Paid advertising on Facebook: the boost your content needs?

Pay us on FacebookIs Facebook marketing – you know, the “free” marketing all businesses should be taking advantage of – becoming a pay-to-play landscape?

In short, yes. But before we start bemoaning our budgets, let’s consider why this shift isn’t really a bad thing.

  1. Facebook realigned its algorithms so that individual newsfeeds focus more on friends and family of the individual, rather than businesses or publishing outlets. While this does make it more difficult to get those organic eyeballs on your business content without coughing up some dough, the move was designed to keep users happy. If the users aren’t happy, or all they see is clickbait, they abandon the platform. In short: we WANT Facebook to keep the users happy so that we have an audience to market to in the first place.
  2. These changes are driven by a desire to cut through clutter and see relevant content – and Facebook advertising has targeting features designed to get you in front of the audience most relevant to you. Not everyone on Facebook wants or needs the product or service you’re selling. As Facebook continues to gather data on its users and adjust newsfeeds to keep them happy, it gives marketers access in the form of targeting tools to make sure we’re reaching the right people.
  3. Social media marketing is only as good as the content behind it. The same few bucks we cough up to target that relevant audience may also make us pause and think “Is this post worth the money?” Does it offer the user something of value or drive an action? Is the wording concise, clear, and spelled/punctuated correctly? Do links point to appropriate areas of your website? No one wants to waste money – we may put more thought into posts we have to pay for.
  4. It’s not THAT expensive. (I know, I know, some of you are probably thinking I should have led with this one, but the three items above are more important.) Facebook offers three different paid advertising levels, starting with the easy-to-deploy and very inexpensive Boost Post. A very minimal investment can greatly increase the number of eyeballs on your content.

No one really likes to spend money, especially on things we’ve been accustomed to thinking of as free. However, it’s worth remembering that your posts may be reaching as little as 2% of your followers organically. A few dollars will not only give you more visibility and increased reach, but could improve your content – and your audience – as well.

-Amy

Tangled Web – Website Trends

website trends

In case you’ve been living under a rock, a lot changed this year in website trends. We’ve seen some interesting tactics and tendencies. What’s next? Who knows – but I think everyone should consider catching up with what is. Here are a few of my observations from 2015:

  • Web sites are getting simpler; this one seems obvious to our team, but nearly everyone I share this with seems surprised. Reality is that as mobile traffic increases, sites will need to be simpler to be impactful. Ever tried browsing a complex site on an iPhone 4? Yeah, you get it.
  • WordPress is here to stay; think of WordPress vs. Drupal as VHS versus BetaMax. WordPress won. Even hardcore Drupal developers seem to be making the shift. According to W3Techs, WordPress is used by over 58% of all web sites using a known CMS – or roughly 25% of all web sites. Read the survey highlights here.
  • WordPress is vulnerable; with its rise as a leading CMS, WordPress has attracted the attention of the hacker community. This year we saw our first attacks on two sites. Protect your site – fixing it after you’ve been hacked is a pain. We’re recommending a solution like SiteLock. Easy to deploy and configure, affordable, and seems pretty robust.
  • Analytics matter; although we’ve preached this for years, it’s been surprising to me how few web site owners understand how visitors use sites. But this year I’m starting to see a change; site owners are looking at traffic, learning, and adapting content to reflect what they’ve learned.
  • Responsive got real; you can thank Google on this one. With the announcement that sites that didn’t meet its standards for mobile responsiveness would be downgraded, Google kicked off a firestorm. Every site we’ve build since April 1, 2015 has had full responsiveness as a key performance requirement. If you don’t know where your site stands, Google offers a mobile-friendly test tool that you can use to check your URL.
  • Mobile arrived for real; most of the sites we work with seem to have an inflection point where mobile traffic suddenly goes from being relatively insignificant to playing a key role. We saw one client’s site do a complete flip-flop from predominantly desktop to overwhelmingly smartphones during a fairly brief period. These trends seem to vary by industry, but it’s definitely happening. Ignore mobile visitors at your own peril.
  • Google is a mystery; while the search side of Google has always been a challenge to keep up with, additional elements are coming into play as the algorithm accounts for other factors. Because of acquisitions and changes (for example the Google Places), many of our clients have found themselves with multiple legacy Google identities. Cleaning these up is a complex, and sometimes impossible challenge. The lesson? As you add new services, consolidate as many as possible to a single account. Merging them later is a giant headache.

