Are you producing lots of great content on a regular basis but still not seeing organic traffic?
The issue may be a lack of external sites linking to you, also known as backlinks. While SEO has evolved over the years, backlinks still remain as one of the most important SEO ranking factors.
What you shouldn't do is get involved in shady link schemes. This is known as black hat SEO, and it is unethical and ineffective over the long run.
The key to getting backlinks in a sustainable way, without begging for them, is to continually produce high-quality content that people want to link to and share.
So, when you're thinking of your link building strategies, keep these 14 in mind and try any or all of them. Give each a lot of effort and measure the results appropriately.
Click here if you'd prefer to skip this list and just go straight to the infographic.
1. Original Research
My friend Brian Dean has also published research-based blog posts:
And has seen a lot of backlinks from the blog post:
If you prefer to not do research yourself or hire a researcher, you can reach out to other companies that conduct research and publish it in PDFs. Ask them for the PDF and if you can write a short blog post that summarizes the findings, or summarizes parts of it, in exchange for a link to their landing page to download the full report. You'll still get a lot of links and social traffic, even if the data isn't yours. You're simply reporting on it.
After all, that's what all science publications (i.e. ScienceDaily) do everyday. They write reports and summarizations of the latest scientific research, and cite the study in their article.
When your article is ready to go, it may help to put something like this in the headline:
This way, people browsing on Google or social will see that it's research-based, and they'll want to check out your article.
Finally, when you release original data, reach out to some companies you have relationships with that may be interested in sharing your research. You can write to them with a simple request – here's the research we did, here's the article of the research, maybe it would come in handy for you at some point in the future.
Bonus points if you create an infographic based on your original research.
2. Create Long-Form Guides
More and more publishers are cutting their word counts short and producing content with few words. You can stand out and get backlinks by creating 10x content and giving it away for free.
This involves finding something useful that people will want to read, examining the competition, and creating something 10x better. You (or a writer you hire) will write about 15,000 words, and split the organization up into different chapters.
I've created many of these guides and published them Quick Sprout.
Brian Dean wrote a keyword research guide:
I'd recommend you take a look at some of these guides so you can get an idea of the breadth of undertaking for producing a 10x guide.
These 10x guides are expensive (writing and design time) and time-consuming, but they can pay off in the form of backlinks to your site.
3. Interview an Influencer
Influencer marketing is all the rage right now. Most brands want to figure out how to get a big celebrity or athlete to endorse their product. Or better yet, be business partners with them.
But there's another strategy you can take if you're interested in getting backlinks. This involves interviewing an influencer to get their knowledge that would help your audience. If you don't have connections, you'll have to be good at email outreach and be a skilled people-person.
If you are granted an interview, it's important to come prepared with thoughtful questions, and have respect for their time. Most influencers probably won't want to chat for more than 15 minutes, but if you're a skilled interviewer who asks good questions that should be more than enough time to get valuable information from them.
You can publish your interview either in a video format or via a transcript. If you can, I'd opt for a video if you can make sure it's high quality. If not, stick with a transcript of the interview.
4. Create an Infographic
Kissmetrics has produced lots of infographics that have brought us a ton of backlinks. We had our own in-house designer create the infographic, but if you don't have your own designer you can hire one through Upwork.
The most difficult part of the infographic process is brainstorming a topic that's a good fit for the infographic, then creating the copy and graphs to go in the infographic. A great designer will take a lot of the weight off your shoulders. Just come up with a topic, produce the content, and let the designer work their magic.
Don't forget to add an embed code at the bottom to make it easy for people to put it on their website. A lot of other sites may just download your infographic and put it on their site. This is why it's useful to have your logo on the infographic – so even if you don't get the backlink, you still get your brand some exposure around the web.
If you're looking to rank well for a particular term, you can add that keyword to the embed code. See what Copyblogger did with this infographic:
5. Create a Quiz
Much like infographics, quizzes are popular and get a lot of shares. If you create on your site, you can add an embed code and get backlinks just like you would do with an infographic.
Your quizzes should be enjoyable for people to take. They don't have to be a knowledge test. It's best if you create something that encourages people to look inward and think about themselves. The end result then makes something that's shareable with others.
This is what Buzzfeed does so well. They create quizzes like, “What Kind of [fill in the blank] Are You?”. People love taking the quizzes and sharing them because it's about each person.
Try adding quizzes to your marketing strategy and see what results you get!
6. Contact Sites that Link to Defunct Sites
The important thing to keep in mind is to only reach out to high quality sites. Remember that crappy sites that link to you are your problem. You are responsible for who links to you. Remove the crappy sites that are linking to you and you'll improve your overall backlink profile.
Offering a free testimonial is a win-win relationship. The business gets a testimonial and you get your name and company name on their website, along with a link back to your site.
Obviously, when you reach out to these companies, you need to be a customer of their product or service. Don't contact companies you don't use and offer a testimonial.
I've done this on a lot of different sites and it's helped to increase my exposure.
Here I am on the homepage of Backlinko:
And here I am with Brian Dean on the Ahrefs homepage:
And on Viewership.com:
I have many more around the web, but how many visits do you think these three sites receive? That's how much free exposure I'm getting, because I endorse their product and wrote a testimonial.
8. Guest Blogging
This is one of my favorite methods for gaining links and exposure. Guest blogging can be free (if you're a good writer) or paid if you prefer to hire a ghostwriter. If you haven't written for other blogs before, I'd recommend hiring a ghostwriter. It will cost between $250-$500 for a quality article with at least 2,000 words.
In the article, you can link to your own content. I've done this with my articles in Entrepreneur:
Don't go overboard and put a dozen links back to your site. Keep it reasonable (maybe 1-3 for every 2000 words) and make sure the owner of the blog is okay with it. If they're not, you may want to take your content somewhere else. I think it's a fair tradeoff considering that you're giving them great free content in exchange for some links and exposure.
Be sure to also use your byline wisely. Keep it sharp and to the point. Tell readers who you are, what you do, and what value you bring. Link to your site. Bonus points if you can link to other parts of your site, like Bnonn does on the Kissmetrics blog:
In his byline, he's advertising his free course (which brings him leads) and has a link back to his website.
9. Find Unlinked Mentions
If you're well known, you'll have hundreds or even thousands of sites that mention your company or name but don't link to you. Using this method, you find those high-quality sites that aren't linking.
For example, if I write about Copyblogger or mention one of their blog posts but don't link to it, they can reach out to me in a helpful way and suggest I add in a link to their site or blog post. I'm already mentioning them; so adding the link is only helpful to readers.
Credit to Brian Dean for this tactic – he calls it link reclamation.
10. Public Relations For Page Rank
Having good relationships with journalists and news outlets is great for public relations and backlinks. But you shouldn't cold email a journalist and ask them to promote your company. That won't work and will only make you look bad.
Use Help a Reporter Out, but don't rely on it. You need to make an active effort to make relationships with journalists and help them out when they need it. All good relationships rely on reciprocity.
Some of you may have a unique story or angle that a news outlet would like to cover. That's how I got coverage on CNN:
I knew they wouldn't want to hear about my business, but rather that I live in hotels. I did get links to my businesses from this article, and it brought a lot of referral traffic.
So as you build those relationships, you'll eventually start getting mentions in outlets and publications. This can do wonders for your exposure and your “link juice”.
11. Use Outreach Efforts When You Write a Post
When you write a blog post, you'll probably be linking to other companies and articles. When you do that, you should make an effort to contact the people that run those companies or write those articles and tell that them that you mentioned them on your blog post. They may share it social media or mention you in a future article. Remember – trust the laws of reciprocity.
When you reach out, it's important to not ask for a backlink. That will make you look desperate, and no one wants to look desperate. Just simply reach out and tell them that you liked their article/post or company so much that you wanted to share it on your blog post. Then share the link to your blog post. That's all you have to do.
Finally, don't write a blog post that has hundreds of links. If you do that and reach out to each one you linked to, it will make you look bad because you're giving out a bunch of links in order to ask for a link back. Keep the number of links on your blog posts reasonable, and tell bloggers and companies when you write about them. Then, trust the laws of reciprocity.
12. Quality on Quality Blogs
This can be one of the best ways to gain exposure. You'll also get backlinks if the comments are not a nofollow.
The priority when writing a comment is to make sure it's thoughtful, relevant, and adds to the discussion. Writing, “great post, keep it up” isn't thoughtful or relevant and it doesn't add to the discussion. When someone reads your comment, it should be clear that you actually read the blog post or article and have something unique to add to it. Your comments should be like the blog posts you write – high quality, thoughtful, and useful.
The WordPress commenting plugin Commentluv uses dofollow comment URLs by default. I'd recommend searching for these blogs, subscribing to them, reading them as they come out, and making comments shortly after they're published.
You can also link to your blog in the comment:
13. Request Your Company or Article Be Added to a Resource Page or Listicle
It's important to only do this if you really think that what you want to link to would improve the article. I get a lot of requests from bloggers asking for links. I ignore all of them because none of them make sense for my blog. I can see that they don't want to make any of my articles better, they just a backlink.
Check out the script Brian Dean has for you in his mega-guide.
14. Create a List of Your Own
Love 'em or hate 'em, list-based posts get a lot of traffic.
Unfortunately, I think that a lot of marketers and content creators view them as a shortcut. They've been brainwashed by viewing the listicles that are in slideshow form, thinking that if they just brainstorm a few things to put on their list, and add a sentence or two to each one, that their job is done. You shouldn't make it that easy on yourself.
