Archive for July, 2012

Want Links to Your Website? Be Unique & Expand Your Marketing

July 26, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

Justilien Gaspard, July 26, 2012

It’s increasingly difficult getting noticed online – that makes getting links even harder.

It’s important to take a hard look at your site and marketing strategies to determine what can be improved.

Many think their site offers something unique. After all, everyone thinks their baby is the cutest.

Honestly, most sites aren’t unique. The content (including tools, videos, etc) has already been published countless times on other sites. Different wording normally doesn’t add value.

Senior Google Engineer Matt Cutts in a recent interview said:

“Those other sites are not bringing additional value. While they’re not duplicates they bring nothing new to the table. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with what these people have done, but they should not expect this type of content to rank.”

What Makes Your Site Different?

Start by making a list of what makes your site unique. Then ask why someone would link to your site, and not a competitor.

Next, ask what type of content would one of your employees take valuable time out of their day to link to. Is this the type of content you’re producing?

When I speak of content, I’m not talking about just written content. It could be anything from videos, tools, mobile apps, cartoons, or even a contest.

Some are probably wondering how all that “OK” content currently has top rankings, and continues to acquire links. Often it’s just effective content marketing.

Once the page ranks it naturally gets more links since it receive more traffic and exposure. It feeds upon itself. It’s a phenomen known as being “filthy linking rich.”

Push Your Marketing Further

Another reason people don’t link to your site is due to limited marketing and outreach. If people aren’t aware of your content how can you expect them to link to it?

Take this example. You’re an online retailer running a contest. You’ve done the basics such as promoting it on your blog, newsletter, mailing list, and social media.

Now go a step further. Ask yourself where else can you can promote the contest.

Forget about link building. Forget about search engines. Approach this from a purely marketing and public relations perspective.

Other marketing avenues could be as simple as paying other sites to promote the contest (within Google linking guidelines of course), partnerships, or a pay-per-click (PPC) campaign.

More options include everything from guerrilla marketing to sponsoring a podcast. It all depends on your audience, and needs.

Take 30 minutes today, and make that list of what’s unique about your site. What does it bring to the web that’s new and valuable? Then figure out ways to expand the marketing of that content.

(Source: Searchenginewatch)

Got SEO?

July 25, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By Michelle Farrell

If you’re a major company in the retail or e-commerce space looking to promote your brand online in an organic and effective way, having an answer to the “Got SEO?” question is more timely and relevant than ever for your forward-looking marketing strategy.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is increasingly becoming a must-have weapon in the marketing arsenal of companies across the online arena.

Without an SEO platform run by cutting-edge enterprise SEO technology, brands increasingly find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. More importantly, brands without an SEO platform are missing out on their ability to sustain and grow a critical revenue stream derived by natural – or “organic” – online search activity.

Many brands believe that moving up their organic search rankings is a fool’s errand – thinking the effort will run up against an “iron ceiling” because it is costly and difficult.

Organic search can be one of your most profitable and important channels. But there’s a catch. Having the right SEO platform and enterprise-grade SEO technology makes all the difference – potentially millions of dollars of difference.

Not all answers to the question “Got SEO?” are created equal.

Our “long-tail” web and search footprint required an SEO solution with the ability to track pages, keyword ranking, backlinks, web analytics, competitive intelligence, social media impact, and other data. With the right solution in place, our marketing team would be able to focus on analyzing the data rather than trying to gather it.

Interestingly, for us the real challenge wasn’t reaching the decision that we needed a new SEO paradigm to drive better search efforts and revenue. It was sifting through the myriad choices of SEO partners in the clutter and white noise of the SEO marketplace. The quest for the right SEO technology and platform for us was just as important as the results we knew it would yield to our marketing and branding strategy.

What follows are some best practices when it comes to identifying SEO platforms and technology. Raising the bar in the organic search space amplifies its quality and effectiveness for both brands and the consumers you serve – and that yields dividends across the board for all search stakeholders.

Rule 1: It’s OK to Be Greedy About the SEO Data You Need

For retail marketers, it’s essential to gain insights into how SEO impacts conversions or purchases.

You may also need an SEO platform that tracks across multiple search engines.

If you have global affiliates, you may also need a solution that provides support for search engines targeted toward specific regions.

Here’s a quick data checklist of some possible things you’ll want your SEO partner to provide:

  • Side-by-side analysis of organic web analytics and paid data in the SEO platform
  • References and case studies of customers using such integration successfully
  • Proof of support for SEO tracking in global markets with an operational presence
  • Support for keywords in local languages
  • Names of live customers of global multi-nationals

Rule 2: Automation – An Automatic Must-Have

Don’t automatically assume the SEO solution put in front of you as an option does everything at the flip of a switch. Many don’t deploy SEO automation. This is a serious omission.

