Reblogged 5 months ago from www.outreachmama.com
- Why did you decide to come to dotmailer?
The top three reasons were People, Product and Opportunity. I met the people who make up our business and heard their stories from the past 18 years, learned about the platform and market leading status they had built in the UK, and saw that I could add value with my U.S. high growth business experience. I’ve been working with marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners for years across a series of different roles, and saw that I could apply what I’d learned from that and the start-up space to dotmailer’s U.S. operation. dotmailer has had clients in the U.S. for 12 years and we’re positioned to grow the user base of our powerful and easy-to-use platform significantly. I knew I could make a difference here, and what closed the deal for me was the people. Every single person I’ve met is deeply committed to the business, to the success of our customers and to making our solution simple and efficient. We’re a great group of passionate people and I’m proud to have joined the dotfamily.
- Tell us a bit about your new role
dotmailer has been in business and in this space for more than 18 years. We were a web agency, then a Systems Integrator, and we got into the email business that way, ultimately building the dotmailer platform thousands of people use daily. This means we know this space better than anyone and we have the perfect solutions to align closely with our customers and the solutions flexible enough to grow with them. My role is to take all that experience and the platform and grow our U.S. presence. My early focus has been on identifying the right team to execute our growth plans. We want to be the market leader in the U.S. in the next three years – just like we’ve done in the UK – so getting the right people in the right spots was critical. We quickly assessed the skills of the U.S. team and made changes that were necessary in order to provide the right focus on customer success. Next, we set out to completely rebuild dotmailer’s commercial approach in the U.S. We simplified our offers to three bundles, so that pricing and what’s included in those bundles is transparent to our customers. We’ve heard great things about this already from clients and partners. We’re also increasing our resources on customer success and support. We’re intensely focused on ease of on-boarding, ease of use and speed of use. We consistently hear how easy and smooth a process it is to use dotmailer’s tools. That’s key for us – when you buy a dotmailer solution, we want to onboard you quickly and make sure you have all of your questions answered right away so that you can move right into using it. Customers are raving about this, so we know it’s working well.
- What early accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?
I’ve been at dotmailer for eight months now and I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished together. We spent a lot of time assessing where we needed to restructure and where we needed to invest. We made the changes we needed, invested in our partner program, localized tech support, customer on-boarding and added customer success team members. We have the right people in the right roles and it’s making a difference. We have a commercial approach that is clear with the complete transparency that we wanted to provide our customers. We’ve got a more customer-focused approach and we’re on-boarding customers quickly so they’re up and running faster. We have happier customers than ever before and that’s the key to everything we do.
- You’ve moved the U.S. team to a new office. Can you tell us why and a bit about the new space?
I thought it was very important to create a NY office space that was tied to branding and other offices around the world, and also had its own NY energy and culture for our team here – to foster collaboration and to have some fun. It was also important for us that we had a flexible space where we could welcome customers, partners and resellers, and also hold classes and dotUniversity training sessions. I’m really grateful to the team who worked on the space because it really reflects our team and what we care about. At any given time, you’ll see a training session happening, the team collaborating, a customer dropping in to ask a few questions or a partner dropping in to work from here. We love our new, NYC space.
We had a spectacular reception this week to celebrate the opening of this office with customers, partners and the dotmailer leadership team in attendance. Please take a look at the photos from our event on Facebook.
- What did you learn from your days in the start-up space that you’re applying at dotmailer?
The start-up space is a great place to learn. You have to know where every dollar is going and coming from, so every choice you make needs to be backed up with a business case for that investment. You try lots of different things to see if they’ll work and you’re ready to turn those tactics up or down quickly based on an assessment of the results. You also learn things don’t have to stay the way they are, and can change if you make them change. You always listen and learn – to customers, partners, industry veterans, advisors, etc. to better understand what’s working and not working. dotmailer has been in business for 18 years now, and so there are so many great contributors across the business who know how things have worked and yet are always keen to keep improving. I am constantly in listening and learning mode so that I can understand all of the unique perspectives our team brings and what we need to act on.
- What are your plans for the U.S. and the sales function there?
On our path to being the market leader in the U.S., I’m focused on three things going forward: 1 – I want our customers to be truly happy. It’s already a big focus in the dotmailer organization – and we’re working hard to understand their challenges and goals so we can take product and service to the next level. 2 – Creating an even more robust program around partners, resellers and further building out our channel partners to continuously improve sales and customer service programs. We recently launched a certification program to ensure partners have all the training and resources they need to support our mutual customers. 3 – We have an aggressive growth plan for the U.S. and I’m very focused on making sure our team is well trained, and that we remain thoughtful and measured as we take the steps to grow. We want to always keep an eye on what we’re known for – tools that are powerful and simple to use – and make sure everything else we offer remains accessible and valuable as we execute our growth plans.
- What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?
The questions we usually get are around price, service level and flexibility. How much does dotmailer cost? How well are you going to look after my business? How will you integrate into my existing stack and then my plans for future growth? We now have three transparent bundle options with specifics around what’s included published right on our website. We have introduced a customer success team that’s focused only on taking great care of our customers and we’re hearing stories every day that tells me this is working. And we have all of the tools to support our customers as they grow and to also integrate into their existing stacks – often integrating so well that you can use dotmailer from within Magento, Salesforce or Dynamics, for example.
- Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?
In addition to the ones above – ease of use, speed of use and the ability to scale with you. With dotmailer’s tiered program, you can start with a lighter level of functionality and grow into more advanced functionality as you need it. The platform itself is so easy to use that most marketers are able to build campaigns in minutes that would have taken hours on other platforms. Our customer success team is also with you all the way if ever you want or need help. We’ve built a very powerful platform and we have a fantastic team to help you with personalized service as an extended part of your team and we’re ready to grow with you.
- How much time is your team on the road vs. in the office? Any road warrior tips to share?
I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, one year I attended 22 tradeshows! Top tip when flying is to be willing to give up your seat for families or groups once you’re at the airport gate, as you’ll often be rewarded with a better seat for helping the airline make the family or group happy. Win win! Since joining dotmailer, I’m focused on being in office and present for the team and customers as much as possible. I can usually be found in our new, NYC office where I spend a lot of time with our team, in customer meetings, in trainings and other hosted events, sales conversations or marketing meetings. I’m here to help the team, clients and partners to succeed, and will always do my best to say yes! Once our prospective customers see how quickly and efficiently they can execute tasks with dotmailer solutions vs. their existing solutions, it’s a no-brainer for them. I love seeing and hearing their reactions.
- Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?
I’m originally from Yorkshire in England, and grew up just outside York. I moved to the U.S. about seven years ago to join a very fast growing startup, we took it from 5 to well over 300 people which was a fantastic experience. I moved to NYC almost two years ago, and I love exploring this great city. There’s so much to see and do. Outside of dotmailer, my passion is cars, and I also enjoy skeet shooting, almost all types of music, and I love to travel – my goal is to get to India, Thailand, Australia and Japan in the near future.
Want to find out more about the dotfamily? Check out our recent post about Darren Hockley, Global Head of Support.Reblogged 1 year ago from blog.dotmailer.com
Posted by KelseyLibert
When it comes to job availability and security, the future looks bright for inbound marketers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for marketing managers will grow by 13% between 2012 and 2022. Job security for marketing managers also looks positive according to the BLS, which cites that marketing employees are less likely to be laid off since marketing drives revenue for most businesses.
While the BLS provides growth estimates for managerial-level marketing roles, these projections don’t give much insight into the growth of digital marketing, specifically the disciplines within digital marketing. As we know, “marketing” can refer to a variety of different specializations and methodologies. Since digital marketing is still relatively new compared to other fields, there is not much comprehensive research on job growth and trends in our industry.
To gain a better understanding of the current state of digital marketing careers, Fractl teamed up with Moz to identify which skills and roles are the most in demand and which states have the greatest concentration of jobs.
We analyzed 75,315 job listings posted on Indeed.com during June 2015 based on data gathered from job ads containing the following terms:
- “content marketing” or “content strategy”
- “SEO” or “search engine marketing”
- “social media marketing” or “social media management”
- “inbound marketing” or “digital marketing”
- “PPC” (pay-per-click)
- “Google Analytics”
We chose the above keywords based on their likelihood to return results that were marketing-focused roles (for example, just searching for “social media” may return a lot of jobs that are not primarily marketing focused, such as customer service). The occurrence of each of these terms in job listings was quantified and segmented by state. We then combined the job listing data with U.S. Census Bureau population estimates to calculate the jobs per capita for each keyword, giving us the states with the greatest concentration of jobs for a given search query.
Using the same data, we identified which job titles appeared most frequently. We used existing data from Indeed to determine job trends and average salaries. LinkedIn search results were also used to identify keyword growth in user profiles.
Marketing skills are in high demand, but talent is hard to find
As the marketing industry continues to evolve due to emerging technology and marketing platforms, marketers are expected to pick up new skills and broaden their knowledge more quickly than ever before. Many believe this rapid rate of change has caused a marketing skills gap, making it difficult to find candidates with the technical, creative, and business proficiencies needed to succeed in digital marketing.
The ability to combine analytical thinking with creative execution is highly desirable and necessary in today’s marketing landscape. According to an article in The Guardian, “Companies will increasingly look for rounded individuals who can combine analytical rigor with the ability to apply this knowledge in a practical and creative context.” Being both detail-oriented and a big picture thinker is also a sought-after combination of attributes. A report by The Economist and Marketo found that “CMOs want people with the ability to grasp and manage the details (in data, technology, and marketing operations) combined with a view of the strategic big picture.”
But well-rounded marketers are hard to come by. In a study conducted by Bullhorn, 64% of recruiters reported a shortage of skilled candidates for available marketing roles. Wanted Analytics recently found that one of the biggest national talent shortages is for marketing manager roles, with only two available candidates per job opening.
Increase in marketers listing skills in content marketing, inbound marketing, and social media on LinkedIn profiles
While recruiter frustrations may indicate a shallow talent pool, LinkedIn tells a different story—the number of U.S.-based marketers who identify themselves as having digital marketing skills is on the rise. Using data tracked by Rand and LinkedIn, we found the following increases of marketing keywords within user profiles.
