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How to Build Hype for the Holiday Season as an Ecommerce Brand

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This is a great marketing opportunity for your ecommerce business.

You have a small operating window to effectively execute your plan.

These are some of the most common days to mark on your calendar during the holiday season:

  • Thanksgiving
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas Day
  • New Year’s Eve
  • New Year’s Day

These all happen within a month or so of each other.

Sure, there are other holidays spread throughout the year.

You can still run promotions for holidays like April Fool’s Day, Mother’s Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day.

But the holidays at the end of the year can be extremely profitable for you if you’re building enough hype for your ecommerce site.

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Ecommerce is on the rise, and it goes up 12% during the holiday season.

Online shopping is convenient for consumers.

They don’t have to sit in traffic or wait in lines.

Shoppers can buy from their homes, offices, or mobile devices whenever they have free time.

Sure, not everyone loves shopping on ecommerce platforms.

In fact, 49% of shoppers say not being able to touch, try, or feel a product is their biggest problem with shopping online.

Regardless, ecommerce is still trending upward.

This is especially true for the holidays.

The average adult in the United States plans to spend $419 on their holiday gift purchases.

Take advantage of this.

Building up hype for your ecommerce site can get you a piece of that number.

I’ll show you how to get exposure for your website during the holiday season.

This will increase your traffic, conversions, sales, and revenue.

Start planning early

Don’t wait until the last minute to execute your holiday promotional strategies.

Waiting until December to start marketing for Christmas is way too late.

Let’s take a look at some numbers.

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Consumers are shopping less during the pre-holiday dates.

Look at the trends over the last three years.

Just because your customers are waiting to buy does not mean you should be waiting to promote.

Look, I’m not saying to launch your campaign in July or August, but you can certainly start planning ahead.

If you wait, you could potentially lose the edge to your competitors.

Start preparing for factors outside of your marketing strategy as well.

Make sure you have enough inventory.

You’ll also need enough staff on the schedule who are familiar with your procedures to fill and process incoming orders.

Touch base with your web hosting service.

Find out if your website has enough speed and bandwidth to accommodate a potential surge in visitors.

Slow loading times or a site crash could be detrimental to your company, so get all of this sorted out ahead of time.

Planning ahead for unforeseen circumstances will save you time, money, and headaches in the long run.

Offer shipping benefits

Give the customer a reason to buy from you over the competition.

Shipping could be the deciding factor resulting in the sale.

In fact, 9 out of 10 consumers list free shipping as their top incentive for shopping online.

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Free shipping isn’t the only motivation you should offer.

If possible, offer priority shipping or even overnight shipping options. Don’t exclude those last-minute shoppers.

If it’s the week before the holidays and people still need to buy gifts, they won’t use a company that takes two weeks to deliver an order.

That shouldn’t be your business. Let your competition make that mistake.

Sure, for overnight shipping or expedited packages, it may not be practical to offer free shipping.

Just make sure your customer has the option to choose when their package will arrive at the most affordable rate.

Be upfront about your shipping prices.

Consider that 61% of consumers said that unexpected costs like shipping, taxes, and fees were the reason for not finalizing their checkout process.

You definitely want to minimize shopping cart abandonment.

Offer free shipping whenever possible, and be transparent about extra costs before the customer reaches your checkout page.

Don’t alienate last-minute shoppers with long delivery dates.

Retargeting must be a top priority

Target your existing customers during the holiday season.

Sure, it’s always great to get new business.

But think about your marketing budget.

It can cost you up to 7 times more to obtain a new customer than to retain an existing customer.

The holiday season isn’t the time to experiment with a new customer acquisition strategy.

Focus on the people already familiar with your brand and products.

If you don’t market to your current customers, they may turn to your competitors instead.

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Look at the data above.

During the holiday season, consumers are open to shopping on websites they haven’t visited before.

You can look at this in two ways:

  1. You have a greater chance getting new customers.
  2. Your current customers may shop on other ecommerce sites.

I would strongly recommend focusing on that second point.

We just talked about the cost of acquiring a new customer compared to keeping an existing one.

If you get new customers, that’s great.

But don’t make that your primary strategy for building holiday hype.

I would be much more concerned with losing one of your customers.

Launch your most successful retargeting strategies for your next holiday campaign.

Create a sense of urgency

Give your customers a reason to make the purchase now.

If they are just browsing, entice them to buy immediately instead of later.

