Two of The Best Pay-Per-Click Advertising Hacks

The pay-per-click advertising landscape is constantly changing and is becoming more important for businesses to understand than ever. Google alone adds hundreds of new features each year, not to mention the dozens of other emerging and existing PPC platforms. So how do you know which campaigns to prioritize, what new features to try, and where to cut back for the most success?

In this webinar, Larry Kim, founder and CTO of WordStream, shares the top 10 PPC advertising hacks you need to optimize your PPC strategy today. Voted the “Most Influential PPC Expert” two years running and known in the industry for having unusual views on AdWords and quality score, he shares some of these views with you to help you grow your business.

1. Quality Score
The biggest hack of paid search has to do with quality score, which is a grade for your keywords. Google is giving you a score for your keywords count on a scale from 1-10 (10 being amazing and 1 being terrible). Quality score matters a great deal in AdWords, as it impacts everything in your account, including the ranking of your ads. It’s important because oftentimes there’s more than one advertiser who wants to be in the top spot of Google for a particular keyword. If there are multiple advertisers bidding on a certain keyword, Google weighs not only the maximum you’re willing to pay, but also the quality of your ads to determine the ranking of the competing ads.

Quality Score Impacts Ad Ranking

In this example, Advertiser I is spending the least amount, but can still win the top spot with a 10/10 quality score.

Quality score also impacts the cost-per-click. If you consider that the average quality score on Google is 5/10, a 10/10 score will result in a 50% discount on the CPC, whereas a 1/10 quality score will result in a 400% increase in CPC. The reason for this is because Google wants to provide an incentive for advertisers to create compelling and great ads because they only get paid if people click on the ads. Conversely, they want to penalize advertisers who create irrelevant ads.

quality-score-affects-your-cpc

If you aren’t convinced on the importance of quality score, then impression share might do the trick. Impression share is the market share of the keywords in your account. Just because you specify that you want your ads to show up for certain keywords, it doesn’t mean Google will actually show them. It turns out the better the quality of the ads, the more likely your ads will show up.

Quality Score Impression Share

This has to do with the impression share of ads in your account as your quality score increases, the impression share gained increases pretty linearly. Every increase or decrease in quality score, you can expect to see a 9% increase or decrease in your impression share. Most people would prefer for their ads to show than not to show otherwise, so why are we bothering to do this in the first place if you aren’t running ads at all?

Another key component of quality score is that it has a huge impact on the cost-per-conversion. The CPC plays a massive role in determining your cost-per-conversion. As we look at hundreds of millions of dollars in spend, the higher your quality score, the lower your cost per conversion. For every increase or decrease in quality score on average, we see that the cost per action increases or decreases by 16% per point.

Quality Score Impacts Cost Per Conversion

A lot of people wonder: how do you change your quality score? Sounds complicated, but quality score is just a computer algorithm and any computer algorithm can be hacked. It has everything to do with beating the expected click-through-rate (CTR). Different ads in various spots are pre-disposed to have different CTRs. If you’re at the top of the page, you’ll have a much higher CTR than if you’re at the bottom of the page. Google knows what the typical CTR for the different positions on the page. Through analyzing data and reverse engineering the quality score algorithm, Larry found that as you increase your CTR relative to the expected CTR, your quality score goes up. If you fail to beat the average CTR, that’s when you get the 2-5 quality scores.

CTR Quality Score

So are there any hacks you can explore to in order to raise the quality score?

Delete junk keywords
The first idea has to do with deleting junk keywords in your account that are dragging down your average. The following chart shows a typical bad account for AdWords. Each of the green dots is a keyword and you can that while see some of the keywords have high CTRs, some have almost no CTRs. Because the CTR varies by ad position, they are charted based on average ad position. There are a number of keywords beating the expected CTR and a number falling below.

ctr-vs-average-position

You might expect to see a mix of high and low quality scores, right? Wrong. What you see in this account is that they only have quality scores from 3-6 with no high quality keywords from 7-10. What’s happening here is that the low quality score keywords are dragging down the average, which is making life miserable for the good keywords.

Low Keyword Quality Score Distribution

The opposite strategy is to delete the garbage in your account, but increase the stars in your account. Take a look at this example. This company has an average CTR of 14.6% and looking at the graph, the vast majority of the keywords in the account are above the average CTR, while there are some under the curve.

ctr-vs-average-position

You might expect to see a mix of high and low quality scores, right? Wrong. What’s happening in this account is that they only have quality scores of 7 and 10. The average quality score in this account is 8.8 out of 10. The above average keywords dragged up the average, so even the keywords with 0% CTR were given 7 or 10 out of 10. That’s because the average is so high. 10% of your account should be branded terms, or terms that get 40 to 60 percent CTRs. Not only will they be cheap, but they’ll also raise the CTR of your account and will help the other keywords in your account do really well.

2. Insane Ads
Write crazy ads that can get 6x the average CTR. The key to quality score is to have high CTRs, but how do you do that? The answer is you write insane ads. In AdWords, when you do a search, what you’ll find is a pack of many poorly written ads.

Most AdWords Ads Suck

The opposite of a crappy ad is an emotionally charged, empathetic ad that compels people to click. Larry says Author Perry Marshall follows a “Swiss Army Knife Blade” for writing emotionally charged ads people click on. How do you do this? You need to write out the different entities in this chart here and try to draw edges among them to figure out the themes or concepts that will connect them.

dont-sucks-write-emotional-ads

Here’s an example of an effective ad for divorce lawyers. It doesn’t even include ‘divorce lawyer’ in the headline, which all of its competitors were doing. The fact that the ad gets 6x the average CTR means the company will get prominent ad positioning and impression share and a cheap CPC.

