June 30, 2020

The Virtual Marketing Agencies - Virtual Business Cards for Ads

I'm so excited to introduce our newest project: The Virtual Business Card for Ads!

As most of you know, when selecting an ad campaign goal you have to choose Website, Facebook business page, Messenger, Phone number etc to direct the person clicking through your ad to. My question was always, why just one place? 

The Virtual Business Card for Ads is a simple landing page to click your ads over to that basically has all of your linkable information in one place. From this page a future client can select in which way they'd like to reach you, as well as check out your social media such as Twitter, Linkedin, Youtube videos etc.

I chose a more simple approach for The Virtual Marketing Agencies V Biz Card

April 15, 2020

Instagram adds stickers for restaurants to sell gift cards and food delivery

Instagram is trying to make it easier for small businesses to spread the word about how people can support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, the company announced that business and creator accounts can now include stickers in their stories that direct people to a website where they can order food delivery or buy gift cards.

Tapping the sticker will bring people to a website where they can complete their order. Businesses can also include stickers that link out to a fundraiser built on Facebook. These stickers can be added to businesses’ profiles, too, as a permanent button. 
Food delivery and gift card stickers will be available in the US and Canada starting today with a global rollout planned for the “coming weeks.” Fundraisers are “coming soon.”
People who see the stories can share the stickers to their own stories to further spread the word. This could be a useful feature for businesses because people likely follow the places they enjoy. Also given that people have more time on their hands and therefore are likely on Instagram more, they also might see these stickers in stories more frequently than they otherwise would have.
To expound on this article above, what does this mean for Instagram advertising?  As a digital marketer I would recommend restaurants jump on this immediately and put some ad spend into promoted posts to get as many people to your IG account as possible. People are bored at home due to COVID-19 browsing social media and eating/ordering in. If you're not getting your account in front of IG users, then your competition is.
Here is how to attach Instagram Profile Buttons
  1. Go to your Instagram profile.
  2. Tap Edit Profile.
  3. Under “Public Business Information,” tap Action Buttons.
  4. Under “Select a Button,” choose Gift Cards.
  5. Select a partner to sell your gift cards. ... 
  6. Add the partner link for the gift card service you selected.
  7. After you've entered the website, tap Done.

-Stephani Nunez @Jemappellestephani

April 12, 2020

What is the Difference Between a Sponsored Post and a Paid Ad?

Social media platforms provide you with a wide audience that may not be reachable through other outlets. With almost 1.5 billion users and a robust dashboard for dialing in to specific target markets, Facebook is one of the most attractive options for marketers who are looking to establish brand awareness as well as push particular products and services. Here is a look at the options Facebook and Twitter offers for paid posts. Likewise LinkedIn has a few options and their terminology is similar and easily confused. Read this blog post to learn what is the difference between a sponsored post and a paid ad?

Organic Reach

When businesses first turned to Facebook and LinkedIn for online marketing, all they had to do was create interesting posts and anyone who liked or followed the page would see them. Over the years, however, social media has made changes to what people see and how often posts from businesses are shown, even if they are not promotional posts. Today, in order for companies to get their posts in front of more than just a handful of their followers, they have to shell out some cash.

Boosted Posts

A boosted post is one that is pushed into more news feeds of people who like your page and their friends, or people that you target based on location, age, gender, and interests. It works in the "native" environment of the social media site. You have the option of boosting any existing post on your timeline, and when you have a post that is getting more engagement than most of your others, Facebook will even suggest boosting it to get even better results. In LinkedIn, it's called a Sponsored Update.

Boosted posts, as it is called in Facebook and "promoted tweets" in Twitter, are ideal when you want to get better engagement, such as getting more likes or shares for a certain post, or when you want to draw in more page likes by promoting a post that showcases the type of content that people would see if they followed your page. If you are trying to achieve a specific goal through social marketing such as sending people to your website, a paid advertisement will give you better results.