The number of profiles containing “content marketing” has seen the largest growth, with a 168% increase since 2013. “Social media” has also seen significant growth with a 137% increase. “Social media” appears on a significantly higher volume of profiles than the other keywords, with more than 2.2 million profiles containing some mention of social media. Although “SEO” has not seen as much growth as the other keywords, it still has the second-highest volume with it appearing in 630,717 profiles.
Why is there a growing number of people self-identifying as having the marketing skills recruiters want, yet recruiters think there is a lack of talent?
While there may be a lot of specialists out there, perhaps recruiters are struggling to fill marketing roles due to a lack of generalists or even a lack of specialists with surface-level knowledge of other areas of digital marketing (also known as a T-shaped marketer).
Popular job listings show a need for marketers to diversify their skill set
The data we gathered from LinkedIn confirm this, as the 20 most common digital marketing-related job titles being advertised call for a broad mix of skills.
It’s no wonder that marketing manager roles are hard to fill, considering the job ads are looking for proficiency in a wide range of marketing disciplines including social media marketing, SEO, PPC, content marketing, Google Analytics, and digital marketing. Even job descriptions for specialist roles tend to call for skills in other disciplines. A particular role such as SEO Specialist may call for several skills other than SEO, such as PPC, content marketing, and Google Analytics.
Taking a more granular look at job titles, the chart below shows the five most common titles for each search query. One might expect mostly specialist roles to appear here, but there is a high occurrence of generalist positions, such as Digital Marketing Manager and Marketing Manager.
Only one job title containing “SEO” cracked the top five. This indicates that SEO knowledge is a desirable skill within other roles, such as general digital marketing and development.
Recruiter was the third most common job title among job listings containing social media keywords, which suggests a need for social media skills in non-marketing roles.
Similar to what we saw with SEO job titles, only one job title specific to PPC (Paid Search Specialist) made it into the top job titles. PPC skills are becoming necessary for more general marketing roles, such as Marketing Manager and Digital Marketing Specialist.
Across all search queries, the most common jobs advertised call for a broad mix of skills. This tells us hiring managers are on the hunt for well-rounded candidates with a diverse range of marketing skills, as opposed to candidates with expertise in one area.
Marketers who cultivate diverse skill sets are better poised to gain an advantage over other job seekers, excel in their job role, and accelerate career growth. Jason Miller says it best in his piece about the new breed hybrid marketer:
Inbound job demand and growth: Most-wanted skills and fastest-growing jobs
Using data from Indeed, we identified which inbound skills have the highest demand and which jobs are seeing the most growth. Social media keywords claim the largest volume of results out of the terms we searched for during June 2015.
“Social media marketing” or “social media management” appeared the most frequently in the job postings we analyzed, with 46.7% containing these keywords. “PPC” returned the smallest number of results, with only 3.8% of listings containing this term.
Perhaps this is due to social media becoming a more necessary skill across many industries and not only a necessity for marketers (for example, social media’s role in customer service and recruitment). On the other hand, job roles calling for PPC or SEO skills are most likely marketing-focused. The prevalence of social media jobs also may indicate that social media has gained wide acceptance as a necessary part of a marketing strategy. Additionally, social media skills are less valuable compared to other marketing skills, making it cheaper to hire for these positions (we will explore this further in the average salaries section below).
Our search results also included a high volume of jobs containing “digital marketing” and “SEO” keywords, which made up 19.5% and 15.5% respectively. At 5.8%, “content marketing” had the lowest search volume after “PPC.”
Digital marketing, social media, and content marketing experienced the most job growth
While the number of job listings tells us which skills are most in demand today, looking at which jobs are seeing the most growth can give insight into shifting demands.
Digital marketing job listings have seen substantial growth since 2009, when it accounted for less than 0.1% of Indeed.com search results. In January 2015, this number had climbed to nearly 0.3%.
While social media marketing jobs have seen some uneven growth, as of January 2015 more than 0.1% of all job listings on Indeed.com contained the term “social media marketing” or “social media management.” This shows a significant upward trend considering this number was around 0.05% for most of 2014. It’s also worth noting that “social media” is currently ranked No. 10 on Indeed’s list of top job trends.
Despite its growth from 0.02% to nearly 0.09% of search volume in the last four years, “content marketing” does not make up a large volume of job postings compared to “digital marketing” or “social media.” In fact, “SEO” has seen a decrease in growth but still constitutes a higher percentage of job listings than content marketing.
SEO, PPC, and Google Analytics job growth has slowed down
On the other hand, search volume on Indeed has either decreased or plateaued for “SEO,” “PPC,” and “Google Analytics.”
As we see in the graph, the volume of “SEO job” listings peaked between 2011 and 2012. This is also around the time content marketing began gaining popularity, thanks to the Panda and Penguin updates. The decrease may be explained by companies moving their marketing budgets away from SEO and toward content or social media positions. However, “SEO” still has a significant amount of job listings, with it appearing in more than 0.2% of job listings on Indeed as of 2015.
“PPC” has seen the most staggered growth among all the search terms we analyzed, with its peak of nearly 0.1% happening between 2012 and 2013. As of January of this year, search volume was below 0.05% for “PPC.”
Despite a lack of growth, the need for this skill remains steady. Between 2008 and 2009, “Google Analytics” job ads saw a huge spike on Indeed. Since then, the search volume has tapered off and plateaued through January 2015.
Most valuable skills are SEO, digital marketing, and Google Analytics
So we know the number of social media, digital marketing, and content marketing jobs are on the rise. But which skills are worth the most? We looked at the average salaries based on keywords and estimates from Indeed and salaries listed in job ads.
Job titles containing “SEO” had an average salary of $102,000. Meanwhile, job titles containing “social media marketing” had an average salary of $51,000. Considering such a large percentage of the job listings we analyzed contained “social media” keywords, there is a much larger pool of jobs; therefore, a lot of entry level social media jobs or internships are probably bringing down the average salary.
Job titles containing “Google Analytics” had the second-highest average salary at $82,000, but this should be taken with a grain of salt considering “Google Analytics” will rarely appear as part of a job title. The chart below, which shows average salaries for jobs containing keywords anywhere in the listing as opposed to only in the title, gives a more accurate idea of how much “Google Analytics” job roles earn on average.
Looking at the average salaries based on keywords that appeared anywhere within the job listing (job title, job description, etc.) shows a slightly different picture. Based on this, jobs containing “digital marketing” or “inbound marketing” had the highest average salary of $84,000. “SEO” and “Google Analytics” are tied for second with $76,000 as the average salary.
“Social media marketing” takes the bottom spot with an average salary of $57,000. However, notice that there is a higher average salary for jobs that contain “social media” within the job listing as opposed to jobs that contain “social media” within the title. This suggests that social media skills may be more valuable when combined with other responsibilities and skills, whereas a strictly social media job, such as Social Media Manager or Social Media Specialist, does not earn as much.
Massachusetts, New York, and California have the most career opportunities for inbound marketers
Looking for a new job? Maybe it’s time to pack your bags for Boston.
Massachusetts led the U.S. with the most jobs per capita for digital marketing, content marketing, SEO, and Google Analytics. New York took the top spot for social media jobs per capita, while Utah had the highest concentration of PPC jobs. California ranked in the top three for digital marketing, content marketing, social media, and Google Analytics. Illinois appeared in the top 10 for every term and usually ranked within the top five. Most of the states with the highest job concentrations are in the Northeast, West, and East Coast, with a few exceptions such as Illinois and Minnesota.
But you don’t necessarily have to move to a new state to increase the odds of landing an inbound marketing job. Some unexpected states also made the cut, with Connecticut and Vermont ranking within the top 10 for several keywords.
Job listings containing “digital marketing” or “inbound marketing” were most prevalent in Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, and California, which is most likely due to these states being home to major cities where marketing agencies and large brands are headquartered or have a presence. You will notice these four states make an appearance in the top 10 for every other search query and usually rank close to the top of the list.
More surprising to find in the top 10 were smaller states such as Connecticut and Vermont. Many major organizations are headquartered in Connecticut, which may be driving the state’s need for digital marketing talent. Vermont’s high-tech industry growth may explain its high concentration of digital marketing jobs.
Although content marketing jobs are growing, there are still a low volume overall of available jobs, as shown by the low jobs per capita compared to most of the other search queries. With more than three jobs per capita, Massachusetts and New York topped the list for the highest concentration of job listings containing “content marketing” or “content strategy.” California and Illinois rank in third and fourth with 2.8 and 2.1 jobs per capita respectively.
Again, Massachusetts and New York took the top spots, each with more than eight SEO jobs per capita. Utah took third place for the highest concentration of SEO jobs. Surprised to see Utah rank in the top 10? Its inclusion on this list and others may be due to its booming tech startup scene, which has earned the metropolitan areas of Salt Lake City, Provo, and Park City the nickname Silicon Slopes.
Compared to the other keywords, “social media” sees a much higher concentration of jobs. New York dominates the rankings with nearly 24 social media jobs per capita. The other top contenders of California, Massachusetts, and Illinois all have more than 15 social media jobs per capita.
The numbers at the bottom of this list can give you an idea of how prevalent social media jobs were compared to any other keyword we analyzed. Minnesota’s 12.1 jobs per capita, the lowest ranking state in the top 10 for social media, trumps even the highest ranking state for any other keyword (11.5 digital marketing jobs per capita in Massachusetts).
Due to its low overall number of available jobs, “PPC” sees the lowest jobs per capita out of all the search queries. Utah has the highest concentration of jobs with just two PPC jobs per 100,000 residents. It is also the only state in the top 10 to crack two jobs per capita.
Regionally, the Northeast and West dominate the rankings, with the exception of Illinois. Massachusetts and New York are tied for the most Google Analytics job postings, each with nearly five jobs per capita. At more than three jobs per 100,000 residents, California, Illinois, and Colorado round out the top five.
Overall, our findings indicate that none of the marketing disciplines we analyzed are dying career choices, but there is a need to become more than a one-trick pony—or else you’ll risk getting passed up for job opportunities. As the marketing industry evolves, there is a greater need for marketers who “wear many hats” and have competencies across different marketing disciplines. Marketers who develop diverse skill sets can gain a competitive advantage in the job market and achieve greater career growth.
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Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it
Posted by Casey_Meraz
Competition in local search is fierce. While it’s typical to do some surface level research on your competitors before entering a market, you can go much further down the SEO rabbit hole. In this article we will look at how you can find more competitors, pull their data, and use it to beat them in the search game.
