What I can do for you as your digital marketer

Three months ago I wrote my first digital marketing blog post. I had little knowledge about what digital marketing encompassed. As I spent countless hours educating myself about the different digital marketing tools and software available, I began to understand how marketing has transformed.

The digital world has changed the marketing game. People do not want their lives interrupted by advertisements. Customers are thirsty for information that will help them make a better buying decision. As a digital market, I understand that traditional methods are not the only way to sell a product or service. Inbound marketing, explained excellently by Hubspot, illustrates the importance of educating customers through content, such has blog posts. Inbound marketing takes into consideration we are marketing to living breathing people who think and feel. If your content is lame no one will read it. Creating content fuels consumers with necessarily nutrition to make buying decisions for themselves.

Luckily, the digital world has the software you need to make sure you are providing your readers with relevant and  interesting information. Google Analytics takes data from your page and turns it into information you can use to make better business decisions. Google Analytics can be used to see which parts of your site are most popular or what content is most popular to consumers. Using data, you will be able to more finely tailor your content to achieve the goal of getting more traffic to your site. More Traffic = More Sales = More Money.

Google Analtyics is not the only way to ensure quality content. A/B testing takes the guest work out of the equation. How do you truly know your webpage, email advertisement or landing page is the most effective it could be? The only way to find out is to test. As a digital marketer I understand that data is how you make decisions. I had the pleasure of having Amelia Showalter speak about her success using A/B testing in the 2012 Obama campaign. Showalter success using A/B testing to create the most effective fundraising emails, raised $690 millions over the internet. You believe A/B testing is the way to go yet?

Given the vast amount of educational resources available, I have been able to learn how to become a digital marketer. Now two weeks from graduation, I feel I have a better grasp on the tools available to markets today.  With three certifications earned; Google Analytics, Hootsuite and Google AdWords Fundamentals and Search Advertising, I feel I have made myself more credible in the field of digital marketing.

One of the biggest take away from writing this blog is the power of being a continuous self learner.  The internet, aka Google, has created an environment where anyone can teach themselves a new skill. Companies like, Moz, Hubspot, Google Partners, and Markekto provide amazing resources and guides to learn new skills and concepts. The internet has allowed anyone to learn how to became a better digital markets. Whether you own your own business or work for a start up or at a large corporation, these digital marketing tools are beneficial to you.

What I can do for you as your digital marketer

Why Mobile Marketing Matters

Before I even get out of my bed, my phone is in my hand checking the weather, flipping through my Facebook and Instagram accounts then finally doing my morning emails. This all happens in the first 15 minutes of me waking up every morning. Once out of bed, I open my Pandora app to play music. Mobile devices have transformed the behavior of how people interact with technology.

With smartphone always at an arms reach, consumers are eager to invest in the latest technology on the market. Millions of consumer in 2013 upgraded their smartphones to 4G devices. “4G connectivity is improving both internet speeds and the overall usability for consumers, creating a more fertile ground for mobile content delivery and consumption to flourish” according to comScore. The convenience and constant accessibility to the Internet has turned smartphone into the best content channel for advertising.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.37.23 PMAccording to comScore, people spend 85% of their time, 7 out of every 8 minutes while on their device using a mobile apps. Examine the chart from comScore to the right. Facebook is the number one app used in terms of average time spent on the app and average audience. Mobile advertising accounted for 53% of Facebook’s total ad revenue in 2013.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have demonstrated the power of using native advertising in order to increase advertising revenue. Business Insider defines native advertising in terms of social media platform as, “ads that are seamlessly integrated into a user’s feed and are nearly indistinguishable from organic content”. This seamless integration will not only function on mobile devices but also appear the same on a desktop computer. The social media networks use the following ad units that appear in consumers primary content stream.

  • Facebook: sponsored stories
  • Twitter: promoted tweets
  • LinkedIn: sponsored updates

Social networks see more traffic and time spent coming from mobile devices compared to desktops. Smartphone and tablet are responsible for, “doubling the amount of time Americans spend online” according to comScore. This does not mean people are not using a desktop computer anymore but shows the shift to using multiple devices to accomplish different activities. For example I use my phone in the morning, my MacBook to complete my schoolwork and then switched to my tablet at night to stream TV shows. According to Millward Brown, 41% of people are using their devices simultaneously.

The simultaneous use of devices, has created an environment where devices have specialized needs. Mobile devices and tablet are used for entertainment and communication needs where the desktop computer is used for business needs. Its important that marketers understand the difference between what consumers search on their mobile devices and what consumer search on their desktop computers.