Paid Advertising

Boosted posts are paid advertising, but they appear in your timeline or news feed. Both Facebook and LinkedIn give you the option to create an ad, based on your objective and includes options such as sending people to your website or raise attendance at your event. You can choose to pay per click, or spend a certain amount each day to get the results you are looking for and you can check your Ads Manager to see how your posts are performing and make adjustments.

These separately displayed ads appear to the right side of the main news feed. These ads also allow you to be far more selective when it comes to your audience so you will be able to choose better targets and make the most of your advertising budget. Another benefit that ads have over boosted posts is the ability to test a number of different ads at once so you can get a better idea of which online marketing tactics are working and which to scrap.

Things to Remember

Whether you are boosting a post or paying for an ad, Facebook does not allow more than 20% of the post's image to be text so be careful when sharing links to ensure that the image that is pulled is not too text heavy. If you are not sure which paid format is best for your online marketing goals, remember that boosted posts work better when promoting within Facebook and LinkedIn, and display ads work better when you are trying to draw people away from it.

April 3, 2020

Don’t Quarantine Your Marketing

There’s no question these are uncertain times. But how we as businesses and leaders react to situations and proactively prepare for the future will set us apart.
We are also in unprecedented times with social distancing. Yet quarantine or self-isolation doesn’t mean we’re cut off from all contact with one another. Technology is allowing people to carry on in many areas of their work and lives. It also presents new opportunities for businesses to engage with their audience and consumers.
The question for many remains how to adjust creatively now to survive — while also preparing for a future “normal” in which something like this could happen again.

While some predict the warm weather will curb the novel coronavirus transmission, others believe it’s here for the long haul. Of those who believe it will stick around, some think it will become just another seasonal cold
Of course, time will tell how serious the pandemic really is, how prepared we will be to handle it, and how it will impact our daily lives.
That said, I want to share some real-time and forward-looking strategies for businesses and search marketing companies to understand how to face this pandemic. In this article:

  • The Impact of the Novel Coronavirus on Marketing
At the time of writing, conferences and any gatherings of more than 10 are being avoided or outright canceled. 
Working from home and self-isolation are the new norms until further notice. So there is less traffic on the road, in the air, and walking into businesses.
Companies that invest marketing and advertising budget into things like signage, billboards or airplane magazines will find they’re getting less visibility than ever before. And organizations that rely on events and gatherings to generate new business and revenue may struggle to make up the difference.
It is entirely possible that radio and TV advertising spend will go up. It’s also likely that companies will hold on to cash, including marketing budgets, to brace for impact. 
Some industries will fare worse than others during this crisis. For instance, as this article points out, if a business can’t get a product to market, they may cut marketing.
Reports from Search Engine Land show that industries like travel, events and restaurants are pausing their PPC campaigns altogether. Amazon has all but turned off its Google Ads campaigns, and instead is focusing on the demand for specific in-demand goods. 
If you are in one of those most-affected industries, your search traffic may also have tanked in recent days.
Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg recently echoed the sentiment many people are feeling — that no one knows how big of an impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on marketing.
Is there a silver lining for search marketers? Yes, but we have to look for it.
We can assume that the more people are working from home, the more flexible the “workday” becomes. This means that people may be doing personal or business types of searches at any hour of the day or evening.
And of course, search behavior will vary by industry and query. For example, coronavirus is dominating searches on top news and social channels as of late. And the query “toilet paper” has gained popularity since the beginning of March.
What does this mean to search marketing? For some industries, some marketing budgets and certain queries, the need for SEO and PPC will be greater than ever.

Don’t Quarantine Your Marketing

As with any crisis, how an organization responds is key. Are you calm and taking action, or panicked and paralyzed?
Two things people should not be doing right now: hoarding toilet paper and hoarding search marketing budget.
How a business treats marketing can make or break them. The answer in these times is to not stop marketing. For many though, it may be a good idea to reallocate the existing marketing budget (like the budget for events or billboards) to different digital channels.

10 To-Dos for Marketers in the Current Crisis

Here are 10 things businesses should consider when faced with the current situation or future situations like it.

