7 ways to boost ecommerce emails with social proof

So, what if there were a way to increase email conversions and improve customer experience – all without changing anything about the product or the price? Social proof uses readily available content to boost ecommerce emails, without the need for discounts or elaborate creative.

Why you need social proof

Social proof is the phenomenon where we
imitate others in order to make the right decision. When you crave an outfit
you just saw on Instagram or choose a busy restaurant over the quieter one next
door, you’re experiencing the effects of social proof.

This isn’t just a psychological tactic to
influence shoppers. Research shows that consumers see social proof as a key part
of the buying process.

Here, we’ll explore two types of social proof you can use to improve the performance of bulk and triggered emails:

Peer social proof

When making a purchase, consumers look for
unbiased sources of information such as ratings,
reviews
, and photos of real people
using the product. This is also called user-generated content (UGC).

For shoppers, ratings and reviews are a
crucial part of the buying process. 61 percent of customers look for product
reviews when making a purchase, while more than half (56 percent) find star
ratings helpful, and 29 percent want content from other customers.

Brands and retailers can help customers make better, faster decisions by including user-generated social proof in emails.

Wisdom of the crowd

When faced with a lot of options, we prefer to
follow what other people like us are doing.

You can use popularity messaging (e.g. ‘50
people bought this today’) to highlight what fellow customers are viewing and
purchasing. This adds urgency, informs shoppers what’s trending, and makes
stock more desirable.

Popularity messaging doesn’t require users to generate content for you – you can let the data speak for itself!

Here are some easy ways to enhance ecommerce emails with social proof.

1. Triggered emails: build trust with star ratings

Shoppers often abandon their cart because they aren’t ready to make a final decision. Triggered cart and browse abandonment emails are an opportunity to reduce purchase anxiety by including star ratings from existing customers.

Above is a great example of how social proof
can add value to shopping recovery emails without hugely altering the creative.
Star ratings fit in naturally alongside other essential information like
product imagery and delivery cost. Including the number of ratings adds another
layer of trust.

In a small space, Glasses Direct provides customers with a wealth of information to feel confident about completing their order.

2. Triggered emails: reassure shoppers with product reviews

Customer reviews go one step further than star ratings, giving detailed information about a customer’s positive experience of your product. Shoppers can more easily come to a smart decision when they know how your products perform in real life.

This example from Emma Bridgewater shows how reviews can complement vital product information and nudge customers towards completing a purchase.

3. Triggered emails: increase urgency with product popularity

You can harness the effect of social proof in
triggered emails even without user generated content. Popularity messaging uses
readily available browse and purchase data to show what other customers are
doing in real time.

This reassures recipients that your products
are proving popular, and increases urgency by indicating that the item may sell
out.

Cottages.com uses viewing data in booking abandonment emails to ensure that customers don’t miss out on their desired property:

Bulk marketing emails are the perfect occasion
to keep customers informed about your top-rated items. This builds trust and
shows shoppers that you care about providing them with the best quality
products.

For added impact, suggestions can be filtered by the recipient’s favorite category, as in this great product recommendation email from Bed Bath & Beyond:

5. Bulk emails: drive engagement with customer reviews

Bulk marketing emails can have lower
conversion rates than triggered messages, as they are not a direct response to
customers’ actions on your website. This means you have to work harder to
persuade customers to click through.

Providing brief customer reviews in marketing emails can spark the interest of customers who weren’t actively shopping for your products. Here’s an example from Molton Brown:

6. Bulk emails: encourage urgency with trending products

Highlight trending items with popularity
messaging to build trust in your products.

This has a two-pronged effect of tapping into
consumers’ fear of missing out (“What if the product sells out?”) and desire to
follow a consensus (“Other people are buying it, so it must be good!”)

In this email, VioVet adds urgency with messaging showing how fellow customers are interacting with the products right now:

7. Bulk emails: Inspire shoppers with social media content

Social media feeds let shoppers see your
products in real-life situations, so they can make an informed decision.

User-generated images appeal to customers’
emotions: shoppers can imagine how they will feel once they own your products.

Social media feeds can also encourage micro
conversions: While recipients might not be ready to make a purchase, they could
be persuaded to follow your social channels for more inspiration.

This email from LaRedoute makes shoppers feel part of a tribe by encouraging them to share their style:

Getting started with social proof

To get started, you’ll need to use a trusted ratings and reviews provider to collect customer feedback. Make sure that you have the right tools to incorporate ratings and review content, popularity data, and social media feeds into emails in real time.

For maximum impact, incorporate social proof
on your website to inspire shoppers at every stage of the journey. Consider
using a dedicated real-time marketing platform to provide a joined-up customer
experience without investing too much resource.

Download
The Retail Social Proof Barometer
to discover five types of social proof shoppers look for when making a purchase
decision.

The post 7 ways to boost ecommerce emails with social proof appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 5 hours ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Rural Local SEO: A Marketing Package Strong on Education

Posted by MiriamEllis

Can your marketing agency make a profit working with low-budget clients in rural areas?

Could you be overlooking a source of referrals, publicity, and professional satisfaction if you’re mainly focused on landing larger clients in urban locales? Clients in least-populated areas need to capture every customer they can get to be viable, including locals, new neighbors, and passers-through. Basic Local SEO can go a long way toward helping with this, and even if package offerings aren’t your agency’s typical approach, a simple product that emphasizes education could be exactly what’s called for.

Today, I’d like to help you explore your opportunities of serving rural and very small town clients. I’ve pulled together a sample spreadsheet and a ton of other resources that I hope will empower you to develop a bare-bones but high-quality local search marketing package that will work for most and could significantly benefit your agency in some remarkable ways.

Everything in moderation

The linchpin fundamental to the rural client/agency relationship is that the needs of these businesses are so exceedingly moderate. The competitive bar is set so low in a small-town-and-country setting, that, with few exceptions, clients can make a strong local showing with a pared-down marketing plan.

Let’s be honest — many businesses in this scenario can squeak by on a website design package from some giant web hosting agency. A few minutes spent with Google’s non-urban local packs attest to this. But I’m personally dissatisfied by independent businesses ending up being treated like numbers because it’s so antithetical to the way they operate. The local hardware store doesn’t put you on hold for 45 minutes to answer a question. The local farm stand doesn’t route you overseas to buy heirloom tomatoes. Few small town institutions stay in business for 150 years by overpromising and under-delivering.

Let’s assume that many rural clients will have some kind of website. If they don’t, you can recommend some sort of freebie or cheapie solution. It will be enough to get them placed somewhere in Google’s results, but if they never move beyond this, the maximum conversions they need to stay in business could be missed.

I’ve come to believe that the small-to-medium local marketing agency is the best fit for the small-to-medium rural brand because of shared work ethics and a similar way of doing business. But both entities need to survive monetarily and that means playing a very smart game with a budget on both sides.

It’s a question of organizing an agency offering that delivers maximum value with a modest investment of your time and the client’s money.

Constructing a square deal

When you take on a substantial client in a large town or city, you pull out all the stops. You dive deeply into auditing the business, its market, its assets. You look at everything from technical errors to creative strengths before beginning to build a strategy or implement campaigns, and there may be many months or years of work ahead for you with these clients. This is all entirely appropriate for big, lucrative contracts.

