10X Your A/B Testing with AdWords Ad Variations

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/NQLvEhl1ZUE/adwords-ad-variations

Is “Buy now” a more effective call to action than “Don’t miss the boat”? Do your prospects prefer to noodle around in a “free trial” or would they rather “try [our] software”? What happens if you invert your headlines? Do URL paths even matter, bro?!?!

When it comes to writing ads, these are the questions that haunt paid search aficionados. They’re the crux of ad-centric A/B testing, and they’ve been notoriously difficult to answer for a whole gang of reasons, from a lack of time to sub-optimal ad rotation settings and then some.

Until now.

Today, I’m going to run you through the nuances of Google’s Ad Variations, a feature the search titan rolled out at the end of 2017 to help advertisers test fresh copy at scale. But first…

The Case for Using AdWords Ad Variations

Be honest: When was the last time you implemented an A/B test in just one ad group? What about across your whole account?

I’d wager for most of us, the answer is somewhere between staring shamefully into the spaces between F and G on our keyboards and coming up with some flippant, defensive quip. That’s because generating fresh ad copy takes time and thought.

Maybe there’s a quarterly review in your three-month plan, but it’s probably not something you’re doing every week. Testing ad copy tends to fall by the wayside because bid adjustments and negative keywords—even new buildouts—are much easier to generate quickly.

adwords ad variations a/b testing 

That being said, there’s a ton of untapped value in split-testing your ad creative. Figuring out what ad version incites more clicks (improves CTR) will improve your Quality Scores, which lowers CPCs, which means you can run EVEN MORE ADS. This perpetual testing of ad copy helps you uncover more effective language to leverage on your landing pages, which can lead to more conversions. In short, testing your AdWords ads pays dividends!

I totally get that coming up with new copy—even a new headline—is tough; at scale, it can feel like a Sisyphean task. Ad Variations are Google’s attempt at making it a damn sight easier.

A brief aside on why Ad Variations make me kinda sad or whatever

When I came to WordStream many moons ago as a Managed Services rep, it was partly because I couldn’t get a job as a copywriter. While I’d written a thing or two about a thing or two, I didn’t have a polished portfolio. The ceaseless horde of cover letters I sent to every agency in Boston that explained exactly how and why I would slay all work that came my way went unanswered. Alas, I’d never realize my true potential: becoming apex this guy, complete with MacBook…

 paul kinsey adwords guy

I was crushed. But it worked out for the best.

I say that to say this: the first thing that excited me about AdWords was, you know, writing ads (I know I’m in the minority here). The Ad Variations feature, though a lovely innovation, does strip a few shreds of creativity from the ad writing process in favor of sheer efficiency.

While many will rejoice, I’m pouring some out for the hours spent poring over client websites and swollen spreadsheets coming up with that perfect turn of phrase for every ad group.

And now back to our scheduled programming.

Setting Ad Variations Up in Your AdWords Account

To set up Ad Variations in your account, you’re going to need to ensure that you’re using the New AdWords UI; to drive adoption, some of the new AdWords features Google has rolled out of late are missing from the clunky old UI we all know and love.

On the page menu (the light grey bar to the right of your campaigns and ad groups), scroll to the very bottom and select “Drafts and Experiments.”

adwords-drafts-and-experiments-ad-variations 

At the top of the D&E page, jump right over “Campaign Drafts” and “Campaign Experiments” and select yup, you guessed it, “Ad Variations.” From here you can either click the big blue circle or “New Ad Variations” to get started. Multiple methods. Variations, if you will. How meta!

 adwords-ad-variations

Here, you’re going to need to select the campaign in which you’d like to run ad variations. While you can choose to create variations for all campaigns simultaneously, to afford yourself some modicum of control over your messaging, you’re better off implementing a new experiment for each campaign (or group of campaigns, depending on how your account is structured). It’s also worth noting that, per Google, you can only create a single variation within any given campaign over a given date range.

This means you can’t run a dozen overlapping experiments. I can already hear the chorus of boo-hoos and “yeah buts.” Can it, I implore you. This isn’t a bad thing: you’d lose the advantage of achieving statistical significance efficiently if impressions are spread across too many ads. While the ability to iterate rapidly is fantastic, you don’t want to cast best practices asunder to do so!

Anyway, now we come to the fun part: filtering.

Google offers you a whole mess of ways to filter the ad copy in your campaign, ensuring that you only implement tests exactly where you want them. The first ad variation filter allows you to select ads based on constituent components, including:

Headline (1, 2, both) Description Headline and Description Path (1, 2, both)

The second acts as a modifier, allowing you to select or exclude specific ads based on whether they contain, equal, start with, or end with a specific word or character:

adwords-ad-variations-filter-options 

Better still, is that fact that you can combine multiple filters, which allows you to come up with something that looks like this:

adwords ad variations multiple filters 

Of course, if you’re just looking to replace a common call to action or implement a new URL path, there’s no need to get wild with the filter options. If you’re looking to avoid wholesale change in favor of nuance, they’ll quickly become your best friend. Gotta love that control.

And now, the fun part: actually creating your ad variations.

Google provides three separate types of ad variation you can create:

Find and replace Update text Swap headlines

Let’s take a closer look at each option.

Find and Replace

First up, we’ve got the “Find and Replace” ad variation. As the name so subtly suggests, this option allows you to find a word or phrase in some component of your text ads and swap it out with another.

This is the perfect option if you’d like to test something like “Buy now” vs. “Buy today,” or, if you’re an artisan syrup-maker from the Green Mountain state, you’d like to change instances where you braggadociosly reference being the best in “Vermont” to “The World.” Dream big, people.

create adwords ad variations 

“Find and Replace” allows you to adjust any component of your ads and gives you the option to match case (important to note if your existing ads are written in title case vs. sentence case).

Update Text

The “Update Text” ad variant is more of a wholesale change than “Find and Replace,” but it’s still reliant on your filters to take effect. Let’s say you want to swap out every Headline in a given campaign but would rather leave the Description and Paths intact, like so:

adwords ad variations headline change 

In this example, I’ve updated both headlines for ads in a competitor campaign (where including other brand names is impossible) for my exceptional, barrel-aged pure maple syrup. The first headline is an attempt at getting a laugh and, subsequently, a click; the second introduces my product to someone searching for a much larger competitor.

Is this something you want to roll out everywhere, all the time? Probably not. But if it works in testing, it can be implemented across the board after achieving statistical significance. Don’t let fear stand in the way of a good idea!

(Of course, you can use “Update Text” variants to test less silly ideas, too; if your ads tend to follow a formula, use that structure to replace the components that don’t include target keywords. This will allow you to get creative without sacrificing Quality Score).

Swap Headlines

And finally, we come to the lazy man special. “Swap Headlines” is pretty self-explanatory: it allows you to flip your Headline 1 and Headline 2 in the ads identified in your filter step.

ad variations adwords headline swap 

If ever you’ve wondered how putting your CTA before your brand—or something comparable—would impact CTR, this is your chance to learn, en masse.

Tracking and Applying Your Ad Variations

Once you’ve settled on a mode of ad variation, you’ll need to establish the details of your testing process.

Right off the bat, you’ll want to name your variant (in the example below I’ve cleverly named my variant “Name of Ad Variant.” Do yourself a favor: use a name that explicitly refers to your test, that way you know what you’re looking at):

 adwords ad variations set variant details 

From there, you’re going to need to assign a start date and an end date for your variation. Start with a timeframe of at least two weeks to give your ads time to accrue some impressions. Simple enough, right?

Finally, we come to the “Experiment Split” section. This is the final field before setting your new ad variation live. It refers to the percentage of your campaign budget that’s “allocated to your variation and the percentage of auctions your variation is eligible to participate in.” If you only want to conduct an experiment with a small subset of your advertising budget (which may be the case if you’re testing something outlandish or are particularly budget-sensitive), adjust your split accordingly.

Once assigned, click “Create Variation” and kick back (or, you know, get back to your normal routine optimization).

In terms of gauging the performance of your ad variation, the interface in which you created your experiment now doubles as a hub for analyzing its results. It allows you to see clicks, impressions, CTR, cost, and average CPC: more than enough information to determine whether or not your new copy’s a keeper.

 adwords ad variation results

Finally, if you deem the results of your ad variation successful enough to actually replace your existing ads, click “Apply”…

apply adwords ad variants 

To bring up the “Apply Variation” interface…

apply adwords ad variations application settings 

From here, you’re given a full breakdown of your ad variation (what kind of experiment you’ve been running how many ads were impacted) and three potential courses of action:

Pause original ads and create new ads with this variation ***Remove original ads and create new ads with this variation*** [AVOID ME] Keep original ads and create new ads with this variation

Don’t choose the second one. Ever. Your old ads are valuable: they have historic data! Don’t delete them. You can pause them and replace them with your winning ad variation or run them simultaneously for a true split-test.

So Now You Know How to Use AdWords Ad Variations: What Should You Be Testing?

So, you’ve now got the ability to test anything, anywhere in your AdWords account—at least where ad copy is concerned: how do you avoid paralysis by analysis? Yes, knowing that you can implement impactful changes across every campaign with a bright idea and a few clicks can be as frustrating as a facing down a hundred ad groups in need of fresh copy (and a whole workday).

Luckily, I’ve pulled together a handful of ideas that you can use to test your creative using Ad Variations right this instant (most of which were ripped directly from our own research on top-performing search ads).

You’re welcome.

Get weird with your CTA

The CTA is a key component of your ad creative, but most people tend to try to pop it into their second headline and call it a day. Why not use AdWords Ad Variations to test CTA placement? You can try it before you address your target keyword, by putting it in the Headline 1, or put it in the description and use both headlines to focus on catching the eyes of your prospects with colorful language.

adwords cta verb testing ad variants 

While you’re at it, why not take a new verb for a spin? According to our research, “Buy” or “Shop” or “Get” make for effective CTA verbs: pit them against one another with a “Find and Replace” variant and see which one works best in the context of your account.

Leverage positivity (or, you know, don’t)

Here’s another place where the “Find and Replace” variation can come in clutch. Sentiment is an important—though often overlooked—piece of writing search ads. Our analysis of more than 600 ads revealed that 45% of top-performers use positive sentiment to great effect.

ad sentiment testing adwords ad variants 

That being said, for some advertisers, negative sentiment can be a valuable tool. Causing a prospect to experience fear or giggle with glee beats going unnoticed, and ad variations can help you figure out which tactic resonates with searchers in your vertical.

Features? Benefits? Why not both?

A lot of marketing comes down to features vs benefits. And when it comes to AdWords, feature-dominant copy is everywhere. Why not use Google’s Ad Variations to test which approach does a better job of communitcating your value prop?

Here’s how that plays out with each version of Ad Variations:

Find and replace: Replace a thing (feature) with what that thing helps your prospects accomplish (benefit). Update text: Swap out entire description lines to test whether benefits are worth focusing on in your ad copy (if you’re nervous about dumping features, remember that you can include them in your callout extensions and structured snippets). Swap headlines: Try a feature-centric Headline 1 and a benefit-centric Headline 2 (where does the CTA go? You be the judge); reverse, rinse, and repeat.

adwords features vs benefits ad variants testing  

By testing “what does my product do” against “how does my product make your life better” in every campaign in your account—regardless of search intent—you can unlock the secrets to both CTR and CVR.

Final Thoughts

Thanks to the AdWords Ad Variations feature, it’s never been easier to determine your top-performing ad creative and then test (and test and test and test) some more. But, oddly enough, there don’t seem to be too many advertisers taking advantage of it.

Do you smell that? That, my friend, is opportunity.


12 Ways to Get More Subscribers on YouTube

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/iBD2Yo5HVpc/how-to-get-subscribers-on-youtube

Did you know that 1 billion hours of YouTube are watched by users per day? That’s equivalent to 8.4 minutes per day per human!

With its widespread popularity, it’s hard for marketers to ignore the video marketing channel. But with such high popularity comes high competition. The channel is crowded with an endless library of video content, so how can you stand out?

how to get more youtube subscribers

We’ve all caught ourselves binge watching hours upon hours of cat videos. There is nothing to be ashamed of! The question is, how can marketers steal attention away from these famous cats to get more eyes on their own YouTube channels? This is just what this article aims to provide for you – because if you’ve spent the time to invest in video then not only do you want a return, you need a return!

It’s time to grow your channel’s subscribers through some strategic work. Here are 12 tips to grow your YouTube subscribers, fast!

#1: Clean Up Your YouTube Channel

Before we get into the good stuff, it is important to do some housekeeping. While you may think everything your business does is flawless, you are not Beyoncé, so your audience might not think so… I know, I know, it’s hard to swallow, but it’s important to step away from your self and into the shoes of an outsider from time to time.

increase youtube subscribers

Taking a hard look at your YouTube channel and revaluating what is on there will likely lead to the realization that a chunk of old content should be deleted – whether it is outdated, poorly produced, or just a flop of a video that should have never made it up there in the first place. If you have something of this nature tied to your brand, it’s going to immediately turn that lead off, and cause them to lose trust in your brand. Delete it and never look back!

This brings me to my next tip…

#2: Only Create and Post Highly Watchable Content

Yes, I know this tip might seem obvious, but YouTube is full of clutter, so it’s easy to feel like you can get away with posting sub-par content. Well, you can’t! The only way to really stand out from the pack and grow your subscriber base it to create the best of the best content in your space.

The key to accomplishing this is planning during pre-production. Here are a few ways you can do this better then your competition:

Do Your Research

Watch your competitors’ videos, as well as videos in industries outside of yours, and jot down notes of the most intriguing parts. Rather then copying what your competition is doing, find a more creative way to do it better. For example, if I was in the gum business (or any other business for that matter) I’d probably take a tip or two from my all time favorite YouTube commercial, The Story of Sarah and Juan. Check it out, and just try and tell me this didn’t make you cry.

It is pretty obvious what is so wonderful about this commercial: the ability it has to elicit powerful emotions. How could your company do this?

Script ahead

You might think you can wing it on screen. Well, you can – but you shouldn’t. You need to plan out your script, do a table read, re-write it, table read, and re-write it again. This process improves your script to make it take on the story you’re trying to convey in the most powerful way. Businesses often underutilize the power of scripting, but mastering this art can take your videos to an entirely new level.

If you’re new to video scripting, check out this guide from Wistia!

Purchase the right equipment for an in-house studio

What is the “right” equipment? And can you afford it? This answer to the latter question is yes! Shockingly enough, the camera isn’t your most important piece of equipment. Why? Well, nowadays the camera on your iPhone is close in quality to a much more expensive alternative.

