Go Big or Go Home: A Competitive Advantage eBook

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In the digital marketing sphere, you stand on the proverbial field to take home the win—the customers—every day. In this series, we will discuss tactics to help you size up the competition and stand victorious in paid search, search engine optimization, social media and analytics. When you let data drive your business, you can be the champion. View Levelwing's additional insights: http://ow.ly/fzN5F

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Go Big or Go Home: A Competitive Advantage eBook

  1. 1. A Competitive Advantage Article Series From:Asking Smarter Questions SEPTEMBER OCTOBER 2012 AskingSmarterQuestions.com
  2. 2. Table ofContents Preface: Are You a Game Changer? Preface: pg. 1 Part 1: Part 1: SEO Competitive Analysis: Tackling the Tools pg. 4 Part 2: Part 2: SEO Competitive Analysis: Beating the Other Guys pg. 7 Part 3: Part 3: The Xs and Os: How To Improve Your Paid Ads pg. 9 Part 4: Part 4: Learn the Fundamentals: Paid Search Optimization pg. 11 Part 5: Part 5: Facing the Competition Head-On: Display Ads pg. 13 Part 6: Part 6: Display Ads: Tactics to Get the Win pg. 15 Part 7: Part 7: Throw Down the Social Gauntlet, No Matter What your Size pg. 16 Part 8: Part 8: Beef Up Your Business with Social Research pg. 18 AskingSmarterQuestions.com
  3. 3. Are You a Game Changer?Preface: By Steve Parker, Jr. In our newest series, Go Big or Go Home, we discuss analyzing and tackling the competition. More specifically, we discuss tactics to help you evaluate your competition and win in various aspects of the digital game including paid search, SEO, social media, display and analytics. In this series you will learn to be a champion and change the game. “The same itemsthat give us more So, what about you? Are you a game changer? Do you rise to a challenge? pressure from Do you find a new way of solving old problems? Do you persevere when the competition also going gets tough? For most, the answer is no. Don’t be offended. Most people provide for us don’t rise, they run. Most don’t search for a new way, they lay low. Most fold the answers we under pressure when faced with a challenge. That’s the easy way out. It’s non- confrontational. And it’s unfortunate because there is always a way to rise, to need to become challenge, to succeed and it’s only in those moments when you find out if you a formidable are indeed a game changer. challenger and ultimately a If you have seen the movie Moneyball, you may remember a scene (that I truly game changer.” believe to be one of the best in film about thinking differently in challenging situations) where Billy Bean played by Brad Pitt asks his senior scouts, “What’s the problem?” and they answer in the litany of standard old ways of thinking. Billy is clearly not buying it and at the end says, “The problem we’re trying to solve here is that there are rich teams, there are poor teams, then there’s 50 feet of crap and then there’s us. It’s an unfair game.” In order to compete, Billy needed to find a new way of approaching the game. Often times we dismiss challenges as runs of bad luck, as insurmountable hurdles or as “the man” sticking it to us. Come on, be honest. You’ve felt this way; you’ve been a victim too, haven’t you? We all have – and I’m including myself. But this mentality doesn’t solve the problem, it only exacerbates it. Competition in our lives is escalating, not becoming less of an issue. Competition for a job, for an account, for a relationship, for attention, for our businesses to succeed is at an all time high as the world has become a global communication tool where decisions are made in milliseconds. Thankfully, the same items that give us more pressure from competition also provide for us the answers we need to become a formidable challenger and ultimately a game changer. Consider the following questions: What if our problems and challenges were the playing fields upon which we learn the way to create a new solution, a new way of visualizing the right answer? Example: The shotgun offense, devised in 1960 by Red Hickey (A little piece of knowledge I gained personally from the great Jack Harbaugh – father of John and Jim, coaches of the Ravens and 49ers respectively). T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 1
  4. 4. Are You a Game Changer?Preface: (continued)By Steve Parker, Jr. What if persevering through these challenges will ensure you learn, grow and succeed in a matter that no one thought possible or that most never consider? Example: Consider using information and data that others are not using such as raw query analysis from paid search or social research linguistics analysis. “To solve an Finding the answers, overcoming challenges and persevering is never easy, issue you need there are a few simple ways to think differently about the problems. a new lens fromwhich to view the The same issues that created the problem won’t solve the problem. Doing more problem.” of something that doesn’t work is just (say it with me), s-t-u-p-i-d. 1. To solve an issue you need a new lens (e.g. tool) from which to view the problem. What tools are you not considering or leveraging fully? 