Google market pulse for search marketers
- Google is always testing new spots on the page for SERP components
- In simple terms, the #1 position in organic or paid ads does not guarantee that your paid ad listing will be visible without scrolling
- Organic position #1 reported by Google Search Console is not the actual position 1 on page
- A lot of anomalies and assumptions impact your paid and organic clicks – is there a smart way to counter this problem?
- Leading advisor and performance marketing expert, Prasanna Dhungel unravels four key insights marketers to maximize performance marketing initiatives in 2023
Over the last two decades, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) has evolved a lot. The Google SERP, which once only had organic listings now features dynamic paid ads and other organic SERP components as well.
Currently, Google SERP has many organic features like –
- People also ask (PAA),
- Popular products,
- featured snippets,
- Google MAP,
- image packs,
- Tweets, and many more that I believe we are just scratching the surface of
Paid features currently seen on Google SERP are –
- Shopping ads,
- text ads, and
- MAP local search ads
These are some paid features advertisers should not ignore if they want to build better advertising and content strategies for maximum search marketing ROI.
Google varies the composition of SERP by keyword, geography, time of day, and device. Google is testing new spots on the page for SERP components. What does all this mean, you may ask? In simple terms, the #1 position in organic or paid ads does not guarantee that your listing will be visible without scrolling. It means that an organic position #1 reported by Google Search Console is not actual position 1 on the page. So, you have a much lower CTR than you expect, and all these impact your paid and organic clicks.
With this dynamic nature of SERP, search marketers must understand the SERP landscape and their brand’s true rank on Google vs competition. This view will enable search marketers to deploy the right paid and SEO tactics to maximize visibility and clicks.
Based on my experience and understanding of the dynamic SERP, here are four key insights marketers should focus on to maximize their performance marketing initiatives.
1. Analyze the composition of SERP for your keywords
Marketers must understand SERP features visible for their keywords. The graph below suggests that along with organic, SERP features like PAA and popular products are taking significant real estate for “apparel” and “accessories” keywords. Search marketers that are not targeting these components will miss acquiring customers in different stages of their buying journey that are clicking on People Also Ask.
2. Monitor emerging and contracting SERP features
Marketers must understand new SERP features that have appeared and are getting popular for their keyword traffic. This helps develop a long-term advertising and content plan that targets popular SERP features.
In the last quarter, we identified Map Local Search Ads and App Install (in mobile devices) SERP features appearing in the “apparel” and “accessories” keywords. We saw growth in the popularity of PAA and popular products across many keyword groups.
3. Keep track of above-the-fold SERP features
Understanding the SERP features visible above-the-fold real estate is critical. These insights will help marketers understand the dynamics of rising and falling SERP click-through rates. You may wonder why the clicks are declining even though your average position reported on Google Reports is improving. Such questions can be answered with true ad position in SERP.
As shown in the below graph, the usual organic component in this keyword landscape has lower above-the-fold coverage compared to SERP features like PAA and popular products.
Insights like these help marketers understand the fastest gateway to the first page above the fold position. Marketers can build a holistic search strategy to correctly allocate their search marketing budget across organic and paid SERP features.
4. Monitor competitor’s through SERP features
Google is an ultra-competitive channel. You have many domains appear on Google SERP from aggregators to publishers to actual competitors of your business model. To build the right marketing tactics -it is imperative to understand the top domains by SERP features, their competitive tactics, and the SERP landscape changes.
From planning link building to acquiring secondary traffic to improving authority score to crafting advertising and content strategies – SERP-driven insights like these help you maximize search advertising performance.
Additionally, monitoring your top emerging competitors’ tactics across SERP formats allows you to timely optimize your advertising campaigns. As shown in the graph below, Amazon has tremendously improved its Google Shopping Ads Share of Voice from May to July 2022.
When brands like this are heavily advertising in a category, marketers will need to advertise products in categories Amazon is not aggressively pushing and come back when Amazon advertising slows down.
Google is increasingly sharing less data. Google ad data doesn’t show advertisers which low impressions may be appearing and creeping up on your CPCs. Google search console data doesn’t show true rank, and the organic rank shared isn’t representative of the actual location on the page.
Going into 2023, it is imperative for search marketers to use SERP-driven insights to gain an edge in their performance marketing campaigns.
Prasanna Dhungel co-founded and runs GrowByData, which powers performance marketing for leading brands such as Crocs and top agencies like Merkle. GrowByData offers marketing intelligence for search, marketplace, and product management to win new revenue, boost marketing performance and manage brand compliance.
Prasanna also advises executives, board & investors on data strategy, growth, and product. He has advised leading firms such as Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, Athena Health, and Apellis Pharma.
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10 SaaS marketers share what’s NOT working in content marketing anymore
Content has become a traditional marketing channel for many SaaS companies. According to ProfitWell, content companies are likely to see 30 percent higher growth rates and 5 percent better retention rates than those not using content marketing.
The content marketing game is constantly changing – what used to work for SaaS companies years ago doesn’t make the cut today. Having spent a good five years in the SaaS content marketing space I’m always interested in tips, hacks, and low-hanging fruit that let you take a shortcut and speed up product growth.
I’ve interviewed 10 SaaS marketers and founders who’ve been creating SaaS content on a daily basis for years and asked them to share their insights – what’s not working in SaaS content marketing anymore? Let’s dive in and see what they have to share.
#1 Chasing big fat keywords
Everybody wants to rank for these fancy keywords with large amounts of search volume. But the truth is, large search volumes usually come with a crazy high competition and keyword difficulty. If your SaaS is in the social media space and you are just unfolding your content marketing, going after stuff like “social media management” is literally wasting your time and money.
“Being the bootstrapped startup that we are, we aim for actions that yield results. Our focus is on high-intent content marketing strategy. We pick keywords for blog posts not according to their search volume but according to their purchase intent. This helped us drive not only traffic but also sign ups with our blog being the only marketing channel today ” says Dennis Vu, co-founder and CEO at RingBlaze.