If you are shooting in-house, the most important equipment to have is a simple background, studio lights, and a tripod. Yes, there are a few other things you might need depending on the video, like props and audio equipment, but nailing down some of the basics and creating a solid in-office studio will lead to better video creation.

setting up a video studio

Wistia comes to our aid again with this awesome DIY Studio Set-up Guide. Also check out our own guide to creating a video culture at your company.

Make the first 10 seconds of your video the most memorable

Did you know that a whopping 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds of your video? This is why you need to make the most of the most first few seconds.

To make an awesome first impression, don’t start your video with a bland introduction, but rather with the most climactic part of your video. If you start with a bang viewers aren’t going to want to leave.

#3: Execute Top-Notch Channel Trailers

YouTube has this beautiful feature for marketers looking to grow their subscription base, called channel trailers. These are just as they sound, short trailers that automatically play when a visitor arrives on your YouTube channel page.

This is the perfect opportunity to build your subscription base, if, and only if, you create insanely compelling content.

These trailers need to be short (30-60 seconds), compelling, and most importantly they need to give your visitors a reason to stay. Do they need to be hilarious, beautiful, and emotionally charged? It will definitely help! What I really can’t stress enough is the need for an impactful call-to-action that gives the viewer a reason to subscribe.

Check out this awesome example from SoulPancake. Not only is the trailer the perfect length, it provokes motivational emotions, comedy, and ends with a very creative call-to-action.

youtube channel trailer tips

#4: Make Sure Your Videos Are Under 5 Minutes

So, your videos are all 30-60 minutes because your digital engineering software is complicated to explain? Or perhaps you’re in the law industry and believe the only way to instill trust is to include long video testimonials on your channel?

While testimonials are great, long videos and YouTube do not go well together! Regardless of how complicated the product you’re marketing is, your videos should never exceed 5 minutes.

Why? Well, science. Study after study proves that online video viewers have a short attention span. I mean, did you forget earlier when I told you how 20 percent of viewers drop off within the first 10 seconds? In fact, HubSpot has found that the ideal length for videos on YouTube is a nice and concise 2 minutes. So re-edit those long webinars, and turn them into short, snappy clips.

best length for youtube videos

If you feel like you can’t cut down your content, the tip below will definitely come in handy!

#5: Turn a Set of Videos into a Binge-Worthy Playlist

Do you have a set of videos that go together? Perhaps you do a recurring weekly educational series, or you have a set of webinars around the same theme?

Whatever it is, you should make that grouping into a YouTube playlist. This will allow your viewers to continue watching without having to manually search for and click into the next video.

Why is this good for subscription growth? Well, it will keep people on your channel longer, and show them that you have a plethora of quality content. This will also keep your video content highly organized so your channel doesn’t become a cluttered mess that turns users away.

BuzzFeed Tasty does an awesome job at this. Check out their YouTube playlist page, which is grouped by different categories like, “Dinner,” “Vegetarian,” and my personal favorite because I despise dishes, “One-Pot Recipes.”

using playlists to grow youtube subscriber base

#6: Add Powerful CTA’s Into Your Videos

All good marketers know how to create powerful calls-to-action, or CTA’s. So why not use these skills of yours to give users a reason to return to your channel through a subscribe-able call-to-action?

How does this work exactly? If the idea of inserting a CTA into a video sounds complicated, and possibly above your technical capabilities, I’ve got good news: It’s not! YouTube has made this easy by allowing marketers to add end screens and cards into their videos. Let me break down these two options a bit further:

End Screens: An end screen is just what it sounds like, a screen where a call-to-action will appear are the end of your video. Whether you want to encourage viewers to subscribe, point them to the next video, or even promote your website or crowdfunding campaign, you can do all of these things with end cards. End screens allow you to chose from four different elements depending on your goal.

adding youtube end screens

You can even have multiple elements per end-screen (like in the image below). End cards can appear during the last 5-20 seconds of your video, which must be at least 25 seconds long.  Check out this link to learn more about end screens.

youtube end screen example

Cards: If end screens aren’t your thing, check out YouTube cards! These babies allow you to add more interactivity during your video, whether it’s pointing viewers to a specific URL, showing a video or playlist, promoting your channel, or even polling your audience.

youtube cards to increase subscribers

Here’s an example of what a card looks like in action:

example of youtube cards

The only thing to keep in mind with cards is that users do need to press the little “I” icon at the right corner of the video to make the card appear. Check out this link to learn more about YouTube cards.

#7: Create Custom Human Thumbnails

Let’s face it, the reason we’re warned not to judge a book by its cover is because we do it all the time. Your video thumbnail is essentially the cover of your video, so you need it to be absolutely beyond engaging. In fact, I’d argue that the video thumbnail is the most critical item determining whether or not a visitor is going to play or not play your video.

The greatest way to ensure people play your video is by using an image of a smiling human making direct eye-contact as the thumbnail for your video. Why? People relate to other people. Another hot tip to take your thumbnail to the next level – throw a smile on it!

smiling video thumbnail example

“Smiling is the outward manifestation of happiness and serves to begin to connect us to others,” says Dr. Adrian Furnham, an organizational and applied psychologist.

#8: Post Often and Consistently

Yes, I understand this might be hard to fathom at first. Not every marketing team has a full-time videographer to be grinding out content after all.

Luckily, if you followed my advice in Tip #2 about building an in-house studio, scripting and creating well-done videos can easily become part of your weekly workflow. Consistency is key, because subscribers are not going to stay subscribed if you never update your channel or if you update 4 times in one week and then take a month-long hiatus.

If you’re at all into SEO, you have likely heard of Moz. Moz does a great series called Whiteboard Fridays, with a weekly video that breaks down some SEO concept on a crisp whiteboard.

whiteboard friday videos

Not only are these videos super-engaging and well produced, but they’re CONSISTENT. They are called Whiteboard Fridaysfor a reason. If you can nail down a re-occurring series like this, you’ll be golden for providing your subscribers consistent video content, leading you not only to keep current subscribers, but also attract new subscribers and increase video engagement.

#9: Invest in YouTube Advertising

The time has come to take your wallet out. You didn’t think all of these tips would be free of charge, did you?

Take a deep breath, I’m not asking you to shell out too much cash, but putting some budget behind promoting your YouTube channel is a pretty full-proof way of increasing your subscription base. The internet is a crowded space, and money talks, so it’s important to invest some of your marketing budget behind your channel.

YouTube makes advertising your channel very customizable with a variety of ad formats, including:

Display ads Overlay ads Skippable and non-skippable video ads Bumper ads Sponsored cards

Similar to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube also allows for video targeting based on interest, demographics, and/or in-market audiences.

promoting videos on youtube

If you’re new to the YouTube advertising world, check out this post for some additional tips.

#10: Promote your Channel to Relevant Online Communities

Whether it be a Twitter chat, LinkedIn group, Reddit, or another popular online community in your industry, you should be actively engaging in these worlds and spreading your video content when relevant.

Let’s say you work for an accounting firm and are participating in a conversation where people seem to be struggling with their taxes. This is the perfect time to share your helpful video to introduce your services that some of these tax payers may even take you up on.

#11: Incentivize People to Subscribe to Your Channel

All the parents out there understand the power of bribery. “If you eat your vegetables, I’ll let you watch the iPad for 10 minutes before bed.” These are words that I’ve heard my sister say to her boys time and time again.

The funny this is, bribery is not something that we grow out of. In fact, it works exceedingly well on adults because it’s human nature to love free things. So, yes, you should bribe people to subscribe to your YouTube channel. I know it might sound ridiculous, but it actually works!

get more subscribers on youtube

Here are two ways to incentivize people to subscribe:

Run a cross-channel contest: This is one of the oldest marketing bribery tricks in the book, but it works wonders if done well. For instance, let’s say you run a bowling alley in town. Create a contest where you promote your business on Facebook and Instagram, where the guidelines of winning a free night of food and bowling include liking your Instagram post, commenting, and subscribing to your YouTube channel. Inform contestants that the YouTube channel’s link is in your Instagram bio (#linkinbio) so they can easily navigate there and subscribe to your videos. And voila! Your YouTube subscription base has grown overnight. Encourage viewers to subscribe for additional benefits in your videos: Another easy way to grow subscribers is by working the viewers that have already landed on one of your YouTube videos. Clearly they are already interested in your brand on some level, so why not use this opportunity to get them to subscribe? Do a subscriber-only giveaway: Announce in the video that if they subscribe they’ll be sent a free e-book or be given a free month-long trial of your software. Of course you’ll need to deliver on those promises, but this is a great way to get more subscribers in the door. #12: Optimize Your YouTube Channel for Search

Last, but definitely not least, make sure your YouTube videos are optimized to rank in search engine results and in the results that show up when people search within YouTube itself.

how to optimize youtube videos

SEO for YouTube videos can get a bit technically involved, but there are some very easy wins you can do to get your videos in good SEO shape. A few of these best practices include:

Create Searchable Titles: Try to align your video with a popular keyword, and make sure to use the keyword you’re targeting in your video title (you can use AdWords or our Free Keyword Tool to pinpoint some good keywords people are searching for). Also, make sure your title isn’t too long; I’d recommend keeping it around 50 characters max. Add a Transcript to Every Video: Video transcripts are a great way to make your videos more accessible to a larger audience, and they also help with SEO! Transcripts essentially act as page copy, giving your video more indexable text so you can rank for more queries. Optimize Your Video Descriptions: Don’t just jam-pack this field with keywords, rather make it an engaging and well-written description of what the video is about, and do use your most critical keywords. Don’t Forget About Meta Tags: Meta tags are another way to get your keywords into your video, and make it more searchable. I’d recommend searching for popular videos in your space and seeing what meta tags they use. Again, make sure to not overdo it with the keywords here; just focus on the words that are most critical.

Ready for a lot more YouTube subscribers? Then get to work and make it happen!

To sum up…

Here are the best ways to get subscribers on YouTube: Delete any old, low-quality videos from your channel Write a great script, use the right equipment, and keep your videos short for maximum engagement Create a super-engaging channel trailer Edit videos to 5 minutes or under, with an attention-grabbing first 10 seconds String shorter videos together into a binge-able playlist Add CTA’s like end screens and cards into your YouTube videos Create a custom thumbnail, preferably featuring a smiling face Post new videos on a consistent schedule Promote your videos with YouTube advertising Promote your videos on other social channels and communities Incentivize people to subscribe with contests and giveaways Use SEO techniques to optimize your video for search


How to Use Email Remarketing to Achieve Inbox Domination

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/RYIKeIMDEAo/email-remarketing

I love email remarketing, using hyper-targeted nurture funnels to gently float prospects away from open-minded indifference and towards becoming paying customers. As such, I’ve long mourned the fact that AdWords’ lone inbox placement, Gmail ads (formerly “Gmail Sponsored Promotions”), were not eligible for use in remarketing campaigns.

email remarketing for gmail ads mobile example 

I thought to myself, those expanding nuggets of copy perched atop the social and promotions tab would be the perfect complement to existing Search/Display remarketing and email campaigns alike. Retargeted emails are a perfect complement to any email marketing strategy, an effective way to engage prospects and existing customers in a familiar setting that’s (relatively) ad-free. Woe is me.

Well, that all changed in November of 2017, when Google decided to greenlight Gmail remarketing. And now that it exists, it’s about time you all started to use it. Today, I’m going to walk you through how you can expand your remarketing efforts into your prospects’ inboxes. You’ll learn:

How Gmail remarketing differs from your run-of-mill remarketing campaigns Step-by-step instructions on how to implement Gmail remarketing in your AdWords account Gmail ad best practices

But first, a primer.

What is Remarketing?

At its most basic level, remarketing is a catch-all term that refers to the process of serving ads to people who have previously visited your site, used your mobile app, or engaged in some offline activity. Pretty broad set of actions if you ask me.

By allowing you to customize not only intent (inferred by search query) but actual actions, too, remarketing is one of the most effective weapons in a marketer’s arsenal. It doesn’t matter if you’re an ecommerce site, a local lead gen outfit, a complex SaaS startup, or a multinational conglomerate attempting to imprint on the brains of every internet user within two thousand miles of Minneapolis: remarketing can considerably amplify your PPC performance.

how does google remarketing work 

Google allows advertisers to drive sales, capture lost leads, and increase brand awareness using a variety of methods, including:

Standard Ads – Display Network banner ads that appear as your prospects check out other sites. Dynamic Ads – Standard ads on steroids. Dynamic remarketing allows you to show site visitors ads that spotlight the exact products they looked at. RLSA – Remarketing Lists for Search Ads allow you to augment bids on the Search Network for searchers who have previously taken a specific on-site action. Video – Precede or interrupt a prospect’s viewing experience with a friendly reminder.

And now, Gmail as well!

Too abstract? Here’s a brief aside detailing how remarketing works.

Remarketing: A love story

The following is purely fictional. In no way does it reflect my actual work habits.

I, an unsuspecting twentysomething slogging through the workday doldrums, have decided to spend my morning looking at sneakers. I head over to the New Balance website, to the obscenely cool “Made in the USA” page, where I spot the following. Behold:

site visit before remarketing event 

For the sake of this hypothetical, I wear a size 8.5 sneaker.

Now, after admiring these for many minutes and adding them to my cart, I decide to get down to brass tacks (*cough* Read Deadspin *cough*). I am, after all, a mature adult, with no need for such frivolous kicks.

After watching half a dozen videos in which Vikings fans lose their minds after an unbelievable 61-yard touchdown to advance to the NFC Championship, I spy the words “New” and “Balance” in red. My eyes dart up; I see those exquisite sneakers and suddenly my mind’s racing…

display network remarketing ad 

“Gosh those sneakers look familiar.”

“$399 isn’t even that much.”

“They’re basically an investment.”

“Where’s my credit card?”

And that, my friends, is the power of remarketing.

How is Gmail Remarketing Different?

On the Display Network, there are enough ads that your creative can get lost in the white noise (or fall victim to awful real estate on a shady site); video remarketing, though effective, can be seen as an annoyance. Gmail remarketing turns two sections of the Gmail inbox—the Social and Promotions tabs— into placements for your remarketing ads.

 email remarketing with gmail ads

If your product or service has an elongated sales process, you’re probably using some kind of email nurture program; in the event your messages are hitting one of these ancillary tabs, they might be going unread. Gmail remarketing allows you to push your message above the fray, into a special segment of the inbox. It’s a very exclusive placement (there are only two spots) that can be used to capture net-new leads or, for our purposes, convince existing prospects to pull the trigger.