2. To solve a problem you often also need a new language that may well be foreign to you. For clarity, I’m not speaking of learning a new language; I’m speaking of learning a new way, a new approach. The above will not be comfortable in most cases. That is unless the pain from the problem has become so intense that anything is better. Most people don’t change anything unless it becomes painful. Example: Someone has high cholesterol and instead of changing diet immediately they wait until they have a heart attack. That is painful so they make a change. Don’t wait until you have a heart attack. Start now! In the advertising industry, brands (really people) get easily “geeked out” over creative ideas. Let me give you a common example of thinking different. Special Note: please know I am not bashing creative in this example, I’m being critical of the process and outcome and the way people think or don’t think differently. Step 1 Agency A will pitch ideas using their “give it a name” branding process which often consist of a cookie cutter methodology that has not changed in decades and is as commonplace as a coffee shop on a NYC street corner. Step 2 Creative insanity ensues. Step 3 The ads win major awards, they grace the cover of AdAge, the client is over-excited at the attention and come eighteen-months later, sales are still flat, down or only up slightly but not enough to justify the “campaign.” T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 2
  5. 5. Are You a Game Changer?Preface: (continued)By Steve Parker, Jr. Step 4 Agency A is fired, Agency B is hired. Step 5 “How you The entire process starts over. respond to thecompetition and Step 6 how you react Agency B has to make a name for itself so again the same “give it a name” in the face of process begins. new challengeswill determine if Step 7 Creative insanity ensues. you are a game changer.” Step 8 Wash, Rinse, Repeat. Solving a problem with the same process as before doesn’t work. Frankly, the creative may have not been the issue. The real issue may be that your customer service lacks effort, your distribution mechanisms don’t get the product to market in time, your merchandising plan is poorly positioned, your marketing messaging is hilarious and kitschy when the customer just really wants honesty and pricing. The good news is there are many ways to evaluate these problems and provide answers to solve them. For example, why rely on expensive focus groups in four cities and a few dozen people when you can get real-time, unsolicited feedback from conversation that already exist in the market via Social Conversation Analysis and Search Linguistics- from thousands, in many markets, right now? How you respond to the competition and how you react in the face of new challenges will determine if you are a game changer. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 3
  6. 6. SEO Competitive Analysis:Part 1:By Steve Parker, Jr. Tackling the Tools We’re beginning our “Go Big or Go Home” series with a piece on how to size up the competition in SEO (search engine optimization). We begin with SEO because it is truly important to lay the foundation for success on your website early on, thereby setting the stage for future optimization. Determining what the “Determining competition is doing in the space is a great first step in identifying opportunities what the for your own site. competition is doing in To begin, we’ll share some (free!) tools with you to help you better understand the space is a where your competition stands. great first step in identifying The most basic of these tools is probably the Google Keyword Tool. We haveopportunities for referenced it before in a post about social messaging. It is valuable because it can help you decide which keyword to target. It does this by offering two your own site.” important pieces of information: 1) volume of queries, 2) status of competition. It also offers you keyword ideas–that is, keywords that may be related to your search queries that also have a good volume of searches. The second of these free tools is the Google Insights for Search. This tool can be reached through the Keyword Tool by simply clicking on the keyword you wish to discover more about. This will give you some more in-depth information about the month over month volume of queries and the country or countries where the keyword is most often implemented. Additionally, the Insights for Search gives you ideas about fast-growing related keywords. For “discounted hotel rooms,” for instance, it suggested “hotel discount codes,” which has seen a growth of +70%. This not only tells us beneficial information about related keywords, but that also perhaps the competition is encouraging customers to book online by offering promotion codes that can be typed in at checkout. Our third helpful SEO competitive analysis tool is Open Site Explorer, which was created by SEOMoz in order to promote link transparency. It gives you relevant information about the backlinks a competitor may use. Here is an example T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 4
