All posts by Tereza Litsa

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Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

PPC data can be overwhelming. The more you dive into it, the more complicated it can get.

And when creating a PPC report to present your campaign results to others at your company, you need your data to be as easy to understand as possible.

What’s most important when putting together your first PPC report is to understand why you are adding the specific data points to your report. That’s why you need a PPC report that fits your goals and the KPIs that you want to measure. 

A PPC report needs to reflect your goals to ensure that you’re measuring what matters most to your business.

Here are four steps to follow that will guide you through the process of creating your PPC report, and some examples of templates that you can use as a basis for your report.

1) Decide on your objectives

The first step to creating your own PPC report is to agree on the company’s objectives for a paid search campaign. By understanding what the company wants to achieve through future campaigns, you are able to create a useful report that only focuses on the most important metrics.

For example, if your company wants to increase awareness through ads, then you will probably want to focus on metrics like reach and impressions. However, if your company is looking for new clients, then you’ll want to measure conversions and how much acquiring them will cost.

Every graph or table that you’re adding to your report should be directly relevant to the goals you’ve set and whether they have been met.

By aligning company objectives with your report, you will be able to present a relevant report that will facilitate your reporting during the campaign. It will also help your stakeholders to understand how your work contributes to the objectives that have been set.

A good idea is to add a summary or an overview of your report to highlight the objectives and whether you were able to meet them as part of your work. This is the best way to measure the success of a campaign, but also to prove how your work contributes to the company’s overall success.

2) Find your key metrics

This is the most important step when creating a PPC report. It’s time to add the metrics that matter most to your business in your report. It’s good to remember that not everyone has the same experience with you in the realm of PPC, so try to strike a balance between your technical knowledge and a more general report that makes sense to your stakeholders.

You need to include metrics that will reflect your key objective in a clear and structured way.

In general, the most common metrics that a PPC report includes are:

  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Cost
  • Conversions
  • Cost per conversion
  • Ad performance
  • Keyword performance

Moreover, if you’re running different campaigns, you need to provide the metrics that will measure their performance:

  • Overall campaign metrics
  • Cost per campaign
  • Device performance
  • Channel performance
  • Best performing ads and keywords
  • Lessons learned for future campaigns

In addition to these, if you’re creating a report that goes beyond the past month, you can also include:

  • Month-over-month data (change in conversions, impressions, clicks, etc)
  • What worked (and what didn’t work)
  • Lessons learned
  • Benchmarking to compare the success of your work

In general, your stakeholders will want to know:

  • The overall PPC performance
  • How your work has contributed to an increased awareness
  • How many conversions you’ve generated
  • The cost for each conversion
  • What worked and what didn’t
  • Your next steps towards meeting more objectives

Add context to your data

A PPC report is not just a series of metrics all added in one spreadsheet. You need to make sure that the metrics are presented in a way that makes sense to everyone.

It’s the time to add context to the metrics that you’re going to focus on. This procedure will help you understand whether your PPC work has been successful, but also on how to present the results to the stakeholders. It helps you simplify the data to the extent that you’ll be able to explain it to everyone.

A good way to explain your data is to provide answers to these questions:

  • What are the goals of your PPC ads?
  • What changed from this period to what you were doing before?
  • How many campaigns did you create?
  • What were the results of each campaign?
  • How would you summarize the metrics?
  • Has there been a positive or negative change in the results?
  • Did you try anything different this time?
  • What’s next for your PPC work?

The answers to these questions will make your data more relevant and your report more appealing.

Create a template for your PPC report

Creating your own PPC report template can be helpful for two main reasons:

  • Efficiency: Once your report template is set up, you can use to quickly create new PPC reports without having to start from scratch each time.
  • Customization: By creating your own template, you can explain the data in the way that is more relevant to your business.

Here are some templates that could serve as useful examples for different types of PPC report:

Monthly PPC report

This is a quick way to create an appealing monthly PPC report that fits many companies and they way they present their PPC performance.

Source: Wordstream

Monthly high-level PPC report

If you want a different approach in the way you’re presenting your PPC data, then this template can make your analysis more visual while focusing on the high level data.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Supermetrics

In-depth PPC report

A PPC report can become more detailed through a series of graphs and data that offer additional insights. This is an example of a report that can offer a further analysis to your PPC work for anyone interested in diving into more details.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Supermetrics

Monthly campaign report

This is a good way to present your monthly metrics when it comes to PPC campaigns. It’s an overview of the performance with all the data that will explain its success.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Shimon Sandler

Monthly PPC report focusing on conversions

If you’re looking for a quick PPC report that provides an overview of the month while focusing on conversions, then this template can give you an idea of the data that you’ll need to include. It also serves as a good example of the visual representation that you can add to the data.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: ByDataBeDriven

AdWords comparison report

This is a sample AdWords report that focuses on comparisons and trends. It provides a historical performance overview along with further details on month-over-month and year-over-year comparisons. This is a useful way to present your work in longer periods, especially when you’re trying to prove how PPC can contribute to the wider business goals.

Here are the key metrics and templates you need to create a PPC report

Source: Jumpfly

Overview

Remember, a good PPC report tells a story in a way that everyone can understand. This will make your job easier and your work more visible.

Creating a template for your PPC reports can make your work more efficient and your stakeholders happier. There’s no such thing as the perfect template, but you can build a spreadsheet that works best for your needs.

Once you create your first draft of your template, you can revisit it anytime. This will serve as a time-saver template that can lead to many different variations. Whether it’s a monthly report or an analysis of a particular campaign, it is still useful to invest time in creating your customized template in order to lend consistency to your reports.

What’s most important is to align your business goals with your PPC performance to make sure that the presented data will be valuable to everyone at your company.

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Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

It’s been a year since Pinterest announced the launch of Lens, its new visual search tool. How has it evolved since then?

When Pinterest Lens launched in 2017, it was the latest – and boldest – step in Pinterest’s evolution from a visual social network into a powerful visual search tool.

Pinterest knew that there was great potential to blend its “inspiration”-focused online platform, full of enticing DIY, craft, beauty and recipe ideas, with the offline world to help its users make their ideas into reality. The goal was to offer a camera search that helps you discover online what you come across in the offline world.

The idea seemed ambitious, but Pinterest made it clear at the time that its Lens technology was still developing, encouraging users to help it build a powerful tool:

“Lens is still learning, and doesn’t always recognize exactly what you’re looking for.

Lens will stay in beta as it gets even better at recognizing all the things. And that’s where you come in!

If you get results that feel a little meh, tap the new + button to add feedback and help Lens get better at finding ideas inspired by whatever you just Lensed. As more and more people help teach Lens about more and more objects, soon it will earn its way out of the beta zone.”

A year on from this announcement, how has Pinterest’s visual discovery evolved – and what has the impact of Pinterest’s Lens tool been on the wider industry?

The evolution of Lens

In a news post celebrating the one-year anniversary of Lens, Pinterest revealed some significant stats about the growth of Lens:

  • There are now twice as many Pinterest users who use Lens every day, compared to 6 months ago
  • People carry out more than 600 million visual searches with Lens every month, which marks an increase of 140% year-over-year

According to Pinterest, the more people searched, the better Lens got. Several new developments over the past year have also contributed to Lens’ growth:

  • Lens was moved to the front of Pinterest’s app and they have also created shortcuts to facilitate the fast search
  • Pinterest introduced Pincodes, a QR-code-esque technology, to help users seamlessly switch between Pinterest and the offline world
  • Lens your Look has also been launched to “bring together text and image searches in one query”, and encourage people to use Pinterest for outfit inspiration
  • A partnership with Samsung brought the Lens to the latest smartphones worldwide, while Target activated visual search to their products
  • The visual search technology now understands more than five times as many things as it did a year ago. This means that you can now search for recipes, clothes, and countless objects for your home with increasing accuracy.

What’s next for Lens

Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

Pinterest has announced that their next step includes an enhanced image search that also allows you to include it in your text search. Starting with iOS apps, people will be able to include an image to their text search to make their discoveries easier.

This will help users find exactly what they’re looking for by benefiting from all the elements of a consideration journey. They can start with an object they’ve come across in an actual shop, they use Pinterest’s Lens to discover it and if they are not able to purchase it directly through a pin, they can use the image to include text search and find more details about it.