Since there are plenty of resources out there on best practices, this guide will assume that you have already followed the best practices for your own listing and are looking for the little things that might make a big difference in putting you over your competition. So if you haven’t already read how to perform the Ultimate Local SEO Audit or how to Find and Build Citations then you should probably start there.
Disclaimer: While it’s important to mention that correlation does not mean causation, we can learn a lot by seeing what the competition has done.
Some of the benefits of conducting competitive research are:
- You can really dive into your customers’ market and understand it better.
- You can figure out who your real customers area and better target them.
- You can get an understanding of what your competitors have done that has been successful without re-inventing the wheel.
Once you isolate trends that seem to make a positive difference, you can create a hypothesis and test. This allows you to constantly be testing, finding out what works, and growing those positive elements while eliminating the things that don’t produce results. Instead of making final decisions off of emotion, make your decisions off of the conversion data.
A good competition analysis will give you a strong insight into the market and allow you to test, succeed, or fail fast. The idea behind this process is to really get a strong snapshot of your competition at a glance to isolate factors you may be missing in your company’s online presence.
Disclaimer 2: It’s good to use competitors’ ideas if they work, but don’t make that your only strategy.
Before we get started
Below I will cover a process I commonly use for competition analysis. I have also created this Google Docs spreadsheet for you to follow along with and use for yourself. To make your own copy simply go to File > Make A Copy. (Don’t ask me to add you as an owner please 🙂
Let’s get started
1. Find out who your real competitors are
Whether you work internally or were hired as an outside resource to help with your client’s SEO campaign, you probably have some idea of who the competition is in your space. Some companies may have good offline marketing but poor online marketing. If you’re looking to be the best, it’s a good idea to do your own research and see who you’re up against.
In my experience it’s always good to find and verify 5-10 online competitors in your space from a variety of sources. You can use tools for this or take the manual approach. Keep in mind that you have to screen the data tools give you with your own eye for accuracy.
How do you find your “real” competitors?
We’re going to look at some tools you can use to find competitors here in a second, but keep in mind you want to record everything you find.
Make sure to capture the basic information for each competitor including their company name, location, and website. These tools will be useful at a later time. Record these in the “competitor research” tab of the spreadsheet.
Method 1: Standard Google searches for competitors
This is pointing out the obvious, but if you have a set of keywords you want to rank for, you can look for trends and see who is already ranking where you want to be. Don’t limit this to just one or two keywords, instead get a broader list of the competitors out there.
To do this, simply come up with a list of several keywords you want to rank for and search for them in your geographic area. Make sure your Geographic preference is set correctly so you get accurate data.
- Collect a list of keywords
- Search Google to see which companies are ranking in the local pack
- Record a list of the companies’ names and website URLs in the spreadsheet under the competitor research tab.
To start we’re just going to collect the data and enter it into the spreadsheet. We will revisit this data shortly.
Outside of the basics, I always find it’s good to see who else is out there. Since organic and local rankings are more closely tied together than ever, it’s a good idea to use 3rd party tools to get some insight as to what else your website could be considered related to.
This can help provide hidden opportunities outside of the normal competition you likely look at most frequently.
Method 2: Use SEMRUSH.com
SEMRush is a pretty neat competitive analysis tool. While it is a paid program, they do in fact have a few free visits a day you can check out. It’s limited but it will show you 10 competitors based on keyword ranking data. It’s also useful for recording paid competition as well.
To use the tool, visit www.SEMRush.com and enter your website in the provided search box and hit search. Once the page loads, you simply have to scroll down to the area that says “main competitors”. If you click the “view full report” option you’ll be taken to a page with 10 competition URLs.
Put these URLs into the spreadsheet so we can track them later.
Method 3: Use SPYFU.com
This is a cool tool that will show your top 5 competitors in paid and organic search. Just like SEMRush, it’s a paid tool that’s easy to use. On the home page, you will see a box that loads where you can enter your URL. Once you hit search, a list of 5 websites will populate for free.
Enter these competitors into your spreadsheet for tracking.
Method 4: Use Crunchbase.com
This website is a goldmine of data if you’re trying to learn about a startup. In addition to the basic information we’re looking for, you can also find out things like how much money they’ve raised, staff members, past employee history, and so much more.
Crunchbase also works pretty similarly to the prior tools in the sense that you you just enter your website URL and hit the search button. Once the page loads, you can scroll down the page to the competitors section for some data.
While Crunchbase is cool, it’s not too useful for smaller companies as it doesn’t seem to have too much data outside of the startup world.
Method 5: Check out Compete.com
This tool seems to have limited data for smaller websites but it’s worth a shot. It can also be a little bit more high-level than I prefer, but you should still check it out.
To use the tool visit www.compete.com and enter the URL you want to examine in the box provided then hit search.
Click the “Find more sites like” box to get list of three related sites. Enter these in the provided spreadsheet.
Method 6: Use SimilarWeb.com
SimilarWeb provides a cool tool with a bunch of data to check out websites. After entering your information, you can scroll down to the similar sites section which will show websites it believes to be related.
The good news about SimilarWeb is that it seems to have data no matter how big or small your site is.
2. After you know who they are, mine their data
Now that we have a list of competitors, we can really do a deep dive to see who is ranking and what factors might be contributing to their success. To start, make sure to pick your top competitors from the spreadsheet and then look for and record the information below about each business on the Competitor Analysis tab.
You will want to to pull this information from their Google My Business page.
If you know the company’s name, it’s pretty easy to find them just by searching the brand. You can add the geographic location if it’s a multi-location business.
For example if I was searching for a Wendy’s in Parker, Colorado, I could simply search this: “Wendy’s Parker, CO” and it will pull up the location(s).
Make sure to take and record the following information from their local listings. Get the data from their Google My Business (Google + Page) and record it in the spreadsheet!
- Business name – Copy and paste the whole business name. Sometimes businesses keyword stuff a name or have a geographic modifier. It’s important to account for this.
- Address – The full address of the business location. Although we can’t do anything about its physical location, we will search using this information shortly.
- City, state, zip code – The city, state, and zip listed on the Google My Business listing.
- Phone number – Take the listing’s primary number
- Phone number 2 – Take the listing’s secondary number like an 800 number.
- Landing page URL – The one connected to their Google My Business listing.
PRO TIP: The URL will display as the root domain, but click the link to see if it takes you to an internal landing page. This is essential!
- Number of categories – Does your listing have more or less categories than the listing?
- Categories in Google My Business
You can find the categories by clicking on the main category of the listing. It will pop out a list of all of the categories the business is listed under. If you only see one after doing this, open your browser and go to View Source. If you do Ctrl+F you can search the page for “GCID” without the quotes. This will show you the categories they’re listed under if you look through the HTML.
- Does the profile appear to be 100% complete?
- How many reviews do they have?
- Is their business name visible in Google Street View? Obviously there is not much we can do about this, but it’s interesting especially considering some patents Bill Slawski was recently talking about.
** Record this information on the spreadsheet. A sample is below.
What can we do with this data?
Since you’ve already optimized your own listing for best practices, we want to see if there is any particular trends that seem to be working better in a certain area. We can then create a hypothesis and test it to see if any gains are losses are made. While we can’t isolate factors, we can get some insight as to what’s working the more you change it.
In my experience, examining trends is much easier when the data is side by side. You can easily pick out data that stands out from the rest.
3. Have a close(r) look at their landing pages
You already know the ins and outs of your landing page. Now let’s look at each competitor’s landing page individually. Let’s look at the factors that carry the most weight and see if anything sticks out.
Record the following information into the spreadsheet and compare side by side with your company vs. the successful ones.
|Page title of landing page|
|City present? – Is the city present in the landing page meta title?|
|State present? – Is the state present in the landing page meta title?|
|Major KW in title? Is there a major keyword in the landing page meta title?|
|Content length on landing page – Possibly minor but worth examining. Copy/paste into MS Word|
|H1 present? – Is the H1 tag present?|
|City in H1? – Does the H1 contain the city name?|
|State in H1? – Does the H1 have the state or abbreviation in the heading?|
|Keyword in H1? – Do they use a keyword in the H1?|
|Local business schema present? – Are they using schema? Find out using the Google structured data testing tool here.|
|Embedded map present? – Are they embedding a Google map?|
|GPS coordinates present? – Are they using GPS coordinates via schema or text?|
4. Off site: See what google thinks is authoritative
Recently, I was having a conversation with a client who was super-excited about the efforts his staff was making. He proudly proclaimed that his office was building 10 new citations a day and added over 500 within the past couple of months!
His excitement freaked me out. As I suspected, when I asked to see his list, I saw a bunch of low quality directory sites that were passing little or no value. One way I could tell they were not really helping (besides the fact that some were NSFW websites), was that the citations or listings were not even indexed in Google.
I think it’s a reasonable assumption that you should test to see what Google knows about your business. Whatever Google delivers about your brand, it’s serving because it has the most relevance or authority in its eyes.
So how can we see what Google sees?
It’s actually pretty simple. Just do a Google Search. One of the ways that I try to evaluate and see whether or not a citation website is authoritative enough is to take the competition’s NAP and Google it. While you’ve probably done this many times before for citation earning, you can prioritize your efforts based off of what’s recurring between top ranked competitor websites.
As you can see in the example below where I did a quick search for a competitor’s dental office (by pasting his NAP in the search bar), I see that Google is associating this particular brand with websites like:
- The company’s main website
- Amazon Local (New)
Pro Tip: Amazon local is relatively new, but you can see that it’s going to carry a citation benefit in local search. If your clients are willing, you should sign up for this.
Don’t want to copy and paste the NAP in a variety of formats? Use Andrew Shotland’s NAP Hunter to get your competitor’s variants. This tool will easily open multiple window tabs in your browser and search for combinations of your competitor’s NAP listings. It makes it easy and it’s kind of fun.
5. Check important citations
With citations, I’m generally in the ballpark of quality over quantity. That being said, if you’re just getting the same citations that everyone else has, that doesn’t really set you apart does it? I like to tell clients that the top citation sources are a must, but it’s good to seek out opportunities and monitor what your competition does so you can keep up and stay ahead of the game.
You need to check the top citations and see where you’re listed vs. your competition. Tools like Whitespark’s local citation finder make this much easier to get an easy snapshot.