1. Know search trends.

To be more relevant for short-term SEO and PPC campaigns, be aware of what’s being searched for now (I suggest using Google Trends). As a retailer, you might have huge gains from your SEM campaigns if you have the products people are searching for. On the other hand, if you know what type of search results are showing up for a query right now (remember: query deserves freshness), you can create relevant content to answer it.

2. Create timely and relevant content.

What does your audience or consumer want to know from you right now? Take this opportunity to communicate and give branded, unique insights on the situation. Make sure you have a good mix of content that’s both “business as usual” and relevant to the crisis so that you don’t look tone-deaf.

3. Ramp up your digital content.

Consider setting up your business now to produce more digital content like podcasts and webinars in both the short and long term. If you are a business with a lot of in-person consulting or training, now is the time to explore online training. By 2025, research estimates the e-learning sector will be valued at about $158 billion, so it’s not a bad time to get in on it. Lessons learned now about these strategies will prove useful should you need to continue to make them a part of your business.

4. Shift offline to online or modify.

If you are a local business or retailer, you’re going to have to think long term. Is it possible to shift a portion of your business online or change your business model? Can you shift in-store experiences to virtual or in-store shopping to delivery?

5. Optimize your content.

If you are creating content about the coronavirus or anything that’s trending, you want to ramp up your optimization efforts so that it can be found in the search results. Schema.org recently added COVID-19-related structured data types, for example.

6. Use search marketing for branding and crisis communications.

Even if the sale of your products and services is slowing down, you can use search engine marketing for branding purposes. For example, ads could point to landing pages with key information on them.

7. Use search marketing for reputation management and trust.

Corona beer, for example, may need to do this based on people’s perception of its relation to the coronavirus. You also should monitor how online sentiment may be impacting your trust signals during this time.

8. Stay ahead of your competition.

If you pause your search marketing campaigns, and your competition doesn’t, who will be set up for success when this whole thing passes? Which brands will people follow through all of this — those that stay in contact, or those that shut down?

9. Remember that SEO is a long-term strategy.

Unless it’s critical, you should not divert your SEO budget. You should keep calm and carry on because Google’s algorithms are not taking a break during a crisis. In fact, this slower period may be just the opportunity you need to do the back-burner projects (such as new content creation or server improvements) that can position you for SEO wins down the road.

10. Don’t buy cheap SEO.

When budgets are tight, the tendency might be to go with cheaper SEO programs or buy bundled marketing services instead of using experts that specialize. In times like these, companies cannot afford to implement anything less than expert SEO. After the dust settles, they will be dealing with another crisis: no rankings, no targeted traffic, and possibly Google penalties.

What Will Be the Impact on Search Marketing Vendors?

This will likely not be a fun time for marketers. Unless you’re on the right side of things. For many search marketing firms, staff cuts are inevitable.
A search marketing agency cannot survive as a company of interns. Many large agencies that are used to thriving on less-experienced professionals will not succeed. That’s because for a portion of this workforce, the work-from-home approach will not be successful. Lack of experience without close mentorship does not produce stellar results.
For this reason, I speculate that a lot of search marketing firms will not make it. Tougher times do not bode well for agencies without a majority of senior staff.
Agencies will also need to do what is necessary to continue servicing new and existing clients. For some clients, budget cuts could be a concern (although the hope is that they see the value in continuing search marketing for all the reasons outlined in this article).
That means having to modify current campaigns and programs to focus on what is necessary now. Some may have new strategies while others may choose to do baseline tactics but not be as aggressive as before.
Some clients may consolidate vendors in these times. They may choose to bundle all their digital marketing services with one agency for a discount.
What we learned in the last recession was that these agencies weren’t experts in everything. Some of them even subcontracted to us at Bruce Clay Inc. for the SEO portion of their agreements.
Unfortunately, businesses that didn’t have SEO experts working in the background realized they had shot themselves in the foot with mediocre services after the recession ended. Many of them came to us to fix what was done in that time period.
At the end of the day, search marketing professionals, especially SEOs, are no strangers to reinventing themselves at the mercy of rapid changes (like algorithms). So I am confident that many vendors can rise to the occasion and survive.

