Tag Archive | "Brand"

We Want To Be the World’s First Global Sleep Brand, Says Casper CEO

“We really consider ourselves the sleep company,” says Casper co-founder and CEO Philip Krim. “Everything we do is about helping our customers sleep better. It’s about getting a great mattress but it’s about everything that could help you sleep. We’re trying to take products to market that are end to end about sleep solutions. We want to be the world’s first global sleep brand and we think we’re well on our way to doing that.”

Philip Krim, Casper co-founder and CEO, discusses how Casper, a highly successful direct to consumer brand (DTC), is still in the early days of growth in an interview on CNBC:

We Want To Be the World’s First Global Sleep Brand

We actually think Casper stands alone. We really consider ourselves the sleep company. Everything we do is about helping our customers sleep better. We think end to end about sleep. It’s about getting a great mattress but it’s about everything that could help you sleep. In January we launched a technology product, a lighting product, that actually helps you wake up better and fall asleep better. We’re trying to take products to market that are end to end about sleep solutions. We want to be the world’s first global sleep brand and we think we’re well on our way to doing that.

We think we’re really one of the first of our kind. We were a digitally native business, having launched online with Casper.com, but we’re actually now scaling our business offline as well. We’ve opened up 23 retail stores and we have great partners with folks like Target. We believe that we will have a business where no matter how consumers want to shop for our products we have great products and great experiences. We actually think there’s really not a public company comp that’s done that journey.

Repeat Revenue Increases Dramatically As We Launch New Products.

Yesterday we launched our hybrid line which is actually the combination of innerspring technology and foam technology. We launched two different models around that. For us, we’re actually still able to compress those mattresses, ship them anywhere in the country, and they’re really phenomenal products that we’re in development for over a year in our Casper Labs program based in San Francisco. From a cost structure, it works just the same way as our foam mattresses. You can compress it, you can ship it anywhere, it’s super fun to open and they sleep really great.

We make great pillows, we make great sheets, and we make great lighting products. We are seeing higher and higher attachment rates as we launch new products and we’re seeing repeat revenue increase dramatically as we launch new products. We’re only a five-year-old company, actually as of this month. We launched April of 2014. As we get our customers to be a little bit more mature we’re seeing them come back time and time again not just to buy mattresses but to buy our full suite of products. That’s really exciting for us.

We’re In the Early Days of Scaling

We actually changed the way that you would return a mattress. In the industry traditionally it’s a huge pain, but with us, you call us up and we’ll pick up the mattress. You don’t even have to pack it back up, nothing. We will come to pick it and up and then we donate it locally. We appreciate that you gave us a shot. We also are changing the way that people shop for the products. We have our Casper.com website where you can learn all about these great products but we have 23 stores that we’ve opened. We’re opening up over a dozen this quarter, two this week in fact, and those stores are a great complement to the online experience.

We don’t break out profitability overall. Casper has a great product, we have a great business model, and we’re seeing that by taking it to market both online and offline that it’s actually growing our online business in a very efficient way. We think this go to market strategy is working well. We’re in the early days of scaling it and we believe we can keep building this out for years to come.

We Want To Be the World’s First Global Sleep Brand, Says Casper CEO

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Machine Learning Should Be Used to Deliver Great Brand Experiences, Says PagerDuty CEO

PagerDuty began trading on the New York Stock Exchange for the first time this morning and is now trading at more than 60% above their IPO price of $ 24. That gives the company a market capitalization of more than $ 2.7 billion. PagerDuty offers a SAAS platform that monitors IT performance. The company had sales of $ 118 million for its last fiscal year, up close to 50% over the previous year.

The company uses machine learning to inform companies in real-time about technical issues. “Our belief is that machine learning and data should be used in the service of making people better, helping people do their jobs more effectively, and delivering those great brand experiences every time,” says PagerDuty CEO Jennifer Tejada. “PagerDuty is really about making sure that our users understand that this could be a good thing, being woken up in the middle of the night if it’s for the right problem. It’s a way that can help you deliver a much better experience for your customers.”

Jennifer Tejada, CEO of PagerDuty, discusses their IPO and how machine learning should be used to deliver great brand experiences in an interview on CNBC:

It’s Gotten Harder for Human’s to Manage the Entire IT Ecosystem

If you think about the world today, it’s an always-on world. We as consumers expect every experience to be perfect. Every time you wake up in the morning, you order your coffee online, you check Slack to communicate with your team, and maybe you take a Lyft into work. Sitting behind all of that is a lot of complexity, many digital and infrastructure based platforms, that don’t always work together the way you’d expect them to. As that complexity has proliferated over the years and because developers can deploy what they like and can use the tools that they want it’s gotten harder for human beings to really manage the entire ecosystem even as your demands increase.

You want it perfect, you want it right now and you want it the way you’d like it to be. PagerDuty is the platform that brings the right problem to the right person at the right time. We use machine learning, sitting on ten years of data, data on humans behavior and data on all these signals there that are happening through the system, and it really helps the developers that sit behind these great experiences to deliver the right experience all the time.

Machine Learning Should Be Used to Deliver Great Brand Experiences

Going public is the right time for us right now because there’s an opportunity for us to deliver the power of our platform to users all over the world. We are a small company and we weren’t as well-known as we could be and this is a great opportunity to extend our brand and help developers and employees across teams and IT security and customer support to deliver better experiences for their end customers all the time.

At PagerDuty we take customer trust and user trust very seriously. We publish our data policy and we will not use data in a way other than what we describe online. We care deeply about the relationship between our users in our platform. Our belief is that machine learning and data should be used in the service of making people better, helping people do their jobs more effectively, and delivering those great brand experiences every time. PagerDuty is really about making sure that our users understand that this could be a good thing, being woken up in the middle of the night if it’s for the right problem. It’s a way that can help you deliver a much better experience for your customers.

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Fighting brand fatigue through A/B testing

Here’s how an e-commerce business tested different ad copy and images on Facebook to lower their CPA by 70 percent over three months.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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How to Use Instagram Like a Beauty Brand

Posted by zeehj

Does your brand’s activity on its social accounts impact its search rankings? Maybe. Maybe not. But does it matter anyway?