Beware of the Vultures: Is Your Site Mobile-Friendly?

Being a marketer can sometimes be frustrating. As an example, frustrations increase dramatically with every reported Google algorithm change – Like the change happening April 21. Certainly these algorithm changes can improve search, but they also release the search vultures. Those predators who create a feeding frenzy in an effort to scare businesses into buying their services. We have received a plethora of messages promising that without website improvements, our company will experience the end of the world as we know it.

Google-Vultures-PWB

Before you buy into the hype though, let’s understand a few things. Most websites built within the last few years are mobile friendly. To a certain level. The trouble is, mobile has changed dramatically within the last few years. Responsive design and even how devices are used when searching has changed. So let’s take a step back and look objectively at the coming change.

The Google mobile algorithm change promises this – that mobile-friendly websites will appear in search results.

“Starting April 21, Google will be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.”

What does that mean exactly? It means this, how your website appears on a variety of mobile devices (iPhones, Android devices, tablets, etc.) may affect how your website is found to those searching for your products or services when they use something other than a laptop or desktop computer. That means that those sites that incorporate responsive design are likely to appear higher in mobile search engine results. In other words, this algorithm change might only affect a portion of those searching your website using mobile devices. To get a better idea of how your website will be affected, run a website analytics report; A very small portion of your website traffic may be affected.

Any time these changes are announced though, I get client calls and emails. To say that anyone can make promises though is foolish. One can ever truly know how a website will be affected due to Google algorithms being proprietary. For this next Google Algorithm change though, I suggest clients use the Google tools to run a mobile-friendly test.

If your site is not as mobile-friendly as it should be, then perhaps it is time to consider updates to change that. Web sites once had a shelf life of several years before needing updates, now however the ideal website needs to have constant improvements at some level. If you need help with making your website more mobile-friendly, PWB can help. Please contact us at dialogue@pwb.com or 734-995-5000.

Content Calendar for Content Marketing

I have been working with one of our clients for a few years on their search and social media campaigns. As we have recently made some significant changes to their website and overall marketing platform, I started to consider some new metrics to include in their monthly analytic dashboard. Metrics for content marketing, are key to understanding campaign performance!

Typically I include data on:

  • Performance of paid marking campaigns – Whether PPC or Facebook Ads
  • General analytic data including time on the site and the number of new visitors
  • Social media metrics that are provided in Facebook Insights including which posts generate a conversation or motivate someone to take an action
  • What keywords are bringing in those searching, which ones generate the greatest traffic and which ones promote conversions

In general, the dashboard includes the whole 9-yards. Whatever the client needs to see to prove ROI, and more often than not, the general trends. With content marketing, I like to be able to see what motivates a action, whether that is an email, phone call or a spike in traffic on the site.

It’s not always easy to measure. In fact I don’t get to see the information on who calls the client, but I do get to see the emails that come in as well as watch the trends.

As we have been creating a new marketing campaign that will include radio ads, billboards, print campaigns as well as their PPC and social platforms, I thought that a content calendar might be helpful. The calendar I created for them shows the days and times content is posted. It’s a simple Excel calendar and the client loves it!

It doesn’t require much of my time to manage yet has left a big impression with my client. They really appreciate at a glance, seeing what is happening for their business. Their content calendar allows them to view the current month, however it could just as easily be used to plan content for the coming months. I created something specific for the client however here is a nice, free content calendar template.

