New Things I’ve Learned About Google Review Likes

Posted by MiriamEllis

Last time I counted, there were upwards of 35 components to a single Google Business Profile (GBP). Hotel panels, in and of themselves, are enough to make one squeal, but even on a more “typical” GPB, it’s easy to overlook some low-lying features. Often, you may simply ignore them until life makes you engage.

A few weeks ago, a local SEO came to me with a curious real-life anecdote, in which a client was pressuring the agency to have all their staff hit the “like” button on all of the brand’s positive Google reviews. Presumably, the client felt this would help their business in some manner. More on the nitty-gritty of this scenario later, but at first, it made me face that I’d set this whole GBP feature to one side of my brain as not terribly important.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ve now spent a couple of days looking more closely at the review like button, its uses, abuses, and industry opinions about it. I’ve done a very small study, conducted a poll, and spoken to three different Google reps. Now, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with you.

Wait, what is the “like” button?

Crash course: Rolled out in 2016, this simple function allows anyone logged into a Google account to thumbs-up any review they like. There is no opposite thumbs-down function. From the same account, you can only thumb up a single review once. Hitting the button twice simply reverses the “liking” action. Google doesn’t prevent anyone from hitting the button, including owners of the business being reviewed.

At a glance, do Google review likes influence anything?

My teammate, Kameron Jenkins, and I plugged 20 totally random local businesses into a spreadsheet, with 60 total reviews being highlighted on the front interface of the GBP. Google highlights just three reviews on the GBP and I wanted to know two things:

  1. How many businesses out of twenty had a liked review anywhere in their corpus
  2. Did the presence of likes appear to be impacting which reviews Google was highlighting on the front of the GBP?

The study was very small, and should certainly be expanded on, but here’s what I saw:

60 percent of the brands had earned at least one like somewhere in their review corpus.

15 percent of the time, Google highlighted only reviews with zero likes, even when a business had liked reviews elsewhere in its corpus. But, 85 percent of the time, if a business had some likes, at least one liked review was making it to the front of the GBP.

At a glance, I’d say it looks like a brand’s liked reviews may have an advantage when it comes to which sentiment Google highlights. This can be either a positive or negative scenario, depending on whether the reviews that get thumbed up on your listing are your positive or negative reviews.

And that leads us to…

Google’s guidelines for the use of the review likes function

But don’t get too excited, because it turns out, no such guidelines exist. Though it’s been three years since Google debuted this potentially-influential feature, I’ve confirmed with them that nothing has actually been published about what you should and shouldn’t do with this capability. If that seems like an open invitation to spam, I hear you!

So, since there were no official rules, I had to hunt for the next best thing. I was thinking about that SEO agency with the client wanting to pay them to thumb up reviews when I decided to take a Twitter poll. I asked my followers:

Unsurprisingly, given the lack of guidelines, 15 percent of 111 respondents had no idea whether it would be fishy to employ staff or markers to thumb up brand reviews. The dominant 53 percent felt it would be totally fine, but a staunch 32 percent called it spam. The latter group added additional thoughts like these:

I want to thank Tess Voecks, Gyi Tsakalakis, and everyone else for taking the poll. And I think the disagreement in it is especially interesting when we look at what happens next.

After polling the industry, I contacted three forms of Google support: phone, chat, and Twitter. If you found it curious that SEOs might disagree about whether or not paying for review likes is spam, I’m sorry to tell you that Google’s own staff doesn’t have brand-wide consensus on this either. In three parts:

1. The Google phone rep was initially unfamiliar with what the like button is. I explained it to her. First, I asked if it was okay for the business owner to hit the like button on the brand’s reviews, she confirmed that it’s fine to do that. This didn’t surprise me. But, when I asked the question about paying people to take such actions, she replied (I paraphrase):

“If a review is being liked by people apart from the owner, it’s not considered as spam.”

“What if the business owner is paying people, like staff or marketers, to like their reviews,” I asked.

“No, it’s not considered spam.”

“Not even then?”

“No,” she said.

2. Next, here’s a screenshot of my chat with a Google rep:

The final response actually amused me (i.e. yeah, go ahead and do that if you want to, but I wouldn’t do it if I were you).

3. Finally, I spoke with Google’s Twitter support, which I always find helpful:

To sum up, we had one Google rep tell is it would be fine and dandy to pay people to thumb up reviews (uh-oh!), but the other two warned against doing this. We’ll go with majority rule here and try to cobble together our own guidelines, in the absence of public ones.

My guidelines for use of the review likes function

Going forward with what we’ve learned, here’s what I would recommend:

  1. As a business owner, if you receive a review you appreciate, definitely go ahead and thumb it up. It may have some influence on what makes it to the highly-visible “front” of your Google Business Profile, and, even if not, it’s a way of saying “thank you” to the customer when you’re also writing your owner response. So, a nice review comes in, respond with thanks and hit the like button. End of story.
  2. Don’t tell anyone in your employ to thumb up your brand’s reviews. That means staff, marketers, and dependents to whom you pay allowance. Two-thirds of Google reps agree this would be spam, and 32 percent of respondents to my poll got it right about this. Buying likes is almost as sad a strategy as buying reviews. You could get caught and damage the very reputation you are hoping to build. It’s just not worth the risk.
  3. While we’re on the subject, avoid the temptation to thumbs-up your competitors’ negative reviews in hopes of getting them to surface on GBPs. Let’s just not go there. I didn’t ask Google specifically about this, but can’t you just see some unscrupulous party deciding this is clever?
  4. If you suspect someone is artificially inflating review likes on positive or negative reviews, the Twitter Google rep suggests flagging the review. So, this is a step you can take, though my confidence in Google taking action on such measures is not high. But, you could try.

How big of a priority should review likes be for local brands?

In the grand scheme of things, I’d put this low on the scale of local search marketing initiatives. As I mentioned, I’d given only a passing glance at this function over the past few years until I was confronted with the fact that people were trying to spam their way to purchased glory with it.

