Superheroes of Social Media: Your Must-See Guide to #SMMW17

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In a past life, I was a minor internet celebrity. One big perk to that dubious career was being a vendor at San Diego Comic Con for seven straight years. Our little indie booth saw visits from superheroes and celebrities alike. Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, DC & Marvel Comics: It’s truly a nerdy paradise.

Now I’m headed back to the convention center for a different kind of meetup: Social Media Marketing World 2017. I’m expecting fewer costumed superheroes (although with the right pair of glasses I could pull off a Seth Godin costume). But there will be plenty of astonishing and amazing marketers to meet.

These folks may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound—though I hear Ann Handley has an impressive long jump—but when it comes to getting results on social media, they’re nothing short of heroic.

Here are five social media superheroes I’m excited to see at Social Media Marketing World, and a quick rundown of their sessions.

#1: Carlos Gil

The Marketer: Carlos is an influencer, sought-after public speaker, social media strategist and Snapchat expert. He’s currently the Head of Global Social Media for BMC Software. Carlos’ YouTube Channel is an entertaining, informative mix of personal anecdote and professional insight.

The Session: Snapchat Strategies for Marketing Your Business, March 23, 2:00-2:45pm

For many businesses—especially in the B2B space—Snapchat is something of an enigma. Besides applying funny filters to our CEO’s headshots, what’s the marketing potential? Where’s the ROI? Carlos’ session promises to teach “how to grow your Snapchat account, strategies for content creation, tips for working with influencers including examples from notable brands and measuring the $ ROI of your marketing efforts. You will also discover how to use Spectacles for content creation and how to balance Instagram vs. Snapchat to engage your community.”

Secret Superhero Identity: The Flash

There’s only one superhero who matches up with the man who created “The Hustle Diaries.”

#2: Ann Handley

The Marketer: Ann is a personal hero of mine, as she should be for anyone in content creation. She is waging a war on boring content, fighting for truth, justice, and personality. As the Chief Content Officer at MarketingProfs, Ann practices what she preaches, curating and creating a treasure trove of instructional content. Think you’re not in the content creation business? Think again: As the title of her bestselling book points out: Everybody Writes.

The Session: How to Create Breakthrough Written Marketing Content, March 23, 11:30am-12:15pm

When visual is the new headline, video is the new blog post, and orange is the new black, do we really need to focus on the written word? Absolutely. Ann says, “Even in our social media-driven world, good writing still matters. Now more than ever. Good writing can move your marketing from mediocre to remarkable. From boring to brilliant.” Ann’s writing is always compelling, and her session is bound to be indispensable for marketers of every stripe.

Secret Superhero Identity: Oracle

From her tiny writing house, Ann keeps marketers informed and masterminds a content empire.

#3: Lee Odden

The Marketer: Lee is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, author of the bestselling book Optimize, and a speaker at marketing conferences around the world. Lee is a pioneer in integrated marketing, influencer marketing, and participation marketing, keeping steadily ahead of the curve as TopRank Marketing grows.

The Session: Future of Influencer Marketing: Strategies and Trends March 24, 10:15-11:00am

Influencer marketing has the potential to generate amazing results for influencers, marketers, and audiences alike. But most of us are still trying to define what exactly influencer marketing means, its potential and best practices. This session focuses on the habits of successful marketers to identify trends to embrace and obstacles to avoid, based on Influence 2.0, TopRank Marketing’s research with Altimeter and Traackr.

Secret Superhero Identity: Professor X

He’s built a team of super-powered marketers and seems to have the ability to read his audience’s minds.

#4: Koka Sexton

The Marketer: Koka is the Godfather of Social Selling, the strategic use of social media for sales enablement and acceleration. After a meteoric rise through the ranks at LinkedIn, he is currently the Global Industry Principal of Social Selling at Hootsuite. Koka’s ability to bridge the divide between sales and marketing demonstrates his deep understanding of what social means to business.

The Session: How to Turn LinkedIn Into a Funnel for New Leads, March 24, 11:15m-12:00pm

Koka has unique insight into winning strategies on LinkedIn, as the only LinkedIn Influencer who has ever worked at the company. Expect deep-level insights from someone who helped shape the platform into the B2B powerhouse it is today.

Secret Superhero Identity: Iron Man

He’s a sales and marketing machine with charisma to spare.

#5: Mari Smith

The Marketer: Known as the “Facebook Queen,” Mari has a decade of experience as a social media consultant and trainer. She’s an international keynote speaker and has shared the stage with luminaries like Sir Richard Branson, Ariana Huffington, and Guy Kawasaki. The numbers speak for themselves: Mari has over 650 thousand followers on Facebook alone, and over 1.5 million across social channels.

The Session: How to Improve Your Facebook Marketing ROI, March 23, 10:30-11:15am

Of the 60 million businesses who have a Facebook Page, less than a tenth are actively advertising, and even fewer are seeing positive ROI from their efforts. Many businesses gave up on earning organic reach on the platform as Facebook placed emphasis on paid promotion. Mari’s session promises to teach “specific content marketing secrets, savvy engagement tactics, and cleverly allocated paid promotion,” to “improve your organic reach by properly integrating strategic paid efforts.”

Secret Superhero Identity: Ms. Marvel

She’s a high-flying, high-visibility marketer who can still deliver a knockout for her clients.

Marketers, Assemble!

If you’re headed to Social Media Marketing World, keep an eye out for me and Ashley Zeckman. Feel free to stop by and say hello any time you see the gleam off the top of my head. If you can’t make it follow along on Twitter at @TopRank, @LeeOdden, @NiteWrites and @azeckman.