6x Above Average CTR

In copy writing, there are websites like Upworthy and CNN that have crazy headlines that cause people to click on the links. Those emotions of awe and anger are the same emotions that cause people to click on ads. Yet nobody is using that in their ad copy. We would be wise to emulate what the content marketers do in their copy, which is to write clever headlines to stir emotion.

Emotions Make People Click

You won’t want to miss the remaining eight most powerful PPC hacks of all time, such as using bid multipliers and how to best utilize YouTube Ads. Watch the webinar here.

view-the-webinar

How to Use Social Media to Drive Traffic for B2B Companies

A lot of B2Bs stink at social media. But in today’s social media-saturated environment, B2Bs can’t afford to stink.

For some reason, B2B companies have lagged behind B2Cs in both the adoption of social media and using it effectively. Here are five tips that will help any B2B pull out of the social media doldrums, and gain more traffic.

1. Figure out an unboring angle.

A lot of B2Bs are boring. At least they think they’re boring to the uninitiated. Their self-perception as a boring company becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because they think they are boring, they act boring. They write boring. They do social media boring.

I think that every company can be unboring — even the most “boring” B2B.

Let’s talk about an example B2B. They sell large vivarium misting systems to zoos, animal theme parks, and research universities.

That sounds pretty boring. What the heck is a vivarium misting system?

This is where the B2B needs to get creative.

A vivarium misting system helps reptiles to survive in an environment that is different from their native environment. It’s going to help pythons thrive in a research environment so scientists can understand them. Do you see the unboring angle emerging?

There may not be a lot of people interested in vivarium misting systems, but there are a lot of people interested in pythons, or rainforest preservation…

Each B2B with an unintelligible product or service needs to develop an angle that is both understandable and appealing to a broader audience. This will allow them to create an initiative or idea that can gain traction on social media.

Let’s say a B2B sells repair services for vibratory leaching systems in mines. There aren’t many people who are going to tweet about vibratory leaching systems in mines. But there are people who are interested in mine reclamation or increasing mine safety. There’s the unboring angle.

You can find an unboring angle. Once you do, you’re ready to roll forward with your social media efforts.

2. Feature a real person.

One of the major shortcomings of many B2Bs, especially in the industrial and manufacturing sectors, is the lack of a genuine human backing their efforts.

The lack of real people makes the B2B company seem so distant and unreal. It’s like talking to a robot. It just doesn’t feel right.

Every B2B needs to make an intense effort to humanize the brand on social media and content marketing. Here’s what this looks like:

  • Using first person voice when writing updates, articles, etc.
  • Using a brand front person to tweet, post updates, write articles, etc.
  • Using real people with their names in customer service.
  • Initiating engagement and outreach from a real person.

3. Hire someone good.

B2Bs are often challenged in social media, because they don’t hire the right person to manage their social media efforts.

Here’s how this plays out from a negative angle.

B2Bs try to hire someone who’s experienced in their niche, not someone who is an expert at social media.

I think it’s important that anyone who’s leading a social media initiative needs familiarity with the industry. But B2Bs also need someone who is a social media ninja. Why? Because B2B social media is a hard nut to crack. It’s not inherently sexy or awesome. It doesn’t automatically generate buzz. It takes a social media expert to really unleash the hidden power in B2B social media.

B2Bs often hire someone to do social media functions rather than to create a social media movement.

Social media is not just about posting Twitter updates twice a day, or updating a Facebook status once a day. That’s a shortsighted and myopic view of social media.

Social media is about much more. Many B2Bs, unaware of the deeper complexity of social media, are looking only for someone to update their status or create a Google+ page or whatever. That’s not going to cut it.

Instead the company needs someone who can develop a movement on social media, shaping the brand’s voice and expanding their reach. It’s not just status updates. It’s an entire identity creation.

B2Bs don’t know how to engage a following that is directly related to their niche.

Many B2Bs go astray on social media, thinking that they need to find all the followers who are interested in their niche — automated vivarium misting systems!

Unfortunately, there are only two people on Twitter who are interested in vivarium misting systems.

That’s why the B2B company needs to develop something broader and more exciting than vivarium misting systems. The social following does not need to be directly related to or even interested in the niche. They can be indirectly related via the unboring angle.

B2Bs engage social media with the objective of leads first, rather than brand awareness.

If the first objective of social media is leads, then things have gotten off on the wrong foot. Leads don’t come first. Engagement and presence comes first. Leads are a byproduct. This goes back to the “unboring angle” I mentioned above. If a B2B can develop their unboring angle, they will be better able to use social media effectively. The ultimate objective of most social media efforts is leads, but that doesn’t mean that gaining leads should come first of all. First of all, the company should aim for presence. Leads will follow.

Here are a few tips to help a B2B hire the right person for social media:

  • Hire an expert in social media. Look for someone that has social media success in a similar niche, but not necessarily in your own niche.
  • Hire a social media consulting company or agency, not just an individual. Companies often have more resources at their disposal. For a lower price, they can help you engage on a lot more levels like creating social media graphics, writing content, etc.