I couldn’t agree more. The reason why our agency has been up and running for 2+ years is because we deliver not only traffic but also sign ups to SaaS clients. And the only way to do so with content marketing is to focus on high-intent keywords – think “alternatives”, “competitors” or “vs” keywords. It works every single time so that’s where I recommend starting your content marketing efforts.
#2 Going outside of your niche
We’ve written hundreds of articles for the Expandi blog over the course of two years. Today, Google recognizes Expandi as an authority when it comes to all things LinkedIn –LinkedIn cold outreach, LinkedIn recruitment, LinkedIn automation – no matter which LinkedIn-related article we’d cover, it instantly ranks well on Google.
Recently, Expandi introduced new features, only this time they weren’t about LinkedIn but about email outreach. Once we started writing email-related articles, we realized that they were not ranking well. Unfortunately, we haven’t built the email marketing topical authority (yet) so Google didn’t consider us experts in the niche.
This doesn’t mean you can’t enter a new space and write about a new subject. Building the topical authority needed for recognizing you as a niche expert will require time and effort. If you decide to start a new category on a blog, you should keep this in mind. At the same time, if you aren’t changing your product, keep in line with the topic you’ve chosen.
“If the article is written about CRM, but this is not your niche, it is challenging to get to the top of Google search,” says Andrew Chornyy, CEO at Plerdy where they write 30 blog articles per month.
#3 Posting articles lacking expertise
Have you ever read one of those articles where it looks good on the surface but once you’ve read it you felt like there was absolutely nothing you’ve learned from it? Pretty much all the content marketing experts I’ve talked to agree on this – vague, watery content for the sake of content is a no-go.
“Most companies use copywriters to write their content. This doesn’t work anymore. As they are usually not an expert in the topic they write about, they will read our copywriters’ articles to research the topic. This results in an endless loop of already fluffy content being the input for even fluffier content,” says Jeroen Corthout, co-founder and CEO at Salesflare.
Be careful when you hire copywriters with no subject matter expertise – you might be risking your brand image. Ask about their previous writing examples covering a similar topic or niche. For example, when we chat with a wanna-be client from a niche we don’t have experience with, we let them know about it straight away. Losing a potential client is way better than losing a reputation.
If your topics are technical and your tech experts don’t have time to write blog articles (which is usually the case) have your writers connect with experts on a quick call to get as many ‘meaty’ details as possible. Also, make sure to get those experts to proofread the post when it’s ready.
#4 Prioritizing article length over quality
When Brian Dean introduced us to the skyscraper technique back in the day, everyone and his dog started creating content that’s longer than those competing results ranking in Google top. However, long content doesn’t necessarily mean comprehensive. What we see these days is blogs populated with 20-min reads that are vague, watery, and, let’s be honest, don’t bring much value to the table.
Ioana Sima, marketing manager at TextMagic said,
“Long-form written content as 90% of companies do it. The web is incredibly saturated with long-form articles that are written for the sake of being written. SaaS companies should not rely purely on long-form.
I would recommend experimenting with different formats and transforming articles that perform well into long-form content, while also including video summaries, templates, or rich media that can be distributed on other channels and quickly digested. Oh, and ALWAYS check SERPs to see the formats of top-performing pages.”
It can be hard to pack your article with value when SurferSEO asks you to write a 5K words piece. Remember that longer doesn’t always mean better. After all, this is what content marketing is about – writing for people, and bringing value while also catering to search engines.
#5 Publishing articles under a wrong name
Ranktracker is publishing 50 blog articles per month, translated into 12 languages. Felix Rose-Collins, the CMO, shares that articles they’ve published under the name of unknown authors tend to have poor performance on Google.
“We noticed that they don’t appear for our target keywords, we have now stopped posting for unknown authors. Once we’ve started using well-known names (like CEO), we see them rank within two minutes after publishing in the top 3 results. Even for extremely competitive keywords,” says Felix.
RankTracker clicks and impressions over time
In fact, this might be one of the reasons why you don’t see the results from the guest posts published on your blog. Next time, when you accept a guest post, make sure to look up the author on Google. If there are no online publications, chances are it probably won’t do your blog any good.
On the other note, when you pitch a guest post to an editor, include your previous publications on major platforms. For example, that’s how I got to write this post for Search Engine Watch – I shared my previous articles I wrote for Entrepreneur, HubSpot, Zapier, Foundr, and many more.
#6 Focusing on new content rather past articles
About five years ago I wasn’t thinking much about updating old content. We were on a hamster wheel of creating more content, faster for Chanty, a company where I headed a content team. Then I ran into this article by HubSpot and realized I was missing out big time. So we went back to the older posts to update and optimize them. I can’t share numbers as it was a long time ago but the results were huge. Since then we do this for our clients – if the article isn’t performing well, it gets an update.
“You’ll find that most of your sign ups come from a handful of articles. Updating our lead-generating content is an ongoing work that never stops. After all, the supply of keywords relevant to your business isn’t endless. While you are producing new content, older articles are going down. If you neglect updating older content you’d be stuck with a traffic plateau and a business that doesn’t grow,” says Andrey Makhovskyi, founder and CEO at Effy.ai.
One of Effy.ai updated article performance over time
#7 Contributing via Help a reporter out (HARO)
This might bring a lot of resentment but we had to discontinue HARO for our clients in 2022. If you are not familiar, HARO is a service that connects journalists/ authors with experts in the field.
Authors would request a quote from experts and experts would share their advice. Authors then would decide which quote to include in their article and credit experts by putting a link to the expert’s website (similar to what I’m doing in this article). This used to be a win-win case – authors would get meaty insights for their publications while experts would get attribution and links to their websites.
It worked great until it turned into a red ocean zone and space got overcrowded. What used to be a great link building technique became a waste of time and effort.
“About two years ago we used to get 25 backlinks out of 65 pitches for our clients. With time it went into a downward spiral. Today, nobody links to you just because you shared your advice. They also want a link back in return. We realized it no longer delivers the value it used to to our clients. We had to give up this service and focus on backlink building techniques that do work today, ” says Iryna Kutnyak, director of operations at Quoleady.