The whole purpose of finding the right SEO partner is to lift a burden and sift through the data on “auto-pilot.” By finding an SEO technology that collects data automatically, we can truly be the hunters of data, instead of just the gatherers. That’s a huge competitive edge.

Rule 3: Adaptation – Choose a Chameleon, Not a Snail

Google has begun announcing no less than 50 changes to its algorithm monthly, indicating how quickly SEO can evolve. Having SEO technology that can quickly adapt to this constant change in how search engines serve results can keep you ahead of the other hunters.

An SEO technology with the ability to be agile and update quickly will fuel your company’s growth. Be sure the partner offers frequent updates – don’t be shy about asking for proof.

Rule 4: Look for the SEO “Guinea Pigs”

There are plenty of known, blue-chip brands out there who have faced and tackled the SEO enigma. Big companies with big dollars have invested heavily in time and resources to find the right SEO partner and platform.

On this one, it’s OK to follow the leaders. Seeing the partnerships with big kahunas in the marketing ecosystem gave us the assurance we were looking for.

Rule 5: It’s Not All About the Benjamins

Yes, coming under budget is imperative in tough times. But choosing your SEO tools is definitely a “you get what you pay for” exercise.

Free trials and offers of the lowest-price ticket won’t get you to the distance you need in the SEO race. If you’re serious about making a long-term difference for your brand in the search arena, prudent investments now are well worth it.

Summary

Every brand should have its own rules of the road when kicking off the SEO partner and technology search – because every brand is unique and different. But mapping out your SEO goals and criteria early in the process will save you time, resources, and lots of clicks.

(Source: searchenginewatch.com)

Google Reports $12.2 Billion in Q2 2012 Revenue, 35% YoY Growth

July 20, 2012 By: admin Category: News

By Miranda Miller, July 19, 2012

Google revenues topped $10 billion for the third quarter in a row, up 15 percent from the $10.65 billion reported in Q1 2012. The Q2 2012 $12.21 billion in revenue is another new record and reflects a 35 percent increase over the same quarter last year, when Motorola is factored in.

In their pre-earnings call press release, Google quoted CEO and co-founder Larry Page on the company’s latest developments and the closed Motorola acquisition: “Google standalone had a strong quarter with 21% year-on-year revenue growth, and we launched a bunch of exciting new products at I/O – in particular the Nexus 7 tablet, which has received rave reviews.” Page continued, “This quarter is also special because Motorola is now part of the Google family, and we’re excited about the potential to build great devices for users.”

Here’s a quick break down of the Q2 numbers:

Google Sites Revenues

Google-owned sites generated revenues of $7.54 billion, or 69% of Google revenues, in the second quarter of 2012. This represents a 21% increase over second quarter 2011 Google sites revenues of $6.23 billion.

Google Network Revenues

Google’s partner sites generated revenues of $2.98 billion, or 27% of Google revenues, in the second quarter of 2012. This represents a 20% increase from second quarter 2011 Google network revenues of $2.48 billion.

International Revenues

Google revenues from outside of the United States totaled $5.96 billion, representing 54% of Google revenues in the second quarter of 2012, compared to 54% in the first quarter of 2012 and 54% in the second quarter of 2011.

Google revenues from the United Kingdom totaled $1.18 billion, representing 11% of Google revenues in the second quarter of 2012, compared to 11% in the second quarter of 2011.

Paid Clicks

Aggregate paid clicks, which include clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network members, increased approximately 42% over the second quarter of 2011 and increased approximately 1% over the first quarter of 2012.

Cost-Per-Click

Average cost-per-click, which includes clicks related to ads served on Google sites and the sites of our Network members, decreased approximately 16% over the second quarter of 2011 and increased approximately 1% over the first quarter of 2012.

Cash

As of June 30, 2012, cash, cash equivalents, and short-term marketable securities were $43.1 billion.

Employees

On a worldwide basis, we employed 54,604 full-time employees (34,311 in our Google business and 20,293 in our Motorola business) as of June 30, 2012, compared to 33,077 full-time employees as of March 31, 2012.

Google’s SVP and Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Pichette, SVP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora, and SVP of Advertising Susan Wojcicki are all expected to participate in the July 19th Q2 2012 earnings call, underway at 4:30pm ET. We’ll continue updating you on the earnings call in the Comments of this post.

(Source: Searchenginewatch.com)

Why Facebook Ad Haters Are Wrong – Here’s How Marketers Can Do Better

July 18, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By Miranda Miller, July 16, 2012

On the heels of a WSJ report Facebook and GM are in talks to rekindle their advertising relationship, after a very public break up in the days before what can be kindly described as a lackluster IPO, BBC has jumped on the bandwagon to throw stones.