If you’re looking to see which citations you should find and check, use these two resources below:
Just like in the example in the section above, you can find powerful hidden gems and also new website opportunities that arise from time to time.
Just because you did it once doesn’t mean you should leave it alone
A common mistake I see is businesses thinking it’s ok to just turn things off when they get to the top.That’s a bad idea. If you’re serious about online marketing, you know that someone is always out to get you. So in addition to tracking your brand mentions through the Fresh Web Explorer, you also need to be tracking your competition at least once a month! The good news is that you can do this easily with Fresh Web Explorer from Moz.
So what should you setup in Fresh Web Explorer?
- Your competitor’s brand name – Monitor their mentions and see what type of marketing they’re doing!
- Your competitor’s NAP – Easily find new citations they’re going after
- City+Industry+Keywords – Maybe there are some hidden gems outside of your competition you could go after!
Plus track anything else you can think of related to your brand. This will help the on-going efforts get a bit easier.
6. Figure out which citations have dofollow links
Did you know some citation sources have dofollow links which mean they pass link juice to your website? Now while these by themselves likely won’t pass a lot of juice, it adds an incentive for you to be proactive with recording and promoting these listings.
When reviewing my competition’s citations and links I use a simple Chrome plugin called NoFollow which simply highlights nofollow links on pages. It makes it super easy to see what’s a follow vs. a nofollow link.
But what’s the benefit of this? Let’s say that I have a link on a city website that’s a follow link and a citation. If it’s an authority page that talks highly about my business, it would make sense for me to link to it from time to time. If you’re getting links from websites other than your own and linking to these high quality citations you will pass link juice to your page. It’s a pretty simple way of increasing the authority of your local landing pages.
7. Links, links, links
Since the Pigeon update almost a year ago, links started to make a bigger impact in local search. You have to be earning links and you have to earn high quality links to your website and especially your Google My Business Landing page.
If the factors show you’re on the same playing field as your competition except in domain authority or page authority, you know your primary focus needs to be links.
Now here is where the research gets interesting. Remember the data sources we pulled earlier like compete, spyfu.com, etc? We are now going to get a bigger picture on the link profile because we did this extra work. Not only are we just going to look at the links that our competition in the pack has, we’ve started to branch out of that for more ideas which will potentially pay off big in the long run.
What to do now
Now we want to take every domain we looked at when we started and run Open Site Explorer on each and every domain. Once we have these lists of links, we can then sort them out and go after the high quality ones that you don’t already have.
Typically, when I’m doing this research I will export everything into Excel or Google Docs, combine them into one spreadsheet and then sort from highest authority to least authority. This way you can prioritize your road map and focus on the bigger fish.
Keep in mind that citations usually have links and some links have citations. If they have a lot of authority you should make sure you add both.
8. But what about user behavior?
If you feel like you’ve gone above and beyond your competition and yet you’re not seeing the gains you want, there is more you have to look at. Sometimes as an SEO it’s easy to get in a paradigm of just the technical or link side of things. But what about user behavior?
It’s no secret and even some recent tests are showing promising data. If your users visit your site and then click back to the search results it indicates that they didn’t find what they were looking for. Through our own experiments we have seen listings in the SERPs jump a few positions in hours just based off of user behavior.
So what does this mean for you?
You need to make sure your pages are answering the users queries as they land on your page, preferably above the fold. For example, if I’m looking for a haircut place and I land on your page, I might be wanting to know the hours, pricing, or directions to your store. Making information prevalent is essential.
Make sure that if you’re going to make these changes you test them. Come up with a hypothesis, test the results, and come to conclusion or another test based off of the data. If you want to know more about your users, I say that you need to find as much about them as human possible. Some services you can use for that are:
1. Inspectlet – Record user sessions and watch how they navigate your website. This awesome tool literally allows you to watch recorded user sessions. Check out their site.
2. LinkedIn Tracking Script – Although I admit it’s a bit creepy, did you know that you can see the actual visitors to your website if they’re logged into LinkedIn while browsing your website? You sure can. To do this complete the following steps:
1. Sign up for a LinkedIn Premium Account
2. Enter this code into the body of your website pages:
<img src="https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?authToken=zRgB&authType=name&id=XXXXX" />
3. Replace the XXXXX with your account number of your profile. You can get this by logging into your profile page and getting the number present after viewid?=
4. Wait for the visitors to start showing up under “who’s viewed your profile”
3. Google Analytics – Watch user behavior and gain insights as so what they were doing on your website.
Speaking of user behavior, is your listing the only one without reviews? Does it have fewer or less favorable reviews? All of these are negative signals for user experience. Do you competitors have more positive reviews? If so you need to work getting more.
While this post was mainly geared towards local SEO as in Google My Business rankings, you have to consider that there are a lot of localized search queries that do not generate pack results. In these cases they’re just standard organic listings.
If you’ve been deterred to add these by Google picking its own meta descriptions or by their lack of ranking benefit, you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Seriously. Customers will make a decision on which listing to click on based on this information. If you’re not thinking about optimizing these for user intent on the corresponding page then you’re just being lazy. Spend the time, increase CTR, and increase your rankings if you’re serving great content.
The key to success here is realizing that this is a marathon and not a sprint. If you examine the competition in the top areas mentioned above and create a plan to overcome, you will win long term. This of course also assumes you’re not doing anything shady and staying above board.
While there were many more things I could add to this article, I believe that if you put your focus on what’s mentioned here you’ll have the greatest success. Since I didn’t talk too much about geo-tagged media in this article, I also included some other items to check in the spreadsheet under the competitor analysis tab.
Remember to actively monitor what those around you are doing and develop a pro-active plan to be successful for your clients.
What’s the most creative thing you have seen a competitor do successfully local search? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
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Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it
Posted by SamuelScott
It’s ten o’clock. Do you know where your logs are?
I’m introducing this guide with a pun on a common public-service announcement that has run on late-night TV news broadcasts in the United States because log analysis is something that is extremely newsworthy and important.
If your technical and on-page SEO is poor, then nothing else that you do will matter. Technical SEO is the key to helping search engines to crawl, parse, and index websites, and thereby rank them appropriately long before any marketing work begins.
The important thing to remember: Your log files contain the only data that is 100% accurate in terms of how search engines are crawling your website. By helping Google to do its job, you will set the stage for your future SEO work and make your job easier. Log analysis is one facet of technical SEO, and correcting the problems found in your logs will help to lead to higher rankings, more traffic, and more conversions and sales.
Here are just a few reasons why:
- Too many response code errors may cause Google to reduce its crawling of your website and perhaps even your rankings.
- You want to make sure that search engines are crawling everything, new and old, that you want to appear and rank in the SERPs (and nothing else).
- It’s crucial to ensure that all URL redirections will pass along any incoming “link juice.”
However, log analysis is something that is unfortunately discussed all too rarely in SEO circles. So, here, I wanted to give the Moz community an introductory guide to log analytics that I hope will help. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments!
What is a log file?
Computer servers, operating systems, network devices, and computer applications automatically generate something called a log entry whenever they perform an action. In a SEO and digital marketing context, one type of action is whenever a page is requested by a visiting bot or human.
127.0.0.1 user-identifier frank [10/Oct/2000:13:55:36 -0700] "GET /apache_pb.gif HTTP/1.0" 200 2326
- 127.0.0.1 — The remote hostname. An IP address is shown, like in this example, whenever the DNS hostname is not available or DNSLookup is turned off.
- user-identifier — The remote logname / RFC 1413 identity of the user. (It’s not that important.)
- frank — The user ID of the person requesting the page. Based on what I see in my Moz profile, Moz’s log entries would probably show either “SamuelScott” or “392388” whenever I visit a page after having logged in.
- [10/Oct/2000:13:55:36 -0700] — The date, time, and timezone of the action in question in strftime format.
- GET /apache_pb.gif HTTP/1.0 — “GET” is one of the two commands (the other is “POST”) that can be performed. “GET” fetches a URL while “POST” is submitting something (such as a forum comment). The second part is the URL that is being accessed, and the last part is the version of HTTP that is being accessed.
- 200 — The status code of the document that was returned.
- 2326 — The size, in bytes, of the document that was returned.
Note: A hyphen is shown in a field when that information is unavailable.
Every single time that you — or the Googlebot — visit a page on a website, a line with this information is output, recorded, and stored by the server.
Log entries are generated continuously and anywhere from several to thousands can be created every second — depending on the level of a given server, network, or application’s activity. A collection of log entries is called a log file (or often in slang, “the log” or “the logs”), and it is displayed with the most-recent log entry at the bottom. Individual log files often contain a calendar day’s worth of log entries.
Accessing your log files
Different types of servers store and manage their log files differently. Here are the general guides to finding and managing log data on three of the most-popular types of servers:
- Accessing Apache log files (Linux)
- Accessing NGINX log files (Linux)
- Accessing IIS log files (Windows)
What is log analysis?
Log analysis (or log analytics) is the process of going through log files to learn something from the data. Some common reasons include:
- Development and quality assurance (QA) — Creating a program or application and checking for problematic bugs to make sure that it functions properly
- Network troubleshooting — Responding to and fixing system errors in a network
- Customer service — Determining what happened when a customer had a problem with a technical product
- Security issues — Investigating incidents of hacking and other intrusions
- Compliance matters — Gathering information in response to corporate or government policies
- Technical SEO — This is my favorite! More on that in a bit.
Log analysis is rarely performed regularly. Usually, people go into log files only in response to something — a bug, a hack, a subpoena, an error, or a malfunction. It’s not something that anyone wants to do on an ongoing basis.
Why? This is a screenshot of ours of just a very small part of an original (unstructured) log file:
Ouch. If a website gets 10,000 visitors who each go to ten pages per day, then the server will create a log file every day that will consist of 100,000 log entries. No one has the time to go through all of that manually.
How to do log analysis
There are three general ways to make log analysis easier in SEO or any other context:
- Do-it-yourself in Excel
- Proprietary software such as Splunk or Sumo-logic
- The ELK Stack open-source software
Tim Resnik’s Moz essay from a few years ago walks you through the process of exporting a batch of log files into Excel. This is a (relatively) quick and easy way to do simple log analysis, but the downside is that one will see only a snapshot in time and not any overall trends. To obtain the best data, it’s crucial to use either proprietary tools or the ELK Stack.