#8 Distributing content across communities
Emilia Korczynska is a head of content at UserPilot and the hardest working marketer I’ve ever met. Getting published a whopping 60 articles per month, she’s tried distributing blog content on Quora, Reddit and social media. She says you have to be very cautious about how you spend time distributing blog posts.
“Resharing content in social media groups that are mostly dead or Slack channels requires a lot of effort, and with the miniscule organic reach and a high chance of getting banned by the admins just don’t justify it. Similarly with Quora/Reddit and other Q&A sites,” says Emilia.
I couldn’t agree more – we stopped all of our Quora activities a long time ago because the results just weren’t worth it. What we realized is that people often come to Quora from Google search after typing your target keyword – the one you are optimizing an article for. It makes much more sense to get that blog article rank in the Google top (higher than the Quora result) rather than trying to compete with hundreds of Quora answers bugging your friends/colleagues to upvote and comment.
When it comes to sharing in social media groups – self promotion is usually against the group rules anyway. Unless you are an admin or have been constantly adding value to the group, your blatant distribution attempt will be quickly eliminated. At the same time, there are groups that allow this sort of promotion. I call them “distribution cemeteries”. Nobody reads the avalanche of irrelevant content that’s being posted there.
#9 Prioritizing link building over content quality
Whenever I speak with a potential client on Zoom, I emphasize that content quality comes first. You can’t have a piece of content that’s thin and invaluable and expect it to rank well by building backlinks to it. It’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a car with no wheels and hoping it will ride.
I’ve interviewed Mohamed Sehwail, CEO at FullSession and here’s his input on this,
“We haven’t been building backlinks to our blog content for a while, yet we were able to maintain steady growth of traffic and sign ups. Article updates do its magic, boosting our positions and bringing our pages to the Google top.”
FullSession traffic growth over time
Building backlinks will only help rank content better once your content is polished – it’s valuable, well-structured, to the point, answers the search intent, etc. When that’s in place and you are still not ranking well, it’s time to add backlinks.
#10 Overdosing with gated content
“Give us your email and get access to an ebook, whitepaper, guide, checklist, etc.” The classic inbound approach introduced by HubSpot back in the days might not work for everyone as of now. The amount of content online these days is insane. Why would they give you their email if they can get the same contact (if not better) openly elsewhere?
“Instead of closing off certain content, we’ve found it’s more beneficial to create ‘additional resources’ as a complement allowing readers the option to download and creating a win-win scenario,” says Elizabeth Pokorny, head of content at Weglot.
When you are putting together three already published articles on a topic and calling it a guide, it doesn’t sound right. If it works for you – great. However, gated content does its best when it’s unique, something you can’t find easily online.
It might help to review your gated content policy and experiment with the assets you share with your readers. Opening more of your content might bring extra organic traffic and result in more sign ups at the end of the day. On the other hand, if your content pieces are of great value and your website is the only place to get them, I’d recommend keeping them gated.
I’ve interviewed dozens of content marketers and only top insights made it to this article. One thing that’s clear as day – great content is here to stay. It’s not about the amount of backlinks or length. Helpful, actionable, experience-based content written by an expert in the field is what you should be after when planning content pieces for your website.
When you develop your content marketing strategy, focus on high-intent keywords that will bring a highly-targeted flow of people who are ready to sign up. When you have a pool of articles that generate leads for you, make sure to cherish this content and update it regularly to give it a well-deserved Google boost.
Topical authority is a thing and gradually building authority around the topic that’s most relevant to your business will help you rank your future articles faster and easier.
When sharing content online, avoid the spray-and-pray approach (don’t bury your content on the spooky ‘distribution cemeteries’), always check the results of your activities and double down only on those channels that are worth the effort.
Hopefully, this article and advice from the content marketing experts who’ve learned their lesson through trial and error will help you save time and focus on things that work.
Olga Mykhoparkina is a founder at Quoleady, a SaaS content marketing agency on a mission to help great software products get quality leads through top-notch evergreen content.
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A Letter to New Digital Marketers
Dear new digital marketers: here are a few tips that you can actively do now to jumpstart your growth as a digital marketer or PPC specialist.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Simplified Checkouts and Handheld Campaigns: How Marketers Are Addressing The Gulf Between Mobile Traffic and Sales
Although eCommerce rates are demonstrating growth across both desktop and mobile, any expected rise in sales hasn’t followed suit.
Read more at PPCHero.com
A marketer’s guide to Core Web Vitals and page experience
- Google has always placed its emphasis on the user experience
- Core web vitals (CWV) and the Page Experience Update are part of that evolution
- Sites that already recognize the importance of fast loading times and exceptional UX are best positioned to benefit
- The prospect of having searchers warned off from clicking on your organic listings is real
Optimizing user experience makes for a more delightful web experience for all. Back in May 2020, Google announced a major Page Experience Update was on the horizon, based on information taken from internal studies and industry research that demonstrates how users prefer sites with a great page experience.
This new set of search ranking signals incorporates user experience metrics including mobile-friendliness, safe browsing, SSL certification, and intrusive interstitials, as well as Core Web Vitals. Page Experience is not a requirement, and there are no penalties for not focusing here. However, the additional ranking boost could just be the factor that moves your site ahead of competitors.
In this column, you’ll learn what Core Web Vitals and Page Experience are, why they matter and what you can do to get ready for the upcoming change.
What are page experience signals?
If you take a step back and look at some of the areas where Google has placed its emphasis on the user and their experience, you can see why the new signals are so important and the bigger picture.
Source: BrightEdge, Preparing for the Page Experience Update
Google has recommended that websites implement SSL and considered it a ranking factor since 2014. Three years later, the search giant added a visible marker in search results to indicate whether or not the site was HTTPS-compliant. This suddenly became a priority for marketers, as at the time just 65% of sites ranking for high volume keywords had SSL in place.
Mobile optimization was a priority even before Mobilegeddon back in 2016, and today is just best practice. It’s so important to Google that they have given webmasters a free mobile-friendliness test to ensure compliance.
Google has been penalizing sites for having annoying interstitials at least since 2016, and actively warns searchers if they’re about to visit a site deemed unsafe for browsing.
What are Core Web Vitals?