If reputation is a major focus for your brand (and it should be!) I’d invest more resources into creating excellent in-store experiences, review acquisition and management, and sentiment analysis than I would in worrying too much about those little thumbs. But, if you have some time to spare on a deep rep dive, it could be interesting to see if you can analyze why some types of your brand’s reviews get likes and if there’s anything you can do to build on that. I can also see showing positive reviewers that you reward their nice feedback with likes, if for no other reason than a sign of engagement.

What’s your take? Do you know anything about review likes that I should know? Please, share in the comments, and you know what I’ll do if you share a good tip? I’ll thumb up your reply!

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Reblogged 8 hours ago from tracking.feedpress.it

MozCon 2019: The Top Takeaways From Day One

Posted by KameronJenkins

Rand, Russ, Ruth, Rob, and Ross. Dana and Darren. Shannon and Sarah. We didn’t mean to (we swear we didn’t) but the first day of MozCon was littered with alliteration, takeaways, and oodles of insights from our speakers. Topics ranged from local SEO, link building, and Google tools, and there was no shortage of “Aha!” moments. And while the content was diverse, the themes are clear: search is constantly changing. 

If you’re a Moz community member, you can access the slides from Day One. Not a community member yet? Sign up — it’s free!

Get the speaker slides!

Ready? Let’s make like Roger in his SERP submarine and dive right in!

Sarah’s welcome

Our fearless leader took the stage to ready our attendees for their deep sea dive over the next three days. Our guiding theme to help set the tone? The deep sea of data that we find ourselves immersed in every day.

People are searching more than ever before on more types of devices than ever before… we truly are living in the golden age of search. As Sarah explained though, not all search is created equal. Because Google wants to answer searchers’ questions as quickly as possible, they’ve moved from being the gateway to information to being the destination for information in many cases. SEOs need to be able to work smarter and identify the best opportunities in this new landscape. 

Rand Fishkin — Web Search 2019: The Essential Data Marketers Need

Next up was Rand of SparkToro who dropped a ton of data about the state of search in 2019.

To set the stage, Rand gave us a quick review of the evolution of media: “This new thing is going to kill this old thing!” has been the theme of panicked marketers for decades. TV was supposed to kill radio. Computers were supposed to kill TV. Mobile was supposed to kill desktop. Voice search was supposed to kill text search. But as Rand showed us, these new technologies often don’t kill the old ones — they just take up all our free time. We need to make sure we’re not turning away from mediums just because they’re “old” and, instead, make sure our investments follow real behavior.

Rand’s deck was also chock-full of data from Jumpshot about how much traffic Google is really sending to websites these days, how much of that comes from paid search, and how that’s changed over the years.

In 2019, Google sent ~20 fewer organic clicks via browser searches than in 2016.

In 2016, there were 26 organic clicks for every paid click. In 2019, that ratio is 11:1.

Google still owns the lion’s share of the search market and still sends a significant amount of traffic to websites, but in light of this data, SEOs should be thinking about how their brands can benefit even without the click.

And finally, Rand left us with some wisdom from the world of social — getting engagement on social media can get you the type of attention it takes to earn quality links and mentions in a way that’s much easier than manual, cold outreach.

Ruth Burr Reedy — Human > Machine > Human: Understanding Human-Readable Quality Signals and Their Machine-Readable Equivalents

It’s 2019. And though we all thought by this year we’d have flying cars and robots to do our bidding, machine learning has come a very long way. Almost frustratingly so — the push and pull of making decisions for searchers versus search engines is an ever-present SEO conundrum.

Ruth argued that in our pursuit of an audience, we can’t get too caught up in the middleman (Google), and in our pursuit of Google, we can’t forget the end user.

Optimizing for humans-only is inefficient. Those who do are likely missing out on a massive opportunity. Optimizing for search engines-only is reactive. Those who do will likely fall behind.

She also left us with the very best kind of homework… homework that’ll make us all better SEOs and marketers!

  • Read the Quality Rater Guidelines
  • Ask what your site is currently benefiting from that Google might eliminate or change in the future
  • Write better (clearer, simpler) content
  • Examine your SERPs with the goal of understanding search intent so you can meet it
  • Lean on subject matter experts to make your brand more trustworthy
  • Conduct a reputation audit — what’s on the internet about your company that people can find?

And last, but certainly not least, stop fighting about this stuff. It’s boring.

Thank you, Ruth!

Dana DiTomaso — Improved Reporting & Analytics Within Google Tools

Freshly fueled with cinnamon buns and glowing with the energy of a thousand jolts of caffeine, we were ready to dive back into it — this time with Dana from Kick Point.

This year was a continuation of Dana’s talk on goal charters. If you haven’t checked that out yet or you need a refresher, you can view it here

Dana emphasized the importance of data hygiene. Messy analytics, missing tracking codes, poorly labeled events… we’ve all been there. Dana is a big advocate of documenting every component of your analytics.

She also blew us away with a ton of great insight on making our reports accessible — from getting rid of jargon and using the client’s language to using colors that are compatible with printing.

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more actionable, Dana drops some free Google Data Studio resources on us! You can check them out here.

(Also, close your tabs!)

Rob Bucci — Local Market Analytics: The Challenges and Opportunities

The first thing you need to know is that Rob finally did it — he finally got a cat.

Very bold of Rob to assume he would have our collective attention after dropping something adorable like that on us. Luckily, we were all able to regroup and focus on his talk — how there are challenges aplenty in the local search landscape, but there are even more opportunities if you overcome them.

Rob came equipped with a ton of stats about localized SERPs that have massive implications for rank tracking.

  • 73 percent of the 1.2 million SERPs he analyzed contained some kind of localized feature.
  • 25 percent of the sites he was tracking had some degree of variability between markets.
  • 85 percent was the maximum variability he saw across zip codes in a single market.

That’s right… rankings can vary by zip code, even for queries you don’t automatically associate as local intent. Whether you’re a national brand without physical storefronts or you’re a single-location retail store, localization has a huge impact on how you show up to your audience.

