Kategorie-Archiv: SEO

12 Email marketing best practices for sales

Uber email marketing best practice example

Everybody may be talking about witty tweets, quick-tip videos, and memorable memes, but there is one marketing tool that remains powerful after all these years: emails.

But an effective email marketing strategy in the 2000s may not work in 2019 anymore. Chances are, sales offer sent to inboxes will be marked as spam and forever left unopened. In March 2019, spam messages accounted for 56% percent of global email traffic. The challenge is to develop email campaigns that are as appealing and informative as other marketing tools heavily consumed in this age of social media and apps.

Times have changed, and so are email marketing trends. Know what works and what does not. Here is a roundup of 12 effective email marketing tactics you should know about.

1. Truly connect with your audience

At one point in your online life, you may have received tons of offers to buy to join a matchmaking community for veterans or something that’s not even remotely connected to you or your interests. Random mass email blasts like these don’t benefit anyone.

Create an email marketing campaign that connects with your readers. You can do this by dividing your email list into more targeted groups. The Annual Email Optimizer Report by Lyris found numerous benefits of email list segmentation including increased open rates, greater email relevance, and lower opt-out or unsubscribe rates.

You may segment the readers based on age, gender, and location. This will help ensure that you’re sending the right communication to the right people.

Check out this example of a geographically segmented email by UBER for Chicago

2. Customize your blasts

Email marketing tools, like tweets and Instagram ads, should speak directly to a specific reader. There is no better way of doing this than by customizing the content of your emails.

After segmenting your email recipients, get to know them better. What appeals to them? What are they looking for when browsing for products and services? How do they define good customer service? What made them visit a website and subscribe? By familiarizing yourself with your readers, it’ll be easier to customize your emails, follow-ups, and reminders.

For instance, your millennial recipients would love to receive informative yet concise messages with appealing images. The best way to do this is via infographics, which they can also easily share with their circle.

3. Grab your audience’s attention, and keep them interested

Today’s consumers are multi-taskers. They are scrolling their news feeds and checking for work-related emails in between. You are in for a cutthroat competition for your reader’s attention.

Craft creative ways to grab their attention, and hold it until you have delivered your message. You can use witty headlines, visually-appealing images, and straightforward emails. Strictly no click-baits.

You can create urgency, tapping on today’s culture of “FOMO” (fear of missing out). Try using “You’re missing out on amazing rewards”, or “[URGENT] You’ve got ONE DAY to read this…”.

Humor never fails. The Muse has used the subject, “We like being used” while OpenTable cracked “Licking your phone never tasted so good” in one of its email campaigns.

Example of adding catchy CTAs to marketing emails

Source: Artem Beliaikin via Pexels

4. State a clear call-to-action

So you have successfully earned the attention of your target audience. They also read your message in its entirety. Now what?

Your emails should have a clear purpose which you could achieve with a call-to-action. Do you want your readers to visit your website or subscribe to your newsletter? Do you want them to “Like” your Facebook page or make a purchase in your online store? Lead them to these goals with an effective CTA.

Researchers at Marketing Experiments recommend offering your visitors value at low or no costs in exchange for a click. Avoid asking too much too soon. The researchers found that tweaking commonly-used CTAs have amazing benefits. By changing “Find your solution” to “Learn more”, the clickthrough rate rose by 77%. Using “Subscribe and save” instead of “View subscription options” led to a +181% clickthrough rate increase.

To encourage a purchase, you can use these CTAs like the ones given below

  • Shop now
  • Save today
  • Yes! I want one
  • Claim your coupon
  • Get 20% off now

To promote content, here are sample CTAs

  • Curious? Read on
  • Read the full story
  • Download now

5. Limit your email blasts

Do you know that an average office worker receives 121 emails per day? That’s a lot. You wouldn’t want your message to be sent to the infamous spam folder for sending too many emails to your subscribers.

People signed up for your updates and newsletters because they are interested in your brand, products or services. They want to stay connected. But this doesn’t give you permission to bombard them with emails. Limit your messages once a week.

6. Craft catchy subject lines or headlines

Email subjects or headlines are deal-breakers. Readers can easily ignore or delete your email with a boring or clickbaity headline. MailChimp conducted an email marketing study and found that short and descriptive subject lines could entice readers.

You can include words that suggest urgency, ask a question or challenge a common notion. Use your segmented email list to craft direct and catchy headlines customized to your readers.

7. Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly

A recent study suggests that the number of mobile Internet users will hit five billion in 2025. More people are browsing the web, scrolling through social media pages and checking their emails via their handheld devices. Make sure that your email promotions are mobile-optimized. To create a mobile-friendly digital asset, consider the length of texts and visuals. Some image files may not display on smartphones, and others may slow downloading time.

8. Write professional emails

How would you perceive a business that sends out emails fraught with typos and grammar errors? These mistakes will definitely reflect badly on the sender. Always prepare your messages well. Email promotion is no different from any other marketing campaign. Take the time to plan out and draft an outline. Write a copy and proofread it several times. Use a voice that is consistent with your brand.

9. Build an inclusive community

People no longer surf the internet to just get quick information online. They meet others, join groups, and essentially create a world that is as real as their offline sphere. Go the extra mile with your email marketing campaign by letting your readers in an inclusive community. You can share personal updates about your life that don’t necessarily relate to your usual promotions. Perhaps a sneak peek into your work routine or a photo of your puppy or cat? Make your audience feel at home.

Another tip is to keep the conversation going by sending email notifications to users every time someone replied to their comments or whenever a new topic of interest is opened. You can also send updates on community stats such as a list of top users, top comments and most popular topics. These can encourage your users to play a more active role in the community.

10. Giveaway rewards

Giveaway rewards keep subscribers excited for your next blasts and increases the chances of them even sharing your promotions with their network. Budget airline companies are a great example of this as they’re winning the email marketing game through amazing rewards and promos. Their email subscribers get the latest updates on promos and the chance of winning all-expenses-paid trips. Giving away rewards and gifts is a smart way of acknowledging your loyal subscribers.

11. Stay consistent

You may not hit your target email subscribers right away, but that shouldn’t put off your email marketing campaign. Run your campaigns according to schedule. If you promised a special promo to your current list, make sure you deliver on time.

You may get 50 new subscribers this week and only 10 the next, but that should be no reason for you to hold off. Stick with your schedule and the effort will pay off.

12. Run a regular assessment of your campaigns

Know what’s working and what’s not by running a regular assessment of your email marketing campaigns. Wield the power of analytics in deciding how to proceed. You can choose the appropriate metrics, based on your goals. You may measure the clickthrough rate or the rate of readers who clicked on links in an email promotion or the conversion rate or the percentage of readers who completed the desired action such as purchasing a product.

Consider using analytics tools such as EmailAnalytics, Sortd, or Todoist. EmailAnalytics provides pertinent data such as the number of emails received in all your Gmail folders, the number of emails you send every day, who you email and how the conversations proceed. Sortd primarily helps organize email inboxes. It allows you to create categories and set priorities for each. The email workflow you can make in Sortd gives info on how you are performing at each stage of the email campaign. With Todoist, you may convert your inbox into a to-do list in relation to your campaign. It allows you to identify, organize and complete tasks, and run reports on your daily performance.

For sure, email marketing isn’t dead. It just evolved over time. As an entrepreneur or a marketer, it is your task to keep abreast of trends in digital marketing. Consumers today want you to speak to them on a more personal level. Get to know them. Engage them. Reward their loyalty. Remember that your email recipients are people, so connect with them in the most natural way possible.

The post 12 Email marketing best practices for sales appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com

5 Key ABM Trends for B2B Marketers to Track Heading into 2020

Content Marketing Google Trends DataIt’s only natural that B2B organizations everywhere are either adopting or taking an interest in ABM, because the strategy is founded on so many key pillars of effective marketing today: personalization, organizational alignment, and the focused pursuit of high-value customers.

Understanding the state of ABM and where it’s heading is critical for any B2B marketing practitioner today. Based on what I’ve been picking up at these events, along with data shared in the newly released 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report from Demand Gen Report, here are five trends to focus on as we move into 2020.

5 Key ABM Trends to Plan Around in 2020

The fourth annual ABM benchmark study from Demand Gen Report, which surveyed more than 100 B2B business executives from various industries, ranging across several roles, serves to confirm and reinforce a number of trends we’re seeing in the world of account-based marketing.

1. ABM is B2B Marketing

Only 6% of respondents in the survey said they are not doing ABM yet in any form. Meanwhile, 50% said they’ve had their ABM initiatives in place for more than a year, while another 25% gotten started within the past six to 12 months.

When we covered Demand Gen Report’s 2016 survey on ABM benchmarks, only 47% of respondents said they had an ABM strategy, so clearly the practice has grown substantially in a span of three years.