I shouldn’t have to convince you that investing in a social media for your company is worth it; even in light of Facebook’s recent data breach, we are so reliant upon our social profiles for real human interaction that leaving them is not a real option. In fact, the below statistics from Pew Research Center’s 2018 Social Media Use Survey indicate that we’re not going to give up our social media profiles any time soon.

Humans are social creatures. It makes sense that we love being on social networking sites. We crave interaction with fellow humans. We’re also highly likely to trust the recommendations of our friends and family (Nielsen) and those recommendations often influence our purchasing decisions. We ask our loved ones for advice on where to put our dollars in myriad ways, all at different price points:

  • What coffee shop do you like to go to?
  • Which mascara is that?
  • What are you reading right now?
  • Where’d you get that tie?
  • What neighborhoods are you looking to move to?
  • What schools are you looking to send Anna to?

Yes, those same searches occur online. They also frequently occur in tandem with testimonials from the people in our lives (depending on how thorough we want or need to be).

So if you have a thing that you want to sell to a group of people and you’re still not pursuing a social strategy, I don’t understand what you’re doing. Yes, it’s 2018 and I still find myself trying to persuade clients to proactively use (the right) social networks to promote their brand.

For the sake of this piece, we’re going to focus on organic usage (read: free, not paid advertising) of Instagram. Why just Instagram? 35% of US adults say they use Instagram as of 2018, up from 28% in 2016. This was the greatest growth across top social networking sites reported by Pew Research Center. Additionally, its 35% usage puts it at the third most popular social networking platform, behind only Facebook and YouTube.

Other good news? It may be easier for brands’ posts to appear in users’ Instagram feeds than on their Facebook feeds: Facebook still wants to prioritize your family, friends and groups, while The New York Times reports that Instagram is updating its algorithm to favor newer posts rather than limit the accounts in your feed.

So should every brand have an Instagram? Maybe? But notice I’ve been primarily using the word “brand,” not “company” or “business.” That’s deliberate. Companies (only) provide customers with a service or sell a product. Brands provide customers (followers) with an identity. (If you want to dive further into this, I highly recommend this presentation by former Distiller Hannah Smith.)

The best companies are brands: they’ve got identities with which consumers align themselves. We become loyal to them. We may even use the brands we purchase from and follow as self identifiers to other people (“I’m a Joe & the Juice kind of guy, but not Starbucks,” “I never use MAC, only NARS,” “Me, shop at Banana Republic?! I only go to Everlane!”). Not every company should be on Instagram — it doesn’t make much sense for B2Bs to invest time and energy into building their company’s presence on Instagram.

Instagram is not for your consulting firm. And probably not for your SaaS company, either (but prove me wrong)!

It’s for celebrities. It’s to show off your enviable trip. It’s for fashion blogs. Sneakerheads. Memes. Art. Beauty brands. It’s really great for beauty brands. Why? Instagram is obviously great for sharing pretty photos — and if you’re a beauty company, well, it’s a no-brainer that you should have an active account. And it also has incredible built-in features to organically promote your posts, engage customers, and sell products with actual links to those products on your photos.

So, if you’re going to use Instagram, do it right. If you want to do it right, do it like a beauty brand.

First things first: Why do beauty companies’ IG posts look better?

Glossier

Onomie

Milk

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: each account features beautiful models, pretty sceneries, and cosmetics in clean packaging. That said, it’s not just the subject of the IG photos that matters: each of these IG accounts’ photos have been curated and edited together, so that their photos look cohesive when you view them in IG’s grid format. How do they do that? Let’s look at three posts from these accounts.

Glossier

Onomie

Milk

It’s hard (for me) to pick apart precisely why these photos are aesthetically pleasing — and it doesn’t help that I’m neither a photographer, nor a designer. That said, here is my rudimentary, non-designer take on why these photos look great together:

#1: Their subjects are beautiful (duh)

#2: There are limited primary focal points, and tons of negative space (though the medicine cabinet and floral arrangement photos are arguably “busy”)

#3: Their hues are complementary (pinky-pearlescent-pastels, anyone?)

There’s a lot of pink. And white. And pastels. And more pink. And then, occasionally, pops of color (think: a new violet lipstick shade).

Color schemes remain consistent across Onomie’s, Milk’s, and Glossier’s photos — these beauty brands don’t suddenly change their color palettes from one photo to the next. In fact, they are most likely implementing the same Instagram filters for each photo, or at least editing the color balances so that the photos complement each other. They are deliberately catering to Instagram’s 3×3 grid photo format (or 3×4, or 3×5, depending on your screen size). While many users do see IG posts in their “feeds” when they open the app, users are still motivated to look at IG accounts’ for a number of reasons: IG profiles are the only place where you can add hyperlinks on Instagram, and is also where accounts can pin stories for users to revisit.

But how on earth do they do it? They may have professional photographers, or graphic designers they can beg to normalize their color balances across photos. However, I don’t think that most companies necessarily need this mastery in-house in order to have an Instagram profile that looks good to mere mortals.

What I can assure you is that they plan, plan, plan out their posts in advance. In order to do this effectively, of course, you need the right tools. Here’s your starter pack of IG apps:

  • VSCO
    • Freemium phone app
    • Enables you to edit photos like a master — VSCO goes way beyond a small set of filters
    • Has its own community and image feed within the app, separate from IG
    • VSCO can’t post directly to IG (yet), but you can easily download any edited photo
  • Planoly
    • Freemium desktop tool and phone app
    • Can visualize your photos in a grid format with your other IG photos
    • Built-in analytics
    • Can schedule and post directly to IG, with captions and hashtags
  • Unum
    • Free
    • Offers some photo editing tools
    • Can drag and drop photos to plan out how they will appear alongside your other uploads, in grid format
    • Can post to IG, but no scheduling features

This may sound like a lot of work, and for non-designers in particular it’s pretty challenging. That said, the fruits of your labor can be used again and again. In fact, that’s precisely what these beauty brands do on IG: if they’re featuring a product (again, hello lipstick shades), they show off that product’s different colors, on different skintones. Basically, rinse and repeat with your IG photos: this repetition is great for those with sparse content calendars, and still looks great.

Okay, but they’re not popular just because of their looks, right? Why are beauty brands on IG so damn popular?