This feature is also expected to roll out to Android users soon and it aims to make visual search even more useful. It is a clever way to include the benefits of visual and text search to help both the consumers, but also the retailers in strengthening their customer journey between the online and the offline world.

The future of visual search

Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

The growth of Pinterest Lens shows how visual search is steadily gaining traction as a genuine tool and not just a novelty. Pinterest is also not the only player in this space: three months after the launch of Pinterest Lens, Google debuted its own version of the tool, Google Lens.

Soon afterwards, Bing released an update to its visual search capabilities which allowed users to search for a specific object within images – a noticeably Pinterest-like feature. 

Pinterest is clearly blazing a trail in the visual search space which has left the other big players in search scrambling to catch up.

Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

Pinterest Lens one year on: Where is Pinterest’s visual search tool now?

Above, Pinterest’s “search within image” feature, and below, Bing’s strikingly similar capability

Pinterest seems to be aware of its product’s value, and is heading in the right direction to make it profitable.

Pinterest already had a strong business proposition which capitalized on the fact that its users would come to its platform for inspiration on everything from fashion to design, food to furniture. With the introduction of Shoppable Pins, Pinterest was able to monetize this, allowing users to actually buy the components of their new dream house, garden or outfit. 

Now, Pinterest Lens has made that possible in the offline world, too.

Business Insider has foreseen a bright future for mobile visual search technology, releasing a new report which cites “strong evidence that mobile visual search technology will take off in the near future, including growing access to technology, strong usage rates of camera-related apps, and early indication of potential revenue growth”.

By getting into the visual search space early and investing heavily in developing the technology, Pinterest has put itself in an excellent position to be the leader in visual search going forward.

While visual search has yet to truly cross over into the mainstream, the foundations have been laid, and the statistics shared on Lens’ one-year anniversary paint a positive picture for the future.

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How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

Organic success on Facebook may have become harder for brands in the past few years – and will become all the more so with the upcoming change to its News Feed – but the same doesn’t necessarily apply to its paid advertising options.

Facebook has seriously invested in presenting a large number of options for marketers and business owners who want to promote their content to reach the right audience. It’s a highly effective tool for reaching out to audiences, as long as you’re willing to part with some funds.

So if you’ve been considering making the leap over to paid Facebook promotion, here’s how to get set up with your first Facebook Ad.

First of all, you need to visit the Ads Manager. It’s where you create new ads, get an overview of your current campaigns and measure their performance.

1. Choose your objective

Facebook wants to make your advertising experience as specific as possible. That’s why it asks you from the very first step to decide on your marketing objectives.

This way, you’re able to focus on tailored results for each objective and pay for what matters most to you.

The three main types of objectives are:

  • Awareness: Generate interest in your content or your product
  • Consideration: Make the audience interested in searching for more details about your business
  • Conversion: Get the audience to purchase your product or service

These have to do with the stage that your target audience is and your expected results from this ad.

Their subcategories include:

Awareness

Brand awareness

Reach

Consideration

Traffic

Engagement

App Installs

Video views

Lead generation

Messages

Conversion

Conversions

Catalogue sales

Store visits

Which options should you choose for your campaign? If you have a new business and you want to promote it on Facebook, for example, then you would be focusing on awareness and reach.

If you want to promote your business to potential local customers, seeking for an increase in physical sales, then you are focusing on conversion and store visits.

What’s also useful is the fact that you can narrow down your focus to specific goals, like the app installs or the video views. This way you know the exact goals you’re aiming for and start examining how to achieve them.

2. Select your audience

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

Once you decide on your objective, it’s time to select your audience. This is the step in which you narrow down Facebook’s two billion users and pick the ones that are more relevant to your content.

This is one of the most useful features on Facebook’s advertising, as you’re able to focus on:

  • Core audiences: manual selection of the audience based on your set criteria
  • Custom audiences: upload your contact lists to discover an existing audience.
  • Lookalike audiences: find people similar to an existing target audience

The core audiences allow you to find a new audience based on demographics, locations, interests, and even behaviors. These could be people who are based in Florida and just had a baby, or students from Tokyo who tend to shop online.

By hyper-targeting your audiences in this way, you can give your ads the best chance of converting, all while thinking carefully about the personas you want to reach out to.

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

In addition to finding a new audience, you can use Facebook to engage an existing one.

You can use a feature called custom audiences to upload your contact lists of existing customers, or even old ones that you want to re-engage with them. This is an easy way to blend your physical activity with your online presence and develop an improved relationship with your audience.

Moreover, there is the option of finding lookalike audiences. These are people that you haven’t engaged with in the past, but they meet the criteria of your ideal audience.

3. Decide where you want to run the ad

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

What’s useful with Facebook is that your ads aren’t restricted to Facebook itself, but can also display on other Facebook-owned properties like Instagram and Messenger, and within other mobile apps via the Facebook Audience Network.

You don’t have to pick all the placements for every ad, of course. It all depends on who you want to target.

For example, if you know that your target audience are frequent mobile users, then Instagram and Messenger might be two very useful placements.

4. Set your budget

This is the step that you define the cost of your advertising campaign. The cost can be defined either by the overall amount you spend or the cost of each result you get from the ads.

The success and the cost of your ad depend on the ad auctions and how your ad performs towards your target audience and their interests. An auction takes place when a person is eligible to view your ad. If you are unsure about how auction bids work, you can set them to be automatic when creating your campaign.

If you are wondering how to make sure you’re not exceeding your budget, then you can set some limitations for your campaign. You can enter either a daily or a lifetime budget to define when your campaign should stop.

5. Pick a format

What makes Facebook Ads particularly effective is that you can pick the right format for every campaign. The variety of ad formats on offer can allow you to tailor your campaign to different objectives and target audiences.

The options include:

  • Photo: Use the power of images to tell your story
  • Video: Find engagement with the right use of image, sound, and motion

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Carousel: Add more than one image or video in one ad

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Slideshow: Create a series of lightweight video ads without the cost or the time of video ads. This is a quick and affordable way to create video-like ads
  • Collection: Showcase your products by telling a story in an easy and immersive way

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Canvas: Aim for a full-screen, fast-loading experience that is designed for mobile

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Lead ads: Use this format to make lead generation easier

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Dynamic ads: Find the ideal target audience for your products in a sophisticated, automated way

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

  • Link ads: Bring more people to your website

6. Place your order

Simply put, this is the step in which you can review your ad and confirm that it’s ready to be submitted.

7. Measure your ad’s performance

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

You can analyze the performance of your ad by clicking on all your available ads. Once you find the specific one that you want to measure, you click on ‘view charts’ to get further details.

This is where you can learn more about the ad’s performance, whether it met your objectives, but also the demographics that it reached and its placement.

How to get started with Facebook advertising: A step-by-step guide

What’s useful is that the metrics are relevant to your ad’s objective. For example, an ad aimed at generating awareness is not measured by the same metrics as an ad focusing on increasing app installs.

This way, you can ensure that your budget is well spent and you’re able to track the most relevant metrics for your campaign.

This way you are able to tell the exact success of each ad to find out what worked better and what needs to be improved.

Overview

With more than two billion monthly active users available to be targeted in highly specific ways, it’s no surprise that more brands are diving into Facebook’s advertising options and discovering the different ways they can benefit from them.

The upcoming News Feed algorithm change has only increased the importance of Facebook advertising, as it can help you recover your lost reach and engagement.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that Facebook’s popularity doesn’t guarantee your ad’s success. Its numerous advertising options can make it harder to pick the right one if you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve. Stay focused on your key objectives, and try not to get distracted by shiny bells and whistles.

Focus on what’s important to your company and your campaign goals, and use the right format for your ideal target audience. If you’re still new to Facebook advertising, you can start with a small budget to test the available options until you feel more comfortable rolling your ads out on a larger scale.

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How to make sure your social media marketing is on track for 2018

A new year brings new challenges in social media marketing. Luckily, this is the best time of the year to review your social strategy.

2018 is officially here and this means that we need to plan our social media strategy for the year ahead. Every new year requires the necessary adjustments to ensure that we’re still using every social platform effectively.

If your social media marketing didn’t go as planned in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to analyse what went wrong.

