7 Content Marketing Lessons Brands Can Learn from Journalists

7-content-marketing-lessons-from-journalists

Before making my debut in the content marketing world, I was a journalist living out her days at coffee shops, city council meetings, ribbon cuttings and community gatherings. The daily grind was grueling at times, but it was also exciting. The prospect of breaking news always kept me on my toes and every day I worked to give my readers the latest and greatest news and information. And of course, I aimed to deliver that news and information before the competition.

Now as a content marketer, I find that while my job title has changed, the essence of what I do hasn’t. Like journalism, content marketing is all about providing your audience with quality content that informs, engages and develops your brand as a trusted go-to resource.

Journalist or content marketer, I’m still faced with the same challenge every day: actually delivering that quality and engaging content in the face of stiff competition—something all brands and marketers can relate to.

The fact is, B2B and B2C brands alike are creating more content than ever before—and they don’t plan on stopping. In fact, for B2B specifically, 76% of marketers said they planned to produce more content this year than in 2015, according to B2B Content Marketing’s 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends—North America report. And 60% of those marketers find it challenging to create engaging content on a regular basis.

But all isn’t lost. I believe that looking at content and content strategy like a journalist can give brands and marketers a new perspective—and maybe an edge over their competitors. Below are a few lessons that brands can learn from journalists to do just that.

7 Content Marketing Lessons

#1 – Know Your Audience

Journalists understand that in order to create content that gets read and gets shared, they need to understand who their audience is and what they care about.

For brands, knowing and understanding your audience will allow you to build the foundation of your content marketing strategy. To get that knowledge, here are a few tactics to use:

  • Perform keyword research: Keyword research not only uncovers the search volume behind your most important keywords, but it can also offer insights into keyword opportunities and search intent. In addition, perform your own searches for various keywords and look through the results to see who’s ranking at the top.
  • Conduct a competitive analysis. Research your top three to five competitors through their website, social media pages, news articles and search results. How does your brand stack up?
  • Dig into data and analytics: Get familiar with your website’s analytics to gain insights about the users you’ve already managed to attract to your site. Look at the most popular pages, the pages with the highest bounce rate, and the pages with the best and worst conversion rates.

#2 – Strive to Be the Best Answer

Journalists are dedicated to being the best answer for their audience. They want to get the scoop. They want to be the go-to resource. And they want to do everything better than the competition.

For brands, being the best answer means providing relevant, quality content wherever and whenever their audience is searching for it. Use the research you’ve done to identify where those content opportunities lie. In addition, don’t be afraid to engage your existing audience. Use social media to pose questions or send out a current customer survey to get feedback and insight. The more you know, the better you’ll be at providing the right information.

For example, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often reaches out to his Twitter audience to gather insights on various marketing topics using polls.

Lee Odden Twitter Poll

#3 – Write for the Reader

Every piece of content a journalist turns out is aimed at enticing the reader. Content is organized to help readers easily flow through the article and photos are often used to add a visual element to the story. Long-form pieces are often broken down into sections with headers, which is more pleasing to the eye and helps with scanability. In addition, content is written in a way that tells a story—not in a way to please search engines.

For brands, the bottom line here is to create content that’s a good experience for your audience to read. SEO is important, but usability and user experience is more important. Read 7 Ways to Optimize Your Web Content for Humans & Search Engines for more tips.

#4 – Mind the “5Ws and H”

Who, What, Where, When, Why and How—the 5 Ws and the H. These are the foundation of every article a journalist will ever write. And they can certainly be applied to your content marketing strategy.

As you map out your strategy, ask the following questions for each piece you plan to create:

  • Who is my audience?
  • What does my audience want to know?
  • Where am I going to publish and disseminate?
  • When am I going to publish and disseminate?
  • Why am I writing this? (Drive traffic? Increase brand awareness?)
  • How will I measure results?

#5 – Follow the Story

In my early journalism days, I thought I needed to cover everything. But then reality sank in. If I covered every piece of news, I was spread far too thin and I wasn’t giving my audience enough of the news they really wanted to read. Most of all, I wasn’t showing my audience value.

Brands should use their audience knowledge, keyword research, and their website data to hone in on their content strengths and opportunities. Choose a handful of topical areas to get started with—and create as much content around that topic as possible. This will allow you to begin showcasing yourself as an expert in specific areas and eventually you’ll be able to expand that to new areas.