For me, this growth not only signals that B2B brands are increasingly conscious of creating content and experiences for specific buying audiences, but that those efforts are aimed beyond a singular buyer. After all, one of the major premises of ABM is acknowledging that different people with different viewpoints make up a buying committee, something that every B2B marketer needs to pay attention to on the go-forward.

2. Sales and Marketing Alignment is the Biggest ABM Challenge

Most companies report being in the earlier stages of ABM maturity, and it’s evident that sales and marketing alignment is a common barrier to progress, with a leading 46% of survey respondents citing it as their biggest ABM-related challenge.

Top ABM Challenge Data(Source: 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report)

This struggle isn’t unique to account-based marketing, of course, but ABM is uniquely positioned to help solve it. A strategic and sophisticated ABM program is built on orchestrated account selection, outreach, and nurturing processes. These strategies also tend to measure success based on overall results rather than getting bogged down in credit attribution, helping reduce friction and internal contention.

Better alignment between sales and marketing can contribute to a successful ABM program. But the opposite is also true. Creating unity around such an initiative might begin with changing the way we talk about it. In his session at B2B Marketing Exchange (B2BMX) back in February, Oracle’s Kelvin Gee explained that his team prefers to remove the word “marketing” from the phrase because it can feel isolating and disconnected. “We believe words matter,” he said. “We just call it ‘account-based‘ because we’re all in it together.”

[bctt tweet=“Rather than account-based MARKETING, we just call it account-based because we’re all in it together. @kgee #AccountBased #ABM“ username=“toprank“]

Certainly, successfully achieving sales and marketing alignment has been a top challenge for brands for ages. But B2B marketers can be the change agents here, as Shahid Javed of Hughes Network Systems shared during his B2BMX session. “Marketing is a service provider to sales—sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero in the buyer’s eyes.”

[bctt tweet=“Sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. @shahidj #SalesAndMarketingAlignment“ username=“toprank“]

For a framework to actualize sales and marketing alignment, you might start with this three-phase approach from Shahid:

  1. Listening and Information Gathering (Engaging stakeholders and simply listening to what they have to say.)
  2. Finding the Sweet Spot (Analyzing your data to create a mutually beneficial plan that can bring everyone together—and get C-suite buy-in.)
  3. Empowering Execution (Making it easy for the sales team to get the marketing and sales collateral they need to be the hero for their customers.)

3. Sales Teams Are Driving Account Selection

When asked how they build and formulate their targeted account lists for ABM, a whopping 80% of respondents said this directive is led by the sales team. Here were the other responses in the report:

  • Firmographic: 68% currently using, 22% plan to use
  • Technographic: 35% currently using, 40% plan to use
  • Behavioral/Intent Signals: 55% currently using, 13% plan to use
  • Predictive: 26% currently using, 39% plan to use

It obviously makes a ton of sense for sales to be heavily involved with account selection – they know first-hand which types of accounts are easiest to work with and most likely to convert – but there is a clear opportunity for marketing to play a bigger role here, perhaps by taking charge with some of the other methods listed. Technographics (the analysis of potential accounts based on their current technology stacks) appears to be viewed as most promising.

As Ty Heath framed account selection during her talk on combining ABM and social selling at MPB2B: “It boils down to, what accounts do you think will be profitable long-term, will be pleasurable to work with, and do you think you can make a real difference for?” Several voices ought to be involved in reaching these conclusions.

[bctt tweet=“It boils down to, what accounts do you think will be profitable long-term, will be pleasurable to work with, and do you think you can make a real difference for. @tyrona #ABM #SocialSelling“ username=“toprank“]

4. B2B Influencers Aren’t Yet Being Widely Integrated

Speaking of clear opportunities, I was stunned by the graph below. Among six types of content and experiences listed for ABM usage, influencer advocate-related content was last in prevalence at only 29%.

Type of Content Experiences in ABM(Source: 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report)

As I wrote earlier this year, B2B influencers and ABM are a powerful combination. The focused nature of account-based strategies lends itself well to collaborating with subject matter experts who are visible to, and trusted by, the prospects you most want to engage. When you know specifically who you’re trying to reach, you can confidently identify niche influencers that your audience is likely to recognize and listen to. Research shows that people are more likely to trust technical experts and peers in their field than brand-driven messaging.

Seeing this synergy and opportunity, I’m excited for our team at TopRank Marketing to keep expanding our world-class influencer capabilities in the ABM space specifically.