If you had a successful year with your social strategy last year, then you can still explore new ideas and achieve further success in 2018.

We’ve created a checklist to help you review your social media marketing and keep on top of the latest trends.

1. Analyze audience

Are you reaching the right audience? A closer look at Audience Insights on each platform can help you understand if you need to expand or narrow down your reach.

2. Analyze the platforms that you’re using

Use your insights from the past year to assess the effectiveness of each platform in reaching your goals. You don’t have to be active on every social network if it isn’t working for you – now is a good time to assess if you want to dial it back on certain platforms, or even stop using them altogether.

3. Measure your existing ROI

What’s your current social media ROI? Is it where you need it to be? Analyse your return on investment and get ready to set your expectations for 2018.

4. Review KPIs

Do your KPIs fit your goals for 2018? Now is a good time to update your KPIs if you want to change your social media marketing and strategy. Use your last year as a benchmark and aim for more ambitious, yet still realistic, targets.

5. Organize your new social calendar

It’s the right time to plan ahead and update your social calendar with the upcoming campaigns. Save time during the year by keeping an overview of what’s coming up.

6. Review the frequency of your social posting

Are you creating enough content? Do you create too much? Explore whether you need to focus on quality rather than quantity.

For example, Twitter may need more content than Facebook or Instagram, but you should still test whether your posts lead to the desired level of engagement. If not, reducing their frequency might lead to more people interacting with the posts you do make.

7. Mix up your content

Are you creating different content types? Maybe you can make 2018 the year that you invest in video, or experiment with GIFs in your brand marketing. Mixing up your content types can liven up your social presence, as well as taking advantage of the trend towards more visual content on the web.

It doesn’t have to create more work for you – some smart repurposing of your existing content can convert it into different formats without much additional effort.

8. Align social media with UX

If you’re using social media as a means of funneling people onto your website, whether through paid social media or organically, remember that the user experience of the destination is just as important as crafting the right campaign messaging.

If you want to bring new people to your landing pages, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and proceed to the next steps.

9. Optimize your social content for SEO

Social media may not be an official ranking factor for SEO, but it can still contribute to your authority. Build your social presence, aim for engagement and add genuine value to your content.

10. Involve social media in your marketing funnel

As social reporting becomes more advanced, it’s easier to analyse whether social media brings you any conversions. Add to your new year’s resolutions to improve your ROI and improve the number of conversions that come from social media. A closer look at the leads’ journey will help analyse how social media contribute to your marketing goals.

11. Align social media with your business goals

Is your social presence reflecting your goals? If your marketing strategy is focusing this year more on engagement rather than awareness, how can you use social media to reach this goal?

Also, if your business needs to improve sales, how can you use social media to make it the first point of contact for potential leads? If you start aligning your social media marketing with your business goals, you can reduce the likelihood of wasting your time with your social posts.

The major social media trends of 2018

If we had to predict the biggest trends in social media for 2018, we’d focus on these:

The (continuing) rise of Instagram Stories

Instagram has seen great growth in 2017, and all the latest features indicate that it’s gearing towards an even more successful year. As it’s already one of the most popular platforms for users, brands are flocking there to make the most of its engagement.

Appealing visual content will be crucial, especially after Instagram’s decision to get rid of the chronological news feed. This means that brands need to try harder to show up in users’ newsfeeds.

The biggest bet of the year for Instagram is Stories and their impressive growth over the past year. There have been more than 300 million daily active Stories users and many brands have already experimenting with campaign promotion through Stories.

What makes this feature even more interesting now is the fact that Instagram has recently introduced “Highlights”, which allows users to retain their Stories for more than 24 hours. For marketers, this means that if you feel that a particular story could be used for a longer period, whether it’s for engagement, product promotion, or a live coverage, then you can highlight it to showcase it on your profile.

As Stories were designed as an ephemeral feature, it will be interesting to see if their popularity remains now that is no longer the case. However, for brands, Highlights provide a great opportunity to benefit from this engaging feature over a longer period of time.

Video marketing

Video content has been used quite extensively on social platforms during 2017. As more tools show up to simplify the creation of video content, 2018 is a great year to be investing in video.

The best videos combine eye-catching visuals and an engaging narrative to grab the user’s attention and keep it for a longer period than text and even images can achieve. However, just because you’ve produced a video doesn’t necessarily mean you can achieve this.

It’s important to keep in mind that most successful videos are:

    • Short
    • Use captions
    • Capture the audience’s attention from the first seconds
    • Tell a story to keep the audience interested

Moreover, it might be a good idea to experiment with videos of different lengths to test what works better for each platform. Different social audiences respond to different types of content, and you don’t have to post the same video on every single network.

How about creating a full-length video and splitting it accordingly for every social platform?

Augmented reality as part of social media

How to make sure your social media marketing is on track for 2018

During 2017, we’ve seen the rise of Augmented Reality in social media, with Snapchat and Instagram investing in filters and fun yet engaging features. Snapchat is already monetizing its AR Lenses by making them available to brands, and Instagram is sure to quickly follow suit.

Moreover, we predict that 2018 will be the year that it becomes much easier to create AR content. Facebook has already introduced AR Studio, and Snapchat has launched their own Lens Studio, in a bid to facilitate the creation of AR content on their platforms.

Both are aiming to make AR content accessible to a wider audience, increasing the opportunities for engaging content. As with Pokemon Go, more brands are ready to explore how AR can improve their digital strategy and we’re expecting more successful use cases during 2018.

Chatbots for customer service

How to make sure your social media marketing is on track for 2018

Facebook’s chatbots have also seen growth in 2017, with more than 100,000 monthly active bots now in use across the site.

Despite some initial concerns by marketers as to whether a bot can be used as part of a social strategy, more brands have quickly realised that a successful bot can improve customer service. Whether it be to provide information, answer questions, or allow customers to more easily place an order, there are several ways to involve a bot in your digital strategy.

However, while bots can save you time and be helpful, it’s equally important to maintain a human element in your interactions. Many brands have seen success with a hybrid strategy of letting bots deal with straightforward queries, and passing the interaction on to a human agent if it requires more intricate handling.

Overview

All in all, social media marketing in 2018 is a much more complicated beast, a far cry from the days when we would count Likes as an indication of success.

From social video to ephemeral content, augmented reality to intelligent chatbots, the components of social media marketing are unlike any other marketing channel, and as such they require a thorough knowledge of the overarching trends and how to apply them, an understanding of the different platforms, specific goals and dedicated tracking of the important metrics.

A closer look at the latest trends now will save you time spent trying to decide where to focus your efforts further down the line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot and readjust your priorities at a later stage. Take advantage of the start of the year to get ready for another successful year in your social media marketing efforts.

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How to make sure your social media marketing is on track for 2018

A new year brings new challenges in social media marketing. Luckily, this is the best time of the year to review your social strategy.

2018 is officially here and this means that we need to plan our social media strategy for the year ahead. Every new year requires the necessary adjustments to ensure that we’re still using every social platform effectively.

If your social media marketing didn’t go as planned in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to analyse what went wrong.

If you had a successful year with your social strategy last year, then you can still explore new ideas and achieve further success in 2018.

We’ve created a checklist to help you review your social media marketing and keep on top of the latest trends.

1. Analyze audience

Are you reaching the right audience? A closer look at Audience Insights on each platform can help you understand if you need to expand or narrow down your reach.

2. Analyze the platforms that you’re using

Use your insights from the past year to assess the effectiveness of each platform in reaching your goals. You don’t have to be active on every social network if it isn’t working for you – now is a good time to assess if you want to dial it back on certain platforms, or even stop using them altogether.

3. Measure your existing ROI

What’s your current social media ROI? Is it where you need it to be? Analyse your return on investment and get ready to set your expectations for 2018.

4. Review KPIs

Do your KPIs fit your goals for 2018? Now is a good time to update your KPIs if you want to change your social media marketing and strategy. Use your last year as a benchmark and aim for more ambitious, yet still realistic, targets.

5. Organize your new social calendar

It’s the right time to plan ahead and update your social calendar with the upcoming campaigns. Save time during the year by keeping an overview of what’s coming up.

6. Review the frequency of your social posting

Are you creating enough content? Do you create too much? Explore whether you need to focus on quality rather than quantity.

