650 newsletters (including TechCrunch’s own Daily Crunch) and the list continues to grow. Additional features include a “shuffle” option to discover new newsletters, plus the ability to share a newsletter with other Stoop users, or to forward it to your personal address.
The Stoop app is free, with Raybould hoping to eventually add a premium plan for features like full newsletter archives. He’s also hoping to collaborate with publishers — initially, most publishers will probably treat Stoop readers as just another set of subscribers, but Raybould said the company could provide access to additional analytics and also make signing up easier with the app’s instant subscribe option.
And the company’s ambitions go beyond newsletters. Raybould said Stoop is the first consumer product from a team with a larger mission to help publishers — they’re also working on OpenBundle, a bundled subscription initiative with a planned launch in 2019 or 2020.
“The overarching thing that is the same is the OpenBundle thesis and the Stoop thesis,” he said. “Getting publishers back in the role of delivering content directly to the audience is the antidote to the newsfeed.”
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