  7. 7. SEO Competitive Analysis:Part 1: Tracking the ToolsBy Steve Parker, Jr. (continued) of what you might find there if you typed in the Wall Street Journal. Beware, however, that unless you upgrade your account, you may only look at five site reports a day: “It’s important to know how accessible your site iscompared to the competition.” Web Page Test is a good source of finding out your competitions’ site load time. What does that matter, you ask? Well, Google has made it clear that a fast site load time is factored into their algorithm. They know that people do not want to wait for 10 seconds for a page to load. You can test a site (including your own) on all the different browsers as well, which could also help explain bounce rates (if you are seeing a difference in browsers). Since it has been shown that customers will not wait longer than 10 seconds for a page to load before exiting, it’s important to know how accessible your site is compared to the competition. Compete and Alexa are our last basic tools to tackle. This simply compares two sites’ volume of unique visitors. Though the reliability of the data has been questioned, we usually find these to be helpful as an overview. Here is an example of a few things you might find with these tools when typing in quick service oil change: T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 5
  8. 8. SEO Competitive Analysis:Part 1: Tracking the ToolsBy Steve Parker, Jr. (continued) A slightly deeper dive into the top result looks like this: “Getting a broad view of your digital space isjust as important as diving deeperinto an individual competitive brand.” It is important to remember that getting a broad view of your digital space is just as important as diving deeper into an individual competitive brand. By using these competitive analysis tools, you can find openings in the digital space where you need to be present. Perhaps your brand can take advantage of the less-searched but highly-converted long tail keywords. All of this information will enable you to make better decisions about how you build your website and how you implement SEO changes. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 6
  9. 9. SEO Competitive Analysis:Part 2:By Jeff Adelson-Yan Beating The Other Guys Now that you have used your free tools to see how your SEO competitors stack up, it’s time to dig a little deeper into their brand’s website for deeper competitive analysis. There are several things you need to look for in order to best assess what is working for them and where you can improve your site to be“As the old agage a stronger competitor. goes, ‘content is king’.” At this point, you’ve probably done your due diligence with keywords. So let’s move on to site structure. Firstly, you can check out roughly how many pages have been indexed on that site by going to Google and typing in: This will give you an idea of about how many pages have been indexed by the search engine. Though this will only give you a rough estimate, it’s important information to have in comparison to your own site. Secondly, assess the site structure itself. Are your competitors generating fresh content through a blog? Is that blog on a separate domain or a subdomain? Look at the titles, tags and descriptions on the blog. Are they keyword-rich? Are their website pages helpful and informative? Do the title tags indicate the correct page you are on? These are all factors in search engine algorithms, which help them in rankings and traffic. So let’s say that you have dug into these competitors’ sites and found lots of great information on their many well-built pages with natural linking practices. How on earth can you compete with that? Well, as the old adage goes, “content is king.” Fixing your pages and site structure to be the best that they can be is very important and should be your first SEO undertaking; however, once you have an established foundation and a solid structure, it’s time to add the decor. This means that it is time to add keyword-rich (but not stuffed) content to your site. Here are some ways you can do that to beat the competition: 1. Blog development Develop a blog that is on a subdomain (ex: blog.yoururl.com or yoururl.com/ blog) so that its updates will count as your site’s fresh content. Post once a day or as consistently as possible. Each time you add a new page to your site, the search engines crawl it and index them, adding to the number of indexed pages for your site. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 7
  10. 10. SEO Competitive Analysis:Part 2: Beating The Other GuysBy Jeff Adelson-Yan (continued) 2. User-generated content Add user-generated content to your pages in order to compete. This can be written reviews of a product (many online retailers are now offering incentives to do so), comments on blog posts, forum discussions, and video or photo “SEO is like submissions. RentTheRunway.com relies heavily upon their customers to submit building a photos of rented dresses with detailed reviews of fit and shape. Side bar: User- house…things generated content also allows a great opportunity for data collection and lead do not happen generation, as there is usually a registration process to participate. overnight. If 3. PR, news and career pages you want it done News sections and career pages are easy to update frequently and are moreright, you have to timely. This is a great place to start if you’re looking to increase traffic quickly. put in the time.” Though you should not blindly submit all of your content to directories (this is link-farming and is penalized), press releases can be a great tool to spread the word about what your brand is doing. However, make sure that what you’re saying is actually newsworthy. Quality over quantity is always true with most–if not all–SEO tactics. 