Sunday, October 22, 2017

25 Last-Minute DIY Halloween Costume Ideas for Tech Geeks & Marketers

Halloween is a fun holiday, and it doesn't get the attention it deserves. It doesn't have recognizable songs or vacation days associated with it, and it falls on a busy time of year for most people in the workforce.

But that doesn't mean you should skip the festivities at your office Halloween celebration. How many days of the year are you encouraged to dress up and goof around at work? Probably zero.

We want you to have fun this Halloween, so we're taking the work out if it for you. We've compiled a list of DIY Halloween costume ideas that are easy to put together, inexpensive, and work appropriate. As a bonus, many are marketing and technology-themed, so even if your family and friends don't get your costume, your colleagues definitely will.

25 Last-Minute Office Halloween Costumes for Marketers & Tech Geeks

Evergreen Office Costumes

1) Alt Text

This was HubSpot Director of Offsite Content Corey Wainwright's office Halloween costume a couple of years ago. It's great because you don't even look dressed up if you have a casual office dress code, so you can just blend in.

All you need is to dress in 90s alternative garb -- she went with black jeans, combat boots, and a flannel -- and tape a piece of paper to yourself that says something like img2017.jpg. Or if you want to follow best practice for good alt text, you can put something more descriptive, like "alt_text." Your choice, you SEO rebel, you.

2) SEO Ninja

Speaking of dorking out on SEO, you could be everyone's favorite LinkedIn title -- the SEO ninja. Dress in all black, put on a black ski mask (kinda creepy if you already have one, but we don't judge here), and tape keywords all over yourself.

3) Mobile App

Wander around holding an appetizer -- candy, cheese and crackers, chips and dip ... whatever you have on hand. Boom. You're a mobile "app."

This costume also doubles as a great way to introduce yourself and make friends at a party.

mobile-app-costume.png

Source: Opportunity Max

4) Instagram

Another way to turn handing out food into a costume: Dress up like a hipster and hand out graham crackers.

5) Ghostwriter

Grab a white sheet and cut a hole for your head and arms. Dob some black ink spots on the sheet, get a book and one of those feather quills (or just get a feather, I suppose), and you're a ghostwriter.

6) Whitespace

Dress in all white -- add white face paint and a white wig if you're ultra-committed. Then add a hint of color somewhere on the outfit, like a colored tie or scarf, or even a paint splotch. That color splotch will make the white space more prominent, transforming you into "whitespace."

7) Error 404 Page

You've most likely encountered a funny error 404 page before, and you can make it a funny costume, too. Grab a sheet of paper, write "Error 404: Costume Not Found," and tape it to your outfit.

 

A photo posted by RachAel Klopfenstein (@theklopf) on Sep 5, 2015 at 12:33pm PDT

8) (Monty) Python

If you're into programming code, British comedy, and low-effort costumes, being (Monty) Python is perfect. Dress up in anything remotely snakelike in your closet: olive green clothing, snakeskin accessories, and fake vampire teeth that can serve as your fangs.

Then, to amp up the dork factor on this costume, add two coconuts or a gold chalice to embody Monty Python on his quest for the Holy Grail.

9) Facebook

Grab face paint or eyeliner and write "book" across your cheeks. Just like that, you're the world's biggest social network for Halloween.

And for your sake, we hope your colleagues actually get it:

Halloween-Jim_Bookface-Jim.jpg

Source: AndPop

10) Unicorn

Here's another tech-friendly, double-entendre costume: Be your own version of a tech unicorn. Here at HubSpot, we love this tech icon, and you can easily make your own version of a unicorn horn with help from this article.

aid2617087-v4-900px-Make-a-Unicorn-Horn-Step-10-Version-3.jpg

Source: WikiHow

11) Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are nothing to joke about -- they can seriously threaten your technology and data security. But on Halloween, you can dress up as a play on phishing emails for an easy DIY costume. All you need are a stick, a piece of string, and an envelope. Bonus points if you own a bucket hat and vest to complete the ensemble.

12) Copycat

Here's a technology spin on a classic Halloween costume. All you'll need are cat ears, eyeliner-drawn whiskers, and a sheet of paper. Write "Control + C" on the paper, tape it to your outfit, and you're a copycat.

sub-buzz-22134-1476718504-4.jpg

Source: BuzzFeed

13) Fully Vested

If you work in a company where people would get the joke, put on a bunch of vests (at least three, but even more is encouraged), and that's about it. You're fully vested.

14) Nerd

What I love about the nerd costume is that it's effortless and always unique -- there are many ways to be a nerd in this day and age. Are you a tech nerd, a video game nerd, or a book nerd? The sky is the limit with this costume. Show up wearing glasses with your favorite accessories, such as a magic wand, book, or lightsaber, to complete the effect.

Topical Office Costumes

15) The 2017 Solar Eclipse

This summer, the solar eclipse took over the internet -- and the country. As millions of people flocked to the path of totality to (hopefully) catch a glimpse of this rare event without burning their corneas, millions more made jokes about it on social media.