Said to be happening sometime in May 2021, the introduction of Core Web Vitals (CWV) as a ranking factor represents a significant change to the way that websites are currently ranked, shining a spotlight on more of the technical aspects that contribute to overall UX.
CWVs are real-world, user-centered measurements that help us to understand more about how users may perceive the experience of interacting with web pages. They do this by quantifying three key aspects:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) refers to the time until the page’s main content has loaded and specifies that this should be below 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID) looks at interactivity – namely, the time between when the user tries to engage with the page and when the browser can actually respond. This should occur within 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) considers visual stability and how content still being loaded to a page impacts the existing content. For instance, images and ads that push content down or to the side and widgets that do the same lead to a negative CLS score.
Websites that offer great UX will also be highlighted in search results. Google hopes that this visual indicator, coupled with existing text snippets and image previews, will direct users to sites that provide them with precisely what they need.
All of the above sounds like best practice that we should already have implemented, so what’s new?
The Page Experience Update isn’t a set of new signals, but a reminder of Google’s unwavering commitment to putting the searcher first.
What user experience actually means to Google and why it’s important
Google’s latest planned update only serves to underscore what many website developers and digital marketers have known for some time now – UX matters.
Slow loading times and frustrating interactions with websites can undermine a customer’s whole perspective of a company or brand. In contrast, positive experiences are more likely to keep them coming back for more.
“Optimizing for these factors makes the web more delightful for users across all web browsers and surfaces, and helps sites evolve towards user expectations on mobile. We believe this will contribute to business success on the web as users grow more engaged and can transact with less friction.”
By providing an exact roadmap for change, alongside useful tools for evaluating and altering sites, Google is getting better at giving business owners and SEOs the opportunity to remedy the technical shortcomings of their sites that impact user UX to make the internet a better place for everyone.
What Google’s intense prioritization of page experience means for marketers
Google announcing the upcoming release of this new update, something it rarely does, suggests that it will have a significant impact on many. However, we shouldn’t allow this shift in focus to detract from what’s really important – quality content. As Google puts it,
“While all of the components of page experience are important, we will prioritize pages with the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content.”
Individual sites that already recognize the importance of fast loading times and exceptional UX are best positioned to take advantage of the extra boost in rankings this update promises.
The thing is, despite Google giving us all of these great clues about how to deliver a better user experience, too many marketers and webmasters are still dropping the ball.
How to prepare for Google’s Page Experience Update
Evaluating your site’s Core Web Vitals is the necessary first step to identifying areas in need of optimization. Even if you think they are up to scratch, it’s certainly worth checking.
You’ll find a list of elements to prepare for and fixes here.
For marketers the big question has become this:
If none of this is really anything new and there is no penalty associated with not meeting the page experience standards, how can we convince the C-suite or our clients to invest in optimizing for them?
In a recent Google Search Central ‘SEO Office Hours’ video, John Mueller revealed that marketers expecting incremental benefits for partial compliance may be disappointed:
“The general guideline is we would also like to use this criteria to show a badge in search results, which I think there have been some experiments happening around that. And for that, we really need to know that all of the factors are compliant. So if it’s not on HTTPS then essentially even if the rest is OK then that wouldn’t be enough,”
Displaying to searchers ahead of the click whether a site measures up to CWVs put this update right up there with safe browsing in importance.
It is important that decision-makers in your organization understand that even though there is no manual or algorithmic penalty associated with the Page Experience Update, the prospect of having searchers warned off from clicking on your organic listings is real.
What’s more, not being penalized is not a win. Although the index can always be expanded, for every position a site rises in the rankings, another is left in its wake.
Google is willing to reward sites that share and demonstrate its priorities. If not yours, then whose?
Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.
The post A marketer’s guide to Core Web Vitals and page experience appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
What affiliate marketers have missed about Google Analytics
- Affiliate marketers can use Google Analytics to do the following – Google Event Tracking to monitor on-site engagements, Google Dashboards for analyzing user behavior, and build custom Audiences for improving audience retargeting.
- As an affiliate marketer, Google Analytics does not provide you with off-site tracking, so you can’t see what actions a person performs on a merchant site after leaving your website.
- With server-side tracking and Google Analytics, you can monitor an entire affiliate funnel through one platform. Advantages include the ability to create lookalike audiences based on people who made a purchase, run improved retargeting campaigns, and export lookalike data across multiple ad platforms.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides valuable insights for anyone managing a website. In this article, I will discuss how to use Google Analytics for your affiliate marketing campaigns. I will then show you how to use third-party tools to provide you with additional insights to generate more revenue from your existing traffic and make better use of your ad budget.
How marketers currently use Google Analytics for affiliate tracking
If you are using Pay Per Click (PPC) ads as your primary customer acquisition channel, your profit margins are directly tied to ad costs. Any edge you gain that improves your ROAS will provide you with a competitive advantage in the ad auction.
There are three primary levers of a PPC campaign, the ad copy, the audience targeting, and the landing page experience. The insights you gain through Google Analytics can help you improve audience targeting and the landing page experience.
Google Event Tracking allows you to track outbound clicks on affiliate links. Once set up, the dashboard is accessible through Behavior > Events. If you know the average conversion rate for a product, you can assign each click a value by setting up Goal Values.
You then need to make modifications to the GA tracking code or add a special configuration to your GTM tag. This article covers event tracking in more detail.
With Google Event Tracking, you can monitor your assumed profit margins for a campaign through Google Analytics. Of course, these figures are far from accurate.
When implemented effectively, Goal Values provide you with a theoretical model for predicting your campaign’s profitability. However, it does not reflect your actual sales. To access this data, you need to log in to your affiliate dashboard, check the sales, and see if the predicted profit margins align with the real results. Moreover, affiliate platforms provide differing levels of insights. That means you might only get a “gross sale value” that covers sales from all traffic, as opposed to traffic from one website.
The second thing most affiliate marketers will do is review the information provided through Google Analytics dashboards to monitor what people are doing on their landing pages. For example, you might monitor how far down a page people scroll, how much time they spend on the page, the bounce rate, and more. You can also see the number of affiliate link outbound clicks.