5. Quantity Is the Primary Measurement Focus for ABM

How are B2B marketing executives measuring the success of their ABM programs? Here’s how the responses shook out:

  • Net-new accounts engaged (60%)
  • Number of qualified accounts (52%)
  • Contribution to pipeline revenue (50%)
  • Win rate (50%)
  • Pipeline velocity (46%)
  • Account engagement score (41%)

It comes as no surprise that bottom-line numbers are being prioritized over relative rate metrics. Business leaders want to see results, and considering that 69% of respondents in the survey report that their account-based efforts are meeting or exceeding expectations, it seems those results are there.

Find Your Perfect Fit with ABM

Buzzwords aside, account-based marketing is a very simple and natural evolution for B2B marketing. Whether or not you want to attach the label, virtually every business that markets to other businesses should be adhering to many of ABM’s core principles.

Looking to learn more about ABM and its fundamentals? Check out this primer from our own Josh Nite: What You Need to Know to Get Started with Account-Based Marketing.

The post

I’ve attended two B2B conferences in the past few months – B2B Sales and Marketing Exchange in Boston, and MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Washington DC – and at both, account-based marketing was unmistakably top-of-mind. A majority of sessions and conversations evoked the term in some fashion, matching the trend I’ve noticed online and in client interactions.

A look at the Google Trends trajectory for “account based marketing” over the past five years reminds me a bit of the trajectory for “content marketing” in the five years prior.

Account-Based Marketing Google Trends DataContent Marketing Google Trends DataIt’s only natural that B2B organizations everywhere are either adopting or taking an interest in ABM, because the strategy is founded on so many key pillars of effective marketing today: personalization, organizational alignment, and the focused pursuit of high-value customers.

Understanding the state of ABM and where it’s heading is critical for any B2B marketing practitioner today. Based on what I’ve been picking up at these events, along with data shared in the newly released 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report from Demand Gen Report, here are five trends to focus on as we move into 2020.

5 Key ABM Trends to Plan Around in 2020

The fourth annual ABM benchmark study from Demand Gen Report, which surveyed more than 100 B2B business executives from various industries, ranging across several roles, serves to confirm and reinforce a number of trends we’re seeing in the world of account-based marketing.

1. ABM is B2B Marketing

Only 6% of respondents in the survey said they are not doing ABM yet in any form. Meanwhile, 50% said they’ve had their ABM initiatives in place for more than a year, while another 25% gotten started within the past six to 12 months.

When we covered Demand Gen Report’s 2016 survey on ABM benchmarks, only 47% of respondents said they had an ABM strategy, so clearly the practice has grown substantially in a span of three years.

For me, this growth not only signals that B2B brands are increasingly conscious of creating content and experiences for specific buying audiences, but that those efforts are aimed beyond a singular buyer. After all, one of the major premises of ABM is acknowledging that different people with different viewpoints make up a buying committee, something that every B2B marketer needs to pay attention to on the go-forward.

2. Sales and Marketing Alignment is the Biggest ABM Challenge

Most companies report being in the earlier stages of ABM maturity, and it’s evident that sales and marketing alignment is a common barrier to progress, with a leading 46% of survey respondents citing it as their biggest ABM-related challenge.

Top ABM Challenge Data(Source: 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report)

This struggle isn’t unique to account-based marketing, of course, but ABM is uniquely positioned to help solve it. A strategic and sophisticated ABM program is built on orchestrated account selection, outreach, and nurturing processes. These strategies also tend to measure success based on overall results rather than getting bogged down in credit attribution, helping reduce friction and internal contention.

Better alignment between sales and marketing can contribute to a successful ABM program. But the opposite is also true. Creating unity around such an initiative might begin with changing the way we talk about it. In his session at B2B Marketing Exchange (B2BMX) back in February, Oracle’s Kelvin Gee explained that his team prefers to remove the word “marketing” from the phrase because it can feel isolating and disconnected. “We believe words matter,” he said. “We just call it ‘account-based‘ because we’re all in it together.”

[bctt tweet=“Rather than account-based MARKETING, we just call it account-based because we’re all in it together. @kgee #AccountBased #ABM“ username=“toprank“]

Certainly, successfully achieving sales and marketing alignment has been a top challenge for brands for ages. But B2B marketers can be the change agents here, as Shahid Javed of Hughes Network Systems shared during his B2BMX session. “Marketing is a service provider to sales—sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. We need to make them the hero in the buyer’s eyes.”

