Saturday, February 28, 2015

Video Advertisers Increase Cross-Device Campaigns

Cross-device campaigns expand share of digital video ad impressions to 51%




Video advertisers are expanding efforts to reach consumers across devices. That’s the finding of recent research released by Videology, which reported that the share of US cross-device digital video ad campaigns rose from just 17% to 51% between Q1 2014 and Q4 2014.
Among cross-device digital video ad campaigns served by Videology, those run across PCs, mobile and connected TVs were the most popular by a long shot, at 39% of impressions—the second-highest share. PCs and mobile accounted for 11% of impressions—more popular than mobile- and connected TV-only campaigns—while PCs and connected TVs hadn’t really linked up, at just 1% share. As a result of the rise in cross-device efforts, marketers were increasing their cross-screen analysis capabilities. Among respondents using advanced measurement, 13% of digital video advertisers said they used cross-screen metrics in Q4 2014. While this percentage is still low—landing in second-to-last place—it was up from just 4% in Q1 2014. This 225% growth is close to the 200% rise in cross-device impressions during the same period. 
Rising video consumption across devices means advertisers need to cast a wider net. eMarketer expects the number of US digital video viewers to hit 204.2 million this year, representing 78.6% of internet users, or 63.5% of the country’s population. The majority of digital video viewers will watch on their mobile phones, with video viewer penetration among mobile phone users expected to reach 41.5% in the US this year, or one-third of the population. And among tablet users, we forecast that 100.5 million will view digital video, representing nearly half of digital video viewers, 63.3% of tablet users and 31.3% of the population. 
Meanwhile, eMarketer estimates that the number of US connected TV households will rise 22.4% this year to reach 67.9 million, or 55.9% of total households. Low-double-digit growth will continue through 2017, and by 2018, the number of households with connected TVs will total 93.1 million, representing 75.2% of households in the US. 

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

What Digital Video Ad Format Is the Most Affordable?

US digital video advertising spiked 56.0% in 2014 to reach $5.96 billion, eMarketer estimates. Based on data from TubeMogul, pre-roll placements were the most affordable ads in the category throughout the year.
The video ad platform found that the average weekly cost per minute viewed for pre-roll ads was 3.2 cents in Q4 2014—the lowest price, and one that had held relatively steady throughout 2014 (up from 2.8 cents in Q1 and 3.1 cents in Q3). Social was the most expensive, at 18.1 cents in Q4, but this was down by about 8 cents since Q1 and 3 cents quarter over quarter. 


Mobile and connected TV both came in at around 5 cents in Q4, with mobile rebounding from 4.2 cents in Q3. Average viewability rate for online pre-roll video ads in the US was 32% in Q4 2014. While this was 6 percentage points lower than in Q3, it was up nearly 14.3% since Q1. TubeMogul blamed the decline in part on advertisers’ less selective end-of-year budget spending and expected the rate to rebound as the industry places more emphasis on viewability this year. US desktop pre-roll video ads purchased via programmatic direct had higher viewability rates throughout 2014. 


While viewability of ads bought directly from publishers fell 26 percentage points in Q4 to 53%, from nearly 80% in Q3, this was still more than 20 points above the overall average. Above-average performance could push programmatic pre-roll activity up this year. According to November 2014 polling by Undertone, 64% of agencies and 56% of marketers in the US already purchased pre-roll video ads programmatically, and 46% of publishers sold them this way. 


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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mobile's Still Far Behind Desktop for Retail Ecommerce Revenues

Desktop and laptop PCs still account for an outright majority of retail ecommerce site traffic, according to Q4 2014 data from MarketLive—and an outsize amount of total retail ecommerce revenues, as well.
Though mobile shoppers accounted for 75.9% of all US digital shoppers in 2014, and mobile buyers for 63.7% of digital buyers, eMarketer estimates, MarketLive found that nearly 56% of traffic to retail sites came from non-mobile sources, as did three-quarters of revenues. Tablets, which are typically understood to have a digital shopping use case closer to that of PCs than to that of smartphones, accounted for almost as much revenue share as traffic. 
But smartphones only accounted for about one-third as much revenues as traffic, supporting the position that smartphones are more commonly used for browsing and research activities than for actually completing a purchase. By several other metrics, including bounce rate and add-to-cart rate, smartphones were the odd device out, with tablet and desktop behaviors more similar to each other. 
Evidence abounds that mobile phones are still for upper-funnel shopping activities, with users more likely to close the deal in person or on a PC. According to the MarketLive data, smartphones drove the lowest revenue share for catalogers and housewares and furnishings, at 7.9% and 9.0% of the total, respectively. 

