Dan Shewan's blog

Can Ello Remain Ad-Free? Here Are 5 Ad-Free Social Networks that Failed

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

October 23, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 1

11 Kick-Ass Call to Action Examples, and Why They Work

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

October 20, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 0

Can Google Be Trusted? Guide to Protecting Your Online Privacy

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

October 08, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 9

WordStream’s Best of the Month: September

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

October 01, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

Want to Escape ‘People-Based Marketing’? Quit Facebook

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

September 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 2

Social Media Advertising: Which Platform is Right for Your Small Business?

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

September 24, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Social Media   |   Comments: 0

‘Everyone’ is Not a Demographic: A Guide to Target Markets for Small Businesses

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.Sounds simple enough, right? Well, the con... > Read more

September 18, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 4

Storytelling in Content Marketing: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & How to Do it Right

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

September 03, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 1

WordStream’s Best of the Month: August

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

August 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

How to Do a Webinar Your Audience Will Love

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

August 26, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 6

25 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website

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

August 14, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 24

16 Ways to Improve Your Writing Skills

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

August 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Blogging   |   Comments: 10

WordStream’s Best of the Month: July Edition

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

August 01, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 3

How to Develop Brand Voice Through Content Marketing

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

July 31, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 3

How the ‘Attention Web’ is Changing Content Marketing Metrics

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

July 22, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 8

You Can’t Not Click: Weighing the Pros & Cons of Clickbait

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

July 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

23 Facts About Women and Advertising

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

July 10, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 5

Native Advertising Examples: 5 of the Best (and Worst)

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

July 07, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 2

Commercial Intent: How to Find Your Most Valuable Keywords

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

June 30, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Paid Search Marketing   |   Comments: 0

How Google Hummingbird Changed the Future of Search

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

June 23, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 11

Dwell Time: The Most Important Metric You’re Not Measuring

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

June 10, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 3

Best of the Month: WordStream’s Top 10 for May

One word dominated search marketing in May – “panda.” Obviously we’re not talking about the adorable, endangered animal, but rather the fourth update to the Google algorithm that laid waste to crappy sites across the web and struck terror into the hearts of webmasters the world over.These pandas want to rock ‘n roll all night AND party every day.

Of course, the Panda 4 update wasn’t the only thing people were talking about this month. Let’s see what else was going on and take a look at this month’s top posts.1. Panda 4.0: Why EBay Just Lost 80% Of Its Organic Rankings – Even if you’re not familiar with the term “schadenfreude,” eBay’s recent misfortune at the hands of Google is a perfect example. Check out this post to see why Google slapped eBay so hard, courtesy ... > Read more

May 30, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: WordStream   |   Comments: 0

New Webinar: Test Your Way to More Leads from PPC

If you’ve been attending WordStream’s recent webinars (or reading the blog), you already know some of the secrets to hacking AdWords – like how Quality Score is really calculated, and the secrets behind “unicorn” ads with super-high click-through rates.Now it’s time to learn our best A/B testing hacks – the changes, big and small, that can help you drive way more leads (not just clicks) though PPC, without giving Google more of your sweet, sweet cash.

In our next webinar, “7 Powerful A/B Tests That Drive More Leads from Paid Search,” WordStream will team up with Optimizely to reveal the secrets of A/B testing that will help you drive more leads from paid search.Join WordStream and Optimizely on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 1 p.m. EST (5 p.m. UTC) – register now!WordStream... > Read more

May 29, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 1

5 Cognitive Biases & How to Overcome Them On Your Landing Pages

You already know that highly optimized landing pages are crucial to the success of any paid search campaign. However, even the best landing pages don’t have conversion rates of 100%. Why? Well, because people are unpredictable, and sometimes, consumer behavior defies all logic – frequently due to cognitive biases.

In today’s post, we’re going to examine what cognitive bias is, look at several examples of these behaviors in action, and outline how you can overcome (or at least account for) them with your landing pages.What is Cognitive Bias?Cognitive biases are ways of thinking about and perceiving the world that may not necessarily reflect reality. We may think we experience the world around us with perfect objectivity, but this is rarely (if ever) the case. Each and every one of us... > Read more

May 22, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Conversion Rates   |   Comments: 7

5 Creative Ways to Use Google Glass (and How to Win Your Own!)

Google Glass: What began as an experiment in the notoriously secretive Google X research and development lab soon became the future of wearable technology. Google recently opened up its Glass Explorer pilot program to the general public, meaning yes, anyone (with $1500 to spare) can buy one! But many people remain unaware of what Google Glass can really do.