For this costume, you'll need a work pal to dress up as the sun and the moon with you. One of you wears black, the other wears yellow, and you both wear dark sunglasses. Then, at the Halloween party, the one dressed in black spends the whole time standing in front of the one in yellow.

annular-solar-eclipse-promo.jpg

Source: CBS News

16) The 'Evil Kermit' Meme

If you haven't heard of this mega-popular meme this year, you've probably seen it somewhere: It features Kermit the Frog, face-to-face with his evil twin, Evil Kermit. Evil Kermit looks identical, except for the black cloak.

evil kermit halloween.png

For this costume, you and a coworker can keep it simple: You both wear green shirts, and one of you wears a black hoodie or jacket on top. If you really want to commit to the costume, you'll spring for some green face paint to complete the ensemble. Walk around the party together, facing one another, for maximum effect.

17) Eleven from Stranger Things

Eleven from Netflix's hit series Stranger Things is universally beloved, and it's a bonus that her signature look is a comfortable and easy-to-assemble costume. Rock your best Eleven with a dress, a denim jacket, and a box of Eggo Waffles.

the-stranger-things-actress-behind-eleven-doesnt-love-eating-tons-of-eggo-waffles.png

Source: Business Insider

18) Pokémon GO Trainer

Pokémon GO had roughly 45 million people walking around in cities glued to their phones last summer (and I was among them). To pay homage to the explosion of this tech trend, you'll need a t-shirt that's red, yellow, or blue. Using fabric paint or permanent marker, write Valor (for red), Instinct (for yellow), or Mystic (for blue) on your shirt. Spend Halloween walking around pointing your phone at objects, and you're the spitting image of a Pokémon GO trainer.

Gotta catch 'em all, right?

 

A photo posted by Odinia (@marshmallowsie) on Aug 9, 2016 at 4:44pm PDT

 

Group Office Costumes

19) Google Algorithm Update

Find a couple of office buddies for this one -- one panda, one penguin, and one pigeon. You might be thinking, "what the heck is the pigeon algorithm update?" 1) It's a thing, and 2) we checked Amazon for hummingbird costumes and there aren't any cheap ones available.

google-algorithm-update-halloween-costumes.jpg

Source: Opportunity Max

20) Black and White Hat SEO

This is another SEO-related costume, and I think you can figure this one out on your own. I recommend wearing a black hat for one, and a white hat for the other, and having "SEO" embroidered on each one -- which you can easily custom order.

21) Dancing Girls Emoji

If you're the owner of one of the nearly more than 1 billion Apple iPhones sold worldwide, you're probably familiar with the dancing girls emoji:

Screen Shot 2016-10-25 at 2.13.14 PM.png

Source: Brit + Co

The easiest version of this costume is to find a buddy and dress all in black together. If you're committed to emoji authenticity, buy black bunny ears to complete the look.

22) Series A Round of Funding

Get a bunch of people together, write the letter "A" on your shirt, and line up. (You could do subsequent funding rounds using the same principle, too.)

23) Snapchat Filters

Here's another group costume idea that pays tribute to Snapchat's filters feature.

There are numerous options that you and your team can choose from to embody this costume. You could dress up as vomiting rainbows, cat and dog ears, a flower crown, or a face swap, and this could be as DIY or store-bought as you're interested in pursuing. For example, here's some inspiration for a couple of the dog filters:

snapchatfilter.jpg
Source: PopSugar

24) Snapchat Ghosts

Put a marketing spin on a classic Halloween costume by arriving as a Snapchat ghost. You'll all need a white sheet and to pick which ghost you like the most.

maxresdefault-24.jpg

Source: YouTube

25) Instagram Filters

For this group costume, you'll need white t-shirts and fabric markers. Draw an Instagram photo frame on the front of your shirts, and each team member can write a different Instagram filter's name inside the photo frame. Or, create frame props with different filters on them like the group did below:

M-nahalloween-1.jpg

Source: Nails Magazine

Friday, October 20, 2017

Increase Your Lead Conversion Rate: Prepare for Success in 2018

Digital marketingIt’s never too early to start planning for new ways to increase lead generation in 2018. In fact, having a digital marketing strategy ready and waiting is the best way to start off the new year. 2017 has given you the opportunity to identify what’s worked, what hasn’t and what needs improvement. You have the data, the analytics and the metrics to decide where to focus your efforts. Now it’s just a matter of revamping your inbound marketing strategy with a combination of proven strategies and new approaches to increase lead conversion. 

Don’t get stuck with the same tired approaches. Expand your horizons. Think outside the box and investigate some of the new lead generation approaches. There will always be a place for proven strategies like email marketing, content marketing and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. 

However, increasing PageRank isn’t merely a question of increasing organic and paid traffic. It’s about improving your customer’s experience, increasing customer engagement and about using a customer-centric digital marketing mindset, one where your inbound marketing strategy is driven by your customers. Knowing what they like, dislike, and the technologies they prefer will go a long way to ensuring 2018 is a success. So, how should you get started?

Review Your Marketing Technology (Martech) Stack 

How do your customers communicate with the outside world? What technologies do your customers prefer? Knowing the type of tools your customers use and rely upon is vital to ensuring your inbound marketing strategy is optimized. Maybe your customers prefer to communicate via the apps on their smartphones. Maybe they prefer real-time options like Twitter. Maybe they’re gravitating to your competitors because they offer live chat. Understanding the gap in your martech stack goes a long way to ensuring that your entire digital strategy is optimized for your customers and market. This is the critical first step to making sure your company is adopting a customer-centric digital strategy. 