#6 – Add Perspective

The best news articles have a face and provide perspective. Journalists use people close to the story and expert sources to give their articles credibility and depth. Brands can do the same with their content by working with influencers. Influencers not only lend expertise and authority to content, but they can also help that content reach a larger audience.

Don’t just reach out to your influencers in times of need. Engage with them on their social platforms. Share their content. Shoot them an email to check in. Just as a journalist works hard to build a network of credible sources, brands should remember that building a relationship with influencers is an ongoing journey and there needs to be value for everyone.

Mayo Clinic has a cool and interesting way of using influencers through its story hub Sharing Mayo Clinic. The hub features stories from patients, families, friends and Mayo Clinic staff about the treatments they’ve had at the famed hospital. The stories often feature photos, videos and personal messages to tell the stories.

Sharing Mayo Clinic

# 7 – Make Accuracy a Priority

One of the first lessons you learn in journalism school is that accuracy is a non-negotiable. I once received a failing grade for the misspelling a source’s name. (I’ll always remember your name Fred Woods.) It was certainly embarrassing, but really it was a careless mistake.

Make sure that you have a solid QA process for every piece of content you create. Little things that get missed can have an impact on your credibility and the effectiveness of your content.

What other professions have helped inspire your content marketing strategy? Tell us in the comments section below.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. | 7 Content Marketing Lessons Brands Can Learn from Journalists | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Getting Growth Minded: How Wishpond Ditched Low-Impact A/B Testing to Drive Signups

A few months ago the growth team at Wishpond was having trouble reaching our KPIs for free trial sign-ups and set ourselves on a path to find a solution. We had been actively optimizing our blog popups for a while – trying new copy, different colors, designs, images, etc. But as the month came to a close, the ROI from our optimization efforts began to plateau, and our goal seemed light years away. We needed something new that would command attention and create a reaction from our visitors. So we scoured the internet for inspiration and came up with the…

The post Getting Growth Minded: How Wishpond Ditched Low-Impact A/B Testing to Drive Signups appeared first on The Daily Egg.


The Daily Egg

4 Post-Conversion Autoresponder Tactics to Keep Your Leads Alive

resurrect-landing-pages-from-the-dead
Bring your leads back from the dead with an engaging autoresponder.

There’s no shortage of top-notch online content aimed at optimizing your landing pages. Ultimate Guides, Best Practices and Perfect Anatomies abound.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of all that amazing content ignores what happens immediately after your visitor converts… and that, ladies and gentlemen, is where your landing pages go to die.

In other words, unless you have a plan for what happens after someone signs up or says “Yes,” all the conversion momentum you bled to create — not to mention the ripest opportunity you have to engage — might be for nothing.

This means crafting an authentic, engaging autoresponder — whether that’s a confirmation email, download link, or even just a friendly “Thanks for signing up” — in a way that bonds you to your prospects right from the jump.

To do that, let’s take a look at four proven tactics guaranteed to keep your landing page alive… after a lead opts in.

1. Give ‘em what they asked for

Here’s the brutal truth: people don’t sign up to your list because they like you nor because they want to hear more about you and your company’s awesome products.

No, they sign up because they want something you’re offeringto them, for them, to benefit them. That offer can run the gamut from an ebook to an industry report to a free coaching session to a simple ecommerce discount.

Whatever your offer is … the worst thing you can do after someone signs up is get in the way of letting them have it.

That sounds obvious, but even enterprise-level organizations can make an absolute trainwreck of the confirmation process.

Take, for example, investment platform Seeking Alpha.

Two weeks ago, I registered for a free account at Seeking Alpha. I’d been researching Lowe’s Home Improvement recent use of Facebook ads and found what looked to be a primary-source goldmine: Lowe’s Companies’ (LOW) CEO Robert Niblock on Q3 2015 Results – Earnings Call Transcript.

I tore through the first two pages of the transcript. But when I tried to move ahead to page three this pop up appeared:

read-transcript-overlay

Naturally, I’d already invested myself in the first two pages of the article, so I filled out the form and hit “Register.”

And that’s when the nightmare began.

First, Seeking Alpha served up this pretty standard “Thank You” page:

seeking-alphabet-thank-you-page

Thinking that I’d already created an account by giving them my email and a password, I clicked “log in,” was redirect to the “Member sign in page” and filled out the fields.

To my surprise — despite using the same email and password I just entered — this error message appeared:

seeking-alphabet-sign-in-page

A bit discouraged but still hungry for page three, I jumped over to my inbox where this confirmation email waiting for me:

seeking-alpha-confirmation-email

“Good,” I thought, “Just need to confirm my registration and then … page three here I come.”