You can run A/B tests and other experiments to check how your actions impact the CTR to affiliate links. You can adjust the position of affiliate links and the placement of the products you are promoting to improve CTR.
Insights gained from Google Analytics provide you with essential data to test your assumptions. You can use this data to improve the landing page experience and boost your CTR.
Any improvements you make to the landing page experience can and should improve your ROAS.
The final thing you can do is use Google Analytics to improve your initial targeting. If you are tracking who clicked on the affiliate link, you can create a refined lookalike audience for Google AdWords through Google Analytics. The following guide discusses audience targeting and Similar Audiences.
Any improvement to your targeting will give you an edge in the ad auction.
What are the limitations of Google Analytics for affiliate tracking?
Google Analytics is a powerful tool for monitoring the on-site activities of your visitors. As a business owner that controls an entire funnel, you can place your Google Analytics tag across your site, including the checkout page where the transaction actually takes place. Therefore, Google Analytics provides you with all the data you might conceivably need to monitor and optimize a funnel.
Rather than relying on assumed transaction values, you can monitor everything through one or more Google Analytics dashboards. Unfortunately, as an affiliate marketer, since you can’t place your GA tag on the merchant “thank you” page, Google Analytics fails to provide you with these insights. You are forced to jump between your affiliate programs, the ads platform, and Google Analytics to monitor how your PPC campaigns are performing.
I discussed why you couldn’t use GA Event Tracking for the final stages of an affiliate funnel. It is an inconvenience that prevents the real attribution of transactions to an ad click.
This issue impacts your marketing at two crucial levels, which will inevitably increase your Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) and your ability to automate your campaign targeting and optimization:
- Your entire audience is blended into general “buckets,” which prevents you from displaying relevant ads according to the users’ positions in the funnel.
- You can’t build lookalike audiences of your best possible “customers” because you don’t know who’s done what.
While these two factors will undoubtedly reduce your profit margins, they will also undermine your long-term business objectives and ability to compete on the ad auction.
The final inconvenience you’ll face is that you can’t share custom audiences generated through Google Analytics across other ad platforms. To be fair, Google Analytics was never designed to provide off-site analytics tracking. However, as an affiliate marketer, enriching your Google Analytics data with off-site conversion data can bring a lot of value to your business. I’ll discuss how off-site tracking works in the next section.
How offline conversion tracking works
Offline conversion tracking ties actions taken by users on your site and actions taken on sites or systems outside the reach of the initial site’s Google Analytics tag. The most common methods for implementing off-site analytics tracking are through server-side tracking API (also known as postback tracking) and manual data / CSV upload.
With server-side tracking, unique click ID data is passed during the outbound click and is then sent back via a server-side URL. The unique click ID value is the common denominator that links a click from your website to actions on a separate site.
The data flow is managed through a postback URL. In the following blog post, I share technical information about how postback URLs work and why they’re important.
The main benefit of server side tracking is that it is not affected by ad blockers, ITP, ETP.
As an affiliate marketer, off-site marketing analytics provides you with a complete overview of your marketing funnel. You can track an off-site purchase. With this data, you get the same insights and advantages as a business where the end sale is made on their site.
An additional advantage of off-site tracking is that you can sync conversion data across multiple channels/ platforms and then use this data to create custom audiences. You can, therefore, test your marketing funnel utilizing cheaper traffic sources, then use the data to build lookalike audiences for ads on Facebook or Google, for example.
Unfortunately, not all ad platforms support off-site tracking. Google introduced off-site tracking in 2013. Bing Ads introduced the service in 2017, while social media platforms such as Twitter and TikTok have yet to provide a suitable solution for affiliate marketers.
Solutions for offsite tracking
Offsite tracking has multiple advantages for people operating in the affiliate marketing niche. That’s not to say that it’s not without problems. You need a lot of technical knowledge to set up a system to connect data from a browser to the server-side.
Google Analytics provides an extensive API that enables developers to implement server-side tracking. There are three primary methods for implementing off-site tracking:
- Google Analytics API: Requires the highest level of development skills. However, the Google Analytics API provides programmers with the best potential for complete server-side tracking.
- Google Tag Manager: A High level of technical skills. Google Tag Manager will only allow you to effectively track off-site actions if you can add Google Tags to the merchant’s site.
- Third-Party Affiliate Tracking Software: Plug & play solutions that connect Google Analytics and other Ads marketplaces (Bing, Facebook, and other platforms).
Due to the ever-evolving data and analytics space, developing and keeping up with the constant changes requires a significant investment of time and resources. Large companies might choose to invest in a custom in-house solution for off-site tracking. However, solutions that utilize the Google Analytics API are too expensive for most affiliate marketers.
Affiliate tracking software like AnyTrack.io, a company that I founded, provides a native server-side tracking integration with Google Analytics, Bing Ads, and other ad networks. It’s certainly a lot easier than hiring a developer to create a custom solution.
On balance, regardless of your approach, the limitations of offsite tracking are outweighed by the sizable benefits. That is, assuming you want to optimize your marketing funnel and increase your ROAS.
Integrating Google Analytics With Offsite Tracking
Implementing Google Analytics with offsite tracking software like AnyTrack.io is straightforward. Google Analytics already provides the standard dashboards for tracking visitor flow across a site from landing page to conversion.
When you integrate offsite tracking, you are, fundamentally, just gaining the same type of data as someone who manages an entire funnel across a single site would see. The benefit is that you get access to data you can use to improve your ROAS.
One of our clients, Cliverse.com, has six websites in the pet care industry. Most of the traffic to their sites comes from organic search. They were facing a data challenge that you may be familiar with; they found it difficult to understand what products were converting and from which pages those conversions were occurring.
In addition, PPC ads were more expensive than needed. For example, they were running retargeting ads to people who had purchased an affiliate product suggesting they make a purchase. With better data, they could improve ROAS.
Using AnyTrack.io, Cliverse could finally see from what page, and which link on a page was generating the conversions. Through analyzing the data, Cliverse was able to increase revenue by 30% thanks to page optimization. Because they have the complete picture, they are now able to run paid media campaigns to their site with full confidence.