Other marketers will go overboard and make their list so long (i.e. 150+ items) that no one will read it all. There isn't necessarily anything wrong with this if you can make manage to make each item useful. Don't add things to your list that don't make sense just so you can have a bigger number.
Keep in mind, as with everything, quality over quantity. (Ideally you have both quality and quantity). You're better off keeping your list at the right amount and making more quality list-based posts instead of putting all your energy into one post.
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Simply copy and paste the code below into the html of your website to display the infographic presented above:
Getting backlinks doesn't involve begging. It involves hard work. It takes creativity, hustle, and good people skills.
Your best competition, the ones consistently at the top of Google, aren't cold emailing companies and bloggers asking for backlinks. They're hard at work producing great content that people want to share and link to.
All the work is worth it. I've been in content marketing for years and I still find that backlinks are crucial to ranking higher in Google.
I hope you'll examine these 14 tactics, find some that work for you, put in meaningful effort in each, and measure the results. Then let me know how they work for you.
What methods have you found useful and effective to get backlinks without begging for them?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
How many times have you Googled something and your search results have little to no content below the link?
Yeah, that's the meta description. And every website should have one.
If you have a website, then meta descriptions should matter to you.
Even if you don't personally have a website and simply browse online, meta descriptions should still matter to you.
A meta description is a website's final attempt to get your attention and seal the deal with a click-through.
Not only is a meta description a link's last-ditch effort to gain a visit or two, but it is also a factor in search engine optimization that many digital marketers ignore.
But a neglected meta description could mean lost viewers, forgotten leads, and less traffic.
Thankfully, adding meta descriptions is simple. Writing good meta descriptions that help SEO is the tougher part - but it can get easier with help and a little practice.
I'll explain exactly how.
Meta descriptions explained
A meta description is the snippet of text displayed below each link in the search results. It is the HTML element that provides more information about a website to search engines and searchers.
Why do meta descriptions exist?
Well, they serve a couple purposes. They describe the contents of a web page to the searcher while simultaneously convincing and persuading the searcher to click the link.
Meta descriptions play a big role in search results.
Any words that match the search query are made bold in the description.
They also serve as a sort of advertisement for that specific website, providing the searcher with a brief glimpse into what they could gain or see by clicking.
See the below example of search results for “simple SEO guide.”
The meta descriptions above are the few lines of text below the link title and URL.
You will see that some included the bold words from the search query, and others are simply the first few words of the website or blog post.
But meta descriptions aren't reserved for search engine results pages (SERPs).
They also appear when people share content on websites and social media channels. While search results and SEO aren't relevant in this particular instance, well-written meta content will still encourage opens on social media and external sites.
And click-throughs on social media, while not technically recorded by Google or Bing, will still contribute to a site's overall traffic, relevance, and publicity.
All in all, meta descriptions can contribute a ton to your website's success.
The importance of meta descriptions
A meta description is your website's last sales pitch to a searcher. It is the most important feature to improving click-through rates from an organic search.
Meta descriptions are a major tool that searchers use to decide which search results will be the most helpful, relevant, and authoritative.
They are also super important for search engine optimization–but not in the way that you may think.
It is important to point out that meta description content is not factored into search results. So it's not necessary to put keywords into your meta description.
But let's take a step back and consider not just search engine behavior, but human behavior. Meta description content may not influence the search engine algorithm, but click-through rate does.
That's right. Google is actively measuring - and factoring in - user behavior when it comes to search results.
There are so many factors that go into ranking a website; it's easy to forget that human activity is constantly being analyzed and considered.
Kind of makes you think about the way you conduct searches, doesn't it?
Knowing this, think about the way that your meta descriptions look to an average searcher.
Do they appeal to a computer or a person? Is the content arranged to grab an algorithm's attention or the human eye?
Meta descriptions may not directly benefit SEO, but click-through rates do, and meta descriptions help get clicks.
And the more people that click on your link, the better the content will perform in search results.
Now, for any search engine results page, it is not a given that every searcher will scroll all the way to the bottom - not to mention clicking over to a second or third page.
In fact, click-through percentages taper off as you move down the results page because, logically, the more relevant and reliable links are already situated at the top.
At least, that's what the average searcher assumes.
If your website is located further down the first page, or even on the second, you are already working with less than your competitors.
This makes a concise, persuasive meta description all the more crucial to that link's success.
But those results that fall at the top don't necessarily have their work cut out for them, either. Ranking in the first few results doesn't always guarantee a click-through.
Providing a high-quality meta description will ensure that a searcher doesn't go scrolling for another result.
Relevant results encourage clicks. Meta descriptions help searchers understand why your link is the most relevant, helpful, trustworthy option.
And the more searchers click on your website, the better your site will perform overall.
Here's how to add - and write - killer meta descriptions that convert search queries to surefire clicks.
How to write meta descriptions
For now, head over to your website's HTML and take a look at thesection. It'll look similar to this.
To add a meta description to the site, insert the content next to (you guessed it) where the HTML code says “content=”.
Regardless of what content management system you use, you should have complete control over what your meta descriptions say.
The especially goes for WordPress, whose backend platform makes it easy to alter this information.
If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast, you can add the meta description to the section labeled “meta description”. You can even preview how it will look in the SERPs.
Now that we have the technical how-to out of the way, let's review some tips for writing meta descriptions that grab a searcher's attention, wrangle a click-through, and boost your SEO.
At its core, writing a great meta description isn't all that different from writing great sales copy. It is an exercise in concise persuasion designed to sell whatever lies beyond the link.
You have a few sentences to grab someone's attention and garner a click-through.
Every single word you add to that meta description should be dedicated to producing a click, while still maintaining factual accuracy to meet expectations.
This may take practice, but it is worth it for the overall health of your website. Thankfully, changing out your website's meta description is pretty easy.
If you test one meta description and don't love how it performs, you can simply head back to the HTML and try a new one.
If you're overwhelmed about where to start, prioritize your homepage and most important pages, like your product pages, top blog posts, or About page.
Get a feel for writing meta descriptions, and then take the time to fill them out for the rest of your website.
Now, let's dive into how to write up meta descriptions that are clear, helpful, and persuasive.
Be specific and relevant, including the focus keyword.
Within your meta description, you essentially have two to three sentences to persuade people to click. So every word in your meta description matters.
Nowadays, the average searcher will recognize a generic, fluffed-up meta description from a mile away.
They will also most likely ignore that sort of description for one that better suits their search query.
Use your meta description to further connect with the target audience of your website or blog post link. Use relevant language that will appeal to them and be specific about what your website offers.
Layer your focus keyword into your meta description authentically. (That means don't repeat it multiple times or throw in a few different variations for the sake of better SEO.)
Search engines will often bold the words in your meta description that correspond to a searcher's query. This makes it easier for a searcher to see exactly how your website aligns with what they have searched.
Use action-oriented language, with a call-to-action.
Great sales copy always includes present-tense, actionable language. Your meta description should read no differently.
Use the meta description to describe exactly what you want the searcher to do or what exactly will happen when they click on your link.
Give the searcher a clear picture of what lies beyond the link.
Consider starting with words like “Learn,” “Discover,” “Experience,” or “Read” so the searcher has a clear idea of what your website provides. This may also inspire new actions beyond the searcher's original query.
Provide a solution or benefit.
Think about why people make searches online. Most likely, they want to research, buy, learn, or read something, right?
Your meta description should serve as the “Ah-ha - found it!” moment for a searcher.
How can your website give them what they're looking for? How do they benefit by clicking on your link? What lies beyond your search result that can benefit or help them in some way?
Use your meta description to answer these questions. This information is especially valuable when competing with other blogs or websites.
Nowadays, most search queries result in multiple sites offering similar content. What makes your website different, and how can you use this information to entice a click-through?
Keep it short and sweet.
Good digital marketers recognize that, as humans, we have the attention span of a goldfish - eight seconds, to be exact.
You should remember this in any circumstance that involves writing content to persuade or sell, especially when crafting your meta descriptions.
Don't assume that searchers will take the time to review all meta descriptions on the search engine results page.
Choose each word wisely, knowing that people most likely skim your description before continuing down the page.
Another important thing to recognize is that Google cuts off meta descriptions that are too long. There have been reports of Google testing snippets of longer length, but about 150 characters is a safe length.
Case in point - Do not get caught with your most valuable information at the end!
Don't deceive, but inspire curiosity.
You might think it a good idea to embellish your meta description solely to get a click. Who cares if a searcher stays on your website as long as they click-through first?
Not a stellar strategy.
If you're not truthful about what a searcher can expect from your link, he or she probably won't hesitate to hit that “back” button.
And too many quick exits can hurt your site's bounce rate - and, more importantly, the searcher's trust in your content.
Be honest and clear about the content of your website.
Don't stuff your meta description full of keywords, either. Instead, consider asking a question that contains a couple of keywords.
Provide just enough (true) information about your link without giving it away. Inspire a click-through with curiosity - not deception.
Good and not-so-good examples of meta descriptions
Need real examples of the above criteria? Below we'll cover some good and not-so-good meta descriptions based on a few popular search queries.
Let's review the results from some popular search queries relevant to online marketing, starting with good examples.
“How to build backlinks”
This meta description is short, but includes the focus keyword (“backlinks”) and utilizes words like “little-known” and “never seen” to inspire curiosity.
This meta description is strong because it mentions the benefit of building backlinks. It also explains exactly what a searcher will see when he or she clicks the link.
“What is white hat SEO”
This meta description not only employs an actionable word (“learn”) but also explains the benefit of learning white hat techniques and how they can help your website.