Yes, looks matter. IG is a visual platform. Sorry not sorry. And yes, we’re talking about beauty brands that have budgets to advertise their accounts and products on IG, which also contributes to their popularity. However, that’s not the whole story.

They use hashtags and photo tags.

Hashtags

Just like on Twitter (and Facebook, to a degree), hashtags are a natural way to boost exposure and get “discovered.” That’s largely because IG users can also follow hashtags, in the same manner as following a handle. And, just like on Twitter, it matters which hashtags you use. IG also allows users to add up to 30 hashtags per post — and yes, this can look spammy, but if you’re using IG like a beauty brand, you’ll separate your caption from your hashtags with periods-used-as-line-breaks or as a separate comment after you post.

So, where should you begin hunting for hashtags? Unfortunately, the Cambridge Analytica debacle has extended to Facebook’s other properties, including Instagram. It seems like one direct response to this is to limit the number of API calls we can make of IG. This means awesome services like websta.me can’t serve up the same amount of information around hashtags as they once did.

That said, Tagboard is one option for content and social media marketers to use. I like to use it to suss out hashtag intent (in answering whether this the right hashtag to use for this post). *Readers: if you’ve got tools you love to find hashtags on IG, add them in the comments below for us, please!

Otherwise, your best bet (as far as I know) is to search for hashtags directly in Instagram’s Discover area, under Tags. There, you can see how many times those hashtags have been used (what’s popular?) and then click through to see what photos have been tagged.

Photo tags

Beauty brands also take advantage of photo tagging on their posts when they can: if they are featuring a celebrity (like the magnificent Tracee Ellis Ross), they can tag her IG directly onto this post. Not only does this let Tracee (or, more likely, her social media manager) know, but depending on her settings this photo now shows up under her tagged photos on her profile — for her fans to discover.

Similarly, if you’re a business selling products and you’ve been approved for shopping on IG, you can also tag your products in your photos so that users can click through directly to their product pages. This is a no-brainer. Just do it.

They talk to their followers.

We already know that it’s best practice to engage and respond to followers on social media (within reason), and IG is no different. Onomie, Milk and Glossier all have downright spirited conversations in their photos’ comments sections by prompt fellow ‘grammers to participate in a few ways. They:

They add stories.

IG’s “Stories” feature is another great tool that Onomie, Milk, and Glossier all use. They’re like IG posts, but ephemeral (they only last 24 hours) and do not live in your main feed: users can access these stories from the top of their IG feeds, and from the account’s main icon. In some cases — especially brands selling products — these accounts may choose to “pin” evergreen stories to their IG profiles, so that users can access them beyond the 24-hour lifespan.

Stories are an excellent way to gather additional insights from followers (outside of comments) because you can run polls (with clickable elements) to collect simple data (“Should our next product help alleviate dry or oily skin?”). What’s more is that, depending on users’ notification preferences, stories automatically push notifications to followers’ phone screens. This means that even if a user is not using the app, they will be notified of new, temporary content.

If your brand (or your client) isn’t taking advantage of IG’s great marketing tools, it’s time to stop waiting and get ‘gramming. Especially if your target audiences are using the platform, there is no reason not to test out all the ways it allows you to engage its community.

Share your favorite IG tools, tips, and accounts below, so that other Moz readers can get inspired. And if you’re passionate about marketing, come join our team, and help me convince more awesome brands to take over Instagram. (JK. Kinda.)

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Moz the Monster: Anatomy of an (Averted) Brand Crisis

Posted by Dr-Pete

On the morning of Friday, November 10, we woke up to the news that John Lewis had launched an ad campaign called “Moz the Monster“. If you’re from the UK, John Lewis needs no introduction, but for our American audience, they’re a high-end retail chain that’s gained a reputation for a decade of amazing Christmas ads.

It’s estimated that John Lewis spent upwards of £7m on this campaign (roughly $ 9.4M). It quickly became clear that they had organized a multi-channel effort, including a #mozthemonster Twitter campaign.

From a consumer perspective, Moz was just a lovable blue monster. From the perspective of a company that has spent years building a brand, John Lewis was potentially going to rewrite what “Moz” meant to the broader world. From a search perspective, we were facing a rare possibility of competing for our own brand on Google results if this campaign went viral (and John Lewis has a solid history of viral campaigns).

Step #1: Don’t panic

At the speed of social media, it can be hard to stop and take a breath, but you have to remember that that speed cuts both ways. If you’re too quick to respond and make a mistake, that mistake travels at the same speed and can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating exactly the disaster you feared.

The first step is to get multiple perspectives quickly. I took to Slack in the morning (I’m two hours ahead of the Seattle team) to find out who was awake. Two of our UK team (Jo and Eli) were quick to respond, which had the added benefit of getting us the local perspective.

Collectively, we decided that, in the spirit of our TAGFEE philosophy, a friendly monster deserved a friendly response. Even if we chose to look at it purely from a pragmatic, tactical standpoint, John Lewis wasn’t a competitor, and going in metaphorical guns-blazing against a furry blue monster and the little boy he befriended could’ve been step one toward a reputation nightmare.

Step #2: Respond (carefully)

In some cases, you may choose not to respond, but in this case we felt that friendly engagement was our best approach. Since the Seattle team was finishing their first cup of coffee, I decided to test the waters with a tweet from my personal account:

I’ve got a smaller audience than the main Moz account, and a personal tweet as the west coast was getting in gear was less exposure. The initial response was positive, and we even got a little bit of feedback, such as suggestions to monitor UK Google SERPs (see “Step #3″).

Our community team (thanks, Tyler!) quickly followed up with an official tweet:

While we didn’t get direct engagement from John Lewis, the general community response was positive. Roger Mozbot and Moz the Monster could live in peace, at least for now.

Step #3: Measure

There was a longer-term fear – would engagement with the Moz the Monster campaign alter Google SERPs for Moz-related keywords? Google has become an incredibly dynamic engine, and the meaning of any given phrase can rewrite itself based on how searchers engage with that phrase. I decided to track “moz” itself across both the US and UK.