With this in mind, Rob announced a huge initiative that Moz has been working on… Local Market Analytics — complete with local search volume! Eep! See how you perform on hyper-local SERPs with precision and ease — whether you’re an online or location-based business.

It launched today as an invitation-only limited release. Want an invite? Request it here

Ross Simmonds— Keywords Aren’t Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing

Ross Simmonds was up next, and he dug into how you might be creating content wrong if you’re building it strictly around keyword research.

The methodology we marketers need to remember is Research – Rethink – Remix.

Research:

  • Find the channel your audience spends time on. What performs well? How can you serve this audience?

Rethink:

  • Find the content that your audience wants most. What topics resonate? What stories connect?

Remix:

  • Measure how your audience responds to the content. Can this be remixed further? How can we remix at scale?

If you use this method and you still aren’t sure if you should pursue a content opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will it give us a positive ROI?
  • Does it fall within our circle of competence?
  • Does the benefit outweigh the cost of creation?
  • Will it give us shares and links and engagement?

Thanks, Ross, for such an actionable session!

Shannon McGuirk — How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom

Shannon of Aira Digital took the floor with real-life examples of how her team does link building at scale with what she calls the “digital PR newsroom.”

The truth is, most of us are still link building like it’s 1948 with “planned editorial” content. When we do this, we’re missing out on a ton of opportunity (about 66%!) that can come from reactive editorial and planned reactive editorial.

Shannon encouraged us to try tactics that have worked for her team such as:

  • Having morning scrum meetings to go over trending topics and find reactive opportunities
  • Staffing your team with both storytellers and story makers
  • Holding quarterly reviews to see which content types performed best and using that to inform future work

Her talk was so good that she even changed Cyrus’s mind about link building!

For free resources on how you can set up your own digital PR newsroom, visit: aira.net/mozcon19.

Darren Shaw— From Zero to Local Ranking Hero

Next up, Darren of Whitespark chronicled his 8-month long journey to growing a client’s local footprint.

Here’s what he learned and encouraged us to implement in response:

  • Track from multiple zip codes around the city
  • Make sure your citations are indexed
  • The service area section in GMB won’t help you rank in those areas. It’s for display purposes only
  • Invest in a Google reviews strategy
  • The first few links earned really have a positive impact, but it reaches a point of diminishing returns
  • Any individual strategy will probably hit a point of diminishing returns
  • A full website is better than a single-page GMB website when it comes to local rankings

As SEOs, we’d all do well to remember that it’s not one specific activity, but the aggregate, that will move the needle!

Russ Jones — Esse Quam Videri: When Faking it is Harder than Making It

Rounding out day one of MozCon was our very own Russ Jones on Esse Quam Videri — “To be, rather than to seem.”

By Russ’s own admission, he’s a pretty good liar, and so too are many SEOs. In a poll Russ ran on Twitter, he found that 64 percent of SEOs state that they have promoted sites they believe are not the best answer to the query. We can be so “rank-centric” that we engage in tactics that make our websites look like we care about the users, when in reality, what we really care about is that Google sees it.

Russ encouraged SEOs to help guide the businesses we work for to “be real companies” rather than trying to look like real companies purely for SEO benefit.

Thanks to Russ for reminding us to stop sacrificing the long run for the short run!

Phew — what a day!

And it ain’t over yet! There are two more days to make the most of MozCon, connect with fellow attendees, and pick the brains of our speakers. 

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below — if you had to pick just one thing, what was your favorite part about day one?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 8 hours ago from tracking.feedpress.it

6 marketing strategies to build your online presence

Digital marketing has changed the way publicity and advertising work – you can reach millions of users globally with a random click or tap into thousands of opinions with a brimming fan base.

Inbound
marketing strategies help claim your brand’s online presence by helping you
focus on your target audience much more proactively and rapidly than outbound.

Below you’ll find 6 marketing strategies that can help you boost your brand’s online presence.

1. Content marketing – blogs

The first step to
establish your brand’s
online presence
is to create a responsive and visually-appealing
website – a platform where you can help your customers solve their problems.

Next, develop a marketing strategy that focuses on content. Not only does content build trust among your audience, it also fuels your other marketing activities such as email, social, and PPC. Like driving a car without wheels, marketing your brand without content will get you nowhere.   

Blog and guest-posting

Create a blog on
your website to attract your target audience towards your brand niche. For
instance, take a look at how Ahrefs, a
leading software developer
, markets its industry blog towards its
consumers.

The majority of
its blogs focus on the subtle promotion of its suite to attract customers to buy.
Its product blog, however, inspires customer interaction and communication. Covering
an array of industry news and trends, the brand uses content to pique the
interests of its readers.

These statistics highlight the regularity of blog publications. Publishing regular, high quality content will help your site become an authoritative, trustworthy source of information in your niche and search engines such as Google. Plus, the more thought-leading content you produce, the more customer trust you’ll earn.  

You can also write content for industry-related websites as guest posts and link back to your website by embedding URLs to your landing pages. This will help your target audience find you and learn about your products and services.

2. Content marketing – podcasts and videos

According to
Google, content
marketing
is compelling enough to turn visitors into leads and then into
customers. That’s because of all the different content formats which help to
simulate interest over time and across a large audience-base.

Try adhering to content types such as podcasts and webinars, or videos like tutorials and how-to guides. Moreover, collaborating with other B2B marketers to appear on their podcasts, webinars, and videos can boost your online presence.

3. Email marketing

Consumers have been activity using email to communicate since its very inception. Email marketing, which supports your content marketing endeavors, is the most popular channel for bolstering your online presence. 93% of business-to-business marketers say so.

If done right, email marketing can serve as one of the most lucrative platforms for boosting your online presence. According to the Data Marketing Association, every $1 you spend on your campaign generates on average a return of $41.