Smartphone revenue share topped out at 13.3%, for apparel, footwear and accessories retailers. Traffic share for smartphones was higher across retail sectors, with a low of 23.7% of catalog site traffic and a high of 35.7% for beauty and health retailers.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Measurement Frameworks: Focus on the Metrics That Matter

There is certainly no shortage of data available to marketers, but the problem is often in knowing how to structure the data to get the most out of it.
In this age of "big data," we’re not short of numbers are we? We generally have access to vast amounts of data from all sorts of different tracking and analysis systems. We’ve got digital data, and we also have user data such as that from voice of the customer surveys and remote user testing programs, and increasingly we’re combining that with transactional and non-digital data sources. So we generally don’t have a problem getting hold of data anymore. For many the problem is in knowing how to manage it and to structure it in a way that allows it to tell us a story.
This is why we need to develop measurement frameworks. Measurement frameworks are a way of structuring metrics and those all-important key performance indicators (KPIs) around the strategy, goals, and objectives of the business. The key thing about a measurement framework is that it’s coherent and helps the business to understand the relationship between the metrics as well as the metrics themselves.
Different frameworks are needed for different use cases and there are various styles available. Balanced scorecards are an example of very strategic measurement framework, looking at the performance of an organization as a whole. Functional areas many have their own measurement framework to provide structure to their own metrics. A good example I came across years ago was a framework developed by some people at Google to understand the user experience of some of their products. They called it HEART.
HEART stands for Happiness, Engagement, Adoption and Retention, and Task Success. They used this framework to understand the user experience across their various different products and the important point is that the metrics that make up the framework came from a variety of different data sources. Happiness, for example, is measured using attitudinal metrics gathered using survey data; adoption and retention may be measured using customer data; and task success by using remote user testing methodologies. The actual metrics used to measure the user experience vary from product to product depending of the nature of the product. For example, the way that Gmail is measured is different from the way that Google Maps is measured, but the HEART framework is the rigour and coherence to the individual metrics and usually describes what is being measured and to some extent why. It also always helps to have a good acronym!
To develop a framework you need to go back to the objectives and determine what it is you need to measure and why. In a straightforward e-commerce scenario, for example, a measurement framework may be based around the transactional environment looking at sales, order, average order value, number of customers, number of orders per customer, and so on. The framework would highlight the relationship between the different variables and how a change in one might or might not influence the other.
Another scenario might be in customer service. In a previous role I was asked by a client to help them think about how to measure the success of various customer service and self-service initiatives. In line with many companies, they were looking to increasingly address their customer service needs using various online channels such as websites, live chat, forums, and so on. One typical measurement perspective would be to focus on some of the core digital metrics, such as visits to the customer service section, number of downloads, number of chats, etc. These metrics were certainly useful in terms of understanding what’s actually happening in the digital channels, but were not necessarily indicative of whether the initiative overall was successful or not. To do that we needed to develop a wider framework that looked at the customer service section in the context of the overall customer journey.
The framework included measurements that looked at to what extent customers knew about some of the digital services, whether they would use them or not, and what they thought of the experience. The framework essentially told the story about the migration of customer service from offline channels to online channels and allowed the organization to understand where the focus areas needed to be. Did the site need to improve or what is good enough? Did they need to focus on educating customers about the digital channels and the benefits they offered? The development of a specific measurement framework was able help the organization understand the most effective way to hit the initiative’s goals and objectives.
With data everywhere it’s easy not to be able to see the wood for the trees. Developing multi-faceted measurement frameworks is the way to add structure to your data and to really focus on the metrics that matter.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

The Fine Art of Building Inbox Anticipation

These tips can help marketers get consumers excited about their email marketing campaigns.
Anticipation, according to our friends at Merriam-Webster, is "a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen." Most of us enjoy the anticipation of something that will bring a fun new experience or value to our lives, such as a vacation, dinner at the hottest restaurant in town, getting birthday cards in the mail, or even a smooth morning latte at the local cafe.
So, let’s consider anticipation in the inbox. Is it possible to create a feeling of excitement and anticipation via email messaging? This may seem like a stretch, given that many of the messages landing in the inbox still dwell in the one-size-fits-all zero contextual relevancy zone.
Even so, there are lots of ways we can begin to enhance the inbox experience with elements that drive anticipation and action. So, I won’t keep you waiting and anticipating any longer – let’s dive into the fine art of inbox anticipation …

Set the Stage

Setting the stage with clear expectations is critical at the point of opt-in and throughout the relationship with consumers. Most retailers kick things off with the incentive of a discount off a first purchase. They do it because it works! Consumers want that discount, and it helps generate the first purchase retailers are hungry for. As time goes on, it’s challenging to get the second, third, and fourth purchase conversions. The stage was set for a discount and now what?
The true task at hand in the early activation stage is getting to know the consumer via data gathering. Not the old data gathering form fills of the past, but new visually appealing and progressive ways to gather implicit and explicit data. Overtly trade the value of a discount, sweepstakes, or other incentives as an opportunity to gather data. Most marketers don’t capitalize on this opportunity well enough, but there are entirely new business models being fueled by overt data gathering and delivering value (Uber, StitchFix, TrunkClub, Fabletics, and on and on).
Ask and you shall receive data. Data drives experience, and experience absolutely drives anticipation.