Bridging the gap between your google analytics data and affiliate network conversions is the optimal way to improve your position at the ad auction. With a full overview of your affiliate funnel, you gain actionable insights on what triggers conversions and generates sales. It’s a vital edge that can help improve your ROAS.
In this guide, I showed you three ways to use Google Analytics as an affiliate marketer. You can use Google Event Tracking to monitor people who click on your affiliate links. With Goal Values set up, you can track your campaigns’ probable results. Moreover, you can run retargeting campaigns and create Custom Audiences for future ad campaigns.
Through the Google Analytics dashboards, you can gain insights into your site visitors’ actions. You can use these insights to validate the assumptions you make when running conversion optimization tests.
While Google Analytics is a powerful tool, you can’t see what actions people take when they leave your site. If you integrate off-site tracking, you get access to this data. Most third-party tools, such as the one we created, allow you to use Google Analytics to get a complete overview of your affiliate marketing funnel.
As an affiliate marketer, off-site tracking combined with Google Analytics provides you with valuable insights that can help you improve your ROAS. Follow the steps shared in this guide to see the results for yourself.
Laurent Malka is Co-founder of AnyTrack.io, a plug & play conversion tracking platform. He can be found on Twitter @laurent_malka.
The post What affiliate marketers have missed about Google Analytics appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
What Marketers Need to Understand About Automated Bid Algorithms
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LinkedIn recently announced upcoming product initiatives that advertisers can expect to arrive starting in November through the end of 2021.
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Five content promotion strategies SaaS marketers should implement today
- Having a promotion plan is a key component of a successful content marketing strategy.
- There’s more to effective promotion than just sharing articles on social media. Your promotion strategy has to be tactical if you want to cut through the noise.
- The best way to maximize the number of people that see your content is to promote and distribute it across various channels.
- Directive’s Content Writer, Izabelle Hundrev, shares five creative content promotions strategies that SaaS marketers can use to cut through the noise in an overpopulated industry.
What’s the point of creating content if no one sees it? There isn’t one.
That’s why promoting and distributing content is equally as important as writing it. Without a solid promotional strategy, even the most original and compelling piece of content has the potential to fall flat.
When looking at the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry specifically, space is becoming increasingly crowded. No matter what audience or niche your business serves, there’s a good chance there’s already content out there that’s covering the topics you’re trying to target.
Software marketers must think outside-the-box if they want their content to stand out and connect with audiences.
In this article, I’ll share five simple and effective promotional strategies that are guaranteed to get more of the right eyes on your content.
Five easy-to-implement content promotion strategies
Ultimately, the goal of content marketing is to drive traffic, generate leads, and grow revenue.
You can spend countless hours crafting the “best”, most comprehensive resource on the web. However, if that article just sits on your site with no traffic or engagement, then it’s not really making much of an impact toward your bottom line.
To have a powerful content marketing strategy that meets your target audience, you must build out a robust promotion plan that extends across multiple channels.
Let’s get started.
1. Social media
Social media is likely the first place your mind goes when you think of promotion.
It’s no secret that social networks are a simple way to get eyes on your content – and fast. The downside is that everybody knows this, and therefore, everyone’s already doing it.
To make your content stand out on social, you have to get creative.
The power of multimedia
Social feeds are crowded.
Think about how quickly you scroll through your Twitter or Facebook feed. Brands have to go the extra mile to make their posts stand out and entice the right people to stop scrolling. One of the simplest ways to do this through multimedia.
When building out a content promotion plan, strategize what graphics, GIFs, or videos could accompany your social post.
This could be as simple as sharing a funny GIF that relates to the article or creating a video testimonial to share alongside a brand new case study. Users are much more likely to engage with your posts if you incorporate an element of entertainment or creativity to capture their attention.
Here’s an example of a graphic that incorporates a quote:
This post is eye-catching and features a quote to further pique the viewers’ interest. It also ties in a real person’s photo, showing a personal touch.
In a study done by Buzzsumo, the data shows Facebook posts with images get 2.3x more engagement. This isn’t just unique to Facebook either. According to Brandwatch, tweets with images receive 18% more click-throughs and 89% more likes.
As a reader, you’re naturally more inclined to stop scrolling and pay attention if there’s a compelling piece of multimedia to draw you in.
“One more time for the people in the back”
There’s no reason why you can’t share content on social media more than once, as long as it’s done correctly.
The most important thing to keep in mind when re-distributing old content is to offer variety. Switch up the copy each time you re-post. One easy way to do this is by highlighting different pieces of the article in your posts.
For example, let’s say the first time you shared the article you included a quote from the piece in the social copy. Next time you share it, include a different quote, or maybe a compelling statistic or graphic instead.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with different platforms either. If you primarily share content on Twitter and LinkedIn, try sharing the same piece of content on Facebook or Instagram with different visuals.
I’m harping a lot on variety here, but there’s a fine line between resharing content with added value, and just resharing for the sake of it. You don’t want your social media feeds to be filled with stale, recycled material. Nowadays, social media users can easily spot a brand account that’s lazy with their posts.
The primary focus of your social media accounts should be on highlighting new content pieces. However, it’s generally OK to sprinkle a few old ones into the mix as long as there’s something new and compelling being offered to the viewer.
It takes a village to find the essential balance
While we don’t know for sure what factors trigger different social media posts to appear on users’ feeds, we do know that engagement helps. This means every like, share, and comment can help to boost a post’s reach and impressions.
There’s no guarantee that other users will engage with your posts, but you can encourage your coworkers and other internal employees to help the posts’ awareness.
After all, your fellow employees are an extension of your brand. Each of them has their own unique social network of followers that could benefit from seeing your content.
You don’t want this to feel like just another work-related task. It can be easy to forget that not everyone is a naturally-gifted copywriter that feels confident sharing and posting. Aim to make it simple for others in your organization to get active on social media.
For example, when you’re gearing up for a big promotional launch, create a cheat sheet of pre-written social copy and send over several variations that fit different channels.
People have the option to use the copy you wrote or they can lean on it for inspiration. Doing small things like this can help to lessen some of the friction that comes along with asking others to engage with your posts.