For your rural roster, prepare to scale way back. Here is your working plan:

1. Schedule your first 15-minute phone call with the client

Avoid the whole issue of having to lollygag around waiting for a busy small business owner to fill out a form. Schedule an appointment and have the client be at their place of business in front of a computer at the time of the call. Confirm the following, ultra-basic data about the client.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone
  • URL
  • Business model (single location brick-and-mortar, SAB, etc.)
  • Category
  • Are there any other businesses at this address?
  • Main products/services offered
  • If SAB, list of cities served
  • Most obvious search phrase they want to rank for
  • Year established and year they first took the business online
  • Have they ever been aware of a penalty on their website or had Google tell them they were removing a listing?
  • Finally, have the client (who is in front of their computer at their place of business) search for the search term that’s the most obviously important and read off to you the names and URLs of the businesses ranking in the local pack and on the first page of the organic results.

And that’s it. If you pay yourself $100/hr, this quick session yields a charge of $25.

2. Make a one-time investment in writing a bare-bones guide to Local SEO

Spend less than one working day putting together a .pdf file or Google doc written in the least-technical language containing the following:

  • Your briefest, clearest definition of what local SEO is and how it brings customers to local businesses. Inspiration here.
  • An overview of 3 key business models: brick & mortar, SAB, and home-based so the client can easily identify which of these models is theirs.
  • A complete copy of the Guidelines for representing your business on Google with a link in it to the live guidelines.
  • Foolproof instructions for creating a Google account and creating and claiming a GMB listing. Show the process step-by-step so that anyone can understand it. Inspiration here.
  • A list of top general industry citation platforms with links to the forms for getting listed on them. Inspiration here and if the client can hit at least a few of these, they will be off to a good start.
  • An overview of the role of review acquisition and response, with a few simple tips for earning reviews and a list of the top general industry review platforms. Inspiration here and here.
  • An overview of the role of building offline relationships to earn a few online linktations. Inspiration here.
  • Links to the Google My Business forum and the main Google support platforms including their phone number (844.491.9665), Facebook, Twitter, and online chat. Tell the client this is where to go if they encounter a problem with their Google listing in the future.
  • Links to major independent business associations as a support vehicle for small and rural businesses like AMIBA, ILSR, and Small Business Saturday. Inspiration here.
  • Your agency’s complete contact information so that the business can remember who you are and engage you for further consulting down the road, if ever necessary.

If you pay yourself $100 an hour, investing in creating this guide will cost you less than $1000.00. That’s a modest amount that you can quickly earn back from clients. Hopefully, the inspirational links I’ve included will give you a big head start. Avoid covering anything trendy (like some brand new Google feature) so that the only time you should have to update the guide in the near future will be if Google makes some major changes to their guidelines or dashboard.

Deliver this asset to every rural client as their basic training in the bare essentials of local marketing.

3. Create a competitive audit spreadsheet once and fill it out ad infinitum

What you want here is something that lets you swiftly fill in the blanks.

For the competitive audit, you’ll be stacking up your client’s metrics against the metrics of the business they told you was ranking at the top of the local pack when they searched from their location. You can come up with your own metrics, or you can make a copy of this template I’ve created for you and add to it/subtract from it as you like.

Make a copy of the ultra-basic competitive local audit template — you can do so right here.

You’ll notice that my sample sheet does not delve deeply into some of the more technical or creative areas you might explore for clients in tougher markets. With few exceptions, rural clients just don’t need that level of insight to compete.

Give yourself 45 focused minutes filling in the data in the spreadsheet. You’ve now invested 1 hour of time with the client. So let’s give that a value of $100.

4. Transfer the findings of your audit into a custom report

Here’s another one-time investment. Spend no more than one workday creating a .pdf or Google Docs template that takes the fields of your audit and presents them in a readable format for the client. I’m going to leave exact formatting up to you, but here are the sections I would recommend structuring the report around:

  • A side-by-side comparison of the client vs. competitor metrics, bucketed by topic (Website, GMB, Reputation, Links, Citations, etc)
  • A very basic explanation of what those metrics mean
  • A clear recommendation of what the client should do to improve their metrics

For example, your section on reputation might look like this:

The beauty of this is that, once you have the template, all you have to do is fill it out and then spend an hour making intelligent observations based on your findings.

Constructing the template should take you less than one workday; so, a one-time investment of less than $1,000 if you are paying yourself $100/hr.

Transferring the findings of your audit from the spreadsheet to the report for each client should take about 1 hour. So, we’re now up to two total hours of effort for a unique client.

5. Excelling at value

So, you’ve now had a 15-minute conversation with a client, given them an introductory guide to the basics of local search marketing, and delivered a customized report filled with your observations and their to-dos. Many agencies might call it a day and leave the client to interpret the report on their own.

But you won’t do that, because you don’t want to waste an incredible opportunity to build a firm relationship with a business. Instead, spend one more hour on the phone with the owner, going over the report with them page by page and allowing a few minutes for any of their questions. This is where you have the chance to deliver exceptional value to the client, telling them exactly what you think will be most helpful for them to know in a true teaching moment.

At the end of this, you will have become a memorable ally, someone they trust, and someone to whom they will have confidence in referring their colleagues, family members, and neighbors.

You’ve made an overall investment of less than $2,000 to create your rural/small town marketing program.

Packaging up the guide, the report and the 1:1 phone consulting, you have a base price of $300 for the product if you pay yourself $100/hour.

However, I’m going to suggest that, based on the level of local SEO expertise you bring to the scenario, you create a price point somewhere between $300–$500 for the package. If you are still relatively green at local SEO, $300 could be a fair price for three hours of consulting. If you’re an industry adept, scale it up a bit because, because you bring a rare level of insight to every client interaction, even if you’re sticking to the absolute basics. Begin selling several of these packages in a week, and it will start totaling up to a good monthly revenue stream.

As a marketer, I’ve generally shied away from packages because whenever you dig deeply into a client’s scenario, nuances end up requiring so much custom research and communication. But, for the very smallest clients in this least competitive markets, packages can hit the spot.

Considerable benefits for your agency

The client is going to walk away from the relationship with a good deal … and likely a lot to do. If they follow your recommendations, it will typically be just what they needed to establish themselves on the web to the extent that neighbors and travelers can easily find them and choose them for transactions. Good job!

But you’re going to walk away with some amazing benefits, too, some of which you might not have considered before. To wit:

1. Relationships and the ripple effect

A client you’ve treated very well on the phone is a client who is likely to remember you for future needs and recommend you. I’ve had businesses send me lovely gifts on top of my consulting fee because I’ve taken the time to really listen and answer questions. SEO agencies are always looking for ways to build authentic relationships. Don’t overlook the small client as a centroid of referrals throughout a tight-knit community and beyond it to their urban colleagues, friends, and family.

2. Big data for insights and bragging rights

If your package becomes popular, a ton of data is going to start passing through your hands. The more of these audits you do, the more time you’re spending actively observing Google’s handling of the localized SERPs. Imagine the blog posts your agency can begin publishing by anonymizing and aggregating this data, pulling insights of value to our industry. There is no end to the potential for you to grow your knowledge.

Apart from case studies, think of the way this package can both build up your proud client roster and serve as a source of client reviews. The friendly relationship you’ve built with that 1:1 time can now become a font of very positive portfolio content and testimonials for you to publish on your website.