Mobile search is used when seeking location-relevant information. From getting driving directions or finding a restaurant or shop nearby, people are using mobile search for convenience. People are bypassing typing in search questions by using the voice-activated feature on their mobile phone. Desktop search involves wanting a higher level of information. Such as reviewing your bank statement or getting the news report. Consumers are spending more money on online purchases using their desktop computer, however mobile online retail spending did increase by 12%.

If your content is not optimized for a mobile device, chanced are you are going to have pretty annoyed viewers. According to Moz, there are two ways to optimize your content for a mobile device. Do you want your mobile sites content to be identical to your main website or different? If you want to have identical content, the best way is to create a responsive mobile website. Responsive web design will allow your site to look amazing on whatever device a customer is using.

Mobile advertising is the future of digital marketing. People are spending an increasing longer amount of time on their convent, hand held mobile device. In order to reach people, marketers must optimize their website for mobile and use native advertising to reach people on social media.

Why Mobile Marketing Matters

Coding: Why so Important for Marketers?

Is is possible that I learn to code? Even just basic coding elements? Prepared to fail, I opened up Codecademy and begin the course. To my surprise, Codeacademy made learning how to code manageable. The academy broke down coding into sections. Each time you learned a new skill, you would also practice the skill and get feedback from Codeacademny whether your code was right or wrong. If incorrect, instructions where given how to fix the code you had written.

After two hours of working on Codeacademy, I completed 22% of HTML & CC Language Skills course. I like how Codeacademny defines HTML code, “You can think of HTML Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 2.16.35 PMas the skeleton that gives every webpage structure.” To begin coding, HTML has a basic structure that is always used to set up your code. Examine the picture to the right.The first line is always the same and indicates the to computer what language you are speaking in. The second and fourth line indicate starting and closing your HTML document. Everything you create in your HTML document will go between tags. Tags (<>) come in pairs. If you open one tag < you must make sure to then close > the tag.

Right away I learned there can be NO typos in your code. For example, when I learned how to change the font size, I kept getting the code wrong. I had coded . I could not figure out why this was wrong until I realized I had forgotten the dash between font-size. This simple mistake caused the computer to not understand what I was trying to say.

Codeacademy made me feel like I could learn the fundamentals and basics of coding. Understanding basic HTML helped me understand SEO better. SEO is only useful if your website is designed and coded properly. 6 Practical Reasons A Marketers Need to Learn to Code, explains the link between page optimizing and understanding coding as the following:

“In order to optimize a page, marketers must be able to read the page’s skeleton — which means reading HTML.  In order to find, change, and edit meta descriptions, title tags, keywords, or headers, you need to be able to find them by looking at the “bones” of the website.

Good news is you do not need to learn how to fully code a website. There are excellent web builders out there that do not cost too much money. I personally have used Wix web builder  to create a website for a business and an personal website. Also check out the website builders, Squarespace and Weebly.

So do markers really need to add coding to there tool set? The answer is yes and no. Yes, a marketer could get by without knowing how to code but will be more relent on others. However, knowing how to code will make a marketer more independent and better informed. Since marketing is moving further into the digital platforms, understanding the fundamentals behind the software us marketers are using is highly beneficial.

Hubspot states,  “Code is what lies behind so many of our great marketing campaigns. Our websites, our emails, our apps and tools that are made to give your customers a better experience — these all run because there are smart coders making them work”.

Understanding coding allows you to understand what is even possible. The root of innovation comes from understanding the full potential of the tools you have access to. A marketers does not necessarily have to code to app or website but needs to be able to communicate with the web designer. Knowing how to speak the coding language, HTML, is a great communication tool for marketers to have.

Coding: Why so Important for Marketers?

Programmatic Ad Buying and Native Advertising

First of all what the hell is ‘Programmatic Ad Buying’? At the root, programmatic takes multiple data points and make decisions. The data is purchased in an auction similar to how you would purchase a Google search ad. According to Adweek,

“It’s buying specific audiences using lots of data to figure out the right ad, the right person, the right time. It’s the idea that machines will simply handle all of the process involved in buying media—the insertion orders, the paperwork, the trafficking, the spreadsheets”.

Programmatic takes out the human error by using software. No more digital paperwork, combining spreadsheet or trading PDF order documents. Programmatic is all about automation which allows a business to respond in real-time. The technology relies on having access to rich customer data. For example, say you want your advertisement to target women 20-35 years old interest in beauty products. So you decided to display your ad on Allure.com because the site has a similar demographic. However, how do you know you are targeting the right people who will actually buy your beauty product? Programmatic takes the guess work out of the equations. Instead of solely relying on demographic information, programmatic uses human behavior. The automation is driven by algorithms using the data to generate relevant responses. So unlike AdWords  your ad reliant on keywords and phrases, programmatic utilizes technical programs to set up the parameters of your campaign, and then uses algorithms to execute the campaign. There is no more guessing where to place your ad, the program simply does it for you.