  • Nurture your visitors into leads by capturing their email address to send them your newsletter and other product-related emails. For instance, entice them through a ‘free download’ of an exclusive ebook (which you can create with Designrr) or special discount coupon. Maybe tempt them with a free video tutorial that’s only available to premium or paid users.
  • Segment your mailing list by targeting your loyal customers, such as repeat purchasers. Send product- or service-related news, trends, and blog links to consumers who’ve shown an active interest.
  • Try A/B testing: Send your subscribers targeted emails to assess which ones bring the most conversions and why. Split testing will also help you to analyze whether you should go ahead with your email marketing campaign or not.

4. Get on the search engine

With 53% of internet traffic and 92% of the global market share dominated by Google alone, search engines play a major role in promoting online visibility of a brand. Approximately 93% of ecommerce consumers begin their journey searching for competitive results online.

Promoting your brand on a search engine won’t only help Google accredit your reputation, but also motivate consumers to learn more about your business’s legacy.

  • Optimize on-page SEO by writing content for your website that has the capability to rank higher. For instance, search industry-related keywords on Ahrefs or any other paid or unpaid keyword research tool to discover words that people are searching for.
  • Consider using long-tail search keywords throughout your content, including your blog, web copy, meta title and description, and tags, since they are easier to rank due to less search volume and competitiveness.
  • Optimize off-page SEO content by referring to link-building strategies through earned media. Either collaborate with B2B partners and embed your website’s URL within the shared content, or link your landing pages by adding CTAs within your content on social media.

From 2009 to 2017, the aforementioned statistics for search engine results have skyrocketed, making it one of the most profound channels for boosting brand visibility and consumer engagement.

5. Social media marketing

Today, millennials and Gen-Z users are hoarding time on social media for reasons other than networking, such as passing their time scrolling through the internet. Social media marketing helps garner the attention of your target customers, and there are two ways which you can build your brand’s publicity:

  • Engage on the social channels that matter to your target audience; then you’ll be able to gauge their interests better
  • Use social media listening tools to assess the number of clicks and views your content generates

Pay attention to the stats above. Consider installing social listening tools to find out which platforms hold the majority of your target audience. You’ll also learn about negative and positive feedback, allowing you to improve your content proactively for better sales and conversion rates.

6. Paid advertising

Besides promoting organically via link-building strategies and keyword-ranking techniques, consider paid advertising. These ads, which are within third party ad spaces, will help to rank your website better.

  • Google AdWords uses Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising techniques to display ads on the right- or left-most bar of search engine results pages. Google’s ads can also be displayed on your preferred websites as well. With every click on the ad, you not only earn a visitor to your website but also revenue in return.
  • Learn where your target audience is. You can also choose Facebook or YouTube to display your brand’s ads for better outreach.

The above chart is a simple guide that helps you understand the cost per click on ad placement for display on Facebook’s news feed and the right-most column on the page.

The final verdict

Many brick-and-mortar store entrepreneurs still staunchly follow the old outbound marketing route, foregoing the lucrative opportunity of building a worthwhile online presence of their brand.

In order to build and boost your brand’s online presence, it’s high time you jumped on the digital bandwagon and catered to the whims of the internet. This will scale your brand’s recognition far and wide.   

For more digital inspiration, download this cheatsheet on how to target your customers.

The post 6 marketing strategies to build your online presence appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Newsletters we love, why we love them, and how to recreate them

While some think newsletters are outdated, there’s no better way to engage audiences. A boring, unappealing newsletter is hard to digest and can affect your growth. Amazing, engaging newsletters (like the ones below) improve brand awareness and sales. They take your brand marketing to the next level. They boost your organic growth by encouraging readers to share content. Creating interesting content will boost customer engagement and subsequently raise retention.

We’ll be looking at the examples below, outlining why we love them, and how you can replicate yourself.

1.) theSkimm

theSkimm’s daily roundups are an inbox must. Targeting female millennials, theSkimm breaks down news stories into short, punchy paragraphs. It even helps readers understand complex topics with easy-to-understand guides on its website.

Why we love it

theSkimm understand the importance of social proof. The
first CTA is at the top, well above the fold, encouraging readers to share
theSkimm with friends. After that, it offers readers further chances to share
on social, and repeats this at the end of every story.

It doesn’t need images to keep readers engaged. It knows its
audience well and the copy reflects that. theSkimm keeps its tone consistent,
no matter the topic. Its emotive style frequently leaves readers shocked,
excited or laughing.

How to recreate it

1.) Know your audience. Once you know who you’re targeting, it should be much easier to develop your tone of voice and to keep it consistent. If you’re not sure, check out our content marketing worksheet which has all the tools you need.

2.) Social sharing. Make sure you’re utilizing Engagement Cloud’s social links block with every email you build.

3.) Reward loyalty. Encourage newsletter sharing by making it part of your customer loyalty scheme. Engagement Cloud partners such as LoyaltyLion and Antavo can help you create schemes that customers love.

2.) Patch

Helping you create your dream urban jungle; Patch brings the joy of gardening to anyone and everyone. It packs every email full of helpful and highly clickable content. On top of it all, its images and design are sleek and appealing to the eye.

Patch newsletter

Why we love it

Patch is the epitome of keeping things super simple. This newsletter is easy to scroll and perfectly uncluttered on mobile and desktop. Its use of white space between blocks and clean images makes it easy for readers to take in information.

We also love it’s fun CTAs. There’s no unwritten rule out
there that says ‘Shop now’ is the best way to get people browsing.
Personalizing each button to the block is an awesome idea.

Finally, if you’re not too distracted by Megan the Siam Tulip or Musa the Mini Banana Tree, Patch finish with a bang! From educational videos to competitions, Patch engages readers with a variety of content.

How to recreate it

1.) Less is more. Make sure your design is sleek, uncluttered and makes the most of white space. This is simple thanks to Engagement Cloud’s easy editor. Spacer blocks and image padding ensures your newsletters are clear and easy to read.

2.) Try something different. Experiment with your CTAs. Make them stand out by using bold colors or try something new with your copy. Whatever you do, testing is essential. By testing your CTAs, you can optimize your newsletter be the best they can be. For help getting started with testing, check out our testing worksheet.