This meta description uses a question to grab the searcher's attention and then provides a clear solution that outlines the contents of the website, including action words like “teach” and “execute.”
“Content marketing best practices”
This meta description spreads out the focus keywords so that more of the content is made bold, increasing its chances of being noticed. It also mentions both B2B and B2C, which increases the number of audience members who will benefit from a click-through.
This meta description, although short and cut off at the end, provides a concise benefit of content marketing and explains what the webpage contains.
Sometimes, an ellipses at the end of a meta description can help inspire curiosity and garner a click-through.
Now, for the not-so-great meta description examples, using the same keywords.
“How to build backlinks”
It's clear that this website doesn't have a meta description because it simply repeats the headline and dives right into the first line of the content, providing no preview or enticing language.
Forgetting to include a meta description leaves your website open to random and irrelevant meta content. Searchers will recognize when you've neglected it.
“What is white hat SEO”
Although this meta description is interesting and personable, it lacks relevance and focus keywords. In fact, it's more likely to appear in results for “black hat SEO” given that keyword is mentioned twice.
Meta descriptions could be compared to email subject lines in this case. Using something unique and fun can help grab attention, but going too far outside the line can just be plain confusing.
“Content marketing best practices”
This meta description does not include any information relevant to the site title, nor does it feature any focus keywords.
This may be another case of a neglected meta description, leaving it open to capturing the first few lines of content.
In this case, that was a bad move for the website, especially since it's featured on the third page of search results.
While your meta descriptions may not have a direct effect on your SEO, they play a huge role in explaining your web page content and garnering click-throughs.
Adding them is easy - it's writing them well that's a little more difficult. Treat them as you would your ad or website copy, and your website traffic numbers will thank you.
In what ways have you improved your meta descriptions to help SEO?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
Ecommerce platforms rely on sales to survive. If you operate one of these websites, you know how important sales are for your business.
Whether you sell products exclusively online or have an ecommerce site in addition to your brick and mortar store, you need high conversion rates to be successful.
What do you do when your sales plateau and your conversions drop?
You need to analyze your website. What you've been doing in the past may have worked, but it's imperative for you to constantly optimize and improve your ecommerce store.
After reviewing your site, you might realize certain elements are killing your conversions.
Fortunately, you're in luck. If you want to improve your conversion rates and generate more sales, all you need to do is make some changes.
Through research and my personal experience consulting businesses, I've identified and outlined the top ways to increase ecommerce conversions.
Here's what you need to do.
1. Simplify your website
Websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.
Depending on your company, you might have hundreds or even thousands of products for sale on your website. But trying to cram all of those products onto one page is ineffective, and it's crushing your conversions.
Clutter overwhelms the customers. Instead, focus on your top selling products or items with the highest profit margins.
Let's look at a globally recognized brand as an example. Here's Apple's homepage:
When in doubt, it's always a great idea to look at successful companies as examples. Apple is an industry leader, and their website is about as simple as it gets.
Think about the number of different products they offer. They have all kinds of different desktop computers, laptops, phones, and other electric accessories, not to mention the digital products like software and music.
If they tried to fit everything they sell on their homepage, it would be an absolute mess.
Instead, they promote one product and have a navigation bar at the top of the screen that lists different categories.
This makes it really easy for shoppers to find exactly what they're looking for.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, Apple reported $52.6 billion in revenue- a 12% increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2016. It's safe to say they don't have a problem with conversion rates.
2. Use high quality images
One of the most difficult parts of online shopping is the lack of direct access to the products shoppers consider buying. They rely on photos to get an accurate idea of their options.
It's up to you to make sure you have lots of high quality pictures for every product.
You should have a photograph from every angle. Zoom in on features. Have pictures of models using or wearing what you're selling.
This will make it much easier for shoppers to make a decision.
Here's a great example of what I'm talking about from the Nike website:
They've got six different pictures of just one white hoodie. If you click on the other colors for this product, you'll see even more photos.
I realize this takes time. It's not necessarily the easiest process to take half a dozen photos of everything you're selling.
But in the long run, it's well worth it. Now shoppers know exactly what this product looks like from every angle. They're more likely to buy it if it fits their needs.
3. Include a detailed product description
In addition to photos, you'll want to thoroughly describe what you're selling. With items like clothing, it's usually self-explanatory.
However, if you're selling electronics or something that has a bit of a learning curve, an accurate and detailed product description could help you close the sale.
Think of it like this. If a customer were to walk into a physical store, there would be employees to answer questions and help explain how different products work.
Shoppers don't have that luxury when they browse online. It's your job to make sure they aren't confused about a product.
Even if you're selling something simple, such as a t-shirt, point out how it differs from others. Does it keep you cool when it's hot? Does it keep you warm when it's cold?
These are things that can't be determined from a photo alone.
Check out how Amazon accomplishes this with one of their TV wall mounts:
Just like companies in our previous two examples, Amazon is another industry leader across the globe. They know how to sell products online.
While the photos are helpful, the description really helps the consumers.
It explains which kinds of TVs this mount is compatible with as far as size and weight are concerned. The description also covers the various mounting patterns based on what kind of TV you have.
Without the description, you wouldn't know how far off the wall the mount comes or how close to the wall you can push it.
Not everyone is an expert in mounting televisions. The majority of people probably never have to do this. And unless you install home theater equipment for a living, it's probably not something you'll do more than a few times in your life.
For a unique and somewhat niche product like this, accurate descriptions can really help drive the sale.
4. Show video demonstrations
This element takes our last point a step further. Instead of telling the consumer what your product does and how it works, show them.
If you haven't been using video content to increase sales, you need to start right away.
Well, for starters, 64% of people are more likely to complete an online purchase after watching a video about a product. Furthermore, 90% of consumers say that videos help them make a buying decision.
Consumers want videos, so give them what they want. Thule recognizes this. That's why they include videos with all their products on their website.
The video is super helpful. It gives the consumer way more information than they could get from just a photo and a description.
In this example, the customers learn how to properly fold and assemble the stroller for transportation and easy storage. The video also shows how to safely secure a child in the seat.
It's an effective way to give your website visitors a more accurate description of the product. They can see it being used instead of just reading about it and looking at pictures.
5. Offer easily accessible customer service
As I briefly mentioned earlier, there's nobody there to assist the consumer when they're shopping online, unlike in a physical store.
Do your best to replicate that customer service experience. You may have photos, videos, and a great description, but customers will still have questions.
Make sure you give them several options to reach a customer service representative:
Offer as many options as possible so each customer can contact your company based on their personal preference.
You also need to have support ready at all hours. As an ecommerce platform, I know you're aware that customers all over the world have access to your website 24 hours a day.
Let's play out a scenario. A customer is interested in one of your products but has a few simple questions. They try to contact customer support but don't get an answer.
They won't complete the purchase process. But if their questions get answered right away, your conversion rates will improve.
6. Don't surprise your customers with extra fees
Consumers are sensitive to price. You have to be upfront and totally transparent with the prices on your website.
The customer expects to see the same price for the same product on all pages, including in their shopping cart.
Adding hidden charges, taxes, and shipping fees will crush your conversions.
Look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:
Extra costs are the number one reason why consumers abandon their shopping carts.
Look, I realize you've got to pay sales tax and shipping isn't free. But rather than surprising the customer when they check out, include those costs in the original price.
You'll still get paid enough to make a profit, and the customer won't be surprised with extra fees. It's a win-win scenario for everyone.
Plus, it will reduce cart abandonment and improve your conversion rates.
7. Send shopping cart abandonment emails
Let's continue with our last point. While you can certainly do things to improve your shopping cart abandonment rates, some customers still won't always complete their purchases.
You can't ignore this.
Someone was just a click or two away from buying something on your website. They identified what they wanted and added it to their cart.
It's going to be much easier to try to get this customer to convert than to find a new customer.
This person is already familiar with your brand and obviously interested in at least one of your products. Sometimes they just need a bit of extra motivation to complete the sale.
This product will still be fresh in the customer's mind-they just left it in their shopping cart. They wanted it, but for one reason or another, it just didn't happen.
Receiving this email could be enough to trigger an impulse buy.
8. Include all your contact information
On top of providing customer service, you should have as much information as possible about your company available on your website.
Clearly display your:
If this information isn't on your site, it could appear sketchy. Customers may think you're not a reputable company.
What if they have a problem with their order? If your contact information isn't available, how will they get their issue resolved?
That uncertainty could prevent people from buying things on your website.
9. Run promotions
As I said earlier when talking about extra fees and costs, consumers are price-sensitive. It's important to be aware of this.
One way to get people to convert more on your ecommerce site is by running promotions. Offer sales, discounts, or other special offers that sound enticing.
It just needs to be worth it. For example, if you're offering a 5% discount on orders over $200, it's not going to make anybody rush to make a purchase.
But on the other hand, if you're offering 25% off everything on your website, it will boost your conversions.
Just make sure you have all your numbers worked out. You don't want to slash prices so low that you're not turning a profit with each sale.
The best way to go about this is by jacking up your prices initially, then constantly running sales.
Check out all of these different promotions on the Macy's website:
They have some discounts as high as 50% off. This is a great way to drive sales.
Just make sure you're careful with this strategy. Once you start offering discounts and promotions, customers may be less likely to buy things at full price. They'll just wait until the next time you run a sale.
If you're going to incorporate discounts, markdowns, and other promotional offers into your ecommerce marketing campaign, be prepared to do it often.
10. Accept as many payment options as possible
I realize some credit card companies charge you higher fees than others. But that's no reason to exclude those payment options from your website.