For example, Twitter may need more content than Facebook or Instagram, but you should still test whether your posts lead to the desired level of engagement. If not, reducing their frequency might lead to more people interacting with the posts you do make.

7. Mix up your content

Are you creating different content types? Maybe you can make 2018 the year that you invest in video, or experiment with GIFs in your brand marketing. Mixing up your content types can liven up your social presence, as well as taking advantage of the trend towards more visual content on the web.

It doesn’t have to create more work for you – some smart repurposing of your existing content can convert it into different formats without much additional effort.

8. Align social media with UX

If you’re using social media as a means of funneling people onto your website, whether through paid social media or organically, remember that the user experience of the destination is just as important as crafting the right campaign messaging.

If you want to bring new people to your landing pages, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and proceed to the next steps.

9. Optimize your social content for SEO

Social media may not be an official ranking factor for SEO, but it can still contribute to your authority. Build your social presence, aim for engagement and add genuine value to your content.

10. Involve social media in your marketing funnel

As social reporting becomes more advanced, it’s easier to analyse whether social media brings you any conversions. Add to your new year’s resolutions to improve your ROI and improve the number of conversions that come from social media. A closer look at the leads’ journey will help analyse how social media contribute to your marketing goals.

11. Align social media with your business goals

Is your social presence reflecting your goals? If your marketing strategy is focusing this year more on engagement rather than awareness, how can you use social media to reach this goal?

Also, if your business needs to improve sales, how can you use social media to make it the first point of contact for potential leads? If you start aligning your social media marketing with your business goals, you can reduce the likelihood of wasting your time with your social posts.

The major social media trends of 2018

If we had to predict the biggest trends in social media for 2018, we’d focus on these:

The (continuing) rise of Instagram Stories

Instagram has seen great growth in 2017, and all the latest features indicate that it’s gearing towards an even more successful year. As it’s already one of the most popular platforms for users, brands are flocking there to make the most of its engagement.

Appealing visual content will be crucial, especially after Instagram’s decision to get rid of the chronological news feed. This means that brands need to try harder to show up in users’ newsfeeds.

The biggest bet of the year for Instagram is Stories and their impressive growth over the past year. There have been more than 300 million daily active Stories users and many brands have already experimenting with campaign promotion through Stories.

What makes this feature even more interesting now is the fact that Instagram has recently introduced “Highlights”, which allows users to retain their Stories for more than 24 hours. For marketers, this means that if you feel that a particular story could be used for a longer period, whether it’s for engagement, product promotion, or a live coverage, then you can highlight it to showcase it on your profile.

As Stories were designed as an ephemeral feature, it will be interesting to see if their popularity remains now that is no longer the case. However, for brands, Highlights provide a great opportunity to benefit from this engaging feature over a longer period of time.

Video marketing

Video content has been used quite extensively on social platforms during 2017. As more tools show up to simplify the creation of video content, 2018 is a great year to be investing in video.

The best videos combine eye-catching visuals and an engaging narrative to grab the user’s attention and keep it for a longer period than text and even images can achieve. However, just because you’ve produced a video doesn’t necessarily mean you can achieve this.

It’s important to keep in mind that most successful videos are:

    • Short
    • Use captions
    • Capture the audience’s attention from the first seconds
    • Tell a story to keep the audience interested

Moreover, it might be a good idea to experiment with videos of different lengths to test what works better for each platform. Different social audiences respond to different types of content, and you don’t have to post the same video on every single network.

How about creating a full-length video and splitting it accordingly for every social platform?

Augmented reality as part of social media

During 2017, we’ve seen the rise of Augmented Reality in social media, with Snapchat and Instagram investing in filters and fun yet engaging features. Snapchat is already monetizing its AR Lenses by making them available to brands, and Instagram is sure to quickly follow suit.

Moreover, we predict that 2018 will be the year that it becomes much easier to create AR content. Facebook has already introduced AR Studio, and Snapchat has launched their own Lens Studio, in a bid to facilitate the creation of AR content on their platforms.

Both are aiming to make AR content accessible to a wider audience, increasing the opportunities for engaging content. As with Pokemon Go, more brands are ready to explore how AR can improve their digital strategy and we’re expecting more successful use cases during 2018.

Chatbots for customer service

Facebook’s chatbots have also seen growth in 2017, with more than 100,000 monthly active bots now in use across the site.

Despite some initial concerns by marketers as to whether a bot can be used as part of a social strategy, more brands have quickly realised that a successful bot can improve customer service. Whether it be to provide information, answer questions, or allow customers to more easily place an order, there are several ways to involve a bot in your digital strategy.

However, while bots can save you time and be helpful, it’s equally important to maintain a human element in your interactions. Many brands have seen success with a hybrid strategy of letting bots deal with straightforward queries, and passing the interaction on to a human agent if it requires more intricate handling.

Overview

All in all, social media marketing in 2018 is a much more complicated beast, a far cry from the days when we would count Likes as an indication of success.

From social video to ephemeral content, augmented reality to intelligent chatbots, the components of social media marketing are unlike any other marketing channel, and as such they require a thorough knowledge of the overarching trends and how to apply them, an understanding of the different platforms, specific goals and dedicated tracking of the important metrics.

A closer look at the latest trends now will save you time spent trying to decide where to focus your efforts further down the line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot and readjust your priorities at a later stage. Take advantage of the start of the year to get ready for another successful year in your social media marketing efforts.

How to make sure your social media marketing is on track for 2018

A new year brings new challenges in social media marketing. Luckily, this is the best time of the year to review your social strategy.

2018 is officially here and this means that we need to plan our social media strategy for the year ahead. Every new year requires the necessary adjustments to ensure that we’re still using every social platform effectively.

If your social media marketing didn’t go as planned in 2017, this is the perfect opportunity to analyse what went wrong.

If you had a successful year with your social strategy last year, then you can still explore new ideas and achieve further success in 2018.

We’ve created a checklist to help you review your social media marketing and keep on top of the latest trends.

1. Analyze audience

Are you reaching the right audience? A closer look at Audience Insights on each platform can help you understand if you need to expand or narrow down your reach.

2. Analyze the platforms that you’re using

Use your insights from the past year to assess the effectiveness of each platform in reaching your goals. You don’t have to be active on every social network if it isn’t working for you – now is a good time to assess if you want to dial it back on certain platforms, or even stop using them altogether.

3. Measure your existing ROI

What’s your current social media ROI? Is it where you need it to be? Analyse your return on investment and get ready to set your expectations for 2018.

4. Review KPIs

Do your KPIs fit your goals for 2018? Now is a good time to update your KPIs if you want to change your social media marketing and strategy. Use your last year as a benchmark and aim for more ambitious, yet still realistic, targets.

5. Organize your new social calendar

It’s the right time to plan ahead and update your social calendar with the upcoming campaigns. Save time during the year by keeping an overview of what’s coming up.

6. Review the frequency of your social posting

Are you creating enough content? Do you create too much? Explore whether you need to focus on quality rather than quantity.

For example, Twitter may need more content than Facebook or Instagram, but you should still test whether your posts lead to the desired level of engagement. If not, reducing their frequency might lead to more people interacting with the posts you do make.

7. Mix up your content

Are you creating different content types? Maybe you can make 2018 the year that you invest in video, or experiment with GIFs in your brand marketing. Mixing up your content types can liven up your social presence, as well as taking advantage of the trend towards more visual content on the web.

It doesn’t have to create more work for you – some smart repurposing of your existing content can convert it into different formats without much additional effort.

8. Align social media with UX

If you’re using social media as a means of funneling people onto your website, whether through paid social media or organically, remember that the user experience of the destination is just as important as crafting the right campaign messaging.

If you want to bring new people to your landing pages, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and proceed to the next steps.

9. Optimize your social content for SEO

Social media may not be an official ranking factor for SEO, but it can still contribute to your authority. Build your social presence, aim for engagement and add genuine value to your content.

10. Involve social media in your marketing funnel

As social reporting becomes more advanced, it’s easier to analyse whether social media brings you any conversions. Add to your new year’s resolutions to improve your ROI and improve the number of conversions that come from social media. A closer look at the leads’ journey will help analyse how social media contribute to your marketing goals.