Be Consistently Inconsistent

After we set the stage and make promises to consumers, those promises need to be met and exceeded. If you promise a monthly newsletter, make it the best monthly newsletter possible (more on that later). If you are about deals, do what Amazon and zulily do and make the deals as consistently relevant as possible to build anticipation around the latest and greatest offerings.
At the same time, it’s important to mix things up to build anticipation. Use a special offer, a sweepstakes, a half birthday message (Ben & Jerry’s style), or even a made-up holiday for your brand to support the cause (how many of you celebrated #NationalPizzaDay on February 10?). Leverage the occasional surprise and delight approach to keep consumers anticipating what’s next.

Deliver Visual Impact

Email is becoming a more visual medium with video and GIFs in emails enhancing the experience. Use these elements to create intrigue around what will hit the inbox next. A flickering candle, a ripple on the water, or different views of fashion in motion can be inspirational and lead to consumer action. GoPro’s Video of the Week and other campaigns curate the latest video content to inspire consumers.
Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and email can deliver some beautiful visual experiences for consumers in motion, across all their devices.

Deliver Content Impact

Content has always been king, but when content and context pair up things really get exciting. Today, marketers can offer real-time content that relates to the consumer situation. This may be in the form of fresh news, sports scores, or stock prices that refresh at the time of message open. Or, a weather report that aligns with the reader’s location. A countdown clock can bring a sense of urgency and value to consumers that don’t want to miss out on something. We can personalize in new and innovative ways, such as a monogram image that’s specific to the recipient’s initials.
With email opens on mobile devices climbing every day, the impact of contextual content is stronger than ever and needs to be fine-tuned to recipient, time and place.

Create Community and Collaboration

Most marketers have untapped potential to drive anticipation related to community and collaboration. There are entirely new business models being driven by this theme, such as Airbnb, Puddle, Uber, and more. And, TripAdvisor sends emails with subject lines personalized with a friend’s name who have just returned from a fabulous resort – and now I get to read their review.
Opportunities abound with user-generated content, such as ratings and reviews, voting, surveys, polls, and more. Something as simple as a Y/N button option in email can generate valuable segmentation data. Consider email one of the key data gathering channels and put that data into action to drive anticipation.
So, this is your cue to stop anticipating email innovation and begin using these elements to drive inbox anticipation. As with any good marketing process, you’ll continue to test, learn, optimize, and measure as you go, to get the right mix of elements and build inbox anticipation. Start early and build a valuable and contextual experience with your brand, then sit back and anticipate a great outcome for your business.
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mobile Search and the Journey to Optimization

What do marketers need to consider to make sure they're optimizing their sites for the best mobile search experience possible?
There are two things to make clear right from the start. First, mobile search is not the same as doing search on your PC or laptop. Second, if you don’t optimize your websites for mobile search, you will most likely rank lower on the mobile search engine results page (SERP). If you continue that logic to its inevitable conclusion, ranking high on the SERP is what SEO is all about. If you don’t optimize for mobile search, you’re doing your customers a disservice and your brand is not getting all the lead generation traffic it could be getting. In either case, you’re not doing your job. And with global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs, the downsides for missing the mobile opportunity are significant. For perspective, Goldman notes that was roughly the size of the world's entire e-commerce market from all devices in 2013.

A Little Bit of History and Perspective

I touched on this subject back in June 2014 and again in a post on ClickZ on the challenges of aligning mobile trends with search optimization. Back then, I made all the points about mobile optimization being the foundation of an enjoyable user experience (UX). The technical SEO factors on website design were covered and explained as the facilitator for the positive UX. Content best practices were covered, as were the emerging technologies such as voice search and structured authoring. I encourage you to go back and revisit the details.
Why are we back talking about it again? It’s because the predictions of the growing influence of mobile marketing are all proving to be true. People are hooked at the hip with their smartphones. They use them to do comparative search on prices for products while standing in one brick-and-mortar store looking to see if the price at the store down the street is lower. They use them in the stands at the Super Bowl to watch the TV commercials that have become creative entertainment. And engines are of course savvy to this. Sites not optimized for Google’s recent mobile-friendly updates are receiving penalty notifications via Google Webmaster Tools. And according to the BrightEdge Mobile Share Report, misconfigured websites lose up to 68 percent of smartphone traffic.

Sophistication of the Customer Journey

The customer journey has become more sophisticated as an "always on" experience for the marketer. You absolutely must be able to engage them on whatever device they happen to be on at the moment and whatever digital channel they are using, be it your brand website, social media, or e-commerce site reading reviews about your products.

Distribution of SEO Expertise

My colleague Drew Burns, product marketing manager for Adobe Target, characterizes some of the impacts of the increased sophistication of the customer journey on corporate governance and organizational models. I love to read articles about the practice of SEO being in decline. The fact is that SEO has become ubiquitous across all facets of marketing and is losing its unique identity. Simply, if you have a website that promotes your product or brand, you do SEO whether you engage the in house SEO experts or not. In order to ensure you are optimizing those websites for mobile applications, you need that expert level of expertise to guide you down the path – we refer to it as developing a Search Center of Excellence. Drew said it quite effectively in this paragraph from his article:
"Obviously, for a company of global divisions or many brands, a core team is required. What is interesting is that some companies prefer to have a physical core team, versed in optimization and managing the overall prioritization of tests while also using testing and reporting to identify areas of blockage or other obstacles to overcome relative to conversion and other key performance indicator (KPI) goals. They then rely on individuals from each business division to present their requirements for, or even build their own, test activities based upon their knowledge of the marketing or business drivers of their relevant product, service, or area of business. The core team trains these individuals in the principles of optimization, and again acts like a testing overseer to ensure that tests are not clashing or colliding, and that they are being run based on relative impact to the business or rated highest via a cost-benefit analysis."