Instead, when I clicked “Confirm Your Registration,” I was sent to an additional three-step form:

customize-seeking-alpha

step-2-seeking-alpha

seeking-alpha-step-3

After being forced to answer a series of segmentation questions, opt in to an additional list and supply four or more stocks to continue, I was sure clicking “Save & Continue” would finally send me to page three.

But once again … no.

In lieu of page three, a previously-unannounced fourth step appeared that now required me to enter my phone number in order to “Get the App,” something I had shown zero interest in during my previous responses. I wasn’t even on a mobile device at the time:

seeking-alpha-get-theapp

But oh! How I wanted page three. So I plugged in my phone number, clicked “Text me a link” earnestly hoping that finally I’d be given what I’d asked for.

Tragically — and you probably saw this coming — what I got next was … nothing.

No redirect, no thank you page, no article, no link, no page three. Nothing. Just a dead end screen with nowhere to go next. In order to ultimately reach page three, I had to go back to the login page and walk through the entire search process.

All told, it took ten separate screens to go from page two to page three of the piece I’d originally asked for.

What’s the moral of the story?

People value one thing above all others: time. What’s more… people respect people who respect their time. When someone signs up for your email list, all they want is to get what they asked for.

You can do this in one of two ways.

Ensure that your initial autoresponder includes a direct link to whatever offer your new lead signed up for

For instance, whenever someone signs up for my Ultimate Content Creating Checklist, I use GetResponse’ autoresponder workflow to send them a simple, stripped-down email with just one link to the resource itself:

content-creation-checklist

If a new lead doesn’t click that link within 24 hours, they get a even more stripped down email with a friendly reminder:

did-you-miss-it

Create a redirect or popup after your form page that gives new subscribers direct access

That’s how Unbounce and Onboardly’s new ebook The Growth Marketer’s Guide to Landing Page Optimization does it. Immediately after completing the form comes this popup:

onboardly-unbounce

Boom — just like that, I’m in.

Bottom line?

Do not waste your prospects’ valuable time with useless emails, additional questions, or by making them jump through hoops.

Just give ‘em what they asked for.

Optimize Your Email Automation & Boost Your Conversions!

Get a FREE copy of The Smart Guide To Email Marketing Conversion.
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2. Start a conversation

Just like the first tactic, our second tactic should be obvious.

Sadly, it isn’t.

Often confirmation emails and autoresponders are brutally humdrum. If someone takes the time to customize their autoresponder at all, the conversations are blatantly one sided. Why? Because we’ve forgotten that behind every computer screen is a real, live human being.

As a result, you and I can differentiate a personal email from an autoresponder a thousand miles away.

That, however, shouldn’t be the case. Done right, you can not only make someone feel like they’re talking to another person… you can even get them to respond.

Think that’s impossible? It’s not.

In fact, that’s exactly what happened to Oli Gardner when he signed up for Sujan Patel’s ebook.

As Oli admitted on Unbounce’s podcast:

“Two days ago I downloaded an ebook by Sujan Patel. … And that’s when the trickery began, because I got an email, an automated email that was so well crafted that I thought it was real.

He made it sound like he recognized me.

So I responded.

And then I was like, ‘Mother [expletive]!’ I looked at it again and realized, ‘He didn’t write this to me. He put it as an autoresponder.’”

Sujan’s autoresponder is the living proof that you can start a conversation from the jump:

sujan-patel-email

On top of that, starting these real human conversations drives bottom-line results. In my own massive Landing Page Optimization Guide, I asked Sujan about how well his conversational approach works:

“First, of the people who subscribe to the blog, 6.6% click on a link to one of my two software products — Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io — or on one of my two books. And 39% of those clicks eventually convert into either a product trial or a book purchase.

Second, of those who preview my ebook, 12% purchase the full book and an additional 3% start a trial of either Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io.

Third, of the people who buy my ebook, 1.9% end up buying the other book and another 15% start a trial of Narrow.io or ContentMarketer.io.”

Bear in mind, those big numbers are all generated by simple and conversational emails like the one above.

To start your own real human conversations, keep these two principles in mind.

Write the way you talk

Don’t make the mistake of trying to impress your new contact by using jargon-heavy language, formal introductions, or corporate mumbo-jumbo.

Simply read your emails out loud to yourself and if they don’t sound like one human talking to another, go back to the drawing board until they do.

Most notably, use short words, short sentences, short paragraphs and (of course) short emails.