What sessions are you most excited to attend? Let me know in the comments.


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March 23rd 2017 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Netflix Teaches B2B, Email Benchmarks & Facebook is a Copycat

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What B2B marketers can learn from Netflix [Infographic]
What could B2B marketers possibly learn from Netflix? It turns out, quite a bit. Namely, that scheduled marketing needs to take a back seat to content that’s packaged for consumption when your prospects are ready. LookBookHQ

Email Marketing Benchmarks: 4Q16 Average Open, Click, and Bounce Rates
A new study from Experian shows that email open and click metrics remained fairly stable year-over-year in 2016, but the average transaction-to-click rate grew by 10% and the average bounce rate increased by 11.8%. MarketingProfs

Facebook Messenger copies Facebook’s copy of Instagram’s copy of Snapchat Stories
Yes, you read that headline correctly. There is some truth behind all that sass. Last week, Facebook messenger rolled out it’s copy of Facebook Stories — a copy of the story feature owned first by Snapchat and later adopted by Instagram. They’re calling Messenger Day. Marketing Land

U.S. Digital Advertising Will Make $83 Billion This Year, Says EMarketer
In 2017, eMarketer estimates that digital advertising revenues will grow to $83 billion. Leading that charge is Google with about 40% of that share of revenue, followed by Facebook with about 20%. Things are even closer when it comes to mobile revenue, with Google owning 32% of the market and Facebook owning 25%. AdWeek

Google’s Share of Search Ad Market Projected to Grow to 80% by 2019
Search Engine Journal reports: “According to research firm eMarketer, Google is projected to hold 80% of the search ad market by 2019. As of last year, Google held 75.8% of the search ad market and this year it is currently holding on to 77.8%.” Search Engine Journal

Snapchat Receives Poor Grades From Marketers
Marketers are reporting seeing low return from advertising on Snapchat. According to a recent study, Snapchat was outperformed by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo and YouTube. The media platform did, however, outperform AOL. Ad Age

Ad Exchange Launches, Aims To Transform Ad Inventory Into Standardized Securities
MediaPost reports: “There’s a new ad exchange, and it’s not programmatic. The NYIAX (New York Interactive Advertising Exchange), launched on Tuesday, aims to change ad inventory into standardized securities. The NYIAX will run on the Nasdaq’s technology infrastructure and be platform-agnostic.” MediaPost

1055% higher share rate on Facebook native videos
Social media analytics provider quintly published a new study which found that users interact with Facebook videos at a 109.67% higher rate than they do YouTube videos, and that users are sharing Facebook videos at a 477.76% higher rate. quintly

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. In the meantime, check out the @toprank feed or our YouTube channel!

The post Online Marketing News: Netflix Teaches B2B, Email Benchmarks & Facebook is a Copycat appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 17th 2017 Online Marketing

Broad Vs. Niche Content: How to Find the Right Content Marketing Balance

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’Cause whether you’re high or low, you gotta tip on the tightrope.” –Janelle Monae

Content marketing can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope through treacherous crosswinds. On one side, you have the need for brand recognition: Followers, likes, shares, all the metrics that make marketers feel good.

On the other, there’s the need to prove effectiveness through lead capture, conversions, and closed deals. These metrics used to be the sales department’s problem. As marketing becomes more data-driven, though, marketers are increasingly held responsible for proving their contribution to revenue.

Sometimes we end up swaying from one side to the other, constantly over-correcting. It’s hard to make forward progress if you’re just trying to keep your footing.

The good news is, once you find the right balance you can quickly pick up speed. You can make minor adjustments to make even more progress. You can attract the right audience and help lead them to a purchase decision.

Let’s take a look at two unbalanced ways to approach the problem, then explore what a healthy balance looks like.

Approach #1: Fill the Top of the Funnel

This marketing mentality comes from a reasonable place. Your pipeline is a funnel that has more people at the top and fewer at the bottom. So the more you fill the top, the more paying customers you will eventually acquire. Right?

So you create content that’s maximized for clicks and sharing. Let’s say your company makes artisanal handcrafted backscratchers. But you see a trending video with a dog jumping into a pool. So you make a compilation video of dogs jumping into pools. It’s a great video and it goes viral.

The problem is, if the content is irrelevant to your actual product offering, you’re hitting the wrong audience.

You can’t ask that audience to take the next step, because they haven’t taken a first step.

Approach #2: Focus on the Bottom of the Funnel

So pulling in a broad but irrelevant audience doesn’t work. Why not take it to the other extreme, and focus on the people that you know are interested in your product? They’re more likely to go straight from your content to a purchase decision.

That means creating content that convinces people your backscratcher is the best. Videos that highlight the hours spent lovingly whittling each backscratching tine. Blog posts about how most backscratchers use fake leather to wrap the handle, highlighting your genuine leather handles.

Anyone in the market for a backscratcher would be a fool to buy any other brand after reading your content.

But how many people are already in the market? How many even know there are multiple backscratching options out there?

Most importantly, how many people with itchy backs will never see your content? They’re not searching “what’s the best backscratcher,” they’re searching, “upper back skin irritation.”

This approach can capture a fraction of your potential audience, but leaves the majority out in the cold.

Four Tips for an Effective Content Balance

It should be clear by now that neither approach is going to keep you moving forward on your marketing tightrope. Here’s how to find the balance that will let you sprint down that rope to your next big goal.