Focus on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

No, CRO is not an outdated approach, and no, it’s not something that will put your company in direct conflict with a customer-centric mindset. All CRO implies is that you’ll continue to raise the bar and identify new ways to improve your conversion rates. It means you’re willing to deep dive into what works, what isn’t working but should, what should be abandoned altogether and replaced, and what you can’t optimize any further. While it sounds involved, it’s really just a matter of applying some common sense. Here are some strategies to help you make CRO a goal in 2018.

1. A/B Split Testing: Test everything. Test your call-to-action, your PPC campaigns, your content, your email marketing campaigns and every digital strategy you use. The more you test, the more likely you are to optimize that specific strategy. If you’ve segmented your customer base into buyer personas, then you’ll be able to do A/B split testing across all your personas. Take the analysis all the way to your conversion rates. Don’t stop at the individual strategy. Make it a point to test all the way to the end of the line. 

2. Speed of Response: Somewhere along the way digital marketing teams have forgotten about the importance of speed. It’s not just about your speed of response but also about the speed of your website and mobile platforms. As lead conversion becomes more complex, and the company’s martech stack more complete, it’s common to lose sight of the importance of a speedy platform. Be sure to check the page load times for each of your landing pages. Website performance monitoring sites like Pingdom can track your landing page’s performance by providing an in-depth review of the gaps in page load times. 

3. Know your audience:  One of the tools we like to use at Connection Model is a software program that heatmaps the "user experience".  It provides us with insight on how each visitor intereacts with your site, what they feel is relevant or pertinent to their visit and then we reprioritize the layout, menu or options based upon aggregated user feedback

4. Simplicity, Clarity, and Purpose: Think about why some of your digital marketing strategies under-performed in 2017. Focus on some of the landing pages that failed to capture your audience’s attention. More than likely they missed the mark because of a lack of clarity and purpose. Landing pages with too many offers confuse visitors and lack clarity. Redundant messages distract prospects. Another issue can be summarized by too many links and a page that’s simply too busy to keep your audience engaged. 

Focus on simplicity. Identify whom you’re targeting and why. Make sure your entire solution is centered around a single solution. Cut down on the redundancy of your offer and the overselling of your product or service. Keep it simple, to-the-point and focused on what your buyer personas want, need and value. Take that analysis beyond your landing page and use it with all your digital strategies. This means using simplicity, clarity, and purpose when producing content, email campaigns and when putting together your digital advertisements. 

Digital marketing

5. Back to Basics: It’s easy to get sidetracked and ignore the basics when you’re managing multiple channels and trying to appeal to different buyer personas. Now’s the time to take a step back. Review your sales copy. Revamp your calls to action.  Revisit some of your content pieces and eliminate redundant and repetitive content. Recommit yourself to originality by using your own videos and images. 

Leverage customer testimonials and focus on how you can reconnect with specific buyer personas. Determine where conversion rates on specific landing pages are less than acceptable and why. Did you clearly convey your product’s value? Did you fail to create a sense of urgency with your offers? Were your special discounts, rebates, and promotions not enticing enough? Did you ignore the importance of social media? Did you employ too much of a sales pitch and not enough of a branding strategy? 

Understanding where you went wrong allows you to itemize the strategies you must improve in 2018 and beyond. Now is that time. 

Increasing conversion rates doesn't merely involve scrapping your entire inbound marketing strategy and starting from scratch. It means identifying what's working. It means backtracking results and seeing where you went wrong and it means having the martech stack to keep up with your customer's communication demands. 

If you need help upgrading or revamping your inbound marketing strategy, then call us and request an assessment. Find out how we can help your business grow in 2018.

Are Amazon 'Sponsored Products' Ads Worth It?

 

Say you're in the market for a new pair of headphones or a new guitar tuner. Where would you start your search? Google, right?

Not so fast. According to a 2016 survey of 2,000 consumers, 55% of people actually skip Google altogether and start their online shopping searches directly on Amazon. Google still remains the top search tool for B2B purchases and services, but Amazon is steadily overtaking them in the B2C market.

Need help getting started with inbound ads on Amazon, Google, LinkedIn, or Facebook? Book a free meeting with The Center for Inbound Advertising here.

So what does this mean for you, the advertiser?

When you’re thinking about your online advertising strategy, you want to meet your consumers where they are. And if you're a B2C company, that place is -- more likely than not -- Amazon.

Google and Facebook still command the biggest slice of the pie in the online ad market, generating respective revenues of $80 billion and $27 billion in 2016. But the two tech giants only control around 20% of the market, leaving plenty of room for a new player (say, Amazon) to emerge.

Experts estimated that Amazon earned around $1 billion from ads in 2016, but some say that number will surpass $2.5 billion in 2017. They're on the fast track for exponential growth in the coming years, but since they're still not officially a major player in the online ad business, there's an incredible opportunity for advertisers to get in early and score better ad positions at a lower cost than more established properties like Google AdWords.

Who can benefit the most?