The Core Product Team

The foundation for any undertaking is the people that will make it happen. Optimizing websites for mobile compatibility using responsive design techniques or any other number of options is part of that job. SEO analysts are the people that make sure the website is properly coded and the content is optimized. Many tests are run to evaluate the performance of the site and both content and on page coding changed to produce optimal performance in being crawled and indexed for search engine ranking. At Adobe, we have created centers of excellence for different search marketing functions with SEO being one of them. However, we take it a step further to embed and integrate one of our SEO experts with the core product team. That makes sure the website is created optimized for mobile SEO and audited periodically to validate its performance and ability to rank high on the SERP.
We also teach self-sufficiency to the product team by sharing knowledge about how to:
  • Analyze your site and determine whether it is optimized for search
  • Use keywords, links, and meta tags effectively without harming your page ranking
  • Determine the difference between on-page and off-page factors and their impact on SEO
  • Understand the latest SEO ranking factors
  • Recognize what kind of content search algorithms favor now
  • How to perform an SEO audit on your organization’s website
  • Differentiate between different types of searches – navigational, informational, transactional
  • Visually understand the anatomy of on-page SEO
The content optimization strategy we follow is simple but comprehensive. The critical precursor to executing this strategy is to stay abreast the changes of the search engine algorithms so we can alter and adjust our content optimization strategy to match.
  1. Identify keywords
  2. Organize content by message
  3. Optimize content
  4. Create content
  5. Link to content
  6. Test strategies
  7. Measure
Once you complete the final step, go back and iterate repeatedly…rinse and repeat.

Emerging Technology

Search engine algorithms aren’t the only thing that can force a change of mobile SEO tactics and best practices. Emerging marketing technology can do it just as effectively. Another one of my colleagues, Ray Pun, wrote about mobile augmented technology (Mobile AR). The essence of mobile AR is this:
"AR technology uses computer vision and object recognition information about the surrounding real world and allows the user to become interactive, and to digitally manipulate the views through the mobile phone camera lens." The article deals with optimization techniques that are driven by a technology such as this, including optimization and measurement best practices that are needed to develop a good SEO testing strategy for this type of mobile website. It’s interesting in that it allows you to interact with the objects around you using the smartphone camera. Through mobile AR, gone are the days in which you had to drive to a physical store to fully check out or experience a product. Customers can now experience a product’s unique features digitally and press "buy now" without leaving their living rooms. Doesn’t that put a new wrinkle in how you think about mobile SEO?

Back to Search Engines to Wrap Things Up

As we know, Google’s now notifying sites if they’re not optimizing for mobile. While there has been discussion about whether or not this will affect a site’s ranking, plain logic should tell every brand that optimizing for mobile usability is a marketing best practice that should not be ignored. It’s in the best interest of your brands and your clients’ bottom line and will become more so as time move forward.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Down With the Expert, Up With the Customer

