It’s almost here—the holiday shopping season that so many businesses rely on to profitably round out the year. And once again, there’s a movement afoot to ensure that small businesses get their fair share of the action. Nestled in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday (SBS)—which this year falls on Saturday, November 24.
The U.S. Small Business Administration describes it as “a day to celebrate and support small business and all that they do for their communities.” It's particularly meaningful to me as I myself founded a start-up, and we work with so many small and medium sized businesses every day!Small Business Saturday may be less than one week away, but there’s still time to make sure your business is primed for what will hopefully be a bi... > Read more
*If online engagement metrics are any indication!Election Day 2012 is tomorrow – will President Barack Obama get another four years? Or will Republican challenger Mitt Romney take the win?Political wonks may know that statistician Nate Silver has predicted a win for Obama based on election polls and public opinion polls.
I was curious if the Internet presence of the two respective candidates pointed to the same outcome. So I ran some quick numbers to look at Obama and Romney’s spending on paid search advertising (political campaign ads on Google search and the Google Display Network), their website traffic, and their social media presence (including Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and YouTube subscribers).Based on what I found, I predict that Obama will win by a landslide on Nov. 6, ... > Read more
Marketing. Between social and content, paid and organic, PR and community management, marketing is a supersize topic, and one that’s becoming a part of every employee’s job thanks to technology and growing consumer expectations of brands.The breadth of the discipline has created generalists and specialists, with hybrids in between.
Yet despite the tremendous impact good, smart marketing can have on an organization, marketing professionals are often the first weight to be shed when a company decides it’s time to slim down. Why is that?Where Marketing Teams Can FailI generally attribute that type of short-term reaction (off with their heads!) to operational issues decision-makers might be reluctant to accept. Most times, the issue really isn’t rooted in the last weak campaign, poorly... > Read more
There was a time when being a PPC manager necessarily entailed being an Excel ninja as well. Not a fan of spreadsheets? Then step away from the PPC account, my friend!In 2001, however, a tipping point occurred – the majority of companies no longer managed their PPC accounts using Excel. And the trend continues in that direction.
According to SEMPO’s recent State of Search report, the number of companies who manage their PPC campaigns DIY-style using free tools like those provided by search engines, Excel, or “a simple database” fell from nearly half (49%) in 2001 to just 38% in 2012. That’s a big drop! And a much bigger drop than the change from 2010 to 2011 (53% to 49%).Here’s the survey data from SEMPO (the exact question was “Do you or your primary search engine marketing ... > Read more
Lately it seems like content marketing is the new SEO. It’s become a bit of a buzzword. But when you slap a trendy label on something, it’s easy to start overthinking it. Ten years ago, everyone with a website was producing content of one kind or another. Then we started worrying about SEO – how to make that content more visible and available to search engine visitors.
Now that “content marketing” is the word of the day, people are stressing about what “content” means and how they can “create great content.”But the truth is, for most businesses, your goals haven’t really changed. You’re still just trying to get people to your website to do whatever it is you want them to do – to buy your widgets, as it were. Advertising is one way to accomplish that; content marketi... > Read more
We've evaluated thousands of PPC accounts with the AdWords Performance Grader, adding up to almost $1 billion in total PPC spend. Looking at this huge amount of data in aggregate, one of the most salient trends has to do with account activity. Namely, we've noticed a strong correlation between regular activity and relative success.
That is to say, the advertisers that get the highest scores (because they're beating everyone else in terms of key metrics like Quality Score, click-through rate, and impression share) usually spend the most time in their accounts.Disturbingly, about 1 in 5 advertisers who used the Grader haven't even logged into their AdWords account in the past 30 days. We get it – we're busy too! – but if you don't actually work on your account on a regular basis, your RO... > Read more
Well WordStream fans, I have some bittersweet news—I’ll be leaving WordStream soon to spend time in Europe.It’s been such a joy to work here and be part of our mega-marketing team.Normally a year isn’t all that long, but in startup years it’s a decent chunk of time. I started at WordStream during its haywire adolescent stage, and have had the unique opportunity to be here as it has come into its own and really begun to thrive.
Blogging and discussing the latest online marketing happenings with you guys has been awesome. While I’ll miss WordStream immensely, I’m excited about my travels and what’s next.Now dry those tears, this isn’t the end! I’ll be spending a couple weeks in Italy teaching a bed & breakfast some SEO basics, so I’ll continue blogging here from time... > Read more
Facebook Ads Whisper Sweet Lies While Kinect Emotion-Detecting Ads Slap You With the TruthA few weeks ago I encountered a bizarre advertisement on Facebook that caught my attention:I spent a moment trying to puzzle out how a decapitated baby head related to social work. The whole point of course is that it doesn’t—the creepy-baby-head-ad I encountered is a classic shock & awe Facebook ad, determined to capture a user’s attention with a strange picture with hopes that you might be curious enough to click through.