Amazon uses this strategy on their platform all year round.

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Look at this example.

Do you see how they created urgency here?

Only 1 item left in stock.

The customer may panic.

Even if they were just browsing, now they have a reason to buy it right away.

The customer knows their loved one really wants this item as a gift, so they don’t want to risk it being sold out before the holidays.

Implement this strategy on your ecommerce site.

  • Limited quantity remaining
  • Only 2 hours left before sale price expires
  • Free shipping if you order before midnight

These are some phrases you can use to encourage buying.

You should do this all year, but it’s especially effective during the holidays.

People want to buy the perfect gift for their friends and family members.

Entice them to purchase those gifts from your website.

Make sure your website is optimized for mobile devices

I often speak about the importance of mobile optimization.

The holiday season is no different.

It’s essential for your customers to be able to make purchases on their phones and tablets easily.

Look at the mobile ecommerce trends from last year’s holiday season:

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Earlier we established that people wait until the Thanksgiving weekend to do the majority of their holiday shopping.

The above graph shows purchasing statistics over 3 important days for online retailers:

  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Black Friday
  • Cyber Monday

These dates are within five calendar days of each other.

On each of these days, over half of the ecommerce traffic came from mobile devices.

Purchases from mobile users were 40%, 36%, and 35%, respectively.

Those numbers cannot be ignored.

If your platform isn’t mobile optimized, there’s no chance you’ll get a significant number of sales.

Your page has to load fast too.

Mobile users will leave a site 57% of the time if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds.

Earlier we discussed the importance of planning ahead for the holiday season hype.

Mobile optimization and mobile load times should be at the top of your list.

Flash sales

Run a same day promotional event.

Flash sales work great.

This relates back to the concept of urgency.

Here’s a great example from the J. Crew Factory Store.

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Take a look at the two points I highlighted here:

  • ends tonight
  • online only

These are both great ways to create hype.

Sure, this isn’t an advertisement focused on the holidays.

But you can use those terms during seasonal promotional campaigns as well.

Here’s another thing you want to consider when running a flash sale.

Timing is everything.

If you’re going to run a same day sale or a promotion lasting for a few hours, you need to plan it perfectly.

Find out what time of day your customers are shopping.

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The data above shows consumer shopping habits from Cyber Monday last year.

For the most part, activity was much lower during the normal working hours of the day.

What does this tell you?

Starting a sale at 10 AM and ending it at noon probably isn’t your best bet.

However, starting your sale in the evening and running it through 8 AM the following day would be much more effective.

When planned and executed properly, flash sales are a great way to build hype during the holiday season.

Focus on your pricing strategy

Consumers are always price sensitive.

The holidays may not be a bad time to focus on your prices.

Compare your pricing to that of the competition.

Where do you fit?

One of the perks of online shopping for consumers is that they can compare prices between different sites in just seconds.

Chances are, they will buy the least expensive product.

Take a look at these researching habits:

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Consumers even visit websites before making a purchase in a brick and mortar store.

Understand the psychology behind pricing.

People love feeling like they got a good deal.

Make sure your products offer them value.

What makes your company different?

If your product is the same as those of every other brand on the market, why should the customer pay double for yours?

They won’t.

The holidays are also a great time to offer discounts and deals.

We already talked about how important it is to offer free shipping.

Discount the products as well.

Mark the initial price higher if necessary, and then slash the prices with flash sales and other promotions.

Know your audience

Whom are you targeting with your holiday campaign strategy?

If the answer is anyone and everyone with access to the Internet, it’s a mistake.

Narrow your focus, and choose your target audience.

Does your business have a Facebook page?

If it doesn’t, you need one. But I won’t get into the importance of that right now.

For the time being, I’ll assume you have a presence on Facebook.

It’s a great way to find out the demographics of your target audience.

Go to the “Insights” tab on your Facebook page.

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This will show you valuable information about everyone who liked your page.

You’ll learn their:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language

Take this data, and create campaigns for your followers.

Based on this information, you can potentially figure out which holidays your followers celebrate.

Advertise accordingly.

Use multiple distribution channels

How are you planning to advertise during the holidays?

Email?

Facebook?

Your answer should be both, plus every other distribution channel you can find.

Make sure your brand has an active presence on different social media platforms.

Facebook is effective.

But that shouldn’t be your only resource.

Use Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube to connect with your customers.

Billions of consumers are active on various platforms each month.