3. Agency pride from helping rebuild rural America

Have you noticed the recent spate of hit TV shows that hinge on rebuilding dilapidated American towns? Industry consolidation is most often cited as the root of rural collapse, with small farmers and independent businesses no longer able to create a tax base to support basic community needs like hospitals, fire departments, and schools. Few of us rejoice at the idea of Main Streets — long-cherished hallmarks not just of Americana but of shared American identity — becoming ghost towns.

But if you look for it, you can see signs of brilliant small entrepreneurs uniting to buck this trend. Check out initiatives like Locavesting and Localstake. There’s a reason to hope in small farming co-ops, the Main Street movement, and individuals like these who can re-envision a crumbling building as an independent country store, a B&B, or a job training center with Internet access.

It can be a source of professional satisfaction for your marketing agency if you offer these brave and hard-working business owners a good deal and the necessary education they need to present themselves sufficiently on the web. I live in a rural area, and I know just how much a little, solid advice can help. I feel extra good if I know I’m contributing to America’s rural comeback story.

Promoting your rural local SEO package

Once you’ve got your guide and templates created, what next? Here are some simple tips:

  • Create a terrific landing page on your website specifically for this package and call it out on your homepage as well. Wherever appropriate, build internal links to it.
  • Promote on social media.
  • Blog about why you’ve created the package, aligning your agency as an ally to the rebuilding of rural communities.
  • If, like me, you live in a rural area, consider presenting at local community events that will put you in front of small business owners.
  • Don’t overlook old school media like community message boards at the local post office, or even fliers tacked to electric poles.
  • If you’re a city slicker, consider how far you’d have to travel to get to the nearest rural community to participate in events.
  • Advertising both off and online in rural papers can be quite economical. There are also place of worship print bulletins, local school papers, and other publications that welcome sponsors. Give it a try.
  • And, of course, ask happy clients to refer you, telling them what it means to your business. You might even develop a referral program.

The truth is that your agency may not be able to live by rural clients, alone. You may still be targeting the bulk of your campaigns towards urban enterprises because just a few highly competitive clients can bring welcome security to your bank account.

But maybe this is a good day to start looking beyond the fast food franchise, the NY attorney and the LA dermatology group. The more one reads about rural entrepreneurs, the more one tends to empathize with them, and empathy is the best foundation I know of for building rewarding business relationships.

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 1 day ago from tracking.feedpress.it

intu: Using preferences to meet customer expectations in the inbox

In 2018 brands should be basing their communications on customers’ preferences. This ensures that every message resonates with them, regardless of whichever channel they chose.

It’s a lot to take on board to ensure that customers are engaging with the content brands are putting out. One of the brands that has recognized the importance of this complex strategy is intu, the UK’s largest online shopping center.

intu created a bespoke preference center to ensure that their customers can update or change their preferences on their mobile phones – all with a few swipes and taps of a finger.

The customer

intu has bricks-and-clicks shops, managing several shopping centers throughout the UK (and Europe) and hosting an online shopping portal that showcases the UK’s best brands. intu also allows in-center stores and online retail behemoths to showcase their full collections, aggregating in-center and exclusive online offers and promotions.

What did they want to achieve?

intu hadn’t used dotdigital Engagement Cloud previously. Working with various members across the account management, custom technical solutions (CTS), and onboarding teams, intu was given a thorough grounding in our core product and bespoke solution capabilities. This meant that they could hit the ground running.

Making the most of our bespoke technical services team, Intu wanted to build a preference center that allowed subscribers to change their personal details and update their preferences directly from email. As many customers now check their emails on their mobiles, intu knew that making their preference center look sleek on handheld devices was important; the brand needed a mobile-first preference center.

In addition to a responsive design across mobile and desktop, the preference center needed to be easy to use, not compromising on functionality or data capture. Ensuring the preference center was mobile-ready meant that their customers could take advantage of intu’s free Wi-Fi hotspots and directly update their preferences in-center.

How did the customer work with CTS?

intu’s preference center is built to extract updated contact information and pass it back to CRM so that intu always has current and relevant unsubscribe data. Off the back of the data collected, intu can trigger birthday programs, personalize emails with first names, and tailor email content based on gender and location.

intu and dotdigital approached the preference center as a collaborative process. dotdigital provided expert technology and intu provided high quality designs that minimize scrolling and produce a seamless user journey. The result is stunning.

The whole process worked really well. Our PM [Project Manager] not only kept us up to date with the progress at each stage, but also adapted to our ever-changing needs quickly and professionally. The preference center will allow us to power our segments fully and automatically. These preferences are key to ensuring we deliver the right message to the right person at the right time and have already started to see our enriched profile numbers increase, as well as engagement. So far, the preference center hasn’t had its own awareness campaign, but we are seeing around 1% of clicks on this organically which is an increase of 50%. Our enriched profiles have gone up an average of 2% extra this month, with this being a strong contributor to this growth. We will be utilizing this on the back of our Wi-Fi welcome journey. As 90% of our new sign-ups come from our center Wi-Fi users, we need to enrich these profiles quickly as we only get their email address. This will allow them to opt in and out of different communications and submit their preferences easily.

Shane Bond, Email Marketing Manager at intu

We are really looking forward to working more with Shane and the rest of the team at intu to harness the power of their data and enable them to make data-driven marketing decisions.

Looking for a preference center? For either simple or more sophisticated preference centers, check out the creative services and custom technical solutions sections of our service station.

The post intu: Using preferences to meet customer expectations in the inbox appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 3 days ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Why use AI-powered product recommendations?

A humble bestseller product recommendation is an easy win. For a little effort and low data dependencies, it gives you strong revenue uplift.

Bestsellers’ high performance makes sense.

Your most popular products are popular for good reason. They exist at key intersections of value, features, desirability, quality, and trend.

Amplifying any of those signals to your audience is always going to make you money. It’s easy to understand why it’s one of the most popular types of product recommendations.

Job done, right? Why do you need AI?

Avoiding saturation

After you’ve marketed your bestsellers for a time, you may hit a couple of challenges.

First, bestsellers favor your more established products. Unless new products are immediately successful, a recommendation can become self-reinforcing. It can be hard to get different products to breakthrough.

Second, you may notice that revenue uplift starts tracking new customer growth. At this point, the recommendation is saturating. Whilst it’s smart to hit your new customers with your best stuff, it’s now underperforming for existing customers.

Both problems warrant their own detailed discussion. For now, let’s look at a more nuanced strategy and how AI can help find new revenue in your existing customer base.

Unlocking inaccessible revenue

AI-powered product recommendations will identify new and unique customer/product relationships.

Finding these relationships at scale is where machine learning comes in. It analyses your products, orders, and web behavior data, so you don’t have to. It roots around the dark corners of your data to match products to customers.

Doing this analysis manually, even if you knew what to look for, would be an impossible task. Machine learning does it continually for you. Each time it trains on new data, it learns and gets more accurate.

My argument for this kind of big data approach to marketing is simple: don’t assume your established customer personas are the only truth. Until you use machine learning, you don’t know what you don’t know.

Winning with blended recommendation strategies

Bestsellers may always be your top performing recommendation. Talking to retailers, I’ve heard cases where a small set of products accounts for over 60% of sales. AI is unlikely to outperform against such massive numbers. (Unless you’re Amazon and have an enormous and diverse catalog!)