Anatomy of a Gmail ad

Gmail ads are unique among AdWords creative formats in they they have two distinct forms, each of which is made up of multiple customizable components.

A collapsed Gmail ad can consist of:

Your logo The name of your business Subject line Brief, 100-character description Display URL

They look a little something like this:

 collapsed gmail ad for email remarketing

Where remarketing is concerned, you’re going to want to ensure that your subject line and description relate to a) a prospect’s familiarity with your brand and b) the next action you’d like them to take. The degree of subtlety is totally up to you. If you’ve remarketed elsewhere, this is nothing new (think back to that New Balance banner ad).

Now for the good stuff.

The expanded Gmail ad is far more aesthetically appealing than its collapsed counterpart. Think of it as an opportunity to introduce bigger, better Display creative into your remarketing funnel:

 expanded gmail ad for email remarketing 

There are a few other formats available (single or multi-product promos, catalogue creative) but, by and large, when you see a Gmail ad its expanded creative will come in the form of a single, static image. Expanded Gmail ads are comprised of:

Headline Description Business Name Image Call-to-action button

With so many customizable components, crafting Gmail ad creative can be a bit of an undertaking. This was, to some extent, what kept many smaller businesses from adopting Gmail ads as part of their PPC strategy. The ability to take remarketing to the inbox, however, has turned that sentiment on its head. There’s no excuse not to give it a shot.

With that, it’s time to talk shop.

Email Remarketing with Gmail Ads: A Step-by-Step Guide

First thing’s first: to remarket using Gmail ads, you’ll need to use the new AdWords interface. This is because remarketing is not available for Gmail ads in the old UI.

use new adwords ui for gmail remarketing 

Alas.

Once you’ve logged into AdWords, navigate to the campaign page and hit the large blue plus sign:

add gmail remarketing campaign 

Then select “New Campaign”:

gmail ad email remarketing campiagn 

From here, you’ll be given the option to choose one of five campaign types. Since Gmail inboxes are “technically” part of the Display Network, you’re going to want to select that second option:

display network remarketing gmail campaign 

Here’s the first place where you’ve got a decision to make.

Once you’ve clicked “Display Network,” you’ll be presented with a set of campaign goals to choose from (you’ll also be given the option to not choose one). The available goals are sales, leads, website traffic, brand consideration, and reach.

Only sales, leads, website traffic, and the goalless options are compatible with Gmail ads.

goals for gmail ad sales leads traffic 

After you select the campaign that makes the most sense in the context of your business and remarketing program, use the subsequent radio buttons to select “Gmail campaign” as your campaign subtype and add your website’s URL to advance to the next step in Gmail remarketing campaign creation:

adwords campaign subtype gmail ads for email remarketing 

Everything you see above the fold here should be familiar: it’s the exact same setting interface you’d see while creating any other type of AdWords campaign. Enter your budget, bids, scheduling, etc. and then scroll down to the ad group creation menu. This is where things get a little different.

In an ideal world, you’ve got lists on lists on lists cooked up and ready to be remarketed to; if this isn’t the case, build our your remarketing lists, ensuring that you’ve got separate lists for each valuable activity on your website. While an “all site visitors” list isn’t useless, it doesn’t hold a candle to more granular alternatives (like, for example, creating unique lists for people who visit your /blog page and /pricing page; this will allow you to target your offer more effectively).

use gmail ads for email remarketing in adwords 

Currently, you can use Gmail ads to remarket to:

Combined Audiences Website Visitors Customer Lists

Select the remarketing list you’d like to use for a given ad set and then press “Done.”

remarketing lists for email in adwords 

If your list is particularly large, you should strongly consider splitting it up among multiple ad groups.

target demographics for email remarketing in adwords 

While this sounds like a massive pain in the ass, leveraging the ability to drill into target demographics will allow you to test copy and creative based on gender, age, parental status, or household income; if you know what makes your prospects tick, this can be an invaluable feature.

One last step before we get into ad creation: you need to adjust the automated targeting feature. As its name suggests, automated targeting (framed as a positive feature) helps you find new customers by inexplicably expanding your targeting. For our purposes (you know, remarketing), this is not helpful.

email remarketing gmail ads remove automated targeting 

As such, you’ll want to choose “No automated targeting” before moving on to create your Gmail remarketing ad.

Gmail Remarketing Ad Creation

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re an artisanal pancake mix and syrup outfit from the craggy foothills surrounding Mount Washington. We’re going to use remarketing ads to cross-sell syrupy goodness to those who’ve already purchased our ancient grain-imbued pancake mix.

First, click the “+ New Ad” button to bring up your Gmail ad creation options:

create new gmail ads 

You’re going to see a ton of blank fields; for now, skip over them and head down to the “More Options” button. Check “Custom teaser” and “Call to action.”

gmail ad custom teaser for email marketing 

Doing so will allow you to use separate copy in your collapsed and expanded Gmail ads, and customize your CTA button copy. Valuable stuff.

In the new “Custom teaser” fields, enter subject and description lines for your collapsed Gmail remarketing ad. These should be enticing enough to convince a prospect to click into your visually stimulating expanded ad. Something like, say…

email remarketing subject line 

Nailed it.

Scroll back up to the top of the ad creation interface and enter the requisite information about your business as well as your expanded ad copy.

new gmail ad business information 

Business name and final URL are easy enough, but the headline and description take some serious thought. You’ve done the work of getting your prospect to click into the ad creative: now you need to get them to pull the trigger and visit your website. Offer something enticing (like a discount code, free download, account audit) to reengage your prospect. You don’t need to use space in the description line for a CTA since you’ll be writing corresponding button copy momentarily.

Now it’s time to upload your ad assets. Click the small grey pencil icon.

 email remarketing visual assets

Here, you can scan your website for visual assets to use, upload new images, or lean on stock photos. Regardless of your option, you’re going to want to upload at least two images: one company logo and one “marketing image,” the star of the show.

gmail ad remarketing image upload 

Once uploaded and cropped accordingly, simply write your CTA button copy:

cta button gmail remarketing ad 

And your Gmail remarketing ad is set.

You can use the preview feature to see what the ad will look like collapsed and expanded on either a mobile or desktop device. Here’s what we put together for those pancake-buyers we’re looking to sell syrup to…

gmail ad mobile preview collapsed 

And…

 gmail ad expanded 

If you’re satisfied with your ad creative, all you need to do is click “Create Campaign” and your inbox remarketing efforts are ready to rock!

In Conclusion

You already know the value of remarketing: Gmail ads allow you to bring a powerful new presence into the inboxes of prospects and existing customers, providing you with yet another channel through which to earn a sale and build your brand.

Use what you’ve picked up in this guide to create assets that complement your existing AdWords and email nurture funnels by leveraging the power of Gmail ad remarketing.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist and the reigning fantasy football champion at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan.


Countdown to Launch: How to Come Up with Great Testing Ideas

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/g-lOrEV6KtE/how-to-come-up-with-great-testing-ideas

Posted by ChrisDayley

Whether you are working on a landing page or the homepage of your website, you may be asking yourself, “Why aren’t people converting? What elements are helping or hurting my my user experience?”

Those are good questions.

When it comes to website or landing page design, there are dozens — if not hundreds — of potential elements to test. And that’s before you start testing how different combinations of elements affect performance.

Launching a test

The good news is, after running thousands of tests for websites in almost every industry you can imagine, we’ve created a simple way to quickly identify the most important areas of opportunity on your site or landing page.

We call this approach the “launch analysis”.

Why? Well, getting someone to convert is a lot like trying to launch a rocket into outer space. To succeed in either situation, you need to generate enough momentum to overcome any resistance.

To get a rocket into orbit, the propulsion and guidance systems have to overcome gravity and air friction. To get a potential customer to convert, your CTA, content and value proposition have to overcome any diversions, anxiety or responsiveness issues on your site.

So, if you really want your conversion rate to “take off” (see what I did there?), you need to take a hard look at each of these six factors.

Prepping for launch

Before we dive into the launch analysis and start testing, it’s important to take a moment to review 3 important testing factors. After all, no matter how good your analysis is, if your test is fundamentally broken, you’ll never make any progress.

With that in mind, here are three questions to ask yourself before you dive into the launch analysis:

What is my business question?

Every good website or landing page test should answer some sort of important business question. These are usually open-ended questions like “how much content should be on the page to maximize conversions?” or “what does the best-converting above-the-fold experience look like?”

If your test is designed to answer a fundamental business question, every test is a success. Even if your new design doesn’t outperform the original, your test still helps get you get some data around what really matters to your audience.

What is my hypothesis?

Where your business question may be relatively broad, your testing hypothesis should be very specific. A good hypothesis should be an if/then statement that answers the business question (if we do X, Y will happen).

So, if your business question is “how much content should be on the page?”, your hypothesis might be: “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, mobile conversions will increase.” (If you’re interested, this is actually something we studied at Disruptive Advertising.)

What am I measuring?

We hinted at this in the last section, but every good test needs a defined, measurable success metric. For example, “if we reduce the amount of content on our page, people will like our content more” is a perfectly valid hypothesis, but it would be incredibly difficult to define or measure, which would make our test useless.

When it comes to online advertising, there are tons of well-defined, actually measurable metrics you can use (link clicks, time on page, bounce rate, conversion rate, cart abandonment rate, etc.) to determine success or failure. Pick one that makes sense and use it to measure the results of your test.

The launch analysis and countdown

Now that we have the testing basics out of the way, we can dive into the launch analysis. When performing a launch analysis on a page of your site, it is critical that you try to look at your page objectively, and identify potential opportunities instead of immediately jumping into things you need to change. Testing is about discovering what your audience wants, not about making assumptions.

With that being said, let’s countdown to launch!

6. Value proposition

To put it simply, your value proposition is what motivates potential customers to buy.

Have you ever wanted something really badly? Badly enough that you spent days, weeks, or even months figuring out how to get it for an affordable price? If you want something badly enough (or, in other words, if the value proposition is good enough), you’ll conquer any obstacle to get it.

This same principle applies to your website. If you can really sell people on your value proposition, they’ll be motivated enough to overcome a lot of potential obstacles (giving their personal information, dealing with poor navigation, etc.).

For example, a while back, we were helping a college optimize the following page on their site:

It wasn’t a bad page to begin with, but we believed there was opportunity to test some stronger value propositions. “Get Started on the Right Path: Prepare yourself for a better future by earning your degree from Pioneer Pacific College” doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?

There’s a reason for that.

In business terms, your value proposition can be described as “motivation = perceived benefits – perceived costs.” Pioneer Pacific’s value proposition made it sound like going to all the work to get a degree from their college was just the beginning of a long, hard process. Not only that, but it wasn’t really hitting on any of the potential pain points an aspiring student might have.

In this particular case, the value proposition minimized the perceived benefits while maximizing the perceived costs. That’s not a great way to get someone to sign up.

With that in mind, we decided to try something different. We hypothesized that focusing on the monetary benefits of earning a degree (increased income) would increase the perceived benefits and talking about paying for a degree as an investment would decrease the perceived cost.

So, we rewrote the copy in the box to reflect our revised value proposition and tested it:

As you can see above, simply tweaking the value proposition increased form fills by 49.5%! The form didn’t change, but because our users were more motivated by the value proposition, they were more willing to give out their information.

Unfortunately, many businesses struggle with this essential step.

Some websites lack a clear value proposition. Others have a value proposition, but it makes potential customers think more about the costs than the benefits. Some have a good cost-benefit ratio, but the proposition is poorly communicated, and users struggle to connect with it.

So, if you’re running the launch analysis on your own site or landing page, start by taking a look at your value proposition. Is it easy to find and understand? Does it address the benefits and costs that your audience actually cares about? Could you potentially focus on different aspects of your value propositions to discover what your audience really cares about?

If you think there’s room for improvement, you’ve just identified a great testing opportunity!

5. Call to action

If you’ve been in marketing for a while, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of a good call to action (CTA), so it should come as no surprise that the CTA is a key part of the launch analysis.

In terms of our rocket analogy, your CTA is a lot like a navigation system for your potential customers. All the rocket fuel in the world won’t get you to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going.

In that regard, it’s important to remember that your CTA typically needs to be very explicit (tell them what to do and/or what to expect). After all, your potential customers are depending on your CTA to navigate them to their destination.

For example, another one of our clients was trying to increase eBook downloads. Their original CTA read “Download Now”, but we hypothesized that changing the CTA to emphasize speed might improve their conversion rate.

So, we rephrased the CTA to read “Instant Download” instead. As it turned out, this simple change to the CTA increased downloads by 12.6%!

The download was just as instantaneous in both cases; but, simply by making it clear that users would get immediate access to this content, we were able to drive a lot more conversions.

Of course, there is such a thing as being too explicit. While people want to know what to do next, they also like to feel like they are in the driver’s seat, so sometimes soft CTAs like “Get More Information” can deliver better results than a more direct CTA like “Request a Free Demo Today!”

As you start to play around with CTA testing ideas, it’s important to remember the 2-second rule: If a user can’t figure out what they are supposed to do within two seconds, something needs to change.

To see if your CTA follows this rule, ask a friend or a coworker who has never seen your page or site before to look at it for two seconds and then ask them what they think they are supposed to do next. If they don’t have a ready answer, you just discovered another testing opportunity.

Case in point: On the page below, a client of ours was trying to drive phone calls with the CTA on the right. From a design perspective, the CTA fit the color scheme of the page nicely, but it didn’t really draw much attention.

Since driving calls was a big deal for the client, we decided to revamp the CTA. We made the CTA a contrasting red color and expanded on the value proposition.

The result? Our new, eye-catching CTA increased calls by a whopping 83.8%.

So, if your CTA is hard to find, consider changing the size, location and/or color. If your CTA is vague, try being more explicit (or vice versa). If your CTA doesn’t have a clear value proposition, find a way to make the benefits of converting more obvious. The possibilities are endless.

4. Content

Like your value proposition, your content is a big motivating factor for your users. In fact, great content is how you sell people on your value proposition, so content can make or break your site.

The only problem is, as marketers and business owners, we have a tendency towards egocentrism. There are so many things that we love about our business and that make it special that we often overwhelm users with content that they frankly don’t care about.

Or, alternatively, we fail to include content that will help potential customers along in the conversion process because it isn’t a high priority to us.

To really get the most out of your content, you have to lay your ego and personal preference aside and ask yourself questions like:

How much content do my users want?What format do they want the content in?Do mobile and desktop users want different amounts of content?