#1: All Content Should Single Out Your Audience

Regardless of funnel stage, every piece of content you create should be relevant to your audience in some way. That means clearly defining who your audience is… but also defining who your audience is not. Don’t create content for people who want the cheapest backscratcher. They’re not your people. Focus on people who are likely to be moved by your value proposition.

#2: Create a High Ratio of Top of Funnel Content

Most organizations have more bottom of funnel content than top—like I said, it’s easier to connect that content to revenue. However, depending on your audience, you should have more top of funnel content than any other type. Just keep in mind the first point: It needs to be relevant content designed to be a first step towards a purchase.

#3: Don’t Neglect Mid-Funnel Content

It’s important to address the area between “my back itches sometimes, but whatever” and “I need a $100 artisanal backscratcher.” The middle of the funnel is where you can provide the most value to your potential audience. You’re positioning the brand as an authority in your industry, providing helpful information, improving your audience’s lives and earning trust. It’s a crucial step in the process.

#4: Bring It Home with Bottom of Funnel Content

In a well-balanced content plan, you will likely create the least amount of bottom of funnel content. That’s okay, because your early content was relevant and your middle content led the buyer further in their buyer’s journey. Now you just need a few pieces that speak directly to your different audience segments.

Each piece should show one segment exactly why your solution is right for them. One might talk about the sustainable hardwood in your backscratchers, another about durability, another might be an industry study on how well different brands of backscratcher alleviate an itch.

Check Your Balance

How can you tell if your content is perfectly balanced? Check your analytics. If you’re getting tons of impressions in search results but no clicks, or lots of page traffic but no response to your CTA, your top of funnel content needs to be more relevant.

If you have a high conversion percentage but low overall traffic, you’re too focused on the bottom. If you get plenty of blog subscribers but no purchases, that’s likely a middle funnel deficit.

Keep making adjustments to better give your potential customers what they need. As you balance your content, you’re likely to find traffic and conversions rising.

In other words, if you scratch their backs… they’ll scratch yours.

Need more help finding your balance? Learn how TopRank Marketing does content marketing.


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March 16th 2017 Online Marketing

5 Psychological Factors That Affect Your Sales

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People don’t make any purchases like they used to. Most of them make their buying decisions on Google, other buyers are done digitally. Each customer typically uses different interaction channels to finish their buying journey.

Using the common acclaim in sales and digital marketing is imperative, but many companies are still behind with their efforts. You often hear this phrase: "We know that it is very important, but we don’t know where to start". Most business owners should spend enough time on sales.

Convincing your customers should be one of the key jobs for each marketer and advertiser. They always face two important problems that can affect your business decision-taking process. First of all, what you need to do, and, secondly, how to get moving. To grow your sales and improve your brand awareness, you should take the advantage of five psychological factors that can explain and impact on customers’ decision-making.

1. Use social proof to boost sales

As you know people love to be a part of something big. They love to feel their peers accept a product before they make a crucial decision. There are various social proof tactics that can affect your sales. You can use product reviews, polls, surveys, expert or celebrity approval, etc.

The approach of social proof is closely associated with the approach of liking. We all are social creatures and we like everything that delights the eye. Other people do that as well. Everything that displays the popularity of your products and your website can enhance a response.

Many studies reveal that 70% of consumers rely on product reviews before your decision-making. Make sure that product reviews are more reputable than product descriptions made by manufacturers. This tactic is perfectly demonstrated by Bestmattress Brand that provides a list of the most popular mattress and beds reviews.

Description: seochat social proof.png

Make sure that product reviews are not the only way to show social proof. You can also use other ways to increase sales:

  1. Polls and surveys. Most of companies use this tactic when they state like "92% of clients are pleased with their purchases".
  2. Expert or celebrity approval. Many brands take after this strategy to increase sales. Influencer or celebrity words mean a lot in a certain industry.
  3. Follower counts. Using social media icon on a page that shows a number of followers and shares is a good form of social proof. When people see these tickers, they are more likely to share it themselves.

2. Use the principle of consistency and commitment

Many brands go all out to be consistent in their actions and works – even they do things that are totally unwise. If you want to highlight something in your product or make changes in your life, it will be useful to state your benefits publicly. As soon as you do it out loud or online, you should build up more incentives to complete your sales deal.

As a marketer, if you want to get more clients, you need to make a good commitment to your brand. For example, you can use like sign up for the newsletter or try out for free. This is one of the most effective principles behind WorkExaminer:

Description: commitment.png

But if you actually don’t offer products or services, for example, you offer online courses or tutorials, even if there is no official commitment, you will get more chances to increase your sales. For example, WHSR demonstrates it in a proper way. They make it as coherent as possible – download now, start e-course and read review.

Description: whsr.png

I also love Zappos’ shipping and returns policy that provides less dissidence for customers. If they don’t like anything, they can easily return it. This is a good commitment to increase sales.

3. Use free offers

It is common knowledge that people love all free things. No matter what you write or post, as soon as people view the word "free", they will stop and study your offers. Even if you provide offers that don’t intrigue people, some customers will respond you, just because it is free.

Description: free offers.gif

Each marketer or advertiser should get the value of "free". When customers shop online and understand that they need to spend $10 to get free shipping, they will add another product to their shopping cart to get this free shipping.

Description: free.gif

Make sure that another $10 or more can boost the size of your transaction. That’s why 60% of companies use and think this marketing tool like " free shipping with conditions" the most effective. When it comes to e-commerce companies, free shipping and trials are enough to convert leads into customers.

