2016 in review: Insights for search marketers from Bing Ads

Columnist Christi Olson of Bing discusses some of the ways Bing Ads changed over the course of last year and looks at trends to see what’s ahead for 2017.

The post 2016 in review: Insights for search marketers from Bing Ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.

10 online marketing strategies to make you a unicorn [infographic]

Everyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with unicorns – not just the magical beasts you’ll often find hanging out near rainbows but marketing unicorns.

What’s a marketing unicorn, you ask? It’s one of those magical campaigns that’s so effective it performs in the top 1-3% of all marketing campaigns.

Marketing unicorns are so special that, even though they’re rare, they end up delivering almost half of the value of your overall marketing efforts. For example, here on the WordStream blog, our top 50 articles drive as much traffic as thousands of others (the marketing donkeys) combined. I call it the Unicorn Marketing Power Law.

unicorn-marketing-power-law

This is why it’s so key, as a marketer or business owner, to find your own unicorns and make the most of them. There are unicorns in every corner of the online marketing world – unicorn ads, unicorn blog posts, unicorn webinars, unicorn emails.

These are the campaigns with exceptional click-through rates, conversion rates, open rates, and engagement rates.

So if you find a unicorn, CLONE IT! An idea or piece of creative that does well in one online marketing channel is bound to do well in your other marketing channels as well. As I’m always fond of saying, you have to go all in on your unicorns.

I’ve spent a lot of time experimenting with different online marketing strategies this year. Below you’ll find the best of the best – my top 10 favorite online marketing strategies that create and exploit unicorns to give you the best possible bang for your buck.

Check it out and share – I’ll provide a little more detail into each of the 10 strategies, which include strategies for SEO, PPC, content marketing, social media marketing, remarketing, and more, below.

V2_wordstream - BEST Online Marketing Strategies

My 10 Most Unicorn-Worthy Online Marketing Strategies
#1. Aim for super-high organic click-through rates

Does organic CTR matter? YES! Now more than ever! If you want to compete in the new SEO reality, you’ve got to raise your click-through rates and other engagement factors. Here’s our process:

Find content with average or below-expected CTR for its rank
Ditch boring titles and test emotional, relatable headlines that promise value
Improve intent match to reduce bounce rate and pogo-sticking
Bonus: Data indicates raising CTR can move up your rank!

#2. Aim for super-high ad click-through rates

CTR isn’t just important for SEO (duh). It’s also incredibly important for paid ads, because ads with high engagement rates get better placements at a lower cost per click on Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads and pretty much every platform. Here’s what you need to know about raising your ad CTR:

Tactics like Dynamic Keyword Insertion are boring and don’t create unicorn ads
Ads with the highest CTR focus on four key emotions: anger, disgust, affirmation, and fear
Bonus: High CTR ads usually have high conversion rates too!

#3. Forget everything you know about conversion rate optimization

Sorry to burst your CRO bubble, but the classic A/B test is a fairy tale – too often, we get super excited about early leads, but they tend to disappear over time. Either the test hadn’t reached statistical significance, or people were responding to novelty, but the effect didn’t last.

Here are a few more CRO truth bombs for you:

Aggressive CRO often increases lead quantity but reduces lead quality
To really move the needle, change your offer to something truly irresistible
Brand familiarity has a massive effect on conversions – so try remarketing!

#4. Remarketing is great … but try Super Remarketing!

Maybe you’ve noticed (ha) that in the current online marketing landscape, it’s harder and harder to get your content noticed. The competition is insanely fierce! That means everyone’s attention is spread thin. But all hope is not lost, aspiring unicorns!

With a smart social ad strategy you can promote your content to the perfect audience for pennies
Use social media remarketing to increase engagement by 2X to 3X
Then step it up with Super Remarketing: the awesome combination of remarketing, demographics, behaviors, and high-engagement content

#5. Hack RLSA for a Unicorn Surge of Leads

Regular old, plain-flavor RLSA is kind of a shell game: You’re basically cherry-picking your cheapest leads from a larger pool. Yes, you save money, but your lead volume is greatly reduced! Most people don’t want that, right? We want more leads AND lower costs.

the-problem-with-rlsa

Here’s how to use RLSA to get both, AKA Operation Unicorn Surge:

To reduce cost per lead AND increase volume in competitive markets, try Super RLSA!
Bias people toward your brand by using social ads to dramatically increase the size of your cookie pool

#6. Get your Facebook organic reach back

Newsflash, Facebook organic reach sucks. In fact, we recently discovered it’s even worse than we thought!!

The good news is, you can recover your reach! Here’s how:

Use preferred audience targeting to target organic posts like ads
Use Larry’s Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme
Invite people who like your content to follow your page
Post video content for way higher engagement rates – the key to organic reach

#7. Outsmart your competition!