First, for all you hardware nerds out there, let’s take a look at Glass’ “tech specs” (sorry, couldn’t resist):12GB of usable memory (16GB Flash total)802. 11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity5 megapixel camera720p video resolutionIn this post, we’re going to explore five creative ways you can use Google Glass – and tell you how you can win your very own Google Glass headset (for free!) in WordStream’s new Grade and Get... > Read more

May 21, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Google   |   Comments: 6

Drink Your ‘Happy Juice’: Learn the Secrets of Persuasive Marketing with Perry Marshall

Prospective customers can be a fickle bunch. They rarely do what we want them to, they behave in all sorts of crazy, unexpected ways, and – worst of all – sometimes they don’t even listen to us.However, it’s not hard to see why consumers have become largely indifferent to most marketing techniques.

After all, the average American consumer spends 11 hours per day using or engaging with digital media and is exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of ads every single day. Is it any wonder why many consumers are hard to reach?Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. In our upcoming webinar, “The ‘Happy Juice’ Principle: Marketing that Captures and Converts,” WordStream and renowned marketing expert Perry Marshall will show you how to leverage the “happy juice” principl... > Read more

May 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 1

6 Google Analytics Tips for Business Insight Way Beyond Traffic

I recently learned six Google Analytics tips that literally changed the way I use the software. Until just last week, I only used Google Analytics casually. I’d log in, poke around a little bit, then leave with only a vague idea of what was going on with our traffic. In other words, I was barely scratching the surface of what was possible.

We recently did an all-day intensive Google Analytics training session, which showed me a ton of features that I wasn’t using and didn’t even know about.Before the training, I was pretty much just using Google Analytics to check daily and weekly blog traffic trends. However, the features I’m going to share with you allow me to see:Detailed visitor demographic data and how the behavior of certain types of users can be tracked against “typical” ... > Read more

May 15, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Analytics   |   Comments: 12

Recognizing Success During Small Business Week 2014

What do WordStream, Google and the White House have in common? We’re all championing small businesses this week, as Small Business Week 2014 is in full swing!In partnership with the Small Business Administration, a series of events, workshops and Q&A sessions are taking place in cities across the country (and at tech companies such as Microsoft and Twitter) to provide proprietors of small businesses with the support, advice and resources they need to thrive.

Small Business StatisticsSmall businesses are a big deal. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up:99.7% of U.S. employer firms64% of net new private sector jobs49.2% of private sector employment46% of private sector output43% of high-tech employment98% of firms exporting goods overseas33% of the co... > Read more

May 14, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: AdWords Tips   |   Comments: 4

Guide to Getting Your Customer Churn Rate in the Zone

Whatever you call it – defection, attrition, turnover – customer churn is a painful reality that all businesses have to deal with. Even the largest and most successful companies suffer from customer churn, and understanding what causes formerly loyal customers to abandon ship is crucial to lasting, sustainable business growth.

In today’s post, we’re going to look at what customer churn is, what constitutes a “good” churn rate, and ways you can stop your customers turning their backs on you forever.Art installation by Tim EtchellsWhat is Customer Churn?Client churn is when existing customers stop doing business with you. This can mean different things depending on the nature of your business. Examples include:Cancelation of a subscriptionClosure of an accountNon-renewal of a cont... > Read more

May 12, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 4

What Is Long-Form Content and Why Does It Work?

Ask two content marketers about long-form content and you’ll likely get two completely different responses. The first might say that long-form content is a gamble, given audiences’ supposedly miniscule attention spans. The other might say that producing longer articles is an excellent way to engage with readers and offer them genuine value and a rewarding experience.

Which of these content marketers is right? Yep, you guessed it – the long-form content evangelist. Why? Let’s find out.Table of contentsWhat is Long-Form Content?Why Does Long-Form Content Work?5 Long-Form Content ExamplesWhat Is Long-Form Content?It might seem obvious, but there are many different definitions of what long-form content truly is. Some people consider articles longer than 700 words to be long-form, wherea... > Read more

May 05, 2014     |   Written by: Dan Shewan   |   Posted In: Marketing Strategy   |   Comments: 11
 
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