11. Align social media with your business goals

Is your social presence reflecting your goals? If your marketing strategy is focusing this year more on engagement rather than awareness, how can you use social media to reach this goal?

Also, if your business needs to improve sales, how can you use social media to make it the first point of contact for potential leads? If you start aligning your social media marketing with your business goals, you can reduce the likelihood of wasting your time with your social posts.

The major social media trends of 2018

If we had to predict the biggest trends in social media for 2018, we’d focus on these:

The (continuing) rise of Instagram Stories

Instagram has seen great growth in 2017, and all the latest features indicate that it’s gearing towards an even more successful year. As it’s already one of the most popular platforms for users, brands are flocking there to make the most of its engagement.

Appealing visual content will be crucial, especially after Instagram’s decision to get rid of the chronological news feed. This means that brands need to try harder to show up in users’ newsfeeds.

The biggest bet of the year for Instagram is Stories and their impressive growth over the past year. There have been more than 300 million daily active Stories users and many brands have already experimenting with campaign promotion through Stories.

What makes this feature even more interesting now is the fact that Instagram has recently introduced “Highlights”, which allows users to retain their Stories for more than 24 hours. For marketers, this means that if you feel that a particular story could be used for a longer period, whether it’s for engagement, product promotion, or a live coverage, then you can highlight it to showcase it on your profile.

As Stories were designed as an ephemeral feature, it will be interesting to see if their popularity remains now that is no longer the case. However, for brands, Highlights provide a great opportunity to benefit from this engaging feature over a longer period of time.

Video marketing

Video content has been used quite extensively on social platforms during 2017. As more tools show up to simplify the creation of video content, 2018 is a great year to be investing in video.

The best videos combine eye-catching visuals and an engaging narrative to grab the user’s attention and keep it for a longer period than text and even images can achieve. However, just because you’ve produced a video doesn’t necessarily mean you can achieve this.

It’s important to keep in mind that most successful videos are:

    • Short
    • Use captions
    • Capture the audience’s attention from the first seconds
    • Tell a story to keep the audience interested

Moreover, it might be a good idea to experiment with videos of different lengths to test what works better for each platform. Different social audiences respond to different types of content, and you don’t have to post the same video on every single network.

How about creating a full-length video and splitting it accordingly for every social platform?

Augmented reality as part of social media

During 2017, we’ve seen the rise of Augmented Reality in social media, with Snapchat and Instagram investing in filters and fun yet engaging features. Snapchat is already monetizing its AR Lenses by making them available to brands, and Instagram is sure to quickly follow suit.

Moreover, we predict that 2018 will be the year that it becomes much easier to create AR content. Facebook has already introduced AR Studio, and Snapchat has launched their own Lens Studio, in a bid to facilitate the creation of AR content on their platforms.

Both are aiming to make AR content accessible to a wider audience, increasing the opportunities for engaging content. As with Pokemon Go, more brands are ready to explore how AR can improve their digital strategy and we’re expecting more successful use cases during 2018.

Chatbots for customer service

Facebook’s chatbots have also seen growth in 2017, with more than 100,000 monthly active bots now in use across the site.

Despite some initial concerns by marketers as to whether a bot can be used as part of a social strategy, more brands have quickly realised that a successful bot can improve customer service. Whether it be to provide information, answer questions, or allow customers to more easily place an order, there are several ways to involve a bot in your digital strategy.

However, while bots can save you time and be helpful, it’s equally important to maintain a human element in your interactions. Many brands have seen success with a hybrid strategy of letting bots deal with straightforward queries, and passing the interaction on to a human agent if it requires more intricate handling.

Overview

All in all, social media marketing in 2018 is a much more complicated beast, a far cry from the days when we would count Likes as an indication of success.

From social video to ephemeral content, augmented reality to intelligent chatbots, the components of social media marketing are unlike any other marketing channel, and as such they require a thorough knowledge of the overarching trends and how to apply them, an understanding of the different platforms, specific goals and dedicated tracking of the important metrics.

A closer look at the latest trends now will save you time spent trying to decide where to focus your efforts further down the line. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pivot and readjust your priorities at a later stage. Take advantage of the start of the year to get ready for another successful year in your social media marketing efforts.

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PPC budget strategy: Tips for success on a limited budget

You don’t need a large budget for an effective PPC strategy. Here’s how to maximize the success of your PPC campaigns regardless of the size of your budget.

The budget of a PPC campaign can play an important role in its performance. However, it doesn’t guarantee successful results without a proper planning first.

It’s common to believe that the bigger the budget for your PPC campaign, the better the results. But small businesses, or those without a lot of resource to allocate to PPC, may not always have the option of increasing budget. So how can you be as successful as possible with what you have?

This article will set out how you can manage your PPC strategy in a way that maximizes the benefits of your budget, no matter what its size.

Note: This article is an updated version of John Gagnon’s excellent piece, PPC Budget Strategy 101, and incorporates several of his insights.

Set clear goals for your campaign

Forward planning is critical when getting started with PPC. Having a pre-defined outcome for your paid search campaign will help you to avoid over-spending and incurring unexpected extra costs, so the first step is to set your goals.

Decide on what you’d like to achieve with your campaigns and how you’re going to achieve it.

Estimate your budget

Once you’ve set your goals, it’s time to decide on the initial budget that you’d like to use for your campaigns. 

The first question is to decide on the number of leads that you’d like to gain through PPC. The answer should be aligned with your available resources and the goals you set in the last step.

The next step is to make sure that you’ve clearly defined what counts as a lead for your business before you start calculating the CPA (cost-per-action) to expect.

Wordstream has presented this process in a graphic that explains how your expectations for the number of leads and the conversions can help you determine your PPC budget.

For example, if your client goal is to gain 250 new ones per month and your current close rate is 15% with a cost of $25/lead, you will need a budget of $41,666 per month to generate 1,667 PPC leads.

In this case, a quick solution is to use your budget in campaigns that involve lower CPA to increase your chances of higher success.

Be strategic with the allocation of your budget

The next step is to aim for an improved CPA. A cost-efficient CPA helps you become more strategic with your PPC campaigns, and allows you to determine the most effective ads to apply your budget to.

PPC budget strategy: Tips for success on a limited budget

If you want to lower the CPA, then you need to:

  • Increase your conversion rate (CVR), and
  • Decrease your cost per click (CPC).

By focusing on the best performing ads and lowering your CPA, you can spend your budget more wisely.

As always when calculating ROI, the higher the revenue when compared with expenditure, the better the investment.

You might now be wondering what steps you can take to increase your CVR, or decrease your CPC. If so, read on for some tips on how to do exactly that.

Perform keyword research

Carrying out in-depth keyword research should help you spot the best opportunities to reach your audience. 

A keyword list has to be thorough, relevant and dynamic. You want your list to include the most popular keywords that resonate with your target audience, but also long tail keywords that offer a great opportunity for more specific targeting.

To calculate the effectiveness of your keyword bidding strategy, you can follow this formula:

Keyword searches x CTR = Estimated traffic

For example, 1,500 monthly searches x 4% click-through rate = 60 visits per month.

This way you can analyze both the search volume, but also the cost per click to decide if it brings you closer to your goals.

A good tip to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns with a limited budget is to continually review the performance of your keywords.

By analyzing your keywords during the campaign, you can determine whether or not they’re effective – and if not, you can re-allocate your budget to avoid wasting resources on keywords that don’t work.

Focus on targeting

Taking a closer look at campaign targeting can save you money while improving the relevance of your ads for your audience.

If your campaign is only interested in driving leads from one specific location, for example, you can geo-target your PPC campaign to avoid wasting spend on targeting a global audience.

Geo-targeting increases the chances of success for your campaign if you want to focus on local marketing to drive conversions.

Moreover, keyword targeting should help you pay for the ads that work better for your business. There’s no need to pay for broad match keywords or competitor keywords that only waste your budget. By adding them as negative keywords, you can focus on the most effective ones to increase the conversions.

Improve your Quality Score

Your AdWords Quality Score affects both your cost per click, but also the conversions. Google considers the Quality Score of significant importance, and your CPA depends on it.

If you are aiming for a lower cost per action, then you need to ensure that you improve your Quality Score.