You can't assume every customer visiting your website has a Visa card. You need to accept all major credit cards, including Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Even if they have a card you accept, it doesn't mean they want to use it. They might have better benefits or a lower balance on a different card.
You should also take alternative forms of payment, such as PayPal, Venmo, or Apple Pay.
Offering more options increases the chances of the customer being able to pay with their preferred card or method.
It's also important that the checkout process is completely secure. That way your customers feel safe about entering their credit card information.
11. Recommend products to enhance the shopping experience
If your site is using cookies to track browsing behavior, you can recommend products to your customers based on what they like. Use their previous order history as well to personalize recommendations.
This shows the consumer you care. Their browsing experience is different from everyone else's.
Here's an example from Bed Bath & Beyond:
You can also try to upsell to your customers when they add something to their shopping carts. For example, if they buy a pair of headphones, you can recommend a carrying case for them.
Again, it reflects their personal experience. This strategy works.
Research shows that 49% of consumers said they bought something they weren't initially planning on purchasing after seeing a personalized recommendation.
Whether your business is brand new or has been around for a while, there is always room for improvement.
You can make simple modifications to your ecommerce website to get more conversions.
These 11 tips are the best place for you to start. Refer back to the examples and the data I showed you for guidance.
I'm not saying you need to implement all of these strategies overnight. In fact, you may even have a couple of these in place already.
But over time, you need to optimize your ecommerce website if you want to get as many sales as possible.
Follow these tips, and I'm sure you'll see an improvement.
What elements of your ecommerce website have you changed to increase your conversion rates?
Monitoring webpage performance is key to avoiding setbacks when algorithms change. Contributor Bobby Lyons points out ways to adapt everyday SEO activities so a website will thrive regardless of algorithm updates.
The post Making website speed and performance part of your SEO routine appeared...
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
Everyone and their Aunt Betty is doing webinars. But it doesn't mean they're getting people to sign up and or buy their stuff.
You have probably registered for at least a few webinars in the past, right?
Even if you registered, it didn't mean you'd attend.
And, if you attended or watched a replay, chances are you didn't purchase the products or services promoted.
Here's the cold hard truth: most webinar conversion rates aren't high.
You may only get 5% to 15% conversion on your webinar registration page.
From there, you may have a 35% to 45% registrant to attendee conversion rate.
Next, you'd cross your fingers that you have the right audience attending the webinar so they'll actually make a purchase.
Most people expect a single-digit conversion rate.
There are many hoops to jump through before you can generate substantial income from a webinar.
You'll need a lot of people entering the top of your funnel. You'll need to promote your webinar and make sure you're getting the right people to register.
Then, optimize your funnel for conversion by getting those who have registered to attend the webinar or watch the replay in hopes they make a purchase.
Let's make it simple.
Here's the key to getting the most out of your webinar: you need to generate as many high-quality leads as possible.
So what's the secret sauce to generating leads and turning them into sales?
Here's what you need to know:
Attract high-quality leads to register
To generate leads and increase ROI, you need to focus on boosting the conversion rate. Here is how you can do that:
Identify your audience
Let's do a bit of reverse engineering here…
If the goal of your webinar is to sell a product or a service, then you need to first determine who's going to buy the offer.
That means you have to know exactly who you want to be attending your webinar.
To clearly define your audience, create a buyer persona map like this:
A buyer persona map will help you hone in on their demographics and psychographics.
Your buyer persona should cover the pain points, frustrations, and desired outcomes of your target market in relation to the product or service you're promoting in the webinar.
There are a few ways to gather this information:
Start by collecting additional information on your registration page.
Set up landing page with targeted messaging
With the information you have gathered in the buyer persona, you can now create a webinar registration landing page.
Use content that targets your ideal customers' challenges, pain points, needs, and wants.
The one and only goal of this registration landing page is to get potential attendees to sign up for the event.
Make it simple for them by entering their information, such as name and email address.
The copy and images on the page need to communicate to the visitors why they should register for your webinar within seconds of seeing it.
Here are some essential components of a high-converting webinar registration page:
If you're using webinars for lead generation, chances are you're offering it for free.
Don't forget to highlight that it's a no-cost event so you can get more people to sign up. I know that this sounds obvious, but lots of companies actually have to remind prospects that it's free. If you don't make it clear, you'll definitely get questions asking about the cost. Or worse, they won't ask and instead assume there's a free and won't sign up.
Offer on-demand or replay
In 2017, one-third of all webinar attendees only watch an on-demand event.
People want to consume content when and where they want it.
In particular, mobile access has shifted media consumption pattern to on-demand formats that put the viewer in control of their viewing schedules.
Offering a replay or allowing prospects to access your webinar on-demand can entice more people to sign up for your event.
On-demand access also gives you the opportunity to continue promoting the event after the live date and keep generating leads.
Co-host with a partner
Co-hosting a webinar with a joint-venture partner can give you the opportunity to access a new audience and generate more leads.
Your webinar partner should share a similar audience with your business and offer complementary products or services instead of being direct competition.
To maximize the lead generation potential of the webinar, you need to co-market the event to your respective lists.
And do some research on potential partners to make sure they offer high-quality content that's a good fit for your followers.
Promote your webinar to the right audience
If you build it… they won't come. (Sorry!)
To get the right audience to attend the event, you need to promote your webinar through multiple channels actively:
Leverage your current audience
Sharing your webinar with your existing followers is a great starting point to get the word out.
They already know about you, so it's often much easier for them to say “yes” to registering for your event.
This also gives you a great opportunity to nurture relationships with them and build the trust you need for conversion.
Here are a few ways to promote a webinar to your existing audience:
By now I'm sure you realize how important Instagram is for your business.
Every day your audience gets bombarded with many different pictures and videos showing up on their timelines. That's why I've told you in the past that you need to write captions that drive engagement.
But nobody will read your captions if the image doesn't capture their attention. They'll just keep mindlessly scrolling past your post.
I've seen some companies hire experts in photography to help them put out better Instagram posts.
While I can applaud the effort, I also think it's a complete waste of money. You can take your own photos without hiring a professional.
Now you can use that extra cash and apply it to other aspects of your business to focus on the newest marketing trends.
Instagram has tools allowing you to edit your photos and videos directly on their platform. Those might be okay for the average person, but your business should avoid them.
It's all about standing out from the crowd.
All of the 800 million monthly active Instagram users have access to those editing tools. If you're using them too, your posts will look like everyone else's.
There are other apps available that can help make your photos stand out. But there are thousands of them out there, so it's tough to figure out which ones are most useful.
That's why I've taken the time to share with you the best 15 apps for photo and video editing. These will help you take your Instagram posts to the next level.
I'll go through all of my favorites and show you some of the key features of each one.
1. Afterlight 2
If you're looking for unique filters, Afterlight 2 has a huge collection of old school and vintage ones available. These are definitely an upgrade from filters that come standard with Instagram.
They also have some really cool effects and designs that allow you to add text and other typography to your images:
You can even put part of your text behind elements within your photo. This feature is perfect for businesses.
Now you can capture the attention of your followers by layering a catchy headline directly over your image as opposed to just writing a caption. This is a great opportunity for you to do something like:
You can download Afterlight 2 for $2.99, and that's all you'll ever pay for this app. They don't have any other in-app upgrades or additional charges to access their best features.
Snapseed takes your editing effects to a whole new level. You can apply effects and filters to specific areas of your image with high precision:
They've got a really cool editing feature called a perspective tool. This helps you automatically adjust or correct any skewed lines in your images.
Let's face it, a picture taken by hand won't be 100% perfect. You might think your horizon is level or buildings are lined up properly, but that's rarely the case.
That's when the perspective tool can make your photos look professional.
What's the best part about Snapseed? It's free. It's definitely worth checking out since there's no risk involved.
3. Aviary Photo Editor
Aviary Photo Editor is an Adobe product. If you've used Adobe software and were happy with the experience, you should give this Photo Editor a try:
The editing tools on Aviary allow you to saturate colors within your photos as well as soften or sharpen areas for an effect.
Aviary also has a large collection of frames, stickers, and other overlays to embellish your images. You can even hand-draw captions across the pictures.
I like to use Aviary because of the features allowing me to fine-tune my images. With just a couple of clicks, you can eliminate blemishes or brighten shadows to make your images more lively.
Aviary saves your images to the cloud. If you have an Adobe ID, you can access your images from anywhere and edit them from any device.
This feature comes in handy if you're taking and editing images as a team. Everything can be stored in one place.
For those of you who want to add a vintage feel to your videos, Vintagio has what you need, as the name suggests.
If you've got a fashion company or ecommerce store that sells clothing, this app can be useful for promoting products from bygone eras.
If you want your video to appear to be from a certain time period, their video filters can match the style of that time. That way, it's clear to your audience that the setting of your video is not supposed to be the present day.
You can also trim and piece together different video clips with this app.
And you can change the video quality of your clips if you want to create something that looks like it's from the 1950s.
Vintagio has great soundtracks from different eras as well. You can adjust the speed and timing and add other effects to your clips too.
Combining all these elements together will help you make a unique Instagram video.
5. Average Camera Pro
The name says it all. Average Camera Pro was created to help regular people edit photos like professionals.
Unlike other apps that just edit photos, Average Camera Pro has a built-in camera function. You can use it to take multiple pictures at the same time or set a timer for the photos.
You'd find these tools on high-quality and expensive cameras. But you can have them on your phone for just $0.99.
This camera function works best if you want to take pictures in low-light settings. Since you're increasing the exposure time, you'll get brighter pictures that would normally appear dark on a regular phone camera.
Sometimes when you try to brighten a really dark photo, the editing looks obvious in your final image.
