8 Steps to Creating Display Ads That Work

Source: Bizo, Jan 25, 2013, Sean Callahan

Online display advertising remains a critical part of the marketing mix, and it continues to grow at a rapid pace. By 2017, Forrester Research anticipates that the online advertising market will reach $28 billion, with 17% annual average growth over the next five years. Online display advertising is growing for one simple reason: It’s working. Here are eight steps to creating banner ads that deliver ROI.

1. Determine your objective — branding, nurturing or driving sales — and target your audience no matter where they are in the marketing funnel.

Online advertising is a versatile advertising medium and can have an impact at any point in the funnel, reaching prospects, leads, current customers, and it is most effective when doing all three at the same time. For example, online advertising’s flexibility enables you to:

  • Brand and build awareness to reach new prospects.
  • Nurture prospects already in the funnel.
  • Drive sales with special discounts aimed at customers already in your CRM system.
  • Offer a full funnel approach by doing all three simultaneously.

2. Create different ads and different calls to action based on where your prospects are in the marketing funnel. 

Online display advertising is all about building brand familiarity with your target audience to ultimately move prospects down your marketing funnel.  For high-level branding campaigns, this may be as simple as encouraging prospects to visit your website. For mid-funnel targets, the ad could offer a white paper in exchange for the target’s contact information. For prospects near the bottom of the funnel, the offer might be a discount promotion on a specific product.

3. The best online display creative relies on a single image, a provocative headline and brief copy.

The most effective display ads focus on a concise message and have a clear call to action. Strong banners use a single, attractive image, a compelling headline, and very short copy – the fewer words the better – to drive the target audience to take a specific action, such as visiting a landing page, downloading a white paper or ordering a discounted product. The pictured Domo ad provides an almost perfect example of a display ad.

4. Consider using rich media to attract your audience.

When developing the creative, consider online banners that feature Flash, rich media, pre-roll video or video-in-banner. Research shows that rich media and video banners attract more eyeballs than static banners.  A recent study from AdForm, for instance, indicated that users were three times more likely to click on rich media ads than traditional banners.

5. Integrate your banner with other marketing efforts.

Additionally, marketing professionals encourage integration of banners with other marketing efforts, such as print advertising. But these marketing pros also counsel against simply converting the print ad to banner format. Online display is a specialized medium and can often require its own creative approach – as opposed to shoehorning a print approach into a banner.

Beyond the creation of the banner, a landing page that delivers on the promise of that banner is essential. For instance, if you’re offering a white paper in the banner, make sure that white paper is easy to find and downloadable on the landing page.

6. When measuring ad impact, incorporate metrics beyond clickthroughs.

Choosing the proper metrics is essential to gauge if your online campaign was effective or not. The metric most associated with online banners is the clickthrough, or CTR, which can provide, in broad strokes, a general idea of how well a particular banner is performing. But most marketers and agency professionals look to other metrics, such as cost per conversion or cost per lead, to measure the performance of a banner campaign. Many marketing professionals consider conversions  — for example, prospects downloading a white paper and providing their contact information to do so – is often a better indicator of how a campaign if performing.

7. Optimize your campaign by testing and by investing in the most effective ads.

Marketing professionals recommend developing several creative approaches and many different offers, so that you can test the most effective creative and optimize the campaign for maximum performance. A simple optimization process is using basic A/B testing to see which creative or which offers perform best.

You should also analyze the campaign to see which websites are delivering the best engagement. And you can also analyze at when the campaign is working best. For example, some campaigns perform better in the middle of the week, while others – in markets where workers have limited access to the Web during the day – may perform better in the evenings or early mornings.

8. Consider retargeting, CRM targeting and company name targeting.

Once a viewer has engaged with your online advertising in some way you can “retarget” them based on their interaction. Typically, a prospect is “retargeted” with very specific creative that takes into account their previous interaction with your brand. For instance, if viewers visit a specific product page, they may be served an ad offering a discount on that particular product. Other more precise targeting options include CRM targeting, where ads can be directed to prospects in your database of they visit various websites. Additionally, company name targeting can serve ads only to those viewers from a particular company or industry.

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4 SEO Tasks Small Businesses Must Do Every Month

seo-tasks

On-site SEO discussions are typically dominated by technical debates about how search engines analyze and store HTML. For small business owners, the discussion is much more practical and alarming. Specifically, small business websites do on-site SEO poorly or not at all, leaving large amounts of search traffic and potential customers on the table.

The lack of small business on-site SEO is more about discipline, time management, repetition, and know-how. Here is a simple four-step approach to building high-value traffic through on-site SEO that should be repeated twice per month (minimum) on every small business website.

