Dan Shewan's blog
Welcome to Day 12 of 12 Days of Experts! This month, we're featuring 12 hand-picked articles by industry experts and thought leaders, offering a wider perspective on marketing, business, and leadership. We hope you enjoy these voices from outside the WordStream world. For our final entry in the 12 Days of Experts series, we wanted to do something a little different.
Earlier this year, I spoke with John Gagnon, Microsoft's Bing Ads Evangelist, about the future of Bing Ads to coincide with the launch of WordStream's Bing Ads Performance Grader. I've no doubt that you'll find John's perspective on Bing Ads as fascinating as I did.From its humble beginnings running Overture and Yahoo! ads on the MSN Search network to its present incarnation, Microsoft’s online advertising platform has c... > Read more
We’ve talked about the importance of great landing pages many times before, but what about video landing pages? Including video in your landing pages can seem tempting, but as with most things, just because you can use video doesn’t mean you necessarily should. So, should you?In this post, we’ll be looking at what video landing pages are, the types of businesses that can benefit from the inclusion of video in their landing pages, and some examples of video landing pages done well.
What Are Video Landing Pages?Pretty much exactly what they sound like – landing pages with embedded video. Usually, the video is embedded in a standalone player, such as YouTube or Vimeo, alongside static images and text using standard HTML code. It’s uncommon for a video landing page to be a full-screen... > Read more
Things are about to get weird.Already stressing out about the traffic or the weather (or both)? Before you set off to wherever you’re going this weekend (which is probably work, if you’re anywhere other than the United States), check out WordStream’s best posts from November.Oh, and I won’t be making any lame Thanksgiving jokes, like, “Be thankful for these awesome posts” – sorry.
1. 5 Reasons to NEVER Use AdWords Automatic Bidding: If you’re using automatic bidding in AdWords, stop. Like, right now. In our most popular post from November, Caleb gives you five great reasons to stop relying on automated bidding in AdWords.2. Complete Guide to Content Remarketing: How to Win Friends, Influence People & Double Your Leads: In this in-depth post, Larry explains why remarketin... > Read more
I’d wager that, if you’re reading this at work, you’ve probably checked Facebook at least once or twice today. Even if you haven’t, Mark Zuckerberg wants to change that.According to various news sources, the folks at Menlo Park are planning to make a power play against LinkedIn by launching a new service designed for office drones – but can it succeed?‘Facebook for Work’PC Mag reports that Facebook employees already use a modified version of the Facebook platform internally, and that the company wants to expand access to “Facebook for Work” to a wider audience – namely, you.
The as-yet unnamed product, which was first leaked by The Financial Times (paid subscription required), aims to usurp existing services such as LinkedIn, Google, and Microsoft’s Yammer by allowing ... > Read more
Email marketing gets a bad rap. Sure, it’s not quite as embarrassing as direct mail (which is somehow a $12 billion per year industry), but it’s pretty close.Image via G-Lock SoftwareMany marketers have been seduced by social media advertising, perceiving it to be not only “cooler,” but also more effective than email marketing.
There’s no denying that social media gets a lot more media attention than email marketing. However, claims that email marketing is no longer effective are simply not true, and any marketer worth their salt will tell you that email remains a cornerstone of their campaigns.Not convinced? Then check out these three examples from some of the world’s leading email management companies to see what makes email marketing so effective.1. Email Newsletters Can Be ... > Read more
In the American workplace, few things are valued as highly, or pursued as aggressively, as productivity. On average, Americans work more hours than just about any other industrialized nation in the world. They spend more hours at the office, take fewer vacations, and even go to work when they’re sick.
For many, this isn’t a choice – it’s just what they have to do to survive. For some, however, the cult of productivity has become an all-powerful idol, and one that businesses all over the country fervently worship.Work-related stress has become a badge of honor. Employees regularly boast of how early they come in, how late they stay, and how little vacation time they’ve used. Even in casual conversation, many Americans simply can’t help mentioning how hard they’re working.Admit ... > Read more
Since 2009, Google has been the subject of antitrust lawsuits from almost 20 companies across Europe. Although the plaintiffs in these cases come from different sectors of the tech industry, their complaints are universal – that Google is too big, too powerful, and isn’t playing fair.At the heart of the matter lies Google’s dominance in the European search market, and its engagement in business practices that other tech companies operating in the sector perceive as unfair.
Although Google already settled in several cases, and relented to provide more real estate to competing businesses in European SERPs, the appointment of a new European competition commissioner could reignite the debate all over again. Margrethe Vestager, who formally takes office tomorrow, could levy additional char... > Read more
Shhhh – be very quiet. Don’t move. Stay exactly where you are – they might see you.Okay, I think they’re gone. No, I don’t just mean the shambling corpses wandering past the window, I mean the most popular posts from the WordStream blog in October. Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of “The Walking Dead” lately, and I rarely get the opportunity to work zombies into posts about marketing strategies.