In order to gain rich customer knowledge, advertisers purchase 1st and 3rd party cookies. However, with a new world being privacy-obsessed, cookies are becoming endangered making  this a potential obstacle in the world of programmatic buying.  Another current limitation of programmatic is how to figure out the multi-device landscape. People are not just using their phone or just their computer or just their tablet. People have many devices and thus have many information trails.

So how big is the programmatic game really getting? Well eMarketer predicts, “programmatic ad spending would leap to $32.6 billion by 2017, with spending in the US increasing to $16.9 billion”. Large brands and business can use programmatic buying as an equalizer. Targeting the right audience in real-time is a highly competitive quality to have.  Take the largest cereal brand in the world, Kellogg, as success example or using programmatic buying. Kellogg’s goal was to drive awareness and persuasions towards the brand. After embracing programmatic buying, Kellogg’s advertisement view-ability rate increased to more than 70 percent and now is two to three time better at ensuring that its impressions go directly to targeted consumers. Check out Kellogg’s Case Study for further details.

In simple terms, programmatic ad buying makes the lives of advertisers easier. Adweek sums it up perfectly, “It makes advertising smarter”.

Another form of paid targeted advertising is called Native advertising. Native advertising is i short integrating  an advertising message directly into editorial content. The point is to make these ad look and feel like part of the editorial content.

Have you ever seen Netflix hit show Orange is the New Black? To create buzz around the season two premiere of Orange is the New Black, a native ad was placed in the New York Times. The New York Times wrote a story called, Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work. Look at the advertisement / story photo below.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 5.33.24 PM

The content in the  Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work is real and does feature real women who have been in prison. But it also is an advertising moment for Netflix.

Native advertising can take many shapes and forms. Consider a native ad on a podcast. Since podcast are story like in nature, listeners attention is high and the ad can be written right into the story line. Blog post are also a great away to get consumers attention. Professional bloggers can write about their personal experience about a product, brand service in there blog. People love to listen to other people, not just what the brand is saying. In order to keep this ethical, bloggers must write this is sponsored post to indicate they are being paid by the brand.

Programmatic buying and Native Advertising are the new trend in advertising. Though many people are skeptical about there presence in the future, I believe they will continue to grow and expand.

Programmatic Ad Buying and Native Advertising

Google AdWords: Fundamentals

Google advertising platform known as Google AdWords earned Google $60 million in 2014. To earn my Google AdWords certification, one must take Fundamental AdWords exam and one other exams (Advertising Search, Display Advertising, Shopping Advertising or Video Advertising). I have chosen to take the Advertising Search exam. The fundamental exam covers the basic elements of AdWords as well as best practices for using and managing a campaign. Search Advertising goes in depth on creating, managing, measuring and optimizing a search campaign. I will begin by diving into the 300 page studying for the fundamental exam.

Fundamental AdWords Certification Exam Key Takeaways

Google AdWords allows your business to target people who are most interested in your product or service. Unlike more traditional advertising methods, such as billboards or magazine ads, AdWords allows you to track how many people are interested in your ad through clicks.

Keywords trigger where your advertisement show up and allows you to target your audience. AdWords use your specific keywords to match your ad to a users search terms. Negative keywords can also be used to exclude your produce offering. For example, if you are selling running shoes but our out of the color red, using the negative keyword red will make sure people searching for red running shoes do not come across your ad.

According to Google Partners Adverting Network, your advertisements will be shown on Google Search Networks and or Google Display Networks.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 12.43.33 PM
Text Ads
Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 12.45.51 PM
Text Ads with Extension

A Search Network, “includes Google Search, other Google sites such as Maps and Shopping, and hundreds of non-Google search partner websites (like AOL) that show AdWords ads matched to search results.” The search network will in able an advertiser to reach customer actively looking for a specific product or service. There are two types of ads that will appear in your search network, texts ads and ads with extensions. Text ad’s (see image to the right) are made up of a headline, a display URL and a brief description. Text ads with an extension give more information about your business (see image to the right). The extensions give information about your business location, contact information and links to other relevant information.

A Display Network, “includes a collection of Google websites (like Google Finance, Gmail, Blogger, and YouTube), partner sites, and mobile sites and apps that show AdWords ads matched to the content on a given page”. Display as allow you to show your ads across the internet in order to reach a wider audience. These ads are more complex and can consists of text ads, image ads, media and video ads. A benefit of display ads is the ability to have higher control where and who sees your advertisement.