In “Facebook ‘likes’ and adverts’ value doubted”, BBC’s tech correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones warns companies are wasting large sums of money on Facebook ads that largely attract those with no real interest in their products.

The BBC launched an investigation into the issue after a marketing consultant approached them to warn clients to be leery of the value of Facebook ads. They base their warning to marketers on two things, which we’ll look at in turn:

  • The experience of one social media marketing consultant, who managed Facebook ad campaigns for a number of small businesses.
  • An in-house experiment in which BBC set up one fake Page for one fake company called VirtualBagel, which had exactly zero products.

Suspicious Facebook Fans

Immediately, a number of issues pop off the page when reading the BBC’s case study, as told to them by social media marketing consultant Michael Tinmouth.

At first, they said, his clients were pleased with their Facebook ads performance. That is, until they noticed a number of problematic issues with the fans clicking through on ads to Like the Page:

  • “They were 13 to 17 years old, the profile names were highly suspicious, and when we dug deeper a number of these profiles were liking 3,000, 4,000, even 5,000 pages,” said Tinmouth.
  • Companies were targeting internationally, but getting the majority of fans from countries such as the Philippines and Egypt.
  • Some profiles were obviously fake, with impossible birthdates and work histories.

‘Not a One-Off Issue’

To confirm their suspicion that Facebook ads are being clicked by fake profiles and therefore prove this means companies are “wasting large sums of money,” the BBC set up a fake Facebook Page for a made-up company called VirtualBagel. They promptly launched an ad campaign and saw the trend reported by Tinmouth. “The number of “likes” it attracted from Egypt and the Philippines was out of proportion to other countries targeted such as the US and UK,” wrote Cellan-Jones.

Well, that’s it then, isn’t it? The trend seen by one social media marketing consultant and one fake page set up by the BBC seems to have confirmed that Facebook is rife with dodgy profiles, designed to click ads, Like pages, and waste large sums of your money.

Not so fast.

There are a few quite simple errors that might explain much of what they’re seeing. To put this in context, the conclusion drawn by the BBC based on these primitive “studies” is akin to calling all newspaper ads a waste of money because putting one in every newspaper globally doesn’t work. It’s no different than calling Google AdWords a waste of money because a campaign targeting all Google users internationally attracted useless clicks.

Tinmouth’s clients are small businesses. Why are their ads appearing in front of 13-year-olds and people from Egypt if that isn’t their target market? Without any hard data, we also have no way of knowing whether any of these companies were using other methods simultaneously to increase Likes to their Page.

BBC reports that Facebook told them “that Mr Tinmouth appeared to have sent out scattergun advertising to a global audience without specifying a target group.”

“We would never recommend that anyone conduct business in this way,” a Facebook spokesman told them.

Indeed. So why did the BBC think setting up a scattergun advertising campaign of their own would prove anything?

Facebook Targeting: Guaranteed Not to Work if it Isn’t Used

Facebook’s targeting options allow marketers to drill down to:

  • Country, County/Region, or Town/City
  • Age, by a range or exact match
  • Gender
  • Precise Interests or Broad Categories of Interests
  • Connections (already connected to page or not, connected to other pages)

Advanced Targeting goes further and allows marketers to set parameters according to personal interests, relationship status, languages, education, and workplaces.

Failing to use these targeting options or some combination thereof pretty much guarantees a failed campaign, rife with wasted clicks and lost budget. That’s a fact, just as much as failure to put together a good campaign on any platform almost guarantees failure.

Even companies selling online, internationally, need to set up campaigns targeting specific types of consumers. Will the same ad text work in Cambodia as in England? Are your 65-year old female customers with college education apt to respond to the same product benefits as your 18-year old single male students?

So here’s what a social media marketing consultant can recommend to clients seeing poor ad performance due to Likes (ad clicks) from users they aren’t targeting:

  • Set an age range that makes sense for your company and that particular campaign.
  • Target one company or geographic area per campaign. Only group together those that logically work together.
  • Test the use of combinations of different interests and connections.
  • Set an objective; as Facebook says in their targeting help documentation, “Our system will optimize your ad or sponsored story’s delivery by showing it to the people who are most likely to take the action you select as your objective.”

Most importantly, test, test, and test again.

The type of information the BBC reported is a prime example of the kind of harmful anecdotal story that winds its way through the digital world, grabbing catchy headlines, despite the very real lack of any kind of substance behind it. The experience of each company will differ and yes, there will be winners and losers. Not every advertising campaign is a success.

If the BBC wanted to conduct a study, they should have sought the expertise of a large Facebook ads management company with data at their disposal. One account’s experience does not a trend make.