Take Henneke Duistermaat’s initial email when you sign up for her Snackable Writing Course as a model:

henneke-autoresponder

Personalize your emails

Deep personalization — especially for ecommerce — includes a host of advanced segmentation features, customer and lead tagging, product-offer coordination, upselling, cart-abandonment emails and even off-site strategies like retargeting. All that can easily make your head spin.

For your first email, don’t over think it.

While it’s not techncially a confirmation email, Inbound.org nails truly human personalization. By keeping the format plain, adding an *FName* field, and by only sending emails on topics their users have already shown interest in, I’m constantly tempted to write back to Ed directly:

ed-fry-autoresponder

3. Ask a question

Do not underestimate the power of a good question.

Why?

Because the human brain is hardwired to automatically engage with a question.

Neurologically speaking, this is called “The Zeigarnik Effect,” named for the Russian psychologist who discovered it.

The power of a good question lies in its ability to entice, seduce and above all demand a response. That’s why some of the most successful advertisements in history start with a question:

do-you-make-these-mistakes
Rather than insulting its audience by pointing out their deficiencies, Maxwell Sackheim’s advertisement sparked curiosity and generated direct responses for forty years.

John Caples’ uber classic Tested Advertising Methods lists “Have your headline ask a question” as one of the proven methods for writing “headlines and direct mail teasers.”

Of course, the theory and that example are more than a generation old. So do questions still work?

Absolutely.

Late last year, Retention Science reported that “punctuation [in an email subject line] impacts email open rates” significantly:

The presence of any type of punctuation mark increased open rates by 9 percent.

And can you guess the most conversion-generating piece of punctuation?

Question marks:

Question marks are particularly effective at engaging recipients. In fact, the study found subject lines with question marks have open rates 44 percent greater than those with exclamation points.

The application of this principle to your autoresponder should be clear: add a question.

Of course, you can easily scatter questions — rhetorical or otherwise — within your emails. For instance, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout asks two questions and encourages you to reply:

neil-patel-email

However, a better application of this tactic is to build your very first email around a single, driving question that matters to your audience … not you.

This is precisely what Ann Handley does. Sign up for Ann’s list and here’s the very first email you’ll receive:

ann-handley-subject-line

total-annarchy

At the risk of getting a bit meta, I replied to that question email with a question of my own:

ann-handley-email

And do you know what Ann did?

She actually wrote back:

“When I first launched AnnHandley.com’s email subscription option, I used to thank new signups, as I do now. But the question was different: I used to ask them to share with me the most innovative or interesting bit of content they’d seen lately. I was looking for something that engaged them… or that they found surprising. Because, I explained, I was always looking for stellar content examples.

About 10% of those who subscribed actually responded with a content example.

Over time I realized that the response rate was pitifully low, especially given my approachable vibe and voice.

It dawned on me that maybe that was because my note was essentially about ME — tell me what you like, because I am always looking for good example. It was not about the subscriber. It was not about what I could do for them.

So I rewrote the Welcome email to be about the subscriber and not about me.

I asked very basic questions: What are you doing here? What do you hope to learn?

Now, roughly 60% of those who subscribe actually write me back. And when they do respond… I always try to respond BACK. (I may have missed a few here or there… but I try not to.) I don’t write a book — but I do acknowledge their response. People always appreciate that I’m actually monitoring responses. I get a lot of ‘wow I can’t believe you wrote back….’

It’s funny how a little time and care goes a long way.”

Yep… it sure is. And it all starts with a question.

4. Provide unexpected value

Admit it. You love surprises. After all, who doesn’t?

Surprise parties, unexpected gifts, out-of-the-blue good news. We all love that feeling of getting extra value in our lives, especially when we don’t see it coming.

The only secret to success — regardless of the industry — isn’t really a secret at all: don’t just add value… add more value than anyone else.

The great Tony Robbins enshrined this bed-rock principle in his recent book MONEY: Master the Game:

Money is nothing more than a reflection of your creativity, your capacity to focus and your ability to add value and receive back.

If you can find a way to create value — that is, add value for a massive number of people — you will have an opportunity to have a massive amount of economic abundance in your life.

What’s true for the world at large is also true of your subscribers.

This fourth tactic — provide unexpected value — increases the loyalty of your new leads, builds rapport and trust and leans hard on the persuasive principle of reciprocity all by exceeding their expectations.

For instance, if people signed up to download a free SEO report, you could easily offer a free one-page checklist or website audit as a way of showing your gratitude.