The best ways to do so are to:

  • Create relevant ads for your target audience
  • Focus on the right keywords
  • Keep your ad groups organised and structured
  • Refine your landing pages to be helpful and relevant to each ad
  • Focus on ad copy to improve your CTR
  • Build your AdWords account performance to improve your reputation

The good thing about the Quality Score is that once you start building your reputation, you’ll be able to save money on keyword bids. This way, you can rank higher without necessarily spending more than your competitors.

It’s also useful to revisit your ad groups from time to time to keep the ones that work better. Focus on the most successful ad sets and stop investing your budget in the ones with low conversions.

Overview

It’s not the budget that determines the success of your campaign, but your strategy. Your PPC budget strategy is all about focusing on the best-performing ads while constantly reviewing performance to make sure you are allocating resources in the most effective ways.

If you feel limited by your budget, it’s useful to start small and expand your reach once you’ve learned which strategies work best for your business.

A good understanding of the target audience, relevant keywords and a structured PPC strategy can help you maximize the potential of your campaign even on a small budget.

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How to get started with Twitter advertising

Twitter can be an effective platform to advertise your business. Here’s how to create the perfect ad for your campaign objectives.

Twitter counts a total number of 328 million monthly active users, with more than 500 million tweets sent each day. This brings out a great opportunity for brands to take advantage of the platform to promote their presence.

Twitter may not be the first option for many brands when setting up a paid social strategy, but it can still be a highly effective addition.

Over the past few years, Twitter has expanded its promotion types in order to encourage more brands to promote their business through its platform. The different promotion types and varying campaign objectives have engendered an increased interest in Twitter ads.

According to eMarketer, 41% of people on Twitter purchased products following exposure to an ad in the preceding 30 days.

This brings out a great opportunity for brands to explore the best ways to test Twitter advertising. The first step is to understand the different types of promotion, the campaign objectives, but also the target audience.

Deciding on the type of promotion

Twitter offers three different types of promotion:

Promoted tweets

Promoted tweets look like ordinary tweets, appearing directly in users’ feeds, with the difference being that they are labelled as “Promoted” and don’t need to come from an account that the user follows. They are displayed to the most relevant audience, and Twitter uses various signals to decide the relevance of each promoted tweet.

This allows brands to reach the best audience, while users are still exposed to tweets they might find interesting. As with regular tweets, they can be liked, retweeted and replied to.

They can be used to:

  • increase awareness of a product or an event
  • build engagement for a campaign
  • drive traffic to a brand’s site
  • promote sales and giveaways

Promoted accounts

How to get started with Twitter advertising

Promoted accounts can help a brand boost its number of followers, reaching a new audience that can be interested in its content.

According to a study from 2016, 85% of people find promoted accounts useful in helping them discover new businesses on Twitter.

This type of promotion allows brands to show up in non-followers’ feed, which brings a great opportunity for increased awareness and new leads. A growing number of Twitter followers can create an engaged community, making it easier to promote a campaign.

The difference between promoted accounts and promoted tweets is that the first one focuses on the brand’s profile rather than its content. This means that it’s useful for targeting an audience that is either familiar with, or is interested in exploring, your particular profile.

Promoted accounts can be used to:

  • increase brand awareness
  • build follower count
  • drive leads
  • build paid traffic after users follow a brand

Promoted accounts show up in user’s feed in the suggestions of who to follow, but also in the search results.

Promoted trends

How to get started with Twitter advertising

Promoted trends show up at the top of “Trending Topics”, and can be used by brands that want to promote a particular hashtag. They also show up in users’ feeds and once clicked, they lead to a combination of promoted tweets and organic results.

They are currently unavailable for self-serve advertisers and the cost is significantly higher, but they can also lead to great results in terms of improved awareness and engagement, especially for big brands trying to maximize their potential audience.

Deciding on a campaign objective

Twitter Ads are organised depending on the campaign objective that each brand sets. This way it’s easier to focus on specific results that are based on the KPIs that should be reached.

Twitter’s available campaign objectives focus on:

Awareness

An awareness campaign helps your message reach as many people as possible. The cost is based on the number of impressions your tweets collect, but it can also lead to increased likes, retweets and mentions. This type of campaign is useful when launching a new product, when promoting a sale, or even when trying to establish a new social presence.

Followers

If your brand is still new to Twitter, then a campaign to gain followers may be the first step to build the right audience. It focuses on the number of new followers a profile gains, helping a brand accelerate its growth. It’s usually wise to provide people with a good reason to follow your profile, whether it’s a special offer or a discount.

Promoted video views

Video content tends to be inherently more engaging on social media, but a boost can still be useful. Twitter allows you to enhance the reach of your GIFs or videos, charging by the number of final views.

This way, videos reach a more targeted audience, increasing the chances of engagement. As with all video ads, it’s important to create appealing content that grabs the audience’s attention to keep on watching.

Website clicks or conversions

Achieving conversions via social media is a universal challenge. A Twitter ad campaign that focuses on website clicks or conversions is useful in the promotion of a guide, a special offer, or product purchase. The cost depends on the number of clicks, while a conversion campaign can provide an overview of the actual conversions, rather than simply the number of clicks.

It is also possible to include a website card with this type of campaign, displaying a preview of your site along with the tweet to make the call-to-action clearer.

Tweet engagements

A tweet engagements campaign aims to promote your tweets to a relevant audience. The goal is to start a conversation by placing the best content in front of your target audience. As Twitter points out, increased engagement brings more chances of brand lift and offline sales.

App installs or re-engagements

App install campaigns aim to help your brand promote a new application. The focus is on mobile users and the charge considers the number of app clicks or installs. This type of campaign targets the audience that is more likely to install or engage with your app, and maximizes the chances of driving traffic and interest to the application.

Twitter’s various targeting capabilities make campaigns more efficient, while the measurement involves conversion reporting to analyse the impact of the campaign towards conversion.

How to get started with Twitter advertising

Deciding on the most relevant targeting

One of the most interesting features in Twitter Ads is the targeting options they offer. Twitter Ads become more effective by reaching the most relevant audience for each occasion.

Twitter’s targeting capabilities include:

  • Language: Narrow down the audience to a particular language
  • Gender: Target a specific genre
  • Interest: Find the perfect audience through the interests that match your brand’s products
  • Follower: Target the followers of relevant accounts to increase the chances of finding an engaged audience
  • Device: Focus on particular devices to increase the chances of an effective campaign
  • Behavior: Reach the audience that matches your brand’s expectations regarding their shopping and spending habits
  • Tailored Audiences: Upload your CRM lists and find specific people on Twitter
  • Keyword: Target people who used a particular keyword in their recent tweets

How to get started with Twitter advertising

  • Geography: Focus on specific geographic areas depending on the needs of each campaign
  • TV: As Twitter improves its relationship with TV networks, this targeting allows brand to engage with TV fans around specific shows, spanning from the network to the genre of the show
  • Event: A campaign can revolve around a specific event and thus, the promotion is aiming at a specific audience. The relevance is high, which may require a larger budget to beat the competition, while also increasing the chances of finding the perfect audience

What we can learn from the various targeting options is that every campaign has different goals and thus, a different audience. It’s useful to experiment with all the targeting suggestions as much as possible to understand how each option can help your brand’s plans.

Setting a budget

How to get started with Twitter advertising

Setting a budget for your campaign can depend on what your goals are. In general, the budget and the bidding options are adjusted through each individual campaign.

Twitter allows you to set a daily budget, along with a total budget for the campaign as a whole, to make sure that you don’t go over-budget by accident.

Bidding can be automatic, or it can include a maximum bid. This may reflect each company’s budget, but also the competition on each campaign and the targeted audience. Thus, the budget may be different from one campaign to another, especially when reaching a new audience.

Overview

Twitter is powerful in starting a conversation, influencing people over purchasing decisions, or simply setting up new trending topics. All of these can be valuable for brands trying to increase their reach, engage with their followers, drive traffic to their site, or promote a new offer.

Twitter ads are highly useful provided that they are used to target the most relevant audience in a way that they will genuinely connect with.

As with organic social media, different types of content can be more successful, with creative and authentic messaging giving you the best chance of success.

The various different targeting option can help brands to custom-build the perfect audience for each campaign. It may take some time to know how each type of targeting can help your campaign, but the testing with a smaller budget at first can ensure a message is sent to the most relevant audience.