4. Back your social media with your content marketing.

There is no such thing as a successful social media campaign without a successful content marketing campaign. They’re like two links in an indestructible chain.

Gratefully, most B2B are already doing content marketing, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

percentage of b2b using content marketing

However, not every B2B is doing an effective job of content marketing.

how b2b marketers rate the effectiveness of their organization's use of content marketing

I’m convinced that the better a B2B company is at content marketing, the better they will become at social media.

This article is not the place to discuss the ins and outs of B2B content marketing. Instead, I’ll point out that the company should find the most engaging form of content, and share it on social media.

5. Use LinkedIn

B2B marketers love LinkedIn. Nine out of every ten B2B companies are using it.

percentage of b2b marketers who use various social media sites to distribute content

Image from Content Marketing Institute.

There’s a reason for this: LinkedIn is effective at securing leads.

The social goal of most B2Bs isn’t just traffic. It’s the right kind of traffic. More specifically, it’s leads from that traffic. That’s why LinkedIn has been the social media sweet spot of most B2Bs.

linkedin is for leads

Image from Mediabistro.com.

LinkedIn does for B2Bs what Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest have all failed to do. It forms professional connections based on a single goal.

It’s not that Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest are more personal and less professional than LinkedIn. LinkedIn brands itself as a professional networking site. On LinkedIn, you see less baby pictures, fewer cat videos, and nothing about “Dave just checked in at Downtown Bar.”

LinkedIn, devoid as it is from issues like “relationship status” and “favorite TV shows” is much more appealing to the world of B2B exchanges.

Conclusion

In the next few years, I predict that we’re going to see more and more B2B markets become really good at social media. Already, there are a few bright spots in the B2B social horizon.

By advancing these five tips, you can take your social media efforts to the next level.

What techniques do you use with B2Bs increase your traffic on social media?

About the Author: is the Chief Evangelist of KISSmetrics and blogs at Quick Sprout.

“Wrong Way” Corrigan

While on holiday in Ireland I came across the wonderful story of “Wrong Way” Corrigan. Here is a summary from history.com :

Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey.

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloud bank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers.

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn’t buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time “Wrong Way” Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.

Sometimes it is better to hope for forgiveness than to ask for permission.


Filed under: miscellaneous Tagged: "Wrong Way" Corrigan

Business of Software Conference Sunday Afternoon Photowalk 2014

If you are getting in early for Business of Software Conference, this is the perfect way to see a little of Boston, meet some great people and get the inside scoop on Boston’s best bars.

Arriving into Boston early? Join your fellow Business of Software attendees for the Fourth Annual Photowalk and tour around Boston. This is a great way to meet other attendees before the conference kicks off. All skill levels and all cameras/camera phones are welcome! Bring a camera… or leave it at home and just walk around town with us.

Everyone is welcome on this tour.

Talk nerdy to me Betsy Weber & John Knox

Rain or shine, on September 14, we’re heading out on the town! Look for John Knox (picture/@windaddict on twitter) and Betsy Weber (picture/@betsyweber on twitter) in the lobby of the Seaport Boston Hotel at 1:00pm.

Interested? Find out more details and sign-up for a free ticket here.

How to Build Your Audience on YouTube

If I had a dollar for every time someone told me they wanted a viral video, I’d be rich. But here’s the problem…

A viral video is not a win for a brand. It’s just an amazing video. It’s a unique thing unto itself and has little to do with a brand. If you really want to use YouTube effectively, I recommend that you take the time to cultivate a channel, so your brand will have a personality.

Fundamentally, the principle boils down to regularly educating your audience or customer base on topics they care about. If you focus on consistency, you will build an extremely valuable asset – an audience your brand can rely on in the future.

Optimize for Your Audience, Not Pageviews

You don’t want to generate traffic, you want to build an audience. While the difference may seem subtle, it actually is the defining factor in this strategy. A lot of people want a “viral video” for their brand, but what happens when your viral video isn’t even hosted on your own channel? (It happened to DIRECTV.)

russian-guy

Instead of aiming for a viral video, strive to build your channel consistently. The two can go hand in hand, but the first is just generating one-time pageviews and the second involves actually building an audience.

If you have an audience, you can build a brand relationship with them. Volvo built a real audience on YouTube and was able to capitalize on that infrastructure and strategy when their video featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme went viral. The same goes for Roger Federer’s Trick Shot for Gillette.

Even if you do try to create a video for the purpose of going viral, it shouldn’t be completely unrelated to your brand. While I loved the piano staircase video, I struggled to remember the brand behind it. That’s because Volkswagen isn’t the initial brand I associate with such an event. (With that said, I like the theme they’re creating with The Fun Theory initiative, even though they’ve got their work cut out for them.) Your content – viral or not – should always connect your brand to your audience.

There are many benefits of building a channel. If you establish an active community, you will get better results on each new video because the audience will be tuning in ready to watch and share your content.

When you’re gauging success early on, any engagement is good engagement. Your likelihood of getting a subscriber on the first video is not high. You just want people to care enough to make some noise. Remember, as Dave McClure once said, “Hate is closer to love than indifference – you can’t iterate around indifference, but you can around hate.”

While pageviews and subscribers measure fundamentally different things, if I had to choose, I would say measuring subscribers is more important. If you’re ten videos in and not getting any additional traffic to your website, you’re not failing.