1. Identify Demand

Every website page should be positioned to catch existing demand as SEO (generally) doesn’t create demand. This means using keyword research to see how end users search in various categories.

When a small business is just starting, it’s important to pick keywords that are easy to rank (and relevant) on until you see some results. Google AdWords will show the competition level in their free keyword tool, as will many other tools.

The beginner should pick a keyword with no more than 300 searches per month (critical: Use Exact match) and is marked as “Low” competition by Google. Also pick keywords on which the business has something valuable to share because it is important that these visitors stay onsite once they land.

2. Create Great Content

While small business owners are often the most knowledgeable in their fields due immense practical experience, the lack of strong on-site SEO means their websites often under-perform.

Great content comes in the form of videos, blogs, podcasts, discussions, infographics, white papers, webinars and articles – all targeted toward what the end user is searching for. This is an information exchange.

Regardless of the medium, the content needs to be compelling. Use any of the following tactics to create audience engagement:

  • Humor
  • Controversy
  • Current events/news
  • Politics
  • How-to/instruction
  • Technical explanation
  • Scare tactics

3. Tune Content

The majority of on-site SEO articles focus heavily on this topic, and it is important:

  • Review your keyword density (yes, this still matters greatly), title tag, URL, image alt attributes, and meta tags.
  • Make the page attractive with images that complement the content.
  • Add appropriate and informative links to other great on-site content as well as links to highly-authoritative websites. This will achieve SEO co-citation, but in a very natural and end-user-friendly fashion.
  • Apply authorship code and schema.org attributes for any special features on the page such as video.

4. Track & Promote

All projects need to be measurable, and on-site SEO is no exception. Track new page performance in the SERPs.

If the domain authority is already high and a low-competition keyword was selected, the new content may jump to page 1. If so, wait 2 weeks and repeat.

If a page 1 ranking isn’t achieved (which is more likely), apply off-site SEO promotion in the form of link building, content marketing, social media, syndication, RSS, guest blogging, infographics, and participation in appropriate discussions such as forums and blog comments.

Tracking and promotion on the newly launched page should continue indefinitely until page 1 is achieved, but shouldn’t impede the next onsite SEO project.

Conclusions

Tuning on-site content receives the lion’s share of attention from most SEO blogs because it is important. But small business owners have a bigger problem: A total lack of consistent onsite SEO content creation process.

The four steps above offer a simple path toward regular, high-quality, content creation and promotion that will improve rankings and prospective customers from the Internet. It should be repeated twice per month at a minimum to keep any small business website fresh.

2013: Tipping Point for Mobile Ad Monetization

Source: Search Engine Watch, , January 30, 2013

smartphone-walletWhile last year brought increased mobile engagement among advertisers, their mobile investments were still proportionally low. However, industry leaders are expecting this gap to continue shrinking, with eMarketer predicting U.S. mobile ad spending will reach $7.19 billion this year.

This shift, in combination with deeper knowledge of mobile purchase behaviors, will mark the tipping point for publishers, agencies, and companies as they more effectively monetize their mobile ad strategies with this high-value, ready-to-buy audience.

Indications of this trend are already evident as more companies are adopting mobile-specific ad performance metrics to validate and improve their expanding mobile ad strategies.

As mobile consumer profiles and responses differ greatly from that of other digital (and traditional, for that matter) platforms, marketers are working harder to ensure their metrics align with distinct mobile user behaviors.

Ranging from calls – which reflect high quality leads across both traditional and digital platforms – to map views, directions, lookups, and reservation bookings, these proven metrics help advertisers confirm which mobile ad channels, formats, and creative content are generating results.

Display Ads, Localized Info and Deals Critical for Successful Monetization

As mobile monetization expands in 2013, expect to see more mobile display ads, which leverage the latest location-targeting technologies that provide the ability to focus on consumers at their highest point of interest.

Local information and deals will also be a critical must-have factor for effective mobile ad strategies. This trend is reflected in the recent Mobile Path to Purchase Study results, which showed that consumers’ mobile buying choices are driven strongly by local information such as phone number, address, driving directions and specific offers or coupons.

Results also indicated that local relevancy and local offers are the top two reasons mobile users engage with mobile ads.

Considering Mobile Device User Differences Key to Effective Targeting

While many businesses view mobile users as a single segment, smartphone and tablet users demonstrate significant differences in their purchase-related motivations and timing. Ignoring this fact can cost marketers millions in missed opportunities.

The average mobile consumer conversion rate is 60 percent, but the potential for harnessing these sales diminishes if mobile ads fail to consider device-specific usage nuances.

