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How Google’s “Secure Search” Impacts Your Digital Marketing Plans

John Walker

On October 18, 2013 Google announced that it would no longer show website owners the keywords users entered into search to get to their sites through Google Analytics. Google refers to this change as “secure search” and industry search gurus refer to this as “not provided.” For consumers this means that their searches on Google are more “secure” because less of their search data is shared. But what does this mean to marketers?

Prior to this change, your digital marketing team could use this keyword data inside Google Analytics to optimize pages on your website for particular search terms. For example, if Google showed that “chocolate recipe” was driving frequent visits to a landing page, your team could load that page with more content related to “chocolate recipe” to drive even more traffic.  But now you can’t see these referring search terms on a page by page level. What to do?

The answer is to use another tool that Google provides- Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)*. After submitting your site to GWT, you will be able to see search terms which drive traffic to your site- you just won’t be able to see them page by page. But this data can still help you plan content and strategies to drive traffic. You’ll be able to see that “chocolate recipes” is a strong referring search term, so your team can develop corresponding content. Then in terms of measurement, you will be able to track overall traffic increases to your new optimized content. It’s less precise than before, but still a good way to plan, manage and measure website optimization. To learn how to view search queries in Google Webmaster Tools go here.

Note: * Bing also provides Webmaster Tools.


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New Reasons Why Link Building Can Help or Hurt You

John Walker

Building links to your website is a critical way of increasing website traffic. Links create pathways to your site (obvious) and they send a signal to search engines that your site is popular so it should have high visibility in search results (less obvious). However, new developments show that building links the wrong way can actually hurt you so your SEO team needs to be cautious about how they approach this.

Recently Search Engine Land reported that the travel website Expedia lost 25% of its search visibility. It appears that the site was punished by Google for unsavory link building tactics like buying links in bulk. So here are dos and don’ts for the right way to build website links.

  • Do: Build relationships with other websites that genuinely relate to your site.
  • Do: Place links to articles and guest posts on blogs only where they naturally belong- not all over the place.
  • Do: Build links where they provide a useful reference for the reader.
  • Don’t: Build links exclusively for SEO benefit.
  • Don’t: Pay for links.
  • Don’t: Automate link building for scale.

For more on this subject, Rand Fishkin of SEO Moz provides a helpful perspective.


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Social Media Marketing with Style

Kelly Kautz

You already know the importance of using brand standards to guide your marketing efforts. But applying those brand standards to social media can be a challenge even for experienced marketers. From Facebook to Twitter to Vine, each platform requires its own nuances in tone, topics and frequency.

A social media style guide can help. A good style guide will make it easy to capture your brand’s identity across multiple platforms, and reap the benefits of a successful social media marketing strategy.

But what does a social media style guide entail? Is it a one-page document of recommendations, or a lengthy handbook? The answer depends on the complexity of your social media strategy and goals – though the more accessible the guide, the smoother its implementation will likely be.

I’ve helped to create social media style guides for B2B and B2C clients. In some cases, I used the document to guide my own content creation. In others, I helped clients disseminate those style guides to their own content marketing teams.

I’ve found that while style guides can vary, the most effective documents contain the following elements.

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Top 3 Questions to Help Prioritize B2B Digital Marketing

Jessica Melhorn

Is your online investment in digital marketing lost on a website that does not convert leads? One of the more common questions I receive when consulting clients is how to prioritize digital efforts for measurable sales results. I prefer to reply with a question of my own: Is your website working hard enough to funnel new business into the pipeline? Most digital tactics will direct a potential customer to your website. It remains that final destination, validating what you claim anywhere else. When they arrive, what kind of brand experience awaits them? Is it consistent? Is it relevant to their needs? Do you make the decision making process easier than competitors? Or does it reveal disconnects? Before prioritizing your digital efforts, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Have you recently evaluated which devices are trending across your customers, and what that experience is like for them? If you are noticing a trend, determine what customer needs are driving it and how you can respond by designing the optimal experience on that device.

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Through the Looking Glass of Content Marketing: Stock and Flow

Kelly Kautz

If you’ve read Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, you might remember the Red Queen’s race. In it, Alice discovers that a brisk run with the Red Queen has brought her to the same place she started.