Whether you’re preparing to be besieged by trick-or-treaters later tonight or have grand plans for a night on the town in your best “murderous hobo” costume, read our round-up of October’s most popular posts from October – before they find their way in.1. Hook, Line, and Sinker: 7 Tips for a Killer Call-to-Action: In our most popular post of the month, Billy McCaffrey gives... > Read more
If you’re a marketer working in a highly specialized industry, you might be wondering about how you can maximize your impact and make your mark. Some marketers mistakenly believe that being in a niche industry is a disadvantage, but it’s all about how you look at it.Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I thought I’d offer some suggestions to poor, beleaguered marketers working in very specialized industries.
Follow these seven tips to get the most out of your niche marketing campaigns.1. Know Your Target Market Inside OutJust because your product or service only appeals to a narrow range of people doesn’t mean you can be lazy when it comes to researching your target market. In fact, running a business offering a product with limited or niche appeal can make it even more difficult t... > Read more
Hot on the heels of raising $5.5 million in venture capital funding, new social upstart Ello -- hoping to achieve the precarious balance between remaining a truly ad-free social network and financial feasibility -- has converted to a Public Benefit Corporation. What does this mean? Should we all be super-excited? Let’s take a look.
Paul Budnitz, Ello CEO. Image via Re/codePromises, Promises: Ello Raises $5.5 Million in VC FundingThe funding news should come as little surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention. After all, at the height of the Ello buzz (which seems to have been a couple of weeks ago), the site was reportedly being bombarded with as many as 50,000 membership requests per hour. According to Re/code, which broke the news about Ello’s successful round of funding, the s... > Read more
Getting prospective customers to do what you want them to do can be like herding cats. They abandon shopping carts before checking out, they don’t sign up for your beautifully written newsletter, and they don’t even have the common courtesy to read your blog posts all the way to the end.However, there is hope.
To get your prospects to do what you want, all you have to do is include a compelling call to action. Simple, right? Well, it’s actually harder than it sounds. Fortunately, there are many companies who have already done the hard work of A/B testing their calls to action, so you don’t have to.In today’s post, I’m going to show you 11 kick-ass call to action examples, and explain why they work so well. So grab a coffee, a pen and paper, and get ready for the deluge of conve... > Read more
Since former NSA analyst Edward Snowden leaked evidence of the security agency’s covert surveillance of millions of Americans to journalist Glenn Greenwald last year, online privacy has become one of the tech sector’s most contentious issues.Few issues in tech are as polarizing as online privacy, but the topic goes far beyond opinions about the security of personal data or how it should be used.
In fact, online privacy (or the lack thereof) is shaping the future of search, whether you realize it or not.Advertisers are desperate to plumb the depths of people’s personal lives in search of more accurate targeting, while many users are balking at how the monoliths of the tech sector are gathering, storing, and using their information. But what does the future hold, and should you be worr... > Read more
Groucho Marx famously joked that the English mnemonic that begins, ‘Thirty days hath September…” was his favorite poem because it actually tells us something. While it certainly didn’t feel as though September had thirty days this year (for me, anyway), September did indeed teach us a lot – especially about search, as evidenced by our most popular posts of the month.
Image © SixelaOtamaGrab a warm pumpkin-flavored beverage (yes, I’m going to continue milking the pumpkin beverage joke for the remainder of the fall), sit back, and check out WordStream’s most popular posts of September.1. Mandatory Google+ Gmail Integration Quietly Shelved: For the third consecutive month, Larry earned the top spot in our blog by breaking the news about Google’s decision to (very) quietly deco... > Read more
By now, Advertising Week’s 11th annual conference (AWXI) is in full swing across Manhattan’s most upscale venues. Delegates (or “Super Delegates,” depending on how much your company splashed out for your pass) have descended on the Big Apple to hear speakers such as Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Cosmopolitan’s Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles, and even insufferable celebrity chef Jamie Oliver wax lyrical about the future of advertising.
However, what everyone really wants to hear about is Facebook’s new advertising platform, Atlas. Larry explained what this new system involves last week. Advertisers are practically salivating at the prospect of being able to target specific users with highly customized marketing messages, a practice that Jonathan Nelson, CEO of Atlas early adopter... > Read more
If you’ve experienced success with paid search, you may have given thought to social media advertising. Increasing numbers of small businesses are branching out into paid social, and the diversification of online advertising into social media channels can be seen everywhere.Image credit: KDDIHowever, if you run a small business, you might be wondering whether social media advertising is a good fit, especially if your current advertising budget is stretched thin.