A Search Network only campaign works by linking AdWords keywords to other words or phrases a user is searching for. This type of campaign is useful for connecting with potential customers right away. A Display Network only campaign, works by matching your ads text, image, media and videos ads to other websites based on relevant content. For example, a diet supplement advertisement could be displayed next a health foods blog.

Once you choose your campaign type, the next step is to organize your account. Your Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 1.13.50 PMaccount will be organized by separate campaigns with each campaign having specific business goals. I think the best way to understand the structure is by reviewing the image to the left. A well organized account will help you create an effective campaign.

Inbound marketing is all about getting traffic to your website. Google AdWords does just that. Earning a Google certification is a great away to demonstrate your expertise and credibility with the platform. Preparing to take my Google AdWords has been time consuming. Google has excellent study guide materials to help you along the way.  To earn my certification I must answer 100 questions in a 120 minutes and earn a 80%.

Google AdWords: Fundamentals

Paid Search

With advertising shifting to using online channels, ranking well in search engines is a must. In my last blog post I discussed SEO. Since SEO is a natural ranking system determine by a search engine algorithms, ranking well takes time. Sometimes-even years. The good news is, paid search can be used to get your businesses website to the top of the search page. Like in SEO, a paid search advertisement is triggered by keywords or phrases in a search engine. A business is charged for an advertisement each time a user clicks on their ad.

Please note, according to Hubspot’s Beginners Guide to Paid Search, paid search should be used as a compliment to other inbound marketing strategies and not a replacement. Having a combination of paid an unpaid search is a great way to maximize your dominance on a search engine. Having widespread coverage on the search engine page shows the authority of your brands and thus drives more traffic to your landing pages.

Examine the image to the right. Organic searches are in shown in tScreen Shot 2015-05-12 at 1.23.22 PMhe blue whereas paid advertisements are displayed in the green. To rank well in SEO can take years to accomplish. However paid search is more automatic and will always display your ad that the top of the search page. This is key because most people do not take the time to scroll through all the search engine results. Being on top is key.

The main uses of a landing page are the following:

  1. Testing a landing
  2. Finding new keywords
  3. Getting in the game aka ranking higher then competitor

The quality of your advertisement and landing pages matters! Having well written ad copy that is relevant to the user keywords increases the users experience. High quality advertisements will decrease your overall ad spending and better position your advertisements. Immediately after your user clicks on your advertisement your user will be directed to your landing page. The goal of a landing page according to Hubspot, “is to get the visitor to convert in some way – by buying your product, downloading an offer, etc.” Paid search is useful in that you can use in testing and optimizing your landing page. By taking one ad and setting it to have two different URL destinations, will allow you to test your landing page. A/B testing your landing page will allow you to determine which page converts the most uses. Having a easy to navigate and use landing page does affect your Google ad rank and quality score.

Since keywords are the trigger to where your advertisements will appear, its important you take the time to understand your users. Google recommends creating a list of keywords that are relevant and specific. This will ensure the most interested people view your ads. Google AdWords generates a search term report. The search term report allows you to see the effectiveness of each keyword. The report also shows you which keywords users are actually typing into to Google to find your website. This is highly valuable information and will allow you to add effective keyword to your lists.

To further target your audience, Google has a location and language feature.  Narrowing down your audience will increase your ad performance and help your advertising dollars go further. Don’t waste time trying to be too general, not everyone is interested in your product. Also, keywords determine how much you pay. A maximum cost-per-click is defined as, “A bid that you set to determine the highest amount that you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad”.

Your ad rank is how Google determines where your ad is positioned. Say two businesses are advertising similar products and using similar keywords. Its up to Google to determine where the two companies ads are positioned and what order they will appear in by using ad rank. Ad rank is based on your bid (how much you spending) and your quality score. Google Partners defines a quality score as, “An estimate of the quality of your ads, keywords, and landing page.” So everyone time ad’s compete against another companies ads, Google determines which ad wins by calculating each advertisements ad rank. Keep in mind, having a higher bid (paying more) does not mean you will automatically have a higher ad position. Ad rank takes into consideration the quality of your advertisement and relevance of your keywords.

Remember Google is the law. Make sure to follow Google’s instructions and tips for creating a high quality paid advertisements and you will be successful.