Try these brilliant competitive advertising strategies:

Target users whose interests include your competitors
Disrupt your competitors’ videos with YouTube ads
Use your competitors’ brand names to keyword target your Gmail Ads
Download and target your competitors’ Twitter followers

#8. Use social ads to make an impression on influencers

Not a big name yet? No problem!

Here are some crazy awesome ways to use social ads to fool people into thinking you’re a big deal:

Build awareness of your personal brand by targeting ads at specific employees and specific companies
Write an awesome guest post for an influencer, then promote and amplify so it makes a splash
Tag your fave influencer and do an engagement campaign
Become a trending story on LinkedIn Pulse

#9. Learn how to REALLY run a Twitter lead generation campaign

Forget Twitter’s advice for running lead gen campaigns – it’s totally wrong! Do this instead:

Twitter Lead Generation Cards look too much like ads and charge you for useless engagements
Never use automatic bidding – it’s a trap
Instead, use funny images, emoji, advanced targeting options and don’t forget conversion tracking!

#10. Master the art of Medium publishing

There are insanely good reasons to republish your content on Medium – like reaching a much bigger audience with minimal effort. Here’s how to make the most of the Medium platform:

Don’t just republish your post – make it go hot! Include a powerful image immediately after the headline
Promote your post – if you get 200 hearts in a day, your article will trend and pageviews will skyrocket
Follow people who engage with your content to build your audience

That’s it – my absolute favorite online marketing strategies right now. Now go and find your own unicorns!

This article was originally published on Larry’s Wordstream blog. It is reprinted with permission.

27 Big Updates & A Peek at the Future: Moz Pro’s 2016 Retrospective

Posted by adamf

Another year has slipped by, and while we had our ups and downs, returning to our SEO roots has given us greater focus and renewed purpose. We’ve redoubled our efforts with the goal of building the best SEO product in the industry. We know it’s a lofty goal with so many great competitors out there, but this is the target that served as our north star in 2016 and continues to get us out of bed each morning.

Our increased focus on SEO translated to a big increase in the number of new features and improvements we were able to add to Moz Pro in 2016. In fact, we shipped more significant updates in 2016 than 2014 and 2015 combined, and we already have a lot in the works for 2017.

We also collected and surfaced a huge amount of data in 2016. A few notable examples:

Customers created 141,000 new campaigns for their websites
4.6 million tracked keywords were added to campaigns
1.8 million keyword queries were run in Keyword Explorer
25 million URLs were researched in Open Site Explorer

Such ever-increasing demand keeps us on our toes and we continue to invest in scaling our infrastructure to keep the data flowing smoothly.

Without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of the noteworthy updates you may have missed in 2016 and a sneak peek at some exciting updates coming in 2017.

Keyword Explorer: Redefining keyword research

Okay, I’m sure you’ve heard us mention Keyword Explorer once or twice. More than twice? Alright, we do like to talk about it. Building Keyword Explorer was a huge effort and our biggest release of the year. Keyword Explorer was a passion project for Moz’s co-founder, Rand, and it shows in the quality of the data and thoughtful workflow. If you do keyword research for SEO or content creation, check out this tool.

1. We launched Keyword Explorer with a rich set of capabilities

Keyword Explorer launched during the first half of the year, and offered some cool benefits right out of the gate:

Keyword Explorer takes you all the way through the keyword research process. Save time and simplify your keyword research process, from discovering keyword ideas to getting metrics to building a list. Once you’ve built a list, filter and prioritize which keywords to target based on the numbers that matter.
Keyword Explorer features metrics essential to the SEO process: two you’re familiar with — Volume and Difficulty — and three that are less familiar: Opportunity, Importance, and Potential. Use these comprehensive metrics to prioritize more effectively and focus your time on the best opportunities.
We built a keyword volume score that goes beyond what AdWords reports with ~95% accuracy. Accurate, trustworthy keyword volume data is getting harder to obtain, but we’re here for you.
Keyword Explorer gathers keyword suggestions from a broad variety of sources, so you can gather a greater variety of keyword ideas from one source.
We invested in strong import and export capabilities, so it’s easy to incorporate Keyword Explorer into your existing keyword research process.

Rand even created a quick demo video to introduce the new capabilities:

And we didn’t stop there. We collected a whole bunch of feedback after launch and built in a ton of new features to make the tool even better:

2. Automatically group Related Keywords

Rather than wading through large volumes of similar keywords and adding each variation to a list, we’ve added auto-grouping as atop any list of keyword suggestions. This is helpful for discovering and focusing on themes, and adding a whole group of related keywords to your own research lists.