What ad types will be most effective for your business? Which network has the greatest potential reach? Which platform has the most competitive CPA? These are all important questions for people who are thinking about social media advertising, so in this post, we’re going to dive deep into the data and examine the pros and cons ... > Read more
If you run a small business, maybe you have an idea of your target market. However, a vague idea is not enough to compete in today’s ruthless business environment. Without detailed knowledge of your target market, you could be losing business to your competitors or missing out on opportunities to increase sales.
Just don’t target your customers with a compound hunting bow.In today’s post, we’re going to look at what target markets are, how to identify them, examples of target markets, and how to refine and develop target markets by segmentation. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get started.What Is a Target Market?Simply put, a target market is a specific group of people you have decided to target with your products or services. It could be a large market or a niche mar... > Read more
I recently came across this video, in which renowned Austrian graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister tackles the stubbornly enduring buzzword “storytelling.” In refreshingly candid and colorful language (some of which is NSFW, by the way), Sagmeister dismisses those who claim to be storytellers, because the majority of people who apply this label to their work simply aren’t storytellers.
Before we go any further, watch the video. It’s only two minutes long. Go ahead, I’ll wait.WARNING: Again, this video contains some NSFW language. If you’re in the office, wear headphones.Although Sagmeister is referring to the concept of the self-styled storyteller within the context of design, his remarks are equally applicable to content marketing. We keep hearing about the importance of storytel... > Read more
Summer is fast approaching its end. Pumpkin-flavored drinks and snacks have already begun to appear in coffee shops and liquor stores across the country, and before long, everyone will be sporting tasteful sweater/scarf combos and taking leisurely walks through the beautiful autumnal foliage of local parks.
Pretty soon, there will be nobody on the road, nobody on the beach. Just as Don Henley promised in his 1984 hit single “Boys of Summer,” our love for you will still be strong after the posts of summer have gone. However, contrary to Mr. Henley’s assertions, we can indeed look back. Here’s a round-up of the most popular posts from the WordStream blog in August.And yes, in case you were wondering, I am listening to Don Henley as I write this post.1. RIP Exact and Phrase Match in Ad... > Read more
Good webinars can be a little like independent movies – they leave you feeling wonderful, inspired, and ready to take on the world. Bad webinars, however, are more like Michael Bay movies – after two hours, you begin to wonder how somebody could have possibly been paid to make something so unapologetically terrible.
If you’ve ever wondered how to do a webinar that people will actually want to watch, you’ve come to the right place. In today’s post, we’re going to look at whether you should even be planning a webinar, a checklist of webinar best practices, and we’ll also learn some valuable lessons from two of WordStream’s seasoned webinar pros along the way.Should You Even Produce a Webinar?Believe it or not, this is a question that most marketers fail to ask before diving he... > Read more
Ask a marketer or business owner what they’d like most in the world, and they’ll probably tell you “more customers.” What often comes after customers on a business’ wish list? More traffic to their site. There are many ways you can increase traffic on your website, and in today’s post, we’re going to look at some of them.
1. AdvertiseThis one is so obvious, we’re going to look at it first. Paid search, social media advertising and display advertising are all excellent ways of attracting visitors, building your brand and getting your site in front of people. Adjust your paid strategies to suit your goals – do you just want more traffic, or are you looking to increase conversions, too? Each paid channel has its pros and cons, so think carefully about your objectives before y... > Read more
Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a marketer quite like being asked to write a blog post. Some marketers would rather wrestle with pivot tables (or grizzly bears) for days on end than write a blog post – but why?Writing doesn’t have to be this painful.Writing is intimidating to a lot of people, particularly those who don’t write for a living or blog on a regular basis.
The good news is that writing doesn’t have to be agonizing, and almost anybody can hone their writing skills with a little discipline and a willingness to learn. In today’s post, I’m going to share 16 ways you can start improving your writing skills right now.1. Brush Up on the BasicsBefore you can start writing incredible content, you’ll need at least an intermediate understanding of the basic principles ... > Read more
Ah, July – a month of sunshine, fireworks, and of people gently nudging irregularly shaped meat patties on the grill while wearing novelty aprons. July was also a very interesting month in search marketing, with a lot of shake-ups on the SERP, starting with authorship photos.Oh dear.Let’s take a look back at the most popular WordStream blog posts from July, just in case you missed them while you were out camping, kayaking or whatever else you ended up doing.
1. The Real Reason Google Plus Authorship Photos Are Gone: In our most popular post in July, Larry delved into the real reasons why Google decided to remove Google+ authorship photos from the SERPs (which, if they looked anything like the… unfortunate yearbook photo above, probably wasn’t a bad thing).2. The Smoking Gun: Deleted... > Read more
Many companies approach brand voice as an afterthought. Although it’s important to ensure that you’re creating great content, publishing on a regular basis, and keeping an eye on your overall content strategy, without a cohesive and consistent brand voice, you could end up confusing your most loyal fans or deterring would-be customers.