You can find more tips on targeting from Facebook linked directly to the Ad Creator, in the Facebook Help Center. It says, in part:

Your ad is more likely to perform better and continue running successfully if it is being displayed to the users who are most likely to be interested in your product or service. Because of this, we recommend targeting your ads to smaller, more specific groups of users at one time.

But That’s Just the Beginning…

In the BBC’s fake bagel company “study,” what was their ad text? What was the goal of the campaign? What type of image did they use? We just don’t know.

Choosing your ad targeting is one thing, but that needs a solid foundation from which to build your campaign.

What were the companies using the social media consultant who reached out to the BBC trying to accomplish? We have no idea how these companies measure success, or even if they measure the value of a Facebook Like acquired through paid advertising as it might relate to a sale later on.

I’m not disputing that some companies waste money on Facebook ad campaigns. We have no more insight here at Search Engine Watch than the general public as far as why General Motors’ ad campaigns failed. I tend to agree with Forbes columnist TJ McCrue, who predicted in May that GM just hadn’t found their sweet spot in Facebook advertising yet and would be back in the pool within 3 to 12 months.

But does the failure of one company, no matter how large, signal a problem in the platform itself? Or is it possible that the hype surrounding Facebook’s IPO and the inability of some marketers to find the right mix is casting a public pall on an advertising platform that works quite well for most?

Until we see a large-scale, long-term study on the effectiveness of Facebook ads across a range of industries, using industry best practices as far as targeting, copywriting, image selection, etc., the “Facebook ads suck,” mantra is just conjecture. Even if large publications like repeating it.

Why Fake Facebook Profiles Shouldn’t Scare You as a Marketer

In their article, BBC points to a “major problem” with fake Facebook profiles, as explained by a representative from security firm Sophos. Facebook themselves revealed earlier this year that 5 to 6 percent of its 901 million users might be fake – representing up to 54 million profiles, said the report.

The Sophos spokesperson told the BBC, “Spammers and malware authors can mass-produce false Facebook profiles to help them spread dangerous links and spam, and trick people into befriending them.” He continued, “We know some of these accounts are run by computer software with one person puppeteering thousands of profiles from a single desk handing out commands such as: ‘like’ as many pages as you can to create a large community.”

This discussion, unfortunately, has no place in an article about the effectiveness of Facebook ads.

Is it a user safety concern? Yes.

Is it realistic that these spam puppeteers are responsible for a noticeable portion of wasted ad dollars? No.

Consider the “Why.” Why are spammers and malware authors clicking on Facebook ads that appear around the site to Like sites, rather than using the Facebook search function, where they have access to dozens or hundreds of results per keyword, all lined up neatly for the clicking on a single page? They’re likely not.

As Facebook told the BBC, “We don’t see evidence of a ‘wave of likes’ coming from fake users or ‘obsessive clickers’.”

There are three reasons a person with no interest in your company is going to click your ad on Facebook:

  • Competitor sabotage or click fraud – both against the terms of service and detectable.
  • They’re being paid to do it – unless someone else has done you the favor of buying Facebook Likes for you, you’ve done it yourself and should stop doing that. Yet services that sell Facebook Likes don’t need to go looking for ads. They know the Page URL and distribute it to their fake profile network.
  • You haven’t found the right mix and are targeting the wrong people.

It’s worth noting that you can get the wrong kind of attention and pay for bum clicks on any PPC platform; this isn’t new. It’s a risk and like all risks in business, you can manage it by being informed and making intelligent choices.

Before You Give Up On Your Facebook Ads Campaign…

Consider this:

  • Social commerce revenue could reach $30 billion by 2015, say analysts from SocialMediadd.
  • Ad recall increases on average by 55 percent for social ads compared to non-social ads, according to a Nielsen study.
  • Advertisers will spend $7.72 billion on social networks – with nearly half of that money coming from the U.S., led by Facebook, which will take in about 70 percent of all social networking spend in the U.S, according to AdAge.

As for Facebook, they have yet to report their latest earnings and will do so later in July. Their ad revenue exploded and grew 69 percent in 2011.

We could throw stats and studies and reports back and forth all day and you would be no further ahead in the long run, for your business. No two companies are going to have quite the same experience.

Like anything, advertising on Facebook takes work; maybe even moreso, as social advertising is such a new tactic. Give it time and be smart about it.