4. Focus Focusing on the major opportunities in your local area could be the place to start. Especially if you are out-ranked by big, nationwide chains with seemingly endless amounts of time and money, try focusing your SEO content strategy to a local level. This does not necessarily have to be just one town or city, but maybe a region. If your website is not a reflection of a brick and mortar location, then focus on brands or products you carry. Perhaps you don’t need to rank for the term “running shoes.” Perhaps, it is more beneficial to your business to rank for “nike running shoes in mt. pleasant, sc” or “specialty shoe store phoenix, az.” Authoritative, inbound links are a huge factor in SEO as well. Therefore, it’s important that you assess where your competitors are linking and who is linking to them. Don’t fret if you do not have a huge network of people linking to your site. Instead, focus on generating content that others will want to link to (and share!). Mix up branded anchor text links and keyword-rich ones. There’s not a magical number of links that will get you to your optimum ranking and search engines want to keep it that way. Instead, focus on making your site navigation user-friendly, your content clear and fresh and your linking practices transparent. Also, remember that SEO is like building a house and things do not happen overnight. If you want it done right, you have to put in the time (and hire the right contractor). If you have done your homework on the competition and exposed their weaknesses (read: your opportunities), then you will be well on your way to creating a website that will be loved by users and search engines alike. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 8
  11. 11. The Xs and Os: How ToPart 3:By Jeff Adelson-Yan Improve Your Paid Ads You have done your SEO conditioning and made sure that your site is packed with content that is both easy-to-understand and informative. Your navigation is both user and search engine spider-friendly. You have title tags and meta data “Now the real that support your most valuable keywords. Now the real battle is waged: paid search. battle is waged: paid search.” The search engine can be a confusing place. There is paid, non-paid and local listings. Each ad comes with a seemingly endless list of options that can differentiate you. The user has been known to pay heavy attention to those in the top three slots. Next week, we will talk budgets and optimization. This week we will discuss best practices for building your ads themselves. 1. Emphasize relevancy A landing page is where the user ends up when he or she clicks on your ad. Since it is now possible to build ads that are fairly dynamic and match many different keywords, it is important to keep these landing pages relevant. What do I mean when I say relevant? Well, you need a landing page that 1) accurately represents the ad text and 2) allows the user to find what he or she was looking for. Relevancy for search engines means that the keyword is relevant to the ad, the ad to the landing page, the keyword to the landing page, etc. Every piece of your paid search strategy must be relevant to the next in order to get the best quality score. Here’s an example: if you’re bidding on the keyword “Gerber baby rattles,” then the landing page for that ad should take a user to the exact page on your site where you are selling baby rattles. If your business is service (not product) centered, the page should explain the product you are selling. For example, if your ad matches out to the keyword “HR software,” the user does not want to be directed to your homepage, blog or a white paper. The user probably wants to go to a landing page that has information about your brand’s HR software (imagine that!). If many of your sales or leads come in from phone calls, consider adding a dynamic Google phone number to your landing pages. This will give you a report with call duration and zip codes, which can be helpful in targeting optimization. Bonus tip: Always make sure that your landing pages render well on mobile devices (and not just iPhones). 2. Write compelling ad copy A good ad will tell you the brand name and product name and send you to a landing page with that product. A great ad will list the brand, product and price (or an offer if there are varying price points). A superb ad will do all the aforementioned things plus give you an incentive to click. Do you offer free shipping? Do you have hassle-free returns? Can the user purchase with one T click? These are all things that will put you ahead of the competition and are O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 9