It’s quite the lowly form of advertising, banking on Facebook users’ curiosity alone to drive clicks. But this idea of embracing the “silly” factor that is ever-present on the internet can be successful for some, like the Plenty Of Fish ads made in Microsoft Paint ... > Read more
In a final, epic victory of reason over complete and utter pandemonium, I dumped my Facebook IPO shares at the open today.This may come as a surprise to some, given that I wrote a pretty bullish case about the future of Facebook just yesterday, which in itself was probably surprising given that on Tuesday we published research that basically said Facebook advertising is awful.
So why did this confused and conflicted internet marketer sell shares of The Social Network?As in PPC management, buy and hold is for suckersWhile I still strongly believe everything I wrote about the long-term future of the company, timing still matters and it’s going to take a couple of quarters (or years even) for FB to figure out how to monetize its audience.Damn it, Jim, I’m a marketer, not a financial ... > Read more
In a dramatic triumph of hope over experience, I bought into the Facebook IPO hype today.I just got off the phone with my broker at Morgan Stanley and placed an order for 1000 shares of Facebook. (Morgan Stanley is one of the major underwriters of the Facebook IPO, and if you’re a client of theirs, you can actually place an order to stock at the IPO price before the company goes public tomorrow.
)It’s a pretty big investment for me and might come as a surprise to some, given that I recently published research on Tuesday morning that basically concludes Facebook advertising is awful. The research was picked up early on by Jim Edwards at Business Insider, and John Letzing at the Wall Street Journal, and Laurie Sullivan at MediaPost.As if to validate the research, a mere 6 hour... > Read more
CAPTCHAs are a necessary evil in a modern world. CAPTCHAs, also known as those-annoying-boxes-with-the-weird-words, are used to prevent evil robot spam attacks.Well the other days I came across a new, never-before-seen (at least by me) CAPTCHA that could have some pretty huge advertising implications.
Introducing, the CAPTCH-AD!CAPTCH-AD: The CAPTCHA AdvertisementWhat’s crazy about the CAPTCH-AD is that you are required to watch (and pay attentionto) the advertisement in order to fulfill the CAPTCHA box. There’s no getting around it – you will read that ad. It’s like when you see advertisements plastered over your tray table on budget airlines; you roll your eyes, groan, cover it with a book or a laptop, but there’s just no avoiding it and the ad demands acknowledgement.It s... > Read more
You’re a marketer, you’ve been there – the end of the month approacheth and you haven’t met your lead goals. If you’ve got limited resources and it’s too late to embark on a brand-new initiative to generate leads, don’t give up – chances are you can squeeze a few more leads out of the content you’ve already created.
Here are three ways to generate leads by re-utilizing your existing marketing collateral.Send an Old Offer to a New ListLook back over your most successful lead-gen offers from the past couple of years, such as white papers, guides, or marketing kits. Hopefully, that content is evergreen or, if it’s out of date, can be updated pretty easily (certainly, bringing an older guide up-to-date is faster than starting from scratch to create a new one).Let’s say you... > Read more
Online businesses know that user engagement is incredibly powerful. Better than chocolates or flowers, getting users to “like” your posts or engage you in conversation through Google+ is a dream come true! But often, it can be difficult to obtain that valuable user interaction.With Valentine’s Day upon us, I thought today we could evaluate Boston Globe’s online Love Letters column, a small niche of a large news site that has managed to obtain some exceptional user engagement.
I heard about Love Letters through my mother, who habitually sends me her favorite posts. Although my mother works as a computer programmer, she is the farthest thing from a techie, virtually inept at anything outside of COBOL. A once-a-month Facebooker, she’ll often call me to ask how to “send a mess... > Read more
Yesterday I was walking through Boston when I came across quite an unusual scene – a huge golden heap of Butterfingers smack in the middle of Copley Square. What kind of sorcery is this? I thought as I stared in awe at the giant mound of crunchy candy. Several people stood around the pile, gingerly picking up a candy bar here and there.