Based on the research from Duke professor Dan Ariely, free offers give us an emotional snatch that we feel what is being offered as tremendously valuable than it can be. It should imperative for you to use this factor to your advantage.

4. Boost desire using the scarcity principle

The principle of scarcity is one of the most effective ones that highly motivate people by the thought not to lose something important. If someone tells you about something that you don’t have, – man, you will want to have it.

Online marketers use this principle to offer their products and services that can soon be disappeared or somebody attempts to discontinue a certain product. It is important to use deadlines for your sales. Lily Pulitzer counts seconds when sale prices will be unavailable.

Description: scarcity.jpg

Another online shop ModMom use the principle "out-of-stock announcements". You need to hurry up to get this product –  only 3 left!

Description: scarcity-example.jpg

Seasonal or limited sales are another great tactic to attract more sales. The fact that the product is kind of limited within a certain period of time really motivates people and make them feel like a chance to "win" it.

Description: seasonal sales.png

5. Integrate the appearance of authority

Most of famous companies are inclined to the principle of authority. People seem hard-wired to respond to influencers.  When people see a man in a white coat that tells something important about products, it will build up the compliance effect for all volunteers.

If you have some secret content of your products, you can integrate the credentials from professionals like Herbalife:

Description: herbalife.jpg

Showing different course books are another good example of authority. Especially, if you use books with big names and they share their secrets of awesome sauces or other dishes:

Description: cookbook-village.jpg

Summing up…

There are a bunch of other psychological factors that affect your sales, but these five referenced in this post stand out in recent years as the most effective factors in online marketing.

Whether you use the principle of authority, scarcity, social proof, etc, it’s evident that online marketers can easily integrate these psychological impacts to increase online sales and income flow.

Sprinkle these factors across the website and watch how your sales go up!

The post 5 Psychological Factors That Affect Your Sales appeared first on SEO Chat.

March 16th 2017 Google, Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: State of Digital Marketing, New Geostickers & Top B2B Channels

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SEJ Annual Report: State of Digital Marketing 2017
Search Engine Journal conducted their annual study and found some fascinating statistics. For example, 42% of respondents allocate almost all of their digital budget to PPC and display advertising, and 62% of marketers surveyed listed Facebook as their preferred social platform. Search Engine Journal

New Geostickers in Instagram Stories for New York City and Jakarta
If you are using Instagram in New York or Jakarta, you may have noticed a new feature – Geostickers. When you take a photo, you can click on the sticker icon and the Geostickers will appear. This is coming from a long line of changes Instagram is making that look — probably non-coincidentally — a lot like Snapchat. Instagram

The Top Digital Channels for Generating B2B Leads
New research from DemandWave showed that 95% of B2B marketers are using social media, 93% are using email and 91% are using organic. Interestingly, 73% said email was their top driver of leads, followed by 70% who said organic and 55% that said social media. MarketingProfs

Facebook Is Giving All Advertisers Cross-Platform Stats in Its Latest Push for Transparency
Facebook’s measurement department, comprised of some of the old Atlas team, has created a measurement dashboard that allows marketers to see cross-network stats to help them analyze their Facebook and Instagram campaigns, along with ads that run on Facebook’s publisher partner sites. AdWeek

Prove Your Impact: The 2017 Digital Marketing Analytics Performance Report
A new study from TrackMaven shows insights into social network engagement and audiences, top-of-funnel blog content, PR performance, and overall website health by industry. TrackMaven

Google rolls out free Data Studio globally, improves filters & other features
Marketing Land reports: Google has now rolled out the free version of its reporting tool, Data Studio, globally and made several improvements to the tool, including filters and analytics segments.” Marketing Land

Twitter Hears Advertisers: ‘We Want to Buy Like We Do on TV’
According to Advertising Age, “Twitter is now offering some advertisers guarantees on video ads, a step of maturation for the company that makes its ad product similar to a TV-style buy.” Pre-roll ads will be counted according to Media Ratings Council standards, and Integral Ad Science and third parties like it are confirming the results. Ad Age

A new Google tool actually lets you search videos for specific objects
Google released their new Cloud Video Intelligence tool that allows users to search one or more videos using keywords and get a list of results that detail where in the video you can find objects relevant to your search. Mashable

What were your top news stories of this week?

We’ll be back next week with more top online marketing news stories! Have something to share? Tweet it to @toprank.

The post Online Marketing News: State of Digital Marketing, New Geostickers & Top B2B Channels appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 10th 2017 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: 139 Instagram Stats, Overweight Online Ads and Content Insights

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139 Stats and Facts About Instagram [Infographic]
A new infographic has highlighted 139 fun facts and stats about Instagram. Notably, the network brought in an estimated $1.53 billion in advertising revenue and accounted for 8.4% of Facebook’s total advertising revenue. Another fun tidbit – if Selena Gomez were a country, and her followers were a population, she’d be the 12th most populous country in the world. MarketingProfs

40% of Online Ads Are Found to Be Overweight and Slow Sites
A recent report showed that 40% of online ads are ‘overweight’ and are slow to load, causing advertisers’ content to not show up to users. Publishers like Business Insider have taken measures to notify their advertisers that their ads need to be within a certain size to guarantee visibility. Ad Age

5 Research Insights to Drive Your Content Marketing
Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs’ annual survey showed there are very specific drivers of content marketing success: Increased efficiency and quality, strategy development, adequate time allocation and management support, to name a few. Content Marketing Institute

Snapchat Is Growing Thanks to Older Americans, While Millennial Usage Declines
Snapchat grew to 70.4 million users this year, with 45-54 year-olds being the fastest growing demographic. However, those users still only account for 6.4% of all Snapchat users. AdWeek