Paid Search

Just Google It: SEO and Link Building

Oh just Google It! A commonly used phrased when referring to getting answers off the internet. Although there are many other search engine website, such as Bing and Yahoo, Google dominates the search engine industry. Google,”now processes over 40,000 search queries every second”. Search has became a fundamental part of our culture. Answers are not looked up in books or found by interacting with a sales associates. Answers are found through internet search engines. Weather your on your mobile devise, tablet or computer, search is just one click away.

Search Engine Optimization, SEO, is the process Google uses to rank your business website against other similar websites. Every wonder why some websites are always in the top four position of your search engine results? Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO states, “Being listed at the top of the results not only provides the greatest amount of traffic, but also instills trust in consumers as to the worthiness and relative importance of the company or website”. SEO is a marketing practice used to improve the viability of your webpage by using organic unpaid search results. By using SEO correctly can improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.

Like all other marketing practices, SEO is all about the user experience. This is where your UI and UX designers come in. Designing your website with the users experience in mind will help your business become more searchable.

Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO, states the best websites contain the following traits:

  • Easy to use
  •  Provide direct, actionable information relevant to the query
  •  Professionally designed and accessible to modern browsers
  •  Deliver credible content

To be successful, you must know what keywords or phrases your user are searching. Its not all about getting as many users to your website but about getting the right users.  Popular search terms make up 30% of searches performed on the web. The other 70% of less popular terms, called long tail keywords, are the most important. Understanding the long tail of keywords will help you increase your search volume and conversion rate. For example, a popular search term in the winter could be “winter jacket” but someone who searches “winter snow jacket size small” is further in their buying processes and is more likely to make a purchase right then.

In the winter jacket example above, in order for your website to be listed in the top search engine results (aka increase the likelihood your website is clicked on), your websites needs as many links as possible. Moz defines link building as, “the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own”.  Search engines use these links to crawls the web to reach billions of interconnected documents. By increasing the number of high quality links to your website you will increase your chance of ranking well. Link building will also help your business build relationships, sending referral traffic and benefit your brand. Think of your links as outreach and promotion for your business. By key influencers in your industry linking to your business, you will builds long term valuable relationships that helps your business become highly trusted. Gaining a referral is like getting a recommendation from a friend. Blogs are a excellent example of this. When searching for a great restaurant, reading a food critic blogs is most trusted then just relying on restaurants website. A restaurants website is not going to tell you what menu items suck.

SEO does have limitation and requires knowledge about best practices to make your website crawlable. Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO is a great resource to use when setting up your website. To make your content crawlable, its important to use correct design and formatting. Content should be in HTML format. Other formats such as JavaScript are often ignored or devalued by SEO. Add words or phrases to pictures and videos in order to make them more crawlable. The important take away here is that SEO can’t read and interpret information like a human can. You need to tell SEO what the picture or video is portraying.

Search engines are answer machines. To provide people with the best results the search engine filter the information by relevance and popularity. Relevance use to be determined by matching keywords to websites. Now complex algorithms  are used to determine ranking factors.  Although Google and Bing do not reveal all that goes into their rankings, they do provide guidelines. Check out the guidelines here in Moz’s guide.  SEO uses the assumption that the more popular a site is, the better information on the site. Popularity or sharing of a website is considered a recommendation.

Since SEO operates off of relevance and popularity, you need to get people sharing your content. To begin with, create excellent and education content relevant to your readers. Every search has an intent. By your content being thorough and educational, your are increase your chances you will show up in the top position of the search engine. Remember people do not scroll down through the search engine to evaluate each result. They pick the results positioned on TOP!

Even if you write amazing educational content, without people sharing and talking about you, what is the point? Social sharing is on the rise and is effecting search results. From a business stance, having someone with a large social circle sharing your content is highly beneficial. Although material shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are treated differently by search, their impact are noticeable.

Beware that Google does limit links. Nofollow is added to  advertised links that have been paid for  or links which lack control. Since page rank is determined off of organic searches, it would be unfair to be able to buy your rank. Using nofollow indicates to Google your lack of confidence in the link. Below are examples of links often use the nonfollow feature.

  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts
  • Guest book comments
  • Editable Wiki pages (e.g. Wikipedia)
  • Yahoo! Answers
  • Guest post signatures

SEO is a complex process that is always changing. In order to learn the system and stay about to date about the recent changes does take a significant amount of time. Luckily companies like Moz can do it for you. Moz is a Seattle based company that provides software for search, links, social and brands. Moz number one skill is inbound marketing and educating marketers. My entire blog post was written off of using Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO and Beginners Guide to Link Building. Moz holds strong core values that will never change, TAGFEE: Transparency, Authenticity, Generosity, Fun, Empathy and The Exception. I highly recommend checking Moz’s Blog post for more information.

Just Google It: SEO and Link Building