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If you’re running a promotion such as a flash sale, which we talked about earlier, advertise it on all of your active distribution channels.

This is the best way to ensure it reaches the largest number of people.

It may sound obvious, but too many ecommerce stores look over this concept.

They may advertise a promotion on Instagram but not on Twitter.

This doesn’t make any sense.

It will only take an extra minute or two out of your day to get this campaign up on all of your platforms.

Don’t slack during the holiday season.

Use all your resources to promote your products and brand.

Conclusion

The holiday season is a great opportunity for ecommerce stores to generate high profits.

It’s a time when people are looking to spend money over a short period of time.

The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the peak time when consumers shop for the holidays.

Run most promotions between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Those few days are a popular time for online shopping.

Plan ahead.

Make sure you’ve got plenty of staff and inventory ready for a potential surge in online orders.

Online shopping is growing in popularity, especially on mobile devices.

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Your ecommerce store needs to be optimized for mobile users.

Create a sense of urgency with each campaign.

Run flash sales, and target your existing customers.

It’s cheaper to keep a current customer than to acquire a new one.

When you’re running a flash sale, pay special attention to the timing of your promotion.

Know your audience. Research the demographics of your customers, and market to those people accordingly.

Customers are sensitive to pricing, so make sure you focus on your pricing strategy.

Offer incentives like free shipping.

Don’t forget about last-minute shoppers.

You also need to advertise next day shipping whenever possible.

Promote your brand on all your distribution channels.

Following these techniques is a recipe for success if you want to build hype for your ecommerce site during the holidays.

How will you promote your ecommerce store during the holiday season to increase sales?





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3 Simple Keys to a Successful Video Strategy

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When my middle son was seven, he knocked it out of the park with the first video he created. Back when Rainbow Loom bracelets were hot, he put together a tutorial on how to make a certain type. Within three days, his video received 70,000 views. He also received quite a few nasty comments. He
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How RankBrain Works (And Why You Need to Jump On)

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how rankbrain works

It seems like every other week we see the following headline:

SEO is finished! SEO is dead.

I’ve read a few of those articles in the past few weeks alone and countless times over the past few years.

But why? What’s causing people to think that SEO is dead?

Well, one reason is the fact that Google changes their algorithms 500 to 600 times every single year.

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That’s almost two times per day. It’s nearly impossible now to keep up with Google’s constantly-changing ranking factors.

One day it’s all about links and the next thing we know, it’s social presence.

Trying to optimize your site for search engines in 2017 is one of the most confusing tasks you can give someone.

Do you optimize meta descriptions? Do they even matter anymore? What keywords should you use? Do those make any difference?

And in 2015, Google dropped yet another bombshell on us:

Google was making huge investments in machine learning and artificial intelligence to filter search results and rankings.

Awesome — yet another factor we have to take into account when trying to build our organic presence!

Google called this new AI implementation “RankBrain.” In 2015, they officially told us that AI technology would help determine search results.

They even placed heavy importance on the ranking aspect of the new technology and how it would impact search placings.

In this article, I’ll give you the 4-1-1 on what RankBrain is, how it works, why you should care, and how you can optimize your search results for RankBrain.

What is RankBrain?

Google search results have changed dramatically over the past few years.

From rich snippets and cards to the knowledge graph, the search engine keeps getting better and better:

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The entire goal of Google is pretty simple: To give the user the best search engine experience in the least amount of time.

That means that when you search for a query, you are going to get nearly instant results:

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Google is all about giving us the information that we seek. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

But Google doesn’t work the same way that it used to.

For example, when you used to search for a keyword, you’d bring up millions of results for pages that used that keyword in their text.

So in those days, how would you take advantage of this for SEO? You’d plug that keyword into your content over and over to trick Google into showing your content.

We now commonly refer to this tactic as “keyword stuffing,” and it used to look like this:

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And it was one of the best ways to rank your content.

Google’s search engine wanted to show the content because it seemed relevant.

But now, Google search results are vastly different. Google doesn’t just read your content and rank your website for keywords.

They look at context now, which means that they can tell by your search terminology what you really want to see.

For example, check out the results for my search on SEO:

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They showed me a definition in the form of a rich snippet.

Why didn’t they show me a website spamming the word SEO over and over again? It’s because machine learning interpreted my search query in a specific way.

Think about it: If you’re searching for a keyword like SEO, why are you searching for it?