YouTube viewers now consuming 1B hours of video content a day
Marketing Land reports: “YouTube says people around the world are now consuming a billion hours of video content per day on the site. According to the announcement, the milestone was reached last year, but YouTube only shared the news [Monday].” Marketing Land

Instagram now allows multi-photo posts and extended Carousel Ads
Instagram users are now allowed to share multiple photos and videos in one post, and the platform has increased carousel units to 10 different photos and videos. For advertisers, carousels can serve as visual storytelling for campaigns, increasing interest of the viewer and campaign awareness. ClickZ

Customer Brand Satisfaction Drives Email Engagement, Study Shows
A recent study shows that happy customers are more engaged in branded emails — half of consumers surveyed said they often or always subscribe to a brand’s email list if they’re satisfied with their products or services. Conversely, only 23% of unsatisfied customers often or always subscribe to that brand’s email list. MediaPost

Facebook’s Rolling Out a New Page Inbox to Manage Page, Messenger and Instagram Comments in One Place
Social Media Today reports: “Facebook’s rolling out an update for Pages that changes the standard “Messages” tab into a redesigned “Inbox”. This Inbox will enable brands to manage their Messenger messages, Facebook posts, and Instagram comments in one centralized hub, reducing the need to log in on different platforms to manage communications.” Social Media Today

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

I’ll be back next week with more online marketing news. If you have something to share, sound off in the comments or Tweet to @toprank!

The post Online Marketing News: 139 Instagram Stats, Overweight Online Ads and Content Insights appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

March 3rd 2017 Online Marketing

Online Marketing News: Mobile Email Stats, YouTube Kills 30-Second Ads and Execs on IoT

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Your Guide to Email-Open Statistics on Mobiles [Infographic]
Well over half of all email users are opening their email on mobile devices. It’s important that marketing emails are mobile friendly, because although a majority of emails are being opened on mobile, most conversions are coming from desktop. MarketingProfs

YouTube Kills 30-Second Unskippable Mobile Ads for Shorter and More Interactive Formats
Beginning on January 1, 2018, YouTube will kill the unskippable 30-second ads users see on mobile videos. Brands can still buy 20-second and 6-second bumper ads. YouTube has reportedly made this change as part of their ‘commitment to providing better ad experience’. AdWeek

73% Of Execs See Internet Of Things Impact On Business
A recent study showed that 73% of business executives said the Internet of Things had at least some impact on their business, while 21% said it has a major impact. However, there are a number of obstacles in the way – high cost of investment, concerns about security and regulation among others. MediaPost

Reports: Digital, especially mobile, driving trillions in offline retail spending
Digital media contributed to a reported $1.26 trillion in local retail sales in 2016, according to a recent report from Forrester. This is a large section of the overall $4.5 trillion local retail sales last year. Forrester predicts that in 2021, mobile devices will influence $1.4 trillion in local retail sales. MarketingLand

Google to sunset Google Site Search by end of 2017
Search Engine Land reports: “Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are discontinuing support for the Google Site Search product. Google said they are directing those consumers to either the ad-powered product named free custom search engine or the new cloud search product.” Search Engine Land

Google fights online trolls with new tool
The Washington Post reports: On Thursday, [Google] publicly released an artificial intelligence tool, called Perspective, that scans online content and rates how “toxic” it is based on ratings by thousands of people.” That ‘toxicity score’ will help users determine whether or not they want to participate in the conversation. The Washington Post

On Snapchat’s Ad Performance, in Comparison to Industry Benchmarks
A recent report was published that showed around 69% of SnapChat users either always or often skip ads. That figure increases to 80% among their top audience – 18 to 24-year-olds. But those numbers are far less shocking when compared to other media giants like YouTube and Facebook. Social Media Today

Google Reduces Star Rating Threshold: Why Businesses Should Take Notice
Google has lowered the threshold of reviews it takes for your ‘stars’ to show up next to your company’s business listings from five reviews to one. To combat the potential negative effects of one bad review, Search Engine Journal has a few tips, like following up with an email, and asking your customers for reviews. Search Engine Journal

What were your top online marketing news stories this week?

We’ll be back next week with more online marketing news stories! Have something to share? Tweet it to @toprank or share in the comments.

The post Online Marketing News: Mobile Email Stats, YouTube Kills 30-Second Ads and Execs on IoT appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

February 24th 2017 Online Marketing

The QuickStart Guide to Using Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility

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There are many powerful SEO tools in today’s marketing world. Most SEO tools can be highly beneficial, but often come with a cost associated with it. However, there are some tools that smart marketers can leverage to assist with the variety of tasks needed on a given day.

One tool that smart marketers can leverage for SEO is Google Search Console. This free tool provided by Google is a great way to gain insights about your site in one main platform. Google Search Console is often underutilized by search marketing teams. To help you get the most benefit from Google Search Console, we outlined the four main areas within the tool to help you reach your search marketing objectives. Before we get into the four main areas within Google Search Console, let’s discuss what the tool even is.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free web-based SEO tool for webmasters to track both the indexing and crawling stats from Googlebot while also providing metrics to help optimize a website for organic visibility. This SEO tool is useful to monitor metrics and discover new insights to help increase your organic footprint.

Google states that anyone with a website should use Google Search Console. One great thing about Google Search Console is that it is easy to use for whoever has access to the property.