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

Managing a content marketing program often feels like running the Red Queen’s race. In addition to plotting out strategy and messaging, you can spend considerable time just keeping up with the latest social media platforms and technologies — not to mention the etiquette for each.

Content creation is a separate race: what topics do you cover? What format should you use? Where should you publish, and how will you drive people there?

Finding balance amidst all these decisions can seem like an impossible feat. But it doesn’t have to be. Most content marketing can be divided into two fairly simple categories: stock and flow.

“Stock and flow” is a concept first used by writer and media inventor Robin Sloan. Stock, Sloan explains, “is the durable stuff. It’s the content you produce that’s as interesting in two months (or two years) as it is today. It’s what people discover via search. It’s what spreads slowly but surely, building fans over time.”

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The Case for Search Engine Marketing

John Walker

Think of search engines as the customs gate of an airport through which every person entering a country must pass. The country they’re entering is the Internet, and 1.3 billion people use search engines every day to find stuff there.

That’s a big number and it’s easy to find dramatic ways to illustrate just how big– it’s the size of the entire population of China. But what’s more important than the size of this number is the idea that all your customers and potential customers are using search engines every day and if you don’t reach them there, your competitors will. So your opportunity is to connect with these people as they pass through this narrow gate.

But the reality is, for many marketers today, search engine marketing is merely a sideshow beside the seemingly more important activities that make up the core of their marketing plans. This approach misses an enormous opportunity and it needs to change.

How Your Customers Use Search Engines

There are three critical ideas related to how people use search engines that should guide your search engine marketing strategy.

First, potential customers are not just searching the name of your company, product or service, they may be searching for information that relates broadly to what you offer. So your search marketing efforts should focus on ensuring that your marketing content appears when users enter copy related to what you offer, not just when they enter your company name, product or service.

Second, of the 1.3 billion people using search engines daily, 1.1 billion click on the unpaid listings- versus the paid advertising that appears on the top and sides of the search engine results. So this means that paying for search engine listings through services like AdWords cannot be the core of your long term search marketing strategy. Ultimately you need to create organic visibility for your marketing content (“organic” is the term that describes non-paid search engine listings).

Finally, know that 1 billion daily search engine users (out of 1.3 billion) never look beyond the first page of results. So this means that achieving page-one search results listings is crucial.

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Is it Time to Redefine Your Brand?

Megan Myers

Is it time to redefine your brand?

In a study released earlier this year from BtoB Magazine, nearly 80 percent of B2B marketers indicated that brand differentiation is a priority for their organization. However, most marketers surveyed (60 percent) report they are not fully satisfied with their current effort. I believe that the lack of satisfaction stems from the fact that just differentiating on brand isn’t enough to truly impact their business.

Setting yourself apart from competitors is important, but that alone isn’t enough to engage decision-makers.  Brand differentiation is only one component of a strong brand. In addition to being differentiated, your brand must have a distinct personality or tone, it must be credible, and it should include a clear promise that you make to your customer or clients. An organization needs to define or redefine each of these important brand components to compete. When each of these elements is clearly defined and integrated into the business, a company will see powerful brand impact.

Redefining your brand can take time, but in the end, it can put you ahead of the competition for years to come.
Does your brand need redefined?

This worksheet will help you evaluate if it’s time to consider redefining your brand based on factors like:

  • Does your company have a clear vision for the future?
  • Do you know what your customers find valuable about your company? Your products? Your services?
  • How distinct are your products or services from your competitors?
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eBook:Understanding the True Value of your Marketing with Multi-channel Attribution Measurement

Joe Tertel

To successfully measure the effectiveness of your company’s marketing mix, you must first understand the customer decision journey and which channels are having the strongest impact. And on the flip side, identifying under-performing marketing channels can ultimately lead to stronger ROI and more powerful marketing results. Marketers are turning to attribution measurement – the identification, tracking and measurement of all marketing tactics leading up to a conversion – to better understand buyer behavior and tailor marketing efforts to deliver a more seamless purchasing process. (Continue Reading this eBook)

Read More of Joe’s Insights on this topic in Target Marketing

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Get Quick Consumer Insights from Google Search Data

John Walker

Search terms are powerful indicators of how consumers think and feel about a subject or a product or a brand. And for a marketer trying to understand consumer preferences and attitudes, this information can be extremely valuable. The challenge is how to derive insight from this “big data.”