Splunk and Sumo-Logic are proprietary log analysis tools that are primarily used by enterprise companies. The ELK Stack is a free and open-source batch of three platforms (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) that is owned by Elastic and used more often by smaller businesses. (Disclosure: We at Logz.io use the ELK Stack to monitor our own internal systems as well as for the basis of our own log management software.)
For those who are interested in using this process to do technical SEO analysis, monitor system or application performance, or for any other reason, our CEO, Tomer Levy, has written a guide to deploying the ELK Stack.
Technical SEO insights in log data
However you choose to access and understand your log data, there are many important technical SEO issues to address as needed. I’ve included screenshots of our technical SEO dashboard with our own website’s data to demonstrate what to examine in your logs.
Bot crawl volume
It’s important to know the number of requests made by Baidu, BingBot, GoogleBot, Yahoo, Yandex, and others over a given period time. If, for example, you want to get found in search in Russia but Yandex is not crawling your website, that is a problem. (You’d want to consult Yandex Webmaster and see this article on Search Engine Land.)
Response code errors
Moz has a great primer on the meanings of the different status codes. I have an alert system setup that tells me about 4XX and 5XX errors immediately because those are very significant.
Temporary 302 redirects do not pass along the “link juice” of external links from the old URL to the new one. Almost all of the time, they should be changed to permanent 301 redirects.
Crawl budget waste
Google assigns a crawl budget to each website based on numerous factors. If your crawl budget is, say, 100 pages per day (or the equivalent amount of data), then you want to be sure that all 100 are things that you want to appear in the SERPs. No matter what you write in your robots.txt file and meta-robots tags, you might still be wasting your crawl budget on advertising landing pages, internal scripts, and more. The logs will tell you — I’ve outlined two script-based examples in red above.
If you hit your crawl limit but still have new content that should be indexed to appear in search results, Google may abandon your site before finding it.
Duplicate URL crawling
The addition of URL parameters — typically used in tracking for marketing purposes — often results in search engines wasting crawl budgets by crawling different URLs with the same content. To learn how to address this issue, I recommend reading the resources on Google and Search Engine Land here, here, here, and here.
Google might be ignoring (and not crawling or indexing) a crucial page or section of your website. The logs will reveal what URLs and/or directories are getting the most and least attention. If, for example, you have published an e-book that attempts to rank for targeted search queries but it sits in a directory that Google only visits once every six months, then you won’t get any organic search traffic from the e-book for up to six months.
If a part of your website is not being crawled very often — and it is updated often enough that it should be — then you might need to check your internal-linking structure and the crawl-priority settings in your XML sitemap.
Last crawl date
Have you uploaded something that you hope will be indexed quickly? The log files will tell you when Google has crawled it.
One thing I personally like to check and see is Googlebot’s real-time activity on our site because the crawl budget that the search engine assigns to a website is a rough indicator — a very rough one — of how much it “likes” your site. Google ideally does not want to waste valuable crawling time on a bad website. Here, I had seen that Googlebot had made 154 requests of our new startup’s website over the prior twenty-four hours. Hopefully, that number will go up!
As I hope you can see, log analysis is critically important in technical SEO. It’s eleven o’clock — do you know where your logs are now?
- Log File Analysis: The Most-Powerful Tool in Your SEO Toolkit (Tom Bennet at BrightonSEO)
- SEO Finds in Your Server Log (part two) (Tim Resnik on Moz)
- Googlebot Crawl Issue Identification Through Server Logs (David Sottimano on Moz)
- More information on the Logstash and Kibana parts of the ELK Stack (Logz.io)
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 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it
Posted by AlexApptentive
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Moz, Inc.
After seeing Rand’s “Mad Science Experiments in SEO” presented at last year’s MozCon, I was inspired to put on the lab coat and goggles and do a few experiments of my own—not in SEO, but in SEO’s up-and-coming younger sister, ASO (app store optimization).
Working with Apptentive to guide enterprise apps and small startup apps alike to increase their discoverability in the app stores, I’ve learned a thing or two about app store optimization and what goes into an app’s ranking. It’s been my personal goal for some time now to pull back the curtains on Google and Apple. Yet, the deeper into the rabbit hole I go, the more untested assumptions I leave in my way.
Hence, I thought it was due time to put some longstanding hypotheses through the gauntlet.
As SEOs, we know how much of an impact a single ranking can mean on a SERP. One tiny rank up or down can make all the difference when it comes to your website’s traffic—and revenue.
In the world of apps, ranking is just as important when it comes to standing out in a sea of more than 1.3 million apps. Apptentive’s recent mobile consumer survey shed a little more light this claim, revealing that nearly half of all mobile app users identified browsing the app store charts and search results (the placement on either of which depends on rankings) as a preferred method for finding new apps in the app stores. Simply put, better rankings mean more downloads and easier discovery.
Like Google and Bing, the two leading app stores (the Apple App Store and Google Play) have a complex and highly guarded algorithms for determining rankings for both keyword-based app store searches and composite top charts.
Unlike SEO, however, very little research and theory has been conducted around what goes into these rankings.
Until now, that is.
Over the course of five studies analyzing various publicly available data points for a cross-section of the top 500 iOS (U.S. Apple App Store) and the top 500 Android (U.S. Google Play) apps, I’ll attempt to set the record straight with a little myth-busting around ASO. In the process, I hope to assess and quantify any perceived correlations between app store ranks, ranking volatility, and a few of the factors commonly thought of as influential to an app’s ranking.
But first, a little context
Image credit: Josh Tuininga, Apptentive
Both the Apple App Store and Google Play have roughly 1.3 million apps each, and both stores feature a similar breakdown by app category. Apps ranking in the two stores should, theoretically, be on a fairly level playing field in terms of search volume and competition.
Of these apps, nearly two-thirds have not received a single rating and 99% are considered unprofitable. These studies, therefore, single out the rare exceptions to the rule—the top 500 ranked apps in each store.
While neither Apple nor Google have revealed specifics about how they calculate search rankings, it is generally accepted that both app store algorithms factor in:
- Average app store rating
- Rating/review volume
- Download and install counts
- Uninstalls (what retention and churn look like for the app)
- App usage statistics (how engaged an app’s users are and how frequently they launch the app)
- Growth trends weighted toward recency (how daily download counts changed over time and how today’s ratings compare to last week’s)
- Keyword density of the app’s landing page (Ian did a great job covering this factor in a previous Moz post)
I’ve simplified this formula to a function highlighting the four elements with sufficient data (or at least proxy data) for our analysis:
Ranking = fn(Rating, Rating Count, Installs, Trends)
Of course, right now, this generalized function doesn’t say much. Over the next five studies, however, we’ll revisit this function before ultimately attempting to compare the weights of each of these four variables on app store rankings.
(For the purpose of brevity, I’ll stop here with the assumptions, but I’ve gone into far greater depth into how I’ve reached these conclusions in a 55-page report on app store rankings.)
Now, for the Mad Science.
Study #1: App-les to app-les app store ranking volatility
The first, and most straight forward of the five studies involves tracking daily movement in app store rankings across iOS and Android versions of the same apps to determine any trends of differences between ranking volatility in the two stores.
I went with a small sample of five apps for this study, the only criteria for which were that:
- They were all apps I actively use (a criterion for coming up with the five apps but not one that influences rank in the U.S. app stores)
- They were ranked in the top 500 (but not the top 25, as I assumed app store rankings would be stickier at the top—an assumption I’ll test in study #2)
- They had an almost identical version of the app in both Google Play and the App Store, meaning they should (theoretically) rank similarly
- They covered a spectrum of app categories
The apps I ultimately chose were Lyft, Venmo, Duolingo, Chase Mobile, and LinkedIn. These five apps represent the travel, finance, education banking, and social networking categories.
Going into this analysis, I predicted slightly more volatility in Apple App Store rankings, based on two statistics:
- Android apps receive significantly more ratings than iOS apps, and thus I assumed the weight of each marginal rating impacted rankings less in Google Play than in the App Store
- Google Play does not record an average rating exclusive to the current version of an app, meaning ratings are not reset after each update; and thus, I assumed the less volatile Android ratings equated to less volatile Google Play rankings
Both of these assumptions will be tested in later analysis.
Among these five apps, Google Play rankings were, indeed, significantly less volatile than App Store rankings. Among the 35 data points recorded, rankings within Google Play moved by as much as 23 positions/ranks per day while App Store rankings moved up to 89 positions/ranks. The standard deviation of ranking volatility in the App Store was, furthermore, 4.45 times greater than that of Google Play.
Of course, the same apps varied fairly dramatically in their rankings in the two app stores, so I then standardized the ranking volatility in terms of percent change to control for the effect of numeric rank on volatility. When cast in this light, App Store rankings changed by as much as 72% within a 24-hour period while Google Play rankings changed by no more than 9%.
Also of note, daily rankings tended to move in the same direction across the two app stores approximately two-thirds of the time, suggesting that the two stores, and their customers, may have more in common than we think.
Study #2: App store ranking volatility across the top charts
Testing the assumption implicit in standardizing the data in study No. 1, this one was designed to see if app store ranking volatility is correlated with an app’s current rank. The sample for this study consisted of the top 500 ranked apps in both Google Play and the App Store, with special attention given to those on both ends of the spectrum (ranks 1–100 and 401–500).
I anticipated rankings to be more volatile the higher an app is ranked—meaning an app ranked No. 450 should be able to move more ranks in any given day than an app ranked No. 50. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that higher ranked apps have more installs, active users, and ratings, and that it would take a large margin to produce a noticeable shift in any of these factors.
One look at the chart above shows that apps in both stores have increasingly more volatile rankings (based on how many ranks they moved in the last 24 hours) the lower on the list they’re ranked.
This is particularly true when comparing either end of the spectrum—with a seemingly straight volatility line among Google Play’s Top 100 apps and very few blips within the App Store’s Top 100. Compare this section to the lower end, ranks 401–)500, where both stores experience much more turbulence in their rankings. Across the gamut, I found a 24% correlation between rank and ranking volatility in the Play Store and 28% correlation in the App Store.