You’re clearly not searching for SEO services. And you’re not searching for SEO tactics. If you were, you would have typed that.

You are most likely searching for the definition to learn what SEO is.

And Google started to understand this and provide the most reasonable result for that search type.

Google is now essentially capable of understanding and recognizing how words shape context.

And RankBrain is a tool that furthers this understanding.

So, what exactly is RankBrain?

RankBrain is a machine learning system that uses artificial intelligence to improve search results and interpret new queries.

Bloomberg released the first statement about RankBrain from a senior research scientist at Google named Greg Corrado.

If you watch that video, you may notice one of the most important phrases that Greg used to describe RankBrain:

“That phrase seems like something I’ve seen in the past, so I’m going to assume that you meant this.”

Essentially, the RankBrain system takes difficult or hard-to-understand queries and relates them to previous searches based on intent and end results.

Google RankBrain helps to sort out searches that Google has never seen before and relate them to existing searches:

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The system helps to identify patterns behind search keywords that are generally difficult to understand by connecting them to other search queries.

This means that Google can still provide the most accurate results for brand new search terms.

They do this to keep users satisfied and to serve up results that searchers want no matter how long or different the search term is.

Now that you know a bit more about RankBrain, let’s take a look at a real example.

RankBrain in practice

Google hasn’t given us many specific examples or instances where RankBrain has helped our search results.

But in the original Bloomberg release article, they gave us one example:

What is the label of a consumer at the highest level of a food chain?

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what the heck this search even means.

It’s a prime example of real searches on Google. I’ve been there before too, searching with a query that truly doesn’t make sense.

Take a look at the results for this query, though:

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That’s pretty interesting if you ask me. RankBrain does a good job of connecting multiple aspects of that search to results from other similar searches.

RankBrain took a somewhat complex search query and turned it into fantastic results.

With that search, the user was likely trying to find information about where a consumer fits in the typical food chain.

Now look at the search results for “top-level food chain” that could be comparable to the intent of the example above:

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Almost identical results, right?

That shows that Google’s RankBrain is taking that complicated, diverse search query and picking it apart.

They are taking specific cues from the search and connecting it to popular searches like “top-level food chain” to give better results.

Check out this visual example on how RankBrain takes specific parts of queries to connect them to other ones:

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In that search above, it’s pretty difficult to gather what the searcher really wanted to see.

Did they want to see what level a consumer is on the food chain? Did they want to learn about consumers at chain food stores?

RankBrain works by taking segments of the entire search and relating them to the most popular searches with those related terms.

What are machine learning and artificial intelligence?

To really get a firm understanding of what RankBrain is, we need to learn about machine learning and artificial intelligence.

These both play a significant role in how RankBrain works and how Google will continue to function.

Let’s get started with machine learning first.

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Machine learning is an application of artificial intelligence that helps existing computer systems automatically learn and improve the user experience without being told what to do.

Machine learning takes user behavior and uses it to understand what works and what doesn’t.

By using frequent patterns and behaviors, machines can predict and deliver content based on common history.

For example, let’s say I search for “machine learning” on Google, but I don’t get what I’m looking for:

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Because the results aren’t there, I need to modify my original search query.

This time, I search for “what is machine learning:”

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Great! That result is 10x better than the previous results.

And Google’s machine learning capabilities will start to pick up on that.

They learn that my original search led me to rephrase it to find the result I was looking for.

By not clicking on any results for the first search, the machine understands that the query wasn’t delivering the right results.

But when I rephrased my search results, I found the content I was looking for.

That means that Google can correlate those searches in the future. They can make content that shows up for “what is machine learning” also rank for “machine learning.”

So why is machine learning important?

Machine learning is a massive factor in how search engines display results. If your content doesn’t match up to the user experience, you can kiss your rankings goodbye.

Machine learning seeks to provide the best user experience by learning context and delivering content that makes sense.

So if you’re gaming the system, Google will learn that your content isn’t being clicked on for searches.

With that in mind, you need to focus on optimizing content for real people and learning the context behind a search.

The intent behind searches is what will drive rankings. If someone searches for “SEO” and you try to sell them services, you won’t rank.

If you explain in detail the history and definitions of SEO, you will.

So what is artificial intelligence? Here’s what Google has to say:

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Artificial intelligence seeks to help computers understand and react like humans when they get specific tasks.

This ties into RankBrain because the system seeks to understand how real users interact with Google and how they can make snap decisions based on translation and recognition.