3.) Mobile-ready. Never forget to test your emails to check they render correctly, no matter the device. All Engagement Cloud email templates come mobile-ready as standard.

3.) Fitbit

Fitbit shows its dedication to transforming people’s lives in their weekly newsletters. Aiming to empower and inspire, Fitbit uses data to deliver a personalized experience every week.

Fitbit newsletter

Why we love it

Easy – because it’s personal.

Fitbit are in a more unique position than most brands, as
its products are designed to collect data. This gives them a wealth of data to
work with. But it’s the idea behind it we love. Keeping people on track and
connected to the brand using the power of data.

How to recreate it

1.) Keep it connected. The key to personalization is data, so wherever it’s stored, make sure your systems are synced. The benefits of this are endless, from breaking down silos to keeping data clean. With information at your fingertips, delivering personalized customer experiences is smooth and simple.

2.) 1-2-1. Never forget that it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. Basic personalization such as subscribers’ names and genders are essential and should be gathered from your first touch with customers.

4.) charity: water

charity: water‘s mission is to bring clean, safe drinking water to developing countries. The newsletter targets supporters and proves the real impact donations can have. Short and concise copy, with a clear message and goal, helps charity: water achieve its mission.

charity: water newsletter

Why we love it

Charities are shifting their tone to focus on the positive
impact of giving. charity: water’s tone strikes all the right notes. It’s
positive and affirming and sparks a desire to donate through the emotive story
it tells. When people can see the genuine result of their generosity, they’re
more willing to give.

Its design is simple and clean. It doesn’t over complicate
its message and drive readers to one end goal – donating.

How to recreate it

1.) Storytelling. An emerging trend, telling your brand’s story is a quick, easy way to connect customers with your brand.

2.) Automate. Nonprofits, in particular, can benefit from intelligent marketing automation. Programs such as customer nurture can help you tell emotive stories and boost donations.

3.) Attention-grabbing. Readers decide whether they’re going to read your email within 12 seconds. That’s why it’s so important to deliver essential, relevant information quickly. An eye-catching image and bold header is a good way to good.

Getting your newsletters right

Not to sound like a broken record, but newsletters are an
invaluable part of your email marketing arsenal.

You need to carefully plan your sends to ensure success. ‘Content is king’ as they say, but without a slick design, your chances of being opened are low, and converting is even harder. You don’t have a lot of time to make an impact. Create a killer template and the content will follow.

I hope you’re feeling inspired to shake up your newsletter, but if you need a little more help, why not check out our 5 simple steps to awesome email design.  

KISS design cheatsheet download

The post Newsletters we love, why we love them, and how to recreate them appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 2 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Reporting: colors matter

At best, that’s frustrating for your reporting efforts. At worst, you’re failing on decisions that could impact your business.

To help improve the usability of reporting in Engagement Cloud, we have decided to update our data ink colors. ‘Data ink’ here means the important detail you read from charts, dashboards, and reports.

Meet our new palette, Viridis. Coming to Engagement cloud on July 3rd.

What was wrong with the old colors?

In data-ink terms, color should be about function not aesthetic.

What looks pleasing to the eye, or adheres to brand guidelines, is rarely what is needed to convey or enhance information.

Engagement Cloud’s previous reporting data ink used a combination of brand colors (pink and green) along with some generic colors. The charts looked on brand and the colors were distinct. 

However, the palette had some problems:

  • It didn’t work for people with colorblindness
  • Greyscale printing became impossible to read because the palette didn’t have a uniform luminance gradient; which determines the perceived brightness of colors
  • Colors were not perceptually uniform. Simply put: a change of the same amount in a color value should produce a change of about the same visual importance
  • Colors used for data ink should be able to show that something is less than, more than, before, or after, another value
  • The previous palette could not show clear graduations of good and bad (diverging values) on the same chart
  • The palette didn’t transition to a dark background. We wanted our charts to be easy to embed in our users’ presentations, whether they used a light or dark background

Viridis is a better color palette for data

With those thoughts, we are adopting Viridis for our data ink. The color palette was created by Stéfan van der Walt and Nathaniel Smith and is popular with data scientists.

As well as solving the specific data visualization challenges within Engagement Cloud’s reporting, Viridis also met the challenges around accessibility and colorblindness.

As you can see, irrespective of the type of colorblindness, the sequence of the colors is still understandable. For an eight-color diverging spectrum, that’s a huge achievement.

This is a hugely positive change, with benefits both to the increasing power of our data visualization and who you can share those visualizations with. Look out for these changes coming to Engagement Cloud on July 3rd.

For a sneak peek on what we’re working on, check out our roadmap here.

The post Reporting: colors matter appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

5 stages of the customer lifecycle and which emails to send

What is customer lifecycle marketing and why is it important?

Data-driven, customer lifecycle email campaigns are designed to deliver messages to customers at a time that suits them. It’s an email marketing strategy based on the idea of delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, throughout the whole business cycle.

Marketers can adopt highly specific and targeted email marketing techniques, due to the sophisticated nature of data collection and ever-advancing developments within dotdigital’s Engagement Cloud. It’s time to make maximum impact.

Sending the same emails to
everyone on your list is wrong and hinders your growth

At any given time, each customer is at a different point in their relationship with your product or brand. Think of the customer’s lifecycle as a journey – everyone has their own journey in their own time. Rather than sending bulk generic emails to all your recipients, customer lifecycle emails are targeted to specific customers at crucial points in their own individual journey.

With the level
of advanced email tools available to date, batch-and-blast emails should be a very
small proportion of the emails you are sending. This mentality of quantity over
quality is no longer effective in today’s email marketing world.

Leaving behind the spray-and-pray mindset and focusing on lifecycle marketing is the key to increasing email ROI.

Customer lifecycle marketing is the key to increasing email ROI

Basing your
email campaigns on the customer lifecycle will produce better conversions,
because the email content targets the individual recipient. Even if your recipients
don’t convert right away, they’ll still find your emails valuable.