[bctt tweet=“Sales is our customer. We need to be able to empower them and enable them to solve problems. @shahidj #SalesAndMarketingAlignment“ username=“toprank“]

For a framework to actualize sales and marketing alignment, you might start with this three-phase approach from Shahid:

  1. Listening and Information Gathering (Engaging stakeholders and simply listening to what they have to say.)
  2. Finding the Sweet Spot (Analyzing your data to create a mutually beneficial plan that can bring everyone together—and get C-suite buy-in.)
  3. Empowering Execution (Making it easy for the sales team to get the marketing and sales collateral they need to be the hero for their customers.)

3. Sales Teams Are Driving Account Selection

When asked how they build and formulate their targeted account lists for ABM, a whopping 80% of respondents said this directive is led by the sales team. Here were the other responses in the report:

  • Firmographic: 68% currently using, 22% plan to use
  • Technographic: 35% currently using, 40% plan to use
  • Behavioral/Intent Signals: 55% currently using, 13% plan to use
  • Predictive: 26% currently using, 39% plan to use

It obviously makes a ton of sense for sales to be heavily involved with account selection – they know first-hand which types of accounts are easiest to work with and most likely to convert – but there is a clear opportunity for marketing to play a bigger role here, perhaps by taking charge with some of the other methods listed. Technographics (the analysis of potential accounts based on their current technology stacks) appears to be viewed as most promising.

As Ty Heath framed account selection during her talk on combining ABM and social selling at MPB2B: “It boils down to, what accounts do you think will be profitable long-term, will be pleasurable to work with, and do you think you can make a real difference for?” Several voices ought to be involved in reaching these conclusions.

[bctt tweet=“It boils down to, what accounts do you think will be profitable long-term, will be pleasurable to work with, and do you think you can make a real difference for. @tyrona #ABM #SocialSelling“ username=“toprank“]

4. B2B Influencers Aren’t Yet Being Widely Integrated

Speaking of clear opportunities, I was stunned by the graph below. Among six types of content and experiences listed for ABM usage, influencer advocate-related content was last in prevalence at only 29%.

Type of Content Experiences in ABM(Source: 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report)

As I wrote earlier this year, B2B influencers and ABM are a powerful combination. The focused nature of account-based strategies lends itself well to collaborating with subject matter experts who are visible to, and trusted by, the prospects you most want to engage. When you know specifically who you’re trying to reach, you can confidently identify niche influencers that your audience is likely to recognize and listen to. Research shows that people are more likely to trust technical experts and peers in their field than brand-driven messaging.

Seeing this synergy and opportunity, I’m excited for our team at TopRank Marketing to keep expanding our world-class influencer capabilities in the ABM space specifically.

5. Quantity Is the Primary Measurement Focus for ABM

How are B2B marketing executives measuring the success of their ABM programs? Here’s how the responses shook out:

  • Net-new accounts engaged (60%)
  • Number of qualified accounts (52%)
  • Contribution to pipeline revenue (50%)
  • Win rate (50%)
  • Pipeline velocity (46%)
  • Account engagement score (41%)

It comes as no surprise that bottom-line numbers are being prioritized over relative rate metrics. Business leaders want to see results, and considering that 69% of respondents in the survey report that their account-based efforts are meeting or exceeding expectations, it seems those results are there.

Find Your Perfect Fit with ABM

Buzzwords aside, account-based marketing is a very simple and natural evolution for B2B marketing. Whether or not you want to attach the label, virtually every business that markets to other businesses should be adhering to many of ABM’s core principles.

Looking to learn more about ABM and its fundamentals? Check out this primer from our own Josh Nite: What You Need to Know to Get Started with Account-Based Marketing.

The post 5 Key ABM Trends for B2B Marketers to Track Heading into 2020 appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

Source:: toprankblog.com

Brands vs Ads

About 7 years ago I wrote about how the search relevancy algorithms were placing heavy weighting on brand-related signals after Vince & Panda on the (half correct!) presumption that this would lead to excessive industry consolidation which in turn would force Google to turn the dials in the other direction.

My thesis was Google would need to increasingly promote some smaller niche sites to make general web search differentiated from other web channels & minimize the market power of vertical leading providers.

The reason my thesis was only half correct (and ultimately led to the absolutely wrong conclusion) is Google has the ability to provide the illusion of diversity while using sort of eye candy displacement efforts to shift an increasing share of searches from organic to paid results.

As long as any market has at least 2 competitors in it Google can create a „me too“ offering that they hard code front & center and force the other 2 players (along with other players along the value chain) to bid for marketshare. If competitors are likely to complain about the thinness of the me too offering & it being built upon scraping other websites, Google can buy out a brand like Zagat or a data supplier like ITA Software to undermine criticism until the artificially promoted vertical service has enough usage that it is nearly on par with other players in the ecosystem.