Your customers are the ones you should really be listening to when it comes to taking advice about what works for your marketing strategies.
Search for the term "marketing" on Google and you’ll return more than 1.8 billion results. That’s equivalent to everyone in the United States writing five articles on marketing! It’s insane to think there are that many great ideas on the topic of marketing when I just finished watching millions of dollars get wasted on 30-second ad spots during the Super Bowl. Who are these "experts" writing and talking about marketing, and to whom should you listen?
The real answer is that they are no different than you — they just have more free time. And quite frankly, you should only listen to very few of them. The real experts you should be listening to are your customers.
We seek out experts because of an age-old question, "How do I get better?" In business, we ask the same question, but instead we phrase it as follows, "How do I make more revenue?" Both of these questions are founded on the same idea — that better equals more. I’m not disagreeing with this, but I am disagreeing with what better means, because it’s not what is better for you, but what is better for your consumers that really matters. This is the big issue I have with many marketers and many marketing experts. They are focused on what they think and not what the consumers think.
Don Peppers co-authored The One to One Future back in 1993, which first turned me onto this idea. It was the first marketing book to talk about lifetime customer value and digital personalized communication, making it way ahead of its time. Following up this success, Peppers was asked to write the forward to Seth Godin’s Permission-Based Marketing in 1999, which became another blockbuster success. In his book, Peppers wrote, "We should operate in realities, not abstractions of the reality."
The reality is, I’ve asked thousands of marketers one particular question, and only once received a yes: "Have you ever picked up the telephone and called a person who downloaded a white paper to ask them their thoughts on it?" Marketers say nothing, and instead look blankly at me when I ask this. The only time I heard a yes, I literally walked up to the man and gave him a hug. It took three years and more than 50 marketing events to find the single marketer who said, "Yes, I’ve done that."
Why is this a hard concept to grasp? Talking to your customers about their experience is the best way to improve — not reading an article on how to make a better white paper. If you don’t ask for feedback from your constituents, then you are simply operating in abstractions instead of reality. You’re also failing to live up to another great law of marketing that was proselytized by the great David Ogilvy: "The consumer is not dumb, she is your wife." Failing to give your consumers credit for knowing what they like, want, and need is the same as never talking to your spouse and only reading books to make them happy. Does that make any sense? NO! So here it goes: if you want to be better at marketing, stop reading all of the crap people write. Just because a person has a title of CMO, CEO, VP, evangelist, or whatever else they put in front of their name, doesn’t mean they are any smarter than you or have any better insights into your customers. If you’ve found this article, you’ve likely read enough marketing materials to be great at your job, but you may be underestimating the power of the telephone. Pick it up and use it!
Here’s how to make the leap into reality:
Step 1: Get something to record your conversations.
Step 2: Pick up the phone and dial.
Prospect/Customer/Lead: Hello?
Marketer: Hi, this is _________________, and I just wanted to reach out. I’m a marketing director at _______. You recently downloaded a white paper from us, and I’m trying to figure out how to make it better. I’ve just got three short questions, would you mind helping?
Prospect/Customer/Lead: Sure, how can I help?
Marketer: First off, what were you trying to learn about when you came across our white paper?
Prospect/Customer/Lead: I was trying to learn about _________________.
Marketer: Great to hear, did our content meet those expectations?
Prospect/Customer/Lead: Not really.
Marketer: Thanks for the honesty. What could we do to make it better for the next person?
Prospect/Customer/Lead: For starters, not talk about your product so much…
Marketer: Thanks so much, and to thank you I’d like to send you a small token of our appreciation. It’s a book on the topic, would it be OK to send that to you?
Prospect/Customer/Lead: Yes, here’s my address.
Step 3: Follow up, and repeat the process. Have 10 conversations with people who have read your content. You’ll be amazed at what you find out. It will also save you thousands in consulting fees, and you’ll build better relationships because of it.
This may seem like a lot of work, but here are some tips:
  • First, you need to get your customers’ telephone numbers. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. You should already have their names and email addresses. Call into their corporate directories and use them.
  • Call from your cell phone. If you call from your company phone, it is going to show up like a sales call, and they won’t answer it.
  • Odds are, you can dial 25 people in an hour, but you will only reach seven. It’s likely a few of them will have time to talk, so this may take you a few hours every other month to do. However, do not outsource this! This should be a core part of your role.
  • Record the conversations, then play them back at your next content meeting, product meeting, and sales meeting. Everyone in the organization will be better after hearing what customers are looking for and wanting to know.
The best experts on your content are the people you are making it for. Do they think it’s good, great, or crap? Download metrics won’t tell you this. It doesn’t matter what an expert says to do if your consumers don’t agree, and the only way you are going to know is if you ask them.
So if you are serious about being better, the next thing you should do is open up your database, find a list of 25 people who have just downloaded an asset, and give them a ring. If you don’t do it today, you are not serious about being a better marketer, and you will be stuck in the world of abstractions instead of the world of marketing reality. Remember: the only real experts are our customers. Listen to them.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Mobile Search and the Journey to Optimization

What do marketers need to consider to make sure they're optimising their sites for the best mobile search experience possible?
There are two things to make clear right from the start. First, mobile search is not the same as doing search on your PC or laptop. Second, if you don’t optimize your websites for mobile search, you will most likely rank lower on the mobile search engine results page (SERP). If you continue that logic to its inevitable conclusion, ranking high on the SERP is what SEO is all about. If you don’t optimize for mobile search, you’re doing your customers a disservice and your brand is not getting all the lead generation traffic it could be getting. In either case, you’re not doing your job. And with global e-commerce sales made via mobile devices expected to top $638 billion in 2018, according to a forecast from Goldman Sachs, the downsides for missing the mobile opportunity are significant. For perspective, Goldman notes that was roughly the size of the world's entire e-commerce market from all devices in 2013.

A Little Bit of History and Perspective

I touched on this subject back in June 2014 and again in a post on ClickZ on the challenges of aligning mobile trends with search optimization. Back then, I made all the points about mobile optimization being the foundation of an enjoyable user experience (UX). The technical SEO factors on website design were covered and explained as the facilitator for the positive UX. Content best practices were covered, as were the emerging technologies such as voice search and structured authoring. I encourage you to go back and revisit the details.
Why are we back talking about it again? It’s because the predictions of the growing influence of mobile marketing are all proving to be true. People are hooked at the hip with their smartphones. They use them to do comparative search on prices for products while standing in one brick-and-mortar store looking to see if the price at the store down the street is lower. They use them in the stands at the Super Bowl to watch the TV commercials that have become creative entertainment. And engines are of course savvy to this. Sites not optimized for Google’s recent mobile-friendly updates are receiving penalty notifications via Google Webmaster Tools. And according to the BrightEdge Mobile Share Report, misconfigured websites lose up to 68 percent of smartphone traffic.