If you are an e-commerce company, advertising on Amazon is something you should definitely explore. B2B companies, consulting firms, lawyers, others will still see better ad returns on more established properties like Google, LinkedIn, and Facebook at the moment.

Getting Started With Amazon Ads

Amazon has several advertising programs to chose from, but the best one to get started with is Amazon Sponsored Products. The Sponsored Product ads are really just image ads -- similar to display ads in Google Adwords -- but the cool thing is that they appear in search results on Amazon right next to the searched products. So when I do a search for “guitar tuners” in Amazon I get this: 

The only visible difference between the sponsored and the non-sponsored results is the gray “Sponsored” tag that appears above the product title. You'll also see sponsored products can appear in the sidebar.

The same search in Google yields this: 

 

The process for Amazon Sponsored Products is very similar to advertising on Google AdWords: you select keywords, and your ad will show up when someone searches for them. Like AdWords, you pay only for the clicks you receive on your ad.

And when someone clicks on your Sponsored Product Ad, they're sent to your landing page, which would typically be your Amazon product detail page. You could also send them outside to a page on your website if you choose.

You Might See Better Results on Amazon vs. Google AdWords

A major difference between Google AdWords and Amazon ads is where people current sit in the purchasing process when they search on each platform.

People searching on Google are more likely to be at the beginning of the buyer's journey, i.e., they just began their search and or are currently just browsing for solutions/products. But when someone begins their search on Amazon, that person is usually more prepared to make a purchasing descision.

Building Your Amazon Ad

Amazon provides a complete introduction to getting started you can see that here.

But just to highlight the process:

  • You will need to have an active seller account on Amazon.
  • You need to have active product listings in at least one of Amazon’s product categories.
  • You need to have Buy Box.

The Buy Box is the box on a Amazon product detail page where customers can begin the purchasing process by adding items to their shopping carts.

Some Nuts and Bolts: Keywords, Ad groups, and Bidding

Just like Google AdWords, Amazon sponsored products uses keywords to trigger your ads. You can choose automatic targeting -- letting Amazon choose your keywords for you (this is the right choice for new advertisers), or you can choose manual targeting -- where you choose your own keywords (a good choice after you have accumulated some data from a running campaign).

There are three types of keyword matching: broad, phrase, exact.

Ad groups are used to group SKUs together for automatic or manual targeting.

Reporting in Amazon Ads

Amazon will also provide advertisers with data about searches for particular keywords. Similar to Google AdWords, you have to be an advertiser to get access to this informative data. The data includes which search terms are working and performing the best, enabling you to add new keywords and refine the performance of your campaigns.

For each keyword, the search terms report will include data on:

  • Campaign
  • Ad group
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Click thru rate
  • Cost per click
  • Conversions/number of orders placed
  • SKU for the sale
  • And more

 

The Dollars Make Sense

While Google and Facebook (and even LinkedIn) dominate the marketplace in online advertising, that dominance comes with a corresponding higher cost-per-click. According to content26.com, “the average CPCs on Amazon Marketing Services was about 38% lower than Google Adwords”.

Why is this? Google AdWords has been around for over 15 years, and originally cost-per-click was not very high. But with increased visibility and popularity of the platform, CPC rates have continued to rise along with the number of advertisers. This means more and more advertisers are competing for the same amount of space.

Amazon is just getting into the game, having only been around advertising-wise for about five years. The number of advertisers seeking space on the platform is much lower than Google, which means less competition. In addition, the advertising on Amazon is only focused on products, which means less competition from related services like you see regularly on Google AdWords.

All of this implies a lower cost-per-click for advertisers of products on Amazon.

Plus, while Amazon uses past performance and sales on Amazon to determine positioning, sponsored content on Amazon can turbocharge newer and smaller companies and get them more consumer attention. You can use sponsored content to help push your listing to the top of the search results.

Get In Early

If you have a product to sell, now is the time to consider using Amazon sponsored products ads. You can get in relatively early, at a lower cost-per-click, and have a chance to promote new products at the top of an Amazon search. It’s still very early days for Amazon advertising -- this creates a big opportunity.

For more information about inbound advertising on Amazon or any of the other platforms - AdWords, LinkedIn, or Facebook you can arrange a meeting with me here -- there is no charge for these meetings.

Which Social Media Network Makes Us Feel the Worst? [New Data]

I cannot tell you the number of times I've deactivated Facebook, re-joined, and deactivated again, only to repeat the process. 

It began last fall, where much of social media was full of contention and -- as it was later revealed -- dripping with promoted political content with links to Russia.

Everyone was digitally screaming at each other, loathing and lamenting until, come November, I thought to myself, "Enough already. I'm outta here."

Sound familiar to anyone?Click here to learn about using social media in every stage of the funnel.

If so, you're not alone, and you certainly aren't limited to being joined by experience. After running a consumer survey in Australia, the UK, and the U.S., we discovered that out of six social networks -- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, and YouTube -- 43% percent of respondents said that Facebook makes them feel the worst.

So, why is this happening -- besides the personal reasons listed above? And for marketers who rely on Facebook to maintain and build an audience, what are you supposed to do with this information?

Hey. We've got you. Let's take a look at some of our additional data, and see what you can do from here.