  12. 12. The Xs and Os: How ToPart 3: Improve Your Paid AdsBy Jeff Adelson-Yan (continued) valuable enough to take up expensive space in your ad text. Test messaging and format. Do ads That Capitalize Each Word do better than those that do not? How does changing the display URL affect clicks? Feel free “Do not just to test all of the elements of your ad text. Do not just copy what the competition copy what the is doing; perhaps they haven’t changed their strategy in awhile. competition is doing; perhaps 3. Utilize ad extensions Ad extensions are a great way for your ad to catch the user’s attention. Rather they haven’t than saying you have Columbia rain jackets, for instance, show that you have changed their them. Users’ eyes will immediately go to the photo and they are far more likely strategy in to click. Another helpful ad extension is click to call. This is especially helpful on a while.” mobile devices. More extensions include location, sitelinks (to various popular pages) and seller ratings. Each can be helpful for different businesses (though many are especially helpful to the retail marketer). Location extensions allows users to get directions and see your local store, which is especially helpful for multi-location stores and your ad’s relevancy to a user’s location. 4. Stay studious Maybe I sound like a broken record when I say, “stay studious,” but search engine landscapes are changing all the time. Though Google still maintains the majority of search volume today, Bing is looking to make that a past reality. Do not settle for the status quo. You (or your marketing firm) should be looking to improve the quality of your ads constantly. For the time being, search for ways to make your ads more compelling to users. Even if you do not have the budget to be in the top position for your most important 550 keywords or build 45 specialty landing pages, you can take advantage of everything mentioned above to put you ahead of the competition. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 10
  13. 13. Learn the Fundamentals:Part 4:By Steve Parker, Jr. Paid Search Optimization Last week we covered improvements you can make to your paid search ads themselves. As promised, this week we will focus on bidding and optimization. Learning the fundamentals here is paramount to your success, especially as you dive deeper into analytics and complex data. “Learning the fundamentals Let’s Talk Match Types is paramount to Keyword match types are important to know because they dictate what your ad your success, shows for (and does not show for).especially as you dive deeper into A broad match keyword will match out to misspellings, variants and phrases that include your keyword. analytics and complex data.” Example: marketing This keyword can match out to the following queries: marketing, markting, digital marketing, online marketing, learn marketing, outdoor sales marketing, traditional advertising and marketing tips, etc. Do you see how this might be too broad to convert relevant traffic? Broad match types can be useful for research because of the information they bring in, but are often not the most cost-efficient option. Note: Broad match modifiers are also now available in both AdWords and Bing Ads (formerly AdCenter) and they allow you to strike a good balance between broad and phrase match keywords. A phrase match keyword will match out to the keyword phrase plus other words. Example: “how to make brownies” This keyword phrase can match out to the following queries: how to make brownies with nuts, how to make brownies with extra fudge, how to make brownies with fewer calories, paula dean teaches people how to make brownies. An exact match keyword will only match out to that exact phrase (and misspellings). Example: [digital marketing firm] This keyword can match out to the keywords digital marketing firm and digitl marketing firm, but never digital marketing agency or how to find a digital marketing firm. A negative match keyword is a keyword that you do not wish to be included in your query. Example: -free T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 11
  14. 14. Learn the Fundamentals: PaidPart 4: Search OptimizationBy Steve Parker, Jr. (continued) If you wish to weed out those users who are searching for a free service or product, you can do so with negative match types. Similarly, if you carry a product in red but not blue, you can add -blue to make sure your ad doesn’t “With the right show for those looking for the blue product. data, anything can be done.” Also, it’s important to keep an eye on your search terms or raw search query data which shows the searches that are matching to your keywords. This is a great source for new keyword ideas–both positive and negative keywords. Optimize for Rank & Placements You can now choose to bid based on your optimal ad position on the search engine results pages. Choosing your optimal ad position might require testing and some competitive analysis, but you can generally find a cost per click gap that will allow you to be in the top three at the lowest possible amount. Your ad rank is determined by your bid and your quality score. You can check your average position in both Bing Ads and AdWords in order to understand how an increased bid will influence your ad. You can also optimize your ad placements in the Google Display Network. If you want your ad to show on certain websites, it’s important that you set your budget according