In that first day of the official campaign launch, searches for “moz” were already showing news (“Top Stories”) results in the US and UK, with the text-only version in the US:

…and the richer Top Stories carousel in the UK:

The Guardian article that announced the campaign launch was also ranking organically, near the bottom of page one. So, even on day one, we were seeing some brand encroachment and knew we had to keep track of the situation on a daily basis.

Just two days later (November 12), Moz the Monster had captured four page-one organic results for “moz” in the UK (at the bottom of the page):

While it still wasn’t time to panic, John Lewis’ campaign was clearly having an impact on Google SERPs.

Step #4: Surprises

On November 13, it looked like the SERPs might be returning to normal. The Moz Blog had regained the Top Stories block in both US and UK results:

We weren’t in the clear yet, though. A couple of days later, a plagiarism scandal broke, and it was dominating the UK news for “moz” by November 18:

This story also migrated into organic SERPs after The Guardian published an op-ed piece. Fortunately for John Lewis, the follow-up story didn’t last very long. It’s an important reminder, though, that you can’t take your eyes off of the ball just because it seems to be rolling in the right direction.

Step #5: Results

It’s one thing to see changes in the SERPs, but how was all of this impacting search trends and our actual traffic? Here’s the data from Google Trends for a 4-week period around the Moz the Monster launch (2 weeks on either side):

The top graph is US trends data, and the bottom graph is UK. The large spike in the middle of the UK graph is November 10, where you can see that interest in the search “moz” increased dramatically. However, this spike fell off fairly quickly and US interest was relatively unaffected.

Let’s look at the same time period for Google Search Console impression and click data. First, the US data (isolated to just the keyword “moz”):

There was almost no change in impressions or clicks in the US market. Now, the UK data:

Here, the launch spike in impressions is very clear, and closely mirrors the Google Trends data. However, clicks to Moz.com were, like the US market, unaffected. Hindsight is 20/20, and we were trying to make decisions on the fly, but the short-term shift in Google SERPs had very little impact on clicks to our site. People looking for Moz the Monster and people looking for Moz the search marketing tool are, not shockingly, two very different groups.

Ultimately, the impact of this campaign was short-lived, but it is interesting to see how quickly a SERP can rewrite itself based on the changing world, especially with an injection of ad dollars. At one point (in UK results), Moz the Monster had replaced Moz.com in over half (5 of 8) page-one organic spots and Top Stories – an impressive and somewhat alarming feat.

By December 2, Moz the Monster had completely disappeared from US and UK SERPs for the phrase “moz”. New, short-term signals can rewrite search results, but when those signals fade, results often return to normal. So, remember not to panic and track real, bottom-line results.

Your crisis plan

So, how can we generalize this to other brand crises? What happens when someone else’s campaign treads on your brand’s hard-fought territory? Let’s restate our 5-step process:

(1) Remember not to panic

The very word “crisis” almost demands panic, but remember that you can make any problem worse. I realize that’s not very comforting, but unless your office is actually on fire, there’s time to stop and assess the situation. Get multiple perspectives and make sure you’re not overreacting.

(2) Be cautiously proactive

Unless there’s a very good reason not to (such as a legal reason), it’s almost always best to be proactive and respond to the situation on your own terms. At least acknowledge the situation, preferably with a touch of humor. These brand intrusions are, by their nature, high profile, and if you pretend it’s not happening, you’ll just look clueless.

(3) Track the impact

As soon as possible, start collecting data. These situations move quickly, and search rankings can change overnight in 2017. Find out what impact the event is really having as quickly as possible, even if you have to track some of it by hand. Don’t wait for the perfect metrics or tracking tools.

(4) Don’t get complacent

Search results are volatile and social media is fickle – don’t assume that a lull or short-term change means you can stop and rest. Keep tracking, at least for a few days and preferably for a couple of weeks (depending on the severity of the crisis).

(5) Measure bottom-line results

As the days go by, you’ll be able to more clearly see the impact. Track as deeply as you can – long-term rankings, traffic, even sales/conversions where necessary. This is the data that tells you if the short-term impact in (3) is really doing damage or is just superficial.

The real John Lewis

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to someone who has felt a much longer-term impact of John Lewis’ succesful holiday campaigns. Twitter user and computer science teacher @johnlewis has weathered his own brand crisis year after year with grace and humor:

So, a hat-tip to John Lewis, and, on behalf of Moz, a very happy holidays to Moz the Monster!

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How brand marketers hitched a ride on the solar eclipse in social media marketing

Every few years, everyone everywhere stops what they’re doing to watch the BIG THING that is happening, whatever it might be — the OJ Simpson trial, balloon boy or, most recently, last Monday’s (moon-day’s) total solar eclipse.

Take tips from the brand marketers featured in this post on how to stand out from the crowd and grab customers’ attention through social media trend jacking.

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Mission SEO Impossible: Rank a Single Brand Website for a Broad, Plural Search Query with Comparative Intent – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Competing with comparison sites in the SERPs can feel like a losing game, but it doesn’t have to. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains the challenges and outlines five solutions that can help you begin ranking for those high-value comparative terms.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to this impossible edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about one of the toughest things that a lot of SEOs face, which is trying to rank for these specific types of queries that have a plural comparative intent behind them.

Some examples:

So I’ll give you a bunch of examples just to set the stage for this.

Let’s say I’m a hotel operator in Edinburgh, and I run one individual hotel, maybe a boutique hotel, and I want to rank for “best hotels in Edinburgh.” But that is nearly impossible, because if you look at the front page of results, all the folks there are comparative types of sites. They’re media properties. They’re hotel comparison shopping sites. So it’s TripAdvisor and Telegraph and US News & World Report, and This is Edinburgh, which is a media magazine there.

If I want to rank for “compare headphones” and I am the maker of one particular type of headphones, it’s incredibly difficult to outrank a PC Magazine, Forbes, HeadphonesCompare.com, CNET, Reevoo. This is an incredible challenge, right?

“Best Broadway shows,” if I’m operating a new Broadway show and I want to come up for this, which would be really meaningful for my Broadway show, which, by the way, most of them lose money. It’s an incredibly tough business. NYC Theatre, Time Out, Broadway.com, how do I get in there?