Facebook Makes Us Feel the Worst: What That Means and What to Do About It

The Data

So, we hate to break it to you, but while Facebook might make us feel worse than other social media networks, it seems like these digital communities are making us generally unhappy.

On average, about a third of respondents say that they "feel awful," or close to it, after visiting social media sites -- remember, this is across the board, not just Facebook. While that may not seem like too much more than the average 12% who say they "feel great," it's still not exactly an encouraging number.

After all, our optimism dictates that these networks weren't created to divide, even if that's how some groups have leveraged them within the past two years. Rather, they were created to keep friends and family connected, and eventually evolved as platforms to promote shareable content. 

But as these networks have evolved, so has the content distributed on it -- 62% of U.S. adults consume news primarily through social media, 66% of whom do so via Facebook. So, is that what's making us miserable? If I'm being honest, it would appear that bad news has been taking the lead lately.

That could be why, when we asked respondents which type of content stands out most to them on Facebook, the primary response was "posts from friends and family." Whether that content makes them feel good or bad isn't clear -- but I imagine that, among the noise and ads (which an average of 45% of respondents say they "really dislike"), content from familiar faces might be welcome for consumption.

What to Do With This Information

I know -- this data is kind of a downer. After all, if people start to stray from Facebook because it makes them so unhappy, then it might not be of much use to your brand.

But it's not all bad news, if you'll excuse the pun. People are still using Facebook -- after all, just look at this user data:

In a way, our findings create an opportunity for marketers on Facebook. You can modify your brand's presence to stand out among the content that could be making users unhappy, and instead, draws them to your page and makes them want to share your content. And no, that doesn't mean you have to shift your Facebook strategy to dog videos and riddles -- although, if someone could get on that, I certainly wouldn't mind having a look.

However, it does mean that you can revisit the idea of what drew your audience to your brand in the first place. You can build upon the more positive elements of the answer to that question to provide content that stands out among the more negative noise.

But what does that content look like? Here are three key characteristics to start with.

1) Relevant

While it's tempting, you don't have to pretend that bad things don't happen and that unhappiness doesn't exist. However, you can address it on your Facebook Page in a way that emphasizes and encourages optimism.

Do you have employees who are volunteering to help with hurricane relief efforts? Are you donating a portion of your proceeds to an organization that does so? You can draw attention to those things without bragging about them by emphasizing a sense of solidarity. After all, there's a reason why these Pages and networks are sometimes called "communities": They're groups of users that share a common interest.

2) Helpful

That said, you still have to maintain relevance to your brand and the product or service it provides, as well as the world-at-large. One of the primary tenets of inbound marketing is to create content that is both aligned with your product or service, and answers the questions that your audience is likely to have. Don't abandon that. Rather, continue to establish yourself as an authentic, helpful Page that, despite all of the other less-than-awesome stuff that appears on Facebook, stands out as an oasis with resources that serve and assist.

3) Familiar

Remember those data points about content from friends and family standing out the most? In a way, that goes back to the idea of your Page serving as a community of people with a shared interest. Again, what drew this audience to your brand in the first place? How do they feel when they see your name or your other creative assets? You may need to ask these questions of your users to truly know how you're perceived, but in these troubled times, it can pay to maintain consistency and stability in the type of content you distribute, and the way you do so. Keep that in mind as you create the copy that you share with Facebook posts, like videos or images.

And, if all else fails, don't be afraid to check in with your audience. Try something like, "It's Friday! How's everyone doing?" It's neutral, friendly, and conveys that you care.

So, how does everyone feel now? Tinker around with these ideas and see how they go.

Oh, and about those dog videos ...

Social Media at Every Stage of the Funnel

How Links in Headers, Footers, Content, and Navigation Can Impact SEO - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Which link is more valuable: the one in your nav, or the one in the content of your page? Now, how about if one of those in-content links is an image, and one is text? Not all links are created equal, and getting familiar with the details will help you build a stronger linking structure.

How Links in Headers, Footers, Content, and Navigation Can Impact SEO

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to chat about links in headers and footers, in navigation versus content, and how that can affect both internal and external links and the link equity and link value that they pass to your website or to another website if you're linking out to them.

So I'm going to use Candy Japan here. They recently crossed $1 million in sales. Very proud of Candy Japan. They sell these nice boxes of random assortments of Japanese candy that come to your house. Their website is actually remarkably simplistic. They have some footer links. They have some links in the content, but not a whole lot else. But I'm going to imagine them with a few more links in here just for our purposes.

It turns out that there are a number of interesting items when it comes to internal linking. So, for example, some on-page links matter more and carry more weight than other kinds. If you are smart and use these across your entire site, you can get some incremental or potentially some significant benefits depending on how you do it.

Do some on-page links matter more than others?

So, first off, good to know that...

I. Content links tend to matter more

...just broadly speaking, than navigation links. That shouldn't be too surprising, right? If I have a link down here in the content of the page pointing to my Choco Puffs or my Gummies page, that might actually carry more weight in Google's eyes than if I point to it in my navigation.

Now, this is not universally true, but observably, it seems to be the case. So when something is in the navigation, it's almost always universally in that navigation. When something is in here, it's often only specifically in here. So a little tough to tell cause and effect, but we can definitely see this when we get to external links. I'll talk about that in a sec.