to how competitive you want to be on those individual sites. Conserve valuable dollars by being very thorough about which placements you want and those you do not. Optimize for Conversions It has to be said that in order to best optimize for conversions, you have to start with your website. Making sure that your site is easily navigable is essential. Optimizing your ads with straight-forward pricing, promotions and a strong call-to-action (buy, purchase, order, sign up, get a quote) is also essential. If you have done both of these things, then you can try using a tool like the Conversion Optimizer, which allows you to set a maximum or “target” cost per acquisition (how much you’re willing to pay for a user to “convert” on your website*) instead of cost per click or cost per thousand impressions. *Conversions can be any action you wish a user to complete, from requesting more information to email signups to purchasing an item. Increasing your return on ad spend (ROAS) can seem like a cumbersome job, but with the right tools, you can do it. Remember that optimization of every keyword is possible when each is assigned a specific value to your business. Finding that specific value can be time-consuming, but with the right data, anything can be done. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 12
  15. 15. Facing the CompetitionPart 5:By Jeff Adelson-Yan Head-On: Display Ads Display advertising. It’s a powerful form of digital marketing because it integrates marketing and creative–a whole lot of creative. But let’s first talk about what the competition is like in display.“The competition It’s slightly different than paid search because while it requires fierce is any display optimization tactics, it’s all about the latest and greatest thing and not ad that is cooler necessarily which ad has the better product or deal. In other words, the than yours.” competition is any display ad that is “cooler” than yours. In fact, getting a user to interact with anything other than a click is downright impressive; that means that they not only saw the ad but they are likely to remember the brand. So let’s talk tactics: Remarketing You want to make sure your strategy aligns with remarketing. For e-commerce brands, it may make sense for them to remarket a customer who abandoned their cart (ie: didn’t go through with the purchase) with banner ads displaying the items that were in their cart. With data that is less revealing about consumer intent (non e-Commerce), it’s still important to remarket based on actions taken and not taken on the site, but creative has to be more generic. The only issue with remarketing is the brand runs the risk of the user feeling a little “exposed” when the site is able to recall what he or she almost purchased. Many users are savvy to this tactic, too, which may lessen the feelings of exposure. Search remarketing can also be used to target users through display networks who have searched for your product or competitor brand terms. By doing this, you can not only target a relevant audience but also your competitor’s audience/ customers with your message and product–which has its obvious benefits. Most importantly, it can help push prospects down the funnel and consider your product over competitor’s product. The diagram further explains how display targeting corresponds to the sales funnel and consumer journey. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 13
  16. 16. Facing the Competition Head-On: Part 5: Display Ads By Jeff Adelson-Yan (continued) Measurement Like I write in practically every series post on beating the competition, it’s imperative to remember that measurement is at the root of all data-driven decisions. Measuring success beyond the click-through rate seems like a no-brainer these days, but a lot of advertisers still deem this to be the main “Measurement is performance indicator of a display campaign because it’s all about creative.the root of all data- Going past that, you reach on-site conversions, return on ad spend, return driven decisions.” on investment and attribute each to a piece of creative. A successful display campaign can report on all four things. Content Content is king is not just true of SEO, social or paid search. It also applies in display marketing. As video becomes more important, it is paramount that the content is compelling. In fact, MediaMind reports that the click-through rate of online video is 27.4 times that of a standard banner ad. If you want to capitalize on this, your video must not only be informative, but entertaining. These are just a few high-level tactics to help you beat the competition in display advertising. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 14