Sophistication of the Customer Journey

The customer journey has become more sophisticated as an "always on" experience for the marketer. You absolutely must be able to engage them on whatever device they happen to be on at the moment and whatever digital channel they are using, be it your brand website, social media, or e-commerce site reading reviews about your products.

Distribution of SEO Expertise

My colleague Drew Burns, product marketing manager for Adobe Target, characterizes some of the impacts of the increased sophistication of the customer journey on corporate governance and organizational models. I love to read articles about the practice of SEO being in decline. The fact is that SEO has become ubiquitous across all facets of marketing and is losing its unique identity. Simply, if you have a website that promotes your product or brand, you do SEO whether you engage the in house SEO experts or not. In order to ensure you are optimizing those websites for mobile applications, you need that expert level of expertise to guide you down the path – we refer to it as developing a Search Center of Excellence. Drew said it quite effectively in this paragraph from his article:
"Obviously, for a company of global divisions or many brands, a core team is required. What is interesting is that some companies prefer to have a physical core team, versed in optimization and managing the overall prioritization of tests while also using testing and reporting to identify areas of blockage or other obstacles to overcome relative to conversion and other key performance indicator (KPI) goals. They then rely on individuals from each business division to present their requirements for, or even build their own, test activities based upon their knowledge of the marketing or business drivers of their relevant product, service, or area of business. The core team trains these individuals in the principles of optimization, and again acts like a testing overseer to ensure that tests are not clashing or colliding, and that they are being run based on relative impact to the business or rated highest via a cost-benefit analysis."

The Core Product Team

The foundation for any undertaking is the people that will make it happen. Optimizing websites for mobile compatibility using responsive design techniques or any other number of options is part of that job. SEO analysts are the people that make sure the website is properly coded and the content is optimized. Many tests are run to evaluate the performance of the site and both content and on page coding changed to produce optimal performance in being crawled and indexed for search engine ranking. At Adobe, we have created centers of excellence for different search marketing functions with SEO being one of them. However, we take it a step further to embed and integrate one of our SEO experts with the core product team. That makes sure the website is created optimized for mobile SEO and audited periodically to validate its performance and ability to rank high on the SERP.
We also teach self-sufficiency to the product team by sharing knowledge about how to:
  • Analyze your site and determine whether it is optimized for search
  • Use keywords, links, and meta tags effectively without harming your page ranking
  • Determine the difference between on-page and off-page factors and their impact on SEO
  • Understand the latest SEO ranking factors
  • Recognize what kind of content search algorithms favor now
  • How to perform an SEO audit on your organization’s website
  • Differentiate between different types of searches – navigational, informational, transactional
  • Visually understand the anatomy of on-page SEO
The content optimization strategy we follow is simple but comprehensive. The critical precursor to executing this strategy is to stay abreast the changes of the search engine algorithms so we can alter and adjust our content optimization strategy to match.
  1. Identify keywords
  2. Organize content by message
  3. Optimize content
  4. Create content
  5. Link to content
  6. Test strategies
  7. Measure
Once you complete the final step, go back and iterate repeatedly…rinse and repeat.

Emerging Technology

Search engine algorithms aren’t the only thing that can force a change of mobile SEO tactics and best practices. Emerging marketing technology can do it just as effectively. Another one of my colleagues, Ray Pun, wrote about mobile augmented technology (Mobile AR). The essence of mobile AR is this:
"AR technology uses computer vision and object recognition information about the surrounding real world and allows the user to become interactive, and to digitally manipulate the views through the mobile phone camera lens." The article deals with optimization techniques that are driven by a technology such as this, including optimization and measurement best practices that are needed to develop a good SEO testing strategy for this type of mobile website. It’s interesting in that it allows you to interact with the objects around you using the smartphone camera. Through mobile AR, gone are the days in which you had to drive to a physical store to fully check out or experience a product. Customers can now experience a product’s unique features digitally and press "buy now" without leaving their living rooms. Doesn’t that put a new wrinkle in how you think about mobile SEO?

Back to Search Engines to Wrap Things Up

As we know, Google’s now notifying sites if they’re not optimizing for mobile. While there has been discussion about whether or not this will affect a site’s ranking, plain logic should tell every brand that optimizing for mobile usability is a marketing best practice that should not be ignored. It’s in the best interest of your brands and your clients’ bottom line and will become more so as time move forward.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Analytics as the Source of Truth – The Power of Data Integration

We’ve all got a big job to do when it comes to our discipline in digital marketing – whether it’s SEO, paid search, social media, or being on a team that does it all. Do you measure your marketing? Do you feel confident in the metrics you’re tracking?
Let’s face it: marketers struggle with and businesses don’t fully have a handle on their Web analytics most of the time. Like most disciplines within Web marketing, analytics is a standalone skill set developed over time.
But no one will ever become great at finding those gems of insight that drive business outcomes without the right analytics. And there are so many ways that Web analytics and a lack of understanding of how to harness analytics are holding businesses back from making the best decisions.
In this post, we’ll look at two big ways your Web analytics could be holding you back right now:
  1. A lack of integration with other data points
  2. Limitations in tracking insightful metrics

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Redemption of Digital Load-to-Card Offers Doubles

Free-Standing Inserts (FSIs) still dominated couponing last year. But digital and electronic coupons are becoming more of a factor in distribution and redemption.