To put this into perspective, the average app in Google Play’s 401–)500 ranks moved 12.1 ranks in the last 24 hours while the average app in the Top 100 moved a mere 1.4 ranks. For the App Store, these numbers were 64.28 and 11.26, making slightly lower-ranked apps more than five times as volatile as the highest ranked apps. (I say slightly as these “lower-ranked” apps are still ranked higher than 99.96% of all apps.)
The relationship between rank and volatility is pretty consistent across the App Store charts, while rank has a much greater impact on volatility at the lower end of Google Play charts (ranks 1-100 have a 35% correlation) than it does at the upper end (ranks 401-500 have a 1% correlation).
Study #3: App store rankings across the stars
The next study looks at the relationship between rank and star ratings to determine any trends that set the top chart apps apart from the rest and explore any ties to app store ranking volatility.
Ranking = fn(Rating, Rating Count, Installs, Trends)
As discussed in the introduction, this study relates directly to one of the factors commonly accepted as influential to app store rankings: average rating.
Getting started, I hypothesized that higher ranks generally correspond to higher ratings, cementing the role of star ratings in the ranking algorithm.
As far as volatility goes, I did not anticipate average rating to play a role in app store ranking volatility, as I saw no reason for higher rated apps to be less volatile than lower rated apps, or vice versa. Instead, I believed volatility to be tied to rating volume (as we’ll explore in our last study).
The chart above plots the top 100 ranked apps in either store with their average rating (both historic and current, for App Store apps). If it looks a little chaotic, it’s just one indicator of the complexity of ranking algorithm in Google Play and the App Store.
If our hypothesis was correct, we’d see a downward trend in ratings. We’d expect to see the No. 1 ranked app with a significantly higher rating than the No. 100 ranked app. Yet, in neither store is this the case. Instead, we get a seemingly random plot with no obvious trends that jump off the chart.
A closer examination, in tandem with what we already know about the app stores, reveals two other interesting points:
- The average star rating of the top 100 apps is significantly higher than that of the average app. Across the top charts, the average rating of a top 100 Android app was 4.319 and the average top iOS app was 3.935. These ratings are 0.32 and 0.27 points, respectively, above the average rating of all rated apps in either store. The averages across apps in the 401–)500 ranks approximately split the difference between the ratings of the top ranked apps and the ratings of the average app.
- The rating distribution of top apps in Google Play was considerably more compact than the distribution of top iOS apps. The standard deviation of ratings in the Apple App Store top chart was over 2.5 times greater than that of the Google Play top chart, likely meaning that ratings are more heavily weighted in Google Play’s algorithm.
Looking next at the relationship between ratings and app store ranking volatility reveals a -15% correlation that is consistent across both app stores; meaning the higher an app is rated, the less its rank it likely to move in a 24-hour period. The exception to this rule is the Apple App Store’s calculation of an app’s current rating, for which I did not find a statistically significant correlation.
Study #4: App store rankings across versions
This next study looks at the relationship between the age of an app’s current version, its rank and its ranking volatility.
Ranking = fn(Rating, Rating Count, Installs, Trends)
In alteration of the above function, I’m using the age of a current app’s version as a proxy (albeit not a very good one) for trends in app store ratings and app quality over time.
Making the assumptions that (a) apps that are updated more frequently are of higher quality and (b) each new update inspires a new wave of installs and ratings, I’m hypothesizing that the older the age of an app’s current version, the lower it will be ranked and the less volatile its rank will be.
The first and possibly most important finding is that apps across the top charts in both Google Play and the App Store are updated remarkably often as compared to the average app.
At the time of conducting the study, the current version of the average iOS app on the top chart was only 28 days old; the current version of the average Android app was 38 days old.
As hypothesized, the age of the current version is negatively correlated with the app’s rank, with a 13% correlation in Google Play and a 10% correlation in the App Store.
The next part of the study maps the age of the current app version to its app store ranking volatility, finding that recently updated Android apps have less volatile rankings (correlation: 8.7%) while recently updated iOS apps have more volatile rankings (correlation: -3%).
Study #5: App store rankings across monthly active users
In the final study, I wanted to examine the role of an app’s popularity on its ranking. In an ideal world, popularity would be measured by an app’s monthly active users (MAUs), but since few mobile app developers have released this information, I’ve settled for two publicly available proxies: Rating Count and Installs.
Ranking = fn(Rating, Rating Count, Installs, Trends)
For the same reasons indicated in the second study, I anticipated that more popular apps (e.g., apps with more ratings and more installs) would be higher ranked and less volatile in rank. This, again, takes into consideration that it takes more of a shift to produce a noticeable impact in average rating or any of the other commonly accepted influencers of an app’s ranking.
The first finding leaps straight off of the chart above: Android apps have been rated more times than iOS apps, 15.8x more, in fact.
The average app in Google Play’s Top 100 had a whopping 3.1 million ratings while the average app in the Apple App Store’s Top 100 had 196,000 ratings. In contrast, apps in the 401–)500 ranks (still tremendously successful apps in the 99.96 percentile of all apps) tended to have between one-tenth (Android) and one-fifth (iOS) of the ratings count as that of those apps in the top 100 ranks.
Considering that almost two-thirds of apps don’t have a single rating, reaching rating counts this high is a huge feat, and a very strong indicator of the influence of rating count in the app store ranking algorithms.
To even out the playing field a bit and help us visualize any correlation between ratings and rankings (and to give more credit to the still-staggering 196k ratings for the average top ranked iOS app), I’ve applied a logarithmic scale to the chart above:
From this chart, we can see a correlation between ratings and rankings, such that apps with more ratings tend to rank higher. This equates to a 29% correlation in the App Store and a 40% correlation in Google Play.
Next up, I looked at how ratings count influenced app store ranking volatility, finding that apps with more ratings had less volatile rankings in the Apple App Store (correlation: 17%). No conclusive evidence was found within the Top 100 Google Play apps.
And last but not least, I looked at install counts as an additional proxy for MAUs. (Sadly, this is a statistic only listed in Google Play. so any resulting conclusions are applicable only to Android apps.)
Among the top 100 Android apps, this last study found that installs were heavily correlated with ranks (correlation: -35.5%), meaning that apps with more installs are likely to rank higher in Google Play. Android apps with more installs also tended to have less volatile app store rankings, with a correlation of -16.5%.
Unfortunately, these numbers are slightly skewed as Google Play only provides install counts in broad ranges (e.g., 500k–)1M). For each app, I took the low end of the range, meaning we can likely expect the correlation to be a little stronger since the low end was further away from the midpoint for apps with more installs.
To make a long post ever so slightly shorter, here are the nuts and bolts unearthed in these five mad science studies in app store optimization:
- Across the top charts, Apple App Store rankings are 4.45x more volatile than those of Google Play
- Rankings become increasingly volatile the lower an app is ranked. This is particularly true across the Apple App Store’s top charts.
- In both stores, higher ranked apps tend to have an app store ratings count that far exceeds that of the average app.
- Ratings appear to matter more to the Google Play algorithm, especially as the Apple App Store top charts experience a much wider ratings distribution than that of Google Play’s top charts.
- The higher an app is rated, the less volatile its rankings are.
- The 100 highest ranked apps in either store are updated much more frequently than the average app, and apps with older current versions are correlated with lower ratings.
- An app’s update frequency is negatively correlated with Google Play’s ranking volatility but positively correlated with ranking volatility in the App Store. This likely due to how Apple weighs an app’s most recent ratings and reviews.
- The highest ranked Google Play apps receive, on average, 15.8x more ratings than the highest ranked App Store apps.
- In both stores, apps that fall under the 401–500 ranks receive, on average, 10–20% of the rating volume seen by apps in the top 100.
- Rating volume and, by extension, installs or MAUs, is perhaps the best indicator of ranks, with a 29–40% correlation between the two.
Revisiting our first (albeit oversimplified) guess at the app stores’ ranking algorithm gives us this loosely defined function:
Ranking = fn(Rating, Rating Count, Installs, Trends)
I’d now re-write the function into a formula by weighing each of these four factors, where a, b, c, & d are unknown multipliers, or weights:
Ranking = (Rating * a) + (Rating Count * b) + (Installs * c) + (Trends * d)
These five studies on ASO shed a little more light on these multipliers, showing Rating Count to have the strongest correlation with rank, followed closely by Installs, in either app store.
It’s with the other two factors—rating and trends—that the two stores show the greatest discrepancy. I’d hazard a guess to say that the App Store prioritizes growth trends over ratings, given the importance it places on an app’s current version and the wide distribution of ratings across the top charts. Google Play, on the other hand, seems to favor ratings, with an unwritten rule that apps just about have to have at least four stars to make the top 100 ranks.
Thus, we conclude our mad science with this final glimpse into what it takes to make the top charts in either store:
Weight of factors in the Apple App Store ranking algorithm
Rating Count > Installs > Trends > Rating
Weight of factors in the Google Play ranking algorithm
Rating Count > Installs > Rating > Trends
Again, we’re oversimplifying for the sake of keeping this post to a mere 3,000 words, but additional factors including keyword density and in-app engagement statistics continue to be strong indicators of ranks. They simply lie outside the scope of these studies.
I hope you found this deep-dive both helpful and interesting. Moving forward, I also hope to see ASOs conducting the same experiments that have brought SEO to the center stage, and encourage you to enhance or refute these findings with your own ASO mad science experiments.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below, and let’s deconstruct the ranking formula together, one experiment at a time.
Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it
Posted by EricaMcGillivray
We’re super-thrilled to say that it’s finally here: the MozCon 2015 Agenda. We have an outstanding lineup this year featuring topics ranging from technical SEO and email marketing to content strategy and digging into your creative side. All of our speakers are already gearing up to deliver top-notch and actionable tips. And if you still need your ticket:
If you have any questions about the schedule, we’d love to hear ’em. Feel free to ask in the comments.
MozCon 2015 Agenda
Welcome to MozCon 2015! with Rand Fishkin
MozCon 2015 is here. Rand brings in the fun, recaps where our industry’s been, and talks a bit about the future.
Husband of Geraldine. Founder of Moz. Presenter of Whiteboard Friday. Writer of blog posts. Sender of tweets.
How to Make Your Marketing Match Your Reality with Dana DiTomaso
Too often, the tone and promises of marketing don’t match those of the business itself. Dana will help you bring your brand identity together, both in-store and online, whether at a conference, on the radio, or in a meeting.