These retailers are aware of the risks of saturation. Not marketing effectively to their wider customer bases is a long-term challenge. Historically, there are easier battles to win that deliver nice returns.

Fortunately, technology is catching up to support retailers.

We’ve built Engagement Cloud product recommendations to support a blended strategy. You can combine so-called heuristics (like bestsellers) with hyper-personalized recommendations using AI.

The theme behind this strategy starts with covering known areas with broad sets of rules. Create non-AI product recommendations to match your known customer cohorts. You might focus on product categories, price points, seasonality, trends, or any other rules you like.

Once you have those, it’s time to infuse your campaigns with AI recommendations.

Here’s how to use different classes of recommendation:

  • Set up multiple category-targeted best sellers for some big hitting recommendations;
  • Find tomorrow’s best sellers with the most viewed recommendation type;
  • Mix things up with the hybrid trending recommendation type (it blends best sellers and most viewed);
  • Match your niche customers to their perfect products with AI-powered lookalikes;
  • Use best next’s AI to let shoppers help other shoppers find products they didn’t even know they wanted.

With this approach, you’re casting the widest possible net to drive more sales. You’re building automated marketing around cohorts you know. Meantime, AI is finding new customer/product relationships you didn’t know you had.

The post Why use AI-powered product recommendations? appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotdigital.com

Happy Mother’s Day to all the brands out there!

Here are some 2019 examples you can
draw on for inspiration next year:

Combining Products

If you carry both kids and adult ranges, consider combining the products into a Mother / Son or Mother / Daughter duo, like what Spendless Shoes did:

Not only does it encourage shoppers
to make a purchase for their Mum, but it tempts them into picking up and pair
for themselves too.

Gift with Purchase

Offering a free gift with purchase
is an oldie but a goodie.

It’s a way to increase the perceived value, rather than simply discounting. It should be relevant and drive urgency, so don’t be afraid to use the ‘while stocks last’ caveat, which is what Giftbox Boutique did:

Giftbox Boutique free gift

Depending on the value of the gift, you may want customers to spend above a certain threshold. Reaching this threshold could mean customers get a whole pamper pack, not just a body butter. Here’s what Hitting the Mark APAC winner SurfStitch promoted:

SurfStitch free pamper pask

Gift Guide

Ecoya created “Mum personas” from “jet setter Mum” to “wellness Mum” and matched their candles to these personas. This is a clever tactic, as the content aims to help and inspire shoppers who’re unsure what to buy their Mum:

Encoya gift guide

Competition

Seize the opportunity to gather more data on your customers, and get people talking about your brand on social media with a competition.

Matt Blatt Mother's Day competition

Furniture brand Matt Blatt had a $3,000 Mother’s Day
makeover up for grabs for one lucky customer. Entrees were asked to describe
the most bizarre Mother’s Day gift they’d ever received in 25 words or less,
post a pic, and tag Matt Blatt and radio celebrity Em Rusciano on Instagram and
Facebook.

Once customers were lured in by the
competition, they were then directed to shop Em’s favourite furniture edits.

Discount

Sleepwear brand Peter Alexander had two weapons in their arsenal – a store-wide 20% discount, and free shipping, which ended 72 hours before Mother’s Day. This helped to set customers’ expectations on shipping.

Peter Alexander Mother's Day discount

Choice

At the same time, it’s important to remember Mother’s Day may not be a happy occasion for all people. Brands such as florist, L’Ámour, recognize that and offered customers the option to opt-out:

L'Amour Mother's Day opt-out

As you can see, brands cover the
whole spectrum of promotions and emotions on Mother’s Day.

My favourite type of promotion this
year?

Combining Products.

When I can buy a present for my
Mum, but also see product for myself, or get something extra for her, I’m in.
And if there is a store-wide discount, then everyone wins.

Fuzzy feelings all round!

It’s important to make sure
whichever tactic you adopt, you’re picking the one that works best for your
brand and on your budget.

If you can’t wait till next year to use some of these ideas for inspiration, there’s always Father’s Day! In the UK and USA, it’s on Sunday 16th June, and in Australia, it’s on Sunday 1st September.

The post Happy Mother’s Day to all the brands out there! appeared first on dotdigital blog.

Reblogged 1 week ago from blog.dotdigital.com

How Often Does Google Update Its Algorithm?

Posted by Dr-Pete

In 2018, Google reported an incredible 3,234 improvements to search. That’s more than 8 times the number of updates they reported in 2009 — less than a decade ago — and an average of almost 9 per day. How have algorithm updates evolved over the past decade, and how can we possibly keep tabs on all of them? Should we even try?

To kick this off, here’s a list of every confirmed count we have (sources at end of post):

  • 2018 – 3,234 “improvements”
  • 2017 – 2,453 “changes”
  • 2016 – 1,653 “improvements”
  • 2013 – 890 “improvements”
  • 2012 – 665 “launches”
  • 2011 – 538 “launches”
  • 2010 – 516 “changes”
  • 2009 – 350–400 “changes”

Unfortunately, we don’t have confirmed data for 2014-2015 (if you know differently, please let me know in the comments).

A brief history of update counts

Our first peek into this data came in spring of 2010, when Google’s Matt Cutts revealed that “on average, [Google] tends to roll out 350–400 things per year.” It wasn’t an exact number, but given that SEOs at the time (and to this day) were tracking at most dozens of algorithm changes, the idea of roughly one change per day was eye-opening.

In fall of 2011, Eric Schmidt was called to testify before Congress, and revealed our first precise update count and an even more shocking scope of testing and changes:

“To give you a sense of the scale of the changes that Google considers, in 2010 we conducted 13,311 precision evaluations to see whether proposed algorithm changes improved the quality of its search results, 8,157 side-by-side experiments where it presented two sets of search results to a panel of human testers and had the evaluators rank which set of results was better, and 2,800 click evaluations to see how a small sample of real-life Google users responded to the change. Ultimately, the process resulted in 516 changes that were determined to be useful to users based on the data and, therefore, were made to Google’s algorithm.”

Later, Google would reveal similar data in an online feature called “How Search Works.” Unfortunately, some of the earlier years are only available via the Internet Archive, but here’s a screenshot from 2012:

Note that Google uses “launches” and “improvements” somewhat interchangeably. This diagram provided a fascinating peek into Google’s process, and also revealed a startling jump from 13,311 precisions evaluations (changes that were shown to human evaluators) to 118,812 in just two years.

Is the Google algorithm heating up?

Since MozCast has kept the same keyword set since almost the beginning of data collection, we’re able to make some long-term comparisons. The graph below represents five years of temperatures. Note that the system was originally tuned (in early 2012) to an average temperature of 70°F. The redder the bar, the hotter the temperature …

Click to open a high-resolution version in a new tab

You’ll notice that the temperature ranges aren’t fixed — instead, I’ve split the label into eight roughly equal buckets (i.e. they represent the same number of days). This gives us a little more sensitivity in the more common ranges.

The trend is pretty clear. The latter half of this 5-year timeframe has clearly been hotter than the first half. While warming trend is evident, though, it’s not a steady increase over time like Google’s update counts might suggest. Instead, we see a stark shift in the fall of 2016 and a very hot summer of 2017. More recently, we’ve actually seen signs of cooling. Below are the means and medians for each year (note that 2014 and 2019 are partial years):

  • 2019 – 83.7° /82.0°
  • 2018 – 89.9° /88.0°
  • 2017 – 94.0° /93.7°
  • 2016 – 75.1° / 73.7°
  • 2015 – 62.9° / 60.3°
  • 2014 – 65.8° / 65.9°

Note that search engine rankings are naturally noisy, and our error measurements tend to be large (making day-to-day changes hard to interpret). The difference from 2015 to 2017, however, is clearly significant.