There’s an inherent value to brand awareness, even if it’s not on your brand property. When it’s time for a viewer to buy something you sell, they won’t have to search through generic product categories. They will be more inclined to search for your specific brand.

I’ve explained why building an audience is more important than attracting viewers, and I’ve talked a bit about the principles and metrics I focus on. Now I’d like to explore some specific techniques to make your videos more conducive to building an audience than generating pageviews.

Educate Your Viewer

While network programming like TLC prioritizes entertainment first and education second, as a brand, you should flip the script on YouTube. Put education first and entertainment second. Figure out the utility value of the content. In other words, what does the viewer get out of it?

The fundamental rule is to educate your viewer. That’s not to say you don’t have to figure out the entertainment part of it, just that it should serve as the sizzle of the educational steak.

Example 1: Bigcommerce

E-commerce software and shopping cart solution provider Bigcommerce hosts a series of educational videos on YouTube, which they’ve branded the Bigcommerce University and organized into playlists.

The majority of videos are effectively video tutorials to educate users or prospective clients of the platform, but they’ve also got a series that mainly targets marketers who want to learn the basics of SEO and keyword research, and it doesn’t sell Bigcommerce too aggressively.

Although it sounds straightforward, it has proven effective: Bigcommerce has earned over 8,600 subscribers by focusing on education.

Example 2: Beardbrand

Beardbrand is an e-commerce retailer that sells beard grooming products (e.g., oil, grooming kits, etc.). Its YouTube channel is populated with beard-related education, such as the key to finding a suitable beard style or advice on beard washing. It also informs viewers about the products in stock. Over 14,200 YouTube users have subscribed to Beardbrand’s channel because of their educational efforts.

Other best-in-class examples:

HubSpot does a great job educating and informing their audiences on YouTube. Similarly, REI does a good job connecting expert advice to interesting customer stories.

Use Consistent Characters or Themes

Having recurring characters and gags are tried-and-true methods of making content more consistent. For example, Pepsi does a good job with racing champion Jeff Gordon taking unsuspecting car salespeople on wild test drives, and with professional basketball player Kyrie Irving posing as an elderly figure named Uncle Drew schooling other players in real life.

basketball

While these videos are extremely potent in terms of virality, the most important point is the audience naturally becomes more familiar with the characters. This can present a challenge because the characters are, and should remain, just concrete examples of a larger running theme. Brands must strike the right chord when working with these characters, who are usually celebrities.

Visualize for a minute those novelty sets where a person can poke their head through a hole and become the head of a cartoon body and have their picture taken. Basically, this is the same concept. Brands need to plug celebrities into their sets and become the frame around them.

Unfortunately, most brands do the opposite. They attempt to plug themselves into the frame of the celebrity. It just doesn’t work.

Moz does a particularly good job aligning their celebrities (or thought leaders) with the company. Most of their popular videos feature a team member (usually founder Rand Fishkin) in front of a whiteboard explaining something about internet marketing.

Example 1: Free People

Free People is an online swimwear and surf gear retailer. One of its most successful formats on YouTube is the music video themed around “movement.” These videos feature characters that dance to ballet, catch waves, or practice yoga.

They also feature a regular series entitled “Free People Presents Love Stories.” Free People has gained over 26,800 subscribers and earned nearly 3 million views on YouTube.

Example 2: Nasty Gal

A natural theme to consider is a look behind the scenes. It’s been used – usually with pretty decent levels of success – for decades. E-commerce fashion retailer Nasty Gal uses behind-the-scenes videos effectively, in part because founder Sophia Amoruso built a multi-million dollar business that started as an eBay store.

These videos give viewers an opportunity to see how the Nasty Gal team functions and a chance to watch photo shoots and some of the daily operations and activities. Nasty Gal now has over 6,200 subscribers and just over 2 million YouTube views in total.

Example 3: Ecko MMA

When I was developing Ecko MMA’s (a mixed martial arts apparel brand) presence on YouTube and building their audience, I understood that the theme of fighting and martial arts videos usually was fighting and training. Instead, I ran far left with it. I wanted to capture the fighters outside the ring and show the world what they’re like when they’re not fighting.

This worked because Ecko MMA isn’t a technical brand. They don’t make boxing gloves, but rather T-shirts. People wear T-shirts to hang out, not to fight. I wanted to capture Ecko MMA’s fighters as human beings, not purely as fighters.

My belief is that even if someone is 20-30 videos in and never clicks through to the website, they see the T-shirt in the video, and the association is created. Their search process becomes more centered on Ecko MMA when they’re interested in buying new T-shirts

Other best-in-class examples:

Coca-Cola has a larger running theme of happiness. Their videos involve their product connecting people from two nations that never got along or kids having fun. Their greater challenge is capturing happiness, but I think they’ve met the challenge well. Even their Tumblr property is very happiness-centric. As another example: TOMS explains their One for One principle well on their YouTube channel.

Develop a Publishing Cadence: Leverage Economies of Scale

As you may have gathered, quantity is important when it comes to building a channel and an audience on YouTube. When you’re starting off, you most likely have a shoestring budget for testing these ideas and strategies for your brand. That’s totally understandable. Because quantity and cadence are crucial (as is consistent frequency), your strategy should be to compress as many video shoots into as few separate meetings as possible. Compress more shoots into fewer trips in order to reduce fixed costs like setup, travel, hiring, and the like.