Not every campaign will necessarily be successful at first, but Twitter’s focus on offering best practice tips and new advertising features will ensure that your effort and patience pays off.

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Image optimization 101: How to rank higher in image search

SEO is not only about optimizing written content.

The increasing dominance of visual content online has brought with it new opportunities for increasing a site’s search traffic by optimizing videos and images.

Optimizing your images gives your website an additional chance to be found via image search, and a good logo or some eye-catching graphics can be just as effective at attracting visitors to your website as your written content.

But even if you’re highly familiar with optimizing written content for search, you may not know where to begin with optimizing images. What factors do you need to bear in mind? Does keyword usage still apply?

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about optimizing for image search.

N.B.: This is an updated version of a guide by Dave Davies that we originally published in 2013: Image Optimization: How to Rank on Image Search

Image size

The size of your images can have a big impact on your overall site speed (which is an important search ranking factor), and big, heavy images are one of the biggest culprits for slowing down websites – particularly on mobile.

However, because you also want your images to look good and be eye-catching, especially if they’re the first part of your website that people see in image search, you also don’t want to sacrifice quality. Thus, finding a balance is necessary.

Matt Owen’s article on how to optimize your page images to increase site speed gives some useful pointers here, particularly with regard to not uploading images which are larger than the user will ever see, as this will just slow down your site with no benefit to you or the user.

Which file types are going to be most helpful here? GIF, JPEG and PNG are the three main image file types, which make up 96% of the Internet’s image traffic.

PNG offers a good combination of compression ratio and image quality, and as such is usually your best bet. JPEG can have a compression rate of up to 10x more than the other two formats, but is a lossy format – meaning that it reduces the quality of your images as it compresses them, so consider whether this is a sacrifice you need to make.

Saving your image as a GIF won’t result in a loss of image quality, but it can sometimes reduce color detail, making GIFs most suited to animated images, logos and any other small, simple images.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights offer some more guidelines on how to optimize your images for maximum site speed. 

Image name

The name of your image file can help search engines discover your content in context. This is where keywords enter the picture (as well as in the alt attributes, which we’ll cover below).

If you’re uploading a photo of nature photography, a relevant filename like nature_photography.png has a better chance of ranking well in search than than DSC_1977.png. If it’s possible to be even more specific, such as Hong-Kong-botanical-gardens.png, then that’s even better for SEO.

If you don’t enter a separate title for your image upon upload, the filename will also serve as the image title, which makes it all the more important to be clear and accurate with your filename.

For more on how to optimize your image title text and alt text, read on to the next section.

Alt attributes

Alt attributes are the text alternatives to your image which will appear if your image fails to load, or if the user is accessing your site with an assistive device such as a screenreader. Because web crawlers don’t have eyes, they’re also what search engines “see” instead of an image, making them important for both accessibility and SEO.

As such, the alt text and title text tag fields are the best place to put any keywords relevant to your image, BUT: do not keyword-stuff! This is a poor practice in image SEO just as in text-based SEO, and will do the screenreader users accessing your website no favors.

Title text

The title text is effectively the name of your image, and as such serves a very similar purpose to your image filename. The main difference is that it needs to be human readable as well as machine readable – so use spaces to separate the words in your image, not underscores or dashes (or nothing at all).

There are certain circumstances in which title text is all you need to substitute for your image – if the title text alone describes the image, you don’t always need alt text.

For example, if the image is a headshot of a person, their name alone is sufficient for title text – as it tells both people and search engines what the image is of – and no additional details are necessary in the alt text. Alt attributes are important, but you don’t need to go overboard!

Alt text

This is the field that describes what your image depicts. Alt text can help search engines work out not just the content of an image but the topic of the surrounding text – so it’s important to get it right.

If possible, at least one image on your page should contain your focus keyword, but it’s important not to shoehorn it in. Image alt text should be clear, descriptive, and written in natural language. Imagine it as if you were telling someone who couldn’t see the image what it was about. Which key details would you highlight?

Some guides will place a recommended length on alt text, such as 80 or 150 characters, but in truth the alt text should be as long as it needs to be in order to get the image content across. Try to be succinct, but don’t sacrifice necessary details for the sake of length.

Here is an example of an article graphic (courtesy of Shutterstock) that we uploaded for a recent article, ‘Beyond Google Analytics: 10 SEO analytics and reporting tools‘. The WordPress backend clearly indicates where to input title and alt text:

The alt text we input for this image is as follows: Image of a person typing on a laptop with paper and pens by the side, and a variety of different analytics icons sketched above it, such as graphs, charts and a clipboard.

Page URL and domain authority

The URL of the page that the images are hosted on can affect the image search traffic. If an image is hosted on an optimized page URL on a page which contains quality and relevant content, your chances of image SEO success will be much higher.

Along with the page URL, the page’s domain authority that also can affect an image’s performance in Google Image Search. If a domain already has a reputation for offering quality and relevant content, your image will do better in search. Image SEO is no different to text-based SEO in this regard.

Surrounding content around images

Image optimization doesn’t happen in a vacuum. As such, the copy that surrounds an image on your page is also important for SEO. The relevance of the content, its quality, and the keywords that are used can all affect how the image ranks in search.

The most important copy is the text that immediately surrounds the image. This might be an introductory sentence which precedes the image (for example, “Below is a graph showing the results of a survey carried out among 500 marketers…”) and/or a caption below it which gives some additional context.

Search engines like Google will use this copy to determine how well the image matches the topic of the page. For example, if the focus of the content is on plumbing, an image of a tree has decreased chances of ranking high for the keyword “plumbing examples” (and is likely to confuse your users to boot).

In addition to this, Google’s image recognition AI has become much more sophisticated in recent years, to the point where it can often identify whether the image subject matches up with the rest of your content.

Stock photography

There has been a long discussion over the years on whether using stock photography has a negative effect on your ranking. Google’s Matt Cutts went on the record back in 2013 to state that stock photos do not harm your search rankings, and therefore there is no difference in using them instead of original photos, SEO-wise.

However, there are a couple of caveats to this. One is that stock images are by their nature generic, and so the visual experience of your website will be a lot more generic as a result, particularly if you use a lot of them. This will also not help your image stand out in search results, and a stock image is unlikely to grab the user’s attention – unless of course you’re a stock photography vendor.

The second thing to bear in mind is that there will be countless other copies of the same image as yours out there on other people’s websites. As Dave Davies pointed out in the 2013 version of this guide, “Google doesn’t want to rank multiple copies of the same image any more than they want to rank multiple copies of the same content. If you’re using the same image that’s been found on a hundred other sites before you, why should yours rank?”

For example, if you’re writing about your company’s business culture, you can either pick a stock photo of happy people in an office environment, or simply upload a high-quality photo of your own office with your team members during a meeting. The latter is personal, relevant and interesting, and gives users a sense of what your company is really like.

Content quality is also important in images as it is in text. Matt Cutts pondered in 2013 whether original images might be used as a future quality signal to indicate a trustworthy website, leading to a higher search ranking:

“Who knows – maybe original image sites might be higher quality, whereas a site that just repeats the same stock photos over and over again might not be nearly as high quality.”

While we don’t have concrete confirmation as to whether Google went on to use this as a quality signal in image search, the impression on the user is worth taking into account.

Image engagement and popularity

Search engines value content with high engagement. This means that if you have a high-quality, relevant and original image that starts becoming popular among users, you have more chances of seeing it higher on search results. As with any text post, the popularity of your content can help it reach higher on the SERPs.

The principles of link-building also apply to image search: the more people link to your image, the higher the chances of increased search traffic coming from it. This can also be facilitated by the use of sharing buttons alongside your images. Once your image gets shared on many sites, its popularity will contribute to its success in search.

The popularity of an image can derive from clicks to your site, embeds and shares on other pages, or even social shares. All of them make the image more popular, while also indicating its relevance to the topic it describes. This ultimately makes search engines pay more attention to it.

Overview

In summary, here’s how you can optimize your images to rank higher in search results:

  • Try to reduce the weight of your images, but not to the detriment of quality
  • Pick a relevant filename
  • Use alt attributes to describe your content as accurately as possible
  • Pay attention to the content that’s surrounding your images
  • Try to use original graphics or photography
  • Aim for engaging images that will encourage sharing
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Seven SEO trends to watch in 2018

As we reach the fourth quarter of 2017, it’s time to start thinking about the year ahead and what to expect from SEO in 2018.