Are there really 9 updates per day?

No, there are only 8.86 – feel better? Ok, that’s probably not what you meant. Even back in 2009, Matt Cutts said something pretty interesting that seems to have been lost in the mists of time…

“We might batch [algorithm changes] up and go to a meeting once a week where we talk about 8 or 10 or 12 or 6 different things that we would want to launch, but then after those get approved … those will roll out as we can get them into production.”

In 2016, I did a study of algorithm flux that demonstrated a weekly pattern evident during clearer episodes of ranking changes. From a software engineering standpoint, this just makes sense — updates have to be approved and tend to be rolled out in batches. So, while measuring a daily average may help illustrate the rate of change, it probably has very little basis in the reality of how Google handles algorithm updates.

Do all of these algo updates matter?

Some changes are small. Many improvements are likely not even things we in the SEO industry would consider “algorithm updates” — they could be new features, for example, or UI changes.

As SERP verticals and features evolve, and new elements are added, there are also more moving parts subject to being fixed and improved. Local SEO, for example, has clearly seen an accelerated rate of change over the past 2-3 years. So, we’d naturally expect the overall rate of change to increase.

A lot of this is also in the eye of the beholder. Let’s say Google makes an update to how they handle misspelled words in Korean. For most of us in the United States, that change isn’t going to be actionable. If you’re a Korean brand trying to rank for a commonly misspelled, high-volume term, this change could be huge. Some changes also are vertical-specific, representing radical change for one industry and little or no impact outside that niche.

On the other hand, you’ll hear comments in the industry along the lines of “There are 3,000 changes per year; stop worrying about it!” To me that’s like saying “The weather changes every day; stop worrying about it!” Yes, not every weather report is interesting, but I still want to know when it’s going to snow or if there’s a tornado coming my way. Recognizing that most updates won’t affect you is fine, but it’s a fallacy to stretch that into saying that no updates matter or that SEOs shouldn’t care about algorithm changes.

Ultimately, I believe it helps to know when major changes happen, if only to understand whether rankings shifted due something we did or something Google did. It’s also clear that the rate of change has accelerated, no matter how you measure it, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Google is slowing down.


Appendix A: Update count sources

2009 – Google’s Matt Cutts, video (Search Engine Land)
2010 – Google’s Eric Schmidt, testifying before Congress (Search Engine Land)
2012 – Google’s “How Search Works” page (Internet Archive)
2013 – Google’s Amit Singhal, Google+ (Search Engine Land)
2016 – Google’s “How Search Works” page (Internet Archive)
2017 – Unnamed Google employees (CNBC)
2018 – Google’s “How Search Works” page (Google.com)

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!

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The New Moz Local Is on Its Way!

Posted by MiriamEllis

Exciting secrets can be so hard to keep. Finally, all of us at Moz have the green light to share with all of you a first glimpse of something we’ve been working on for months behind the scenes. Big inhale, big exhale…

Announcing: the new and improved Moz Local, to be rolled out beginning June 12!

Why is Moz updating the Moz Local platform?

Local search has evolved from caterpillar to butterfly in the seven years since we launched Moz Local. I think we’ve spent the time well, intensively studying both Google’s trajectory and the feedback of enterprise, marketing agency, and SMB customers.

Your generosity in telling us what you need as marketers has inspired us to action. Over the coming months, you’ll be seeing what Moz has learned reflected in a series of rollouts. Stage by stage, you’ll see that we’re planning to give our software the wings it needs to help you fully navigate the dynamic local search landscape and, in turn, grow your business.

We hope you’ll keep gathering together with us to watch Moz Local take full flight — changes will only become more robust as we move forward.

What can I expect from this upgrade?

Beginning June 12th, Moz Local customers will experience a fresh look and feel in the Moz Local interface, plus these added capabilities:

  • New distribution partners to ensure your data is shared on the platforms that matter most in the evolving local search ecosystem
  • Listing status and real-time updates to know the precise status of your location data
  • Automated detection and permanent duplicate closure, taking the manual work out of the process and saving you significant time
  • Integrations with Google and Facebook to gain deeper insights, reporting, and management for your location’s profiles
  • An even better data clean-up process to ensure valid data is formatted properly for distribution
  • A new activity feed to alert you to any changes to your location’s listings
  • A suggestion engine to provide recommendations to increase accuracy, completeness, and consistency of your location data

Additional features available include:

  • Managing reviews of your locations to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are saying
  • Social posting to engage with consumers and alert them to news, offers, and other updates
  • Store locator and landing pages to share location data easily with both customers and search engines (available for Moz Local customers with 100 or more locations)

Remember, this is just the beginning. There’s more to come in 2019, and you can expect ongoing communications from us as further new feature sets emerge!

When is it happening?

We’ll be rolling out all the new changes beginning on June 12th. As with some large changes, this update will take a few days to complete, so some people will see the changes immediately while for others it may take up to a week. By June 21st, everyone should be able to explore the new Moz Local experience!

Don’t worry — we’ll have several more communications between now and then to help you prepare. Keep an eye out for our webinar and training materials to help ensure a smooth transition to the new Moz Local.

Are any metrics/scores changing?

Some of our reporting metrics will look different in the new Moz Local. We’ll be sharing more information on these metrics and how to use them soon, but for now, here’s a quick overview of changes you can expect:

  • Profile Completeness: Listing Score will be replaced by the improved Profile Completeness metric. This new feature will give you a better measurement of how complete your data is, what’s missing from it, and clear prompts to fill in any lacking information.
  • Improved listing status reporting: Partner Accuracy Score will be replaced by improved reporting on listing status with all of our partners, including continuous information about the data they’ve received from us. You’ll be able to access an overview of your distribution network, so that you can see which sites your business is listed on. Plus, you’ll be able to go straight to the live listing with a single click.
  • Visibility Index: Though they have similar names, Visibility Score is being replaced by something slightly different with the new and improved Visibility Index, which notates how the data you’ve provided us about a location matches or mismatches your information on your live listings.
  • New ways to measure and act on listing reach: Reach Score will be leaving us in favor of even more relevant measurement via the Visibility Index and Profile Completeness metrics. The new Moz Local will include more actionable information to ensure your listings are accurate and complete.

Other FAQs

You’ll likely have questions if you’re a current Moz Local customer or are considering becoming one. Please check out our resource center for further details, and feel free to leave us a question down in the comments — we’ll be on point to respond to any wonderings or concerns you might have!

Head to the FAQs

Where is Moz heading with this?

As a veteran local SEO, I’m finding the developments taking place with our software particularly exciting because, like you, I see how local search and local search marketing have matured over the past decade.

I’ve closely watched the best minds in our industry moving toward a holistic vision of how authenticity, customer engagement, data, analysis, and other factors underpin local business success. And we’ve all witnessed Google’s increasingly sophisticated presentation of local business information evolve and grow. It’s been quite a ride!