Google need not win every market. They only need to ensure there are at least 2 competing bids left in the marketplace while dialing back SEO exposure. They can then run other services to redirect user flow and force the ad buy. They can insert their own bid as a sort of shill floor bid in their auction. If you bid below that amount they’ll collect the profit through serving the customer directly, if you bid above that they’ll let you buy the customer vs doing a direct booking.

Where this gets more than a bit tricky is if you are a supplier of third party goods & services where you buy in bulk to get preferential pricing for resale. If you buy 100 rooms a night from a particular hotel based on the presumption of prior market performance & certain channels effectively disappear you have to bid above market to sell some portion of the rooms because getting anything for them is better than leaving them unsold.

Dipping a bit back into history here, but after Groupon said no to Google’s acquisition offer Google promptly partnered with players 2 through n to ensure Groupon did not have a lasting competitive advantage. In the fullness of time most those companies died, LivingSocial was acquired by Groupon for nothing & Groupon is today worth less than the amount they raised in VC & IPO funding.

Most large markets will ultimately consolidate down to a couple players (e.g. Booking vs Expedia) while smaller players lack the scale needed to have the economic leverage to pay Google’s increasing rents.

This sort of consolidation was happening even when the search results were mostly organic & relevancy was driven primarily by links. As Google has folded in usage data & increased ad load on the search results it becomes harder for a generically descriptive domain name to build brand-related signals.

It is not only generically descriptive sorts of sites that have faded though. Many brand investments turned out to be money losers after the search result set was displaced by more ads (& many brand-related search result pages also carry ads above the organic results).

The ill informed might write something like this:

Since the Motorola debacle, it was Google’s largest acquisition after the $676 million purchase of ITA Software, which became Google Flights. (Uh, remember that? Does anyone use that instead of Travelocity or one of the many others? Neither do I.)

The reality is brands lose value as the organic result set is displaced. To make the margins work they might desperately outsource just about everything but marketing to a competitor / partner, which will then latter acquire them for a song.

Travelocity had roughly 3,000 people on the payroll globally as recently as a couple of years ago, but the Travelocity workforce has been whittled to around 50 employees in North America with many based in the Dallas area.

The best relevancy algorithm in the world is trumped by preferential placement of inferior results which bypasses the algorithm. If inferior results are hard coded in placements which violate net neutrality for an extended period of time, they can starve other players in the market from the vital user data & revenues needed to reinvest into growth and differentiation.

Value plays see their stocks crash as growth slows or goes in reverse. With the exception of startups frunded by Softbank, growth plays are locked out of receiving further investment rounds as their growth rate slides.

Startups like Hipmunk disappear. Even an Orbitz or Travelocity become bolt on acquisitions.

The viability of TripAdvisor as a stand alone business becomes questioned, leading them to partner with Ctrip.

TripAdvisor has one of the best link profiles of any commercially oriented website outside of perhaps Amazon.com. But ranking #1 doesn’t count for much if that #1 ranking is below the fold.

TripAdvisor shifted their business model to allow direct booking to better monetize mobile web users, but as Google has ate screen real estate and grew Google Travel into a $100 billion business other players have seen their stocks sag.

Google sits at the top of the funnel & all other parts of the value chain are compliments to be commoditized.

  • Buy premium domain names? Google’s SERPs test replacing domain names with words & make the domain name gray.
  • Improve conversion rates? Your competitor almost certainly did as well, now you both can bid more & hand over an increasing economic rent to Google.
  • Invest in brand awareness? Google shows ads for competitors on your brand terms, forcing you to buy to protect the brand equity you paid to build.

Search Metrics mentioned Hotels.com was one of the biggest losers during the recent algorithm updates: „I’m going to keep on this same theme there, and I’m not going to say overall numbers, the biggest loser, but for my loser I’m going to pick Hotels.com, because they were literally like neck and neck, like one and two with Booking, as far as how close together they were, and the last four weeks, they’ve really increased that separation. … I’m going to give a winner. The fire department that’s fighting the fires in Northern California.“

As Google ate the travel category the value of hotel-related domain names has fallen through the floor.

Most of the top selling hotel-related domain names were sold about a decade ago:

On August 8th HongKongHotels.com sold for $4,038. And the buyer may have overpaid for it!

Google consistently grows their ad revenues 20% a year in a global economy growing at under 4%.