It’s pretty amazing, right?

Machine learning and AI are big components of Google’s future and are already playing a role in RankBrain.

Here’s why you need to care about RankBrain.

RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal

In 2015, Senior Google Analyst Greg Corrado went on Bloomberg to discuss the announcement of RankBrain.

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One particular statement that he provided gave us insight into how it would impact rankings in organic results.

He essentially said that RankBrain is one of the hundreds of things Google uses to determine search engine results.

That means it’s a big factor in organic rankings.

But here’s the difference:

The hundreds of other ranking factors come straight from Google engineers and their experiments.

RankBrain, on the other hand, is machine learning and AI technology that independently learns from queries to give results.

Greg Corrado also told us the following:

“It is the third most important signal in the search engine.”

That makes it a top factor when it comes to showing your content in organic results.

If you simply ignore RankBrain and the technology behind it, you’re risking your organic rankings and traffic from organic search.

So, what are the two other ranking factors that make up the big three?

They’re your content and links.

In 2016, Search Engine Land conducted a Q&A with Andrey Lipattsev, a Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, in which he stated that content and links were the top two ranking factors.

He also repeated Greg’s statement in saying that RankBrain is the third.

According to SEL, there are dozens of ranking factors:

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But the top three are content, links, and RankBrain.

So you can’t afford to ignore RankBrain. You have to care about it if you care about organic traffic.

Google uses RankBrain in every search and it impacts rankings

In 2015, just 15% of Google searches fully utilized RankBrain.

It hardly filtered any searches that users conducted.

But in 2016, Google told us that their confidence in RankBrain was steadily increasing.

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And now, RankBrain and machine-learning tools are handling every single search query.

Massive amounts of search queries will have different results than they once did.

Different results mean different rankings and impacts on organic traffic.

In 2016, Steven Levy broke a story that had incredible data on how RankBrain really was impacting search results.

Here’s the main quote that stood out to me:

RankBrain is “involved in every query.” It impacts rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.”

This is difficult news for any marketer or SEO to hear. They aren’t being very definitive when it comes to our livelihood.

Does it impact our search traffic? Do we need to optimize for it? What in the world does it actually do?

All we can do is trust that Google is telling us the truth and that RankBrain really is impacting search query rankings.

And when you look at the data, it makes sense. Here’s a visual depiction of RankBrain in action:

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It takes a user’s search query and matches it by relevance to other queries, giving results based on those similarities.

And considering that Google now uses it in every single search, we know that rankings will shift.

As machine learning understands behavior, it can tell if results are correct or not.

Remember that example I gave earlier?

Let’s say that you search for something like “content marketing” and you only get ads or agency results:

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But you don’t click on any of these results. Instead, you modify your query to “what is content marketing” to get this result:

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RankBrain will learn that you had to modify a search query to get the result.

If enough people are doing this modification to find better results, they will adjust the content that it shows for that specific keyword.

So, instead of showing ads and agencies, RankBrain will show you definitions and articles explaining content marketing.

All of this data leads us back to one simple point:

Google is attempting to streamline the user experience to eliminate any hiccups or added time to find results.

 

Here’s how you can optimize your content for it and stay afloat in an ever-changing search engine landscape.

Two specific ways to optimize for RankBrain

RankBrain plays a big role in how search engines filter content. According to Google representatives, it’s the third most important ranking factor.

Here are two surefire ways to keep your organic presence alive.

1. Research the intent behind every keyword.

Intent is everything when it comes to optimization and RankBrain. Machine learning has begun to understand how context plays a role in searches.

The examples we discussed earlier in this post show that intent is a big factor in search results.

If you don’t understand the searcher’s intent behind every keyword, you could be wasting tons of time and money.

Trying to rank your CRM product for “best CRM” isn’t a good use of your efforts or budget.

Why? It’s because the intent behind the search isn’t to find a single CRM platform that claims it’s the best.

Put yourself in the user’s shoes. Let’s say you are considering purchasing a new CRM platform, but you don’t know which to choose.

You would likely search for “best crm.” The goal of that search is to see comparison articles, not a CRM company claiming to be the best.

Take a look at the paid search results for “best crm:”

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They don’t make sense when you factor in user intent.

Now take a look at the organic results:

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Now that’s more like it. Users conducting that search most likely will want to see what types of CRMs are the best.

They want comparative data on the best options available.