Or let’s say I’m in the software field. I’m FullContact, and I want to rank for “FullContact versus Clearbit.” There are lots of comparative types of searches like this. If you search for your brand name or your product’s brand name and “versus,” you’ll almost certainly come up with a bunch of suggestions. Well, it turns out neither FullContact nor Clearbit rank for this type of query. It’s Inbound.org and StackShare and Quora and Analyzo.

For “Android word games,” if I’ve come out with a new word game, it could be huge for me to rank for this term. But you know what? It’s going to be Android Central and Google Play, Tom’s Guide, Android Headlines, right?

If I have a new TV comedy, it would be fantastic because a lot of people are searching for “TV comedies” or “TV comedies on Netflix” or what have you. If I was Netflix or if I were some of these folks, I would love to come up here. But instead, it’s UPROXX and Ranker and IMDB. It’s comparative media sites almost always.

The problems

So what do we do? The first step is we have to identify the problem, like what is fundamentally going on. Why is it that these types of sites consistently outperform? This is not universal, but it’s close enough, especially on competitive head terms, like some of these, where it gets close to impossible or feels that way.

I. It’s really tough to rank without using the right words and phrases.

If you are a boutique hotel in Edinburgh, you might not be very comfortable using words like Hilton or Marriott or some of these other words that are branded terms that are owned by your competition. There could be legal issues around that, but it might also just be a brand guidelines type of thing. So that’s one part of the hard problem.

II. It’s really hard to rank without serving the searcher’s true intent.

In these cases, the searcher’s intent is, “I want to compare multiples of these things.” So if you have an individual hotel website or an individual headphone website, an individual Android word game, that’s not actually answering the searcher’s intent. It used to be easier, back before RankBrain and before Google got really smart with Hummingbird around their query intent understanding. But these days, very, very challenging. So that’s the second one.

III. It’s really hard to get links, hard to get links when you’re purely promotional or self-interested, you’re just one brand trying to outrank these folks, because these types of pieces of content seem sort of less selfish. The comparisons feel less self-interested, and therefore it’s easier for them to get organic links.

So tough challenge here. Three big issues that we have to address.

5 primary solutions

There actually are some solutions. There are some ways that some very creative and clever folks have worked around this in the past, and you can use them as well.

1. You can try separating your media or your blog or editorial content.

By separate, I mean one of two ways. You could go with a wholly separate domain. That’s pretty tough. You won’t inherit the domain authority. It will probably be a new domain, so that will be a challenge. Or you simply separate it editorially, such that it’s segmented from the promotional content. Moz actually does this, and, as a result, we rank for a lot of these types of queries. We even rank for a lot of SEO software types of queries that are clearly comparative, because we have that editorial independence in our editorial content. So this is one way you can go about doing that.

2. You could try a guest posting strategy or a guest contribution.

So if you can go out to the websites that are already listed here or ones like them, those independent, editorial, media-driven properties and say, “Hey, I will contribute to this as an independent author or writer. Yes, I work for this brand, but I think when you see my content, you will see that I’ve done my research and I am not biased.” If you can prove that to the editors at these publications, you can often prove that to the audience as well, and then you can earn these types of rankings.

You can actually see an example of this. I think it was, yes, I think the Forbes contributor here, I suspect they worked either with or for or at least in conjunction with a brand, because it seemed like they had a preference behind them and the author had a connection there.

3. You can commission independent research.

This is something that a lot of big companies will do. They’ll go out and they’ll say, “Hey, you’re an independent research firm that’s well-trusted. Will you do some research in our particular space?” Then hopefully it’s something that the press will pick up. It’s these press websites that you’re actually hoping are going to earn the rankings over here.

I will say while most of the folks doing this right now are very large companies with big research budgets and big advertising and promotional budgets, you don’t have to be. You can go and contract a single expert in the field, someone that you trust to do a great job, and you can say, “Hey, you already contribute to CNET, you already contribute to Time Out, you’re already a contributor to Tom’s Guide or Android Headlines or whatever it is. Could you do this independent research? We’ll pay you. Whatever the results you find, we’ll pay you regardless.” That can be quite successful.

4. If you need to do it yourself, but you don’t want to keep it on your own site, you could use a microsite.

So creating a site like if I’m Q over here and I’m XvsYvsQ.com, I’m not sure the exact match domain is precisely the route I’d take, but conceivably that microsite can perform well in these searches, and there are several examples, few and far between though they are, of this strategy working.

5. Win all the lists.

So if I want to rank in “best Broadway shows,” well, maybe I could just be “Hamilton.” If I want to win at “compare headphones,” maybe I could invent that patent on the noise-cancelling headphones that Bose have, which, by the way, win like three out of five of these. If I want to win the FullContact versus Clearbit, well, I need the features and the functionality and the things that these reviewers are using in order to win.

There’s almost always a bunch of objective criteria that you can identify by looking through these SERPs and related SERPs to figure out what you need to do. The challenge is it’s not just a marketing or an SEO or a content problem. Now it becomes a product and a positioning and oftentimes an engineering problem as well in order to have that win. But now you’ve got the strategies, hard though it may be. This is not impossible. It’s just difficult.

All right. Look forward to your comments and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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6 Tips to Make Your Brand an Email Response Rockstar

Posted by ronell-smith

Are you ready to create emails that get replies? Well, it’s time to step away from the clickbait-y subject lines hawking insincere or insignificant promises, and instead deliver messages worthy of earning a response. Despite rumors to the contrary, asking for a reply or using email templates or sample letters is not the best path to ensuring your emails draw more than a yawn.

If the goal is to deliver emails that consistently get responses, your brand must first focus on being authentic, sincere, and empathetic, putting the needs of the person on the other side of the screen before those of your brand.

By doing so, you not only earn clicks, eyeballs, and responses, you can also increase the number of conversions for your product or services, which likely won’t go unnoticed.

For the skeptical among you, I’ll use a personal example, one that involved me sitting at my desk when my former vice president stormed out of the executive team meeting, yelling my name as he walked down the corridor toward my office.

“Ronell! Where’s Ronell?!” he implored as I stuck my head out my office door to greet him. “I need you to explain these numbers to me.”

I — lump in my throat — looked at a printout with budget numbers for my department.

“I cut your budget 30%, right?” he asked. “But [the revenue for your area] increased 17% over the same period. What did you do?”