To that end, here are a few tips to increase the effectiveness of your Facebook ads campaigns:

  • If you aren’t well-versed in multi-touch attribution, at least become familiar. As Google’s Avinash Kaushik told us at SES Toronto, companies need to consider that all actions have some value to a business – you need to discover how to measure activity and determine the economic value.
  • Experiment with different ad formats, like Sponsored Stories or Premium Ads, and compare click-through rates, engagement and ROI.
  • Get creative with your headlines, ad copy, and images. Search Engine Watch columnists Noran El-Shinnaway and Merry Morud are both great resources on Facebook creative.
  • Don’t buy into the hype… and there is a lot of it going around in the wake of Facebook’s IPO. Just last week, the CEO of WPP, the world’s largest marketing group, told news outlets he had notified Facebook “the social network is great for branding, but not advertising.” This prompted doomsday reports and headlines such as CNET’s, Ad executive bashes Facebook advertising. If you read on, WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell actually said they plan to double their Facebook ads spend this year, to about $400 million. Nothing beats your own experience and while industry news about the giants in any space is interesting, it rarely applies to the masses.
  • Set goals and do the required legwork to measure whether you’ve achieved them. Facebook offers their own Insights and reports, Google Analytics added a new set of reports to help marketers more accurately measure the actual value of social media earlier this year, and there are a plethora of social media measurement dashboards on the market. There’s really no excuse anymore to “just wing it” and hope for the best on Facebook.

The BBC did marketers a bit of a disservice by jumping to such a conclusion without a real, in-depth investigation. That includes the marketer who approached them in the first place, looking for answers as to why his clients were seeing unwanted activity on their Pages as a result of their ads.

But you’re smarter than to buy hook, line, and sinker into yet another doomsday proclamation based on a small look into someone else’s experience.

Facebook ads work for some, and you’re going to be one of those who makes sure every cent spent on Facebook ads is a worthy investment. If not, cut ties based on your own experience, not the latest craze in the tech rumor mill.

Yahoo Hacked: 400,000 Passwords Stolen, List Posted Online

July 13, 2012 By: admin Category: News

V3, July 12, 2012

Yahoo has confirmed reports that some 400,000 of its user passwords were stolen in security breach.

An attacker breached company systems July 11 and lifted the data from archived information related to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Yahoo confirmed in a statement. The company said that the information included account information from Yahoo and other services.

Earlier in the day, a group of hackers posted the stolen credentials online, claiming that they weren’t looking to encourage account theft, but rather alert Yahoo and other web application providers to the risks of bad security practices.

While the information covers hundreds of thousands of users, the company contends that only a small number of the lifted passwords will actually work as log-in credentials.

“Of these, less than 5 percent of the Yahoo accounts had valid passwords,” the company said. ”We are fixing the vulnerability that led to the disclosure of this data, changing the passwords of the affected Yahoo users and notifying the companies whose users accounts may have been compromised.”

The company is advising all of users to adopt best practices for choosing and maintaining their login credentials.

This hacking goes beyond Yahoo, however, according to The New York Times:

Security researchers at Rapid7, a security company, analyzed the dumped account information and found that it included account information not just for Yahoo users but for Gmail, AOL, Hotmail, Comcast, MSN, SBC Global, Verizon, BellSouth and Live.com users. Marcus Carey, a researcher at Rapid7, found that among the data were some 106,000 Gmail accounts, 55,000 Hotmail accounts and 25,000 AOL accounts.

Security vendors were quick to point to the incident as a call for enterprises to adopt tighter protections on their databases and employ additional management tools.

Slavik Markovich chief technology officer for McAfee’s database security division, said that the breach shows the need for companies to keep a close eye on even their old and seldom-accessed data.

“It is often the case that obvious database vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords and default configuration settings, are initially overlooked and never fully remediated,” Markovich said. ”An organization’s sensitive information can never be adequately secured if it lacks dedicated tools and processes to gain complete visibility into their databases’ security weaknesses and eliminate the opportunity for the bad guys to exploit them.”

Mark Bower, vice president with Voltage Security, said the Yahoo breach reflected a need for companies to place tighter controls on how user credentials are stored and protected.

“This breach just goes to show that even big companies aren’t taking enough steps to protect critical data, and in the UK it’s an obligation under the ICO and EU Data Privacy directive to do so,” Bower said. ”If data is not protected, it is going to be breached at some point.”

This story originally appeared on V3:

Shaun Nichols wrote Yahoo confirms 400,000 passwords stolen

Twitter Advertising Guide

July 12, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

By Lisa Raehsler, July 11, 2012

Twitter has grown to over 500 million users and is expected to see ad revenues grow as well. Making most of its money from advertising, Twitter is expected to post ad revenues of $259.9 million this year, according to researcher eMarketer.

Twitter advertising is different from most of the online advertising options out there, with elements of cost-per-click, display, and social media ads all wrapped up in 140 characters or less.

Like other social ads, advertisers can form a relationship with consumers directly where they can engage with and share marketing messages.

Ads become part of the discovery process on Twitter with ads appearing in content and integrated into the users experience. They appear to be more relevant since they are shown partially based similarity of the followers the accounts have in common.

A unique feature to Twitter ads is that users can engage on multiple levels with the ads. For example, users can click on links, @reply to the ad message, retweet to share with followers, or favorite it in their public list. All of these social options are a nice bonus and differentiate it within the online advertising landscape.