At every level of local commerce, owners and marketers deserve tools that bring order out of what can seem like chaos. We believe you deserve software that yields strategy. As our CEO, Sarah Bird, recently said of Moz,

“We are big believers in the power of local SEO.”

So the secret is finally out, and you can see where Moz is heading with the local side of our product lineup. It’s our serious plan to devote everything we’ve got into putting the power of local SEO into your hands.

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!

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Introducing your dotdigital Support Team

“dotdigital support, Stephen speaking, how can I help?”

Open a Live Chat within Engagement Cloud and
a friendly face will appear, eager to help. Call our support line and a knowledgeable
support expert will be on the other line. Whether it’s an issue with your email
formatting on your mobile device, a query regarding your campaign report, or
help with syncing your marketing list from Dynamics CRM, we’re here.

The dotdigital support team offers support over several different channels. Our primary channels are Live Chat, phone, and email. You can also submit a request through our help center or even send us a tweet @dotdigitalhelp.

How we work

1st line support

We help with the core Engagement Cloud
platform functionality. This can be problems with your email formatting, program
automations, or advise for your Survey & Forms. As the functionality in the
core platform is vast, no one query is the same.

2nd line support

We also help with core Engagement Cloud
functionality, but this will be more complex issues like API or our CPaaS
service. We handle escalations from our 1st line team as well as our
VIP ‘Key Account’ clients.

3rd line support

We’re the integrations gurus, highly
knowledgeable on Engagement Cloud connectors. This will include integrations
with ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Magento, or CRMs like Microsoft Dynamics
and Salesforce. We will help you get the most out of the connectors.

Feedback

After you’ve talked to us, we’ll ask you for
feedback. This helps keep us on track, ensuring we’re delighting our customers
and highlighting where we can improve. We accumulate all feedback received
monthly to see how satisfied you are with our service.

We’re delighted that we’ve consistently hit our 95% customer satisfaction target for the last 20 months with an average of 1380 feedback responses each month.

Get to know the team

Our teams are based in the US, UK and Australia so below are a few short intros from some of the Product Support Analysts you’ll be chatting to.

Adam Bogos (Sydney, Australia)

What I love about my technical support role is that I feel I am able to make a positive and meaningful impact on a customer’s journey. It is a very rewarding feeling when you know you were able to help a client to solve their problem and to put them back on the right track. I’m very proud to be a part of such an amazingly diverse, talented and customer-focused team that shares a common goal to assist clients with their queries as efficiently and to the highest standards as possible.

“Patient and educational. Very happy to know I have support whilst I am trying to figure out how everything works.”

Fantastic feedback for Adam

Anna (Support UK)

Anna Charmantzi (London, UK)

It is nice to help customers overcome the technical difficulties of the platform and share tips and tricks that make their day-to-day job smoother. It makes you feel part of the client’s success story.

“Great support from Anna, she was knowledgeable and polite. She also reached out to me much later after our initial chat had been resolved to give me a useful personal update on the feature I had messaged about”

Above and beyond from Anna

Tanner (Support USA)

Tanner Perez (New York, USA)

I’m just happy to help others better understand our software. Solving problems helps keep me sharp and think critically too.

“Tried different methods to help, continuing the find an answer for the issue. Tanner was extremely helpful and took the time to try to help resolve my issue. Great service.”

Super support from Tanner

The post Introducing your dotdigital Support Team appeared first on dotdigital blog.

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I Want To Rank Beyond My Location: A Guide to How This Works

Posted by MiriamEllis

Staff at your agency get asked this question just about every day, and it’s a local SEO forum FAQ, too:

“I’m located in ‘x’, but how do I rank beyond that?”

In fact, this query is so popular, it deserves a good and thorough answer. I’ve written this article in the simplest terms possible so that you can instantly share it with even your least-technical clients.

We’ll break rankings down into five easy-to-grasp groups, and make sense out of how Google appears to bucket rankings for different types of users and queries. Your clients will come away with an understanding of what’s appropriate, what’s possible, and what’s typically impossible. It’s my hope that shooting this link over to all relevant clients will save your team a ton of time, and ensure that the brands you’re serving are standing on steady ground with some good education.

There’s nothing quite like education as a sturdy baseline for creating achievable goals, is there?

One hypothetical client’s story

We’ll illustrate our story by focusing in on a single fictitious business. La Tortilleria is a tortilla bakery located at 197 Fifth Avenue in San Rafael, Marin County, California, USA. San Rafael is a small city with a population of about 60,000. La Tortilleria vends directly to B2C customers, as well as distributing their handmade tortillas to a variety of B2B clients, like restaurants and grocery stores throughout Marin County.

La Tortilleria’s organic white corn tortillas are so delicious, the bakery recently got featured on a Food Network TV show. Then, they started getting calls from San Francisco, Sacramento, and even Los Angeles asking about their product. This business, which started out as a mom-and-pop shop, is now hoping to expand distribution beyond county borders.

When it comes to Google visibility, what is La Tortilleria eligible for, and is there some strategy they can employ to show up in many places for many kinds of searches? Let’s begin:

Group I: Hyperlocal rankings

Scenario

Your supreme chance of ranking in Google’s local pack results is typically in the neighborhood surrounding your business. For example, with the right strategy, La Tortilleria could expect to rank very well in the above downtown area of San Rafael surrounding their bakery. When searchers are physically located in this area or using search language like “tortilleria near me,” Google can hyper-localize the radius of the search to just a few city blocks when there are enough nearby options to make up a local pack.

Ask the client to consider:

  • What is my locale like? Am I in a big city, a small town, a rural area?
  • What is the competitive level of my market? Am I one of many businesses offering the same goods/services in my neighborhood, or am I one of the only businesses in my industry here?

Google’s local pack radius will vary greatly based on the answers to those two questions. For example, if there are 100 tortilla bakeries in San Rafael, Google doesn’t have to go very far to make up a local pack for a searcher standing on Fifth Avenue with their mobile phone. But, if La Tortilleria is one of only three such businesses in town, Google will have to reach further across the map to make up the pack. Meanwhile, in a truly rural area with few such businesses, Google’s smallest radius could span several towns, or if there simply aren’t enough options, not show a local pack in the results at all.

Strategy

To do well in the hyperlocal packs, tell your client their business should:

  • Create and claim a Google My Business listing, filling out as many fields as possible. Earn some reviews and respond to them
  • Build out local business listings on top local business information platforms, either manually or via a service like Moz Local.
  • Mention neighborhood names or other hyperlocal terms on the company website, including on whichever page of the site the Google listing points to.
  • If competition is strong in the neighborhood, invest in more advanced tactics like earning local linktations, developing more targeted hyperlocal content, using Google Posts to highlight neighborhood-oriented content, and managing Google Q&A to outdistance more sluggish competitors.

*Note that if you are marketing a multi-location enterprise, you’ll need to undertake this work for each location to get it ranking well at a hyperlocal level.

Group II: Local rankings

Scenario

These rankings are quite similar to the above but encompass an entire city. In fact, when we talk about local rankings, we are most often thinking about how a business ranks within its city of location. For example, how does La Tortilleria rank for searches like “tortilleria,” “tortilla shop,” or “tortillas san rafael” when a searcher is anywhere in that city, or traveling to that city from another locale?