Dana DiTomaso likes to impart wisdom to help you turn a lot of marketing bullshit into real strategies to grow your business. After 10+ years, she’s (almost) seen it all. It’s true, Dana will meet with you and teach you the ways of the digital world, but she is also a fan of the random fact. Kick Point often celebrates “Watershed Wednesday” because of Dana’s diverse work and education background. In her spare time, Dana drinks tea and yells at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
How To Do Content Strategy (Probably) with Kristina Halvorson
Put 10 people in a room and ask them to define “content strategy,” and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Kristina will share her own tried-and-true approach!
Kristina Halvorson is widely recognized as one of the most important voices in content strategy. She is the founder of Brain Traffic, the coauthor of Content Strategy for the Web, and the founder of the Confab content strategy conferences.
An SEO’s Guide to the Insane World of Content with Matthew Brown
Find yourself arguing whether or not SEO is just great content? Matthew will talk through a strategic and tactical journey of content strategy from an SEO’s viewpoint and leave you with new tools and tactics.
Matthew Brown is on the Product Strategy and Design team at Moz, where he spends equal time on new products and staying out of the way. He enjoys bourbon and working on his upcoming novel, “Fifty Shades of Ginger” (look for it in 2019). Follow him at @MatthewJBrown for his special brand of hot takes.
Delightful Remarketing: How You Can Do It with Duane Brown
By focusing on the differences between remarketing and creating delightful remarketing, Duane will help you grow the revenue and profit for your brand.
Duane Brown is a digital marketer with 10 years’ experience having lived and worked in five cities across three continents. He’s currently at Unbounce. When not working, you can find Duane traveling to some far-flung location around the world to eat food and soak up the culture.
The Perfect Pair: Using PPC Data to Influence SEO with Stephanie Wallace
PPC is an easy testing ground for your SEO. Stephanie will explain how to better integrate them and leverage campaign data to influence SEO strategies.
Stephanie Wallace is Director of SEO at Nebo, a digital agency in Atlanta. She helps clients navigate the ever-changing world of SEO by understanding their audience and creating a digital experience that both the user and Google can appreciate.
Tracking Beyond the Pageview with Adrian Vender
Typical engagement analytics don’t tell the full story of how people interact with your website. Adrian will show you how to use Google Tag Manager to turbocharge your content tracking and custom reports.
Adrian Vender is the Director of Analytics at IMI and a general enthusiast of coding and digital marketing. He’s also a life-long drummer and lover of music.
Too Busy to Do Good Work with Marta Turek
Don’t let your work suffer from being busy. Instead, let Marta show you the tactics to clean up your PPC processes to finally get more strategic.
Marta Turek holds seven years of experience in digital advertising, specializing in lead generation, and paid search marketing. Developing digital strategies and telling stories through data is what rocks her boat. She’s currently at ROI·DNA.
Online Personalization that Actually Works with Cara Harshman
Personalizing your marketing may be a daunting idea right now, but after Cara breaks it down, you’ll realize why embracing it early will be transformative, highly lucrative, addicting, and not creepy.
Cara Harshman tells stories at Optimizely. She was the second marketer to join and is now a Content Marketing Manager+Blog Editor. In 2012, she (openly) ghost-wrote A/B Testing the book, on behalf of the co-founders.
Ultimate Search and Social Mashup: Expertly Curate Owned Audience Cookie Pools with Marty Weintraub
Stay relevant, marketers! Learn to mine merged search and social data to build audience-based cookie pools for performance marketers to exploit.
Marty is Founder of aimClear®. He was honored three years straight as a “Top 25 Most Influential PPC Expert”; was 2013 “US Search Personality of the Year”; is an acclaimed author; and fixture on the international digital marketing conference speaking circuit.
Monday Night #MozCrawl
We’re having a pub crawl on Monday, official stops coming soon. You’ll be able to explore some of our favorite haunts and make some new friends. Go at your own pace, and visit the stops in any order. Spread across seven bars, each stop is sponsored by a trusted partner and one by us. You must bring your MozCon badge—for free drinks and light appetizers—and your US ID or passport. See you there!
Surviving Google: SEO in 2020 with Pete Meyers
Organic results are disappearing, replaced by Knowledge Graph, direct answers, new ad hybrids, and more. How can SEOs be ready for Google in five years?
Dr. Pete Meyers is Marketing Scientist for Moz, where he works on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past three years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast project, and he curates the Google Algorithm History.
Become a Mobile SEO Superhero with Cindy Krum
With Google’s algorithm mobile change, Cindy will walk you through the changes, what they mean for your site and its rankings, and what you should be focusing on going forward.
Cindy Krum is the CEO and Founder of MobileMoxie, LLC, and author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, and regularly speaks at US and international digital marketing events.
Digital Analytics: People, Process, Platform with Adam Singer
In a data-driven world, Adam will pull you back to think again about your analytics, best practices, and how you report.
Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, startup adviser, investor, and blogger. He previously was director for a global consulting team and has provided digital strategy for brands in a variety of industries including marketing, technology, healthcare, and more.
How to Better Sell SEO to the C-Suite with Purna Virji
Whether you need more resources, trust, or buy-in, Purna will share practical tips for focusing on Profit & Loss and better communicating SEO planning, forecasting, and strategizing.
Purna Virji is the founder and CEO of Purview Marketing, a boutique consulting firm helping companies of all sizes grow via search and content marketing. Purna is an avid traveler and speaks six languages (and can swear in 17!).
Drive More Conversions with Lifecycle Email Campaigns with Tamara Gielen
Triggered emails can be powerful marketing. Tamara will lead you through data-driven decision making to improve your campaigns and connect with customers.
Based near Brussels, Belgium, Tamara Gielen is one of the world’s leading experts in email marketing with over 14 years of experience managing email marketing programs for international corporations.
Reaching Critical Mass: 150 Active Members with Rich Millington
Imagine you could create and rejuvenate a successful community whenever you like? Richard Millington will take you through a step by step action plan to reach critical mass.
Richard Millington is the Founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy, and the author of Buzzing Communities.
Dark Search and Social—Run Rabbit Run! with Marshall Simmonds
With data from 112 publishers with 164+ billion page views, Marshall will dive into the challenges of tracking social and search campaigns. He’ll focus on history’s lessons and what’s happening with direct and mobile traffic in an app-heavy world.
Marshall Simmonds is the Founder of Define Media Group, the enterprise audience development company specializing in strategic search and social marketing. Define works with many of the most influential brands and networks in the world.
Back to the Future with Local Search with Mary Bowling
Google’s model of our world now mirrors the physical world better than it ever has before. Learn how to meld the online and offline actions of your business for optimal Local Search success.
Mary Bowling’s been concentrating on helping businesses succeed with Local SEO since she got into this crazy biz in 2003. She’s a consultant at Optimized!, a partner at Ignitor Digital, a partner in LocalU, and a trainer and blogger for Search Engine News.
The Time to Do the Web Right Is Incredibly Short with Wil Reynolds
In “web time,” competitive advantage can be lost in an instant, speed matters. Wil shares how keep on the pulse of competitor agility and how to get things done to stay ahead of them.
Wil Reynolds – Director of Strategy, Seer Interactive – founded Seer with a focus on doing great things for its clients, team, and the community. His passion for driving and analyzing the impact that a site’s traffic has on the company’s bottom line has shaped SEO and digital marketing industries. Wil also actively supports the Covenant House.
MozCon Ignite at Benaroya Hall
We’re thrilled to announce the addition of a networking and Ignite-style event for attendees on Tuesday night. Join us to meet—and—greet your fellow community members and hear them talk about their passion projects. Leave that notebook in your hotel and settle into some fun. Enjoy light appetizers and a couple of drinks on us.
Want to speak at (or just learn more about) this event? We are accepting pitches through Sunday, May 17, at 5pm PST!
Marketing Innovations: Creative PR, Content, and SEO Strategies with Lexi Mills
Lexi shows you how to apply strategies used in emerging markets to grow the success of your PR, SEO, and content work from bathrooms to rock bands.
Lexi Mills is a PR SEO specialist, with over eight years experience working with both small firms and big brands. She has designed and implemented integrated PR, SEO, content, and social campaigns in the UK, Europe, and USA for B2B and B2C clients. She’s currently at DynamoPR.
Upside Down and Inside Out with Mig Reyes
Mig shares how to shake up your marketing projects by looking at your work through a lens of experiments and creativity.
Mig Reyes is a traditionally trained graphic designer who escaped advertising agency life, cut his teeth at the T-shirt powerhouse known as Threadless, and now helps lead branding, marketing and even a bit of product work at Basecamp.
Get Hired to Do SEO with Ruth Burr Reedy
You dream in SEO—but all the SEO job descriptions require something you don’t have! Ruth Burr Reedy will teach you how to show employers you know your stuff, by building your personal brand with real-life examples of your SEO prowess.
Ruth Burr Reedy is the head of on-site SEO for BigWing Interactive, a full-service digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City, OK. At BigWing she manages a team doing on-site, technical and local SEO. Ruth has been working in SEO since 2006.
Rocking Your CRO Efforts with Radical Redesigns with Chris Dayley
Too often we have design blinders on when running A/B tests, focusing only on things like button text. Chris will help you break through to find dramatic gains in your CRO efforts.
Chris Dayley is a digital marketing expert and owner of Dayley Conversion. His company provides full-service A/B testing for businesses, including design, development, and test execution.
Parole, Parole, Parole: Practical, Modern Keyword and Topical Research with Gianluca Fiorelli
Just using Keyword Planner and Google Suggest is a waste time. Gianluca will show you how keyword and topical research is more about culture, not guessing, and explore unusual sources and seldom used tool features to make your research more effective.
Moz Associate, official blogger for Stateofdigital.com and well-known International SEO and Inbound Strategist, Gianluca Fiorelli works in the Digital Marketing industry, but he still believes that he that he knows nothing.
The Psychology of Social Media with Courtney Seiter
Courtney dives into the science of why people post, share, and build relationships on social media and how to create an even more irresistible social media experience for your audience.
Courtney Seiter examines social media and workplace culture at Buffer, and her writing has been published at TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc., and more. She lives in Nashville, where she is a founder of Girls to the Moon, a leadership camp for girls.
Astoundingly Useful Applications of Facebook Search for Marketers with David Mihm
Facebook has long neglected its potential as a local search giant, and as a result, its Graph Search product is an afterthought for too many marketers. David showcases Graph-powered insights for small-business marketers—with utility well beyond Facebook.