For example, smartphone users widely search while on the go for more immediate purchases while tablet users tend to use their devices primarily at home for looking up price comparisons and product/service reviews.

Marketers who tailor their ad campaigns based on device will inevitably see higher returns.

Develop Tailored Strategies to Drive Traffic to Mobile Websites

As mobile consumers now largely find business websites through utility/comparison, local directory and branded mobile websites and apps, it’s no longer safe to assume search engines are the primary gateway to delivering mobile leads.

In 2013 marketers will increase their efforts to optimize their mobile websites, as well as focus on targeted ways to drive quality traffic to them apart from traditional desktop-based search engine strategies. This includes studying mobile purchase patterns and timing needs within specific vertical categories and developing mobile ad strategies to reach specific types of buyers through their preferred referral channels.

Summary

As we reflect on 2012 and what’s ahead for this year, it’s clear that marketers are on an upward trajectory with their mobile ad investments — both in ad dollars and in leveraging mobile consumer behavior data to determine strategies for reaching their target audiences with the right messages at the right time along their path to purchase.

Mobile monetization will likely reach a tipping point in 2013 for advertisers who significantly refine their mobile ad strategies and establish key mobile metrics to validate them.

Online Advertisers – Stressing Revenues – Forecast Raised Targets

Source: January 30, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff

MarinSoftware-Online-Advertising-Revenue-Targets-Jan2013

7 in 10 online advertisers are more focused on driving direct revenue outcomes from online advertising this year than last, according to [pdf] results of a Marin Software survey conducted by Forrester Consulting among 104 North American marketers with at least $100,000 in annual paid search spending. With revenue goals being subject to increased attention, respondents also noted that their revenue targets are rising: 8 in 10 said their online advertising revenue goals are increasing slightly (55%) or significantly (25%) this year. There are of course a number of challenges inherent to meeting these revenue targets. The leading issue for online advertisers is responding to rapidly changing market conditions and competition (55%). Close to half also see challenges in having the right skills internally to manage online advertising (46%) and obtaining insights to optimize campaigns (44%). Technology may help overcome these challenges, though. Asked how they plan to address challenges to acquiring more revenue from online advertising, advertisers overwhelmingly pointed to leveraging technology solutions to manage online ads (74%), while fewer said they would experiment with new publishers and ad networks (41%) or increase media budgets (38%).

Other Findings:

  • The most common specific revenue outcomes that online advertising efforts are held accountable to are sales/revenues (65%), leads/order/calls (64%), and ROI (54%).
  • Most online advertisers measure the effectiveness of their programs by looking at site traffic (69%) and online conversions (63%), but few gauge customer lifetime value (20%). That’s likely a function of visibility: while 78% say site traffic is highly visible (and 77% online conversion), just 43% have a high degree of visibility into customer lifetime value.

About the Data: The Marin Software survey was conducted in December 2012 among 104 North American marketers with a minimum yearly spend of $100,000 on paid search.

Online Trumps Offline Primarily for Targeting, Say Advertisers

Source: Marketing Charts, January 29, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff

MarinSoftware-Online-Ad-Benefits-vs-Offline-Jan2013

Asked the top 3 benefits of online advertising when compared to offline advertising, 23% of respondents to aMarin Software survey [pdf] conducted by Forrester Consulting said the most important benefit was online’s more accurate targeting. The survey of North American marketers who spend a minimum of $100,000 per year on paid search also found that respondents value online’s measurability and efficiency, but are less enthusiastic about its conversion rates and access to customer response data relative to offline advertising.

Survey results released in March 2012 by DataXu found that among decision-makers that had shifted their budgets from traditional to online advertising, the most common reason cited was increased measurability and accountability (20%), slightly ahead of increased customer engagement (18%) and lower cost of customer acquisition (16%).

Online Advertisers Value Targeted Media

Delving into the marketing programs that the Marin Software survey respondents find important to help them achieve their business goals, the study notes that targeted media are the most highly valued, with traditional paid search (78% rating important), audience buying (73%), retargeting (68%), and contextual display ads (65%) at the top of the list. At the other end of the spectrum, just 30% ranked pay-per-click ads on social networks like Facebook as important to their goals.

The survey also reveals that almost half of the marketers outsource management of their paid search programs to an agency partner, with the rest managing them in-house using either purchased tools (17%) or by using proprietary tools or ones provided free by a publisher (37%).

About the Data: The Marin Software survey was conducted in December 2012 among 104 North American marketers with a minimum yearly spend of $100,000 on paid search.