3. Check page-one rankings in Keyword Explorer research lists

See if you already rank on page one for they keywords in your lists. This is a hugely valuable data point for prioritizing which keywords to target.

4. Add keywords from your list to a campaign for rank tracking

This was at the top of the list of feature requests at launch. Now you can take the keywords in your carefully cultivated list and add them directly to a campaign for ongoing rank tracking.

5. View improved and expanded keyword volume data

Clickstream-based search behavior, plus data from other sources, combined with our modeling against AdWords’ impression counts on real campaigns, has given us higher accuracy, more coverage, and faster recognition of volume trends than ever before. It also allowed us to calculate search volume data for more countries, with significant coverage for the UK, Canada, and Australia, more moderate data for other Western languages and countries, and a small amount in regions and languages beyond those.

6. Find questions people are asking in search engines

This is great for content ideas, refining existing content, and finding featured snippets you might want to try and win.

*Further reading: Get even more out of your keyword research

Whether you’re using Keyword Explorer or just doing keyword research in general, we’ve posted a few articles this year that can help you improve your research, especially as Google gets more sophisticated:

Keyword Research in 2016: Going Beyond Guesswork
Tactical Keyword Research in a RankBrain World
Moz Keyword Explorer vs. Keyword Planner
Try Keyword Explorer free now
Huge improvements to Rankings: SERP Features, historical timeframes, algo updates, and more!7. Discover and track SERP features

Dr. Pete has been pushing the industry (and us internally) to think beyond 10 blue links. While organic rankings remain a core SEO focus, Google has been adding more and more SERP features to a large proportion of search queries, and as an SEO, you just can’t ignore them anymore. To help provide more visibility to the SERP features and related opportunities, we’ve integrated in-depth SERP feature analysis into the rankings section of your campaigns. Highlights include:

Track the 16 highest-impact desktop SERP features for each keyword ranking you track in a campaign.

View which SERP features show up for the keywords you track, and whether you or your competitors show up in them.

See how different SERP features have trended for the keywords you track. You may find that a certain type of search feature is trending up and is worth attention.

Discover when we think you have an opportunity to show up in a SERP feature and how best to approach it.

8. Get alerted to featured snippet opportunities

Featured snippets appear above organic position #1 and can improve click-through rates for keywords you already rank in the top 10 for. Find the most lucrative opportunities for them in your Campaign Insights list.

*Further reading: Win those featured snippets

If you are interested in featured snippets, I’d recommend a couple of great posts from Dr. Pete:

Ranking #0: SEO for Answers
Featured Snippets from Start to Finish

And SERP Features is just the tip of the iceberg. Almost everything else you see in campaign rankings is new or overhauled.

9. See all of your historical rankings data

We started the year with a significant architectural overhaul of our rankings system. Aside from a faster and more streamlined interface, this also allowed us to support one of our biggest customer requests, and present all historical rankings data. Choose any timeframe to see and report on how your rankings have changed within that period.

10. Overlay Google algo updates on your rankings graphs

See a dramatic change in your rankings overnight? We now leverage the great data from MozCast to show any Google algorithm changes that might be affecting your search presence. Just hover over the little Google “G” to see major and minor update details.

11. Get more from your data with advanced filtering and improved sorting

Easily filter down your long list of rankings by keyword, label, location, or brandedness, and sort them accordingly to get a handle on your data.

12. See search volume data alongside your rankings

This had been a frequent request. We baked in the same powerful search volume data from Keyword Explorer alongside your rankings.

13. View detailed keyword analyses in your campaigns

Our keyword analysis page was completely rebuilt, with some great new additions:

Flexible timeframes, including the ability to view a keyword’s performance at any time in the history of your campaign
Volume and Difficulty scores, powered by Keyword Explorer’s data
Four beautiful graphs: Search Visibility, Highest Ranking Position, Keyword Performance, and SERP Features
An easy-to-read SERP report with callouts for pages on your domain, and those on your competitors’ domains
Faster page loads and improved performance

Intrigued? Take a trial of Moz Pro, free for 30 daysPage Optimization improved again

We made some big upgrades to this section late in 2015, but we weren’t quite done.

14. Discover topics related to your page content

This new tab shown with Page Optimization reports lets you see the topics that your SERP competition is writing about. This can help you understand what kinds of keywords signal topical relevance to Google and provide good ideas for how you can make your content more robust and relevant to searchers. I’m not going to go too deep here, but check out Jon White’s fantastic post for some great tips and examples to get the most from this feature. Rand also shares some great tips in this Whiteboard Friday, Using Related Topics and Semantically Connected Keywords in Your SEO.