II. Links in footers often get devalued

So if there's a link that you've got in your footer, but you don't have it in your primary navigation, whether that's on the side or the top, or in the content of the page, a link down here may not carry as much weight internally. In fact, sometimes it seems to carry almost no weight whatsoever other than just the indexing.

III. More used links may carry more weight

This is a theory for now. But we've seen some papers on this, and there has been some hypothesizing in the SEO community that essentially Google is watching as people browse the web, and they can get that data and sort of see that, hey, this is a well-trafficked page. It gets a lot of visits from this other page. This navigation actually seems to get used versus this other navigation, which doesn't seem to be used.

There are a lot of ways that Google might interpret that data or might collect it. It could be from the size of it or the CSS qualities. It could be from how it appears on the page visually. But regardless, that also seems to be the case.

IV. Most visible links may get more weight

This does seem to be something that's testable. So if you have very small fonts, very tiny links, they are not nearly as accessible or obvious to visitors. It seems to be the case that they also don't carry as much weight in Google's rankings.

V. On pages with multiple links to the same URL

For example, let's say I've got this products link up here at the top, but I also link to my products down here under Other Candies, etc. It turns out that Google will see both links. They both point to the same page in this case, both pointing to the same page over here, but this page will only inherit the value of the anchor text from the first link on the page, not both of them.

So Other Candies, etc., that anchor text will essentially be treated as though it doesn't exist. Google ignores multiple links to the same URL. This is actually true internal and external. For this reason, if you're going ahead and trying to stuff in links in your internal content to other pages, thinking that you can get better anchor text value, well look, if they're already in your navigation, you're not getting any additional value. Same case if they're up higher in the content. The second link to them is not carrying the anchor text value.

Can link location/type affect external link impact?

Other items to note on the external side of things and where they're placed on pages.

I. In-content links are going to be more valuable than footers or nav links

In general, nav links are going to do better than footers. But in content, this primary content area right in here, that is where you're going to get the most link value if you have the option of where you're going to get an external link from on a page.

II. What if you have links that open in a new tab or in a new window versus links that open in the same tab, same window?

It doesn't seem to matter at all. Google does not appear to carry any different weight from the experiments that we've seen and the ones we've conducted.

III. Text links do seem to perform better, get more weight than image links with alt attributes

They also seem to perform better than JavaScript links and other types of links, but critically important to know this, because many times what you will see is that a website will do something like this. They'll have an image. This image will be a link that will point off to a page, and then below it they'll have some sort of caption with keyword-rich anchors down here, and that will also point off. But Google will treat this first link as though it is the one, and it will be the alt attribute of this image that passes the anchor text, unless this is all one href tag, in which case you do get the benefit of the caption as the anchor. So best practice there.

IV. Multiple links from same page — only the first anchor counts

Well, just like with internal links, only the first anchor is going to count. So if I have two links from Candy Japan pointing to me, it's only the top one that Google sees first in the HTML. So it's not where it's organized in the site as it renders visually, but where it comes up in the HTML of the page as Google is rendering that.

V. The same link and anchor on many or most or all pages on a website tends to get you into trouble.

Not always, not universally. Sometimes it can be okay. Is Amazon allowed to link to Whole Foods from their footer? Yes, they are. They're part of the same company and group and that kind of thing. But if, for example, Amazon were to go crazy spamming and decided to make it "cheap avocados delivered to your home" and put that in the footer of all their pages and point that to the WholeFoods.com/avocadodelivery page, that would probably get penalized, or it may just be devalued. It might not rank at all, or it might not pass any link equity. So notable that in the cases where you have the option of, "Should I get a link on every page of a website? Well, gosh, that sounds like a good deal. I'd pass all this page rank and all this link equity." No, bad deal.

Instead, far better would be to get a link from a page that's already linked to by all of these pages, like, hey, if we can get a link from the About page or from the Products page or from the homepage, a link on the homepage, those are all great places to get links. I don't want a link on every page in the footer or on every page in a sidebar. That tends to get me in trouble, especially if it is anchor text-rich and clearly keyword targeted and trying to manipulate SEO.

All right, everyone. I look forward to your questions. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Thursday, October 19, 2017

3 Kissmetrics Populations Content Marketers Can Use to Measure Marketing and Retention

Content is basically infinite. Run a Google search for a/b testing and you can spend the rest of your life reading about it.

So in this proliferation of content, it’s retention, attention, and engagement that are key for content marketers. It’s our goal to get visitors to our content, ideally more than once, and eventually get them to convert in some way.

Converting usually starts at the very top of the funnel, by giving eBooks, webinars, email courses, newsletters, content upgrades, etc. Then they’ll be put through a drip campaign to eventually, hopefully, signup or request a demo.

Before we begin, it’s important to be aware of what Kissmetrics Population is, what it does, and who it’s for. This video will explain it:

 

Now, let’s get into some Populations Content Marketers can set up.

1. Reader Retention

You probably have about 10 websites you visit regularly. Most of them you visit daily, but some others you’ll visit every other day.