Google Search Console Setup and Verification

The first step to using Google Search Console is the setup and verification process. You will want to create a Google Search Console property for each version of your site including:

  • http://example.com
  • http://www.example.com
  • https://example.com
  • https://www.example.com
  • Any other subdomains

You will get the complete view by setting up all the versions of your domain. Besides setting up properties for each version, you can also setup properties for an individual subfolder on your site. By setting up a property for a subfolder, you will be able to see metrics for a specific section of your site, which can be beneficial for large sites.

 

After you created your property, you will need to verify the site. There are multiple ways to verify your property within Google Search Console, including:

  • HTML file upload – Upload an HTML file to your site
  • HTML tag – Add a meta tag to your site’s home page
  • Domain name provider – Sign in to your domain name provider
  • Google Analytics – Use your Google Analytics account
  • Google Tag Manager – Use your Google Tag Manager account

We recommend the verification method that would be the easiest and most efficient for your site. The most common verification methods we recommend are either via Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager. Otherwise, we typically recommend adding the HMTL tag to the site’s header.

Search Appearance

One of the first main sections of Google Search Console is the “Search Appearance” section. This section is important for webmasters to understand how their website is currently setup and how it may potentially show up on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Within the search appearance section is information regarding structured markup, rich cards, HTML improvements (metadata information), and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) setup.

 

Each area within this section is important to track monthly, but the HTML improvements area provides insights that is helpful when optimizing a website. This area can surface insights regarding duplicate meta descriptions and title tags. It also states when content is non-indexable, which can make a significant difference when prioritizing your optimization efforts.

Search Traffic

The next section in Google Search Console is the “Search Traffic” section. This section provides insights regarding the keywords your site is showing up for, linking metrics from external and internal sources, any manual actions, international targeting metrics, and the mobile usability of your website.

Each area within the Search Traffic section is important, but the majority of your time will most likely be found analyzing the Search Analytics tab. The Search Analytics tab shows the keywords that your site is showing up for. You can break down the tab into multiple subsections between clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. If that isn’t enough for you already, you can then dive deeper into the metrics by individual pages, keywords, countries, devices (desktop, mobile, tablet), search type (web, images, videos), search appearance (AMP or rich snippets), and the date range (within 90 days).

The search analytics tab is a very powerful SEO tool. You can analyze your site for keyword opportunities on a page or a section of your site. You can also drill down into how your mobile keywords are performing compared to your desktop keywords. At TopRank Marketing, we use this tab to identify SEO strategies to help increase organic visibility by re-optimizing content that has multiple keywords ranking on the bottom of page one or the top of page two. We also use the tab to guide the creation of our content plans for different SEO campaigns.

The second tab you should spend more time on is the mobile usability tab. This tab outlines if your website is mobile friendly or not. It is important to stay on top of any mobile usability issues so that your site renders correctly for all types of devices, especially with Google moving to the mobile-first index.

Google Index

The third section in Google Search Console is the “Google Index” section. This section is useful to understand how many pages are included Google’s index and if there are any blocked resources on your site. The index status tab is useful when analyzing if Google is indexing all the pages you want included in the SERPs. It is good to check the pattern of the index status of your website so that the number of pages is growing consistently or not dropping off quickly randomly.

 

The blocked resources tab is a great way to easily identify if certain pages are blocked from Googlebot. Make sure you check this tab to optimize the crawling of the pages/resources that you want being crawled by Googlebot.

You can also remove URLs temporarily from the Google index with the remove URLs tab. This tab is useful when you need to remove a page quickly. As a note, the tab only removes the page temporarily (around 90 days) and you still will need to update your site to permanently remove the page.

Crawl

The last main section of Google Search Console is the “Crawl” section. This section provides smart marketers information regarding broken pages or files on the website, crawl stats from Googlebot, and URL parameter information. The section also provides tools to submit your content to Google, test your robots.txt file and submit your sitemap to Google.

The crawl errors tab is one of the more important areas within Google Search Console. This tab shows the URLs that might be broken from both internal and external sources. At TopRank Marketing, we often recommend implementing 301 redirects for the crawl errors that actually were pages at some point. It is important to audit the list to make sure you are not implementing redirects that are not needed.

Another useful tab is the sitemaps area, because you can submit your sitemap to Google to make it easier for your site to be crawled and indexed. Similarly, you can also submit individual pages to Google with the fetch as Google tool. The fetch as Google tool is a great way to get your updated content indexed quickly.

 

Use Google Search Console to Help Increase Your Organic Visibility

Google Search Console is a very powerful SEO tool for multiple reasons. We recommend using Google Search Console when running SEO campaigns to maximize your visibility and to plan the overall strategy. To increase your organic visibility for other search engines, make sure you use Bing Webmaster Tools as well to gain more insights.


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The QuickStart Guide to Using Google Search Console to Increase SEO Visibility | http://www.toprankblog.com

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February 23rd 2017 Online Marketing, SEO

Three Crucial Truths for Engaging Your Audience on Mobile

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My eight-year-old son recently asked me why the icons for “phone” look so weird. None of these images look like a phone to him:

 

 

 

 

 

Smartphones have already killed payphones and landlines. Now they’re poised to do the same to desktops and laptops. Google is already reporting more mobile searches than desktop searches. Desktop internet use has stagnated while mobile eats up an ever bigger share of our internet time.

It’s clear that the future of content consumption will increasingly be on mobile devices. There’s definitely still value in long-form content for users to settle in with on desktops. But your content strategy should include a healthy dose of mobile optimized content.

To fully take advantage of the opportunity, we need to understand how people use their mobile screens and alter our content accordingly.