15. Dive right into on-page optimization from your rankings

Quickly run page optimization reports and view page optimization scores right from your rankings.

We’ve made Insights better

Our Insights dashboard also underwent some solid improvements in 2016. We continue to surface new insights in this section as we add more capabilities across Moz Pro. Our aim is to make this a powerful section that surfaces new problems and opportunities that we discover as we collect and analyze your data every week.

16. Mark completed insights as “Done”

We heard feedback that many of you were attempting to use Insights as a to-do list, but we didn’t make that very easy. Now you can check off insights from your list once you’ve read or acted upon them. They will then be moved to your Done list, where you can track your completed work.

17. Add tasks to Trello

If you need a more robust workflow, we’ve added a way to quickly add insight tiles to Trello. Trello is a power task management solution, which also happens to be free. I’ve used it quite a bit myself, and happily recommend it.

18. Enjoy a better summary of your weekly rankings

We updated the rankings summary tile to give you a clearer look at your most important ranking changes from week to week.

Reporting got some needed attention

Outside of the more obvious features I’ve shared, we’ve also been working quietly behind the scenes to make our reporting and exports better.

19. Generate “real” PDF reports

Our old PDF export solution was functional, but clunky. It converted page modules into images and then encapsulated them in a PDF. We rebuilt our PDF engine so that PDFs created in Moz Pro include text as text and images as images, offering better editing, copying, and image quality.

20. Customize your rankings CSV exports

We launched updated CSVs for campaign rankings that respect filters as well as time frames. Now you can export just the data you need rather than poring through a massive historical rankings export.

21. Build custom reports more easily with a revamped interface

Adding and managing custom reports is easier to use and easier on the eyes.

22. Get regular insights directly in your inbox

We revamped our weekly email updates, making them cleaner and more informative. They now include both ranking updates and important insights that we discover for you each week. We plan to add more timely information to these as we continue to improve our datasets and refine the logic behind Insights.

The Mozbar got some love

If you can believe it, the Mozbar recently surpassed 400,000 installs. It was due a little bit of attention.

23. Breath easier, we’ve improved Mozbar stability and reliability

Unfortunately, our most beloved tool ran into some stability and login challenges when some unfriendly folks started abusing the service behind it. We invested some quality time to fix up the authentication issues and data inconsistency that were becoming a real frustration for customers.

24. Get On-Page Content Suggestions for any page on the web (brand new!)

We haven’t officially announced this one yet, but if you are a Pro customer and using the Mozbar, you can click on the little analysis icon:

When you enter a keyword, you will now see content suggestions just to the right of the on-page analysis. You can dig in just like in the page analysis section of your Moz Pro campaigns. Use this to beef up your relevance or find new topics to write about.
Start using MozBar for Chrome free todayEven Fresh Web Explorer got an update

Fresh Web Explorer continues to collect syndicated content from across the Web, making it easy to see where and when fresh content has mentioned a specified brand or linked to a domain. On top of that, Fresh Web Explorer’s alerts serve as a great alternative to Google Alerts, sending you an email anytime we see your target brands or keywords mentioned.

25. Show only Google Verified News Sources to reduce noise in your results

Filter your searches and/or alerts to show only those sources/domains we’ve observed in Google News. E.g. here’s a search for Amazon.com with news filtering on (3,067 results in the last 4 weeks) vs. the same search with news filtering off (28,798 results). This can save a lot of time when you’re looking for the most important results.

Beyond these features, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes26. We made significant performance improvements

Our hard-working engineering team rebuilt a lot of the scaffolding behind campaigns, making them much snappier to load. This work continues into 2017. They also squashed dozens of bugs and made myriad small improvements across out tools and campaigns. If you are interested in keeping tabs on new features, fixes, or updates, you can find them all on our Moz Pro Updates page.

27. We now offer free product demos to customers and trialers

The friendly faces now helping you navigate Moz Pro

Another important addition we’ve made to our product isn’t in the product at all. We’ve quietly built out a Customer Success team. This cadre of product experts provide custom demos for new customers that are looking for an overview of Moz Pro, as well as long-time customers that are interested in learning more about new features. If you are interested in a refresher or a full walkthrough, schedule one here!

Also, if you’re looking to level up your SEO skills or get some deeper support in using Moz tools to tackle your SEO strategy, we’re actively working on more paid training options. Stay tuned!

So, what’s up next?

I hope you’re still with me, because I’ve got a bit more to share. Here are some of the big things to expect in 2017.