But you won't have to worry about that if you take the pictures with Average Camera Pro.
TiltShift is great for bringing focus to a specific area of an outdoor scene. So if you've got a business with a physical storefront, you can use this app to bring your location to life.
The effect makes your image appear as if it's a miniature. Instagram has a tilt-shift feature built into their editing tools, but this one is far more advanced.
If you take lots of landscapes or other outdoor photos, this app is worth getting for just $1.99.
Do you want to change the background of a picture you took? Instagram doesn't have any tools for that, so you'll need to get the Superimpose app.
Superimpose lets you remove the background from an image.
Then, you can combine it with another picture. This is awesome from an advertising perspective.
Want to take an exotic beach photo without leaving your office?
Check out these creative images above. Superimpose allows you to blend images together or even change an image into something unrealistic, such as a fish with the head of a chicken.
Using Superimpose as part of your arsenal of photo editing tools will make your brand stand out on Instagram. You can create images that are fun, exciting, and imaginative.
Plus, their software creates a smooth final product that's believable. Your pictures won't have that unprofessional crop and paste feel to them.
It's only $1.99 to download. In no time at all, you'll be uploading new photos to Instagram that will get your followers talking.
8. 8mm Vintage Camera
The 8mm Vintage Camera is great for shooting and editing longer videos. Now that Instagram lets you upload videos that are up to a minute long, this app is perfect for you.
You can get really cool video effects such as:
All of these can make your videos feel more authentic.
8mm Vintage Camera was even used in the filming of an Oscar-nominated movie.
If a professional director can use this app to get on the red carpet, you can certainly use it to edit your Instagram videos. It's available for download for just $1.99 with some additional premium themes available as in-app purchases.
If you love adding filters to your photos but are sick and tired of using the same ones, it's time for an upgrade. CrossProcess has over 70 filters.
I've seen many businesses on Instagram using the same one or two filters over and over again.
Your followers will realize pretty quickly you're not being very original. Once this happens, they may start ignoring your posts. Or even worse, they could unfollow you.
If they aren't following you, you won't be able to keep them informed of other promotional information that drives engagement and gets conversions.
You can prevent this from happening by simply spicing up your photos with new filters available from CrossProcess.
Instagram allows you to upload multiple photos to one post. The only problem is you have to rely on your followers to scroll through each one.
This is not always the case.
If you want to combine multiple photos into one image, you can do it by creating a collage with PicFrame:
One of the coolest parts of this app is you can apply different filters and effects to each image within your collage as opposed to having one tone across the entire picture. That way, they can all be unique and stand out from each other.
You can also adjust the color and design patterns of your frames with this app.
If you really want to enhance your collage, PicFrame has lots of bonus features like stickers, shapes, text, and even music.
I think it's worth the $2.99 price tag.
11. Facetune 2
If the majority of your Instagram photos contain people as opposed to just products or landscapes, you need to consider Facetune 2.
Nobody is perfect. Sometimes, we get blemishes, breakouts, or acne. After a long night of tossing and turning, everyone gets bags under their eyes.
But these imperfections shouldn't discourage you from posing for a photo.
This app can make photos of people more flattering. Sometimes, all it takes is a slight adjustment to the lighting.
Facetune 2 also has specific filters designed for selfies. Sometimes the front-facing camera on our phones doesn't take the best pictures, so just apply one of the filters to make up for it.
With a few easy steps, you can easily:
The Facetune 2 app is completely free, so there's no reason why you shouldn't at least try it.
12. Tiny Planet Photos and Video
Tiny Planet lets you take images and videos with a fisheye lens effect.
This effect creates the appearance of a “tiny planet”-hence, the name.
Have you checked Instagram today? How many photos have you seen so far that look like this?
I'm willing to bet you haven't seen any. I know I haven't.
Get this app if you want to create images that are fun. The circular and warped photos this app creates can also be used as background images on phones, computers, or other devices.
You can suggest that to your followers.
Quick has really cool fonts that you can add to your photos.
They simplified the photo editing process with this app. Quick advertises that it's designed to be used with “just a thumb.” So you won't need to get on your computer or do anything too fancy to get great photos.
You can send your edited image straight to Instagram or other social media platforms directly from the app.
As you can see from the example above, their text overlay features are great for captioning a photo or listing a price for something on your ecommerce store.
14. DXP FREE
The whole purpose of the DXP FREE app is to create multiple exposures on one image.
As a result, your pictures will stand out. Check out these examples:
Instagram doesn't offer such tools.
This app does require a little bit of patience and precision. You'll need to understand the concepts of blending, or you might get a bit frustrated when you're trying to edit.
But like with anything else, the more you use it, the easier it'll get. Just as the name says, it's free to download.
Tangent lets you add patterns, textures, and geometric shapes to your images.
It's another way to let your creative juices flow.
It also has some features that allow you to add framing overlays to your photos.
Tangent gives you an opportunity to express yourself. If your company has an audience that recognizes art and creativity, you'll definitely want to use Tangent to impress your Instagram followers.
To captivate your Instagram followers, you'll need to make sure your photos and videos are edited properly. That doesn't mean you have to hire a professional editor.
There are plenty of apps available that are really easy for anyone to use. Lots of these are free of charge or only cost a couple of dollars, so they are worth a try.
Everyone with an Instagram account has access to the same filters and editing tools.
Editing your photos with another app can separate your pictures from the crowd. If you're not sure where to find the best apps, refer to this list as a guideline.
All of these apps are unique and offer different features depending on what you're looking for, such as collages, text overlays, face touch-ups, or vintage themes.
What types of camera effects do you like to use when you're editing photos and videos on Instagram?
This article is a supplement to our Kissmetrics Webinar this Thursday, February 15th at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST with Samir ElKoumany, co-founder of Fetch and Funnel. Join here
Communication has changed. This may sound like a trendy thing to say at a cocktail party for a lot of people, but for marketers, it should be a wakeup call.
We cannot afford to be left behind. We must keep up with our audiences. Over the last 10 years “keeping up” has led to the universal adoption of email marketing, search engine marketing, and social media marketing.
Your audience has already adopted messaging platforms and your business must make the leap. Those that do so early will reap huge rewards. Think email marketing a decade ago. The cost to acquire a qualified subscriber was only a few cents, and email engagement was astronomically higher than it is today. Fast forward to present, and this very same opportunity has presented itself. It's time to take the leap and cross the chasm. Those that don't will soon resemble the person STILL buying ads in the classifieds section of your local newspaper.
Facebook Messenger is the fastest growing channel in the world. With 1.3B users, it is already larger than Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest combined. It's also the only channel of this magnitude that isn't saturated with marketers (yet).
Even if you already understand the opportunities presented by messaging platforms, we will get to this in a bit, hold your horses, it can be a bit confusing. How can businesses engage with customers in this new place where meaningful conversation is held?
Chatbots are the answer. While great for customer service, they are exceptional for marketing. With a little forward thinking, Chatbots and messaging platforms can become a huge sales channel for any business.
Why You Should Use Facebook Messenger + Chatbots to Put Growth on Steroids
You might be wondering why we're so jazzed about Messenger & Chatbots for businesses? The short answer is that people love Messenger and they prefer to interact with both friends and brands on the platform.
We occasionally speak with people who say things like “no one uses Messenger”, or “I actually prefer my Gmail Promotions Tab”. Listen, these people are not the early majority. Heck they might not even be the late majority. According to Simon Sinek, “the only reason these people buy touch tone phones is because you can't buy rotary phones anymore.”
Take Facebook Messenger for example. It's growing like crazy!
If you throw in WeChat, WhatsApp, and other popular platforms, you have a massive market of potential customers.
But wait, there's more! You still have an opportunity to become an early adopter, considering far fewer than 13.5% of businesses have made the discovery. While most other channels face declining engagement and rising advertising costs due to saturation, Facebook Messenger is just getting started.
Not sold yet? Here's a few more benefits:
How We Use Chatbots
We have built Chatbots to solve many different problems. From helping customers pick the right size electric skateboard to capturing leads using webinars as a lead magnet.
Our Chatbots are great for delivering content! Say goodbye to heavy reliance on email marketing.
That said, there are three main types of messenger bots we like to build for clients:
Here's an example of method #2 above. It's a coupon bot we built for bottom of funnel retargeting. The user clicks a Facebook ad and is taken directly to Messenger, initiating the bot experience. Here's where things get interesting. This took a 5.6x lifetime ROAS up to 48.2x in less than a month!
We've seen some mind-blowing results from Chatbots.
Ready To Learn More?
Join Samir ElKamouny, Co-Founder of Fetch & Funnel, next Thursday 2/15 at 1:00 PM EST for a webinar that will show you exactly how modern marketers are using Facebook Messenger & Chatbots to increase sales and leads at a fraction of the cost.
He'll Be Covering:
You do not want to miss this! Sign up here.
About the Author: Matt Morin is a Senior Account Manager at Fetch & Funnel.
Do your conversion rates need a boost?
Nobody has a conversion rate that's 100%. I think it's safe to say that no matter how successful your company is, your conversions can always be improved.
Recognizing this is half the battle, but you'll need to actually implement some changes if you want to see an increase. Just hoping for more conversions isn't going to cut it.
Here's another mistake I see businesses make. They confuse a conversion problem with a traffic problem.
Sure, driving more traffic to your website is great. I encourage you to do this. You may get more sales, but it won't necessarily change your conversion rate.
Ecommerce websites need to focus on their website layouts. I've told you before that websites with simple designs have higher conversion rates.
But you've also got to simplify your checkout process.