2. Email marketing
Email newsletters are a popular marketing tactic due to their many benefits and use cases. Content Marketing Institute reports that 70% of B2B marketers use email to distribute content and 40% cite newsletters as critical to marketing success.
It’s clear there’s inherent value in using email as a channel for content promotion. The people on your subscriber list are some of your most loyal brand advocates. Think about it — they “opted in” to receiving your emails. This makes your subscribers some of the best people to share your content with.
Personalization comes first
Your newsletter isn’t going to be very engaging if it’s just a roundup of the last five articles you’ve published.
A newsletter that’s been hastily thrown together is a guaranteed one-way ticket to the unsubscribe button. When sharing content with your email subscribers, make the experience feel special and curated. Think carefully about what types of content matter most to your email list.
In the example below, take note of how the tone is really conversational and makes the reader feel like it’s a personal email from a friend or colleague, rather than a newsletter.
If you were a search marketing company and you know one-third of your audience cares about PPC, another one-third care about SEO, and one-third care about both – make sure you’re not sending the whole group PPC articles all the time. You’ll lose SEO subscribers.
Be strategic here.
To take things a step further, segment your email list by more specific criteria. This could include location, age, or even by type of position (executive, manager, or individual contributor). Doing so allows you to serve your content to a more targeted subset of your audience.
Give the people what they want
Email marketing metrics matter, but those numbers don’t always paint a full picture.
To better understand how your subscribers feel about your newsletter content, ask for feedback.
You can do this by sending out a survey or investing in a widget that builds feedback into the newsletter interface. Some popular feedback platforms worth checking out include Mopinion and Usabilla.
Whichever you choose, try to make it as simple as possible for your subscribers to share how they feel about the content you’re sending to them. They signed up to receive valuable content and relevant promo offers, not constant surveys.
Your subscribers opted in to receive your emails for a reason, so make it worth their time. The more unique, meaningful, and concise your newsletter is the more traffic that gets directed back to your website and content.
3. Online communities
There are a variety of online communities that center around creating and sharing content in a specific niche.
The idea here is to be an active member of a community that’s relevant to your audience. For example, if your SaaS business sells marketing automation software, then you should aim to join communities that focus on related marketing disciplines such as email marketing or demand generation.
Joining an online community allows you to directly interact with your audience while sharing your unique and relevant content with them.
This can be tricky because it takes time to build authority among members of these communities. You don’t want to come across as overly promotional from the get-go. Instead, always make sure that your interactions are genuine and provide something of value.
Don’t throw out links to your articles without context. Aim to make every interaction meaningful.
Here are a few suggestions for where to start:
Although it may have begun as a platform solely for personal interactions, Facebook has grown to be a popular online community for professionals, too. There are hundreds of thousands of Facebook groups dedicated to different industries and niches.
These groups frequently have thousands of members, making them a practical channel for content promotion. One example is the SaaS Revolutionaries group, which currently has 4000+ members. This group, run by SaaStock, is specifically geared towards founders, executives, and investors in the software space.
GrowthHackers is an online community dedicated to sharing content and information related to growth hacking, user acquisition, marketing, and more.
Articles can be posted and shared by anyone to the GrowthHackers blog. Members of the community will then upvote or downvote the content based on whether they like it or not. The pieces with the most upvotes are displayed prominently at the top of the homepage.
This makes GrowthHackers a powerful platform for getting more eyes on your content and highlighting your brand’s industry expertise.
Quora is a question-and-answer website where users will go to ask and answer questions related to a variety of topics.
As a promotion channel, Quora can be especially useful because it allows you to answer questions that are directly related to your content.
This way, you build brand credibility, brand awareness, and are able to help out potential customers.
4. Paid advertising
While it’s true that you don’t need a massive budget to effectively promote your content, paying for content promotion does have its benefits.
When promoting your content organically, you share a post and cross your fingers that it reaches your target audience. Through paid ads, you can pretty much guarantee it.
Many of the big social media networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn have paid advertising offerings that come with advanced targeting features such as remarketing or lookalike audiences.
These features make it easy for advertisers to deliver content to people who are most likely to click and read on it. This is especially beneficial when you’re promoting content with the purpose of generating leads, such as an e-book or whitepaper.
When combined with an organic promotional strategy, paid ads can be a big added driver of traffic and clicks.
5. Measure, measure, measure
Your content promotion strategy is only as powerful as the results it generates.
That’s why continuously tracking the performance of your efforts is critical to making it worth your time.
When evaluating your promotional channels, here are some examples of key performance indicators (KPIs) you may want to take into account:
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Conversion rate
These metrics are typically used because they’re a direct reflection of how users are interacting and receiving your posts.
Yes, a big part of promotion is about getting views, but it’s also about converting these views into something more valuable: clicks and leads.
It’s important to note that this list isn’t exhaustive. The KPIs you assign to your promotion strategy will be a unique reflection of your business goals, so it’s possible that your list ends up looking a bit different.
The main takeaway here is you have to keep a close eye on performance across channels. You need to have a clear understanding of these metrics and how they relate to your overarching marketing goals. Otherwise, you can easily get lost in vanity metrics that don’t correlate to real business results.
An article isn’t done just because you hit the “publish” button. If you want your content to generate meaningful results, you must put in the effort to make it discoverable.
Next time you find yourself stuck on creating the right promotion plan, revisit these strategies for inspiration.
Izabelle Hundrev is a Chicago-based content writer at Directive. At Directive, Izabelle combines her sales hustle mentality and creative writing expertise to cover a wide variety of SaaS marketing topics and support long-term marketing strategy. Outside of work, Izabelle is passionate about all things pop culture, food, and travel.
The post Five content promotion strategies SaaS marketers should implement today appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
10 Reasons why marketers use data to make budgeting decisions
- Bear in mind that no marketing strategy has ever succeeded without the complex mix of data analysis and smart budgeting decisions.
- Marketers face the tough challenge of data-driven decision-making to craft the most profitable and effective marketing plan possible.
- Budgeting is a crucial part of any marketing strategy.