Before I could say a word, he ran off to another meeting as I scrambled to respond.

At the time, I didn’t really have a solid answer.

But the more I looked into it myself, the more I realized that I had made a small change that had added up to make a huge difference: I focused intensely on building connections via email with my core clients.

Whereas many of my peers sent ho-hum, “How are you doing? We should talk soon”-type emails that got opened but seemed to never garner responses, I resorted to employing a system that was successful and trackable:

  • Set aside 30 minutes a day for what I called “connectedness emails” — highlighting my knowledge of their new products or services, sharing my thoughts on them, and providing an informed opinion on how successful they were likely to be
  • Sent a minimum of two emails
  • Tied responses to future ad sales

What started out as a fun way to connect with my customers became a process I’ve continued to use for the better part of a decade, during which time I ran a members-only online newsletter that had email open rates averaging 47% (in a vertical where open rates averaged ~5%) and response rates averaging ~35%.

Summary_Report_for_RSS_-_Blog_Posts___MailChimp.png

I’m sure many of you reading this could beat these numbers in your sleep.

My point is not to show you how lucky I was to have some success at email marketing over a short period of time. My point is that email outreach can be the powerful tool we view it as, if only we’re willing to revise our processes and focus on doing the things that earn meaningful responses, not merely clicks or opens.

Who cares about email, anyway?

Despite all of the attention and dollars thrown at social media, email is one of the most effective tools we have in our arsenal to successfully conduct outreach and build lasting connections.

rsz_blog_moz_email_roi.png

But I’m sure you don’t need to be convinced, for you’re probably already sending emails more often than you’d care to remember.

What’s more, given the plentiful information on the email outreach, you’re probably wondering why you need to read another such post.

The answer: We can all be more effective at email, whether for marketing or for outreach. I’m of the opinion that the content marketing and SEO industries could be a lot more effective by placing as much emphasis on doing email better and more effectively as we do on social media. (I’m not talking resource allocation, mind you; I’m talking diligence and attentiveness.)

Before I share the simple but effective tactics I’ve used for the last decade, three housekeeping notes are in order:

  1. I’m not now, nor have I ever considered myself, an email expert.
  2. This post won’t cover, in any great detail, subject lines (e.g. length, words, etc.), open rates, optimal times to send emails, etc.
  3. Three things compelled me to write this post: (a) the prevalence of (often ineffective) email outreach; (b) the importance of email to SEOs and marketers in general; (c) and my desire to share a few simple elements I’ve used successfully for years.

How can your brand kick butt by creating emails that garner responses?

#1 -Tell me what’s in it for me

After the opening salutations, get right to the point. Show me you value my time and have used yours to identify my needs and how your brand can help me meet them.

The email below, which I recently received from GetStat, nails it:

  • The subject line not only intrigued me, it made me want to see what they’d collected on my behalf
  • The opening was brief and to the point
  • The information they compiled is in line with why I would likely be reading and subscribing to their blog
  • They were brief
  • (I’ll cover the CTA below)

We_bagged_a_bunch_of_SEO_gems_for_you__Stock_up__-_wordsmith42_gmail_com_-_Gmail.png

As you can see, any brand can create a similar email.

It all begins with having empathy for the person on the other end, clear brand goals and a willingness to respect people’s time.

#2 – Grab mobile readers’ attention with the first sentence

I have a confession: I don’t trust your subject line.

We’ve all become masters of the clickbait email subject line. If you’re going to get me to open your email, you’ll need to think different.

Like most of you, I open most emails on a mobile device.

To consistently get my attention on a smaller device, disregard the subject line and use the first sentence of the email, which is often shown via mobile.

rsz_1blog_moz_email_mobile.jpg

Yes, this can mean your emails have my name in the first line. But for brands I recognize, I don’t need to know you realize who I am; I need to know what you’re sharing is of value to me right now.

This should be an easy sell for SEOs who always include keywords in the first few lines and sentences to of a message, be it a blog post or an email.

So, while you’re laboring over that catchy subject line, go ahead and peel off some time — and a few choice words — to include in the first sentence.

#3 – Mind your grammar

One of my first jobs out of college was a business writer for a newspaper.

The metro editor had a standing policy regarding email correspondence that got everyone’s attention:

  • If you spelled his name wrong — no matter how great the pitch — he discarded it
  • If you misspelled a word in the email, it met the same result.

3.png

In the years since, I’ve met many people who feel the same way.

Don’t focus on the message at the expense of respecting the person you’re contacting.

Take the time to figure out who you’re writing to. It might be a make or break.

#4 – Create & exhaust tension

If you’re really serious about wanting your email opened, show me that you can help me solve a problem you know I’m facing.

“I know you’re looking to…”

“Brands facing the challenge yours now faces…”

“Your content team is doing an excellent job, but are likely stretched thin…”

That’s when you step in with a worthwhile answer and can likely earn more than my attention.

The key is to show the individual reading your email that you feel her pain, have taken the time to find the solution, and, most important, you are the person to handle the job.

That’s how I got the newspaper gig, despite majoring in biology and having zero experience or training in journalism:

rsz_inbox__3__-_wordsmith42_gmail_com_-_gmail.png

(This is not the actual email I sent, but it is similar.)

  • I’d done my homework to know the issues the paper — and thus the editor — was facing.
  • I knew he’d likely discount a non-journalism major, but I reasoned that he had stories he’d want covered — that is, he’d want to go down swinging.
  • I wanted him to know I respected the business and the journalism, not simply the former.

I later learned that after reading my email, the executive editor said “Where did this guy come from?” He then set up a meeting with me.

I was hired the same day.

“Your email did it,” said my editor, months after I was hired, while admitting he was initially skeptical.

Your brand can achieve similar results. All it takes is a little investigation.

#5 – Have a well-defined call-to-action with clear next steps spelled out

One of my biggest weaknesses when I first started in content marketing was calls to action.

I’d write a blog post that simply ended.

There was no thoughts about intended next steps for the folks I was writing to.

Don’t be me.

At or near the end of every email you send, highlight, share, or link to the intended next step in the journey. (See the GetStat email above.)

#6 – End on a high note

A recent post regarding email outreach I wrote for Moz listed “thank you” as a better alternative to “thanks” as a closing.