A rebuilt and re-imagined Custom Crawl

One of the big projects that our team has been busy with in 2016 is a total rewrite of our custom crawler. This is already being looked at by a few customers in a very limited alpha release. We still have a lot to add to it before it’s ready to go, but here are some of the benefits that we’ve already baked in:

A much faster and more resilient crawler. Whether your site is hundreds or millions of pages, expect your crawls much more quickly and reliably.
The ability to compare one crawl to the next and see what new issues have cropped up and which were confirmed as fixed.
A much simpler interface to access your data quickly and easily.
A bunch of other features are in the works to support deeper analysis and customization. More to come soon!
“Keyword Universe”

Cool code name, but what the heck is it?

Do you ever wonder which keywords you already rank for? Which ones your competitors rank for? Who are your SEO competitors? Answer these questions and more with this new data set, which we plan to expose in a number of different ways throughout Moz Pro and in our data products. If you’re curious about accessing this sort of data, please let us know!

What about links?

We’ve got some improvements in the works here too, but we’re keeping this under our hats for now.

And much more…

Beyond these large efforts, we will continue to make updates and improvements large and small throughout the year.

Please let us know what you need most!

We are constantly collecting feedback and looking to solve the most challenging problems that our customers face. Please let us know what’s working for you, what isn’t, and what you need most to be successful with your SEO efforts. You can add your thoughts in the comments here, or message me directly. While we can’t get to everything right away, we are always listening and prioritizing what to work on next.

Thanks for reading. I hope you all have a fantastic 2017!

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!

Why You Need to Focus on Video Marketing in 2017 [Infographic]

2017-year-of-video-compressor.jpg

2016 saw a surge in the popularity of video as a content marketing format. From 360-degree videos to Facebook Live, marketers are responding to audiences’ shorter attention spans by making content more interactive and visual — and it’s paying off.

Video is growing to dominate your audience’s online activity: 78% of people watch videos online every week, and 55% watch videos online every day. If you don’t already have a video marketing strategy in place for your website and social media, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity to reach and engage with your audience. Check out our interactive guide to creating high-quality videos for social  media here.

HighQ created the following infographic that illustrates why 2017 will be the year of video marketing. Learn about just how many videos are watched on social media every day (hint: it’s a lot) and how other marketers are using video to achieve their goals.

2017-The-Year-of-Video-Marketing-infographic-HighQ.png

free guide: how to use facebook live

3 Traits That Separate the Best Leaders from Average Ones

The best leaders seem to possess an elusive mix of qualities that resist precise categorization.

It feels like every week there’s a new study or book discussing what the best leaders do and don’t do, but what if there was a more data-driven approach to identifying pivotal indicators of successful leadership?

New data from Russell Reynolds Associates and Hogan Assessment Systems sheds some light on what separates the best leaders from average ones. By analyzing interviews, resumes, and multiple personality assessment questionnaires, researchers constructed in-depth psychometric profiles of 200 CEOs from around the world. They then validated the trends in an additional sample of 700 CEOs from Hogan’s global database.

The final results, published in Harvard Business Review, reveal three major indicators of successful CEOs. Although there is no single perfect profile of a successful leader, the following qualities are usually associated with high-performing chief executives. Check them out below to see where you stand. 

3 Successful Leadership Indicators
1) They have a strong sense of purpose, passion, and urgency.

The worst thing a CEO can do, according to a related study on CEO transitions by McKinsey & Company, is “sit on their hands.” The best CEOs move swiftly and decisively towards their personal and professional goals, never losing sight of their organization’s core purpose or wavering in their desire for change. 

Let’s break these specific qualities down to examine each individually:

Purpose

Think of purpose like an internal compass, guiding a leader’s actions and keeping them focused on the big picture objectives that impact their organization’s bottom line. The best leaders have an innate ability to understand how different components of their organizations contribute to long term goals, and they’re comfortable taking ownership of those larger missions. 

Passion

How do you measure passion? It’s tricky, but researchers found that leaders who worked towards their organizational goals with intensity and genuine excitement were more successful overall.

Passion keeps leaders personally invested in the success of their organizations. It helps foster a profound sense of ownership over the changes they initiate, and motivates them to nurture those initiatives with enthusiasm and conviction. 

Urgency

Researchers found that urgency often manifested in successful CEOs as impatience and a consistent eagerness to drive progress. Most quality leaders are experts at mobilizing their teams, but the very best leaders are driven by a constant and deeply personal need to move things forward and seek new developments.

They aren’t satisfied with moving slowly or with too much caution — they understand the importance of staying nimble and pushing their organizations towards transformative change. It’s important to note, however, that the best leaders don’t just make unreasonably impulsive decisions — they take measured risks to move their organizations into the future and keep ahead of the competition. 

2) They know how to sift through information and find the most important parts.

Leaders are responsible for managing potentially overwhelming amounts of information on a daily basis. Their responsibilities are broad and widely varied, requiring them to simultaneously oversee a number of initiatives and projects without losing focus on their organization’s core objectives.