Even for low production quality and cost, the videos can be costly. You’ll need to hire a videographer or a video team, a celebrity or a micro-celebrity, stylists, and other staff. Don’t pay $10,000 for a one-minute video. By paying another 10-20%, you can get more than triple the output.

If you’re new to YouTube, you can shoot four short videos every day for three days, which means you will have twelve videos. This is enough to last you once a week for three months, or once a month for a year. I wouldn’t recommend aiming for much more frequency than that until you have a larger budget.

Do something big enough that you believe should work, but small enough that you can try again if it doesn’t. For example, hire a local celebrity instead of bringing one in from out of town. Almost every city in the U.S. has a cool spot. Many video shoots are indoors, so your challenge would be to find a venue and light it up appropriately.

Example: Vocus

Marketing software company Vocus regularly hosts conferences and live events. As a byproduct, they’ve invited industry luminaries such as The Huffington Post co-founder Arianna Huffington and bestselling author Seth Godin to speak.

While most companies would draw the line there, Vocus films these speeches and uploads them to YouTube. Since the event is happening anyway, they just capture the dozen or so speeches throughout the conference and upload them onto YouTube as independent clips.

Similarly, B2B and SaaS companies should shoot videos with thought leaders at conferences. If necessary, negotiate publishing costs as part of the payment package. Vocus now has over 1,600 subscribers and over 400,000 views.

Other best-in-class examples:

Salesforce does this well by filming at their flagship event, Salesforce1.

Spike Interest

When you’re building an audience, you have to be interesting. Some of the best channels and themes that do well on YouTube involve entertainment, sexiness, celebrity, or how-to videos. Combine more than one of these to make them more powerful. For example, Daily HIIT is a combination of how-to and sexiness. Blendtec started off purely with entertainment, but started involving celebrities.

Example 1: NET-A-PORTER

Luxury designer fashion e-commerce retailer NET-A-PORTER has videos featuring celebrities in the fashion world, such as Christian Louboutin, Kate Moss, and Miranda Kerr. It combines these celebrities with education or how-to elements, such as Miranda Kerr sharing the recipe for her morning smoothies.

They’ve used it to great success; the channel has over 42,000 subscribers and will reach 7 million views shortly.

Example 2: Etsy

Online craft marketplace Etsy faces a media landscape saturated with competitive brands publishing many more high-budget promotional videos. Nonetheless, they’ve found an interesting gifting angle with how-to videos. For example, here’s a tutorial that shows the viewer how to create a box out of scrap paper. Etsy has gained over 35,000 subscribers and 6,200,000 views.

Other best-in-class examples:

When you’re figuring out the angle for entertainment value, have a look at videos being done in the industry and what’s working (in terms of subscribers and pageviews). For example, Shopify mixes education with various micro-celebrities (such as bestselling author Tim Ferriss and photographer Chase Jarvis). HootSuite recently newsjacked the new season of Game of Thrones (with much success).

Think within the limitations of what other brands have done successfully. For example, I was doing research on a product for young women. While I can relate to MMA, I had little idea of what’s relevant to teenage girls.

So I talked to my younger cousin, who’s fifteen, and I watched some videos on YouTube. I ended up on instructional dance videos. Immediately, I knew that was an interesting angle for the brand.

That sounds a bit formulaic, but I didn’t want to run far left because I didn’t know enough about the culture. In the future, if the instructional dance stuff works, then I’ll look into crossing different categories; for example, taking a hip hop dancer into classical music or jazz.

As you can see, this is a combination of celebrity, education, and how-to. To hit the ground running, I can start by looking at the people who do those instructional dance videos – the micro-celebrities – and ask them if they are interested in working with this brand, which is consistent with their current demographic of young women.

Use Micro-celebrities for Entertainment and Distribution

Micro-celebrities are people who haven’t been on television, but typically have a pretty significant Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube following, which means you’ll have platforms for distributing your content as soon as it’s out. At the same time, they’re not Britney Spears, so it’s not a million dollars to do a photo shoot.

shower

A funny scenario: conducting a Q&A in the shower

Because micro-celebrities often aren’t actors, I don’t recommend you try to get them to act. (In my case, they were professional athletes; personable and great on camera, but not too great with scripts.)

Instead, just set up scenarios that you – as a viewer – might find entertaining, but where the micro-celebrity can still be himself or herself and naturally be interesting. That also saves you from having to hire a scriptwriter or an editor.

When I was working with Ecko MMA, I put MMA fighter Brendan Schaub in a video where his phone got blended by the Blendtec guy (two micro-celebrities). Fighting’s not too difficult, so let’s try something more B2B:

If I were working for a CRM company (like Salesforce.com), I would use the communications platform as a medium for funny things that happen. While this opens up the possibility for a ton of gags, I would personally employ the celebrity or micro-celebrity approach.

Since Salesforce.com is about being organized and managing communications between salespeople and contacts, I would share a narrative where a company decides to hire a celebrity to call their customers. For example, imagine if Salesforce.com hired Michael Jordan to call their customers, but the customers didn’t believe it was Michael Jordan, and we captured their reactions on camera.

Now substitute a micro-celebrity for Michael Jordan. It’s not difficult to work backward here. Find a customer that’s fun and that you’re friendly with, and look over their social media to figure out what sports or TV shows they like. Find out if they follow any micro-celebrities – individuals with anywhere from 250,000 to 1,000,000+ followers on Instagram or Twitter.