As a quick example of this, we were working with a healthcare client (an industry that is notoriously long-winded) to maximize eBook downloads on the following page:

As you can see above, the original page included a table of contents-style description of what readers would get when they downloaded the guide.

We hypothesized that this sort of approach, with its wordy chapter titles and and formal feel, did not make the eBook seem like a user-friendly guide. There was so much content that it was hard to get a quick feel for what the eBook was actually about.

To address this, we tried boiling the copy down to a quick, easy-to-read summary of the eBook content:

Incredibly, paring the content down to a very simplified summary increased eBook downloads by 57.82%!

However, when it comes to content, less is not always more.

While working on a pop-up for Social Media Examiner, we tested a couple different variants of the following copy in an effort to increase eBook downloads and subscriptions:

Just like the preceding example, this copy was a bit wordy and hard to read. So, we tried turning the copy into bullet points…

…and even tried boiling it down to the bare essentials:

However, when the test results came in, both of these variants had a lower conversion rate than the original, word-dense content!

These results fly in the face of the whole “less is more” dogma marketers love to preach, which just goes to show how important it is to test your content.

So, when it comes to content, don’t be afraid to try cutting things down. But, you might also try bulking things up in some places — provided that your content is focused on what your potential customers want and need, not just your favorite talking points. Our suggestion: challenge whatever you have on your site. Try less, more, and different variations of the same. It should ultimately be up to your audience!

3. Diversions

Unfortunately, having a great value proposition, CTA and content doesn’t guarantee you a great conversion rate. To get a rocket to its destination, the launch team has to overcome a variety of obstacles.

Same goes for the launch analysis.

Now that we’ve talked about how to maximize motivation, it’s time to talk about ways to reduce obstacles and friction points on your site or page that may be keeping people from converting, starting with diversions.

When it comes to site testing, diversions could be anything that has the potential to distract your user from reaching their destination. Contrasting buttons, images, other offers, menus, links, content, pop ups…like cloud cover on launch day, if it leads people off course, it’s a diversion.

For example, take a look at the page below. There are 5 major elements on the page competing for your attention – none of which are a CTA to view the product – and that’s just above the fold!

What did this client really want people to do? Watch a video? Read a review? Look at the picture? Read the Q&A? Visit their cart?

As it turns out, the answer is “none of the above”.

What the client really wanted was for people to come to their site, look at their products and make a purchase. But, with all the diversions on their site, people were getting lost before they even had a chance to see the client’s products.

To put the focus where it belonged—on the products—we tried eliminating all of the diversions by redesigning the site experience to focus on product call to actions. That way, when people came to the page, they immediately saw Cobra’s products and a simple CTA that said “Shop Our Products”.

The new page design increased revenue (not just conversions) by 69.2%!

We’ve seen similar results with many of our eCommerce clients. For example, we often test to see how removing different elements and offers from a client’s homepage affects their conversion rates (this is called “existence testing”).

Existence testing is one of the easiest, fastest ways to discover what is distracting from conversions and what is helping conversions. If you remove something from your page and conversion rates go down, that item is helpful to the conversion process. If you remove something and conversion rates go up – Bingo! You found a distraction.

The GIF below shows you how this works. Essentially, you just remove a page element and then see which version of the page performs better. Easy enough, right?

For this particular client, we tested to see how removing 8 different elements from their home page would affect their revenue. As it turned out, 6 of the 8 elements were actually decreasing their revenue!

By eliminating those elements during our test, their revenue-per-visit (RPV) increased by 59%.

Why? Well, once again, we discovered things that were diversions to the user experience (as it turns out, the diversions were other products!).

If you’re curious to see how different page or site elements affect your conversion rate, existence testing can be a great way to go. Simply create a page variant without the element in question and see what happens!

2. Anxiety

Ever have that moment when you’re driving a car and you suddenly get hit by a huge gust of wind? What happens to your heart rate?

Now imagine you’re piloting a multi-billion dollar rocket…

Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or an office chair, anxiety is never a good thing. Unfortunately, when it comes to your site, people are already in a state of high alert. Anything that adds to their stress level (clicking on something that isn’t clickable, feeling confused or swindled) may lead to you losing a customer.

Of course, anxiety-inducing elements on a website are typically more subtle than hurricane-force winds on launch day. It might be as simple as an unintuitive user interface, an overly long form or a page element that doesn’t do what the user expects.

As a quick example, one of our eCommerce clients had a mobile page that forced users to scroll all the the way back up to the top of the page to make a purchase.

So, we decided to try a floating “Buy Now” button that people could use to quickly buy the item once they’d read all about it:

Yes, scrolling to the top of the page seems like a relatively small inconvenience, but eliminating this source of anxiety improved the conversion rate by 6.7%.

Even more importantly, it increased the RPV by $1.54.

Given the client’s traffic volume, this was a huge win!

As you can probably imagine, the less confusion, alarm, frustration and work your site creates for users, the more likely they are to convert.

When you get right down to it, conversion should be a seamless, almost brainless process. If a potential customer ever stops to think, “Wait, what?” on their journey to conversion, you’ve got a real problem.

To identify potential anxiety-inducing elements on your site or page, try going through the whole conversion process on your site (better yet, have someone else do it and describe their experience to you). Watch for situations or content that force you to think. Odds are, you’ve just discovered a testing opportunity.

1. Responsiveness

Finally, the last element of the launch analysis is responsiveness—specifically mobile responsiveness.

To be honest, mobile responsiveness is not the same thing as having a mobile responsive site, just like launching a rocket on a rainy day is not the same thing as launching a rocket on a clear day.

The days of making your site “mobile responsive” and calling it good are over. With well over half of internet searches taking place on mobile devices, the question you need to ask yourself isn’t “Is my site mobile responsive?” What you should be asking yourself is, “Is my site customized for mobile?”

For example, here is what one of our clients’ “mobile responsive” pages looks like:

While this page passed Google’s “mobile friendly” test, it wasn’t exactly a “user friendly” experience.

To fix that problem, we decided to test a couple of custom mobile pages:

The results were truly impressive. Both variants clearly outperformed the original “mobile responsive” design and the winning variant increased calls by 84% and booked appointments by 41%!

So, if you haven’t taken the time yet to create a custom mobile experience, you’re probably missing out on a huge opportunity. It might take a few tests to nail down the right design for your mobile users, but most sites can expect big results from a little mobile experience testing.

As you brainstorm ways to test your mobile experience, remember, your mobile users aren’t usually looking for the same things as your desktop users. Most mobile users have very specific goals in mind and they want it to be as easy as possible to achieve those goals.

Launch!

Well, that’s it! You’re ready for launch!

Go through your site or page and take a look at how what you can do to strengthen your value proposition, CTA and content. Then, identify things that may potentially be diversions, anxiety-inducing elements or responsiveness issues that are preventing people from converting.

By the time you finish your launch analysis, you should have tons of testing ideas to try. Put together a plan that focuses on your biggest opportunities or problems first and then refine from there. Happy testing!


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


3 Underrated Metrics That Will Improve Your PPC Performance

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/b2ZxOtKsCq4/ppc-performance-metrics

As Socrates almost said: an unmeasured campaign isn’t worth launching. If you don’t have concrete goals and KPIs for your campaign (relating to profitability), then it’s certainly going to be a dead loss.

Not all metrics are created equal. While clicks and sessions might bring a smile to your face, they don’t make you money. They’re vanity metrics. Instead, it’s crucial to capture the metrics that will enable you to drive engagement, optimize your campaigns and scale.

In this article, I’ll outline three powerful, underreported metrics that will do just that – and that will allow you to genuinely enhance the performance of your PPC campaigns.

1. Revenue per session: Show me the money

If you’re spending money to make money, then it’s likely that you’re tracking your campaign performance with basic metrics like clicks, spend, CTR, conversions and profitability.

You’re probably also following strategies such as adjusting your bids, creating negative keywords and separating campaigns between different mediums like search and display.

ppc workflow

If you’re not doing any of this, then you should re-evaluate your ad strategy. By skipping these best practices, you’re more likely to generate a loss and be pouring money down the toilet.

While these metrics are important, revenue per session (RPS) should be your driving decision maker. You’re most likely calculating your bid price as the lowest value that it can be while still getting traction on the respective network.

However, you can only calculate profitability and relative profit margin if you know the true revenue earned per session. While setting a cash value on clicks and conversions is key, it’s more of an estimate than an exact number.

If you base your bid on the assumption that 60 percent of clicks result in a revenue-generating action (say, bidding on an auction on eBay), or that 10 percent of signups choose the paid option in a freemium model, then the profitability of your bid will be determined by multiple fluctuating, independent variables.

Spotify’s PPC landing page, for example, encourages both freemium and premium sign ups. This way, they can attribute not only user acquisition, but RPS for each campaign:

spotify ppc

If these values prove to be radically different for a specific campaign, then they may blow your estimates out of the water. Using RPS, on the other hand, means that you’re comparing spend against revenue, like-for-like.

RPS also allows you to account for multiple revenue-generating events. For example, a conversion might count a user buying a single item, but RPS would allow you to account for multiple purchases or a purchase and an upsell. This then allows you to segment the most valuable customer acquisitions in order to maximize profitability. Be like Amazon: know where your most valuable users are coming from.

It also allows you to tie negative revenue events, like refunds and returns, to your campaigns. This way so you can establish how they affect revenue and profitability.

The key to calculating RPS is to move from binary counting to decimal – don’t count conversions as a yes or a no, but count events based on their actual cash value. Then use cross channel analytics to tie all the conversion events (positive and negative) to the session.

2. Bounce rate: Visitors that don’t convert

Another crucial metric in a PPC campaign is the rate at which users who arrive on your landing page immediately leave without taking action.

bounce rate for ppc

Depending on the structure of your conversion point, there are a number of reasons why users drop off. They might bounce before clicking through to a second page; fail to fill in a form; or give up on the purchase process before completing their order.

If you have a multi-step process (e.g. requiring users to click through to a second page before filling in a form), then knowing where they exit is of particular importance.

If you have a single-step process then you can track bounces against UTMs (like source and campaign) in Google Analytics and immediately see where bounces are coming from. With more complex processes, you might need more complex product analytics.

Even if you’re running affiliate programs on a CPA rate and are only paying for conversions, bounces are still worth tracking. While a poor process may not be losing you money, it won’t be making you the profits that it should be, either, and will prevent your campaigns from gaining traction – meaning that they’re a waste of your time.

There are a wide range of reasons why users may not convert on your campaigns:

Poor page design: Clear UX is key to provide the right information in a way that makes sense to the user. When it comes to landing page design, clarity always trumps persuasion. Conflicting options: Give the user one thing to do. Having several, conflicting actions will encourage the user to not act at all. Complicated conversion processes: Do your forms require several steps, or more fields than necessary? Keeping things simple and filling in the gaps later can bring more leads to the top of your funnel. Misleading ad copy: If your ads direct users to inappropriate landing pages, you users will feel misled or confused when they arrive on your site, which will then damage your conversion rate and quality score. This includes your CTAs. If you’re offering a free trial, you better give it to them instantly. Unappealing CTAs: Words like “Submit” and “Apply” do not inspire action. Test specific calls-to-action such as “Download your report” and “Request Access” to provide more context and inspire action. Campaign targeting errors: Similar to the above, driving users who have no interest in your offering means wasting money faster than you realize.

Split testing CTAs, page design and the copy on the page is highly effective in identifying the best page layouts to drive conversions. For example, Marissa Mayer famously split tested 40 shades of blue to get just the right color for hyperlinked text. Uber’s current AdWords landing page for new drivers has also been tested extensively, from the right form fields to the CTA:

uber ppc

While this method of optimization can be practical, sometimes the results are marginal. Therefore, you may want to consider a complete redesign of your landing page, taking the entire journey into consideration.

While analyzing why the winning variation performed better, it’s important to understand the behavior of your users. What is it that compels your users to act? Is it the value proposition, or perhaps the UX of your new landing page? This understanding will lead to breakthroughs in other areas of your marketing.

If you want users to perform a specific action, it’s sensible to strip back distractions and alternative options and to point them very directly at a single CTA. For an example of clarity of purpose, look at Google’s homepage (below) and then compare it to what’s on offer at Yahoo.com. It’s also crucial to match your messaging to the interests and expectations of your audience. Speak to them in their language.

google vs. yahoo

Products like Optimizely, Hotjar and Convert.com make A/B testing easy, and include tools to make edits to your pages on the fly without the need of a front-end designer. Meanwhile, heatmapping tools like CrazyEgg (indicating where users are clicking on your pages), can illustrate how your audience is engaging with your site and how the design can be tweaked to push them where you want them.

Bounce rate can also flag issues with your campaign. For example, if errors in your campaign setup mean that you’re targeting a UK audience with a French-language website or directing mobile users to a non-responsive page, then they’re unlikely to be able to work out, or care, what you want them to do.

In some cases, however, bouncing users may not be a complete loss. For example, if users have followed several steps of a purchase or conversion process, then there may be significant value in retargeting them.

Networks such as AdRoll allow you to integrate with CRMs, which is a nice way of adjusting your messaging based on lifecycle stages and other attributes.

Of course, you may have to balance multiple factors to get the best outcome for your process. For example, when directing a user to purchase a product you might find that a significant percentage of them bounce at a late stage when they see the shipping pricing and options.

While you may want to solve this, it should be weighed against the drop-off rate if P&P details are presented upfront, at the beginning of the process – which may actually be much higher. Split testing the two user journeys can provide you with the definitive answer.

3. Conversion rate by audience segment: Who are these people?

The more you know about your users, and the users who convert, the better you can target your campaigns. This can include all of the following:

Location: where the user is, whether at the national, regional, DMA, city or IP level. Device type: the user’s hardware, either limited to the categories of desktop, tablet and mobile or specifying the exact operating system, ranging from an iPhone 7 to a Windows 10 PC. Demographics: including the user’s age, gender, occupation, marital status, education level and income.

Targeting different audiences is a basic best practice, as is excluding users who are ineligible for your offering. For example, if you only ship nationally, don’t advertise abroad. And if you’re selling binary options, don’t target America.

conversion rate by audience segment

It’s wise to challenge your assumptions. Your health supplements may appeal to bodybuilders as well as retirees, for example. This is something that you would never know without testing your targeting options.

The takeaway from this is that you should create specific campaigns and ad groups for different audience segments. While it may well be tempting to compare stats between audiences, it makes more sense to treat them as being fundamentally different. Develop unique campaigns, landing pages and even test different pricing structures for each subsection of the market.