If you analyze each phase of this process, you may find certain elements that are actually driving customers away.
Fortunately, I've helped businesses with this problem before. I want to share some of my most successful strategies with you.
Here's how you need to approach your checkout process to maximize conversions.
Take a look at your shopping cart abandonment rates
Over 69% of shopping carts get abandoned. That number is astonishingly high.
According to Statista, these are the top reasons why consumers abandon carts:
Take a look at these figures and see if your existing checkout process has any of these hindering components. Are you encouraging customers to just browse?
It's clear based on this data that lots of customers may add something to their shopping carts without any intention of buying anything. I know I'm guilty of this myself as well.
You need to find ways to convert these window shoppers into customers. I recommend trying to tastefully implement scarcity tactics:
These tips will help you reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions.
Shopping cart abandonment is an epidemic that needs to be addressed. You can send your customers an email reminding them they forgot something in their carts as part of fixing the problem.
But looking at your shopping cart abandonment rate is only the first step of optimizing your checkout process.
You should be constantly tracking this number to see whether the changes you're implementing are making a difference. Keep referring back to it as you go through this guide.
Eliminate unnecessary steps
If your checkout process is long and complicated, it'll have a negative impact on your conversion rates. Make sure you're only getting information that's required to complete the sale.
Consumers are busy. The more steps you make them go through to buy something, the more time they have to realize they really don't want it.
But if you can simplify your checkout procedure down to a few steps, the customer won't have time to second-guess their decision.
That's why the number of form fields should be as low as possible.
As you can see from the graph above, the fewer form fields, the higher checkout performance and usability. As a result, your checkout process will have better conversion rates.
But look at how quickly those numbers drop when the form fields become too long. Those yield a poor UX performance, which can negatively impact conversions.
Ask yourself this question:
That's really it. You don't need to find out their favorite hobby or their mother's maiden name.
Just stick with the bare minimum, and you'll see your conversion rates rise.
Encourage customer profiles, but don't force it
Some ecommerce websites force customers to create profiles before they can buy something. While I can see the reasoning behind this strategy, it's killing your conversions.
Look, I get it. From a marketing perspective, you want as much information about your customers as possible.
Once they create an account, you'll have their name, location, and email address to which you can send more promotional info.
That's all great. But if you had to choose, wouldn't you rather have their money?
Not everyone wants a customer profile.
Over 48% of online retailers said a guest checkout was the most important factor to increasing shopping cart conversion rates on their websites.
This was the second highest response on the list, trailing only behind free shipping.
Profile creation piggybacks on our last point as well. You want the process to be as quick and simple as possible. Going through a long process will turn customers away.
But you can encourage your customers to create a profile in other, subtle, ways. For example, your “create a profile” CTA button can be larger and more prominent than the “checkout as a guest” button.
Or you can send the customer an email after they complete the checkout process encouraging them to create a profile.
This message can be part of your actionable drip campaign, notifying customers of:
You could add a promotion to one of these emails offering a discount off their next purchase if they create a profile.
Just don't make it a requirement to buy something.
Focus on your top benefits
Besides the product, what else does the customer get when they buy something from your website? There are certain things you can do to add the perceived value of the purchase.
Here's what I mean.
As I've mentioned, not everyone comes to your website with the intention of buying something. But while they are browsing, something might catch their attention.
They may want to buy it, but they want to make sure they aren't stuck with it if they change their mind later. That's why you should clearly state your return policy.
Take a look at this example from Lululemon:
When you're browsing on their website, you can clearly see at all times they offer free shipping and free returns. Their customers know they can get the item delivered free and send it back without any problems.
Obviously, you don't want items to be returned. Don't worry, they probably won't be. In fact, according to the National Retail Federation, about 8% of all purchases get returned.
But just giving your customers the peace of mind can be enough to drive the sale.
In addition to your shipping and return policies, make sure you highlight any other features your company offers. Some things to consider:
One of these elements can turn a “window shopper” into a paying customer.
Learn how to use images
Believe it or not, pictures can help improve your conversion rates. Instead of just listing your products, show the customer what they're buying.
While you may have an image or two of your products on your ecommerce shopping page, make sure that image shows up in the shopping cart.
This can help remind the consumer what they're buying and reinforce their decision. Plus, it's much more appealing than just reading some text on a page.
Here's an example from the REI website:
The consumer gets reminded of exactly what they added to their cart. This could also help avoid any confusion or mix-ups down the road if they selected the wrong color, size, etc.
When they see a visual confirmation of the product they want, psychologically they'll feel more comfortable about completing the purchase.
Faces also help improve your conversion rates.
According to a recent case study, conversions jumped from 3.7% to 5.5% when an animated picture of a phone was replaced with the face of a customer service representative.
Include images of people on your website. They could be wearing your product, using your product, or be beside your product.
Check out this example from the Macy's homepage:
Notice it shows a person, and that person is looking at the promotional information and the CTA button.
We've already established consumers are drawn to faces. In this case, you'd look at the model's face and then follow his gaze directly toward the text.
This is a great method for increasing conversions.
Simplify the overall design of your website
In addition to simplifying your checkout process, you should also try to clean up your entire website.
If your products are displayed in a cluttered manner, the consumers will feel overwhelmed. They won't be able to find what they're looking for, and your conversion rates will suffer.
While you may have hundreds or potentially even thousands of items for sale on your website, you don't need to cram all of them on to one page.
Less is more.
Let's look at an example so you can see what I'm talking about. Here is the homepage for Thule:
There are only five different places the consumer can click to start navigating through products. On the top header, they can select:
They've also got some options within the main body of the page for:
Now, as you continue to scroll, you'll see more options that follow the same format as these two pictures above. But at no time do you ever see more than two pictures and two CTA buttons on the screen at once.
This simple design makes it easy for shoppers to find exactly what they're looking for.
Give your customers lots of payment options
Some payment options may be more beneficial to your company than others. I completely understand this.
One credit card company may charge higher transaction fees than others, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't accept that method of payment.
Recognize your customers have preferences. Certain payment options may give them better reward points or bonus miles over others.
If they want something but can't buy it with their favorite card, they'll just buy it from a different retailer instead.
You should accept newer and unconventional types of payment as well. In addition to accepting all major credit cards and debit cards, consider using:
I want to show you an example of this. Here's a screenshot from the Nike website:
If you look at the bottom right corner of the screenshot above, you'll see they allow their customers to check out using PayPal.
This could appeal to people who have a high PayPal balance and who want to use it for purchases. Accepting PayPal can also help eliminate concerns from customers who may be worried about their credit card information getting stolen.
The reason why I used this example from Nike is because it also highlights another concept I mentioned earlier.
Although they encourage customers to create a profile, they allow them to continue the checkout as guests. Even under the guest checkout area, it shows all the benefits of becoming a member.
To join, all you need to do is check off a box and proceed.
Another quick point about your payment methods. I recommend asking for payment as the last step of the checkout procedure.
By now, the customer has already invested some time into providing other information, so they'll be more likely to continue. Asking for their payment first could drive them away.
Don't forget about mobile shoppers
Retailers always need to keep mobile shoppers in mind.
In 2017, 34.5% of ecommerce sales came from mobile devices. That number is projected to reach 54% by 2021.
Your checkout process needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Make sure your site is mobile friendly.
You could even consider creating a mobile app for a checkout process to minimize friction even further.
Touch of Modern is a great example of a successful retail mobile application:
You can learn a lot about getting high conversions from their business model.
They get between 150,000 and 200,000 new downloads every month. More than half of their customers are repeat shoppers. Nearly two-thirds of their total sales come from their mobile application.
Those numbers are incredible.
The reason why this app is so successful is because they use daily flash sales and store all their customers' data on the app, making the checkout process lightning fast.
Customers don't have to re-input all of their credit card information and shipping addresses every time they want to buy something.
The reduced friction results in high conversions.
Getting higher conversions isn't that difficult. It just takes some effort.
As you can see from everything I talked about in this article, these methods aren't really too extreme. They are also fairly easy to implement.
First, analyze your shopping cart abandonment rates.
Next, eliminate any unnecessary steps in your checkout process. Stick to the basics and only ask for information required for a sale.
Encourage shoppers to create a customer profile, but don't force them to.
Highlight your top benefits. Use images throughout the checkout process to confirm what the customer is buying.
Make sure you offer many different payment options as well.
Don't forget about mobile customers. Your website needs to be optimized for mobile devices. You may even consider creating a mobile app for your ecommerce store.
If you follow these tips to simplify your checkout process, you'll get significantly higher conversion rates.
What changes do you need to make to your checkout process to reduce abandonment rates and get more conversions?
Subscription-based companies face a problem.
They willingly lower prices to get people in the door.
Each monthly charge is only a tiny fraction of their costs.
That means it could take months for them to breakeven on each customer.
Unfortunately, most people that sign up don't stick around that long.
People who sign up for a new desktop app or install a new mobile one often leave just as fast as they sign-up.
If apps can't keep people around, they'll slip into negative cash flow. They pay out more than they bring in on a per-user basis.
So it almost doesn't matter how their Series A was or how much of their angel round is still in the bank.
Because they're going to blow through it pretty quickly.
There are a few ways to fix this.
But one of my favorite over the years is remarketing.
It scales better than most online marketing tactics.
You can create the audiences and campaigns once. And then they'll automatically run based on actions people do, or don't, take with your app.
Thankfully, Google has recently introduced a few new features to make this tactic even more powerful.
I'm going to show you how to use those to increase retention and lower churn once and for all.
But first, you need to understand why remarketing or retargeting is a powerful churn antidote.