According to a report on 2014 coupon trends from Inmar:

  • Electronic coupons at checkout and print-at-home coupons accounted for 7.3 percent and 3.5 percent of redemption respectively. 
  • Digital paperless Load-to-Card (L2C) coupons doubled their share of overall redemption 1.8 percent,

L2C offers posted their fifth consecutive year of growth in redemption. Grocery retailers that have made these coupons a key feature of their frequent shopper loyalty programs are benefiting. The convenience these offers provide shoppers and the flexibility they afford both retailers and manufacturers is enhancing their position in the marketing mix.
  
Inmar officials say growth has been accelerating significantly for the last several years.

“The one hundred percent, year-over-year, growth we’re continuing to see in redemption for load-to-card coupons is affirmation of their rapidly expanding popularity among consumers and the tremendous utility they provide marketers,” said David Mounts, Chairman and CEO of Inmar, which operates intelligent commerce networks. “The ability marketers now have to personalize these offers, deliver them adjacent to equity-building content and target them to individual shoppers – at scale – makes them particularly effective in building share for brands and maintaining loyalty for retailers.” 

Other major methods capturing a significant share of redemption volume in 2014 included:

  • Instant Redeemable and Instant Redeemable Cross-Ruff  (together 21.6 percent of all coupons redeemed)
  • Shelf Pad (5.4 percent).

Free-Sanding Inserts (FSIs) garnered the largest share of redemption (39.4 percent) of the 2.84 billion coupons redeemed in 2014. They accounted for the majority (89.6%) of the 319 billion coupons distributed last year. These coupons included offers for both food and non-food items and were distributed digitally as well as through traditional paper methods. 

Overall coupon distribution declined slightly (-2.9%) compared to 2013, while redemption was also down slightly (-3.0%) during the same period.

While 2014 coupon distribution strategies stayed consistent with recent past practice, Inmar said marketers are continuing to experiment with offer attributes as they seek to find the best “formula” for motivating acquisition and driving redemption.  They are employing multiple methods and higher face values to help drive redemption.

Average face values for distributed food and non-food offers were up to $1.15 (an increase of 11.6 percent) and $2.04 (an increase of 6.2 percent), respectively. However, marketers gave consumers less time to take advantage of these higher face values with the average redemption period for all offers continuing its contraction to 2.0 months, a decrease of 7.2 percent compared to 2013.

Inmar, based in Winston-Salem, N.C., processes and analyzes more than 2.3 billion coupons and related campaigns annually, providing an expertise in planning, executing and measuring promotions. In addition to providing promotion management, coupon processing, business intelligence and analytics, Inmar monitors coupon distribution and redemption across the country and regularly reports on trends and activity in this sector.

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Long Live Print…in an Omnichannel Marketing Plan

Print isn't dead - it still has its place within a wide-ranging omnichannel marketing strategy.
When one year ago this month online retailer Net-A-Porter.com launched a print magazine, many did a double take. Don't we live in a digital world? Isn't multi-platform content what readers are looking for?
We know the answers to those questions well. Time spent with digital media surpassed TV consumption back in 2013, but consumers still average more than five hours of TV time a day. Of the time we spend engaging with digital media, 60 percent now goes to smartphones and tablets. But data shows that 46 percent of American Internet users only read books in print, compared to just 6 percent who only read e-books.
Ad spending patterns provide a good deal of insight into consumer behavior as well. Studies estimate that TV will receive the greatest share of ad spend in 2015, with digital in second place and print in third.
And yet, going from digital to print seems to be a growing trend. Within the past two years Politico and AllRecipes.com both launched print versions, and DuJour offered print, mobile, and online versions of its luxury lifestyle magazine simultaneously. If that's not enough evidence for you, consider Airbnb. Late last year the successful online brand launched Pineapple, a print magazine available in Airbnb rental properties as well as on newsstands.

Print Is Dead…Or Is It?

Hold on a minute – isn't print supposed to be dead? Ghostbuster Egon Spengler said as much way back in 1984. The Onion ran an obituary for it in 2013. Last year saw the demise of such titles as Ladies' Home Journal and Macworld, while in years prior we lost Newsweek, and – that's right – The Onion. But according to reports there were 234 new magazines launched in 2014, an increase of 21 percent over the previous year. One of those was Newsweek, which resumed printing last March.
Certainly, we continue to see a shift toward digital. Vistaprint, maker of promotional products for small businesses, this week announced a new tool that turns its print materials into Facebook ads. Called, "Social Postcards," the product is designed to help companies and entrepreneurs extend their reach to the Web. But moves like this one do more than demonstrate our growing attachment to digital. They display a commitment to an omichannel marketing strategy that meets the needs of modern, multi-channel consumers.