There are number of search industry trends that we’ve seen the very beginnings of this year and last, which will come into greater prominence in 2018.

Here are seven you should be keeping an eye on in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Voice search and digital assistants 

Voice search technology presents a big opportunity for changing the way we communicate and process information. The rise of digital assistants has presented a growing market that can change the way search queries are performed. According to Google, 1 out of 5 searches already come from voice queries.

This changes the search market and we’re expecting to see an even bigger shift towards voice search in 2018. When it comes to setting up an SEO strategy, the rise of voice search brings out the need to focus on more long-tail search keywords and a natural language that matches the user’s conversational tone.

As accuracy improves in digital assistants, there will be more people using voice search from their mobile devices, seeking for quick and relevant answers. It becomes important to research the voice user intent will provide more accurate results, helping the algorithms provide the best answer.

Moreover, voice search is expected to grow even more with its integration in smart home hubs, helping companies access new data, while users enjoy a seamless experience through everyday devices. As digital assistants go beyond smartphone devices, there is a great opportunity both for SEO and content, taking advantage of a growing market that connects the brand with a user in a unique but still relevant and useful way.

Link building

Link building is not expected to disappear in 2018, but it will be more important than ever to create a strategy that seeks out quality links. There’s no need to aim for new links if they don’t add value and help you build an authority in your target niche.

This doesn’t always mean that the best backlinks come from the most popular sites, but it’s still crucial to seek coverage from sites that are relevant to your industry. Referral traffic can still contribute to your site’s organic search rankings, while it is also useful to start thinking of link building as a long-term process.

A successful SEO strategy in 2018 will move towards relationship building, helping a brand develop powerful contacts and links that will be beneficial in a longer term.

A challenge for 2018 will be dealing with guest blogs and how to involve them as an integral part of a link building strategy without hurting a brand’s reputation. Back in May Google warned publishers who rely too much on guest posting for link building that there will be a closer look at guest blogs in an attempt to control spammy and questionable links.

This brings out the need for a more diversified link building strategy, aiming for a complete backlink profile, rather than single links that can bring successful results.

User experience 

User experience for SEO will become even more important in 2018. Google has made it clear that the focus is on the user and this should make more sites deliver a smooth UX for their visitors.

A good user experience increases the chances of people engaging with the pages that they visit. This helps search engines discover which pages are more useful for people, favoring them over others.

The first step is to monitor a site’s speed, its readability and its navigation structure to examine how these can be improved through the right changes. A closer look at your visitors’ browsing habits can offer helpful insights. For example, if the visits coming directly from search last just 30 seconds, then this probably means that the content or the user experience is hurting your site’s conversions.

Moreover, as more people consume content from their mobile devices, there is a growing need to provide an excellent user experience across all devices.

As SEO heads towards more relevant and personalized experiences, UX will be key to maintaining search traffic by creating an engaged audience. It’s not enough anymore to see a rise in search traffic if it’s not converting or bringing the desired engagement to create a loyal audience.

Featured snippets and Quick Answers 

Seven SEO trends to watch in 2018

The popularity of featured snippets has increased the competition among companies trying to appear in “position 0” in the SERP. Gaining a featured snippet in search requires catering to a specific combination of factors, which has opened up SEO beyond the traditional race to the top of Google.

According to Stone Temple Consulting, almost 30% of the test Google search queries show Featured Snippets. This brings out the need for a strategy on how to optimize a site’s content to meet Google’s standards for Featured Snippets.

Lists, tables and graphs tend to be popular, while it’s also useful to create content in a Q&A format, making it easier for Google to extract the right content to show up as a featured snippet.

An interesting angle to focus on during the next year is the optimization of featured snippets for voice search. The combination of two growing trends in the search market can create a great opportunity for more companies to show up at the top of the SERPs. This will involve considering the changes in the search queries, focusing more on longer keywords and natural language.

A similar way to reach the top of the SERPs is to create content that serves as a Quick Answer. Google’s Answer Box is an enhanced type of featured snippet that aims to answer a question in a more appealing way.

It usually follows a “how” or “what” structure and is Google’s attempt to use search intent to organize the search results in a more useful way. It has been observed that the results that show up in an Answer Box can see a CTR of 32.3%.

This will bring out the need for more companies to learn more about search intent and how they can optimize their content to show up in an Answer Box. Thus, a carefully crafted Answer Box strategy can increase both a site’s authority, but also a brand’s conversion.

Mobile-first index

2018 is more than likely to be the year that brands realize the potential of putting mobile first, rather than catering to mobile as an afterthought. This is particularly true if Google decides to make 2018 the year it finally deploys its mobile-first index.

But even if it doesn’t, brands and businesses need to put mobile first anyway: a recent study by BrightEdge found that, 57% of web traffic comes from mobile devices. More than this, there is a significant difference between the way that keywords rank on mobile and the way they rank on desktop – so mobile-first content is needed in order to have the best chance of being visible in mobile search.

Seven SEO trends to watch in 2018

As mobile searches are all about context, brands should provide the best possible results for every question, while local SEO is going to become even more popular. Mobile users will seek for more content while they are on the go, which means that brands will face a big opportunity of marketing their business at a local context.

Mobile optimization for local users, along with the rise of voice search, can provide an excellent way to create a successful SEO strategy in 2018 by facilitating the search experience through personalized and relevant answers.

Site speed is critical for search engines and your page’s performance at the SERPs and Accelerated Mobile Pages can make a page load up to four times faster than a standard mobile page. According to Chartbeat, AMP load in a second and they also see a 35% improvement in engagement time.

Google’s focus on AMP has made more publishers consider their use, currently counting more than 2 billion Accelerated Mobile Pages.

The demand is expected to grow in 2018, helping companies improve their engagement and the overall user experience through fast and responsive mobile pages. Brands that want to keep up with the changes in mobile search has to keep up with the trend and experiment whether they need AMP or any other fixes to improve their site speed.

The rise of visual search

Seven SEO trends to watch in 2018

Visual search is an exciting area and the combination of technological innovation and user experience can take searching to the next level.

As the internet becomes more visually-focused, there is a great opportunity to explore the power of visual search. Major tech companies including Bing, Pinterest and Google have already invested in developing powerful visual search engines in a bid to capitalize on this new trend.

An SEO strategy in 2018 needs to consider the way we consume visual content and how search engines now go beyond text to explore the changing habits of search. Rich visuals now become more engaging and the use of neuroscience and innovation bring out an interesting and competitive market.

As the competition increases, more companies seem to acknowledge the potential of a successful visual search, while brands need to focus even more on optimizing their visual content for SEO purposes.

AI and machine learning

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are already changing the way that search results are ranked. Machine learning can also facilitate the way searches take place, helping users find contextualized results.

This will lead to a more personalized experience, while the rise of voice search and digital assistants can offer the ideal ground to develop artificial intelligence and reward successful SEO strategies that keep up with the trends.

Google’s RankBrain, or else Google’s deep learning algorithm, is also expected to affect the search landscape. Catering to RankBrain often seems like an intimidating prospect to SEOs, and the term “Artificial Intelligence Optimization” has been bandied about a fair amount.

But as Dan Taylor explained in a comprehensive look at RankBrain and SEO, there is no set way to optimize for RankBrain, although certain search practices are now more relevant than ever.

We can expect more changes to come in 2018 where AI and machine learning are concerned, and Google’s determination to develop in this area indicate that there are many more innovations on the horizon.

Improving SEO in 2018

As it seems, 2018 will be an interesting year for SEO. Traditional SEO techniques are still effective, but a number of trends are in the works that could significantly alter the practice of optimizing for search.

What is useful to understand while we proceed towards is 2018 is that SEO is already changing, and the ranking in the first organic spot is not the ultimate goal anymore. As search engines evolve, there are multiple opportunities to increase your search traffic without necessarily focusing on organic SERPs.

The rise of featured snippets, PPC, voice search and local SEO can often yield better results than an organic ranking. That’s why it’s useful to keep up with the latest trends and discover how your brand can maintain a successful SEO strategy for the year ahead by blending established and growing trends.