When you’re looking for your micro-celebrity, keep in mind the size of the industry. I would happily take 10,000 followers with deep engagement over 1,000,000 followers with light engagement any day. (Look at RTs, Favs, Likes, or Comments as proxies.) Do they write their own social media posts, or do they hire an “intern” to write them? Do they react to their audience and talk or reply to them? Avoid micro-celebrities with negative associations. When in doubt, prioritize quality over quantity in this case.

One more note: when you’re working with micro-celebrities, work only with the people you get along with. I get that this may sound a bit idealistic or bizarre, but keep in mind that you could be seeing a lot of these people. You’ll have to travel with them, eat dinner with them, and hang out with them. You have to have personal chemistry with them because it will also translate into the quality and atmosphere of the video. It’s not petty or personal; it’s good business.

For example, earlier in my career, I thought I was helpful by keeping my mouth shut and playing a passive role in generating video and social content. But I happened to have an idea where a boxer would fight a wrestler and win by pinning him. So when the professional crew took a break, I took a $150 camera and shot a quick clip with these fighters.

While the quality of production was much lower than the other videos, my video did better nearly eightfold. Focus on the quality of content, and people will come running. That’s true even if it’s a commercial. Warby Parker’s on-TV commercials have been among their most popular videos.

Example 1: Rapha

Performance road-wear e-commerce retailer Rapha films their videos with a crew of cyclists known as Team Sky.

Through the behind-the-scenes activities of these micro-celebrities, Rapha shows the viewer what really goes on in the world of cycling and performance on roads. (Here’s a fascinating video on biker physiology.) Rapha has gained over 9,300 subscribers and over 1,180,000 views.

Example 2: Oracle

Larry Ellison, the co-founder of Oracle, is also one of the wealthiest people in the world. He makes a great micro-celebrity for his company, Oracle, and they use that to their advantage. Some of their most popular videos feature Ellison and have been viewed millions of times.

Your company may not be led by Larry Ellison, but still, you can allocate some resources to building the leader’s reputation and developing a sustainable micro-celebrity. Your leader will be less likely to leave the company in the long run, and the thought leadership will pay off for your organization. Oracle has over 21,400 subscribers and just under 12 million views.

Closing Thoughts

The Super Bowl is the event where viewers don’t mind commercials. Heck, they actually enjoy them. Brands know they have to invest in them. When you think about it, many viewers subscribe to channels that are, in essence, commercials. If you choose to put effort and creativity into your work, it’s possible to get people to happily watch the commercial for your product. According to Nielsen, viewers are 200% more likely to remember an ad in an online video than one seen on TV.

Remember that introduction video for Dollar Shave Club? It was a complete plug for the product, but it was extremely entertaining. I’m dying to see where he’s going with that. And the momentum, the window of opportunity, is slowly closing because there wasn’t a follow-up to it. His cadence has not played to his advantage.

Don’t chase pageviews, build your audience (slowly and steadily, if you have to). Educate your viewer, create consistent characters and themes, ensure you’re building the right cadence by leveraging economies of scale during production, and spike interest using genres and micro-celebrities. Best of luck, and have fun!

About the Author: Eric Samson is the founder of Group8A. Group8A is a Boutique Consulting firm focused on developing and executing integrated marketing and digital solutions for companies of all sizes.

12 Things You Can Do Today to Get Your Mobile Strategy off the Ground

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, SMEs (small and medium enterprises) have embraced mobile/social advertising. However, only a small percentage of them view mobile apps as a significant opportunity to break out from the clutter.

One of the most cited reasons for this is that SMEs don’t quite understand how effectively mobile apps could be used to promote their businesses. Moreover, they find building apps an expensive and time-consuming process.

When asked about the use of mobile in business, Greg Stuart, CEO of the Mobile Marketing Association, replied: “There’s a knowing-versus-doing gap. They know they need to do it, but how do they do it?

So, in an attempt to address the “knowing-versus-doing gap,” we’ll analyze 13 things you can do to adopt a powerful mobile strategy with little effort. Then, if you’re still at a loss after reading this, we have a date for your diary: July 21-25, 2014. Check out the first SME Mobile Strategies SuperSummit, a week long live, online event with top speakers including HootSuite, Facebook, Salesforce, UserTesting, and many more.

1. Advertise on Social Media

According to Flurry, we spend 80% of our time on apps and 20% on mobile browsing. An impressive 17% of our mobile actions happen within the Facebook app, and the giant social network has become the most adopted mobile browser in terms of consumer time.

There is no need to say that engaging with customers on social media has become essential in this mobile era, but organic reach on Facebook is no longer enough to connect a brand with its fans, as stated by the company itself (reported by Ad Age in November 2013):

We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.

So, what should SMEs do in order to boost their mobile content through social media? With growing complaints of users finding the News Feed spammy, and more and more people abandoning Zuckerberg’s creation, Facebook has announced a series of improvements to force brands to create engaging content. Amazing feeds will boost a company’s fan base as a natural process. In a second phase, promoted posts can be a means for collecting more and more engaged “likers.”