But after about 30 seconds, kids swooped down in hordes, cramming piles of bars into their backpacks in sheer ecstasy. I snapped these photos to document the event:Upon closer examination, this was no glorious miracle, but actually a clever advertising ploy by Pawngo, an online pawnshop business and apparent Giants fan. Their candy bar jab gives new meaning to “bittersweet.” I wasn’t beyond cramming some into my pockets before leaving though.I... > Read more
All right, this post isn’t so much a defense of piracy; it’s about why pirates aren’t the real problem.I know we’ve talked a lot recently about piracy and maybe you’re sick of it all, but the way I see it, all this discussion about SOPA and PIPA really boils down to many industries’ unwillingness to adapt.
Piracy is the result of the entertainment industry’s inability to change. Rather than think innovatively and try new solutions to better mesh with an increasingly online-oriented world, they dig their heels in the mud and try to pass laws that won’t force them to change their marketing strategy.What Sets Online Marketers Apart Great online marketers understand why it’s important to adapt to change. The world of online marketing is continuously shifting on the churning ti... > Read more
Have you been planning all year on finding a new PPC software solution for your business—but keep putting it off? While procrastination rarely brings anything other than stressful all-nighters and last-minute gift expeditions to the 24-hour CVS, you might be in luck this time—December is a great time to spend that last bit of unused budget on a new PPC software solution!After reading Jason Miller's great article at Marketo, I thought that we'd also take a minute to remind folks about why this is a great time of the year to purchase new software for your PPC campaigns.
So break out the hot cocoa, hang those stockings by the fire, and get yourself a shiny new software solution to put under the tree this year.We’ve got 6 fabulous justifications for investing in PPC software before... > Read more
Now that Halloween is past us, it’s time to look forward to the holidays. Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and retailers know that there’s more to this holiday than turkeys, football, and disagreeable in-laws.Black Friday and Cyber Monday are holy days for major businesses and online retailers, but small businesses often get left in the dust.
Well, small businesses, don’t despair—you have a day of your very own! Smack between Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Small Business Saturday on November 26.This week is starting to get crowded.Small Business Saturday began in 2010, and despite being a holiday created and promoted by American Express, there is some real social media momentum with this, and you’ll be smart to grab on to some of the trajectory.Why Supporting Lo... > Read more
Reaching the much coveted Number 1 spot of English searches is a mission sometimes beyond the reach of even the most experienced SEO. With billions of English pages vying for consumer attention and more and more businesses jumping on the e-commerce bandwagon, the competition for presence on the English web feels like an uphill struggle.
Naturally, English has been the lingua franca of the web ever since the onset of the dot-com boom, so it’s no surprise that it’s now reached the point of saturation. But there’s a vast – and largely untapped – area where there’s less competition for keywords and content overall, and that is the foreign language internet. Emerging markets, unscathed by the recession holding Europe and North America in its grip, present unparalleled growth opportu... > Read more
Brian Wallace is the founder of NowSourcing, a social media marketing firm based in Louisville, KY. NowSourcing offers infographics, WordPress consulting, online reputation management, SEO, PPC and other Internet marketing services. You can follow Brian on Twitter.Why do you think infographics have become so popular in the past couple of years from a marketing perspective? How do they differ from other forms of linkbait (aside from the obvious graphical element, of course)? Even though it seems that infographics are a fairly recent trend, they have been in the print world for some time.
I often think of USA Today – it ran a bunch of infographic equivalents for years before I ever saw anything like that on the web. Why they’ve become popular is for a few reasons:You’d be hard pressed ... > Read more
Cynthia Boris wrote a nice little article recently about the gamification of the mobile market that has really got me thinking.At WordStream, we've seen how a good mobile marketing strategy can reach stellar results - it’s no surprise that a lot of successful marketing campaigns integrate an element of fun or user interaction.
While this recent Skittles ad isn’t a game per se, it definitely invites a unique interaction for the viewer.Gaming marketing campaigns have potential to reach a HUGE user base. Especially with the increasing attention to mobile games, people are spending large amounts of time playing games. After all, Angry Birds alone has reached more than 50 million downloads!Mobile games are a real untapped market for online marketers. They have a potential to reach a large a... > Read more
This is a guest post by Peter VanRysdam, the CMO of 352 Media Group, an award-winning Tampa Web design company, and the author of Marketing in a Web 2.0 World. Connect with him on Twitter: @Peter352. From the CEO’s desk, marketing looks like a pretty simple prospect. Slap together a funny video, post it online and wait for it to “go viral.