You can effectively pull user information from either end of the process. If you select your audience at the campaign level and target specified landing pages, you can be confident knowing who is doing what.

Equally, you can pull significant amounts of browser information once the user is on the page and you can extend this with purchase information (and information gained from forms) – before ultimately tying everything together with tools like MixPanel.

Coming from the other direction, as you gain more information about converting users in each segment, you can tighten targeting, in order to increase CTRs and conversion rates and reduce campaign costs.

You’ll also get insights across different markets about the level of competition in each. You may also discover that a peripheral audience is actually far more profitable for you than what you had presumed was your core market.

Conclusion

If you have a tight grip on these three values then you’ll have an extremely detailed understanding of how your campaigns are working and why – and of what you can do to enhance performance.

If you’re buying at scale then you may also want to build in automation to cut downtime. This will also ensure rapid responsiveness and simplify processes where complex calculations are involved. Track, optimize and iterate – and head onwards and upwards.

About the author

Juuso Lyytikkä is the Head of Growth at Funnel.io. Funnel is a marketing analytics tool for online marketers that collects data from ALL advertising platforms and allows marketers to send and visualize this data anywhere.


What’s the Deal with Quora Ads? How-To + Case Study

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/9ytYwHJtJnk/quora-ads

The way we ask and answer questions in 2017 is fundamentally different than at any other point in human history.

do quora ads work 

Today, we’ll run through what Quora is, how to advertise on the platform, and what we experienced when we ran Quora ads for WordStream.

What is Quora?

Quora is a publicly mediated Q and A forum that relies on a system of upvotes and community contributions to serve insightful answers to inquisitive searchers. Like a kind of Jeopardy meets Reddit meets Wikipedia Cerberus, if you will. Or a more authoritative version of Yahoo Answers.

quora among google search results 

Most people (at least in my polling of folks around the WordStream office) don’t explicitly navigate to Quora. Instead—as is often the case with Wikipedia—links to the site tend to pop up in the organic search results (making it an important albeit underutilized part of any site’s SEO strategy).

This is particularly true when a search is framed as a question, which, thanks to the proliferation of voice search, is becoming more common. Per Quora, the site currently has over 200 million unique monthly visitors and recently expanded to support Spanish and French.

While this is all well and good (everyone can stand to benefit from a resource this rich), it doesn’t necessarily mean you should move a portion of your advertising budget over to what is, for all intents and purposes, a very fancy message board, right?

Hold that thought.

Why advertise on Quora?

Quora is unique in that it offers advertisers the ability to build credibility in the eyes of a prospect during the hella important research phase.

quora ads mobile vs desktop 

While an informational keyword in AdWords might give you the power to serve a relevant ad to a searcher, there’s only value to be had if you can incite a click with your copy. Quora, on the other hand, gives you the ability to couch your ad copy between insightful nuggets of information that relate—directly or tangentially—to your product or service. While on a SERP your ad is positioned atop links to relevant websites, Quora ads are dispersed betwixt actual information, like so:

quora ad in the wild between relevant answers 

If a prospect is searching for information about your company, product, competitors, or industry, Quora presents you with a unique opportunity to slide between insightful responses (bonus brand equity points if your team contributed ‘em) with a contextually relevant ad closely resembling what you’d see over on AdWords.

In the example above, which depicts the results for “What is the best Facebook campaign strategy I can use for an online clothing store,” there’s an ad for General Assembly’s part-time digital marketing course. The nontraditional educator is attempting to use Quora ads to teach a man to fish, so to speak. I dig it.

Quora says Quora offers advertisers…

A large, engaged audience Quality content High user intent Measurability

The GA example I just touched on supports the first few claims. Someone looking to bolster the performance of their Facebook ads is clearly engaged. The ad itself is sandwiched between insightful responses the likely served to educate the searcher. User intent is clear.

While I whole-heartedly agree with the first three points, I’m ready and willing to quibble with the “measurability” bit. This isn’t for lack of effort but, rather, newness. Facebook, a comparatively old ad platform, is only just affording advertisers functional, actionable measurability (provided they implement the Facebook Pixel). If Quora continues to innovate on this front (and offer more robust targeting, because we could always use more robust targeting) its ad platform will quickly become a staple for online marketers.

With that, let’s jump into setting up your very first Quora ad.

How do Quora Ads Work?

If you’ve dipped your toes into the PPC waters at some point, the process of creating, managing, and optimizing a Quora ads account will feel familiar to you.

So, without further ado…

Creating a Quora Account

Visit the “Advertising on Quora” page and click the big, blue start now button:

quora ads start now button 

From there, you’ll be instructed to create an account name and enter your business and contact information. Standard procedure. Once everything looks kosher, click “create account.”

Installing the Quora pixel

Without the ability to measure success—or lack thereof—online advertising is frivolous. You may as well buy ad space on the placemats at a truck stop on 95.

As such, it’s imperative that you install the Quora Pixel on your website. This will allow you to do two things: track conversion events and build remarketing audiences.

While I’m not going to go into too much detail about the latter (structurally, remarketing audiences in Quora are built based on whether a given URL has been visited by a prospect), conversion tracking is key.

To place the Quora pixel on your website, press “Quora Pixel” in the nav bar.

 how to install quora pixel

From there, click “Setup the Pixel.” It’s a funny little grey button on the righthand side of the screen. This will cause an overlay, which outlines pixel installation, to appear. All you need to do here is copy the Javascript in the overlay and paste it between the <head></head> tags of every page of your site (or at least the ones you’re sending traffic to).

If the existence of greater than/less than symbols outside of freshman algebra makes you queasy, send the Javascript for your Quora pixel over to your web developer. It shouldn’t take them more than a few seconds to implement it on your site.

Creating a Quora Ads Campaign

As is the case with Facebook ad account structure, the campaign level is a shell that holds ad groups. It’s the place where objectives, budgeting, and ad scheduling are controlled. Ad sets, on the other hand, are where the magic happens. 

When you click “+Create Campaign,” you’ll be brought to a screen that looks like this:

quora ads campaign creation 

Unfortunately(!) Quora is yet to implement my helpful commentary. Be sure you select “Conversions” as your objective. If you’d rather establish a lifetime budget and an ad schedule (a la Facebook) than set a daily max in perpetuity, do so, click continue, and we’re on to the ad set level.

Ad Set: Targeting & Bidding

As I mentioned earlier, the ad set level is the most important unit of your Quora ads campaign. It’s where you control who sees your ads. Without investing some serious time into honing your targeting (keywords, locations, and negatives), you’re going to undermine the platform’s inherent, intent-centric value.

The first stage in ad set creation is (shocker) coming up with a name. Ensure that you use common nomenclature throughout so that you know what’s going on in a given ad set without having to rifle through its innards (by this I simply mean that naming an ad set “ALLEN ROXXX” is silly when you could call it “US-Content DL-Startups” or something).

naming an ad set in quora 

Once you’ve named your ad set, scroll down to the “Primary Targeting” section. Quora offers two levels of targeting, primary and secondary. The former allows you to select between two options:

Topic Targeting – In which topics function like keywords, allowing you to select the sorts of questions among whose answers your ads are served. Audience Targeting – In which the Quora pixel allows you to select segments of site visitors and target prospects when they inevitably return to Quora.

topic targeting vs audience targeting quora ads 

Since this is your first rodeo, you’re going to want to stick with Topic Targeting. Ensure that the box as highlighted (as it is above) and move on down to the actual topic selection interface.

Quora actually recommends you enter keywords from an AdWords campaign in order to receive suggestions for comparable Quora topics (love synergy).

quora ads find more targeting topics 

Just dump your keywords into this box and press continue; this will generate a list of prospective Quora topics that you can advertise on.

Confused? How ‘bout an example?

Let’s say I enter “Facebook business page” into the box and hit continue. Quora generates the following list of suggested topics:

negating suggested topics in quora ads 

From here, I can sort through the list, selecting or unselecting. If we (WordStream) wanted to convey specific, independent messages regarding Facebook and AdWords, I’d eliminate “Google AdWords” from this list of topics, uncheck any other riffraff, and import the refined list of topics into my ad set. Now we can move onto secondary targeting.

The secondary targeting section of the ad set creation interface allows you, the advertiser, to adjust the scope of your efforts. Here, you can control for location (the geographic regions in which users can see your ads) and platforms (desktop or mobile). But that most interesting component of Quora’s second tier of targeting is its exclusion function.

excluding locations in quora ads 

Exclusions in Quora function like negative keywords on the Google Search Network. If you want people in the United States to see your ads but would prefer to hide them from our neighbors to the north, this is where you’d denote that.

Once you’ve defined your audience, simply set a maximum bid for the ad set and move on to ad creation.

Anatomy of a Quora Ad

Quora ads look a lot like text ads in AdWords.

 swample quora ads

The biggest difference, outside of character count and capitalization (Quora ads should be written like sentences Instead Of In Title Case Like People Tend To Use When Writing Search Ads), is that Quora ads have a pretty cool dynamic CTA button. It pulls your display URL, appending it to one of a dozen or so phrases—“shop now,” free trial,” etc.—to create a compelling call to action that stands out.

The constituent components of a Quora ad are as follows:

Business Name – 30 characters Headline Sentence – 65 characters Body Text – 105 characters Display URL – 30 Characters

In context, those components look like this (albeit with less compelling copy):

components of a quora ad 

As is the case with any advertisement, you should try to write an attention-grabbing headline, and support whatever assertion you make by addressing the benefits of your product or service in the body section.

From there, you just need to select the most pertinent CTA button, ensure your landing page is in working order (and you’ve got the pixel in place), and you’re ready to launch.

Measuring Performance

Quora Ads uses a CPC-based model powered by a real-time auction (just like, you know, most of the other online advertising platforms). This means that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

But, outside of conversions, how do you know if your ads are resonating with your audience?

Why, with Quora’s built-in reporting features, of course!

measuring results quora ads

Though rudimentary—currently, you can only view impressions, clicks, CTR, CPC, conversion rate, and spend—Quora can give you a pretty good idea as to the relative success of your efforts at both the campaign and ad set levels.

So, Do Quora Ads Work? [Case Study]

In August, we decided to try Quora ads out for 30 days.

During that time, we drove 1,135 clicks on 230,604 impressions (these are, like, Display-comparable figures at best). Of those clicks, 23 downloaded a piece of content and another 20 ran the AdWords Performance Grader. 

This indicates that our top and mid-funnel campaigns seemed to perform similarly (though through the implementation of Audience Targeting, we could probably offer something more valuable to attain better results moving forward, thanks to an even greater understanding of user intent).

whats the deal with quora ads? 

From a CPA perspective, qualified leads on Quora were about 17% more expensive than AdWords, but 31% cheaper than we saw on Taboola and 19% cheaper than we saw on Capterra. We’ve discontinued our experiments on both other platforms because the ROI simply wasn’t there; Quora, on the other hand, is still alive and kicking.

I reached out to Aaron Doherty, WordStream’s Director of Lead Acquisition, who shared the following insights: “I like Quora a lot. It’s a new source of intent. While AdWords is still the best source of high-intent leads, Quora is in the same ballpark. The fact that the content is user-generated, with answers occurring in real time makes it an exciting place for marketers. While we haven’t quite tapped into Quora’s full potential, I’m excited to continue advertising on the network in 2018 and beyond.”

When I followed up to see if he had any negative experiences with Quora, Aaron had a single response: “The UI sucks. It’s worse than Twitter circa 2014.”

Final Thoughts

While our results to date haven’t been perfect, they have been promising.

Quora offers a ton of potential as a complementary ad network. If you’ve got discretionary ad budget to tool around with, give it a go. If you’re still in the process of building out your AdWords, Facebook, and Bing accounts, wait a few quarters.

Who knows: by that time, Quora ads might have a killer new UI and enough targeting options to take your online advertising to the next level.

About the Author

Allen Finn is a content marketing specialist at WordStream. He enjoys couth menswear, dank eats, and the dulcet tones of the Wu-Tang Clan.


How to Create the Ultimate Facebook Business Page

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/jmCssWyNrtQ/facebook-business-page

Facebook business pages are a place where you can develop the relationship between your brand and the world at large.

Whether you’re responding to customer feedback, nurturing prospects, sharing content, or simply informing some subset of Facebook’s 2 billion users what time your widget shop closes on Tuesday evenings, Pages are one of the most important online properties that you can plant your flag on. They’re a necessary tool for businesses operating in the 21st century.

They also have a boatload of moving parts, which is a nice way of saying that creating a business page can be a major pain in the ass.

See all those red squares?

creating a facebook business page is a multistep process 

Some would call them headaches: I’ll call them opportunities.

Today, we’re going to tackle the challenge of making a great Facebook page for your small business.

But first…

Getting Started with your Facebook Business Page

Once you’re good and ready, navigate over to Facebook’s “Create a Page” page to get started.

There are six different types of Pages that can be created on Facebook, but today we’re going to focus specifically on “Local Business or Place.” If the other top-row options (“Company, Organization or Institution” and “Brand or Product”) describe your organization more effectively, pick one of those: most of the steps will end up being the same.

facebook local business or place page creation 

You’ll notice that there’s also a second row of page types you can choose from. These options are tailored to promoting art, entertainment, and causes/online communities. Since there’s less commercial intent in these niches, some of the nuances we touch on in this guide won’t be applicable. Many components of these pages do overlap with those of SMBs: if you’re starting from scratch, there’s value to be had from this here post.

Select the first option on the menu and the adorable little storefront will slide out of view, revealing the following form:

facebook business information initialization 

Pretty straightforward stuff, but filling in the fields now will save you doing it again later. If you’re having trouble with the “Page Category” field, just choose something that relates to your business in any way; you can edit your selection later.

Once completed, click the blue “Get Started” button and you’ll be taken to your brand new empty shell of a Facebook business page.

Templates & Tabs: The Foundation of Your Facebook Business Page

Before we start adding images and writing copy, we’re going to spend some time getting everything juuust right in the “Settings” tab. You’ll see the link in the top right-hand corner of the Facebook UI.

facebook business page setting tab location 

Congratulations! You’ve officially been transported to Page creation’s most intimidatingly bland page. Despite having the aesthetic appeal of multigrain Cheerios soaking in wood glue, this page is riddled with useful information you’re going to want to check out after you’ve created your page in earnest.

First thing’s first, though: let’s shift your page template to something a bit more business friendly.

 facebook business page template

Under the “Edit Page” option on you’ll notice a section called “Templates.”