Why Advertise on Twitter?

Twitter ads are best for a few common marketing objectives, including:

  • Promotions: Recommended for time sensitive events
  • Brand awareness: Allow advertisers exposure to potentially new audience
  • Followers: Pay-per-follow to grow the follower base and leverage this audience for future promotions and dialogue.

Twitter has three ad products. Let’s look at each.

1. Promoted Account

The Promoted Account is featured in Twitter search results and within the Who To Follow section. Promoted Accounts are suggested to a users based on their public list of who they follow.

When an advertiser promotes an account, Twitter identifies accounts that are similar to the advertiser’s account. Twitter may recommend the advertiser’s Promoted Account to users who follow those similar accounts. Similarity is determined by a variety of factors, including the followers that accounts share.

2. Promoted Tweets

Promoted Tweets appear directly in the timeline among non-paid tweets. Twitter regularly analyzes the engagement rate of the advertisers tweets to identify five of the most engaging to create an ad to serve to users automatically.

While a specific tweet can’t be selected, it’s possible to remove the tweets that you don’t want to promote. Also, replies and retweets will not be considered for promotion.

3. Promoted Trends

Promoted trends are featured next to the users timeline on twitter.com among the organic Twitter trends and are tailored for users based on location and who they follow.

Ads appear at the top of the trending topics list. These ads also appear on Twitter for iPhone, Twitter for Android, and Tweetdeck. Promoted Trends are currently in beta with a small selection of advertisers.

Ad Targeting

Targeting ads is not complicated as Twitter’s algorithm automatically selects which tweets to promote and which users will see them. Geo-targeting to country and DMA level is possible, as is mobile platforms.

Budgets and Bids

Budgets and bid settings on Twitter are nothing new to online advertising. Budgets are set at the promoted product (ad) level.

Daily Budget determines how budget will be managed and once the daily budget is reached the ad will no longer show.

Promoted Account ads are priced on a cost-per-follower basis with advertisers only paying for new followers gained. The recommended bid to start is $.50 to at least max of $2.50.

Promoted tweets use cost-per-click pricing and Twitter recommends $.50 to at least max of $1.50.

Twitter isn’t shy about noting that a higher bid will increase the likelihood of ads appearing. Recommended bid is suggested based on averages across all advertisers on Twitter. With continued advertising, bids are adjusted based on the historical performance of campaigns.

(Source website: searchenginewatch.com)

8 Tips for Running Social Media Promotions

July 05, 2012 By: admin Category: Marketing Tips

Have you thought of using social media contests and sweepstakes to build and engage your audience?

Previously I wrote How to Run a Successful Social Media Contest outlining some important foundational steps: be clear on your marketing objectives, know your audience, understand different promotion types and plan ahead!

If you’re looking to gain even more traction with social promotions, here are eight additional tips to enhance your next social media campaign.

Ensure Your Promotion Doesn’t Get You In Hot Water

It’s difficult to run a successful campaign if your promotion is blocked, removed or challenged in a court of law. So before we get to the fun part of marketing, there are a few logistical tips to keep in mind.

#1: Running a Facebook Promotion Requires an App

Much has been written about the Facebook Promotional Guidelines and how to run a compliant promotion. The guidelines have evolved, but the most important requirement remains the same: any promotion (i.e., something where a consumer enters for a chance to win a prize) on Facebook must be handled through an app.

If you know what you’re doing, you could develop your own Facebook app, but you might prefer to personalize an “off-the-shelf” app by a variety of companies such as North Social, Wildfire or Strutta.

Some are inexpensive and no-frills, while others provide a more robust set of features and options to connect you with your customers and personalize the experience.

If you choose a third-party app provider, choose a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer so you can feel confident you’re in compliance with Facebook’s platform policies.

#2: Twitter Promotions Must Provide Rules Disclosure

Any contest or sweepstakes must provide participants with terms and conditions of entry and Twitter is no exception. With only 140 characters to work with, this becomes one of the bigger challenges of running a Twitter-based promotion.

The easiest way to address this is to host the rules on a separate web page and include a short link when tweeting about the contest. Alternatively you can host a landing page with all of the contest details and requirements and direct traffic to that page, rather than having the interaction take place within the Twitter stream.

For larger-scale promotions, you may wish to utilize a third-party service such as CMP.LY to ensure compliance.

#3: Beware of the Lottery

No, I’m not worried about you blowing your paycheck on Powerball. But lotteries are the domain of the government and you want to ensure your promotion isn’t deemed an illegal lottery.

Any promotion that contains the following three elements is considered a lottery: prize, element of chance in winner selection and consideration (cash payment, purchase requirement or extensive effort required to enter).