I regularly visit Axios, ESPN, the Kissmetrics Blog (of course), New York Times, Drudge Report, Twitter, and ScienceDaily. I’m an engaged visitor on these sites because I visit them regularly. The publishers love a visitor like me because I am traffic, pageviews, and ad dollars for them. And most of all, they get a piece of my attention everyday.

Wouldn’t you love it if your blog was on someone’s “top 10” list? They read your blog posts, download your eBooks, and you’ve become a trusted source for them. Some may call you a “thought leader” (as much as I dislike that term).

Most marketers use cohort reports to measure retention. These reports group people together based on similar attributes and then track their behavior overtime. This can uncover some useful data. There are also “engagement” metrics that can be measured by any actions a reader may take – reading a post, commenting, sharing it on social networks. These can be easily measured with a simple funnel report.

But what about simply tracking the number of people that have visited your blog at least x times during the last week, and then have a graph to see if it’s going up, down, or holding steady?

Populations will do exactly that. You’ll set your conditions (what people have to do enter the Population) and view the graph.

In our case, we’ll set our criteria to people who have visited the blog at least 10x in the last 7 days:

We’ll click View population and get our data:

At the top, we see that there are currently 187 people in our Population. The graph provides us with a week-by-week performance overview. This Population has improved modestly, up about 2% from 90 days ago. It’s ultimately held steady over the last 90 days, staying in the 150-200 range.

What’s important here is to view this in context. Let’s say you have 10,000 monthly readers and your Population holds steady at 1,000. In this case, you know that about 10% of readers are engaged with your content. But if you have 1,000,000 monthly readers, than that 1k Population is less impressive and may signal that you need to create more engaging content that people want to read and consistently check to see what you’ve published.

2. Signups & Conversions

At the end of the day what we want are signups or some form of conversion. A blog that gets 5 million visitors a month but doesn’t convert is about as good as not having a blog at all.

We’re graded not just on traffic, nor on reader engagement, but on how effective our content is at bringing quality leads to our sales teams. HiPPOs care most about this and it’s our job to produce relevant content that brings our target audience in, and then converts them.

You may already be tracking your conversion rate with our Metrics feature, but it’s also useful to use Populations to get an idea of the amount of people that are moving from reader to converter.

Now, the question is what a “converter” is. Each team will differ. Some marketers want an email address so they can convert this reader into an opportunity through a drip campaign. Others will qualify a free trial request as a conversion. E-commerce companies may having adding an item to the cart or purchasing as their conversion.

Regardless of what you’ll count as a conversion, it’s easy to track it in Kissmetrics and Populations.

You’ll notice that in this configuration, we’re looking for the people who visited the blog and then signed up. They cannot visit our marketing site, sign up, and visit our blog because they need to visit the blog before signing up. If they visited the marketing site, the blog, and then signed up, they’ll be included in this Population.

Not good. It’s down 20% from where it was 90 days ago. We need to figure out why this happened.

In some cases, this can be caused by a/b tests that caused a drop in conversions. In other cases a traffic dip will cause conversions to drop. (As long as the conversion rate percentage holds steady). We’ll need to look at our traffic to see if there was a dip that would correlate with this Population drop. If not, we’ll have to dig deeper to see what could be causing it.

3. Visited Blog x Times But Haven’t Converted

Engaged readers are great, but if we’re not converting them to our content upgrades, webinars, eBooks, or even signing up, then we’re not doing a good job marketing our content (or product).

This Population tracks the number of people that visit your blog many times each week, but never convert. It’s simple to set up, just enter your criteria as “people who visited blog at least x times in the last 7 days and have not converted.”

This will do exactly as it says – track how many people are visiting the blog regularly without converting. We can expect this Population to go up with traffic increases, but if it shows a trendline above overall traffic, that might indicate that we’re not converting our readership.

Let’s view our Population:

So about a 22% increase compared to 90 days ago. As in all Populations, these numbers need to mean something in context. If our overall traffic has remained flat, we can try some new tests to get more of our regular readers converting. Maybe some retargeting will help (which would link to a landing page for an eBook) or other tactics that can drive conversions – exit-intent popups, content upgrades, etc.

Conclusion

As a customer engagement automation platform (CEA), Kissmetrics is made to help you analyze, segment, and engage your online audience. Request a demo today to learn more.

About the Author: Zach Bulygo (Twitter) is the Blog Manager for Kissmetrics.

Did Samsung Just One-Up Apple on Its Cool Factor?

Let's cut right to the chase: At this week's Samsung Developer Conference, the event's namesake announced a bunch of really cool new stuff.

And we'll get to it -- I promise.

But before we do, I want to point out what really resonated with me -- perhaps even more than all of the neat new products and features: the emerging topics and trends.

These are things that many of we marketers, in our day-to-day work and responsibilities, don't give much thought to. Things like, say, a virtual-assistant-equipped refrigerator, or the latest and greatest software development kits (SDK). 

But it's time that we do. Think about some of the pieces of technology or up-and-coming topics that, maybe five years ago, we thought had nothing to do with us. Those of us who ignored them quickly fell behind the curve. And so, over the next few weeks, I'll be dissecting the following topics and breaking down why they're important for marketers to keep an eye on."