Changing your page’s template will alter the tabs that visitors can access on your page. Your new tabs will be as follows:

Home Posts Reviews Videos Photos About Community Offers Groups

(Note that you can remove or adjust the order of your Page’s tabs directly below the “Templates” section of the Edit Page menu.)

facebook business template for managing posts 

In addition to providing you with a tailored suite of available tabs to help your page visitors, using the “Business” template will also add a customizable CTA button (more on that in a minute) to your page. Before heading back to your business page itself, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the mound of customizable options available to you in the page settings interface.

While this probably isn’t the time to set page roles or enable more engaging chatbot functionality (you’ve got the rest of forever for that), you should establish a preferred page audience…

facebook preferred audiences 

Facebook will use this information to help connect the users you identify as most valuable to your business to your page. It works in the same way as audience creation does within the Facebook Business Manager UI. There’s no need to get too granular here, but painting a picture of your ideal prospect will help Facebook suggest your page to people who may very well dig it.

Eye Candy: Page Profile and Cover Pictures

Now that you’ve bounced back over to your business’s page, it’s time to add the first bits of flair.

Your cover photo (or video!) is the first thing a page visitor is going to notice. As a result, it needs to serve a purpose. You might share a video of your team members solving a common goal to hammer home the collaborative nature of your workplace (particularly if you plan to use your Facebook page to promote company culture and grow brand awareness).

You can also use the cover photo to advertise an impending event, offer a discount code, or simply convey the benefits of your product or service.

facebook cover image gif example 

I say that to say this: you need a killer cover photo.

Profile pictures, on the other hand, are a straight-up brand play. Due to size constraints, you’re better off using your logo than trying to cram something elaborate into a tiny square frame tucked in the top-left corner.

With that, here are some more guidelines and best practices for both profile and cover pictures.

Your Facebook profile picture

Your profile picture only needs two things to be successful: familiarity and scalability.

facebook profile picture upload 

In truth, most folks won’t even notice that it exists. Their eyes will be drawn to the larger, more dynamic cover picture or down the screen to where pertinent information resides. You shouldn’t attempt to distract with your profile picture. It should be to your page what the hidden arrow is to the FedEx logo: a subtle complement.

On a computer, your profile picture will display at 170×170 pixels; on a smartphone, it’s 128×128. This is why it’s so important to steer clear of text: nobody’s going to be able to read it. Instead, opt for something clean. If you don’t have time to develop something elaborate, that’s totally fine: just use your logo. Heck, that’s what we do:

wordstream facebook profile picture  

You should also note that, when you begin to use Facebook ads or engage with page visitors, your profile picture will be shaved down into an even smaller circular image.

resizing example facebook profile picture 

If key components of your logo live on the fringes of the frame, consider repositioning the image so that design elements aren’t cast asunder.

Your Facebook cover picture (or video)

This one’s a bit trickier because you’re got so much more space to work with.

If you haven’t already added a cover element to your business page, you should see an expansive grey wasteland atop your content. Click the “Add a Cover” button in the corner of this space to give yourself the option of either adding a photo or a video.

 adding a cover photo to your facebook business page

Your cover photo Displays at 820×312 on computers and 640×360 on smartphones. If you want to use a video instead, it must be between 20 and 90 seconds and no smaller than a cover photo.

Regardless of whether you decided to roll with an image or a video, avoid clutter at all costs. Visitors can scroll down your page to find swaths of copy to read. Your cover element should be a brand play, something fun, and evocative, not a how-to guide. Take Whole Paycheck for example:

 example of a seasonal cover photo facebook business page

Assorted gourds aren’t unique to the upscale grocery chain, but they certainly indicate seasonality and provide a lovely backdrop for the litany of Fall-centric recipes you can find on the page. Sometimes, simple is best.

Oh, and be sure to switch your cover element out frequently to see how it impacts engagement (those pumpkins might look a little funky come July).

A Memorable Facebook Page Username is Essential

Having a username associated with your business page will allows prospects, customers, and total strangers to tag your business in posts and comments. The username is an essential component of establishing and maintaining brand engagement. it’s also, like, the easiest thing to implement.

facebook business page username 

Now, the obvious play is to use the name of your business as your username.

If someone’s already commandeered your name (you can’t claim a username that someone else is already using), you’re going to have to get a bit creative. Provided you can stick to alphanumeric characters and come up with something that’s at least five characters in length and devoid of bigotry or foul language, you’re good to go.

One suggestion here: If your business is hyper-local or the page you’re creating is for a single location, append a geo-modifier to your username (instead of just “@businessname,” use “@businessnamelocation”). This can help to convey trust and gives you the ability to share the most relevant content.

Bolster Engagement with a Button

Adding a button to your business page is a simple, low-stakes way to push visitors towards action. Whether you’d like someone to schedule a consultation, download an app, or make a purchase, pinning a button to the space below your cover image is a free way to incite action that you might otherwise have paid for.

 facebook business page shop now button

To add a button to your business page, click “+Add a Button.”

 adding a button to your facebook page

From there, you’ll be directed to an overlay that outlines the five different CTA options available to you. These include:

Book Services Get in Touch Learn More Make a Purchase or Donation Download App or Game

For the sake of maximizing business value, let’s say you select “Make a Purchase.”

gallery of various buttons that can be added to facebook pages 

Simply click the “Make a Purchase or Donation” option…

faecbook shop now button is perfect for ecommerce 

If you plan to bake offers into your page (this was one of the pages you added by switching over to the business template) you could use your button to promote them. That being said, I’m a proponent of asking people to take actions that have a more direct impact on business.

 facebook business page button link URL

For that reason, I’d suggest choosing the “Shop Now” option (if you’re selling a product). Once selected, enter the URL of your product page and voila: prospects who dig your business page now have a direct path to purchase. (For lead generation outfits, the “Book Services” button will allow you to link to a relevant page on your website. Setup will look the exact same as outlined above.)

Add Relevant Business Details to Help Customers Find You

You’ve gussied up your Facebook business page with eye-catching visuals and interactive elements: now it’s time to input some information.

Jump over to the “About” tab and click the “Edit Page Info” link at the top of the page.

facebook page business details 

This will open a single, streamlined menu through which you can enter basic information about your business, including:

General – This is where you can alter your business’s category and add a brief (255 character) description of what it is you do. Contact – Phone number, link to website, email address. You can also link to additional pages here (product-centric content, careers, etc.). Location – You can opt out of including your location on your page by unchecking the “Customers visit my business at my street address” box below the map. Hours- Pretty self-explanatory.

Upon completion, double-check your business information for accuracy, kick your feet up and crack open a cold one: you’re finally ready to start posting content and promoting your business on Facebook!

Promoting Your Business on Facebook

While a business page is going to give you the ability to provide general information about your offerings and share new content to existing fans, it isn’t going to function as an explicit lead generation tool without advertising.

promote your facebook business page with advertising 

We’ve got a wealth of content (and, you know, some pretty great software) that can help you get started with Facebook Ads. Now that you’ve got a killer Facebook business page, it’s time to put the platform to use.


The SEO Competitive Analysis Checklist

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/seomoz/~3/ZuBzHLylAqU/competitive-analysis

Posted by zeehj

The SEO case for competitive analyses

“We need more links!” “I read that user experience (UX) matters more than everything else in SEO, so we should focus solely on UX split tests.” “We just need more keywords on these pages.”

If you dropped a quarter on the sidewalk, but had no light to look for it, would you walk to the next block with a street light to retrieve it? The obvious answer is no, yet many marketers get tunnel vision when it comes to where their efforts should be focused.

1942 June 3, Florence Morning News, Mutt and Jeff Comic Strip, Page 7, Florence, South Carolina. (NewspaperArchive)

Which is why I’m sharing a checklist with you today that will allow you to compare your website to your search competitors, and identify your site’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential opportunities based on ranking factors we know are important.

If you’re unconvinced that good SEO is really just digital marketing, I’ll let AJ Kohn persuade you otherwise. As any good SEO (or even keyword research newbie) knows, it’s crucial to understand the effort involved in ranking for a specific term before you begin optimizing for it.

It’s easy to get frustrated when stakeholders ask how to rank for a specific term, and solely focus on content to create, or on-page optimizations they can make. Why? Because we’ve known for a while that there are myriad factors that play into search engine rank. Depending on the competitive search landscape, there may not be any amount of “optimizing” that you can do in order to rank for a specific term.

The story that I’ve been able to tell my clients is one of hidden opportunity, but the only way to expose these undiscovered gems is to broaden your SEO perspective beyond search engine results page (SERP) position and best practices. And the place to begin is with a competitive analysis.

Competitive analyses help you evaluate your competition’s strategies to determine their strengths and weakness relative to your brand. When it comes to digital marketing and SEO, however, there are so many ranking factors and best practices to consider that can be hard to know where to begin. Which is why my colleague, Ben Estes, created a competitive analysis checklist (not dissimilar to his wildly popular technical audit checklist) that I’ve souped up for the Moz community.

This checklist is broken out into sections that reflect key elements from our Balanced Digital Scorecard. As previously mentioned, this checklist is to help you identify opportunities (and possibly areas not worth your time and budget). But this competitive analysis is not prescriptive in and of itself. It should be used as its name suggests: to analyze what your competition’s “edge” is.

MethodologyChoosing competitors

Before you begin, you’ll need to identify six brands to compare your website against. These should be your search competitors (who else is ranking for terms that you’re ranking for, or would like to rank for?) in addition to a business competitor (or two). Don’t know who your search competition is? You can use SEMRush and Searchmetrics to identify them, and if you want to be extra thorough you can use this Moz post as a guide.

Sample sets of pages

For each site, you’ll need to select five URLs to serve as your sample set. These are the pages you will review and evaluate against the competitive analysis items. When selecting a sample set, I always include:

The brand’s homepage, Two “product” pages (or an equivalent), One to two “browse” pages, and A page that serves as a hub for news/informative content.

Make sure each site has equivalent pages to each other, for a fair comparison.

Scoring

The scoring options for each checklist item range from zero to four, and are determined relative to each competitor’s performance. This means that a score of two serves as the average performance in that category.

For example, if each sample set has one unique H1 tag per page, then each competitor would get a score of two for H1s appear technically optimized. However if a site breaks one (or more) of the below requirements, then it should receive a score of zero or one:

One or more pages within sample set contains more than one H1 tag on it, and/or H1 tags are duplicated across a brand’s sample set of pages. ChecklistPlatform (technical optimization)

Title tags appear technically optimized. This measurement should be as quantitative as possible, and refer only to technical SEO rather than its written quality. Evaluate the sampled pages based on:

Only one title tag per page, The title tag being correctly placed within the head tags of the page, and Few to no extraneous tags within the title (e.g. ideally no inline CSS, and few to no span tags).

H1s appear technically optimized. Like with the title tags, this is another quantitative measure: make sure the H1 tags on your sample pages are sound by technical SEO standards (and not based on writing quality). You should look for:

Only one H1 tag per page, and Few to no extraneous tags within the tag (e.g. ideally no inline CSS, and few to no span tags).

Internal linking allows indexation of content. Observe the internal outlinks on your sample pages, apart from the sites’ navigation and footer links. This line item serves to check that the domains are consolidating their crawl budgets by linking to discoverable, indexable content on their websites. Here is an easy-to-use Chrome plugin from fellow Distiller Dom Woodman to see whether the pages are indexable.

To get a score of “2” or more, your sample pages should link to pages that:

Produce 200 status codes (for all, or nearly all), and Have no more than ~300 outlinks per page (including the navigation and footer links).

Schema markup present. This is an easy check. Using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, look to see whether these pages have any schema markup implemented, and if so, whether it is correct. In order to receive a score of “2” here, your sampled pages need:

To have schema markup present, and Be error-free.

Quality of schema is definitely important, and can make the difference of a brand receiving a score of “3” or “4.” Elements to keep in mind are: Organization or Website markup on every sample page, customized markup like BlogPosting or Article on editorial content, and Product markup on product pages.

There is a “home” for newly published content. A hub for new content can be the site’s blog, or a news section. For instance, Distilled’s “home for newly published content” is the Resources section. While this line item may seem like a binary (score of “0” if you don’t have a dedicated section for new content, or score of “2” if you do), there are nuances that can bring each brand’s score up or down. For example:

Is the home for new content unclear, or difficult to find? Approach this exercise as though you are a new visitor to the site. Does there appear to be more than one “home” of new content? If there is a content hub, is it apparent that this is for newly published pieces?

We’re not obviously messing up technical SEO. This is partly comprised of each brand’s performance leading up to this line item (mainly Title tags appear technically optimized through Schema markup present).

It would be unreasonable to run a full technical audit of each competitor, but take into account your own site’s technical SEO performance if you know there are outstanding technical issues to be addressed. In addition to the previous checklist items, I also like to use these Chrome extensions from Ayima: Page Insights and Redirect Path. These can provide quick checks for common technical SEO errors.

Content

Title tags appear optimized (editorially). Here is where we can add more context to the overall quality of the sample pages’ titles. Even if they are technically optimized, the titles may not be optimized for distinctiveness or written quality. Note that we are not evaluating keyword targeting, but rather a holistic (and broad) evaluation of how each competitor’s site approaches SEO factors. You should evaluate each page’s titles based on the following:

The site’s (sampled) titles are not duplicative of one another, Their titles are shorter than 80 characters, They appear to accurately reflect the content presented on their pages, and The page titles include the domain name in a consistent fashion.

H1s appear optimized (editorially). The same rules that apply to titles for editorial quality also apply to H1 tags. Review each sampled page’s H1 for:

A unique H1 tag per page (language in H1 tags does not repeat), H1 tags that are discrete from their page’s title, and H1s represent the content on the page.

Internal linking supports organic content. Here you must look for internal outlinks outside of each site’s header and footer links. This evaluation is not based on the number of unique internal links on each sampled page, but rather on the quality of the pages to which our brands are linking.

While “organic content” is a broad term (and invariably differs by business vertical), here are some guidelines:

Look for links to informative pages like tutorials, guides, research, or even think pieces. The blog posts on Moz (including this very one) are good examples of organic content. Internal links should naturally continue the user’s journey, so look for topical progression in each site’s internal links. Links to service pages, products, RSVP, or email subscription forms are not examples of organic content. Make sure the internal links vary. If sampled pages are repeatedly linking to the same resources, this will only benefit those few pages. This doesn’t mean that you should penalize a brand for linking to the same resource two, three, or even four times over. Use your best judgment when observing the sampled pages’ linking strategies.

Appropriate informational content. You can use the found “organic content” from your sample sets (and the samples themselves) to review whether the site is producing appropriate informational content.

What does that mean, exactly?