Why remarketing ads to boost app retention?
An old study came out years ago that shed light on the problems most apps face.
One of the most surprising findings was that up to 70% of free trial signups are “accidental.” Meaning, they never actually consider becoming a lead or customer.
In other words, most apps are already behind right out of the gate.
Despite this example's age, you know the behavior to be true.
Think about the last time you signed up for a free trial.
If you were interested in a new task management app, for example, you probably signed up for a few different ones.
And then you maybe chose one.
The depressing part for product people is that these numbers continue to fall of a cliff after each day.
Apps only have a 21% retention rate on the very first day. It falls to only 1.89% by the end of three months.
Think about that for a second.
You probably have to hang on to a customer for at least 90 days to break even. Except, only about 1-2% of the people signing up will stick around.
There are similar stats across the board. It doesn't matter where you look.
Localytics found that mobile app retention is a little closer to 20% after 90 days.
Again, still not good. Retaining 20% of your customers is no way to build a thriving, profitable business.
But you know what?
This shouldn't be a surprise.
This is similar to other companies when you think about it.
Ecommerce companies routinely see 2% conversion rates. Meaning, the vast majority of site visitors they get will leave without purchasing a single thing.
Ecommerce companies are also similar because they need to sell a TON of products to become profitable.
Average one-off sales around ~$15 bucks isn't going to cut it.
They either need to drastically increase that average order value. Or, they need to keep people around for the long haul so they continue buying.
All of that means they need to use scalable marketing tactics. They can't pick up the phone and call each person.
Which brings us back to remarketing and retargeting.
I'll come right out and say it:
Most ads suck today.
There's a reason why nobody pays attention ads anymore.
Just look at the number of people now using ad blocking technology. The numbers have literally exploded in the past few years.
That's over 300 million people, up from 54 million only three years ago!
Why are people blocking ads in record numbers? Because most of them are completely irrelevant.
People hate ads because they offer nothing. And they're completely overwhelmed by the sheer number of ads coming at them on a daily basis.
Remarketing and retargeting ads are the exception to the rule, though.
It's typical to see the conversion rate for a marketing campaign fall over time.
People get used to seeing your ad on Facebook, for instance, so they start ignoring it.
And over time, those numbers keep getting worse and worse.
However, the conversion rates for remarketing ones actually improve.
A lot of it comes down to the 'rule of seven.' People need to interact with your brand several times before they're ready to purchase.
Remarketing can do that at scale. You set it up once, then just tweak the results.
You can literally set-and-forget campaigns.
So reaching 100 users doesn't require any extra work than reaching 100,000. Except, of course, a bigger ad budget.
First, let's discuss a quick primer on AdWords retargeting options. Then, we'll get into the new fun stuff you can do with them.
How AdWords Remarketing works
Retargeting ads are pretty simple on the surface.
Each new visitor that comes to your site or downloads your app gets tracked.
That tracking pixel allows you to then serve them ads.
The best part is that today's pixels give you all kinds of control over what you send them.
So you can serve new ads based on actions or inactions within your app.
Most of the time, these retargeting ads will be display-based.
That means they're banner ads shown across Google's Display network that reaches over two million websites and apps.
Google's remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) audiences can personalize text-based search ads, too. We'll dive into these in the next section.
The first step to setting up retargeting campaigns is to create different audiences.
These audience lists are dynamic. Meaning, people will join or leave depending on the criteria you set up.
Then, you'll can tailor ad campaigns or different creative based on the specific audience you're targeting.
Login to AdWords and navigate over to the settings. Inside, you'll see “Shared Library.” And under that, you'll see the “Audience manager.”
Here is where you can create or edit all the different dynamic audience lists you'll use.
After you get up and running, you'll probably want to have a bunch of different audience lists.
The best approach is think about your sales funnel.
Ad campaigns should target each stage.
That way, people at the top see one offer. While people in the middle or bottom see a completely different one.
Apps need to actually go even further. Because as we've seen, free trial signups or app installs doesn't count for much.
So you'll want to create more for people who've started a free trial but not converted. Or, people who've installed the app but haven't visited within a certain number of days.
Inside the Audience manager, look for “Remarketing” and then “Audience lists.”
Right off the bat, the second option down is “App users.” Let's look at a few ways to set these up.
The “List Members” option is how you control the audience criteria. These settings dictate whether someone gets added here or not.
Profitable retargeting campaigns comes down to good segmentation.
The tighter the segmentation, typically the higher the conversion rate.
So you wouldn't want to choose “All users of an app” for your first retargeting list.
Why? Because it's too generic!
You wouldn't be able to create personalized, relevant ads for each person on that list.
Instead, you'll want to dig deeper into the other options on the “List members” selection.
For example, start with “Took specific actions within an app.”
Personally, I would tie these into your specific onboarding milestones.
Did someone upload their first image, yes or no? Did they send their first email campaign, yes or no?
Lincoln Murphy calls these 'success milestones.'
They're essentially micro-conversions that lead people from one tiny commitment to the next.
If someone progresses through all of these steps within a certain number of days, your chances of retaining them shoots up dramatically.
Which brings us to the second app option.
You can also create a retargeting list based on user recency.
In other words, has this person visited your app within the past X number of days?
Treat these like you would a drip email sequence.
It's almost like an autoresponder.
If people visit more often, you can send them upsell notifications faster.
But if people don't visit, you can send them re-engagement campaigns about interesting features to get them back into your app.
You can also set up retargeting audiences inside Google Analytics if you want to use website behavior. Head over to the admin panel and look for “Audience Definitions”:
Underneath, you'll be able to create new audiences from site interactions, like pages visited.
Here, you can create new segments of people who visit your Pricing page, for example, but don't convert.
Pretty cool, right?
All of these audiences can be created around the most common objections.
That way, you can test different ad creatives to overcome pricing questions vs. feature ones.
The sky really is the limit.
But there are a few new features that can put your ads on a whole new level.
New option #1: RLSA audiences and IF functions
Google's search network ads are among the best converting channels, period.
Nothing else comes close.
A big reason is because you can target ads based on intent.
You can use the mirror the exact words someone typed in.
Google's RLSA audiences can help you retarget search network ads.
That way, you can cue off recent interactions they've had with your brand.
Why is this so powerful?
People routinely buy from brands they recognize.
RSLA audiences pack two punches:
So RLSA audiences are like gold for people who've signed up, installed, and then neglected to do anything else.
But it gets even better.
Last year, Google released IF functions for AdWords.
These allow you to take personalization one step further.
You can create an ad template that will switch words based on someone's condition.
For example, you can tell if they're using a mobile device instead of a desktop one.
Then, you can change the ad text from “Get our mobile app” to “Download now.”
It provides an extra layer of detail that most other advertisers can't match.
You can customize these further based on your previous interactions.
So ad text can be personalized based on if someone's previously downloaded your app vs. if they're a loyal customer vs. if they're a new potential impulse purchase.
And best of all, it's like dynamic text replacement. You don't need to create a hundred different ad variations.
You just need a few. Then, you can use IF functions to do all the customization for you - automatically.
They're also pretty easy to use once you learn the 'language.'
You can customize based on devices or all of these retargeting audiences you just created.
And here's where the fun starts.
Remember we discussed funnel stages?
Now, you can create search ads that can cycle through offers based on where someone is in your funnel.
Sequential retargeting can be used to start with basic offers for top-of-the-funnel people, like an ebook or guide. Then, you can get more direct the further down your funnel they get.
Now, let's say you get someone to download or sign up for your app.
Maybe they interact with five times over the course of five days. You know you have them on the hook.
Why not try to increase the discount percentage to get them to buy before it's too late?
Or vice versa. Someone who's interacting more often than others will probably convert anyway.
So why not pull back on your conversion offer to save a few bucks.
Either way, you're boosting app retention and increasing profitability across the board.
And if you're still struggling to get people into your funnel in the first, this next tip is for you.
New option #2. YouTube and mobile retargeting
Retargeting ads have one great weakness.
If you want to segment each audience as much as possible, you're going to require A LOT of people in your initial sample.
Think about it.
The number of people who have downloaded your app, gone through the first two success milestones, but haven't been back for 10 days is going to be pretty small.
That means you constantly need to fill the top of your funnel.
You need to continually get new people to interact with your brand.
That way, you'll get enough people down to the bottom to make these campaigns worth it.
But you're not just going to rush off and blow your whole budget on new search ads.
CPCs might not matter in the grand scheme of things.
However, they do when you overspend on clicks that don't go anywhere.
Instead, we want to build up these retargeting audiences for as little as possible. The cheaper per person, the better.
That's why video views come into play.
Video views offer one of the cheapest ways to quickly build up your audiences.
Seriously, you can pay a few cents per view and pixel every person.
Head back to your “Audience manager” from earlier.
Look for the YouTube option to unlock a plethora of new targeting criteria:
You can add people to these lists based on almost any interaction they do on YouTube.
Not only is YouTube the second largest search engine on the internet.
But they get a billion views per day from mobile devices.
Beyond YouTube, you can also hook into your SDK analytics, too.
That means you can unlock new audiences based on if they've interacted in both places: Mobile videos and then mobile interactions.
Think about a typical marketing automation sequence.
If you can use multiple triggers like mobile video views and mobile download to know exactly where someone is in your funnel at any given time.
And that means you should know exactly which ad to serve them to get them to stick around, too.
New option #3: Customer match retargeting
I've saved the best for last.
So far we've been focused on just getting people into your app and sticking around for the first few days.
But that's not enough.
Not when a huge chunk of your users will bounce within the first month.