If Google believes the intent of such searches is local (meaning that the searcher wants to find some tortillas to buy near them rather than just seeking general information about baked goods), they will make up a local pack of results. As we’ve covered, Google will customize these packs based on the searcher’s physical location in many instances, but a business that becomes authoritative enough can often rank across an entire city for multiple search phrases and searcher locales.

For instance, La Tortilleria might always rank #1 for “tortilla shop” when searchers on Fifth Avenue perform that search, but they could also rank #1 for “organic tortillas San Rafael” when locals in any part of that city or even out-of-towners do this lookup, if the business has built up enough authority surrounding this topic.

With the right strategy, every business has a very good chance of ranking locally in its city of physical location for some portion of its most desired search phrases.

Ask the client to consider:

  • Does my location + Google’s results behavior create small or large hurdles in my quest for city-wide rankings? When I look at the local packs I want to rank for, does Google appear to be clustering them too tightly in some part of the city to include my location in a different part of town? If so, can I overcome this?
  • What can I specialize in to set me apart? Is there some product, service, or desirable attribute my business can become particularly known for in my city over all other competitors? If I can’t compete for the biggest terms I’d like to rank for, are there smaller terms I could become dominant for city-wide?
  • How can I build my authority surrounding this special offering? What will be the most effective methodologies for becoming a household name in my community when people need the services I offer?

Your agency will face challenges surrounding this area of work. I was recently speaking with a business owner in Los Angeles who was disappointed that he wasn’t appearing for the large, lucrative search term “car service to LAX.” When we looked at the results together from various locations, we saw that Google’s radius for that term was tightly clustered around the airport. This company’s location was in a different neighborhood many miles away. In fact, it was only when we zoomed out on Google Maps to enlarge the search radius, or zoomed in on this company’s neighborhood, that we were able to see their listing appear in the local results.

This was a classic example of a big city with tons of brands offering nearly-identical services — it results in very stiff competition and tight local pack radius.

My advice in a tough scenario like this would revolve around one of these three things:

  • Becoming such a famous brand that the business could overcome Google’s famous bias
  • Specializing in some attribute that would enable them to seek rankings for less competitive keywords
  • Moving to an office near that “centroid” of business instead of in a distant neighborhood of the large city.

Your specific scenario may be easier, equal to, or even harder than this. Needless to say, a tortilla shop in a modestly-sized town does not face the same challenges as a car service in a metropolis. Your strategy will be based on your study of your market.

Strategy

Depending on the level of competition in the client’s market, tell them they will need to invest in some or all of the following:

  • Identify the keyword phrases you’re hoping to rank for using tools like Moz Keyword Explorer, Answer the Public, and Google Trends combined with organized collection and analysis of the real-world FAQs customers ask your staff.
  • Observe Google’s local pack behavior surrounding these phrases to discover how they are clustering results. Perform searches from devices in your own neighborhood and from other places around your city, as described in my recent post How to Find Your True Local Competitors. You can also experiment with tools like BrightLocal’s Local Search Results Checker.
  • Identify the top competitors in your city for your targeted phrases and then do a competitive audit of them.
  • Stack these discovered competitors up side-by-side with your business to see how their local search ranking factors may be stronger than yours. Improve your metrics so that they surpass those of the competitors, whether this surrounds Google My Business signals, Domain Authority, reputation, citation factors, website quality, or other elements.
  • If Google’s radius is tight for the most lucrative terms and your efforts to build authority so far aren’t enabling you to overcome it due to your location falling outside their reach, consider specialization in other smaller, but still valuable, search phrases. For instance, La Tortilleria could be the only bakery in San Rafael offering organic tortillas. A local business might significantly narrow the competition by being pet-friendly, open later, cheaper, faster, more staffed, women-led, serving specific dietary restrictions or other special needs, selling rarities, or bundling goods with expert advice. There are many ways to set yourself apart.
  • Finally, publicize your unique selling proposition. Highlight it on your website with great content. If it’s a big deal, make connections with local journalists and bloggers to try to make news. Use Google My Business attributes to feature it on your listing. Cross-sell with related local businesses and promote one another online. Talk it up on social media. Structure review requests to nudge customers towards mentioning your special offering in their reviews. Do everything you can to help your community and Google associate your brand name with your specialty.

Group III: Regional rankings

Scenario

This is where we typically hit our first really big hurdle, and where the real questions begin. La Tortilleria is located in San Rafael and has very good chances of ranking in relation to that city. But what if they want to expand to selling their product throughout Marin County, or even throughout several surrounding counties? Unless competition is very low, they are unlikely to rank in the local packs for searchers in neighboring cities like Novato, Mill Valley, or Corte Madera. What paths are open to them to increase their visibility beyond their city of location?

It’s at this juncture that agencies start hearing clients ask, “What can I do if I want to rank outside my city?” And it’s here that it’s most appropriate to respond with some questions clients need to be asking themselves.

Ask the client to consider:

  • Does my business model legitimately lend itself to transactions in multiple cities or counties? For example, am I just hoping that if my business in City A could rank in City B, people from that second location would travel to me? For instance, the fact that a dentist has some patients who come to their practice from other towns isn’t really something to build a strategy on. Consumers and Google won’t be excited by this. So, ask yourself: “Do I genuinely have a model that delivers goods/services to City B or has some other strong relationship to neighbors in those locales?”
  • Is there something I can do to build a physical footprint in cities where I lack a physical location? Short of opening additional branches, is there anything my business can do to build relationships with neighboring communities?

Strategy

  • First, know that it’s sometimes possible for a business in a less-competitive market to rank in nearby neighboring cities. If La Tortilleria is one of just 10 such businesses in Marin County, Google may well surface them in a local pack or the expanded local finder view for searchers in multiple neighboring towns because there is a paucity of options. However, as competition becomes denser, purely local rankings beyond city borders become increasingly rare. Google does not need to go outside of the city of San Francisco, for example, to make up complete local results sets for pizza, clothing, automotive services, attorneys, banks, dentists, etc. Assess the density of competition in your desired regional market.
  • If you determine that your business is something of a rarity in your county or similar geographical region, follow the strategy described above in the “Local Rankings” section and give it everything you’ve got so that you can become a dominant result in packs across nearby multiple cities. If competition is too high for this, keep reading.
  • If you determine that what you offer isn’t rare in your region, local pack rankings beyond your city borders may not be feasible. In this case, don’t waste money or time on unachievable goals. Rather, move the goalposts so that your marketing efforts outside of your city are targeting organic, social, paid, and offline visibility.
  • Determine whether your brand lends itself to growing face-to-face relationships with neighboring cities. La Tortilleria can send delivery persons to restaurants and grocery stores throughout its county. They can send their bakers to workshops, culinary schools, public schools, food festivals, expos, fairs, farmers markets, and a variety of events in multiple cities throughout their targeted region. They can sponsor regional events, teams, and organizations. They can cross-sell with a local salsa company, a chocolatier, a caterer. Determine what your brand’s resources are for expanding a real-world footprint within a specific region.
  • Once you’ve begun investing in building this footprint, publicize it. Write content, guest blog, make the news, share socially, advertise online, advertise in local print, radio, and TV media. Earn links, citations and social mentions online for what you are doing offline and grow your regional authority in Google’s eyes while you’re doing it.
  • If your brand is a traditional service area business, like a residential painting company with a single location that serves multiple cities, develops a website landing page for each city you serve. Make each page a showcase of your work in that city, with project features, customer reviews, localized tips, staff interviews, videos, photos, FAQs and more. As with brick-and-mortar models, your level of rarity will determine whether your single physical office can show up in the local packs for more than one city. If your geo-market is densely competitive, the main goal of your service city landing pages will be organic rankings, not local ones.