Robin Hamman, Director of Social Business and EMEA Digital Network Coordinator at FleishmanHillard, has become convinced of the effectiveness and efficiency of this new approach in social advertising:

“We’ve recently found a lot of interest and success in an approach to paid social (e.g., advertising) that works really well for our clients. Namely, we pair a community manager / content producer with a data analyst and a media buyer. When we see content getting organic traction (via the analytics), we reactively craft related social/display ad copy and put some media spend behind it so as to increase reach and engagement among similar audiences. I guess you could call it real time social advertising.”

time spent on iOS and android devices

2. Gather Social Media Intelligence

According to HootSuite experts, social media monitoring in a mobile environment is essential for turning insights into action at the right moment. Instagram, Pinterest, and other highly visual social networks may be the first touch point to brands for customers around the world. Every day, social media users produce an additional 500 million tweets on Twitter, create 4.5 billion more “Likes” on Facebook, and share 55 million new photos on Instagram. And, more data flows from Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn, and other social networks.

Listening to this social buzz can make the difference in gaining awareness about customers, competitors, and campaigns. Social media intelligence is essential to every company that wants to engage with customers in real time and on the move, and then apply insights to team activities across the organization.

3. Integrate Customer Engagement and Business Processes

During Salesforce1 tour, a lot of attention has been put on the concept of “internet of customers”: people (and their needs, behaviors, and habits) determine the way brands should address them and reach them. That’s why mobile has become so important for connecting and engaging everyone and everything, everywhere. Salesforce1 Customer Platform is focused on mobile and aims to connect two critical elements to improve sales: customer engagement and business processes.

A beautiful inspiring design and immediate, user friendly access to personalized preferences and settings are key factors for boosting your client retention. On the other hand, sales are not just about marketing; they’re about managing business processes in the most effective way so that your company can answer to customer needs at the right time and place. Mobile apps are an essential tool for every company because they allow you to collect customer feedback, analyze their habits, and predict their needs, thus empowering real time marketing operations, continuous brand building, and automated employee responses.

4. Use Facebook Mobile App Install Ads

Since Facebook launched the app suggestion ad format late last year, it is becoming THE app install driver, according to IAB UK. Half of the top grossing apps on the App and Play Store use Facebook App Install ads, and developers says these ads reduce acquisition costs by 15% to 60%. In the first 9 months of 2013, Facebook has driven 145m apps, and revenues have risen from 25 million in Q1 to 74 million in the last quarter.

More and more companies are pushing their apps on the famous social network, but to stand out from the crowd and catch a user’s attention, a simple screenshot of your app is no longer enough. To get the most out of Facebook, brands need to engage in a Facebook-like way: capturing images of products or people enjoying a service, fun and captivating claims, and explicit calls to action.

In addition, Facebook has recently added new features to target specific audiences and get new users, like Custom Audiences, Lookalike Audiences, and Partner Categories. According to eMarketer, app install ads constitute between 30 and 50 percent of the mobile advertising market, excluding search, and will reach $11 billion in the U.S. by 2017.

5. Test before Launch

Every app’s development process is a very expensive and time-consuming operation, and coders know how important it is to perfect a service before it hits the app store. Avoiding bad reviews by testing user reactions can be crucial to a company’s app success, and there are different tools for analyzing your app before it goes on the market: focus groups, 1:1 interviews, and innovative digital platforms.

UserTesting recruits a sample of participants and allows developers to test user journeys and overall usability and to ensure that icon and button designs are easily understood, etc. If testers don’t like the final version of your app, you can collect specific feedback on the features you need to improve and then refine them again and again, to make sure your app won’t get bad ratings on the store.

6. Develop a “Mobile Power Team”

In 2013, Emesa, Holland’s largest e-commerce group, hired Pleo, a digital agency founded by the mobile guru Renate Nyborg, to help them become a Mobile First company, starting with its hero site VakantieVeilingen.nl. The success of this project highlighted an important issue: adopting mobile is not just about developing apps or a responsive website. It’s also about managing every step of your business’s mobile evolution with the help of a highly skilled Mobile Power Team.

In other words, you should rely on dedicated resources that review mobile statistics and metrics, monitor mobile-specific budgets, develop consumer insights through focus groups and surveys, monitor competitors’ investment in mobile, etc.

7. Improve App Store Ratings

Getting a deep insight into app user behavior is the key to accommodating customer needs. Companies can manage huge flows of data using services like Localytics, a closed-loop app analytics and marketing platform that helps brands acquire, engage, and retain users.

When an app is on the app store, improving ratings is a vital factor. If users aren’t satisfied, it’s important to start a conversation and learn why, in order to turn the brand’s biggest critics into loyal fans. If they love a company’s app, they can be turned into evangelists. Gather opinions, solve problems, and develop meaningful relationships with customers. It is easier than it seems thanks to in-app feedback forms and tools like Apptentive.

8. Put Customer Needs First

Forget about one-size-fits-all strategies and ask yourself: “What do my mobile customers need?” With an increase of 70% in U.S. smartphone adoption over the past 2 years, mobile devices have become by far the favorite device for consumers to interact with businesses 24/7, from anywhere – at home, at work, on a bus.

Every company should embrace an always-on behavior and develop services that can meet mobile-specific needs and allow geotargeted services. Waze gathers crowdsourced information by its users “on the ground” to give real time updates on traffic, accidents, and gas station prices. HotelTonight offers last minute discounted rooms at quality hotels, allowing consumers to save up to 70% and hotels to fill those rooms that otherwise would remain empty.

9. Build Both Apps and Mobile Sites

Apps and mobile sites serve different purposes, and they address different audiences: while mobile apps are for loyal customers who need a faster and easier way to interact with brands, mobile sites simplify the shopping experience and provide specific on-the-go services, basic information, and contact details.