How you define your customer lifecycle is specific to you and your brand. The typical customer lifecycle includes these five stages:

1. Prospects

Prospects are people or companies who aren’t customers… yet. They fit in with your buyer persona and they’ve had a minimal level of interaction and engagement with your brand.

Make sure to encourage them to make their first purchase; incentivizing them with a discount always helps. Ensure you set up a welcome program to make that important great first impression.

Here are some nice welcome email ideas:

  • Nasty Gal prompts new contacts to check out the blog and connect on social.
  • Kate Spade’s compelling welcome message gives you four reasons to visit the online store.
  • FUNFIT welcomes new subscribers with a 15% off their first order along with useful CTAs.

2. Active customers

These are people who have already made at least one purchase. It can also apply to those who have made multiple purchases. I would recommend segmenting these customers into several groups based on their purchasing habits.

For example, you might split those who purchase seasonally separately to those who purchase weekly. You need to ensure you keep these customers engaged so they continue buying from you. Additionally, you should be sending these customers transactional emails and replenishment emails.

3. At-risk customers

I class at-risk customers as those who were previously active but whose behavior has since dwindled – i.e. they haven’t made a purchase in a while.

How you determine when a customer moves from ‘active’ to ‘at risk’ is entirely dependent on your products and customers.

If you’re an automotive online brand, you may only expect the customer to purchase once during their car’s lifespan. However, if you’re a women’s fashion brand you might place someone ‘at risk’ if they don’t make a purchase after 30-60 days.

Deliver tailored content to each segment

You need to turn these at-risk customers in to active customers before they lapse. I won’t sugar-coat this; it can be difficult to re-engage someone unless you know specifically why they lost interest.

In addition, one of the most effective ways to contact them is through email, which doesn’t help if they’ve learned to ignore your emails. Try and understand what caused the customers to disengage initially.

You can’t send every email subscriber the same content, you must segment based on their past interactions with your brand and deliver tailored content to each segment. Optimizing the frequency of your emails will also help so you don’t overwhelm your customers.

4. Lapsed customers

These are the customers who have long gone past the point they were supposed to make a purchase and don’t respond to your emails. You need to reactivate these customers. Like at-risk customers, I’d suggest running some win-back style email campaigns to turn lapsed customers in to active customers. It can be tough, but not impossible. Lapsed customers don’t work in our favor as they are further away from your brand. Trying to win back old customers will make you understand why it’s so important to keep your current ones!

And remember, acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. So, don’t let your customers drop off!

5. Advocates

Look after your advocates, for these are the people that not only purchase your products regularly, but also promote your brand – on social media or simply by word of mouth. They are at the height of the customer lifecycle.

You want to nurture and reward these customers, so they stay engaged and continue to promote for you. You may decide to send your advocates special content – make sure to include something exclusive in your emails to drive home the point that your recipients aren’t like your regular customers.

Here are a couple of ideas of loyalty-style emails:

  • Starbucks rewards customers with bonus stars when they buy coffee and extended happy hours.
  • Madewell thanks its customers for joining the Insider gang and outlines all the ‘just-for-you’ perks.

You need to map out your customer lifecycle and create emails for customers at each stage. This will improve your conversion rates and build a stronger brand following.

Although it may
require some time and resource for strategy and implementation, once set up, it
will deliver business results continuously. Your dotdigital account manager can
help with this – make sure you get in touch.

Want more great content? Check out the five key stages of lifecycle marketing automation here.

The post 5 stages of the customer lifecycle and which emails to send appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Why we need Pride more than ever

Many view Pride as just another stint in the corporate activism calendar. If that’s what you think Pride is about then you’re wrong. Brands that celebrate Pride just as a competitive counter-move – “Well if they’re doing it, we should do it too” – need to wake up and smell the coffee. The momentum should come from brand virtues, not corporate greed. This isn’t a commercial price war or an aggressive marketing campaign.

This is people’s rights and freedoms.

Why Pride?

Pride is no longer a gay or
lesbian movement – it’s come to represent every minority in a bid to rid
society of its injustices. We want to live in an open and inclusive society
where everyone can be who they want to be and love whoever they want.

When people complain that there isn’t a straight Pride I just think: what injustices come with being straight? Do heterosexual couples fear harassment when showing public displays of affection? No. Does a heterosexual man suffer the abuse that a transgender might? Absolutely not. Hate crimes occur even in the most forward-thinking of communities – and far too often. Just a fortnight ago two women were assaulted on a London bus in a vicious hate crime because of their sexual orientation.

My experience of hate: A couple of years ago I was moments away from being physically assaulted when I was walking home from a nightclub with a friend. A seemingly nice man quickly turned on me when he realized I was gay, first saying that I hadn’t found the right woman, and then shouting, “you guys disgust me”. He started to blaspheme and get aggressive. Luckily, we were only a few minutes from my flat in Old Street, so I ran.

I was in so much shock that I went home for the weekend as I didn’t feel safe in London.

Remember Stonewall?

Pride celebrations were originally a political force to be reckoned with: think about the Stonewall riots in New York City in the summer of 1969. The underlying aim of this movement has always been to create a world where LGBTQ people don’t need to fight for equality. Sure, we’ve come a long way in countries like Belgium, Canada, Spain, Australia – even in the United States where in 2015 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples can marry nationwide.

Yet one of the criticisms of Pride is that it’s become more about the party (thanks partly to the progress that’s been made) than the politics itself. And it’s much easier to monetize a party. I bet the majority of young partygoers at Pride events don’t know who Ruth Simpson and Harvey Milk were.

We need to strike the right balance. Pride is about celebrating and having a good time; but we’ve also got to sober up and remember what the point of it is. Countless people before us, like those brave protesters in Greenwich Village in 1969, stood up to oppression and fought for our rights. If you haven’t seen Pride – a critically-acclaimed film which tells the story of an unlikely union between gay and lesbian activists and the Welsh miners in the 1980s – watch it. It epitomizes the spirit of Pride and highlights the enduring hardship of gay activism.  

