New Research Report Underscores Importance of Partnering

New Research Report Underscores Importance of Partnering

Marketing

The Chicago area is a fast growing and vibrant source of digital marketing agencies beyond some of the well-known giant firms. A new report by research firm Clutch sheds a spotlight on the diversity and excitement of the Chicago-based digital marketing agency industry. And I’m pleased to announce that KeywordFirst is ranked as a market leader in the report.

Clutch evaluated and ranked Chicago-based digital marketing agencies using a proprietary research methodology that incorporated factors such as client reviews. The reviews covered agency attributes such as quality of work performed and project management skills. KeywordFirst was ranked in the top-tier Market Leaders category in the Clutch digital agency matrix.

Naturally we were excited to be ranked so strongly especially because client feedback figured large in the ranking criterion. As one client told Clutch, “It’s hard to argue with what the numbers tell us. Last year, KeywordFirst helped us to nearly double the amount of leads which we were able to acquire.”

Another client said, “Their work has been successful. We always want results to be better, but KeywordFirst are knowledgeable and are very easy to work with. Unlike the people in many other agencies, they’re humble.”

To be cited for our humility is important. On our website, we talk about the importance of being honest, uncomplicated, and transparent. We believe that agencies need to do more that provide great advice and do successful work. They need to be partners that companies like to work with.

I urge you to take time to review the Clutch report here. And use it to vet your agency as you decide whom to work with. You’ll find a nice variety of options in the report. We’re pleased to be one of the leading choices.

Mobile Advertising: Let Your Customer Be Your Guide

Mobile Advertising: Let Your Customer Be Your Guide

Mobile

Mobile is a shining star of performance marketing. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), for the first time, mobile ads account for the majority of digital ad spend. The IAB 2016 Internet Advertising Revenue report says that mobile ad revenues increased 77 percent to $36.6 billion in 2016, or 51 percent of total digital ad spend. Desktop search, the next biggest category, accounted for 24 percent of the total.

The IAB also says that the $36.6 billion spent on mobile ads included $17.2 billion for mobile search and $18.1 billion for mobile display.

I’m not surprised by the growth in mobile ad revenue. The ad spend reflects changing consumer behavior and the power of major publishers such as Google. The number of mobile searches on Google surpassed desktop searches two years ago. And Google has been changing its algorithms to force brands to respect the power of mobile. For instance, Google’s 2015 “mobilegeddon” algorithm rewarded mobile-friendly web pages with higher rankings for searches done on Google.

And yet, as important as mobile has become, mobile is still a contextual experience. To me, the real excitement and long-lasting value for advertisers comes from creating meaningful online advertising that appeals to omnichannel consumers.

Omnichannel consumers interact with brands through a variety of devices and channels, including social media, your website, display ads on other sites, and search results – on mobile phones, desktops, tablets, in games, on television, and through voice-activated assistants, to cite just a few of the proliferating channels and devices that shape the consumer-brand experience.

You get a better picture of how complex the advertising landscape really is when you dig into the IAB report and sift through the variety of ad formats that account for digital spend. (The report’s appendix alone, which details the pricing models and ad formats, is instructive.)

It’s important that businesses understand the nuances of advertising through different channels and devices. For instance, Tim Colucci at KeywordFirst has been blogging lately about the distinct challenges and opportunities of video advertising. (Here is an example.) At the same time, I believe it’s more important to coordinate mobile in context of the understanding your consumers’ journeys from awareness to purchase to loyalty. Yes, mobile advertising is probably going to be important to just about any brand, but how and when you spend on mobile advertising may differ dramatically by channel (e.g., Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram) and device depending factors such as what stage a customer is in the buying decision and the time of day they’re interacting with your brand.

So let’s celebrate and appreciate the rise of mobile ad spending. But even more importantly, let’s keep our focus on the broader consumer journey and invest into experiences that create and retain customer relationships throughout the journey, one impression, channel, and device at a time.

Image source: Startup Stock Photos

KeywordFirst Predicts the Future of Performance Media

KeywordFirst Predicts the Future of Performance Media

Uncategorized

How is performance media changing in 2017? At KeywordFirst, we consider questions like that all the time. We have to. Our own performance depends partly on our ability to stay on top of the changing performance media landscape in order to be trusted partners to our clients. We surveyed our own team to find out what’s on their minds as we examine the changing nature of performance media. We’ve summed up our thinking below.