So let's stay ahead of it. In addition to the below summary of everything that was announced at the Samsung Developer Conference, over the next few weeks, I'll be dissecting the related topics -- breaking down why they're important for marketers to keep an eye on.

Here Are the Samsung Announcements You Missed

1) Bixby

To put Bixby in context, some describe it as Samsung's version of Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. It is, in fewer words, Samsung's own virtual assistant, and it's becoming increasingly built into a range of the brand's products to create what it calls an "intelligent ecosystem."

Bixby isn't exactly new -- but Bixby 2.0, which took center stage at the opening keynote and subsequent breakout sessions, is. One of the biggest differentiators for 2.0, said Vice President and Service Intelligence Team Leader Brad Park, is that it's open, which essentially means that its code is available to developers to use, modify, and redistribute by way of something original that they use it to build. That availability will begin with a private beta program and become available to the general public in 2018.

The process, he said, was to "make everything voice-first ... and then, see what the user wants." That's important -- remember, this event is first and foremost designed for developers. Within the context of that remark from Park, that's why w the open source nature of the Bixby SDK is so important. By making it open, developers will be able to personalize the technology in a way that helps determine how users actually want to, well, use it.

And as marketers, that's where we potentially play a vital role. It's our job, in large part, to understand and reach the end user -- and now, we have a greater opportunity than ever to partner with developers to reach these users in an innovative way.

The other main emphasis, however, was on Bixby's availability across a number of devices -- like Samsung Smart TVs and the Family Hub refrigerator -- which is where the ecosystem comes into play. That's where another key differentiator of Bixby 2.0 -- the aforementioned "voice search" approach, which gives it better natural language capabilities that can help it distinguish between users.

That was one of the biggest early issues that users took with Alexa, for example, illustrating the growing influence of a demand for personalization. But it goes beyond voice recognition -- Bixby uses machine learning, too, to anticipate what individual end users will ask it to do. 

2) The Internet of Things

First, a brief vocabulary lesson. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology that uses internet connectivity to allow in-home devices and appliances -- like your lights, security system, or refrigerator -- to be controlled remotely by devices like our phones. In other words, it's the thing that allows you to turn your lights on or off from your phone when you're out of town.

Okay, back to that "intelligent ecosystem" and where Bixby plays a role within it. Previously, Samsung had a handful of fragmented IoT platforms: SmartThings (a suite of products that would help "smartify" the otherwise disconnected or "dumb" things in your home), Samsung Connect (the automation system that allowed users to actually execute the smart technology), and ARTIK (the platform that connects and adds security to all of the pieces of a user's IoT experience). 

But during the opening keynote, Samsung announced the cohesive SmartThings Cloud, which brings all of the above under a single hub that allows all of these previously fragmented IoT pieces under one, central "touchpoint." 

Here, again, is where the ability for Bixby to be broadly applied and personalized becomes crucial. Within the announcements pertaining to these new IoT initiatives came the unveiling of Project Ambience: a noticeably small dongle that can be plugged into home objects and devices -- like an everyday speaker, for example -- and turn them into "smart," connected devices that are equipped with the Bixby experience.

So, why does that matter to you? Think about it: as the technology to turn anything into our homes into something that's "smart" and connected, not only will it become increasingly easier for users to request and receive information, but the demand for quick solutions will also continue to grow. We'll get into the specifics of how marketers can leverage these developments in future posts, but for now, it's certainly an area to watch.

3) An AR Partnership With Google

If you read the previous section and thought, "Sounds like Samsung might be trying to play on Google's playing field," you're not alone. I had the same thought -- and then came the announcement of a partnership.

Surprisingly, there weren't any explicit product announcements about virtual reality, which came as a personal surprise given the heavy presence of the Samsung Gear at last week's Oculus Connect event. But to continue its progress within VR, Samsung implied, it has to also focus on building an augmented reality (AR) presence.

And that makes sense. Throughout last week's Oculus Connect keynote, for example, numerous speakers spoke to the importance of making VR accessible, but failed to identify the tangible and incremental steps they would take to make it so. AR, which will be available on a significant number of recent phone models from a variety of manufacturers, is something of a gateway to VR, particularly when it comes to an untethered (not requiring connection to a larger piece of hardware) experience.

Now, Samsung has partnered with Google for yet another open source initiative. Developers will have access to Google's ARCore SDK to create AR experiences that will be available on such Samsung devices as the Samsung Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+, and Galaxy Note8.

Pardon the pun, but this move seems, well, smart. It could be interpreted as a response to Apple's ARKIT, which provides developers with open source code to create AR experiences for Apple devices -- namely, the iPhone and iPad.

Here's another opportunity for marketers to leverage this information availability to create immersive experiences for their audiences. Not ready to build a full-blown VR experience? Start with AR. It will likely be available to a larger pool of users (after all, they can access it right from their mobile devices), and allows them to integrate your product or service into their respective environments, just by downloading an app.

I mean ... I'm excited. As both a marketer and a journalist, these developments are huge. And if you take advantage of them now, I might even consider you a trailblazer -- and your peers likely will, too.

But there's still about half a day left of the Samsung Developer Conference, so feel free to follow along with all of the cool stuff I'm learning about here on Twitter, or let me know if you have a question about it.