  17. 17. Display Ads: Tactics toPart 6:By Steve Parker, Jr. Get the Win Tactics are only useful if they align with the goals of your display campaigns. Therefore, setting your goals and implementing a plan to get there is the first step. However, if you have already done that, these are the tactics that will ultimately get you to where you want to be: “Ask the core question: How Tactics as They Relate to the Purchase Funnelare we measuring Tactics may be determined as they relate to the purchase funnel. For example, success?” the lower down in the funnel the customer is, the greater the targeting and less scale you will need. For targeting customers higher in the purchase funnel, you will need a wider reach and high impact. For the Smaller Budget Small budgets curtail the high impact units (e.g. page takeovers) though so tactics need to focus on capturing users in the lowest stage of the purchase funnel. Targeting becomes a key factor when dealing with smaller budgets and the goal becomes the sale of a product (or as close as you can get to a “sale”). If your goal on a small budget is still brand awareness, then reach, frequency and impactful creative become large players because you have to use those at the most efficient price point. For the Larger Budget Larger budgets are a whole other story. Here, it’s most important to understand the primary goal of the client and ask the core question: How are we measuring success on the back-end so that we can show and optimize towards performance that warrants us spending a large amount of money? Offline variables and other online channels become key players here as well. A large budget also lends the flexibility to test, test, test. We can test targeting tactics, creative, publishers, etc. to find the proper mix within the display channel. Use as many creative versions for testing if budget allows (often times there are restrictions with development). Ideas for Testing: •Calls to action •Color schemes •Visuals •Expandable units •Sound •Publishers •Targeting The possibilities are nearly endless with display, but no matter your budget, your brand can run effective campaigns. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 15
  18. 18. Throw Down the SocialPart 7:By Jeff Adelson-Yan Gauntlet, No Matter What your Size For the next two installments of Go Big or Go Home (our competition series), we are going to tackle social media tactics to compete in the social sphere. “Testing and The great thing about social media is that it gives small businesses the unique optimization opportunity to compete with larger businesses. are key.” Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about who you know in social media, but rather (and more refreshingly) what you know. Businesses of all sizes can figure out ways in which to do all of these things, though some may require more budget. 1. Do your homework. What do you offer that your competitors do not? The larger corporations do not automatically create a larger social buzz. Some things to study: competition’s pricing, perennial offers or sales and messaging. Keeping tabs on the competition is an easy way to see what is working for them and what is not. If you notice, for instance, that they have a lot of success with posts with photos, you can try this tactic too. 2. Get creative. This seems like a no-brainer, but to differentiate yourself in social media, you have to get creative with grabbing your audience’s attention. For example, if your customer service is a point of pride in your business, offer customer reviews or a customer appreciation program of some sort. Offer rewards to those who review your customer service on social media (even small discounts make them feel appreciated). If you are competing with a larger (chain) retailer, you can also find ways to make people feel good about shopping with you. Does your business donate to charities? Use eco-friendly packaging? Support a grassroots movement? All of these things make a difference to the consumer and they are more likely to shop with you (even if your prices are slightly higher) if they feel like they are helping a bigger cause. 3. Set goals. Having a data-driven strategy in place is imperative in order to achieve the goals you want. Don’t stay small (think: “let’s increase likes by 40%”); go big (think: “I want 1/4 of my online sales to be driven from social media channels”). For many businesses, that is not an insane goal to set. And perhaps you should not be doing business with those who say it is. 4. Test + optimize. Every size business should do some level of this. Therefore, testing and optimization are key. Using free social media tools is a great start. Appending tracking code to social messaging and tracking user paths and conversions with advanced social tools is even better. Reporting should be in- depth enough to optimize social messaging to capitalize on trends and insights seen. 5. Create unique experiences for every platform. This is a great way to ensure T that your audience wants to connect with you on every platform. You can create O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 16