Not so fast, says the latest research from Boomerang.

Blog_Moz_Email_CLosing.png

While “thanks” seems gratuitous to me, their research shows it as outperforming every other closing but “Thanks in advance.”

The main point I’m taking from this research is the need to test, test, test.

At the very least, start experimenting with various closings while keeping track of the responses.

Your results will likely vary.

Over to you

As you can see, none of the tips shared above is particle physics. They can be employed by anyone, at any brand and at any time.

I hope you’ll give at least a few of them a shot.

We all spend so much time and energy on email each day, it’s worth taking the time to figure out ways to better engage people through the medium.

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Branding Success: How to Use PPC to Amplify Your Brand

Posted by purna_v

Here’s a question for you:

Do you think a brand can influence your behavior outside of purchase preference? Put another way, will seeing the North Face logo make you want to take up hiking in the snow?

A few years ago, researchers at Duke University conducted an experiment with 341 students. Their goal? Studying what makes a brand powerful and how we’re influenced by brands. As part of this study, the students were asked to complete what they were told was a visual acuity test.

During this test, either an Apple logo or IBM logo flashed on the screen for a second, so quickly that the students were unaware they had been exposed to the logo. The participants then completed a task designed to evaluate how creative they were, listing all the uses they could think of for a brick.

Are you surprised that students exposed to the Apple logo came up with not just more uses, but more creative uses? The experiment was also done using the Disney Channel logo and the E! logo – and the students were tested on their degree of honesty and dishonesty. Which logo exposure led to more honesty? If you thought Disney, you’re right.

This is evidence that subliminal brand exposure can cause people to act in specific ways. Branding matters.

For those of us who work in paid search, this whole “branding” thing, with its unintuitive KPIs, can seem nebulous and not something for us to worry about. We PPC-ers have specific goals and KPIs, and it’s easy for us to be seen as only a bottom-funnel channel. But we’re far more powerful than that.

Here’s the truth: Brand advertising via PPC does impact the bottom line.

I’ll share three key ways to build a framework for branding:

  1. Make choosing you easier.
  2. Show your customers you care.
  3. Make it easy to be a loyal customer.

Chances are you’re taking some of these steps already, which is fantastic. This framework can guide you to ensure you’re covering all the steps of the funnel. Let’s break down how PPC can support all three of these key points.

1. Make choosing you easier

Top brands understand their audiences really well. And what’s true of pretty much every audience right now is that we’re all looking for the fast fix. So if a brand can make it easy for us to find what we need, to get something done – that brand is going to win our hearts.

Which is why getting your ad messaging right is critical.

Something I notice repeatedly is that we’re so focused on that next advanced tactic or the newest feature that we neglect the simple basics. And that is how we get cracks in our foundation.

Most accounts I look at perform brilliantly with the complex, but routinely make avoidable errors with the basics.

Ad copy

Ads are one of those places where the cracks aren’t just visible, they’re also costly. Let’s look at a few examples of ads with sitelink extensions.

Example 1: What not to do

1_Almay.png

What do you think of this ad?

It’s a decent ad. It’s just not great. What’s hurting the ad is that the sitelinks are a broad – even random – mix of different paths and actions a person can take. We have a mix of product, social media, and spokesperson content. This is not likely to make anyone’s life easier.

Even if I had been interested in the makeup, I might be distracted by the opportunity to meet Carrie Underwood, reducing the odds of a conversion. In trying to please too many different audiences, this ad doesn’t do a particularly strong job of pleasing anyone.

Example 2: Sitelinks organized according to stage of interest

2_Clinique.png

Why not organize your sitelinks according to your customer’s stage of interest instead, like Clinique did here? This is brilliant.

Clinique is acknowledging that some shoppers are here just to buy the makeup they always order – so “Shop Makeup” is the first sitelink offered. But other visitors have come to see what’s new, or to do research on the quality of Clinique skincare, and probably everyone is looking for that discount.

Organizing sitelinks by your customer’s stage of interest also boosts brand by showing your customer that you care. We’ll talk more about that piece later.

Example 3: Sitelinks organized according to customer’s need

3_Harley.png

Here’s something smart: Organizing sitelinks according to what you already know your customers need.

Harley Davidson knows that a potential customer coming to their website wants more than pretty pictures of the bike. They’re ready to schedule a test ride or even estimate payments, so these options are right at the top.

They also understand that Harley Davidson is an aspirational product. I may want to estimate a payment or find information about my local dealer even before I know how to ride a bike. It’s part of the dream of joining the Harley lifestyle. They know this and make their customers’ lives easier by sharing links to learn-to-ride classes.

Example 4: Give them multiple ways to choose you

4_Sephora.png

For brands targeting by geography and who have a local presence, including call extensions and location extensions is a must.

As searches move from desktop to mobile, we know that local searches take the lead – and conversions on a local search happen within five hours of the search (source: Microsoft Internal research). Including call and location extensions helps shorten that conversion cycle.

What I especially love about this ad is that they give you two different buying options. You can visit the store at the physical address, or if that is deemed out-of-the-way by the searcher, the ad entices them to shop Sephora with a discount code for an online purchase. This increases the odds that the shopper will choose Sephora as opposed to visiting a more conveniently located competitor.

Indirect brand terms

When people are looking for your service but not necessarily your brand, you can still make their lives easier by sharing answers to questions they may have.

Of course, you’re already showing up for branded searches or searches directly asking for your product. But what about being helpful to your customers by answering their questions with helpful information? Bidding on these keywords is good for your brand.

For example, Neutrogena is doing a great job at showing up for longer-tail keywords, and they’re also working to build the association between gentle makeup removers for sensitive skin and their brand.

5_Neutrogena.png

And here, Crest is doing a fantastic job in using their ad copy to make themselves stand out as experts. If anyone has questions about teeth whitening, they’re showing that they’re ready to answer them:

6_Crest.png

This also helps you show up for long-tail queries, which are another increasingly critical aspect of voice search.

2. Show your customers you care

If you can anticipate issues and show up when your customers are venting, you win.

Professor Andrew Ehrenberg of South Bank Business School says that people trust strong brands more. They forgive your mistakes more easily. They believe you will put things right.