Developing a responsive website, with a mobile-first approach is crucial for appearing in internet searches, boosting visits, and engaging with new customers. On the other hand, mobile apps are one of the most powerful tools for increasing retention, by offering exclusive benefits such as discounts, promotions, and breaking news.

Comparing engagement on apps versus the web across more than 600 brands, Adobe found that tablet users spent on average 24 minutes per app session, while smartphone sessions are much shorter (nearly 13 minutes). Compared to those browsing websites, however, the app sessions are 3-4 times longer.

time spent per mobile session

10. Consider Time, Location, and Type of Device

When planning your business’s mobile strategy, you should keep in mind that different environments are responsible for the use of different devices. For example, tablet and computer usage peaks in the evening at home, while smartphone usage is spread throughout the day, with outstanding peaks in rush hours (when most people presumably are commuting) and at lunch breaks.

This is why a deeper understanding of the specific circumstances (time, location, type of device) in which your customers interact with your brand can help you optimize your marketing campaigns to deliver the right message, to the right people, in the right format.

11. Implement a Multi-screen Marketing Strategy

With the rise of smartphones and tablets, we have witnessed a surge in multi-screen behavior. With over 40% of smartphone users watching TV while browsing a smartphone, it’s not surprising that many brands have begun to feature mobile use cases in TV ads, hoping that their consumers will check out their offers as a result of seeing the ad.

Therefore, brand campaigns that rely on multiple screens can achieve reach and conversions unparalleled by single-screen campaigns. This is why by adjusting your marketing campaigns by device, location, and time of day, you will be able to deliver relevant content to different segments of your audience, thus maximizing ROI.

12. Capitalize on Market Trends

Looking at recent market trends, it’s clear that mobile is exploding and companies that don’t take action now to adopt mobile operations will miss a great opportunity to reach their audience and will struggle to compete in the near future.

According to Deloitte’s Global Mobile Consumer Survey, consumers in developed markets have access to between four and eight portable devices connected to a mobile network, and these rates are constantly growing. While laptop sales are declining, smartphone and tablet sales don’t seem to diminish, even in highly penetrated markets, primarily because of replacement cycles, advances in technology, declining prices, and continuous expansion of the user base.

Portio Research (March 2013) estimates that 1.2 billion people worldwide were using mobile apps at the end of 2012. This number is forecast to grow 29.8% each year and reach 4.4 billion users by the end of 2017. Much of this growth will come from Asia, which will account for almost half of app users in 2017.

users of mobile apps worldwide by 2017

During Mobile World Congress 2014, researchers at Nielsen have given new insights on the mobile landscape, noting that not only is smartphone penetration growing, with over two-thirds (67%) of mobile subscribers in the U.S. owning smartphones in Q4 2013, but time spent using phones has dramatically increased thanks to entertainment and social media mobile content, in U.S., U.K., and Italy now exceeding Web usage on computers.

Americans spent 34 hours using smartphone apps and mobile sites in December 2013, up six hours from December 2012. With more than 41 hours on smartphones, Britons were the most mobile-connected population in December 2013. Italians stayed mobile about twice as long (37 hours) as they spent on the Web via their PCs (18 hours) in the same period.

SMEs should take into account an important factor: people seem to use portable devices mainly to have fun and interact with friends and their favorite brands. The majority of time Americans use apps is spent playing games (18%), accessing entertainment (15%), or using social media (29%). In the U.K., more than one in four minutes on smartphones is spent using social networking apps.

Conclusions

With mobile device sales unlikely to diminish in the near future and app usage constantly growing all over the world, companies are facing a unique opportunity to reach their customers and engage with them in the most effective way ever. The potential of mobile communication is still only partially exploited, and there are thousands of cases proving it a successful strategy.

It’s time for SMEs to recognize a dramatic change in the adoption of mobile. Coding skills and high budgets are no longer an obstacle, with mobile becoming more and more accessible in the last couple of years. Social media is being accessed mostly via mobile apps, which are becoming the main real time communication channel between brands and users.

People want to play an active role in company operations, and interaction via mobile apps provides a great opportunity to listen to customer needs and apply insights directly into business processes. With consumers connecting 24/7 to a variety of portable devices, messages need to be responsive, and not just in terms of design. Mobile communication is full of new opportunities not to be missed. That’s why every SME should adopt an overall mobile strategy, supported by dedicated resources making it possible for them to manage and monitor operations and results.

About the Author: Daniele Pelleri is the Co-Founder and CEO of AppsBuilder, an innovative mobile publishing and distribution platform that empowers SMEs and large enterprises to build a solid mobile presence, reach new customers, and improve client retention through powerful mobile apps. AppsBuilder’s vision is to give everyone the chance to have a fully functioning mobile presence without the need for complex coding knowledge. Sign up for a free trial or find out more in their resource center.

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Episode 66: Doing the Most Important Things

Each day, everyday, we think up more things to do. Write a blog post, paint the house, clean the bathroom, re-work the sales page, change the colors, add more analytics... When does it stop?

It never stops.

You are a creator, a thinker, you can see a better way and you can make plans to get there.

But are they all important?

What if you only had 3 hours a day to do everything you need to do to pay the bills?

In this episode, Brecht shares parts of his new workflow, and how he's getting it done from a tin-can in Lord knows where, in about 3 hours a day. Also, updates on Brecht's academy, and Scott's work with Blackfin Media.

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