With so many moving parts to keep track of, leaders need to make tough decisions about what to prioritize. And this requires an innate ability to sift through information and make firm, confident choices about how to move their organizations forward.

The most successful leaders have an elevated capacity to “separate the signal from the noise,” as the Russell Reynolds Associates study summarized it. “Great CEOs have a ‘nose’ for what are the most significant issues, challenges, threats, and opportunities facing an organization,” Dean Stamoulis, the leader of Russell Reynolds Associates, wrote in Harvard Business Review.

While it might seem like it sometimes, successful leaders don’t exactly have a psychic power that enables them to make the best decisions — but they do know how to examine many different sources of information and make clear, largely independent decisions they can proudly stand behind. The best leaders navigate the complex demands of their roles with a heightened decisiveness that sets them apart from the pack.

3) They are humble, always learning, and master collaborators.

This might conflict with the conventional view of the chief executive as an extroverted and wildly independent commander, but the Russell Reynolds Associates study found that these leadership qualities were related to favorable organizational results.

The best leaders are more than capable of acting independently, but they are self-aware enough to know that they can’t possibly know or do everything. To compensate for the gaps in their knowledge, they aren’t afraid to turn to advisors and employees to seek new ideas and points of view. They are constantly in pursuit of the best new ideas, and they don’t care if those ideas come from themselves or from someone else.

Coupled with this open mindedness is a desire to always be absorbing new information, honing new skills, and bettering their own abilities through constant learning. The best leaders are not content to operate solely on what they currently know — they recognize that the demands of their position are always changing, and they need to better themselves to keep their organizations successful.

So what does constant learning look like? It’s more than just reading new books and listening to podcasts. The most successful leaders learn from the people around them by engaging with projects at every level and surrounding themselves with people who aren’t afraid to challenge even their most closely held ideas.

It’s this consistent intellectual immersion that keep leaders on their toes, forcing them to reevaluate, defend, and question what they know.

What traits do you look for in a leader?

client-intake-download

A comprehensive guide to SSL certificates

Need to secure your site, but not sure where to start? Check out columnist Stephanie LeVonne’s helpful guide to SSL certificates and get informed.

The post A comprehensive guide to SSL certificates appeared first on Search Engine Land.

9 Technologies E-Commerce Marketers Must Use in 2017 and Beyond

New technologies are about to bring a paradigm shift in the online shopping space. Marketers need to keep track of these technologies and embrace disruptive trends to stay relevant. The article highlights some of these technology trends.

The post 9 Technologies E-Commerce Marketers Must Use in 2017 and Beyond appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Get your digital transformation efforts in full gear by attending the MarTech Conference!

Here’s to a great 2017 full of learning, growing and driving digital transformation! Register for MarTech San Francisco today and get the best deals on All Access Passes. Looking forward to seeing you May 9–11 at the world’s premier marketing technology conference!

The post Get your digital transformation efforts in full gear by attending the MarTech Conference! appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Bing Wants to Keep People Healthy in the New Year With These New Search Features by @MattGSouthern

Bing announced a series of updates to its search results designed to make it easier for people to find health and fitness information.

The post Bing Wants to Keep People Healthy in the New Year With These New Search Features by @MattGSouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Using Google Analytics’ Enhanced Ecommerce Features

You’re already an SEO sensei. You’re a content creator, PPC pro, marketing maven, and analytics ace. If you need it for online success, you’re aware of it and on top of it.

But if you’re only using “regular” old Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a ton of valuable and free data that could help you increase revenue, engagement, and clicks. That’s the ecommerce trifecta. How do you get there?

Three words: enhanced ecommerce plugin.

Introduced about two years ago, the Google Analytics enhanced ecommerce plugin – or ec.js – offers up the kind of data you could only dream of in the past. And yet, many ecommerce sites still aren’t using it.

Out With the Old

The old way: Analytics collected data after a purchase, typically using a destination goal (such as your “thanks for buying!” page). You could track number of impressions, the conversion rate, and the value of those sales.

That’s all helpful stuff, no doubt. If you’re an intermediate user, you might even be tracking, comparing, and analyzing other statistics to guide your marketing. Nothing wrong with that.

But as an ecommerce site, wouldn’t it be nice to have beneficial data about customer behavior before they buy?

Enter the ec.js plugin.

The new way: the entire customer journey – from arriving at a page, through research, evaluation, purchase, and even returns – is tracked and collected.

What Can the Plugin Do?