Since you wouldn’t have much of a promotion without a prize, you must eliminate either chance or consideration (or best of all, both) to steer clear of potential legal concerns.

Tips to Build Buzz

Once you’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s on the legal and policy side, it’s time to think about how to drive traffic and build momentum for your promotion.

#4: Make it Easy for Users to Share

This is the most important tip when it comes to marketing. Much of the value in a social promotion comes from the increased ease for participants to share your promotion through their social graph.

One of the reasons contests such as “Retweet to Win” are so popular is the nearly frictionless sharing. If you’re using an app on Facebook to encourage viral sharing, ensure that the sharing options are easy and intuitive.

However, it’s also important to be aware that over-sharing can lead to the perception of spam, so it’s important to strike the right balance.

Note: It’s against Facebook policy to directly reward a user for sharing. You may use Facebook apps to reward referrals, but be careful not to directly incentivize sharing.

#5: Regularly Promote Your Contest

Contest organizers will often schedule a bunch of communications when a promotion launches, then fail to maintain communication throughout the campaign.

Be sure to share key milestones and events (e.g., contest round ending, finalists being selected, just reached 100 or 10,000 entries).

If you’re running a user-generated content promotion, it’s also a great opportunity to share content (e.g., popular or unique entries) that will drive greater engagement.

When posting about your promotion on Facebook, be sure to utilize the pinned post feature to keep the post visible at the top of the timeline.

And don’t forget to utilize all of your social channels—it’s OK to promote your Facebook contest on Twitter and Google+.

#6: Amplify Your Message Through Partners

Tap into the power of partner marketing by including sponsors and providing them with exposure in exchange for cross-promotion.

Also be sure to identify influencers (journalists, bloggers, etc.) whom you can reach out to and share news about your promotion.

If you’re running a contest with a judging component to evaluate entries, you may want to invite influencers to be a part of the judging panel. Attaching their name to your contest adds credibility and gives them a good reason to talk about it!

Tips for Contests Featuring User-Generated Content

I am a big believer in the power of user-generated content promotions, but having been involved with many over the past five years, there are a couple of key lessons I’ve learned.

#7: Prime the Pump

Any time you’re asking users to submit content into a promotion, it’s a good idea to seed the contest with a few submissions.

These can be sample entries that you create which are not eligible to win or submissions from participants who have been encouraged to enter early.

The key is to have some entries right away to break the ice and provide others with inspiration for their own submission.

#8: Think Twice Before Relying Solely on the Court of Public Opinion

Contests featuring user-generated content often incorporate a component of public voting. This is something I would encourage because it drives greater virality, with participants naturally incentivized to share their entries and voters taking an active role in the outcome.

However, if your contest is decided 100% by public voting, you need to be prepared to relinquish control of the outcome to those individuals with the largest social networks and/or those using vote-swapping and other tricks to try to game the system.

The most popular contest model among our clients uses a round of voting to narrow the field of entries down to a predetermined number of finalists, and a panel of judges then decides the winner.

By employing a set of predefined judging criteria, the client is able to retain some discretion over who is named the winner(s) while still generating a lot of voting and sharing activity up front.

Another option is to use judging criteria to select finalists and then open it to voting. Regardless of your preferred contest model, ensure that your platform of choice is well-equipped to handle voting and the potential challenges that come along with it.

A Success Story

Recently Mari Smith launched her very first contest. Mari wanted to do something fun and rewarding for her fans, and to introduce a new webinar she was hosting. She was consistently enthusiastic about delivering a great experience for her community and utilized many of the tips outlined above.

Mari invited everyone to submit their Facebook cover photo for a chance to win a Facebook Makeover valued at $1,000. In just three weeks, the promotion received nearly 400 entries, which in turn generated 1,500 shares and more than 3,000 click-throughs.

An additional 2,000 people subsequently participated as entrants or voters as a direct result of another entrant sharing the promotion with them.

The contest received more than 25,000 visits in just three weeks, providing great exposure for Mari and generating a significant number of signups to her webinar.

I’ve seen companies of all sizes use promotions in a similar fashion to inexpensively acquire and engage fans, build awareness for a new product and ultimately drive conversions to sales.

(By Ben Pickering, Published June 28, 2012. Source: SocialMedia Examiner)

Google & Ecommerce: 10 Things Business Owners Need to Know Before July

July 04, 2012 By: admin Category: Web Design

Fifty percent of Google Product Search traffic will be switching to paid Google Shopping by July 28. Online merchants who aren’t ready for the switch will face some serious repercussions. Below we break it down and present all the latest and greatest updates ecommerce business owners need to know about Google and Ecommerce to stay ahead of the changes.

What should I know about Google Shopping?