David Mihm has created and promoted search-friendly websites for clients of all sizes since the early 2000’s. David co-founded GetListed.org, which he sold to Moz in November 2012. He now serves as Moz’s Director of Local Search Strategy.
(Check back soon; we’re still finalizing the details of this session!)
Onsite SEO in 2015: An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Marketer with Rand Fishkin
SEO has come full circle as on-page SEO has returned to the forefront. Rand will share how and why on-site SEO is so important and show off uncommon tactics with powerful potential.
Husband of Geraldine. Founder of Moz. Presenter of Whiteboard Friday. Writer of blog posts. Sender of tweets.
7:00pm-12:00am Wednesday Night Bash at the Garage
Do you love singing “I Love Rock n’ Roll”? How about bowling in some fancy shoes? Or are you a pool shark? Our after-party has a little something for everyone.
Chill with the new friends you’ve made, catch up with your old friends, and get to know the people you’ve only ever met online. We’ll provide heavy appetizers and plenty of beverages. This year’s assortment includes the MozCow Mule Mocktail, as well as well liquor, beer, house wine, soft drinks, and of course, plenty of our friend H2O.
Make sure to bring your MozCon badge and an ID (driver’s license or non-US passport). See you there!
Ready for MozCon?
Reblogged 2 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it
Posted by BenjaminEstes
The Agile movement has done a world of good for digital marketers. The term “Agile marketing” started being thrown around in about 2010. In 2011-2012 there was a proliferation of content around it. Among many others, Jonathon Colman did a Whiteboard Friday, and Mack Fogelson put her two cents in with a Moz article. At Distilled we’ve incorporated these ideas into our everyday behaviors. We’re better for it.
And yet, I don’t think we’ve captured the full potential the Agile Manifesto offers.
Much “Agile marketing” content is actually about Agile project management methodologies like Scrum. These frameworks are earth-shattering when you first find them. But in the end, they’re helping you get the same things done—just better, or faster, or with a greater rate of success. What happens when you want to dramatically level up your marketing game? or make better strategic decisions? or integrate more closely with other departments? Or make your team vastly more effective?
To answer these questions we must think bigger than project management. We need to address the business culture that shapes the choices we make. That’s what the Agile Manifesto is about. This is the real inspiration behind the Agile movement.
The Agile Manifesto
The Agile Manifesto was written in 2001 by developers who wanted to improve their trade. It’s short. Give it a read:
Manifesto for Agile Software Development
We are uncovering better ways of developing software by doing it and helping others do it. Through this work we have come to value:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
Kent Beck, Mike Beedle, Arie van Bennekum, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Martin Fowler, James Grenning, Jim Highsmith, Andrew Hunt, Ron Jeffries, Jon Kern, Brian Marick, Robert C. Martin, Steve Mellor, Ken Schwaber, Jeff Sutherland, Dave Thomas
© 2001, the above authors this declaration may be freely copied in any form, but only in its entirety through this notice.
Instead, the manifesto promotes four cultural biases. Being “Agile” means allowing these biases to be major influences in decision making. In everyday life “bias” is often a negative word. It suggests a lack of objectivity. However, being opinionated about the choices you make is the essence of company culture. And it turns out that some cultures are more effective than others.
Changing project management styles isn’t enough. Organizations that try to “be Agile” through changing project management styles, without considering culture, may be dissatisfied with the results.
Smart development teams have made cultural changes with this manifesto for over a decade. If marketing managers are to learn from the Agile Manifesto, what would that mean? Let’s look at each of the 4 main points the manifesto presents and find out.
1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Digital marketing requires good processes and tools. Moving beyond the basics means dealing with human beings.
Some channels, like organic and paid search, require investment in processes and tools. That’s the nature of the work. Anyone trying to understand a SERP without the Moz Keyword Difficulty tool is fighting with one hand tied behind their back.
But let’s not give the tools too much credit. The effectiveness of our tools and processes isn’t the biggest influencer of success. What else impacts search marketing? A few things that come to mind:
- Marketing budget owners
- Willingness of brand owners to test new types of content
- Onerous content sign-off requirements from legal or management teams
- Limited bandwidth of teams responsible for site updates
- Team knowledge of best practices
Notice a theme? It turns out there are a lot of people that influence your search marketing. Great tools and processes help us become the best version of our current selves. To take marketing performance to the next level it’s people that you need to invest in.
In practice: trial engagements vs. RFPs
Distilled routinely fields RFPs from prospective clients. Some of them are truly abysmal. Filling them out is a huge investment. Yet that’s not my main concern—I’d do just about anything to work with a great client. Here’s what gets me: RFPs often aren’t effective selection tools.
A mile-long RFP won’t prove that an agency will integrate with your team. It tests the agency’s ability to write essays. It’s an expensive test that doesn’t map to real life work. An RFP is a tool, but you and your team and your consultants are people. People can’t be quantified like that.
A great alternative to an RFP is to engage an agency for a short period—maybe 3 months. This may be an uncomfortable approach. It means investing in something you acknowledge may not work out. But by actually working together you’ll see what it’s like to collaborate. A good agency partner is invaluable. Take the time to see your potential agency as human beings and it’ll pay off in the long run.
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
Spend less time creating reports. Spend more time marketing.
The Agile Manifesto reflects on software development. But it’s mostly generic enough to apply to marketing. However, for this particular line we need to make some tweaks. I propose:
Working campaigns over comprehensive reporting.
Data analysis helps us feel confident about our marketing. It’s enticing to point to numbers because they let us say we’re doing things that are ‘reasonable’. When analysis helps us make a specific decision, that’s helpful and healthy.
But often reports are pulled without any analysis. Anyone who works at a large organization has seen this. And sometimes, analysis is demanded in situations where it isn’t appropriate—a way to add a hurdle in front of an initiative someone wants blocked.
The numbers are there to help us make good choices. If pulling un-analyzed numbers is taking enough time to prevent things from getting done, reporting is getting in the way. A good rule of thumb: the more frequently a report is pulled, the more it must be automated and the fewer metrics it should have. Prefer forward progress in marketing over time spent reporting.
In practice: weekly reporting
Ecommerce sites commonly break down reports by week. And there are meaningful decisions that can be made on a weekly basis, such as changing advertising spends to compensate for poorer-than-expected performance.
However, recommending an increase in paid spend to compensate for a drop in organic requires remarkably few inputs. Did organic revenue hit target last week? are we on track to hit targets for the month? do we have discretionary budget to spend on paid?
Weekly reports should be brief and include numbers that can trigger action. Creation should be completely automated. If looking at macro numbers suggests questions that want answers, commission ad hoc analysis to answer them. Don’t demand all the numbers by default. If your team is spending 10% of their time pulling regular reports, your mission should be to make that 2%.
3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Your customer isn’t an enemy to be conquered, or a black box with a variable conversion rate. She is a human being. Do whatever you can to spend more time engaging her and less time selling to her.
Modern startup culture favors the long play—get people using your product and worry about profit later. This attitude is great from a marketer’s perspective. The more people engage with your product, the more people you have invested in your brand. More word-of-mouth, more opinions, more data. It’s a positive feedback loop.
It’s easy to forget that this attitude wasn’t always prevalent. Once upon a time getting the new version of Adobe’s Creative Suite set you back a big chunk of change. The barrier to entry for a customer was high. These days Creative Cloud available for a low monthly fee. This makes it much more accessible to more people.
It’s more important to have the customer engaged and in your ecosystem than to extract maximum short term value from them. Get your product in the hands of customers. Understand how they use it, and how it satisfies their needs. Leverage your customer relationships to improve your marketing.
In practice: Canva’s pricing model
Canva is a hosted graphic design app. They’ve got a great pricing model. The tool is free for everyone to use. You only pay (~$1) if you use premium design assets in your image. There is no pressure to do so, and certainly no necessity given the power and flexibility of the tool.
Everyone who uses Canva—whether they pay for it or not—benefits from it. That means some users benefit from Canva’s hard work without paying a dime. But that’s OK: Canva benefits from every user, whether they pay or not. More users become more word of mouth, more product feedback, and more mind share. Instead of worrying about extracting the most value possible from each user, Canva sees the bigger picture.
4. Responding to change over following a plan
The state of reality is constant flux. Embracing that change and investing in harnessing gives you a competitive advantage.
One of the promises of agile project management methodologies is that they allow work to be broken into small chunks and reprioritized. This kind of prioritization, though, is only one part of the story. When a big change comes along, anyone can drop everything they are doing and focus on it.
The question isn’t whether you can focus on a new initiative. The question is how effectively you can capture a new opportunity. What have you done to make sure that when you want to make a change you can make that change as easily as possible?
For instance, front-end developer bandwidth might be a bottleneck for you. Being able to effectively prioritize new tasks for their constrained bandwidth is good. But recognizing opportunities to prioritize investing in removing that roadblock is better. It allows you to be more flexible in the future when something bigger comes up. If you go to the dev team any time you need copy updated on your website, what can you do to avoid going to them entirely?
In practice: invest in your platform
Let’s say you’re working for a retail clothing ecommerce site. Your site has a “sandal” category page. But research suggests that your audience actually uses the word “flip flop“. As a result, you might want to test swapping the title tag of the page to use “flip flop” instead. Easy enough, right?
But what does it take to change that title tag? If you’re lucky, you log into an online interface and change the value of a text box. If you’re not lucky, it means defining the changes you want to make, putting them into a spreadsheet, emailing them to the team responsible for metadata updates, hoping your change is prioritized in the next build of your site, and crossing your fingers.
Knowing that you should look into “flip flops” is good. Making it easier to change title tags by improving (or adding) a CMS is better. It sounds simple. Yet there are plenty of organizations—maybe even yours—where a content change as basic as a title tag swap requires a full build of the website. If you’re a marketing manager in such an organization, you’ve found your mission.
The cultural biases of the Agile Manifesto are much more important than project management style.
Implementing the tactics you read on blogs like Moz’s will help you make incremental improvements in your marketing program. But by reflecting on how to work more effectively within your organization you take your marketing performance to places you didn’t think it could go. And you may even enjoy your job more!
What do you think? What are the roadblocks you come up against within your organization? What cultural changes would solve them?