- Because of the growing benefits of using big data to bolster marketing strategies, expenses spent on analytics are expected to climb 200% over the next three years.
- Here’s a quick look at 10 ways that enable you to use data for crafting profitable marketing plans.
Creating a marketing strategy isn’t just about rolling out advertisements— marketing has evolved with the times. No longer are businesses confined to print and radio advertising, but they now also have a multitude of online options to choose from, like pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, paid search, and paid social marketing.
Bear in mind that no marketing strategy has ever succeeded without the complex mix of data analysis and smart budgeting decisions. Marketers can use data to identify problems or issues in campaigns and budgeting. Data are also a fundamental factor in understanding SEO, developing software, and interpreting customer feedback, among other aspects of online marketing.
Data complexity is one of the biggest challenges for marketers right now. Marketers face the tough challenge of data-driven decision-making to craft the most profitable and effective marketing plan possible.
Planning ahead: Budgeting in the context of marketing strategies
What makes a successful marketing campaign lies in the money it reels in for the company. You can tell that your promotional strategies are working when traffic and direct sales are rising. This can be determined by your return on investment (ROI), that is, when the money you invested returns a profit.
This is why budgeting is a key element of any marketing strategy. No successful business sets goals without first considering if they can afford to take them on. Whether you’re a start-up or a long-time business, your current budget influences your future financial goals and gains.
Learning how to wisely allocate your resources can both save and earn you a lot of money. Businesses that don’t consider their budget when crafting a marketing plan may find themselves in over their heads, spending too much on unnecessary things without getting the necessary kickback. Businesses may also end up in debt and with lower customer satisfaction if they fail to plan their budget smartly.
Using data to cash in on your investments
One way to plan your marketing budget wisely is to base it on data. A data-driven approach to crafting marketing strategies can help you make smarter budgeting decisions.
Because of the growing benefits of using big data to bolster marketing strategies, expenses spent on analytics are expected to climb 200% over the next three years. Marketers can use a wide array of information to create suitable marketing and budgeting plans. This includes data analysis about their audience, competitors, and their own past business efforts.
All these data-crunching can seem daunting at first, but there are simple ways to explain how using data can help you make better marketing and budgeting decisions. The 10 tips below will teach you how to use data to craft a profitable marketing plan:
1. Identify your financial goals
First, set your financial goals, both long-term and short-term. How much revenue do you want and how many sales would it take to reach it? How do these objectives tie in with your brand vision and values? Although a good measure of business success is profit, don’t forget to stay grounded in your company’s mission and your consumers’ needs.
To identify your financial goals, look back at your previous short-term and long-term goals and how much of these you have achieved. Also, take into consideration your current financial standing before making any grand projections of your business in the future.
2. Refer to your sales funnel
Knowing where your consumers stand is a fundamental part of marketing strategies. This refers to a sales funnel, a series of steps someone has to make to purchase your product. An example of this would be asking yourself how much money you spend on acquiring new customers and if your efforts pay off.
You can use analytics software to set up funnels that show the process that your audience goes through before deciding to buy your product. This can help you prioritize your budgeting decisions to focus on boosting conversion rates.
3. Review past campaigns
Using analytics, you can also review past marketing or SEO campaigns to see where you succeeded and failed. An example of this is comparing data from your various modes of advertising. This can help you see what’s most effective, in terms of reach and conversion.
4. Check out the competition
You can also use data on your competitors to find out what marketing strategy is most profitable in your industry. Check out your competition’s advertising methods, and investigate how much they invest in certain areas. This can help influence your own budgeting planning process, in terms of focusing on what works for your industry.
5. List down your projected costs
When setting a marketing budget, you need to outline your projected operational costs. Data on previous expenditures and present prices of services like web hosting, professional fees, ad pricing are crucial to correctly calculating your projected costs.
6. Set an achievable schedule
One aspect of creating a marketing strategy is setting an achievable timeline. The amount of time you will spend developing a campaign can also influence the budget planning process. Generally, the less time you spend, the less money you’ll spend too; an overdue project is likely to go over the budget.
Ensure that when scheduling, you’re giving enough leeway for your team to prioritize important aspects of the campaign and respond to unexpected situations. You can use information from past marketing plans (that is, resource availability vis-a-vis the time needed to complete planning), to determine how much time you usually spend. Then base your new timeline on this, considering new factors, if any.
7. Use scenario-building tools
If you’re daunted by the amount of data you have to consolidate and interpret when budgeting, you can use scenario-building tools to run multiple budget scenarios. Scenario-building tools will show you various virtual spending situations that can assist you in your real-life budget planning process.
Using this data-driven approach to budgeting, you’ll be sure to make better budgeting decisions with regard to choosing the best budget scenario that will drive maximum ROI.
8. Focus on the right platforms
Speaking of what works in your industry, make sure you’re investing in the right platforms. The proper platform depends on the product you offer and the market you cater to. What marketing strategy reels in the most conversion or leads for your business? Is it e-mail marketing or is it social media and PPC?
For example, collecting data regarding social media use, that is, who uses which platform, how much time they spend on a specific site, and other sorts of granular data can help you determine where to place your advertisements. Promoting on a website that your market regularly visits turns a bigger profit than on platforms irrelevant to your consumers.
9. Consider predictive analytics
You can also utilize the power of predictive analytics which uses historical data and machine learning to foresee your brand’s future performance. It sounds complicated, but you can actually use analytics tools to help you make sense of the vast amounts of data.
Based on your own historical data, predictive analytics can help you detect future business and security risks, optimize campaigns, and improve budgeting decisions.
10. Measure your performance regularly
Aside from trying to predict your brand’s performance, you can also use analytics to tell how your users are currently responding to your campaign. Using social media analytics and social media listening, you’ll be able to see how your audience perceives your brand. This information can help you optimize your campaign to respond to user feedback and reach your target goals.
A data-driven approach to budgeting decisions can help propel your business forward by utilizing the best mix of resource allocation to drive maximum ROI. Don’t let the complexity of data analysis and analytics scare you into thinking that they’re too hard to understand and analyze. In a world where data is considered as the next oil by business leaders, you’ll be glad to have analytics in your arsenal.
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