Trending and Analytics: Watch for Patterns

This past week I have been busy prepping monthly analytic reports for clients. As I was working on the first one though, I was amazed to see a sharp drop in website traffic the week of April 13 and again on April 20. It didn’t dawn on me until much later that of course April 20 was Easter and many schools were out on spring break around that time.

Of course not everyone went on break and certainly this wouldn’t always affect website traffic, however it’s an important message to remember – Always be aware of what’s trending in search and social media and how it relates to your website. You’ll be surprised at how factors in your environment may affect your website traffic.

Many years ago I was consulting for a high-end vacation condo rental business. My timing just happened to be at the start of the financial crisis though. I told the owner that website traffic was being affected by negative financial news in the media but the owner kept telling me that, “rich people didn’t care and would book luxury vacations regardless.” While that may have been true, I was really bothered that my analytic report was being dismissed.

This continued for several months. It wasn’t until I pulled out the monthly reports and aligned them with significant news releases – Market crashes, major companies going under, etc. The dates of those articles clearly showed that website traffic dropped every time announcements were made. It was a significant drop too.

In the end I lost that consulting job, and in fact 4 others at the business also lost their jobs. It seemed that even rich people were affected by the economy, or at least unwilling to consider luxury vacations when the market was crashing. I may have lost my consulting job, however I will stand by the reports I delivered, and knew I did right by the client.

In short, always be aware of what’s trending. It may make the difference in your website traffic and ultimately your business.

~Tammy

What Can a Business Review Do For You?

business reviews

Get leverage from your clients by soliciting for positive business reviews!

I’ve been working with several clients on their search and social media strategies. Of course one strategy does not fit every client, however I often recommend that clients make sure they have a couple of business reviews posted across the web – On Google Maps, Yelp and of course on social media sites of their choosing. It’s not as challenging as getting client testimonials, however it can help validate their products and services. There is one caveat though, I want clients to make sure that they get business reviews on the websites their clients are likely to frequent.

Not long ago I posted a review to Google Maps. While I generally liked the local physician, I was dissatisfied at how they handled a recent interaction. Guess what? The business read my comments, and responded with a hand-written note. Later when they found a small balance that I should have paid, they waived the fee. Want to know what I did? I went in and edited my review to tell others what the business had done!

I know several friends that live and die by business reviews of local bars and restaurants. They won’t go to an establishment with un-favorable reviews!

Have you ever searched to see what others are saying about you?

There may be industry specific sites applicable to your business so be sure to consider those, however you should also be aware of where your clients are looking for you. Check out your referring sites through your analytics. Generally speaking though, here are a few places you might consider soliciting business reviews from clients:

AngiesList.com
BBB.org
Bing
City Search
Epinions.com
Google Maps
InsiderPages.com
Local.com
TripAdvisor.com
Yahoo Local
Yelp.com

Do you check on your business reviews? Do you have any posted? Are they favorable or non-existent? Ask for opinions and monitor them – It’s a great way to attract new clients!

Measure and Learn with Analytics

I Recently attended a Google presentation and learned more about their free Analytics offering. We’ve had Analytics on our site for a while, but hadn’t really ever utilized it very much. Due to some shifts in hosting and redirects and other IT mysteries, we weren’t even tracking the right pages. But fixing it was really simple.

Coupled with our recent increased e-mail push, and our organic SEO efforts, Google Analytics has been an excellent way to measure what drives traffic. And the tool is so easy to incorporate and use. I even added it to my personal blog (www.getout1.blogspot.com) to learn more about behaviors of my visitors.

The spikes when we blast an e-mail, add a white paper, or change content are direct and measurable. This is a good example of some our philosophy on Demand Generation – tie the pieces together BEFORE you go in-market. And give some thought to what success would look like, so you can figure out what metrics will matter to you. We set some goals – to balance our traffic sources, and to increase our Google search traffic  – and we’ve been able to attain them.

If you’re not using this FANTASTIC and FREE tool, I strongly recommend you look into it.