Recently I was asked to conduct a webinar on this subject as part of Big Data Academy from Data Informed. This webinar series provides information on how to use “big data” technology to improve business performers. I was very pleased to be presenting next to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR, a book that influenced me significantly when I read it in 2007.

Google provides the ultimate “big data” and our team here at JPL has developed a good way to use this search data to learn about consumer preferences. The key to this approach is seeing how search queries correlate with consumer needs. To illustrate this example, let’s look at searches related to “bed bugs.” It so happens that there were 46,241,401 searches in the U.S. for subjects related to bed bugs (yes, we might have a problem).

First, we use Google AdWords Keyword Tool to see all the searches related to “bed bugs.” We find 801 different search terms related to this subject. These include terms as general as “what are bed bugs” and as specific as “bed bug exterminator Brooklyn.” Next we organize these search terms according to how they correlate with the three main stages of the marketing funnel: awareness, consideration and purchase. And we find that there are lots of search terms that correlate with each stage.

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Five Ways “Big Data” Can Improve Your Marketing Results

John Walker

Today there is an enormous amount of data available to guide marketing decisions. In fact, there is so much data that it is hard to know where to start. But today’s marketplace is changing so fast that there is a huge risk in not using “big data” to your advantage.

Consider how fast consumer preferences can change. MySpace (remember them?) lost 35 percent of its users in one year and went from being a leading social platform to a dinosaur. About a year later, Pinterest gained 18 million users in one year and went from being a niche site to a vital marketing platform.

What is critical to see is that consumer preferences now change faster than your fiscal year so it is not good enough to plan in yearly cycles. You need to analyze, test, learn and evolve in much shorter durations. Here are five ways to do that.

1. Use search data from Google as a primary source of market intelligence

Every search term entered into a search engine is a digital footprint that a marketer can follow. Google offers this data through two free tools: Google Trends and Google AdWords Keyword Tool.

As a test, I used just these two tools to see what I could learn about the recent bed bug outbreak (you have heard, haven’t you?). In about an hour I learned the following:

There are 46 million monthly searches on bed bug related terms
One of the most frequent search terms is, “How do you get bed bugs?”
The problem is focused in large cities of the Midwest and Northeast, particularly Cincinnati
The problem has worsened considerably since 2010
There’s a strong need for strategies to address the problem

So if I can learn this much about bed bugs in an hour, imagine what you can learn about your product and category using the same sources!

2. Teach your team Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides detailed, valuable and free data on the performance of your website. This data should be a constant source of guidance that your team taps every week. To ensure that your team knows how to use Google Analytics, ask each of them to get trained in its use through free instruction from Google.

3. Tackle data analysis and insight mining in small bites

Gone are the days when you can rely on instinct when planning and targeting marketing campaigns. Use data. Here’s how:

The next time you plan a lead generation campaign, do a quick ROI analysis using data from Google AdWords Keyword Tool to check quantities of searches on particular keywords. Then see how much those terms cost to buy. Using the bed bug example, I know that there are 33,100 monthly searches for the term “how to eliminate bed bugs.” And I know that I can buy that search term for $2.78 per click. Using that data, combined with an estimate of conversion rate, I can quickly calculate ROI for a campaign and determine if it will succeed.

4. Ensure that the cost of deriving insight is commensurate with its value

I once worked on an advertising campaign for Ivory Soap where we spent about $150,000 on research and testing in preparation for deploying the campaign. $150,000 might sound like a lot, but it was just two percent of the $8 million media budget, and it was well worth it to ensure that the campaign worked. When your team is determining how much to spend on research and analytics, make sure that the expenditure is commensurate with the overall business value.

5. Optimize during campaigns, not after

When you turn on a digital marketing campaign, plan to check results weekly and make adjustments right away. For example, with paid search campaigns you should reallocate the budget away from low performing search terms toward high performing ones. Additionally, you can conduct multivariate testing to identify what elements of a landing page work best in driving conversions. Then, based on what you learn, you should make changes to your site immediately.

The marketing world is speeding up and so should you. But rather than feeling overwhelmed by “big data,” make it work for you. If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please join me for a free webinar that is part of the Data Informed Big Data Academy Marketing Analytics & Customer Engagement series on August 14 at 2:00 pm EST. Sign up here.

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