1. Google Shopping is Google’s new paid option for merchants who wish to list products on Google’s product pages.

According to IgnitionOne, between 5 and 10 percent of search traffic for retailers comes from Google Product Search. Google Product Search, Google’s current free product listing program, will gradually be replaced by Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and ultimately Google Shopping.

2. Google Shopping is a comparison shopping engine.

How Google Shopping determines product ranking works exactly how comparison shopping engines (CSEs) do. Where products rank on Google Shopping will be determined by a combination of their relevancy as perceived by Google’s algorithm, and what the merchant is bidding for each cost per click (CPC).

3. Worried about spend?

Just like the paid CSE Pricegrabber, Google Shopping will have the utility for sellers to bid $.01 on products or categories. This is good news for merchants who are worried about spend on Google Shopping, and its impact on their marketing campaign.

Bidding $.01 on products or categories will allow those products to be visible in product search, but with less visibility than those which have higher bids. This is a great option for smaller merchants to maintain visibility on Google Shopping without increasing a marketing budget significantly.

4. Hang in there!

The paid shift for Google Shopping is daunting for many merchants. So much so that many merchants are choosing to pause their Google campaigns. If you get the jump on Google Shopping, you will automatically have less competition.

5. Get Going!

Although the full transition to Google Shopping won’t happen until October, it is important for sellers to get started now (You could lose 10 percent of your site traffic!).

If you’d like more information on the Google Shopping program be sure to check out this in-depth FAQ.

What Should I Know About AdWords and PLAs?

6. What will happen to Google Ads?

Google Product Search is evolving from a combination of AdWords, PLAs and free organic listings to Google Shopping. During the transition, AdWords will disappear on Google Shopping, and PLA listings will eventually become the main listings for Google Shopping.

The distinction between AdWords and PLAs is pivotal with the onset of Google Shopping, so it’s important to recognize the difference between the two forms of advertising.

Here is a look at AdWords and PLAs in Google Search (as influenced by Google Product Search):

  • AdWords: Paid Google ad program, which is managed through the AdWords login, and appear above organic listings on Google search. AdWords ads lead directly to the merchant site (through an external link), and charge merchants a CPC each time they are clicked on.
  • Product Extension ads: (NOT PLAs) are an extension of the AdWords program. These are ads which may show for certain searches (depending on the search query, and the settings enabled in AdWords), and are charged a CPC. Product Extension ads can easily be confused with PLAs as they also feature images, but the two programs are not the same.
  • AdWords in Google Shopping: The AdWords program will continue to be something which merchants can manage in Google search, but is not something which will appear in Google Shopping after the switch.
  • Product Listing Ads (PLAs): Paid Google advertisements which feature images, and detailed product information. Google generates PLAs from the merchants Google Merchant Center data feed. These are ads which show up to the right of a search, and lead to external websites with a CPC cost.

7. How do PLAs and AdWords show up?

AdWords ads appear for keyword searches which merchants are bidding on. So your shirt product listing may appear for the search ‘t-shirt’ if you are bidding on that term (this is also influenced by how much you are bidding and the relevancy of your product).

Product Listing ads appear for searches when Google determines the ad is relevant, and pertinent to the product search, which is exactly how the new Google Shopping will function.

You can’t bid on what search you’d like PLAs to show up for, but instead bid on specific products and categories you’d like to appear in search. Google pulls PLAs from the Google Merchant Center product information (from the feed you are sending there).

8. How should I manage AdWords and PLAs?

AdWords is a keyword bidding program. Merchants can bid on combinations of keywords which they would like their ads to appear for. Sellers can list and bid on search terms which they would like their products to show up for through the AdWords login.

PLAs are similar to CSEs where merchants can bid on products, categories, and modify bids based on product buckets and similar metrics. To manage PLAs, you will need access to your AdWords login and your Google Shopping product feed.

Sellers can bid on product type, brand, prices, SKUs, and a seemingly limitless list of product attributes and groups through the AdWords login. BUT to do this, merchants will need to identify and refine those lists through the Google Shopping feed (by adding terms in the AdWords group and label column and refining product type in the feed).

9. Should I use PLAs?

Google has offered an incentive to merchants who are not listing on PLAs, to encourage sellers to familiarize themselves with the bidding process, and PLA variables.

If the rebate doesn’t enthuse you, consider the advantage merchants who understand and actively manage PLAs now will have during the transition to Google Shopping, and later when Google Shopping fully changes over. Get started here.

What Should I Know About Google Trusted Stores?

10. Google Trusted Stores is a Google merchant program which recently became available to all merchants who qualify.

The program is designed to instill customer trust and confidence when buying on Google Shopping, and requires merchants to share shipping, customer service, and fulfillment information with Google.

(By Mary Weinstein, June 29, 2012  from Search Engine Watch)