Digital and Print: Coordinated and Compatible

The question isn't whether or not print is dead, but why it's taken so long for businesses to view print and digital as wholly compatible. That major brands are investing in print doesn't mean they favor paper or are bucking the trend, but that they recognize their target customer's multi-platform needs. When Politico starting publishing its print magazine, it supplemented the effort with new online content. Allrecipes, meanwhile, comes with a TV component in the form of a branded segment on one of parent company Meredith Corp's lifestyle shows.
In the case of Net-A-Porter's Porter, the magazine is shoppable; readers can use the company's app to snap photos of fashions on the print pages and buy what they see online. The brand is also experimenting with shoppable videos that allow consumers to save the items they see while immersed in the viewing experience.
"It turns out that women like to read about fashion on glossy pages, not online," The Wall Street Journal's "On Style" columnist has said. And that's what marketers should focus on now: audience preferences for each content type, be it company news, brand stories, product imagery, or educational materials. Give customers what they want where and how they want it – even if that means incorporating print – and they'll be primed to engage with your brand.
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Mobile Optimization: 4 Tips for Tapping Into the Asian Market

A mobile strategy in Asia is essential, and getting the user experience right is just as important.
It had long been predicted, but 2014 was the year mobile Internet access finally overtook desktop for the first time on a global scale. Mobile marketing is hugely important wherever your business operates, but it can be absolutely vital in key Asian markets. 

India and China both reached their own mobile tipping points in 2012 and according to the ITU, the UN’s agency for ICT statistics, Asia and the Pacific have the highest number of mobile broadband subscriptions, more than 750 million by 2014. 

Research from the Google Consumer Barometer, meanwhile, found that Singapore (85 percent) and South Korea (80 percent) had the highest smartphone penetration rates. 

Many Asian markets also have significant numbers of consumers who accessed the Internet exclusively via their smartphones. Thirty-five percent of Malaysian consumers, 24 percent of Vietnamese, and 16 percent of Singaporeans only access the Internet using their phones. 

Despite this, it’s clear that many businesses are still not optimizing their websites for mobile. 

Julian Persaud, managing director of Google Southeast Asia, says 88 percent of Singaporeans have experienced problems when accessing websites on their phones, "so clearly there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s vital for every business to think mobile-first." 

"This is a massive wake-up call to any business in Singapore without a mobile-optimized site or app. This is no longer a viable approach – you're effectively slamming your shop door in the face of your customers." 

Simplify Your Site 

Whether you’re adapting your existing website to work better when accessed on a mobile device or designing a site exclusively for mobile, you should be aware that some things that work well on desktop might not be as effective on a smaller screen. 

Only a third of mobile users make it past the first page of a site they visit, so it’s important to place important information, calls to action, and clear navigation options as prominently as possible on the landing page. 

Page-loading time is another huge issue. Almost half of mobile users expect a website to load within two seconds and 40 percent are likely to abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. 

Cutting down on large photo files and auto-loading sound and video files can help reduce loading-times, as well as making your display design easier to get right. It’s worth remembering that Apple doesn’t support Flash and, with the iPhone currently enjoying an upsurge in Asia, it might be best to avoid Flash altogether. 

Responsive Design 

Some designers still use a separate m. domain to direct mobile visitors to a just-for-mobile site, but in 2015 this is looking increasingly old-fashioned. There are still benefits, as this approach can allow you to create a desktop website that can incorporate elements that simply wouldn’t work on mobile. 

For most businesses, however, responsive design offers a simpler solution. 

Responsive websites automatically resize and adjust their display parameters so that they display correctly on a range of different devices. This can allow you to maintain a single domain for desktop and mobile, but stringent testing is important. It also means your design must be suitable for both desktop and mobile visitors in terms of navigation and content. 

Abercrombie & Fitch is using this technique to target Asian customers, so it will be interesting to see how successful this approach becomes. 

Navigation 

The way people navigate around a site they are visiting on mobile can differ considerably from the way they navigate around the same site on desktop. 

The main input device in mobile is usually a finger, which is much less precise than a mouse cursor. Make navigation buttons clear and large enough to use. Avoid clustering small hot spots together as it can be easy to tap the wrong one and also steer clear of text links that can be even more difficult to use on a smaller screen. 

You might also consider putting more information on a single page. Mobile users often don’t like to scroll too far, but this can still be preferable than having to click through to different pages. If you build in an infinite scroll feature, which auto-loads more results or information as the viewer approaches the bottom of the page, it can be useful to include a static "Return to top" button. 

Site Search 

One handy way for people to navigate your site is the inclusion of a "Site search" box. This can be particularly useful if, for example, you have a range of products that people might want to browse. 

An auto-complete or suggestion feature can help cut down the amount of text that users actually have to type into the box – and getting the right translation partner to help with this can make all the difference. 

Again, incorporate a "Return" or "Back" button that allows users to easily return to the landing page or to previous results. When you consider the rapid growth of mobile Internet use, it’s clearly important to give your users the best experience you can when they visit your site. 

Optimizing for mobile can help you tap into the mobile revolution and increase your competitive edge. 

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