The content produced obviously fits within the site’s business vertical, area of expertise, or cause. Example: Moz’s SEO and Inbound Marketing Blog is an appropriate fit for an SEO company. The content on the site isn’t overly self-promotional, resulting in an average user not trusting this domain to produce unbiased information. Example: If Distilled produced a list of “Best Digital Marketing Agencies,” it’s highly unlikely that users would find it trustworthy given our inherent bias!

Quality of content. Highly subjective, yes, but remember: you’re comparing brands against each other. Here’s what you need to evaluate here:

Are “informative” pages discussing complex topics under 400 words? Note: thin content isn’t always a bad thing. Keep page intent in mind as you evaluate. Do you want to read the content? Largely, do the pages seem well-written and full of valuable information? Conversely, are the sites littered with “listicles,” or full of generic info you can find in millions of other places online?

Quality of images/video. Also highly subjective (but again, compare your site to your competitors, and be brutally honest). Judge each site’s media items based on:

Resolution (do the images or videos appear to be high quality? Grainy?), Whether they are unique (do the images or videos appear to be from stock resources?), Whether the photos or videos are repeated on multiple sample pages. Audience (engagement and sharing of content)

Number of linking root domains. This factor is exclusively based on the total number of dofollow linking root domains (LRDs) to each domain (not total backlinks).

You can pull this number from Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) or from Ahrefs. Since this measurement is only for the total number of LRDs to competitor, you don’t need to graph them. However, you will have an opportunity to display the sheer quantity of links by their domain authority in the next checklist item.

Quality of linking root domains. Here is where we get to the quality of each site’s LRDs. Using the same LRD data you exported from either Moz’s OSE or Ahrefs, you can bucket each brand’s LRDs by domain authority and count the total LRDs by DA. Log these into this third sheet, and you’ll have a graph that illustrates their overall LRD quality (and will help you grade each domain).

Other people talk about our content. I like to use BuzzSumo for this checklist item. BuzzSumo allows you to see what sites have written about a particular topic or company. You can even refine your search to include or exclude certain terms as necessary.

You’ll need to set a timeframe to collect this information. Set this to the past year to account for seasonality.

Actively promoting content. Using BuzzSumo again, you can alter your search to find how many of each domain’s URLs have been shared on social networks. While this isn’t an explicit ranking factor, strong social media marketing is correlated with good SEO. Keep the timeframe to one year, same as above.

Creating content explicitly for organic acquisition. This line item may seem similar to Appropriate informational content, but its purpose is to examine whether the competitors create pages to target keywords users are searching for.

Plug your the same URLs from your found “organic content” into SEMRush, and note whether they are ranking for non-branded keywords. You can grade the competitors on whether (and how many of) the sampled pages are ranking for any non-branded terms, and weight them based on their relative rank positions.

Conversion

You should treat this section as a UX exercise. Visit each competitor’s sampled URLs as though they are your landing page from search. Is it clear what the calls to action are? What is the next logical step in your user journey? Does it feel like you’re getting the right information, in the right order as you click through?

Clear CTAs on site. Of your sample pages, examine what the calls to action (CTAs) are. This is largely UX-based, so use your best judgment when evaluating whether they seem easy to understand. For inspiration, take a look at these examples of CTAs.

Conversions appropriate to several funnel steps. This checklist item asks you to determine whether the funnel steps towards conversion feel like the correct “next step” from the user’s standpoint.

Even if you are not a UX specialist, you can assess each site as though you are a first time user. Document areas on the pages where you feel frustrated, confused, or not. User behavior is a ranking signal, so while this is a qualitative measurement, it can help you understand the UX for each site.

CTAs match user intent inferred from content. Here is where you’ll evaluate whether the CTAs match the user intent from the content as well as the CTA language. For instance, if a CTA prompts a user to click “for more information,” and takes them to a subscription page, the visitor will most likely be confused or irritated (and, in reality, will probably leave the site).

This analysis should help you holistically identify areas of opportunity available in your search landscape, without having to guess which “best practice” you should test next. Once you’ve started this competitive analysis, trends among the competition will emerge, and expose niches where your site can improve and potentially outpace your competition.

Kick off your own SEO competitive analysis and comment below on how it goes! If this process is your jam, or you’d like to argue with it, come see me speak about these competitive analyses and the campaigns they’ve inspired at SearchLove London. Bonus? If you use that link, you’ll get £50 off your tickets.


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


The Complete Guide to Creating Great-Looking Facebook Ads

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/KWaG6ndvIZE/how-to-create-facebook-ads

Facebook advertising might seem easy at first. Just draft an engaging post, target a relevant audience, throw some money behind it, and get new leads, right?

Not quite. As many of you are likely aware, Facebook is a challenging space for advertisers. Not only are you competing against many other businesses for attention, but you’re also competing against people’s friends and families. Why would someone engage with your ad when they see that their childhood friend just posted her wedding photographs?

how to create great facebook ads guide

This is why your Facebook ad image has to be visually enticing. If it’s not, your chances of getting clicks and conversions on Facebook become slim to none.

Facebook is a visual platform, which is part of why it’s seen so much success. In order to compete, you not only need outstanding media to share, but you also need to make sure that media is the right size and format to fit your ad.

“High-quality visual content can have a major impact on your conversion funnel,” says Nate Birt, a content marketer at visually. “From studying brain scans to tracking eye movements, researchers have discovered that visual content is simply processed differently than text. Visuals communicate more information, more effectively.”

The brain actually processes visual content 60,000 times faster then text! So what makes an engaging image for a Facebook ad? How can your ad standout from the pack of cute babies, brides, and puppies on your prospects’ Facebook feed? We’ll cover all this and much more in this guide.

Facebook Ad Types & Image Size Requirements

Facebook has five main ad formats that all have different technical requirements in terms of the size and aspect ratios that are optimal for posting. These five include:

Single image ads Single video ads Carousel ads Slideshow ads Canvas ads #1: Single image ads

These are the most common and basic Facebook ad type. While they are basic, they’re also effective, because they’re easy for the Facebook browser to digest. This ad type is also very versatile since it can be used with every Facebook objective (which is the goal you set for the ad) aside from “Video Views.”

Here are the specs for a single image ads:

Image size: 1,200 X 628 pixels

Image ratio: 1.91:1

Text: 90 characters

Headline: 25 characters

Link description: 30 characters

single image ad on facebook

Single image ad example

#2: Single Video Ads

Single video ads are just as they sound, a single video in the space where the image typically is. This a lovely ad format considering the fact that 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook videos a week! (I’d be embarrassed to learn how many hours of Tasty video recipes I watch on Facebook each week.)

A few things to keep in mind with Facebook videos is that the majority are watched without sound, so utilizing captions is strongly recommended. Also, a video ad cannot exceed 60 minutes in length.

If you’re interested in going the video ad format route take a look at the specs below:

Video format: .mov or .mp4 are preferable

Aspect ratio: 16:9

Resolution: at least 720p

File size: 2.3 GB max

Thumbnail image size: 1,200 x 675 pixels (*the aspect ratio of the thumbnail should match that of the video)

Text:  90 characters

Headline:  25 characters

Link description: 30 characters

how to create a video ad for facebook

Facebook video ad example

#3: Carousel Ads

Carousel ads allow the advertiser to create a carousel of images or videos that are easily moved by a set of arrows, as shown in the image below. This ad format is especially useful for ecommerce businesses looking to display multiple products in a single advertisement promoting their store or online shop. Of course, many other industries can reap benefits from having the ability to engage their viewers with additional media by using this ad format.

Advertisers are able to display up to 10 images or videos within one Facebook ad that can all link to different pages. Compared to the single ad format advertisers now have the chance of selling an additional 9 products by using a carousel. Pretty neat!

This ad format works with every objective aside from promoting your page, boosting a post, reaching people close by, raising attendance at your event, and getting video views. These also work well on mobile devices.

Check out the specs:

Image size/Thumbnail image size: 1,080 x 1,080 pixels

Image ratio/Video aspect ration: 1:1 (square)

Text: 90 characters

Headline: 40 characters

Link description: 20 characters

*All other video specs (format, resolution, size size, etc.) are the same as the single video ad format above.

how to create a carousel ad

Facebook carousel ad example

#4: Slideshow Ads

Everyone has a relative that spends their entire Sunday creating slideshows to display at the family reunion, right? Well this ad format is pretty much the same thing! So tell you’re Aunt Barb she can start paying to get more eyes on your family trip to Italy. Ok, that might not be the ideal use case, but these ads give off that nostalgic slideshow feeling, which is why they’re another great option among the ad formats. Slideshow ads work with every objective aside from product catalog promotion.

Check out the specs for these babies below:

Image size: 1,280 x 720 pixels

Image ratio: 16:9, 1:1, or 2:3

Text: 90 characters

Headline: 25 characters

Link description: 30 characters

creating facebook slideshow ads

#5: Canvas Ads

Last, but definitely not least, we have Facebook’s newest ad format, canvas ads. Canvas ads appear as normal image ads on the surface, but once the ad is tapped, the viewer is brought into an immersive, full-screen interactive experience where they can engage with your content. While these ads may feel intrusive, like an unwarranted commercial, the viewer is able to navigate away when they desire, and this ad format allows for a much higher degree of creativity.

This ad format is currently only available via mobile device for the following six objectives: boosting your post, increasing brand awareness, increasing your reach, sending people to a destination on or off Facebook, gaining video views, and increasing conversions on your website.

These ads can be a bit more complex to set up, as they can involve several multimedia components including an ad unit, photos, tilt-to-pan images, video, carousels, a text block, buttons, and header.

creating facebook canvas ads

If you’re interested in learning more about this new multimedia ad format check out Facebook’s canvas help center.

6 Best Practices for Facebook Ad Images

Now that you’ve decided on what ad formats will work best with your Facebook ad campaign, it’s time to get hunting for the right images.

What makes a “good” Facebook image? This question can be challenging to answer, especially if your brain leans more towards the logical side and less towards the visually creative side. Luckily, these 6 ad image best practices will ensure you’re headed in the right direction when it comes to ad creation:

#1: Include Humans, Preferably Happy Ones

Humans are attracted to other humans. This is plain old human nature! Yet all too often we stumble upon these miserably boring ads with nothing but text, images of office supplies, or boring graphics that aren’t engaging or easy to identify with.

Including images of people in your Facebook ads is one of the easiest ways to make a real, human connection with your audience. And it’s preferable if these people are happy!

The ad below is the perfect example. Not only is this woman happy and smiling, but she’s making healthy juice, which ties into the context of the article being promoted.

facebook ads with people

#2: Use a Contextually Relevant Image

Speaking of context, this is something that is extremely critical when hunting down the right ad image. For instance, would a nutritional website promote their brand with an image of a cheeseburger and fries? Probably not. This is the same thing as using some random person or picture of a dog to promote your new software feature. It just isn’t contextually relevant and therefore your message will get lost in translation.

Here’s an example below that is doing a poor job at providing a contextually relevant image in their ad. The ad below appears to be promoting a B2B marketing strategies guide, but their ad image is of four random people (whose backs are to the camera) going for a hike. While the image isn’t awful, it has no tie into what the post is promoting. They tried to make the connection with the words “stronger and more adaptable,” but the image still feels out of context.

relevant facebook ad images

On the other hand, the help desk platform Zendesk demonstrates a strong example of providing a contextually relevant image. They appear to be promoting their live chat feature, and the image they used is of an old-school form of communication that likely takes many back to their nostalgic childhood days. Not only is this image contextually relevant, but it also is likely to spark emotions.

facebook ad image best practices

#3: Add a Pop of Color

If your ad is all greys, whites, and tans, it’ll be easy to skip over. However, if your ad contains all the colors of the rainbow it could be sensory overload for your audience.

A good balance of whites and lighter greys, with a touch of a more lively color is the perfect way to strike a harmonious balance. Try and use a clean, light, crisp background and then incorporate a brighter shade of red, orange, blue, pink, green, or purple. Take the example from the clothing company below. The pop of red in these side by side images instantly catches the eye against the crisp white background.

facebook ad colors

#4: Simplicity Is Key

Speaking of sensory overload, a big no-no when it comes to your Facebook ad image is having too many things going on in the image itself. This will lead to the main message getting lost, and is just not visually engaging for the viewer.

Rather, err on the side of simplicity so prospects can focus in on the main message of the post. The ad below from Outdoor Voices does an excellent job at this. Rather than showing several models in a city landscape, hopping around in their leggings, there’s one model on a crisp white background, nicely displaying the leggings.

choosing images for facebook ads

#5: Channel Your Inner Comedian

People often come to Facebook to be entertained. Whether they’re enjoying some downtime after work or just killing time in-between meetings, Facebook users are usually not looking to take in a bland sales pitch. Rather their state of mind is to be entertained.

What better way to entertain someone than to make them laugh? Humor is by far my favorite way for advertisers to engage with their audience – if you can pull it off, it’s fun and actually makes people pay attention.

Fitness.com did a great job at this – sharing the obsession many of us have with guacamole on National Guacamole Day (yes, this is a real day!).

humorous facebook ad

HubSpot also does a wonderful job at this, often sharing videos with some office humor. If you haven’t seen the hilarious 7-year old Ava Ryan pretending to be a working adult, you are seriously missing out.

funny facebook ad example

#6: Make Your Ad Copy Direct and Actionable

Even if your Facebook ad image is absolutely stunning and following all of these best practices, it will not matter one bit if the copy surrounding your image is lacking in direction.

While images often speak louder then words, the words are equally important when it comes to advertising on Facebook. After all isn’t your goal to get people to do something? Whether that be visiting your website, filling out a form, or simply engaging with your brand, make sure your ad copy is actionable and direct, with a specific call-to-action or CTA.

Hootsuite provides a strong example of a Facebook ad that does so many things right:

An emotional image of people A clear value prop for the offer (“make your resume stand out”) A sense of urgency (“expires tomorrow”) A strong CTA (“get offer”) A discount code so people feel like they’re getting something special

how to write great facebook ads

For more headline writing tips check out this post.

Where to Find Images for Your Facebook Ads

Now that you’ve nailed down some image best practices, where in the world are these idyllic images going to come from? Here are 4 options:

#1: Leverage Your In-House Designer

There’s nothing better then an original piece of media for your ads. So if you are lucky enough to have an in-house designer, make use of their services! This is one of the many reasons they were hired after all. Set up a meeting to convey your own vision for the ad, and then let your designer work their magic. This will also ensure that your Facebook ads align with your other branding.