A little bit of everything you need:

Customer behavior at every stage of the funnel – before, during, and after a purchase.
Detailed reports on average order value, percentage of visitors who added items to the carts, average number of items in an order, affiliate records (number of transactions, revenue, and AOV from affiliates sending traffic to your portal), and cart abandonment rates.
How, when, and where customers are initiating a purchase and/or abandoning it – at which step in your funnel are you losing them?
Engagement – views and purchases.
Product coupon reports to see transactions and profit revenue per order (are coupons actually helping?).
And more…

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it’s all there for the taking. The only issue is that installation is a lot more complicated than just turning it on.

For our purposes here, I’m going to assume you’re familiar with the basics of Analytics.

Installing the Enhanced Ecommerce Plugin

Let’s not beat around the bush: this is not easy, quick, or simple. It requires an understanding of javascript and coding that not everyone possesses. Avoid the headaches and frustration that will inevitably come with doing it yourself and consider outsourcing to an experienced web developer that can handle the tricky bits for you.

Alternatively, if you’re lucky, your ecommerce platform may be one with built-in integration, including:

Shopify and their paid Actionable Google Analytics app for $39/month.
WordPress with WooCommerce users can try the Enhanced Ecommerce Google Analytics Plugin.
Magento and their Enhanced Ecommerce extension.

The Enhanced Ecommerce plugin should not be used with the Ecommerce plugin (which tracks transaction and item data). If you previously implemented the Ecommerce plugin, you should either create and use a new property (and work with multiple trackers), or migrate your existing property from Ecommerce to Enhanced Ecommerce (by removing and replacing references with the enhanced code).

If you opt for the DIY route, installing the plugin can be accomplished in three steps:

Ensure you’re using Universal Analytics, as ec.js will only work with that protocol. If you’re still using Classic Analytics, you need to update to Universal (you’ll see a
“Universal Analytics Upgrade” link in the Property column on the Admin tab).
Install the appropriate ec.js tracking code on every page of your website that you want to track.
Once everything’s in place, enable Enhanced Ecommerce Settings on Analytics under Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings.

And done (if only it were that easy). Unfortunately, it’s that second step that can cause you to pull your hair out.

To load the enhanced ecommerce plugin, use the command ga(‘require’, ‘ec’); after you create your tracker object and before you use any of the specific functionality in your Analytics tracking code.

ecommerce-plugin-command-google-analytics

Within your tracking code, the order is all important:

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXXXXXX-X’, ‘auto’); command to create your tracking code must come first
ga(‘require’, ‘ec’); command for the enhanced ecommerce plugin must follow it
Specific plugin commands appear next (more on this below)
Finally, near the bottom, you need a command to send the data to Analytics such as ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);

You create the tracker code, load the ec.js plugin, execute the specific function(s), and then send the data, in that – and only that – sequence. Otherwise, there’s no joy.

The features of the enhanced ecommerce plugin are too extensive to examine them all here. Instead, let’s take a look at some of the best functions to try out first.

The Plugin Data Types

There are four categories of data you can collect for Analytics using the ec.js, and actions such as click, add, remove, checkout, purchase, and refund can further allow you to understand collected data falling under product or promotion.

Impressions

Information on products that have been viewed, and referred to as an impressionFieldObject.

google-analytics-ecommerce-plugin-impressions

Product

Data on the individual products viewed, added to cart, and so on. Referred to as a productFieldObject.

google-analytics-ecommerce-plugin-product

Promotion

Information about viewed promotions, and referred to as a promoFieldObject.

google-analytics-ecommerce-plugin-promotion

Action

Details about action related specifically to ecommerce, and referred to as an actionFieldObject.

google-analytics-ecommerce-plugin-action

The Plugin Features

With the Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce plugin, you can track a wide variety of events and actions with the proper command added to the tracking code. The devil in the details, of course, is finding the right command for the right page for the right feature.

Under Conversions > Ecommerce on the Analytics Reporting page, you’ll find two incredibly valuable reports to assist your business and get you started.

Shopping Behavior Analysis

This report shows concrete statistics on how many customers moved from one stage to the next of your sales funnel.

google-analytics-ecomerce-implemention-funnel

Here, you’ll see how many sessions occurred during a set period of time, how many of those left without shopping (looking at products), how many sessions with product views, how many left without adding anything to their cart, how many did add something to their cart, how many of those abandoned it, how many initiated checkout, how many abandoned checkout, and ultimately how many sessions ended in a successful transaction (a purchase was made).

Did you know? With Kissmetrics Analytics, you’ll see who drops out of your funnel. Identify where you’re losing customers, and retarget them using our MailChimp integration.


Why Is Shopping Behavior Important?
Having a clear idea of where you’re losing visitors in your funnel can give you insight on how to fix it.