Educate and mobilize

Brands have the power to support people globally. They have a responsibility to promote an inclusive and supportive working environment; that means educating their employees, customers, and stakeholders on LGBTQ issues. Such a support network empowers society to be more open-minded and liberal. Businesses will use their commercial arsenal – content, events, and merchandise – to spread the word.  

Yes, Pride shouldn’t be treated
as a commoditization – but in our capitalist world it’s hard not to see it that
way. The arguments that Pride has become a money-making ploy shouldn’t
discourage brands to get involved, because most aren’t in it for commercial
gain.

Rather, it’s about entering and
investing in the political debate.

Pride events have by no means
been stripped of politics. The threats of violence and oppression towards the
LGBTQ community worldwide underline the ongoing necessity of Pride month as a
political movement.

For example, many countries suppress LGBTQ rights and threaten people’s basic civil liberties. Closer to home, The Guardian reports that in the UK offenses have doubled since 2014 against gay and lesbian people and trebled against trans people. The sad fact is that there are still bigoted people out there whose intolerance undermines what our society stands for: respect.

Pride continues to act as a force for a better future, even in 2019. And we all have a responsibility to uphold its community-building values: diversity, individuality, and sexuality.   

In 2019…

These injustices fuel Pride’s raison d’ être. Yes, it’s a celebration of love. But it’s also a fight for a fairer, more equal, future.

Stand up to hate

If there were ever a time to embrace the Pride movement – it’s now. We need to fight for the teenagers who are too scared to come out to their parents. We need to stand up to aggressive homophobes and misogynists. We need to defend women’s rights in countries where they are treated like second-class citizens. We need to stamp down on xenophobia. We need to face up to racists who attack people because of the color of their skin. We need to protect minorities. We need to challenge laws that enslave people. We need to stand up to prejudices.  

We are gays and lesbians. We are
trans. We are women. We are black. We are Christians. We are Muslims. We have
disabilities. We are feminists. We are immigrants. We love one another. We are
PRIDE.         

Remember, love has no labels. Click here for more inspiration.

*Hero photo: People in Taksim Square taking part in the LGBT pride parade in Istanbul, Turkey.

The post Why we need Pride more than ever appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Learning and development with dotdigital

Following your feedback, we’ve updated the dotlive format. To
ensure everyone leaves empowered to adopt the new tactics we discuss, we’ve
tailored our dotlives to address the specific challenges faced by B2B, B2C, and
non-profit organizations. For each dotlive, we’ll be hosting two separate
sessions, so you can choose the one most relevant to you and your sector.

Want to know more? Here’s a little taster of our upcoming events:

The fundamentals of modern marketing

With the days of ‘batch and blast’ email marketing long behind us, we’ll be looking at how brands can meet the exacting demands of modern customers.

Creating personalized engagements is essential to target the
right person, at the right time, with the right message. Without that, your
marketing will be having little to no impact cutting through the noise in
consumers’ inboxes. During this dotlive, we will be revealing the types of personalization
that generate unforgettable impressions with your audiences – from simple
subject lines to advanced dynamic content.

Don’t miss out. Reserve your seat at our B2B and not-for-profit, or B2C dotlive today.

Lifecycle marketing: everything you need to know

Customer journeys are no longer as simple as the traditional
marketing funnel. The path to purchase is longer and customers judge brands based
on their experiences throughout more stages than ever before. Getting these
experiences right is key to your business growth, improving retention and brand
advocacy.

Sounds tough, right? Thankfully, during this dotlive, we’ll
be looking at the key automations that will smooth every stage of the customer
journey. Save yourself time and money while you watch your sales skyrocket.

Join the revolution making marketing simple. Reserve your place in either our B2B, not-for-profit or B2C seminar today

Adopting an omnichannel strategy

Despite the numerous articles out there professing the opposite
– email isn’t dead.

But that doesn’t mean you should be concentrating your
resources on email as an independent entity in your marketing strategy. Adopting
an omnichannel strategy, adding channels such as SMS, chat, and push alongside
your email campaigns drives customer engagement rates up by over 250%.

Whether you’re getting ready to use new channels or have
your data all set up and ready to go, this dotlive will show you the most effective
ways to advance your digital marketing.

Dates TBC. Check out our events page for updates.

Make sure you never miss one of dotditigal’s amazing events by subscribing to our newsletter.

The post Learning and development with dotdigital appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 4 weeks ago from blog.dotdigital.com

dotdigital roadmap – paving the way from clicks to customer engagement

You’re invited to a morning of insight that will help you get the most out of Engagement Cloud; plus, we’ve set time aside to talk about projects that we’re still working on.

Change is an important part of any successful business, so we thought it would be a good idea to give you some insight into our key roadmap items and how customer feedback influences what we build. 

Behind the scenes

In our company’s infancy we were simply an Email Service Provider – or ‘ESP’ as it is now commonly abbreviated to. Although, once you start learning about ramp-ups and deliverability, email doesn’t seem so simple anymore – luckily, we have a dedicated team to help with that!

20 years on, whilst the market has crowded, and its players have converged – we’re still standing strong. Of course, this doesn’t happen unless you have a taskforce and customer base that are receptive to change.

The change

I’m sure you’ve clocked our rebrand to dotdigital and I hope
you’ve also noticed our change in direction (in terms of what our tech can do).
Today, marketers can use Engagement Cloud to send omnichannel marketing
messages to the right audience, at the right time, and on the right channel.

We wouldn’t have come this far had it not been for you. Whether you’re fresh to dotdigital or a long-standing customer that we’ve served for 10+ years, we work extremely hard to understand how you use our platform and what we can do better to help you improve.

The feedback

If you’ve visited our roadmap before, you might have spotted a green tab at the side for feedback and ideas.

We invite anyone, including our thousands of users, to tell us how we can make Engagement Cloud better. Some great developments have been put in motion thanks to some of the feedback we’ve received – one of which is RFM segmentation (coming soon!).