There are only about 6 ways they can do that

  • growth of web usage (though many of those who are getting online today have a far lower disposable income than those who got on a decade or two ago did)
  • gain marketshare (very hard in search given that they effectively are the market in most markets outside of China & Russia)
  • create new inventory (new ad types on Google Maps & YouTube)
  • charge more for clicks
  • improve at targeting by better surveillance of web users (getting harder after GDPR & similar efforts from some states in the next year or two)
  • shift click streams away from organic toward paid channels (through larger ads, more interactive ad units, less appealing organic result formatting, etc.)

Wednesday both Expedia and TripAdvisor reported earnings after hours & both fell off a cliff: „Both Okerstrom and Kaufer complained that their organic, or free, links are ending up further down the page in Google search results as Google prioritizes its own travel businesses.“

Thursday Google hit fresh all time highs.

Booking held up much better than TripAdvisor & Expedia as they have a bigger footprint in Europe (where antitrust is a thing) and they have a higher reliance on paid search versus organic.

The broader SEO industry is to some degree frozen by fear. Roughly half of SEOs claim to have not bought *ANY* links in a half-decade.

Anonymous survey: have you (or your company) purchased backlinks – of ANY quality – for your own site, or any of your clients‘ sites, at any point in the past ~5 years?— Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc) October 24, 2019

Long after most of the industry has stopped buying links some people still run the „paid links are a potential FTC violation guideline“ line as though it is insightful and/or useful.

Some people may be violating FTC rules by purchasing links that are not labeled as sponsored. This includes „content marketers“ who publish articles with paid links on sites they curate. It’s a ticking time bomb because it’s illegal.— Roger Montti (@martinibuster) October 24, 2019

Ask the people carrying Google’s water what they think of the official FTC guidance on poor ad labeling in search results and you will hear the beautiful sound of crickets chirping.

Where is the ad labeling in this unit?

Does small gray text in the upper right corner stating „about these results“ count as legitimate ad labeling?

And then when you scroll over that gray text and click on it you get „Some of these hotel search results may be personalized based on your browsing activity and recent searches on Google, as well as travel confirmations sent to your Gmail. Hotel prices come from Google’s partners.“

Zooming out a bit further on the above ad unit to look at the entire search result page, we can now see the following:

  • 4 text ad units above the map
  • huge map which segments demand by price tier, current sales, luxury, average review, geographic location
  • organic results below the above wall of ads, and the number of organic search results has been reduced from 10 to 7

How many scrolls does one need to do to get past the above wall of ads?

If one clicks on one of the hotel prices the follow up page is … more ads.

Check out how the ad label is visually overwhelmed by a bright blue pop over.

Worth noting Google Chrome has a built-in ad blocking feature which allows them to strip all ads from displaying on third party websites if they follow Google’s best practices layout used in the search results.

You won’t see ads on websites that have poor ad experiences, like:

  • Too many ads
  • Annoying ads with flashing graphics or autoplaying audio
  • Ad walls before you can see content

When these ads are blocked, you’ll see an „Intrusive ads blocked“ message. Intrusive ads will be removed from the page.

Hotels have been at the forefront of SEO for many years. They drive massive revenues & were perhaps the only vertical ever referenced in the Google rater guidelines which stated all affiliate sites should be labeled as spam even if they are helpful to users.

Google has won most of the profits in the travel market & so they’ll need to eat other markets to continue their 20% annual growth.

Some people who market themselves as SEO experts not only recognize this trend but even encourage this sort of behavior:

Zoopla, Rightmove and On The Market are all dominant players in the industry, and many of their house and apartment listings are duplicated across the different property portals. This represents a very real reason for Google to step in and create a more streamlined service that will help users make a more informed decision. … The launch of Google Jobs should not have come as a surprise to anyone, and neither should its potential foray into real estate. Google will want to diversify its revenue channels as much as possible, and any market that allows it to do so will be in its sights. It is no longer a matter of if they succeed, but when.

We are nearing many inflection points in many markets where markets that seemed somewhat disconnected by search will still end up being dominated by search. Google is investing heavily in quantum computing. Google Fiber was a nothingburger to force competing ISPs into accelerating expensive network upgrades, but beaming in internet services from satellites will allow Google to bypass local politics, local regulations & heavy network infrastructure construction costs. A startup named Kepler recently provided high-bandwidth connectivity to the Arctic. When Google launches a free ISP there will be many knock on effects.

Categories:

Source:: seobook.com

Want to reduce your bounce rate, but what does that actually mean?