Make the Most of Your Social Media Interactions: 9 Tips

Source: Search Engine Watch, , January 29, 2013

in-the-club

You’ve made it through the 58-hour work week and it’s time to kick back, relax, and have some fun. You could order pizza and sit on your couch watching “Seinfeld” reruns, or work up the energy to begin calling up your friends and planning a night out. Let’s face it, as attractive as a lazy night on the couch sounds, you know once you put in the extra effort a night out will be much more fun.

Comparatively, there are two ways to plan a social media strategy.

Plan 1 consists of a lazy and solo mission where you simply share a few things here and there that are just a regurgitation of things your readers have already heard.

Plan 2 is based on learning from others and creating an informed and structured social strategy to attract and engage your audience.

If you really want to optimize your social media strategy, some discovery, planning, and measurement must take place. Below you will find nine tips for making the most of your social media interaction as if it were a night out on the town.

1. Where Should You Go?

If you’re planning an evening out on the town you will likely have a few favorite spots in mind. You might also text some friends, post a Facebook message asking for suggestions, or run a Google search to find reviews. A well-informed plan will keep you from wasting precious time bouncing from one bad club to the next.

In the quest to be innovative, many marketers jump on social platform bandwagons before doing their due diligence to determine if a particular platform is a fit for their audience.

If you have a killer Google+ strategy but all of your customers are on Twitter, where does that leave you? The answer, square one. If you work with enterprise level customers you can easily run a query on many social platforms to determine how many of them are utilizing that particular site, and with what frequency.

Maybe your target is B2C? Companies spend thousands of dollars a year gathering information and creating reports on consumer social media trends and benchmarks. Take advantage of what is available to you (for free!).

2. Dressing The Part

You wouldn’t show up to a fancy nightclub dressed in dirty sweats and Birkenstocks would you? Whether you’ve been to a club before or not, chances are you know what the standard dress code will be. Look at those around you, are you dressed to impress or dressed to turn off?

Understanding who your customers are and type of interaction they prefer will set you up to impress or engage them on an ongoing basis. Identify your best customers as well as your top prospects and monitor the way that they interact on social networks. This will give you insight into creating appealing messages and engagement.

3. Be Sure to Accessorize

Ask any woman and she’ll likely tell you that the accessories make the outfit. A killer handbag, bracelet, or any type of bling will add that little extra sparkle that you’re looking for.

Social media monitoring and listening tools aren’t essential to running a social campaign, but they provide a tremendous advantage. While you may not be ready to jump headfirst into paying a subscription of $50-$3,000 on a monthly basis to begin monitoring and measuring social interaction, there are many free and inexpensive tools available.

  • Social Mention: Good for finding how many times a topic or company has been mentioned within a specified period of time.
  • Commun.IT: This relatively new platform is made strictly for Twitter and has free and paid versions. Commun.IT groups people by the number of times they’ve mentioned or interacted with you and ranks them based on influence and subject matter. You can also setup a series of key phrases and receive a notification each time those keywords are used.
  • HootSuite: With HootSuite there is just so much that you can monitor. The key to using HootSuite is keeping your streams organized. It’s great for topic, user, and event hashtag tracking. One thing to watch out for is using the posting features for some of the social networks (e.g., Facebook doesn’t always display properly).

4. Should You Be Early, On Time, or Fashionably Late?

If you arrive at the party too early, you’ll find yourself sitting at the bar twiddling your thumbs and killing time until the rest of the crowd arrives. Arrive too late and you might not make it in – or you’ll miss all the fun.

Keeping in mind industry standards and best practices are key when determining the optimum point for listening and sharing on social media channels.

For example, you may already know that the biggest spike on Facebook usage generally occurs around 3 p.m. on weekdays while Twitter engagement is best on the weekends. So while you note these engagement opportunities when sharing your company message, are you also using those times as an opportunity for better social media listening?

5. What’s The ROI of a Cover Charge?

A cover charge no matter the price creates a sense of value for those looking to break into a crowded nightclub. If you’re going to pay to play, you had better get your money’s worth.

In the case of social media your “cost” is time, resources, or tools needed to properly execute a social strategy. If you’re just beginning to tackle the social web your time is best spent listening or being a voyeur if you will.

This information gathering will arm you with the insight you need to begin rocking the social web. Studies have found that a whopping 77 percent of B2C companies and 43 percent of B2B companies have acquired new customers from Facebook alone!

6. Find A Quiet Corner

If you’ve ever been to a nightclub you know the majority of your conversations consist of yelling at each other and catching every other word (if you’re lucky). Similarly, you don’t want to attempt to yell at your social media fans and friends over all of the other “noise” on the Internet.