And what better way to show your customers you care than by anticipating their issues?

Be there when they want to complain

Where’s the first place you go when you want to look something up? Most likely a search engine. Showing up well in the SERPs can make a big difference.

Let’s look at an example. I did a search for complaints related to Disney, a brand with a strong positive sentiment.

7_Disney.png

Surprisingly, the SERPs were filled with complaint sites. What could have helped Disney here would be if they ran ads on these keywords, with the message that they were keen to make things right, and here’s the best number to call and chat.

Wouldn’t that diffuse the situation? Best of all, keywords like this would be very low-cost to bid on.

What about showing up when potential customers are complaining about the competition? You could consider running ads for keywords related to complaints about your competition.

I’d advise you to be careful with this approach since you want to come across as being helpful, not gloating. This strategy also may not lead to very many conversions – since the searcher is looking to complain and not to find alternative businesses – but given the low cost, it may be worth testing.

Cross-channel wins

As PPCs, we’re more powerful than even we give ourselves credit for. Our work can greatly help the PR and SEO teams. Here’s how.

PR:

As noted earlier, the search engine is the first place we go when we want to look up something.

This is so very impactful that, as reported in the New York Times, Microsoft scientists were able to analyze large samples of search engine queries that could in some cases identify Internet users who were suffering from pancreatic cancer, even before they have received a diagnosis of the disease.

This all goes to show the power of search. We can also harness that power for reputation management.

Broad-match bidding can help PR with brand protection. Looking through broad-match search term reports, a.k.a search query reports (SQRs), can help to spot trends like recalls or a rise in negative sentiment.

PPCs can send the PR folks a branded SQR on a regular basis for them to scrub through to spot any concerning trends. This can help PPC stand out as a channel that protects and monitors brand sentiment.

SEO:

Content marketing is a key way for brands to build loyalty, and PPC is an excellent way to get the content to the audience. Serving ads on key terms that support the content you have allows you to give your audience the info they really want.

For example, if your SEO teams built a mortgage calculator as value-add content, then you could serve ads for queries such as “How much house can I afford?”:

8_Mortgage.png

Taking this concept a step further, you can use high-value content to show up with ads that match the research stage of the customer’s interest. As PPCs, we’re often keen to simply show an ad that gets people to convert. But what if they’re not ready? Why should we either ignore them or show up with something that doesn’t match their goal?

Take a look at these ads that show up for a research-stage query:

9_KitchenIdeas.png

The first ad from Sears – while very compelling – seems mismatched to the search query.

Now look at the third ad in the list, offering 50 kitchen idea photos. This is a much better match to the query. If it were me searching, this is the ad I would have chosen to click on.

What happens to the conversion?

Well, the landing page of the “50 ideas” ad could feature some type of offer, say like what the Sears ad has to offer, and here it would be much more welcome. In this way, we could use higher-funnel ads as lead gen, with KPIs such as content impressions, lead form fills, and micro-conversions.

This is such a win-win-win strategy:

  • You’ve shown your customers you care for them and will be there for them
  • You’ve helped your colleagues get more exposure for their hard work
  • You’ve earned yourself cost-effective new leads and conversions.

Boss move.

Want more ideas? Wil Reynolds has some fantastic tips on how SEOs can use PPC to hit their goals.

3. Make it easy to be a loyal customer

Growing customer lifetime value is one of the most worthwhile things a brand can do. There are two clever ways to do this.

Smarter remarketing

You liked us enough to buy once – how would you like to buy again? Show your customers more of what they like over time and they’ll be more attuned to choosing your brand, provided you’ve served them well.

What about remarketing based on how long it’s been since the purchase of a product?

This tactic can be seen as helpful as opposed to overtly sales-y, building brand loyalty. Think of how Amazon does it with their emails suggesting other products or deals we may be interested in. As a result, we just keep going back to Amazon. Even if they don’t have the lowest price.

10_PowerProtein.png

For example, what if a sports nutrition company knew that most customers took three months to finish their box of protein shake powder? Then around the middle of month two, the company could run an ad like this to their list of buyers. It features an offer and shows up just at the right time.

The customer will probably think they’ve lucked out to find a special offer just at the right time. We know that it’s not luck, it’s just smarter remarketing.

Want more ideas? Check out Sam Noble’s Whiteboard Friday on how paid media can help drive loyalty and advocacy.

Show up for the competition

Remember when the iPhone 6s launched? Samsung ran very clever PPC ads during the launch of the iPhone 6s, and again when Apple was in the news about the phones bending.

11_Samsung1.png

12_Samsung2.png

Samsung used humor – which, importantly, wasn’t mean-spirited – and got a lot of attention and goodwill, not to mention a ton of PR and social media attention. Great for their brand at the time!

You can use the same tactic to run ads on competitors’ brand names with ads that showcase your USP. This works especially well for remarketing in paid search (or RLSA) campaigns.

13_Chevy.png

Here, Chevy capitalized on the Tesla Model 3 announcement-related search volume spike. They ran ads that reminded users that their cars were available in late 2016, with the unstated message that it’s much sooner than when the Tesla Model 3 cars are expected to arrive.

Give back

Engaging with the customer is the best way to make it easy for them to be loyal to your brand. Enhance that by showing them you care about what they care about for added impact.

Here’s one way to give back to your customer, and this particular effort is also a huge branding opportunity.

14_Loreal.png

I love how L’Oréal is associating themselves with empowering women – and most of their customers will like this as well. They’re giving back to their customers by honoring the women they care about. To create loyal customers, the best brands give back in meaningful ways.

Wrapping up

One of my favorite Seth Godin quotes is, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories that you tell.”

PPC is a wonderful channel to shape and create stories that will engage and delight your customers.

And now we come full circle, to that place where we started, wondering how in the world PPC can impact brand. Your paid search campaigns are a chapter in your brand’s story, and you have an unlimited number of ways to write that chapter, and to contribute to the brand.

Branding isn’t just for the birds. Have you found a way to use PPC to help grow your brand? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

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Report: Releasing Super Bowl ads early jump-starts lifts in brand search

Quantcast data shows impact of releasing ads and teasers online before the big game.

The post Report: Releasing Super Bowl ads early jump-starts lifts in brand search appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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