For many years at WordStream we did not have an in-house designer, and therefore creating unique media for ads wasn’t typically an option. This was until we hired the talented Kate Lindsay, and now we’re able to share beautiful Facebook ads like the one below!

where to find images for facebook ads

#2: Use Photographs from Your Website

This one couldn’t be simpler! You likely already have some beautiful, and more importantly, relevant images on multiple pages across your website as well as on your landing pages. You can use those same images in your ads, ensuring tight message match between your ads and your landing pages.

#3: Hire a Photographer to Create a Photo Library

It might sound ridiculous, but it works! Pick a day to invite a professional photographer to the office, and have them take a ridiculous amount of creative photographs to capture the people behind your business.

Having previously worked at the video-hosting company Wistia, I saw how useful this tactic was for us. Once a year Wistia has a talented photographer come in and take photos of people around the office. Then these photographs are stored in a shared online library where people can use them for internal presentations, events, emails, and yes, Facebook ads (like the one below). This is an excellent way to share the culture and human side of your business.

photo library for facebook ads

#4: Stock Images

If all else fails, use stock images. While this might not seem like the ideal solution, as long as you don’t select the laughing lady eating a salad against a white background you should be fine!

how to find stock images for facebook ads

Seriously though, there are many tools to hunt down unique and captivating stock images (including free ones!) that will make highly engaging Facebook ads.

Bonus! WordStream’s New Smart Ads Tool

If the thought of hunting down images files, cropping and resizing them, and then uploading them into Facebook’s ad manager platform is stressing you out, you’ve come to the right place. The latest release of WordStream Advisor includes a brand new Smart Ads feature, which automatically pulls in images from your website and crops them (using super cool machine learning technology!) so they’re the right size and dimension for your Facebook ads. Check it out! 

wordstream facebook ads

About the Author:

Margot is a Content Marketing Specialist at WordStream and nutrition graduate student at Framingham State. She loves all things digital, learning about nutrition, running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on:

Twitter: @margotshealthub

Instagram: @margotshealthhub   

Blog: http://www.margotshealthhub.com/


8 Popular Landing Page Designs: Which Types Work Best?

Originally published on: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/WordStreamBlog/~3/MCNNBILeDQI/landing-page-designs

“I told you guys there would be blood, sweat, tears. I told you guys he was a hell of a fighter standing up — kinda shocked me.”

That quote comes from Floyd Mayweather, following his recent bout with Conor McGregor. Mayweather walked away from the fight with at least $100 million, while McGregor pocketed a mere $30 million.

Landing page designs Mayweather McGregor fight

Image via Esther Lin/Showtime

All kidding aside, the idea came to me: Designers and marketers are always debating what types of landing pages work best. Minimalist design? How much copy? Why not square landing page designs off in a series of fights?

So check out eight popular landing page design types, their pros and cons, how they compare, and what might happen if they duked it out in a ring.

Short-Form Landing Pages Vs. Long-Form Landing Pages

Tired of the never-ending debate between these two? I am. So, I’m putting the tension between these landing page types to rest. Once and for all.

Short-form landing pages work better for minor asks. That usually means an email address or small purchase.

For example, Michael Aagard found a Swedish gym chain boosted sales 11% with a shorter landing page:

Landing page designs A/B test example 

Image via ConversionXL

Note: 249 Swedish Krona equals about $31.

So when short-form and long-form landing pages square off, short-form pages win with smaller asks. However, depending on what you sell, you may not know what “small” means to your market. Test if you’re not sure.

Short-form delivers a surprisingly painful blow to the chest early into the match.

Conversion Rate Experts puts long-form landing pages to the forefront, as they helped Moz (then SEOmoz) generate an additional $1 million in yearly revenue with a long-form landing page.

To make it happen, they talked with paying Moz subscribers, free trial members, and paying members who canceled. They also spoke with Rand Fishkin, who explained how he sold in person with ease.

Eventually, they came up with a landing page, oh, about seven times or so longer than the original:

Landing page designs Moz longform landing page example 

Image via Conversion Rate Experts

…And long-form landing pages pop right back with an equally wicked counterpunch. In this case, the offer is software, which usually requires more commitment from the buyer, so they might want more information before making a decision. This is where longer landing pages shine.

Note that cost is not the only variable here. Sometimes even a free offer requires more context. WordStream tested short and long versions of the landing page for its AdWords Grader and found that the long version performed much better. This is a free tool, but in this case, prospects wanted more information before connecting their AdWords accounts – so the page is built out with plenty of info to build trust (like testimonials).

This harkens back to an important lesson from the legendary business book Built to Last by Jim Collins and his research team. The book compiles years of research that shows what companies who survive the test of time do versus those who fade into obscurity.

Great companies reject what was called the “Tyranny of the OR.” Instead, they embrace the “Genius of the AND,” which refers to their ability to incorporate two extreme dimensions into their operations simultaneously.

And this situation certainly demonstrates how that principle applies to short- and long-form landing pages. Vary the length of your landing page depending on the cost and/or complexity of your offer. (And always test.)

Video Landing Pages Vs. Static Landing Pages

What marketer doesn’t love those cool, auto-playing video backgrounds? By the way, here’s 50 for you to check out.

Hey, I love them too. But videos don’t make everyone happy.

In particular, B2B buyers do not care for video backgrounds. The 2015 B2B Web Usability Report found 33% say “automatic audio/video” is the most common reason they leave a website:

Landing page designs reasons why people leave websites 

Image via KoMarketing (PDF)

The same report later details how B2B buyers don’t like websites loaded with distractions. They want to focus, research, and learn so they can make a valuable business decision.

But you’ll notice, that doesn’t mean they don’t like video at all. The report didn’t include any data on video that doesn’t play automatically. Since it specifically mentions “video that plays automatically,” it’s safe to assume B2B buyers don’t mind video – as long as they have controls.

Automatically playing video backgrounds also don’t work when you need to make a complex sale, Unbounce found. Again, they distract. Specifically, they keep visitors from reading your above-the-fold messaging.

Shockingly, video backgrounds take a powerful blow between the eyes to begin the match.

So…do video backgrounds ever work?

Yes.

That same post from Unbounce found they do well when you want to communicate a certain feeling. For example, you want to invite people to a conference, performing arts event, or restaurant.

And what about when you have video that only plays with controls? It raises conversions dramatically.

Data from Kissmetrics reports:

Organizational housewares retailer Stacks And Stacks found consumers who watched video were 144% more likely to buy than those who didn’t. Advance Auto Parts found instructional and how-to videos led to visitors staying on-site twice as long and visiting twice as many pages as those who didn’t watch videos.

Video lands a flurry of quick jabs.

But what about plain ol’ static web pages? Why would you use those, without any video at all?

LeadPages published a test run by Gary and James Michaels from StrategicShape.com  to find out. The offer was a song download, and one version of the landing page included the music video of the song:

Landing page designs split test example video landing page 

Image via LeadPages

At the conclusion of the test, the version without the video outperformed the version with video by 23.84%.

Why? A few possibilities:

The version without the video created more mystery The removal of the video made the page shorter and simpler The music video wasn’t motivating enough to win more conversions

You always have to test. But as above, consider using video landing pages (ideally, not auto-playing video) to provide context for products and to form an emotional connection with your prospects.

Flat Design Vs. Old-School Landing Pages

Flat landing page design, which you may also call “minimalist” or “modern” design, is the trend nowadays.

But it’s not a guaranteed approach. And some marketers generate astounding success with the old-school, hypey, infomercial-type landing page.

One example of the latter comes from nationally renowned copywriter Bob Bly:

Landing page designs bad page example 

Image via Bob Bly

Ick! Doesn’t it make the marketer in you cringe? Or maybe you suddenly feel sick…

But here’s the thing: Bob attests to making more than $600,000 per year as a copywriter. And all his landing pages have this old-school, infomercial-looking approach. He certainly wouldn’t consistently use it if he found a different approach that works better.

He may use this approach because he sells to current and aspiring copywriters. They work similarly to a B2C audience.

They don’t need a gorgeous design. He has one opportunity to make the sale. So, he has to use an attention-getting headline, and clear copy that commands 100% focus on the message. Further down the page, he describes in explicit detail what you get, asks for your order three times, and offers several dozen testimonials.

It’s clear he wants you to buy now.

And Bob’s not the only master marketer who does this. Leading email marketer Ben Settle uses a similar approach to sell his “Email Players” course that teaches you how to sell through email (at $97 per month, no less):

Landing page designs bad page example 

Image via Ben Settle

Amazing! The old-school, infomercial approach knocks flat design to the mat in the beginning of the first round.

Can modern flat design get up and come back?

It can. And does.

Just for reference, a prototypical flat landing page looks something like this:

 Landing page designs flat landing page example

Image via Webydo

You notice the bright colors, minimalistic text, large amount of white space, and lack of 2D objects trying to appear 3D.

Nice. Simple. Clean. Not pushy or salesy at all.

When do flat landing page designs make sense?

For starters, web users see them all the time. That means you meet your visitors’ expectations immediately. You won’t baffle them somewhat at first, like you might with an old-school approach.

Flat design doesn’t encourage you to use a high-pressure, order-now-or-its-gone-forever sales approach. It’s a more natural fit with today’s focus on earning trust and building relationships.

So flat design pulls itself off the mat and hammers its way back into the fight.

Again, you have to consider your audience (hip millennials? Or baby boomers?) and possibly test both approaches.

Homepage Vs. Lead Capture (AKA “Squeeze”) Page

Please, please, please… do yourself a favor and never ever, under any circumstances, use your homepage as a landing page for your marketing campaign.

Yes, visitors land on your homepage. And yes, it’s the most visited page on your website.

But you don’t use a single, specific campaign to drive traffic to your home page. Instead, your home page gets traffic from many sources, so the page needs to be flexible to address a range of possible visitor needs. This usually means that there are multiple calls to action (CTAs), giving the visitor options.

Let’s take a look at some homepage examples from leading companies, because you know they’ve done extensive testing to optimize their homepage conversion rates:

HubSpot

Landing page designs HubSpot squeeze page example 

HubSpot has three CTAs above-the-fold. Two direct you to use their platform. One sends you to a four-day live video event.

Three other CTAs come later on the page. Each describes a leading feature of HubSpot, and the benefits of those features.

A final CTA comes at the end of the page. And it again directs you to start using their software.

That’s a total of 6(!) CTAs.

Brian Dean, Backlinko

 Landing page designs Backlinko example

Brian Dean runs a much different business type than multibillion-dollar HubSpot.

He uses his personal brand to do one thing: grow his list. I’m not sure of the exact size. But it’s at least 100,000, and I believe several times that size. That makes it one of the largest lists in his niche (SEO).

If you’re on his list, like me, you know he sells courses.

So, he uses an approach with just a single CTA that asks you to join his list.

Unbounce

Landing page designs Unbounce example 

Unbounce has a unique approach. One I admittedly haven’t seen on a homepage anywhere else.

They have two clear CTAs above-the-fold. However, they don’t put the obvious one under the main marketing message.

Rather, it’s clear they want you to sign up for a free trial because that’s the more noticeable of the two buttons.

The overall approach is sensible. They allow visitors who aren’t ready for a free trial to get to know Unbounce better, and why they’d like to use it, before starting a free trial. And for those who know they’re ready, they can do that now too.

Why they don’t switch the two CTAs so the free trial button is in the center of the screen…I don’t know. But testing must have revealed this approach results in more or higher-quality conversions.

By the way, the whole page has three CTAs, with the final one showing you the pricing plans.

Conversion XL

 Landing page designs ConversionXL example

Conversion XL has a unique approach on their homepage too. With four CTAs above the fold, they have the most of any homepage you’ve seen so far.

Plus, not a single one uses a button. They’re all links. Two more CTAs follow later on down the page, asking you to subscribe to their newsletter and see the upcoming courses.

That’s a total of six CTAs on the homepage.

While the approaches vary, these homepages:

Differentiate the business from the competition Share the top benefits available Have varying asks of different sizes

…Homepages come out swinging and draw first blood.

But now, compare homepages to squeeze pages. With these, you create a specific campaign to drive a precisely defined customer to a landing page with a single ask.

You know all your traffic sources, so you can deliver the same targeted messaging to each visitor.

If you’re B2C, you collect contact information so you can continue to build your relationship and list. In B2B, squeeze pages can be used to build lists. But more commonly, they get used to qualify the lead so they can be handed over to sales (or not).

Brian Dean’s homepage actually works well as a squeeze page because that’s the only CTA. Check out this squeeze page to learn a little more:

 Landing page designs GQ magazine example

Image via Instapage

Big brands many times do an awful job in their online marketing. But GQ is not one of them. This squeeze page works because it:

Asks for minimal information – just an email – which makes signing up quick and painless Slips in a little humor, which goes a long way Has a spot-on marketing message men can relate to Uses Zach Galifianakis’ star power Shows an abundantly obvious CTA button

And compare that to this B2B lead capture page by Salesforce:

Landing page designs Salesforce example 

Image via Salesforce

Clearly, with the amount of information they require to get the freebie (a white paper), Salesforce wants to qualify leads. If the B2B buyer doesn’t have time to fill out the form, then they likely won’t make a good customer later on anyway.

Using the information entered, sales can make educated decisions on how to follow-up with the lead next.

While the homepages drew first blood, squeeze pages crack them square in the nose in return. Both then counterpunch each other at exactly the same moment, falling to the mat for a knockout at precisely the same time.

Your Landing Page Design Should Consider Your Goals and Your Sales Cycle

Four ties (“It depends”)? Maybe that’s not the drama you hoped for.

But it’s the truth about landing page designs. No single approach is ALWAYS “better” than any other. Each works better in different circumstances.

You have to choose the right approach based on your business goals, the preferences of your market, and your visitors’ stage in the sales cycle.

To discover those, you have to ask yourself questions like:

What do you really want your visitors to do? What are they thinking the moment they hit your landing page? What are your audience’s psychographics? What step did they previously take, before hitting the page?

How can you get answers to these questions if you don’t already know?

Can you examine competitor landing pages for clues? Could you survey or call customers?

Look, creating a high-converting landing page isn’t easy. But it does boil down to simply testing and retesting approaches until you’re happy with your conversion rate.

For now, you’re armed with some of the leading types of landing pages, and you can figure out which design makes most sense for you.

About the author

As a freelance copywriter, Dan Stelter crafts persuasive lead-generating content for B2B software, SaaS, and service companies, earning him the moniker “The B2B Lead Gen Guy.” When you don’t find Dan helping B2Bs swipe more market share from competitors, you will find him reliving the good ol’ days of The Simpsons.