On the other hand, if they signed up to learn more about your nutrition coaching business, you could surprise them by giving away a detailed list of easy recipes to help them lose weight.

The point is: they didn’t expect those things and because of that element of surprise, what might otherwise be just another lead magnet provides far more value.

For example, when you sign up for one of the Robbie Richard’s case studies, he surprises you by giving away an extra case study:

robbie-richards-email

Likewise, Derek Halpern – author of Social Triggers – applies the same principle. After you sign up to download one of his worksheets, he gives you a “surprise gift”:

derek-halpern-email

Remember Sujan Patel’s conversational emails? After signing up for his blog, he provides readers with “a few of my best posts while you wait for my next newsletter”:

sujan-pattel-email

Brian Dean from Backlinko? Yep, he does it to:

dean-bakclinko

Even Blog Tyrant Ramsay Taplin uses this tactic. Notice that not only does he provide an unexpected resource, he also offers a conversational tip and an invitation to connect with him directly:

tyrant-troops-email

What do all these first-contact autoresponders have in common?

They all provide unexpected value… and you should do the same.

Don’t let your landing page die

Sure, Ultimate Guides, Best Practices and Perfect Anatomies abound. And it’s wise to optimize your on-page elements for maximum conversions.

But, that doesn’t mean you can overlook what’s next: after the page.

To ensure that your landing pages live on, follow these four proven tactics:

  1. Give ‘em what they asked for
  2. Start a conversation
  3. Ask a question
  4. Provide unexpected value

Got a favorite autoresponder tip? Be sure to share it in the comments… especially if it tricked you into writing back.


Unbounce

Influencer Marketing Is (not) Dead: How to Breathe New Life into Your Program

influencer-marketing-is-not-dead

What’s a marketer to do? We heard that influencer marketing was the next big thing. We heard about companies getting amazing results with it. But it seems you can’t go anywhere online recently without seeing headlines like this:

Influencer Economy

And this:

confessions of a social media executive

Note the social shares on those two articles: 242,000 for the first one and nearly 50,000 for the second one. If influencer marketing is burning down, that’s a lot of people standing by with marshmallows to roast.

But don’t panic. These two articles, and many more like them, refer to a specific kind of influencer marketing. Generally speaking: the bad kind. Specifically, the practice of writing massive checks to teenagers with a lot of followers on Instagram or Vine in exchange for product promotion. That particular economy, which converted cash to “influence” or “awareness,” was pretty much doomed from the start. You’re in trouble any time you convert real money to something fundamentally unmeasurable.

But it’s not fair to say that influencer marketing is dead, or in trouble, or collapsing because bad influencer marketing isn’t working out. That’s like declaring “Movies are dead!” because Gods of Egypt flopped at the box office. Influencer marketing works when it’s done well. At TopRank Marketing, we have achieved amazing results for our clients with the practice.

The only thing better than learning from your mistakes is learning from other people’s mistakes. So let’s take a moment to mourn the passing of bad influencer marketing—and then let’s perform an autopsy to see how we can avoid their fate. Here are four ways to make sure your influencer marketing stays alive and well:

#1 – Build Relationships

In a way, the Instagram and Snapchat “influencers” are just billboards. You stand here and hold this beverage/face wash/protein powder, we give you $ 500. You deliver the commodity of X number of eyeballs for the money. If a rival beverage/face wash/protein powder company comes along and offers you $ 550, you move on.

Good influencer marketing is more than advertising using someone’s social media presence as the billboard. It’s about cultivating an ongoing relationship that continually generates value for everyone involved. Influencer relationships should be built with care, personal attention, and respect. Yes, sometimes you may pay an influencer for their involvement, but that transaction takes place in the larger context of the relationship.

#2 – Produce Something of Value

Bad influencer marketing can be, at its worst, just a celebrity endorsement with a different kind of celebrity. The celebrity gets paid, and the audience gets… what? The vicarious thrill of seeing that they drink the same brand of face wash as that guy on Vine?

Good influencer marketing goes beyond endorsement to create something of value for the audience as well as the influencer and the brand. That’s why it works. For example, our Content Marketing World eBook series from last year rounded up advice from dozens of highly-skilled marketers. The eBooks promoted the event, and they highlighted our influencers, but they were also useful and entertaining for the audience. It’s an unbeatable combination.

#3 – Recruit More than Brandividuals

One big problem with bad influencer marketing is it focuses entirely on “brandividuals.” According to our CEO Lee Odden, a brandividual is someone who is in the business of being popular. They have a huge social media presence, sure. But they may not be able to call that audience to action. A true influencer, by contrast, may be less popular by the numbers, but is credible, authoritative, and able to affect change.