Three key themes emerge from our internal survey: the evolution of mobile, the increasingly sophisticated nature of attribution, and the rise of voice search. We see performance media strategies going through a mobile-first phase before ultimately entering a post-mobile phase. Meanwhile, attribution is getting more precise thanks to the development of better tools in discipline like paid search, and advances in voice search are challenging businesses to refine their paid and organic content for voice queries, which are much different from text-based queries. Read on for more detail:

  • “We’re entering a post-mobile world. With mobile now accounting for 60 percent of all searches in the United States, marketers are becoming more comfortable with integrating mobile into their media planning and implementation rather than calling out mobile as its own emerging channel requiring a standalone paid media strategy. Maximizing the value of mobile certainly requires an understanding of mobile’s distinct attributes, but in 2017 our industry will continue to shed a fixation with ‘mobile first’ thinking.”
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  • “No More John Doe. It was not long ago that targeting focused primarily on finding the best keywords and honing in on the most optimal geo locations when trying to reach customers. Now through both SEM and social channels, advertisers can further narrow their customer search based on demographics including age, gender, education, and income, as well as interests, topics, purchasing behaviors, and device preferences, to touch on just a few. Based on data collected about your customers, there is also the option to target lookalike or similar audiences – potential customers who share characteristics similar to those individuals currently targeted. Testing various targeting options can help paint a picture of the ideal customer and make advertising spend more efficient. These refined targeting options have opened the door for smaller businesses with limited budgets to engage in online advertising as they are able to focus spend on a tighter subset of potential customers and stretch their advertising dollars.”
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  • “With the continued growth of mobile on search and social channels advertisers will need to begin evaluating the appropriate metrics for a mobile first world. Click through rates though vital to the industry will need to be reengineered with mobile users not having the same motivation behind clicks. The continued study of interaction will be weighed heavily in 2017 as advertisers will need to understand what ad formats and text will work best for users at all times of day, whether it be shorter for the work day when users glance at their phone for a quick break or creating a longer story that will carry the user throughout the day and eventually lead to a conversion. With this interaction rate and attribution will need to be viewed alongside click through rate to determine a brands true returns from mobile advertising efforts.”
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  • 2017 will be the year that digital marketers embrace audience targeting. I’m not just talking about social platforms and remarketing, but also for search. In 2016, we continued to refine strategies around Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) and Similar Audiences for Search. Both tactics give the opportunity to either exclude irrelevant audiences or to increase bids for more qualified leads. I believe keywords will still play a critical role for search marketers, but with CPC’s increasing, advertisers are looking for cheaper ways to reach relevant user types. Last year, audience targeting was something new that many people were just testing, but with the growing trend of a personalized ad experience, we can expect to see a dramatic increase this year.
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  • “The marketers that outperform their peers in 2017 will be focused upon utilizing analytics to optimize targeting. The publishers have altered the game so that by default ads will show to as broad a target as possible. Therefore, the skilled marketer will adjust and strive to narrow targeting layers in order to retain the most relevant audience. Efficiency is the goal and analytics will be the tool used to properly identify that refinement of targeting.”
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  • “The evolution of artificial intelligence is changing the way people search online. Voice searches are increasing due to a growing popularity of personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or Amazon’s Alexa. When consumers are speaking to these assistants, they are using a more natural language, thus altering their search behavior. As of right now, Google and Bing do not provide a way to track voice searches. Voice searches are translated into text and listed as regular search queries. At times you might see, ‘Siri, can you . . . ‘ or ‘OK Google’ before a search term, but that’s not always the case. Jumping into 2017, I predict that we will see more to come focused around artificial intelligence and voice-technology.”

We invite our readers to have a conversation with us about the direction of performance media. What trends do you see in the marketplace?

Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shun the “Set It & Forget It” Mindset

Quality Score Spotlights

DONT FORGETTweak, tweak, tweak, tweak. If you want optimal results from your paid search program, that’s what you must do. Tweak, tweak, tweak, tweak.

You can build a successful paid-search advertising campaign using sound fundamentals, but you need to be willing to monitor closely and make adjustments continually – if you want success to last or increase. Tweaking for success will cause the Google Gods to smile down upon your ads and lead to better placements. We talk about this approach in “Want to Raise Your Google Quality Score? Shut the ‘Set It and Forget It’ Mindset,” which was originally published on The Social Media Monthly (January 21, 2015.)

The Social Media MonthlyIn that post, we explain the five factors that greatly influence your ad’s Quality Score:

  1. Click-through Rate (CTR)
  2. Ad Relevancy
  3. Keyword Relevancy / Campaign Structure
  4. Landing Page Relevancy
  5. Account History

In a recent workshop, we further described each of these factors and covered the three powerful ways you can influence higher Quality Scores.

  • Improve CTR
  • Improve Landing Pages
  • Build Quality History

 

While the algorithms that drive search results change frequently, these factors and techniques continue to be important in helping you achieve optimal success with your paid search program … as long as you don’t “Set It and Forget It.”

Always be tweaking.

Five Options for Attribution Modeling With Analytics Engines

Analytics Attribution Modeling Spotlights

Man-outstretched-arms2Making adjustments. That’s the key to success, regardless of whether we’re talking about half-time adjustments in a big game or changes you make in your marketing plan. You have to observe, learn and adjust to what’s happening in your field of play.