Here are three big truths you need to know to create compelling mobile content.

#1: Your Audience Is in between Activities

People reach for their phones to fill a quick moment in time. They’re in the doctor’s office waiting room, or boiling water for pasta, or (let’s be honest) in the bathroom. Most people don’t pull out the phone thinking, “I’m going to settle in and read for an hour.” They’re planning on being interrupted.

Plan your content for someone who could put away their device at any time:

  • Frontload the value. Don’t be coy or mysterious. Now is not the time to build tension for a big reveal later. The first few paragraphs should let the reader know what’s in it for them.
  • Keep It Short. Jacob Baadsgaard at Disruptive Advertising did a fascinating experiment on content length. They found while mid-length content performed best on desktop, the shortest version of the same content performed best on mobile.
  • Don’t be shy with the CTA. More likely than not, your mobile reader isn’t going to reach the end of your content. Embed your CTA early on in the text.

#2: Your Audience Is Extremely Restless

People on mobile phones are not renowned for their patience. Google reports that although the average mobile site loads in seven seconds, most users are ready to bolt after just two.

Even if your page loads in quickly, you have a drastically-reduced window of time to capture reader attention.

Show them your content is worth the investment:

  • Include optimized, eye-catching images. Librestock is a good source for unique, royalty-free photos.
  • Make your headline tweetable. Your headline should be as sharp and efficient as a well-crafted tweet. Give readers a what and why before they get to your copy.
  • Avoid backscrolling. Give each section a header, and make sure each stands alone—your reader should be able to stop and come back hours later without having to reread.

#3: Your Audience Wants to Be Entertained

Even with the sum of human knowledge at our fingertips, mobile audiences are starved for entertainment. It’s what keeps us scrolling through Reddit or Buzzfeed, looking for a worthy distraction.

Multimedia can be a great way to differentiate your content and grab attention. There are plenty of ways to provide a more compelling experience on a limited budget.

Try these tools and techniques for engaging multimedia on mobile:

  • Animated video. Turn your images into a slideshow with animated text. Programs like Ripl can create nifty video for free, with advanced options for a premium.
  • Interactive Quizzes. Sites like Qzzr make it easy to create quizzes that are naturally optimized to look great on mobile. Qzzr also provides stats for the quiz’s creator, including number of times taken, time spent, completion rate, and more.
  • Infographics. No discussion of compelling visuals would be complete without Canva. Their templates make it possible to make a scrollworthy infographic without having to get a design degree first.

Don’t Be a Payphone in a Smartphone World

The majority of your audience is looking for content on mobile. Serve them content that suits the medium: Lead with the value, don’t give them a reason to bounce, and try some engaging multimedia content.

Most of all, make sure your content leads to the next step. Because while mobile may account for 60% of online traffic, it contributes only 16% of purchases. A solid content marketing strategy can span devices and help guide your customer to a conversion.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. |
Three Crucial Truths for Engaging Your Audience on Mobile | http://www.toprankblog.com

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February 22nd 2017 Online Marketing

Does Your Website Pass the Mobile Test?

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It is hard to argue that the adoption of mobile devices hasn’t exploded with popularity. Most searches are being performed on mobile devices, with more searches expected to continue on mobile.

Mobile is not only important for organic performance but for conversions from all types of traffic including email and paid channels. It is important to understand your mobile traffic to focus on the channels that convert the most on those devices. For some websites, mobile devices might bring in the majority of your traffic but the conversions might not be as high as desktop searches, because of less focus on the mobile experience.

Today, most websites are built with a responsive design to help make it mobile friendly, but that doesn’t mean marketers should stop there. Instead, marketers should optimize the entire mobile experience to enhance conversions and overall performance. To help you out, we built a list of actionable tips to make sure your site is mobile friendly from three categories: SEO for mobile devices, mobile content, and mobile conversions.

Mobile SEO Tactics

#1 – Choosing the right mobile website setup

When choosing your website setup, make sure you understand what mobile design you want. There are three main types of mobile sites including:

  • Responsive design
  • Dynamic site
  • Mobile only site (m.example.com)

Google recommends using a responsive design for your website to help make sure it is mobile friendly, but any option works when done correctly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Analyze your audience to understand what the best option is for your site. Not all sites need to have a responsive design, considering a mobile only site can be tailored to your mobile audience easier in some cases.

 

#2 – Test your site for mobile friendliness

There are multiple ways to test if your site is mobile friendly including the Google Usability Test, Google Search Console report, and Chrome Developer tools. Use multiple tools to be sure that your mobile site is rendering correctly instead of assuming that your site is mobile friendly.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use the Chrome Developer Tools to get a better idea of how your website looks like on certain devices by selecting the “inspect” element. Then in the bottom left-hand corner, select the button that looks like a mobile device (see below).

The screenshot below shows the look on a mobile device. You can choose between a responsive site by pixel size or actual mobile phones by selecting the drop down at the top of the screen.

 

#3 – Optimize your metadata

Mobile SERPs (search engine results page) have less real estate for organic listings than desktop SERPs. It is important to understand the search landscape and SERP space available to market yourself over your competitors.

TopRank Marketing tip: Keep your title tags shorter and more concise to avoid your title tags being cut off in the SERP. It is best practice to keep your title tags under, at least, 70 characters for your title tags.