Essentially, that search would fall under the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey:

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The user is looking at different options to solve their pain point. They aren’t making a decision yet. If they were, they would have searched for your brand.

When you’re conducting keyword research in today’s landscape, you have to take into account user intent.

You can’t just find a popular keyword and attempt to rank for it.

Just because a keyword has 10,000 monthly searches, that doesn’t mean it’s worth your time.

To do this, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a user and explore the top-ranking content on Google for that keyword.

For example, let’s say you want to rank for “content marketing tips.”

What is your first guess at the most popular form or style of content that will show for this? What does the user want to see? What is the intent?

Here are the results:

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If you guessed that listicle-style articles would dominate the SERPs, you were spot on.

Someone searching for “tips” is looking for multiple solutions to their problem.

They want more than one piece of actionable advice.

They want a huge list of items to view.

Another great way to decipher intent from a standard search is to scroll to the bottom of the results page and look at related searches:

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These are searches where users have modified their queries after searching for the original term.

These also give you a huge insight into the intent behind their search.

Google gives us breadcrumbs along the way without ever really telling us what to do.

It’s up to us as marketers and SEOs to dive deep into their system and uncover the right data for our personal gain.

2. Craft long-form, relevant content for it.

Once you’ve researched the intent, it’s time to create content for it.

RankBrain has the same overall goal that Google has always had:

To provide the user with the content that they need on the first try.

If your content doesn’t solve the user’s problem for a given query, you aren’t going to rank for it.

It’s plain and simple. When it comes to ranking, content really is king. If your content isn’t relevant, you just won’t get traffic.

If Google knows that people didn’t find it useful, why on earth would they still include it in the search results?

They won’t.

So what does this mean for marketers? You need to create long-form content.

You need content that solves the user’s problem so well that they don’t even need to click back to Google for the next result.

According to Backlinko, content length plays a big role in rankings:

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Why is that? Well, we can infer that the word count itself isn’t necessarily driving rankings.

Writing for the sake of word count isn’t a ranking factor.

You can’t write nonsense that’s 100,000 words long and expect the #1 position.

It’s all about the value of that content.

Most long-form content is long because it packs actionable data into every sentence. It contains things like tutorials, walkthroughs, and step-by-step instructions on fixing a problem:

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The more actionable you can make your piece, the better it will rank.

HubSpot also found that the more you post, the more traffic you get:

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And more blog posts also means more leads:

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If you focus on creating content designed for a real user experience, you will surely see improvements in your traffic.

Put yourself in a searcher’s shoes.

When you search for “how to optimize my homepage,” do you want to read a 500-word article with no images or instructions?

You obviously don’t. You want detailed steps on how to complete the task.

The moral of the story is:

Give the user what they want!

If you can research the intent behind keywords and then deliver long-form content that matches the intent, you can successfully stay afloat despite RankBrain’s meddling in our search results.

Conclusion

The headlines constantly make us think that SEO is dead. They make it sound like SEO is finished and we can’t expect organic traffic to be reliable forever.

I’ve read a few articles in just the last few months that proclaim the death of search engine optimization.

But in my opinion, it’s nowhere close to being dead.

I am still reaping the rewards of organic-based traffic on my site every day.

But Google changes their algorithm nearly two times per day and almost 600 times per year.

It’s becoming almost impossible to understand what Google wants us to do when it comes to SEO.

The top two ranking factors are still content and links, but we don’t even know what order they’re in.

Google keeps us on our toes, which makes it difficult for us to do our jobs.

Do meta descriptions matter? What kind of links should we get? What keywords still work?

We have enough questions for Google to fill an entire textbook.

And in 2015, they released even more news about RankBrain, the new AI and machine-learning technology that would filter our search results.

RankBrain is a machine-learning system that allows Google to give context to complex search queries.

You should care about it because it’s slowly becoming one of the most important ranking factors.

Thankfully, you can optimize your content for RankBrain.

Start by researching the intent behind every keyword. If you simply add keywords that you want to rank for, it won’t work.

RankBrain knows what content is right for the searcher’s intent.

Then, make great content for that keyword. Make it relevant and optimized to solve the user’s problem.

RankBrain is just the first step in the future of Google’s ranking factors. It’s time to jump ship and start optimizing.

How have you optimized your site and content marketing for RankBrain?

The post How RankBrain Works (And Why You Need to Jump On) appeared first on Neil Patel.