Closing Thoughts

Now is the time for all of us to be leaders — businesses and search marketing vendors. We need to create short-term solutions and future-oriented strategies for our businesses and our clients. 
We need to be creative with our products, services and communications. We need to send the right message: that we can carry on in the face of a crisis.
In the eye of the storm, it can be hard to see anything but chaos. The best defense is to do what is necessary to still be standing after the storm.

March 24, 2020

Coronavirus and the marketing industry: what happens next?

Coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s minds at the moment. We’re officially living in the midst of a pandemic, and almost everyone has been affected. Whether you’re self-isolating, working from home, or are anxious about what the future might hold, the chances are that coronavirus has already affected you in some way, shape or form.

We don’t really want to contribute to the negative literature on the topic - of which there is a lot. The facts are pretty bleak, however, in the wake of the crisis it seems that people have been turning to social media for a sense of community.
The million dollar question is how long will all of this go on for and how will it affect the marketing sector? Here, we are taking a deep dive into how coronavirus might affect marketing in the next few weeks and months.
Traditional marketing forms take a hit
While the UK government is yet to call for a nationwide lockdown, as we’ve seen in other countries, the advice to stay inside and limit all unnecessary outings is likely to lead to a notable decrease in out of home ad spend, with brands opting to focus on online, digital ads instead.
TV has also been affected, with many businesses cutting TV ad spend as a precautionary measure. This is so much so that ITV, which acts as a kind of benchmark for the British TV ad market as a whole, estimates that they will see a 10% decrease in revenue due to coronavirus .
This is also on top of the fact that large sporting events and tournaments have already been cancelled, and sponsorship deals have been cut, resulting in a TV ad market that is naturally in a decline.
However, some are predicting otherwise. TV tends to see a spike during times of bad weather or other periods where people are more likely to stay indoors, and thus, some TV executives are predicting huge increases in ad spend as consumers are forced to stay at home.
Online marketing may increase
We’re predicting that there will be a huge increase in digital ad spend over the next few months as consumers will naturally be spending more time online, especially choosing to shop online versus leaving the house. These predictions are supported by research from Dentsu Aegis Network, who found that of 155 clients and client leaders surveyed, 14% said they were moving budget online, from offline media.
Additionally, as people travel less and work from home more, we also expect to see mobile and social opportunities increase. Research by Global Web Index found that we are seeing a huge increase in people checking social media across all age demographics; 27% among Gen Z, 30% among Millennials, 29% among Gen X and 15% among Boomers. This may be not least because people are free from the watchful eye of their manager and are able to check their phones more regularly, but also because 4 in 10 of us are checking the news more frequently!
Social media ad spend is set to increase
Due to increased use of social media, spend across the social platforms is likely to increase.
With more people on their phones, looking for engaging content to keep them busy as they try to tackle the emotional burden of self isolation, social media will become a daily routine that people need to keep them grounded, give them a sense of community and regular updates on the global crises. 
It’s therefore thought that social media spending will rise by 22.2% as a result of coronavirus, as consumer-led brands harness the power of social media to engage their audience. We have already seen a huge jump in influencer marketing engagement, with a recent study finding a 76% increase in daily accumulated likes on Instagram #ad posts over the past two weeks.
What content do people need in the midst of coronavirus?
As content creators, providers or facilitators, we have a unique responsibility to be conscious of the content that we publish at this time. Consumers need support from the brands they love, and social media provides a great vehicle to deliver that.
People are turning to their most trusted brands to lead the way and deliver content that shows true consideration for the consumer. At a time when studios may not be accessible for producing branded content, brands should consider working with a vetted network of content creators, in order to ensure that your brand message is creatively translated to your target audience by a trusted partner.
Content centred around mental health and keeping healthy will naturally be of interest to consumers at this time. Equally as important is content that keeps us busy, optimistic and excited about the world as we collectively navigate through this topsy-turvy time.
If you have concerns about where your marketing budget is going, or want to discuss how coronavirus might affect your marketing strategy then get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
By Ben Jeffries - Open Mic
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