You definitely can use brandividuals to help attract a crowd, and to lure in the true influencers—but a campaign that’s all brandividuals may generate more buzz than results.

#4 – Make It Measurable

Step 1: Have influencer post about our combination face wash/protein powder on Snapchat. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit. It’s not the most sustainable business model, right? But for a lot of bad influencer marketing, that’s a pretty accurate assessment. These campaigns trade entirely on “awareness” or, god forbid, “brand lift.” Without any way to track ROI from the influencer activity, it was only a matter of time before the C-suite decided to spend their budget elsewhere.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t measure the ROI of influencer marketing. It’s not only possible; it’s crucial. Start by having a specific goal for your campaign—an action that you want your audience to take as a direct result of experiencing the content. Then make sure you can track that action and attribute it to the influencer. Give them trackable URLs to share. Give them their own landing page to send traffic to. Either way you go about it, you should be able to demonstrate exactly what your influencer brought to the campaign.

If you’re a teenager with a huge Snapchat following, the death of bad influencer marketing is bad news. If you’re a marketer looking to partner with influencers to create cool stuff and expand your reach, there’s no need to mourn. Take these four lessons to heart, go forth, and be awesome.

Need help with your influencer marketing, we can help!

 


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. | Influencer Marketing Is (not) Dead: How to Breathe New Life into Your Program | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Influencer Marketing Is (not) Dead: How to Breathe New Life into Your Program appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Samsung’s new Gear Fit 2 has GPS and a giant display – The Verge


The Verge

Samsung's new Gear Fit 2 has GPS and a giant display
The Verge
Activity-tracking wristbands tend to promise a lot and deliver not quite as much, but that hasn't stopped wearable makers from trying. Some of them are starting to squeeze more sensors into the same wristband form factor, hoping that the added
Hands on: Samsung Gear Fit 2Digital Trends
Samsung Gear Fit 2 and Icon X promo videos show off their cool new featuresPhone Arena
Samsung's Gear Icon X heart-rate fitness earbuds are completely wireless, coming later this yearCNET
PC Magazine –Ars Technica –TechCrunch –AppleInsider (press release) (blog)
all 165 news articles »

Technology – Google News

Win a Free Trip to CTAConf 2016 [Prize Package Valued at $6,000]

TL;DR: Win a trip to the Unbounce Call to Action Conference in Vancouver this upcoming June 19 – 21 (a prize valued at over $ 6,000) by creating a landing page that converts.

For the past two years, we’ve hosted an epic contest to send deserving marketers to our Call to Action Conference in Vancouver.

>>This way to win your way to CTAConf

We received some pretty remarkable landing pages entries. Hilarious videos were created. Retargeting happened. Directional cues were used. A ton of personality, memes, dancing, creativity, blood, sweat and tears went into these pages.

In short, we were pretty blown away. So we’re doing it again.

But this time it’s going to be a little bit different.

The challenge

Listen closely.

We’ve created a new landing page template all about CTA Conf 2016 (hosted by Unbounce this upcoming June 19 – 21) and why we think every marketer should attend. It’s 95% complete…

But we think it could use your help.

The challenge is simple:

  1. Check out what makes the Call to Action Conference so special.
  2. Log in to Unbounce (or create a free account) and head to our templates library.
  3. Create a new landing page using our Call to Action Conference Contest template, and add your own finishing touches to persuade people to click that call to action! Make the copy more persuasive, the color palette prettier — whatever you think will result in more conversions.
  4. Publish and share your landing page with all your marketing friends through email, social, remarketing or any other creative idea you come up with.

The honorable judge

Last year we had a mix of Unbouncers and speakers as judges. But this time, there is only one judge: data. #micdrop

Whoever’s page drives the most conversions (form submissions to our Call to Action Conference Agenda page) will win a free trip to Vancouver to attend Call to Action Conference. Tickets, flights, accommodation, fun touristy activities — the whole shebang!

What does the Ultimate CTAConf Package Include?

In other words, why should you put your blood, sweat, tears and conversion chops into this?

Check out our prize packages:

First place

The first place prize package includes:

  • One CTAConf ticket for you and one for a friend
  • One flight to Vancouver (up to $ 1,000)
  • Three nights at the Delta Vancouver Suites from June 19 – 21
  • Your choice of Sunday Funday activity before the conference
But wait, second and third place are rewarded for their efforts too!