” If it were only that easy. In fact, the quickest way to doom a viral campaign is to try to make it go viral. Just like with search engine optimization, content is king when it comes to viral marketing. A remarkable message will be shared, while a blatant ad will be seen for what it is and join the long list of failed memes on YouTube. You don’t have to fall into that dreaded trap. I’m a firm believer in learning from mistak... > Read more
As we've said many times before, the types of keywords you should use in your SEO copywriting depend on your industry and your goals. They also depend on your customers, which is why it's so important to know who your customers are before you start writing your site. What are their demographics? (Age? Gender? Income/educational level? Location?) Are they one-time or repeat buyers? Similarly, if you're targeting business customers rather than individual consumers, your keyword choices will need to reflect that.
B2B (or business-to-business) keywords typically have lower search volume than consumer keywords, and you'll need to delve into the long tail. (Your own analytics are your best source for high-converting keywords.) The below keyword types are particularly applicable in the B2B space.... > Read more
This is a guest post by Caleb Levell, a search marketing consultant at Hanapin Marketing. His interests include search and social marketing, online collaboration, and social media for business and non-profit organizations. He blogs at PPC Hero and SEO Boy. When I was in college (not so long ago), I had quite the morning routine.
Most important to the routine, I never scheduled a class before 11:15 AM. Of course, this gave me time to sleep in, eat breakfast, and do any last-minute studying. Yes, my schedule was set and my daily to-dos were outlined. Eventually though, it all has to come crashing down. Real life came faster than expected and I had a job. Quick lesson for any of our college readers: Most jobs start at 8 or 9 AM. Thus, my morning routine was ruined. Worst of all, no more break... > Read more
Summer is winding down, and I’ll miss the warm sun, lazy beach days and endless BBQs. However fall is right around the corner and is sure to bring crisp air, pumpkin coffee, football season … and conferences! That’s right; it’ll soon be time to decide which shows to attend, which tracks pique your interest and which industry celebrities you will stalk.
WordStream is excited to be exhibiting at SMX East in New York City this October. Whether you’re looking for in-depth workshops or networking opportunities, whether you’re a beginner or an expert, SMX East will have you covered. We’ll be there, and we hope to see you, too! So get a head start on your conference schedule, register early and save 10% with our discount code (note t... > Read more
According to Matt Cutts, linkbait is anything "interesting enough to catch people's attention." Of course, the best linkbait doesn't just catch it but keep it. These five sites are worth re-visiting; here's why they work. 1. Lifehacker Consistently named to lists of the web's best, Lifehacker (part of the Gawker Media family) is a blog of "tips and downloads for getting things done.
" Why This Works: Far from a short-lived linkbait gimmick, this is a legitimately useful website full of life improvement tips (including time management, organization, and smart repurposing) geared toward the tech-geek type. Recent popular topics include "Turn an Older iPhone Into a Prepaid Voice and Data Unit," "Rename Files Fast with the Tab Key," and "IKEA Jerker ... > Read more
Our recommended resource this week is BlueGlass LA 2010, an online marketing conference taking place next month in Los Angeles. This conference will bring together more than 20 online marketing experts, including Clix Marketing CEO David Szetela, MySpace Senior Marketing Manager Tony Adam, and Director of Technical Marketing for Yahoo! Media Laura Lippay.
The event will take place on Monday, July 19, and Tuesday, July 20, at the Marina del Rey Marriott Hotel. Here are some reasons you might want to consider signing up: There will be 10 panel discussions about a variety of topics. Subjects include “How to not FAIL at getting search traffic,” “When to raise money and when to bootstrap,” and “Links matter: How to measure and attain them.&rdq... > Read more
I was struck last week by several headlines about the continuing growth of online advertising, but none more than this one: “Online Poised to Supplant Newspapers As World’s No. 2 Ad Medium.” Of course, anyone alive and paying attention this last decade shouldn’t be that surprised by the headline.
Unless they're surprised that newspapers are still #2 – they seem so yesterday. But as I considered that the online world is now 15 years old, and that search, the largest and most significant growth driver of online ad spend, is now 10 years old, it did push me to think about what this news might signify about the online advertising industry’s evolution. You see, new media platforms (like online advertising, or television before it) behave a lot like other new platforms or technologi... > Read more
This is a guest post by Ben Hook. Ben is a search marketer and owner of Navaro, a UK-based SEO company helping clients to increase their online visibility. In the light of Google's recent moves toward personalization in the search results, an increasing amount of advertising campaigns are ditching the traditional "visit us at www.
url.com" and replacing it with "search for: keyword/brand". At first glance this may just seem like a quirky attempt to reach a tech-savvy audience, but it actually has further implications for future search results. To briefly cover the personalization issue for those that aren't aware, Google, in an attempt to bring users more relevant search results, is using individual search history when ranking websites. This means that if you've v... > Read more