How many times have you quoted a metric plucked from Google Analytics without really knowing what it means? Fear not, you’re not alone.

For far too long now, marketers have had misconceptions over how to define one particular metric – bounce rate, either confusing it for exit rate or adding non-existent criteria. So, we’ve put together a quick-fire guide to help you become a bounce rate aficionado.

How is the bounce rate calculated in Google Analytics?

The Google Analytics help guide is a good first stop when trying to get to the bottom of the topic. And with it, you only need to remember two key things:

1. A bounce in Google Analytics is a single-page session on a website

2. The bounce rate for a page is based only on sessions that start with that page

What does this mean in practice?

Here’s an example with three sessions:

Imagine there have been three user sessions on your website. During these sessions, the following pages were viewed in this order:

  • Session one: Page A > Page B > Page C > exit
  • Session two: Page B> Page A > Page C> exit
  • Session three: Page A> exit

Page A bounce rate = 50%
Page B bounce rate =0%
Page C bounce rate = 0%

Why? You might tend to think that Page A’s bounce rate is 33% because the page was viewed three times and the user only exited the website after viewing page A. It’s a typical misconception, but that logic is actually the definition of “exit rate”.

Similarly, you might be tempted to think that Page C’s bounce rate is 100%, as all the sessions that have included Page C as part of their journey have been immediately followed by an exit. However, only pages that start a session are included in these calculations.

Here’s an example with five sessions:

  • Page B > Page A > Page C> exit
  • Page B > exit
  • Page A > Page C> Page B > exit
  • Page C > exit
  • Page B > Page C > Page A > exit

Page C’s bounce rate is 100%. It has been visited four times, however, only one session started with it. It is, therefore, the only one counted by Google Analytics in its bounce rate calculations.

What is an exit in Google Analytics?

Simply put, an exit is when a user exits the website in one way or another.

This means that if one of the goals of your website is to get users to click through to a third-party retailer after visiting a product page, users will need to exit the website in order to be counted as a conversion.

In this particular case, you could theoretically have pages with both a 100% bounce rate and a 100% conversion rate at the same time. But is lowering the number of single-page sessions on your website really your objective?

If not, you might want to consider a different KPI for your business. For SEO marketers, it is often the “go-to” KPI when reporting on performance, but others – such as exit rate – might be a better fit depending on your website’s objectives.

How should we use bounce rate and exit rate for efficient reporting?

1. Bounce rate at a website level

At a website level – the figure typically found on the Google Analytics dashboard – bounce rate only means the percentage of single-page sessions compared to overall sessions.

Due to its default settings, Google Analytics can be misleading as it will indicate a decreasing one with a green arrow, suggesting it is “good”, while any upturn is marked in red and perceived as “bad”. However, having a higher bounce rate can be a good thing – perhaps the user only needed to visit one page in order to find the information they needed. This entirely depends on the type of website you are reporting on and the content it serves (ecommerce, blogs, informational, and the others).

Changes in bounce rate at the website level should not be used to evaluate website performance, but rather to notify a change that requires further investigation.

2. Bounce rate at the page level

If it increases for a particular page, it is important to evaluate the type of page to understand if the change is positive or negative:

A non-exhaustive list of examples

  • Homepage: an increase in bounce rate is generally negative and means less users are willing to visit a website beyond its home page.
  • Content/article: an increase in bounce rate could mean that users have found the information they need. In this case, bounce rate alone cannot be used to determine a positive or negative change.
  • Product page: an increase in bounce rate on pages with ecommerce functionalities needs to be analyzed in conjunction with recent website template changes to ensure the user experience is not negatively impacting shopping experience.

3. Exit rate at the website level

At a website level, the exit rate does not provide very meaningful data because users will always have to exit a website from one of its pages at some point.

Google Analytics still provides this type of data under the behavior tab, but it is not recommended to use this information to report web performance.

Exit rate at the website level cannot be anything other than 100%. However, be aware that Google Analytics takes an average of the exit rates for all pages of the website to come up with a “website average”.

4. Exit rate at the page level (or set of pages)

This is where the exit rate really shines. If you have an ideal user journey for your website, the exit rate can help you identify changes in user behavior. From there, you can tweak web page templates to bring users from one point to the other – using multiple pages and monitoring where users exit – and therefore finish their journey.

Now that you’ve mastered the difference between bounce rate and exit rate and how to use them effectively in your reporting, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Log into Google Analytics and start to delve into what these stats really mean for the website.

The post Want to reduce your bounce rate, but what does that actually mean? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Source:: searchenginewatch.com