Second place

If you’re next best, you’ll get two free tickets to CTAConf 2016, an invitation to the private speaker dinner on June 19 (think of all the unlimited mingling you’ll get to do with marketing experts!) and your choice of Sunday Funday tourist activity before the conference.

Third place

And if you come in third, you’ll still get to come to the conference for free — Sunday Funday included! And you’ll walk away with an Unbounce swag back.

Up for the challenge? Read the rules, download the template and get crackin’.

The contest ends June 9, 2016 at 5:00pm PST.

Happy converting!

P.S. If you don’t want to make a landing page but still wanna come to the conference, we’ve got a special discount for our blog readers. Get an extra $ 200 off your ticket at the checkout by using the promocode “UnbounceBlog” until the landing page contest submissions end on June 9, 2016 at 5:00pm PST.


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The Definitive Guide to Measuring Your First Paid Social Campaign

There’s no doubt that the social media marketing landscape has changed. Across platforms, organic efforts simply don’t see the cut-through they once did — agh, what’s that noise?

blog_social_infographic_v3

That’s a lot of noise to compete with.

Paid and promoted posts, however, are an effective way to cut through the noise to reach your specific target audience when executed strategically.

But all too often, people dive head-first into paid media without a strategy.

They test several elements at once without a goal in mind. They’re left not knowing what worked and what didn’t. Their managers and teams are then hesitant to try it again (or even try it the first time) because they don’t have a clear picture of the value added or investment returned.

With proper objectives, processes, plans and measurement, however, paid ads on social can add measurable value. They can drive purchases or signups, get eyeballs on your content or allow you to learn more about your target audience — specifically, what resonates with them and what doesn’t.

Below, I’ll walk you through:

  1. Defining objectives and KPIs for your social media campaign
  2. Prepping and launching the campaign
  3. Measuring results
  4. Reporting on results and iterating for your next campaign

We’ll eliminate any uncertainty around what should be measured and what should be communicated with your team. And you’ll walk away with a step-by-step approach to measuring your campaign effectiveness so you can get your message to the people who need it.

Step 1: Defining your objectives and KPIs

You’re not going to know if your campaign is successful or not if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish.

Behind every well-executed paid social campaign are two important elements:

  1. Clear objectives: i.e.: drive brand awareness, increase product purchases, increase visits to a specific piece of content, increase Facebook page likes, drive event attendance, get more mobile app downloads, etc.
  2. Key performance indicators (KPIs): hard metrics that tell you if you’re achieving or tracking towards your objective. In short, KPIs tell you if your campaign is performing or not.

Here are the different KPIs you’d use for the different objectives and stages of a paid social campaign:

objective-tables

For every KPI, you’ll also need to establish benchmarks and targets — the baseline numbers you’re starting with so you can measure growth.

Based on your current conversion rate, how many more visitors do you need to hit your revenue target? Or, how many more attendees do you need to meet your ticket goal?

Together, a benchmark and a target provide context around your KPI; they give you something to measure against.

(Running a campaign for the first time and are unsure of an appropriate benchmark? Nanigans have great resources covering this.)

Step 2: Prepping and launching the campaign

Once you’re clear on your goals, you’ve got a heck of a lot of work to do before you can launch.

Every step is a beast of a topic that warrants its own post — so be sure to do your research before you proceed. At a high-level, you’ll want to:

  • Define your target audience.
  • Plan your ad creative — copy and design that will resonate with that audience. This includes creating snazzy ads and corresponding landing pages that will resonate with them.
  • Set up tracking for your landing pages using a UTM code builder. UTM codes are a bit of text added to the end of your URL that tell you where exactly visitors came from (which channel, type of ad, campaign, etc).
  • Build out your campaign. Each network has its own super-detailed tutorial (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter).

Step 3: Measuring results

You can check on the results of your campaign in several places.

Google Analytics

In order to know what exactly a visitor is doing after they click the link you’re promoting, you’ll want to track your ad through Google Analytics. This way you can measure more than just post clicks and engagements (likes, comments, shares).

Google Analytics allows you to track conversions from your ads and see what other pages they visited, where they bounced and more. This intel will help you determine whether or not you targeted the right audience with your ad.

The UTM codes you set up in step two help you check Google Analytics for which networks are bringing you the most traffic.