  19. 19. Throw Down the Social Gauntlet,Part 7: No Matter What your SizeBy Jeff Adelson-Yan (continued) different facets of your brand on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. and design each one to satisfy different aspects of your business. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re a major car dealer. Pinterest is where you pin photos of awesome cars, Twitter is where you offer most of your deals, Facebook is where “Social listening you answer customer service and car questions and YouTube is where to post gives you the videos of races and discussions about car technologies. That is just a quick list ability to be a fly of things you could do, but it gives you an idea of how to expand each platformon the wall in the and make it unique from the rest. If you simply copy to Twitter what you post to Facebook, why would anyone want to follow both? homes of your consumers.” 6. Integrate with your offline advertising. Traditional ads on TV and magazines should incorporate social media (hashtags that appear during the commercial, bonuses for liking the brand on Facebook, and at the very least a URL for people to find you online), but social media should also be an extension of your traditional advertising. Take Old Spice for example. After having wild success with Isaiah Mustafa (“The Old Spice Guy”) as a spokesperson, they took to YouTube to answer consumer questions, which garnered huge engagement. Social media is also a great way to test ideas for advertising before paying the big bucks for major TV network airtime. Why not try out an idea as a social media campaign and see what audience feedback you receive? Social research in the form of social listening gives you the ability to be a fly on the wall in the homes of your social consumers, so it’s a great way to see how they feel about new campaign initiatives. T O P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 17
  20. 20. Beef Up your Business withPart 8:By Steve Parker, Jr. Social Research Competition in the travel industry is fierce, especially online. And since the travel and tourism industry has taken a bit of a hit in the last few years–with many people not being able to afford travel and choosing not to because of the headache–we are going to focus on how social research can be used“Listening to your specifically to help those in the travel industry. Though we will use travel industry customers can to illustrate our points, these ideas can be beneficial for any industry. Listening give your brand to your customers can give your brand insight into the competition and beyond. insight into the Here are ways your brand can use social research to better business and get competition more consumers to book with you: and beyond.” 1. Showcase what people love about your brand. What do people appreciate most about your brand? How do you find out these things? Social research is a great way to figure out what people like without soliciting them. Listening to public conversations online is an easy and efficient way to make data-driven business decisions that will directly impact your consumers. For example, do your customers love that you brew Starbucks coffee in your lobby? Let them check-in online? Make check-outs headache- free? Showcase these pluses on your digital and offline channels to make consumers feel appreciated. You can even go so far as to tell them that you’re making business decisions based on consumer feedback. They will feel like they have been heard and it may encourage more positive sharing. 2. Improve your business according to consumer complaints. There are often trends in consumer conversation. Find out what the negatives are that people are discussing in relation to your brand. How can you improve your consumer’s experience and also run your business more efficiently? If wait times are a number one complaint, perhaps there are services you can offer to combat this like online check-in, mobile check-in or a self-service machine. 3. Tailor messaging to target audiences. Use data you have gleaned from your campaigns to bucket your demographics and write messages specific to them. For example, let’s say that you’re a hotel owner. If professionals are complaining about having to travel for work, your messaging can emphasize relaxation and efficiency–essentially taking the “have to” out of traveling for work. In another example, if you see a trend of young people traveling with pets, you can tailor your messaging to target pet owners and list your properties that are pet-friendly. 4. Find new opportunities in your industry. Social listening and research does not just have to be about your brand, or even your competitors’ brands. Monitoring what people are saying about your industry as a whole is a great way to find new opportunities to offer/do things that other brands are not. For example, if consumers are discussing the lack of information online about a particular vacation destination, your brand can incorporate Yelp! reviews onto your booking page. Solving small problems and taking away obstacles for your consumers can not only make them happier, but increase bookings. Google always emphasizes that what is good for the user is T what is also good for your website, and it should work like this in all aspects of O your digital initiatives for your business. P AskingSmarterQuestions.com 18
  21. 21. Like what you read and want to learn more?Primary ASQ contributors Steve Parker, Jr. and Jeff Adelson-Yan are also theManaging Partners and Co-Founders of Levelwing. Levelwing is a businessanalytics and intelligence firm, mining and analyzing data to help businessesoperate with greater clarity and profitability.Please contact us directly to learn how your business can benefit from ourservices.e: steve@levelwing.comp: +1.843.631.4587Or visit our website atwww.levelwing.com/services

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