The future

Besides our public roadmap, we use dotlives, webinars,
customer interviews, and other opportunities to gather valuable feedback. You
may have even received a beta program invite from one of our product managers;
betas are a way for us to get feedback prior to launch whilst giving our
customers the opportunity to shape the products they’ll be using in the future.

So, join us on the 27th of June when I’ll be running through the items on our roadmap in a little more detail. I’ll focus on the projects that are particularly relevant to the agenda on the day and fill you in on the beta programs we’re running. Most importantly though, please stick around and give me your two cents’ worth over a tea or coffee after the sessions!

Click here to register for our dotlive.

The post dotdigital roadmap – paving the way from clicks to customer engagement appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com

8 ways to improve the SEO of your ecommerce website

Did you know that 93% of
all online experiences start from a search engine? Not to mention, 37.5%
of the traffic
to ecommerce websites comes from  search, as revealed by SEMrush. That’s a
sizeable chunk that cannot be ignored.

Let’s suppose a prospect is
searching for a product that you provide. How do you think he or she will  find your site? Via  a search engine. The only catch is that your
ecommerce site should be ranking high in the search results because 75% of
people will never scroll past the first results page.

All this brings us to SEO, the key to ranking your website higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) and boosting your revenue. So, without further ado, let’s walk you through 10 practical ways to improve your SEO:

1. Hunt down the right keywords

The right keywords
aren’t always low-hanging fruit, easily available and ready to be used in your
content. If anything, these take some digging around. Aim to find long-tail
keywords that can assist you in ranking high for niche-specific topics. A
long-tail keyword is a term that consists of three or more words.

These keywords
attract a narrowed down target audience. For example, if you have a store that
sells pet accessories, don’t target ‘pet accessories’ as the keyword. Instead, use
a long-tail keyword like ‘pet accessories under $100.’

Think along the lines of user queries. Try to be specific and type in conversational queries for finding out the right keywords. If you find keyword research difficult, consider working with an SEO Marketing Agency.

2. Create blog content

Blogging for your
ecommerce site is the recipe for SEO success. Research confirms that companies
that blog get 434% more indexed pages than those that don’t. Hence, you shouldn’t
just incorporate keywords in your web content and product descriptions only.
Instead, you should also write blog posts around the long-tail keywords that
you research.

While you’re at it, create engaging meta descriptions for each post that you write. Meta descriptions are small descriptions that show under a blog post’s title in the search engine. An attention-grabbing description will urge readers to click on your content and read it, driving leads your way.

3. Fix site errors

Site errors can
negatively impact your  SEO. For
instance, a 404 error code tells Google and other search engines that the page
doesn’t exist. Therefore, it doesn’t index it.

Use tools such as Screaming Frog to unearth website errors. This free tool scans your websites’ links, CSS, script, images, and more from an SEO lens. Following the examination, Screaming Fog delivers a summary of the errors, missing header tags, duplicate pages, etc. Once you get a hold of these errors, correct them quickly to boost site usability, which can help to improve your conversion rate.

4. Pay attention to site speed

In 2018, Google confirmed
that speed was an important ranking influencer. Besides impacting your ranking,
site speed also affects user experience. Slow speed will discourage a visitor
from spending time on your website, culminating in an increased bounce rate and
poor SEO results.

Research estimates that a second’s delay in page load could lead to a loss of $2.5 million in sales annually. Moreover, 53% of mobile users abandon a site when it takes longer than three seconds to load.

To this end, take steps to improve your site’s speed. Use tools like Web Page Test to find out your ecommerce site’s page load speed. Then, take steps to improve load speed, for example, by optimizing your images to reduce their size.

5. Reduce the architectural depth of your site

Your site’s architecture
reveals its structure – the way it branches out. For instance, the home page
goes to the product category, which then leads to a sub-category. This may dive
further into other pages.

However, in-depth
choices can confuse the reader and minimize site usability. Such a setting also
buries a smaller category section. The best way to design your site
architecture for enhancing eCommerce SEO is to construct a horizontal
architecture, which limits the vertical depth of pages.

Try to develop a shallow site architecture where pages are located in one or two subcategories. In this way, Google is able to crawl and index your site quickly and easily.

6. Encourage social traffic to your ecommerce site

Interactions on
social media can help drive branded search your way while increasing your
visibility. As you grow an engaged presence on social, you will develop an
active community of fans, which can drive good traffic your way.

In fact, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are the three leading social platforms that contribute 90% of all social traffic to websites and blogs. With the increased traffic and engagement via social, you can boost your site’s authenticity, which takes your SEO game up by a notch.

7. Take care of on-page SEO

On-page SEO covers
optimizing your site’s pages for search engines optimization. One of the main
steps here is mentioned above: writing compelling meta-descriptions with the
keyword in them. Additionally, use click magnet words in your title tag as Backlinko
suggests
. For example, try ‘X% off’ or ‘lowest price’ for boosting
your click-through rates (CTR).

Similarly, add click-encouraging words in your product descriptions as well. Try words like ‘items on sales’, ‘free shipping,’ and other such words to maximize CTR. Lastly, for your blog content, create awesome content with 1000+ words and add your keyword 3-5 times throughout.

8. Pay attention to local SEO

86% of consumers
take to the internet to search for a local business. Consequently, you need to
pay attention to local SEO to show up in your prospect’s search. To this end,
set up a Google
My Business
account. 

This account will
log your business’s details into Google’s database and shows your store in
local search results. Next, try to get some local links to your site, also
known as backlinks. You can get backlinks from review sites and listings such
as Yellow Pages.

Any coverage from
local news outlets, magazines, PR releases, and other local websites and media
can also give you backlinks. These links boost your search engine ranking by signaling
to Google that you are authentic and known in your area.

Final thoughts

Improving your
ecommerce SEO demands work. However, it’s worth all the effort and time you
invest in it, and it will help you with your long term strategy goals To
quickly recap, focus on local and on-page SEO, rectify any errors on your site,
and use keywords in your content.

The post 8 ways to improve the SEO of your ecommerce website appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 month ago from blog.dotdigital.com