In today’s post, we’ll be looking at the elements of brand voice, how to develop brand voice through content, and we’ll also examine several examples of brands that have leveraged content to strengthen their brand and reinforce key messaging.What is Brand Voice?Simply put, brand voice is how your company expresses its messaging. Brand voice touches virtually all aspects of corporate communications, from advertising and slogans to blog posts and visu... > Read more
Long gone are the days when clickthroughs and time-on-page were the most important content marketing metrics. Today, many publishers are changing their approach to shifts in audience behavior to focus on attention and engagement as the defining measurements of success.Although pageviews and unique visitors are still relatively valuable metrics to marketers, they don’t paint a complete picture of how people are interacting with your content.
In today’s post, we’re going to examine the trend of analyzing how visitors are engaging with your site, not just how many, and look at some examples of this shift and how you can start measuring audience attention.RELATED: 32 Free Content Marketing ToolsWhat is the Attention Web?Firstly, while the so-called “attention web” is a genuine shift i... > Read more
Love it or hate it, clickbait has become yet another weapon in the content marketer’s arsenal. These days, it seems as though no site is above resorting to dastardly tricks to get you to click on their content, and these techniques have become so familiar, some experts have questioned whether clickbait has a future.
Image credit: SlateTable of ContentsWhat is Clickbait?The Benefits of ClickbaitThe Dark Side of ClickbaitWhat Is Clickbait?As its name implies, clickbait is content that is written specifically to attract as many clicks as possible. Just about any type of content can be considered clickbait. News stories, blog posts, interviews, infographics, videos – packaged in a certain way, you can make any web content clickbait. However, clickbait typically has several of the following ... > Read more
Marketers spend most of their time trying to appeal to their target demographics, but when it comes to women, many of them are missing the mark. Given that women make up half the population and have a disproportionate amount of purchasing power, isn’t it in your best interest to try to understand them? Here are 23 surprising facts you probably didn’t know about women and advertising.
Facepalm - because actions speak louder than words.Women account for 85% of consumer purchases (She-conomy)Despite this, 91% of women say advertisers don’t understand them (Ibid.)Women control 73% of U.S. household spending (Boston Consulting Group, 2009)Women account for 58% of U.S. ecommerce spend (Women’s Buying Behavior Index 2013)22% of women shop online at least once per day (Ogilvy & Ma... > Read more
The chances are pretty good that, even though you may not have realized it, you’ve seen several examples of native advertising. These days, native advertising is everywhere – and it’s getting harder and harder to spot.There’s something not quite right about this cheeseburger…In today’s post, we’re going to look at what native advertising is, why it can be so controversial, and several native advertising examples that are really impressive – as well as a few that are downright terrible.
What is Native Advertising?Simply put, native advertising is paid content. Articles, infographics, videos, you name it – if a content producer can make it, corporations can buy it and publishing platforms can promote it.Now, you might be thinking, “How does a native advertisement differ fr... > Read more
High commercial intent keywords are like invitations from prospective customers. They beg you to tempt them with your wares. They tell you, loud and clear, that they have money in their hands (or burning holes in their pockets), and they want what you’re selling right now.The intent of the keyword should affect how you target it.
For example, if someone is clearly in the “early research” phase of shopping, the keywords they use will have less intent – maybe something like “do I need a lawyer?” You can target that keyword with a content piece like a checklist. Content marketing is all about getting in front of the customer early and making a good impression. Maybe later on, he’ll come back when he needs you.However, if someone definitely does need a lawyer, they might use a hi... > Read more
In September of last year, when Google Hummingbird was officially announced, Matt Cutts said that it would affect 90% of all searches, albeit in a subtle way. Considering that Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches every day, this means Google Hummingbird affects more than 3.15 billion of them.
Not exactly an inconsequential update.This image has nothing to do with Google Hummingbird. Still, hummingbirds are pretty cool.The Hummingbird update was the most ambitious adjustment of Google’s search algorithm since 2001. In today’s post, we’re going to look at what Google Hummingbird is, what it means for SEO, and what the future of Google’s quest to become the “Star Trek” computer could hold.What is Google Hummingbird?Although it’s technically accurate to call Google Hummin... > Read more
Dwell time is one of the most important, yet frequently misunderstood, site metrics. Many marketers put too much faith in Time on Page when evaluating traffic, but this metric is unreliable and can be misleading.In today’s post, we’re going to look at what dwell time is, whether search engines use it as a ranking signal, and examine ways in which you can increase the average dwell time on your site.
What is Dwell Time?Three years ago, Duane Forrester at Bing wrote a blog post about how to build quality content. It was in this blog post that the concept of dwell time was first introduced.Simply put, dwell time is the actual length of time that a visitor spends on a page before returning to the SERPs. In theory, the longer the dwell time the better, as this indicates that the visitor has ... > Read more