Lots of product views, but most leaving without adding anything to their cart? Evaluate the strength of your product descriptions, and/or consider adding product reviews, testimonials, or tutorials right on the page.

Too many people abandoning their cart without checkout? Perhaps throw in free shipping, volume discounts, BOGO promotions, or compare to check if your prices are competitive.

Checkouts initiated but then abandoned? Simplify and streamline the process. Eliminate hidden fees and surprises. Make it easy for them to buy.

Setting It Up
In order to collect the necessary data, you’ll need to implement the following commands to the following pages:

Measure Impressions on Products: use the ‘ec:addImpression’ command, along with the product ID or name. All other fields are optional. This will track the times that a visitor sees a product in a list (category page, search results, top sellers…anywhere other than its dedicated page). Where: any page where the product is listed.
Measure Clicks on Specific Products: use the ‘ec:addProduct’ command (with ID and/or name) followed by the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘click’ command. Where: any page where the product is listed. Ask your developer to use the ‘onClick’ event handler to tie the ‘onProductClick’ function.
Measure Product Detail Views: use the ‘ec:addProduct’ command followed by the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘detail’ to measure the product page views. Where: the dedicated product page.
Measure Items to Cart: use ‘ec:addProduct’ followed by ‘ec:setAction’, ‘add’ command. Ask your developer to use the ‘onClick’ event handler to tie the ‘addToCart’ function.
Where: each dedicated product page “add” button.
Measure Checkouts Initiated: use ‘ec:addProduct’ followed by the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘checkout’, {‘step’:1} command.
Measure Completed Purchases: use ‘ec:addProduct’ followed by the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘purchase’ command.

Easy and straightforward? Not at all. But seeing exactly where your numbers are dropping or bottlenecking in the funnel makes it all worthwhile.

Checkout Behavior Analysis

This report functions much like the Shopping Behavior, but it focuses strictly on the steps involved in your checkout.

ecommerce-settings-google-analytics

Before we go any further, you need to ensure the steps of your checkout are filled in on Analytics under Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings.

Assign each step a straightforward name such as “Shipping Details”, “Payment Options”, and “Confirmation”.

Each page in your checkout funnel requires its own tracking code with appropriate plugin commands.

Use ‘ec:addProduct’ followed by the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘checkout’, {‘step’:1} command for the first page, changing the step number with each subsequent page as you move through it.

As much as 70% will abandon their shopping cart for some reason. They may be annoyed by a redirected checkout (taking them to a different domain), concerned about a sketchy looking URL (aim for www.yoursite.com/checkout), unhappy with unexpected charges or other surprises introduced at this late stage, or irritated by a multi or single page process (it’s worth A/B testing to determine which your customers prefer).

Another dealbreaker for many is a lack of guest checkout. Don’t force visitors to create an account with you before making a purchase, as 23% will abandon their cart according to Forrester Research. Ideally, provide them with both options (create an account, or checkout quickly as a guest).

With the Checkout Behavior report, you can see concrete numbers for each step: how many made it to step one, what was the drop-off for step two, and so on.

If you see, for example, that the bulk of your abandoned carts occur at payment options, perhaps you need to provide more choice for your customers. If too many are walking at the shipping page, you might need to offer cheaper options. Use the data to give your customers what they seem to be craving.

Other Tracking Features

The plugin does more: track refunds with the ‘ec:setAction’, ‘refund’ command, monitor products removed from carts with ‘ec:setAction’, ‘remove’, analyze product performance, internal promotions, affiliate performances, coupon effectiveness, and much, much more.

There’s more than we could possibly list here. And each one demands its own unique set of scripts and commands.

Truthfully, the complexity and required level of expertise is well beyond the average Analytics user. A knowledgeable web developer is worth their weight in gold here. They can automatically populate product details, create the necessary scripts, and troubleshoot problems as they occur. Remember the old adage: you’ve got to spend money to make money.

Your ecommerce performance data is worth the investment. That which gets monitored gets managed, right? If you don’t know where and when you’re bleeding customers and prospects, you have no chance of figuring out why. The enhanced ecommerce plugin makes it possible to track every step of a customer’s journey, from impression to transaction. Before, during, and after. That kind of data is priceless.

Feeling a bit overwhelmed? The free online Ecommerce Analytics course from Google (there are several others, including one on the Fundamentals) can give you a good introduction. Even if you’re planning on outsourcing everything, it’s a wise idea to gain at least a rudimentary understanding of what’s going on under the hood.

After all, this is your business. And the enhanced plugin gives you the tools to make it stronger, better, and more profitable.

Easy? Heck no. But nothing worthwhile ever is.

Have you implemented the Enhanced Ecommerce plugin for Google Analytics? What obstacles – and solutions – did you encounter? Leave your comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.