If you have something meaningful to say to some of your social media connections send them a direct or private message. This tactic will ensure that they’ll hear what you have to say and that you’ve identified a message just for them.

The social web is flush with white noise. There is a lot out there, but you can neither absorb nor differentiate the majority of it. With thousands of tweets, posts, shares, and likes each day, how can you find the nuggets of information that are actually helpful to your strategy?

Simple, get organized. Many social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ enable users to create lists, favorites, or circles in order to customize what appears in your feed. Taking a few extra minutes to segment your social channels will save you hours in the long run.

7. Catch Up With Old Friends & Acquaintances

Bumping into an old friend unexpectedly on a night out is cause for celebration. You may talk for a few minutes and then share an adult beverage (or two) while catching up. This time spent is valuable because you can pick right back up where you left off and who knows, they may even be able to introduce you to some new friends.

In the same manner, your existing customers can prove to be a valuable resource when figuring out how to attract and engage new customers. There are a variety of ways that you can tap into the minds of your current customers. You could try:

  • Sending out a customer survey and include questions about their social networking habits.
  • Spend a portion of your monthly or quarterly meetings asking what sort of things they’re interested in learning more about on social networks.
  • Asking their opinion on a new campaign you’re running internally to determine if they would find it useful and engaging.

8. Make New Friends

Have you ever woken up after a night out with new numbers in your phone under names like “Ryan from concert”, “Sarah Cute Dress”, or “April Sam’s Friend”? When you let your guard down and begin talking to people you might not otherwise spend time getting to know, chances are you’re more likeable.

In order to make new friends either online or offline, you must be friendly. A little extra effort or help solving a problem can go a long way.

Perhaps you’re scouring Twitter for users talking about a topic related to your business and find a question from someone looking for insight. You can either send them a link to your company website with no explanation, or answer their question and provide them with resources on where they can learn more.

Building trust with new online connections does not happen overnight, which is why you need to give a little before expecting something back in return.

9. Don’t Throw Up On Your Friends

Hey, it happens. You’ve been dancing the night away and had one too many cocktails and begin to feel woozy… You get the picture.

As online marketers, we consume so much information on a daily basis that we may find it difficult not to share everything we read with our fans, friends, and followers. According to a recent study85 percent of women are annoyed by their Facebook friends.

If you use Twitter or Facebook for personal or business use you have seen your feed get clogged one too many times by the chronic oversharer who seems to constantly be filled with word vomit. Don’t be that marketer.

While you may be tired (or even exhausted) after a long night on the town, you will likely experience a sense of satisfaction that you made it through, found some new friends, and kept the ones you had. Keep in mind that anything worth doing is worth doing right.

If you truly want to engage and retain your online social networks, it’s essential that you be likeable, offer value, and put in the extra effort to identify what your prospects and customers care about most.

Traditional Media Trusted More Than Owned, Social Media For News Info

Source: January 28, 2013 by MarketingCharts staff

EdelmanBerland-Trust-in-Media-Information-Sources-Jan2013

Traditional media and online search engines are the most trusted general news information sources around the world, trusted by 58% of respondents to the “2013 Edelman Trust Barometer.” But trust is certainly not homogeneous, differing by age and country. For example, among 18-29-year-olds, search engines have the edge (61% vs. 59%), while traditional media gets the vote from the 65+ crowd (54% vs. 49%). Among all age groups, traditional media and online search engines are more trusted than hybrid media, social media, and owned media. Interestingly, younger respondents are generally more trusting of all media sources than their older counterparts.

The study shows significant differences when sorting by emerging and developed markets. While traditional media and search engines are tied in the overall vote, emerging market respondents are more trusting of search engines (71% vs. 65%), while in developed markets traditional media is more trusted (51% vs. 47%). Notably, all media types are trusted by a majority of emerging market respondents, while developed market respondents are more skeptical, with traditional media the only type to just break the majority threshold of trust, at 51%. In fact, emerging market respondents are 75% more likely to trust hybrid media for general news information (56% vs. 32%), 73% more likely to trust owned media (52% vs. 30%), and more than twice as likely to trust social media (58% vs. 28%).

Developed market respondents’ low trust in social media when compared with traditional media (26% vs. 51%) aligns with earlier research from Allstate. In those survey results, Americans’ trust in public TV and radio (75%) and newspapers (71%) as information sources outstripped their trust in social media (30%) by a large margin.

About the Data: The Edelman Berland data is based on a survey of 26,000 general population respondents aged 18+ across 26 countries. When making comparisons between emerging and developed markets, the study examined the US, UK, France, Germany and Japan for the developed bucket, and Brazil, Mexico, Russia, India, and China for the emerging category.