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How to Leverage Customer Surveys to Skyrocket Your Email List Engagement

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Has your email list come to a standstill?

Unfortunately for some businesses, the marketing campaigns designed to grow their email lists don’t always work.

The methods grow stale, and businesses have trouble adding new subscribers.

If this is happening to you, don’t get discouraged.

I’ll show you how to add subscribers and increase engagement with customer surveys.

Focusing on customer surveys will be a great decision for your brand.

You’ll find out valuable information about their levels of satisfaction and buying habits.

Surveys can help alter your marketing strategy, products, or services based on the results.

Asking the customer for their opinion is a great way to show how much you care about them.

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Nearly 70% of customers said they left a brand because they did not feel the brand cared.

Don’t let this happen to you.

Keeping your customers happy is a great way to add subscribers to your email list.

You can even send customers a survey through an interactive email.

In this post, I’ll show you how to use surveys to explode your email list.

First, come up with ideas for a survey

What’s your survey going to be about?

Before you can build a survey, figure this part out.

You can’t have a “one size fits all” questionnaire.

You’ll need to come up with a few different ideas here.

Here are a few examples to guide you in the right direction.

You can create a survey about:

  • The shopping experience on your website
  • A recent product purchase
  • How the customer felt after visiting your store
  • Their latest interaction with a customer service representative

Just make sure your questions focus on the customer experience.

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If your customers are experiencing an issue with your brand, products, or process, a survey can help you identify these problems.

You can’t resolve an issue unless you identify it first.

Build your survey

Now that you’ve decided what your survey should be about, it’s time to construct it.

If you’ve never created a survey before, don’t worry.

It’s super easy, and I’ll show you how to do it.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to building a professional customer survey.

Step #1: Select a platform like SurveyMonkey

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SurveyMonkey is a top option, but it’s not your only choice.

I like it because it’s easy to use and it’s free.

You can also check out other sites:

All of these will get the job done.

But for simplicity and consistency, I’ll continue explaining how to create your survey on the SurveyMonkey platform.

Step #2: Sign up for an account

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SurveyMonkey makes it easy for you to create a profile.

You can create a unique username or just sign in through your Facebook or Google accounts.

I think it’s easier to just click the Google button.

But it’s a quick process no matter which option you choose.

You can’t proceed until you create your account.

But again, it’s free, so you don’t have to give any credit card or billing information.

Step #3: Choose your template

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You’ve got some different options here.

You can build your survey from scratch or choose one of the predesigned templates.

I’d go with one already designed.

It’s much easier to just plug in your questions into their designs.

But if you want to be adventurous, feel free to start one from scratch.

Step #4: Select “Customer Feedback” from the “All Templates” menu:

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For our purposes, the templates in the customer feedback section are the most relevant.

Remember, we are designing our surveys to:

  1. Enhance the customer experience
  2. Grow our email list

This is the best spot to get started.

Step #5: Navigate to the “Question Bank” to add questions

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After you select a template, you’ll advance to the “Design Survey” tab.

From here, you can customize your questions from the question bank in the left column.

You can use their existing questions, modify them, or write your own.

For example, take a look at the question in the above example.

I could change the words “our company” to “Quick Sprout” to make it less generic.

Step #6: Collect responses from your customers

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Now that you’ve customized the survey, it’s time to distribute it to your customers.

Click the “Collect Responses” tab to proceed.

Now, the logical distribution method would be email, right?

Well, yes and no.

Here’s what I mean.

Yes, you want to send this email to your existing subscriber list.

That’s a no brainer.

However, this won’t necessarily help you build your email list.

All these customers are already subscribed.

Their responses are still valid, and you definitely want to hear them.

You’ll get more opens, clicks, and engagements by sending this out.

But remember, you’re trying to blow the top off your email list.

To do this, you’ll have to distribute the survey on all of your platforms:

  • your website
  • social media pages
  • mobile application

I’ll explain how you can use different resources to grow your email list.

Share your survey on social media pages

You may have fans and followers on social media who haven’t subscribed to your email list yet.

You can target these followers by distributing the survey through social platforms.

It’s a nice change of pace from your promotional messages.

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People will unfollow your page if you post only promotional content.

A survey is a great way to mix it up.

Your customers may have been waiting for a long time to tell you how they feel about your company.

This survey is an opportunity for them to voice their opinions.

Once they complete the survey, say thank you.

Now’s the perfect opportunity to get them to sign up for your email list.