That is what you will learn from our article “Five Options for Attribution Modeling With Analytics Engines,” a version of which initially was published on MarketingProfs (December 11, 2014), though its principles remain relevant today.

The objective of attribution modeling is to evaluate (by using analytics) what led to every sale—so we can replicate success.

In that post, we described five methods that command the most attention or offer the most promise.
MarketingProfs

  1. Last Click
  2. First Interaction
  3. Position-based
  4. Time-delay
  5. Linear

While “Last Click” used to be the only game in town, the rise of powerful – and often-times free – analytics tools like Google Analytics have greatly expanded the playbook for marketers.

Busy marketers often stick with what they’ve previously used. We get it. Learning and implementing a new model can take time. But the payoff is often worth the effort. For example, here are “3 Reasons to Drop Your ‘Last-Click’ Crutch.” When you’re ready to change your game plan, our previous post “4 Alternatives to Last-Click Attribution Modeling” also gives you guidance on choosing the model that’s best for you.

But never fear. Despite our admonishment to drop the “last-click” crutch, we let you know in “3 Tips for Managing Attribution Modeling” that it’s okay to use that crutch to prop up your analytics.

Today’s digital commerce is complex. In turn, smart marketing dictates that you make adjustments and invest your budget dollars where they will do the most good. We believe our tips will help point you in the direction of success.

Nuts & Bolts: Why Mobile is Important to Your Paid Search Strategy

Analytics Mobile Nuts & Bolts

In this installment of the “Nuts & Bolts” series, which digs into the nitty gritty of paid search, I want to share with you some valuable findings on the importance of mobile in your paid search strategy.

In a PPC Workshop I presented recently, I outlined five ways analytics makes paid search campaigns better. Further, I recapped the three-part series on mobile search that explained the driving forces behind the explosion of mobile search (and why it will continue to increase), what this means to marketers, and how this affects your paid search strategy.

Links for further reading and learning occur throughout the slides. And if you would like to share the workshop, we’ve posted to SlideShare for your convenience. Just click on the LinkedIn button or the file’s title to be immediately signed into the SlideShare site.

3 Ways to Influence Google Quality Score

Analytics Quality Score

shutterstock_189431450In the last FirstWord blog post, you learned the “5 Critical Components of Google Quality Score.” Now, you’ll learn how to influence those factors using three basic tactics.

But first, a refresher course:

What is Quality Score? It’s the algorithm Google uses to estimate how relevant the ads, keywords and landing pages in your digital marketing campaigns are to someone seeing them after a search. A higher Quality Score means Google’s systems consider your ads, keywords and landing pages relevant and useful to each searcher’s particular topic.

The higher your ad scores, the higher your ad ranks in every search auction. And the more likely clicks will become sales. That’s why it’s important to do everything you can to drive your Quality Score higher. Now, here are three ways to do just that:

  1. Improve Clickthrough Rate (CTR) – As the most important factor in Quality Score, CTR should receive the most attention. Four simple adjustments can improve CTR’s and drive up Quality Score:
    • Keyword Negatives – Continually add new negatives to eliminate unwanted queries.  Run your Search Query Reports weekly to identify opportunities and reach beyond eliminating bad clicks. Look to eliminate irrelevant high-impression terms that can drive down CTR.
    • Match Type Breakout— Breakout keywords by match types and separate match types by campaign or ad group.  This will further group not only like terms, but like match types and increase CTR on better performing Exact match groups. In addition, shy away from Broad match and focus on Broad Match Modifiers to improve CTR.
    • Sitelinks – Add Sitelinks to all campaigns and use ad group Sitelinks, when possible, to deliver more relevant Sitelinks. Traditional Sitelinks may increase CTR by 15%, and Enhanced Sitelinks may increase CTR by 20%.
    • Targeting – Eliminate poor performing targets for greater CTR by using all the targeting options available, including GEO targeting, ad scheduling and bid modifiers.
  2. Landing Pages – Because Google will crawl landing pages to determine how relevant they are to each keyword, picking the most relevant, most granular landing pages possible is imperative. When possible, regularly adjust content on landing pages and/or create specific paid-search landing pages that align with keyword to improve Quality Score.
  3. Build Quality History – Set up every campaign the right way every time and manage each and every campaign on regular basis. That’s the only way to build the account history Google seeks to reward with high Quality Scores. This is where discipline comes into play; if you can’t execute a campaign the right way, then maybe that campaign shouldn’t launch.

In addition to these three tactics, practice Search Engine Marketing (SEM) best practices. In short, create a logical campaign structure, craft tight ad groups with similar-themed keyword clusters, develop granular ad copy using keyword themes within copy and, most importantly, continually test and tweak, tweak, tweak.