Group IV: State-wide rankings

Scenario

This is where our desired consumer base can no longer be considered truly local, though local packs may still occasionally come into play. In our continuing story, revenue significantly increased after La Tortilleria appeared on a popular TV show. Now they’ve scaled up their small kitchen to industrial strength in hopes of increasing trade across the state of California. Other examples might be an architectural firm that sends staff state-wide to design buildings or a photographer who accepts event engagements across the state.

What we’re not talking about here is a multi-location business. Any time you have a physical location, you can simply refer back to Groups I–III for strategy because you are truly in the local running any place you have a branch. But for the single location client with a state-wide offering, the quest for broad visibility begs some questions.

Ask the client to consider:

  • Are state-wide local pack results at all in evidence for my query or is this not the reality at all for my industry? For example, when I do a non-modified search just for “sports arena” in California, it’s interesting to see that Google is willing to make up a local pack of three famous venues spanning Sonora to San Diego (about 500 miles apart). Does Google return state-wide packs for my search terms, and is what I offer so rare that I might be included in them?
  • Does my business model genuinely lend itself to non-local queries and clients willing to travel far to transact with me or hire me from anywhere in the state? For example, it would be a matter of pure vanity for me to want my vacuum cleaner repair shop to rank state-wide, as people can easily access services like mine in their own towns. But, what if I’m marketing a true rara avis, like a famous performing arts company, a landmark museum, a world-class interior design consultancy, or a vintage electronics restoration business?
  • Whether Google returns state-wide local packs or only organic results for my targeted search terms, what can I do to be visible? What are my resources for setting myself apart?

Strategy

  • First, let’s take it for granted that you’ve got your basic local search strategy in place. You’re already doing everything we’ve covered above to build a strong hyperlocal, local, and regional digital and offline footprint.
  • If Google does return state-wide local packs for your search phrases, simply continue to amp up the known local pack signals we’ve already discussed, in hopes of becoming authoritative enough to be included.
  • If your phrases don’t return state-wide local packs, you will be competing against a big field for organic results visibility. In this case, you are likely to be best served by three things. Firstly, take publication on your website seriously. The more you can write about your offerings, the more of an authoritative resource you will become. Delve deeply into your company’s internal talent for developing magazine-quality content and bring in outside experts where necessary. Secondly, invest in link research tools like Moz Link Explorer to analyze which links are helping competitors to rank highly in the organic results for your desired terms and to discover where you need to get links to grow your visibility. Thirdly, seek out your state’s most trusted media sources and create a strategy for seeking publicity from them. Whether this comes down to radio, newspapers, TV shows, blogs, social platforms, or organizational publications, build your state-wide fame via inclusion.
  • If all else fails and you need to increase multi-regional visibility throughout your state, you will need to consider your resources for opening additional staffed offices in new locales.

Group V: National rankings & beyond

Scenario

Here, we encounter two common themes, neither of which fall within our concept of local search.

In the first instance, La Tortilleria is ready to go multi-state or nation-wide with its product, distributing goods outside of California as a national brand. The second is the commonly-encountered digital brand that is vending to a multi-state or national audience and is often frustrated by the fact that they are being outranked both in the local and organic results by physical, local companies in a variety of locations. In either case, the goals of both models can sometimes extend beyond country borders when businesses go multinational.

Ask the client to consider:

  • What is my business model? Am I selling B2B, B2C, or both?
  • Which marketing strategies will generate the brand recognition I need? Is my most critical asset my brand’s website, or other forms of off-and-online advertising? Am I like Wayfair, where my e-commerce sales are almost everything, bolstered by TV advertising? Or, am I like Pace Foods with a website offering little more than branding because distribution to other businesses is where my consumers find me?
  • Does my offering need to be regionalized to succeed? Perhaps La Tortilleria will need to start producing super-sized white flour tortillas to become a hit in Texas. McDonald’s offers SPAM in Hawaii and green chile cheeseburgers in New Mexico. Regional language variants, seasonality, and customs may require fine-tuning of campaigns.

Strategy

  • If your national brand hinges on B2C online sales, let me put the e-commerce SEO column of the Moz blog at your fingertips. Also highly recommended, E-commerce SEO: The Definitive Guide.
  • If your national brand revolves around getting your product on shelves, delve into Neilsen’s manufacturer/distributor resources and I’ve also found some good reading at MrCheckout.
  • If you are expanding beyond your country, read Moz’s basic definition of International SEO, then move on to An In-Depth Look at International SEO and The Ultimate Guide to International SEO.
  • This article can’t begin to cover all of the steps involved in growing a brand from local to an international scale, but in all scenarios, a unifying question will revolve around how to cope with the reality that Google will frequently rank local brands above or alongside your business for queries that matter to you. If your business has a single physical headquarters, then content, links, social, and paid advertising will be the tools at your disposal to compete as best you can. Rarity may be your greatest strength, as seen in the case of America’s sole organic tulip bulb grower, or authority, as in the case of this men’s grooming site ranking for all kinds of queries related to beards.
  • You’ll be wanting to rank for every user nationwide, but you’ll also need to be aware of who your competitors are at a local and regional level. This is why even national/international brands need some awareness of how local search works so that they can identify and audit strong local brands in target markets in order to compete with them in the organic SERPs, sometimes fine-tuning their offerings to appeal to regional needs and customs.
  • I often hear from digital-only brands that want to rank in every city in the nation for a virtual service. While this may be possible for a business with overwhelming authority and brand recognition (think Amazon), a company just starting out can set a more reasonable goal of analyzing a handful of major cities instead of thousands of them to see what it would take to get in the running with entrenched local and digital brands.
  • Finally, I want to mention one interesting and common national business model with its own challenges. In this category are tutoring businesses, nanny services, dog walking services, and other brands that have a national headquarters but whose employees or contractors are the ones providing face-to-face services. Owners ask if it’s possible to create multiple Google listings based on the home addresses of their workers so that they can achieve local pack rankings for what is, in fact, a locally-rendered service. The answer is that Google doesn’t approve of this tactic. So, where a local pack presence is essential, the brand must find a way to staff an office in each target region. Avoid virtual offices, which are explicitly forbidden, but there could be some leeway in exploring inexpensive co-working spaces staffed during stated business hours and where no other business in the same Google category is operating. A business that determines this model could work for them can then pop back up to Groups I-IV to see how far local search can take them.

Summing up

There may be no more important task in client-onboarding than setting correct expectations. Basing a strategy on what’s possible for each client’s business model will be the best guardian of your time and your client’s budget. To recap:

  1. Identify the client’s model.
  2. Investigate Google’s search behavior for the client’s important search phrases.
  3. Gauge the density of competition/rarity of the client’s offerings in the targeted area.
  4. Audit competitors to discover their strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Create a strategy for local, organic, social, paid, and offline marketing based on the above four factors.

For each client who asks you how to rank beyond their physical location, there will be a unique answer. The work your agency puts into finding that answer will make you an expert in their markets and a powerful ally in achieving their achievable goals.

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Reblogged 2 weeks ago from tracking.feedpress.it