Here’s how you do it.

Before they get started, offer an incentive to your followers to complete the survey.

They will be more inclined to share their opinions if they get something in return.

Here’s the twist.

To receive their free gift or discount, they need to join your email list.

Look at the way Blue Apron accomplishes this:

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Your social media followers will be happy to join your email list if they are getting something in return.

Make sure the deal is worth it.

Giving them 5% off may not be enticing enough.

I’m not saying you need to give your products away, but the offer needs to be appealing.

Converting your followers into customers by sharing your survey on social media can do wonders for your business.

Take a look at the process. Consumer:

  1. takes the survey
  2. signs up for your emails to receive their discount
  3. activates the promotion and makes a purchase

Now, you’re growing your email list and generating revenue.

All because of your survey.

Social media is a great distribution method for your survey because customers are more likely to buy from brands they follow.

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Targeting people for your email list who are more inclined to purchase from your company is an excellent strategy.

Leverage your survey results to boost your brand’s reputation

Let’s take this a step further.

You can use the results from your survey to grow your email list as well.

There are two main ways to accomplish this:

  1. make changes to improve the customer experience
  2. use social proof of concept to get subscribers

Let’s play out a hypothetical example here.

You’ve obtained some new information from your latest survey results.

Customers don’t think you’re running enough promotions.

They want more discounts than you currently offer.

Adjust your business model accordingly.

Make a point to give your customers a sale or promotional discount at least a few times per month.

How do they receive this discount?

By subscribing to your email list.

Start promoting more content that looks like this:

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Your survey results may be telling you that your current sign-up strategy is inefficient.

What’s the current incentive that your subscribers receive for signing up?

If you’re advertising that they will be the first people to get notified whenever you write a new blog post, it may not be exciting enough to them.

Switch it up.

Give the customers what they want, based on how they responded to your survey.

You can also use social proof to leverage your survey results.

This is another great way to grow your email list.

Here’s how social proof influences decisions:

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It’s power in numbers.

Use this psychological tactic to grow your email list.

In addition to surveys, you can ask your customers to write reviews for your company.

According to studies, 82% of customers conduct research online before they make a purchasing decision.

What information are they going to find about your company?

If you can encourage customers to review your company online, it will generate social proof.

Ask your customers to write reviews on platforms such as:

  • Facebook
  • Google Local
  • Yelp

Obviously, you’ll want to see positive reviews here.

But don’t be surprised if you find some unfavorable comments as well.

The more people you can get to write reviews, the greater the power of social proof will be.

Here’s an example of Yelp reviews of some coffee shops in my Seattle neighborhood:

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These places have 930, 755, and 1469 reviews, respectively.

When a customer is researching your brand online, seeing lots of reviews can influence their decision.

Reviews can also help grow your email list if they say something like, “I subscribed for weekly emails, and they always send me great discounts.”

Highlight surveys, and review results on your website.

Here’s a great example from Legal Zone:

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They proudly display this information on the homepage of their website.

How did they find out this information?

By conducting customer surveys.

Sharing the survey results on their website will create social proof for the prospective customers conducting online research.

This information can help influence more people to subscribe to receive emails.

Conclusion

You should always be trying to grow your email list.

But sometimes the tactics that worked for you in the past just aren’t cutting it anymore.

It’s time to start thinking outside the box to add subscribers.

Customer surveys can make a huge difference in your subscriber rate.

Your surveys should focus on the customer experience.

It’s hard to make changes to the company if you haven’t identified any problems.

The survey results will help you see what areas of your business need improvement.

Build a survey.

Use a platform like SurveyMonkey, and follow the step-by-step guide above.

Distribute your survey on as many channels as possible, including your social media pages.

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It won’t cost you billions of dollars to do this.

Social media is a great place to share your survey because your followers are more likely to buy from your brand. It’s only logical that you should target them to join your email list.

Offer a reward, prize, or discount to consumers for completing your survey.

That’s how you can add more subscribers.

To claim their reward, the customer needs to join your email list.

Your survey results can also grow your list.

Use the knowledge gained from the results to make the changes the customers asked for.

Offer these changes through your email list.

Leverage your survey results to add subscribers, capitalizing on the concept of social proof. Display the favorable results of the survey on your website.

When people see that other customers are happy with your brand, they will be encouraged to submit their email addresses to receive more content and promotional information.

What platform will you use to create a survey that will help you grow your email list?





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