 

#4 – Optimize for mobile keywords

Have you ever conducted a search with a “near me” signifier attached to it? Near me searches are increasing and doubled in 2015 for all types of users, but especially for mobile users. Mobile keywords can also include more voice queries that people conduct with their phones.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make sure you conduct keyword research for mobile users and target mobile keywords. The search intent of a keyword query can vary based on the device people use so optimizing for all types of keywords will help increase your visibility.

 

#5 – Content for mobile devices

There are multiple types of content that should be considered when creating content for mobile users and your audience. Most marketers are already considering the type of content to write for their website on the attract, engage, convert model, but there sometimes is a lack of focus on mobile consumption habits. Mobile consumption habits can change depending on the industry, so it is important to consider how your audience interacts with your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: If you are are sending email campaigns, consider your audience’s mobile consumption habits. Most emails are consumed on mobile devices (see below). Create all your content that you are promoting via your email or social media channels to be mobile friendly.

 

Image via: cdn.emailtoday.com

 

#6 – Geotargeting on your mobile app

If you have a larger audience that uses your mobile app, you might want to consider geotargeting the users when they are close to a storefront, event, or at a specific location. Geotargeting is a great way to encourage action from your audience when they are located in the right areas at the right time.

TopRank Marketing tip: Consider using different imagery and messaging for users in different locations when they are using your app or website. Also, consider sending notifications to mobile app users to entice action when they are at a physical location.

 

Mobile Content Creation

#1 – Consider the content length and types

Consider the length and type of content you are creating for your audience, both on mobile and desktop. As we already covered, there typically is a difference in search intent for users on mobile devices compared to desktop computers. With that in mind, you need to be customer-focused and analyze where your audience is within the funnel for your content assets.

TopRank Marketing tip: Develop audience personas to understand the way your audience searches online. Personas can be a powerful tool when creating content for your website.

 

#2 – Make sure to communicate the value quickly

It is important to communicate your value clearly and quickly to mobile users. Often, banners sometimes push the value proportion below the fold, which may increase the amount of bounces on the page and confuse users where they are on your website.

TopRank Marketing tip: Reduce the amount of unnecessary space or elements on your mobile device to only include what is needed. Less is often more when you are dealing with the limited amount of space on a mobile device.

 

#3 – App optimization

Mobile websites are a must for your online strategy, but apps can provide even a better user experience. Not all companies need to develop and create a mobile app, but for the ones that do, you need to optimize those experiences. Apps should be tailored to solving the user’s problem or creating an unique experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Optimize your app for the user experience to solve your audience’s problem. After you create your app, make sure you optimize your App store listing to increase your visibility on other channels.

 

#4 – QR codes

QR codes are another solid tactic to add to the dedicated mobile experience. When used correctly, you can push users directly to a location easily with QR codes on psychical flyers or other traditional marketing materials.

TopRank Marketing tip: Test using QR codes on physical marketing materials to push people to a section online with their mobile phones that offers an experience dedicated to them.

 

#5 – SMS messaging

SMS messaging is a way to help you get in front of more of your audience via messaging apps. SMS messaging can be a powerful tool to send notifications to your audience that opted in to encourage specific actions or enhance customer experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your messages personal to help encourage action. Also, make sure to include a clear CTA within the message to see the most value out of your campaign.

 

Mobile Conversions

#1 – Manually audit your layout on your responsive design

Your site might not be mobile friendly even though it might have a responsive design. A responsive site is typically better than a non-mobile site but sometimes issues can still arise. Some issues we typically see are videos not formatted to the correct screen size, the layout pushes the content below the fold, or the font size is too small.

There could be a vast majority of other issues with a responsive design, so make sure you optimize the layout of each page type.

TopRank Marketing tip: Look at what screen size is being utilized the most on your website within Google Analytics. Navigate in your Google Analytics dashboard to go to Audience ? Mobile ? Overview ? Screen Size to quickly analyze what screen size to optimize for first.

 

#2 – Consider your thumb reach

Make sure you consider the thumb reach to encourage action on your mobile design. Making your users reach and work out their thumb can create friction and a low-quality user experience.

TopRank Marketing tip: Make your CTAs within a thumbs reach to improve conversions. Also, consider using sticky headers to help mobile users navigate quickly through your site.

 

#3 – Site speed

Site speed has become more important as a ranking factor for search engines, and rightly so. A fast loading site helps provide a solid user experience and can help increase the crawl rate of the site by search engines. All marketers should be focusing on site speed as a priority item. Below are some tools to test your site speed:

TopRank Marketing tip: Test your mobile site with multiple different tools to get a holistic view on site speed aspects. Prioritize the site speed items to get the most ROI from the work instead of optimizing for every site speed item.

 

#4 – Image optimization

Similarly to site speed, optimizing images will help site speed and user experience. A responsive site often uses the same image that is not probably sized for each device screen.

TopRank Marketing tip: Use different image sizes that can be used at different viewports to pull in images that are the correct size for the device.

 

#5 – Form Optimization

Congratulations! Someone has decided to start filling out a form on your site. That is a great goal to accomplish, but nothing is more disappointing than losing that user after they choose to abandon the form. Optimizing your forms for mobile users is a great way to increase conversions.

TopRank Marketing tip: Adjust the type of the keyboard for mobile users to use the right one for the form fields. For example, use the keyword field to show numbers for phone number fields and a different keyboard for email fields.

 

Your Optimized Mobile Experience

Above are some actionable tactics that you might want to optimize for your mobile website. There are even more areas and opportunities to optimize on your mobile website than listed above. If you’d like to find out if your website passes the mobile test, contact us today to receive a mobile optimization audit.


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February 16th 2017 Online Marketing, SEO