After your ad is running, Google Analytics will tell you how many visitors came from which ad if you click on Acquisition All Traffic Sources/Medium:

google-analytics-source-medium

It will look something like this:

google-analytics-fb-cpc
Image source: ryanshaw.me

While this will come in handy when seeing which social media network is performing well for you, it can also be valuable for testing which creative is converting best (if you create a separate campaign/UTM code for each set of creatives).

When A/B testing, just remember to keep your KPIs in mind. Is your test bringing you closer to the results you set out to get?

Social media dashboards

Google Analytics is effective for tracking conversions and the visitor journey, but it won’t tell you what type of impact your ad had on social media in terms of engagement and awareness.

Social media ad dashboards tell a different part of the story around how your ad is performing. They will tell you how your campaign has impacted your brand awareness on social. Use social media ad dashboards to track followers, likes, shares, comments and clicks within your ad.

To illustrate, let’s look at an example of a promoted post that appeared in readers’ Facebook newsfeeds.

To track the performance of your ad, you’d visit your Facebook Ads Manager. Here, you’ll find all of your campaigns laid out with results, reach, cost and amount spent.

facebook-ads-shannon-byrne
An overview of all campaigns as well as results, reach, cost and amount spent.

To dive deeper, click on each campaign name for detailed results.

facebook-ads-performance-shannon
A breakdown of cost vs result (click, comment, share, like) for one of our recent promoted post campaigns. A cost per result of $ 0.83 is about average.

In the Performance tab, you can also click “Custom” to drill down and look at specific results by action, reach, impressions and cost per result. In this example, we’re looking at Actions, which are measured by engagements – specifically, likes, clicks, shares and comments.

facebook-ads-actions

To see how viewers are specifically engaging with your ad, scroll down past the graph. In the table, in the Columns drop down, select “Engagement.”

facebook-ads-engagement

Here’s you’ll find post likes, comments, shares, link clicks and page likes from the promoted post.

facebook-ads-dashboard-4
We would have liked to see more shares, but we were happy with 23 comments and 31 likes.
Bonus tip: Promoted posts are typically used to give some extra visibility to a post or piece of content that’s already performing well.

When you do this, you lower your cost per click because the piece has already proven to be of interest to your audience. Essentially, if content performs well organically, the social network knows it’s good content. More clicks = less cost.

A broader view of all networks

So Google Analytics tells one part of your ad’s story, and social media dashboards tell another. How do you get them all together to paint one holistic and simple picture for yourself and your team?

One solution is to create a live paid social campaign dashboard. (Disclaimer: I’m from Geckoboard and we provide a tool to build dashboards. Other dashboarding tools are available!)

A dashboard provides a broad view of your ads’ key performance indicators. It’s also something digestible to share with stakeholders at a glance without having to bog them down with Excel data — or complicated reports from GA and social platforms they might not even have access to.

A dashboard tracking ad campaign success might look something like this:

social-media-campaign-dashboard

Rather than focusing on one channel, the dashboard above is tracking snapshots of KPIs in an at-a-glance format across all paid campaigns, illustrating how they compare to each other and which is performing best.

Unpacking this a bit:

  • In the far left you see the most important stat: number of conversions vs. your target conversions (being signups, purchases, registrations – whatever a conversion means for you). In this example, at 56, we’ve reached 35% of our goal of 160 conversions.
  • Moving right, you’ll find how much you’re paying for each acquisition through your paid social efforts.
  • Below that is a line graph indicating how much paid ads on each channel are converting. In this example, Facebook is performing much better than the other channels in terms of volume.
  • The three KPIs being measured in the last row show you at-a-glance what we walked through in the Facebook Ads Manager above: your campaign’s impact on engagement and awareness.

What kind of insight does this sort of high-level view bring?

Comparing these two graphs (line and bar), it’s clear that LinkedIn is costing more, and you need to either optimize the CPC down by adjusting the audiences you’re targeting or pull back the spend based on the volume of conversions. It may also be worth looking to see if you could increase the volume of conversions on Twitter and Instagram by increasing your CPC bid, given they’re significantly lower than the other two channels.

Step 4: Reporting on the results and iterating

The final step in your paid social campaign is to share the data with your team. You’ll get more ideas and discover new insights as you discuss the campaign results together.

Ideally, the dashboard you’ve built has been front and center in your office or available to your team members no matter where they are (and what they do). You never know, a team member from a different department may have a great idea for a KPI, goal or creative of your ad.

So then, are you ready to start running and measuring your first social media campaign?

To get started, check out the tools Facebook offers for creating ads. Have any questions? Leave them in the comments below – I’d be happy to help!


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