Subscription economics mean you need customers to stay for months and months and months.
Otherwise, you don't break even.
Any money spent so far has been a complete waste.
Well, say hello to customer match retargeting.
These audiences are created around people you know intimately.
You already have some history with them.
They've give you their email addresses, phone numbers, or more.
Maybe they've even purchased from you in the past.
The point is you have specific customer data that can now be used to continue retargeting them.
Take email addresses for example.
Now, you can combine messaging in multiple channels to keep them around.
Best case scenario, someone whips out their credit card and signs up for your app.
Awesome! Don't stop messaging them.
You want to continue following up to make sure they know they made the right decision.
You don't want them to get cold feet and visit a competitor's site to check for a cheaper price.
Social ad platforms across Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer some sort of 'email match' feature like this.
They will take the email addresses you upload, scan them against their massive library, and align as many as possible.
But Google's email match rate far exceeds those other options.
That means they'll be able to successfully match a greater percentage of your app users
Many times, you can get their mobile phone number but not an email address.
So now, you have another workaround to still build up your retargeting audiences.
At the end of the day, marketing is a numbers game.
You need to get a ton of people into your funnel.
And then you make little iterative tweaks to increase the number of people moving along each step.
Boosting retention is the same way.
You should still test new product onboarding techniques, on-site messaging, and email campaigns.
But you should also use retargeting campaigns that virtually run themselves.
The trick is to make sure you're properly segmenting people based on their interactions with your app.
Because that's the hard part.
If you can successfully create new audiences based on user interactions, serving them the right ads at the right time becomes a breeze.
Unfortunately, most people who sign up for a new app won't stick around.
That's true for desktop apps and it's even more true for mobile ones.
Retention numbers across most studies are grim.
Some might be as high as 20% of users stick around. While others go as low as ~2%.
That means your job switches at a certain point.
You need to go from just worrying about acquisition-based channels, to retention-based ones.
Getting people to look at your app might not be the problem.
The issue that's undercutting your profitability is your churn rate.
I love using retargeting campaigns because you don't have to manually run them.
I won't lie:
There is a lot of work up front to get everything set up. You have to invest a lot of time and energy planning out your audiences.
But from there, it's all downhill.
Lining up your ad creatives becomes easy because you know exactly what each audience wants.
And then once you start them, you just have to monitor performance.
You never have to manually fuss with adding or removing people from each audience.
The ad campaigns run themselves.
That means you can get back to improving the product.
And you can be confident knowing that you already have campaigns on autopilot that are doing the work for you.
What are your most successful retargeting campaigns to date?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
It used to be so simple.
A billboard here. A radio or television commercial there. Perhaps a print ad or two thrown in for good measure. That was your marketing strategy, and it worked.
Want to watch the latest episode of The Dukes of Hazzard? You had to sit through that commercial for cereal. Enjoying an article in the new issue of HBR? You at least glanced at the ad for the new Volkswagen as you flipped the pages.
Marketing messages were everywhere as they are today, but one thing has fundamentally shifted in favor of the consumer: they now have the ability to tune them out, skip them entirely, or block them completely.
DVR allows viewers to fast-forward through commercials. Podcast and YouTube ads can be skipped immediately or after a few seconds. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are commercial-free. Good old-fashioned terrestrial radio is on life support.
And let's not forget about AdBlock and similar services. A tiny extension or a standalone browser dedicated to better user experience like Brave lets you stop them in their tracks. These tools either block or filter advertising content from websites, pages, and apps. Consider:
We've entered the Age of Ad Blocking. And banner blindness. And instant gratification. Patience may be a virtue, but it seems to be in dwindling supply. Ain't nobody got time for commercials and ads. (Unless it's the Super Bowl).
And if you think the solution is using an adblock wall – restricting or prohibiting access to content until users turn it off – think again: 74% will simply leave your site.
It might seem a catch-22. You need ads to market your products and/or monetize your website. You need to attract visitors to click those ads. But those same visitors claim to despise ads.
Look at the reasons why people use ad blockers for some quick insight. According to PageFair:
And according to Hubspot:
You'll notice quite a bit of overlap. People don't like sketchy ads, intrusive ads, ads that negatively affect page performance, ads that are irrelevant, ads that are annoying, and more.
What takeaways can you glean from that? It's a straightforward list of what not to do with your advertising and messaging.
So, is marketing dead? Far from it.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds, marketers are still able to get their message across in an ad-blocking world. How? By adapting to the changing landscape. If the old ways don't work, you have to find innovative new ways. Intrusive ads that interrupt the user experience are out. Honest, timely, and relevant “ads” are in.
Say hello the rise of Digital Advertising 3.0.
In the simplest terms, an influencer is a content creator or personality with a relatively large following on a given platform. Their popularity or expertise gives them a great deal of clout with their fans.
But they need not be celebrities in the traditional sense of the word. Individuals like Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry, and Justin Bieber have tens of millions of followers, but that doesn't automatically make them a good fit for you and your brand.
In fact, research has shown that influencers with fewer than 1000 followers – often called micro-influencers – saw likes 8% of the time, and comments 0.5% of the time on their posts and shares. Celebrities with 10+ million fans? Those numbers plummet to 1.6% and 0.04% respectively.
Influencer marketing is a partnership with an influencer to review, promote, or link to your content, brand, and products. It's widely used and considered one of the most cost-effective and powerful strategies used today. Interest in it grew 90x between 2013 and 2016, and doubled again in the first nine months of 2017. 2018 looks to be no different.
And because there is no “ad” in a sense, nothing is blocked or filtered. This puts your message in front of as many eyes as possible, and if you've done your homework beforehand in finding the right influencer, it's a targeted audience.
If you haven't tried it yet, there's no time like the present. A few things to remember:
Done right, influencer marketing bypasses ad-blockers and delivers marketing that people actually want to see. Teenagers on YouTube, for example, trust the opinion and recommendations of influencers more than celebrities. They relate better to them, and believe the influencer understands them as well or better than their friends.
Traditional online ads try and stand out from the background. They might use a different font or color. They might flash, or wiggle, or bounce. They might autoplay a video or audio clip.
They want you to notice them. And that's their downfall: traditional display ads are very easy for blockers to identify and filter.
That's where native advertising comes in.
Native ads mimic the digital environment in which they appear. They try and blend in. They don't want to interrupt the user experience in any way, and ideally, they don't even want you to notice it's an ad at all. In fact, they might only be discernible as an ad by the Sponsored or Promoted tag most sites place on them.
Click a native ad, and it usually leads to a page that looks and feels like a regular blog post or article. It can easily be shared.
But it still has a message. The post includes or features the brand, product, or service being promoted in some way. It often has a call-to-action such as signing up to receive a special report or newsletter.
You've encountered native ads in your daily web browsing, even if you don't realize it. They're very popular on news and aggregate sites:
Scroll down the top stories on Yahoo, and you might not even notice the “Sponsored” tag on the post about an investment opportunity. It looks like any other article (with perhaps a bit of a clickbait headline).
Click on it, and you're taken to a landing page that looks like a blog post. It mentions that Jeff Bezos – the richest man in the world – is pouring millions into a new tech innovation. Others are following his lead.
What is it? Just enter your email and download the free report.
The post is a native ad for The Motley Fool to collect leads for their financial services. And it works because there's nothing to block. Users choose to click it.
Google search ads are another powerful example of native ads at work. For any given search query, you'll be presented with thousands of organic results…and a few paid ones, too. These are identified by the Ad tag, but otherwise look exactly like a regular search result.
Facebook in-feed ads are considered the most lucrative type. As you're scrolling through your account feed, you'll encounter them all the time, but they blend in with posts from your friends, family, and pages you follow.
Some are a bit more obvious, like this ad for ChinesePod, an online platform to learn Mandarin. It's definitely an ad, but because it appears in your feed rather than your sidebar – and includes like, shares, and comments – it takes on the appearance of a regular post.
Others appear decidedly un-ad like, like this one promoting the new Netflix film The Cloverfield Paradox. You'll notice the Sponsored tag if you look for it, otherwise it just seems like someone posted the trailer for a cool new sci-fi movie. From the stats at the bottom, we can see hundreds of thousands have watched it, thousands have liked it, and hundreds have shared and commented on it.
In essence, it's an ad that's not an ad. And that's the most powerful and effective type of ad you can create.
With this “ad”, Netflix has generated interest, excitement, and buzz for its latest big budget release.
Yahoo's recent Perception Study found 4 key components to a native ad that produces a positive impression:
Want to experiment with Google search ads? Go through Google. Facebook in-feed ads? Contact Facebook. For various news and aggregate sites, you'll need to work with a native ads network such as Native Ads, Outbrain, Taboola, or Nativo.
And if you want some inspiration, check out a few spectacular native ad examples.
Native ads are not a fix-all. You still need to find the right platform(s) for your target market, and deliver relevant and timely “ads”.
You don't need me to tell you just how popular social media is today. We spend more time on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others than we do on any other type. It's our favorite online activity.
There are over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 800 million on Instagram, 500 million on LinkedIn, 330 million on Twitter, and 178 million on Snapchat. Worldwide, there are 3.03 billion active social media users (compared to 3.82 billion internet users). That's a massive potential reach and audience.
So it makes sense that social ads are taking over.
Everyone spends time there. And it's relatively easy to blend in and make your ads appear less like ads and more like shares, posts, and tweets.
Every social media platform now offers the ability to advertise and market in some way. Facebook makes the majority of its revenue – the vast majority – via selling ads space to businesses. In 2017, it earned $39.94 billion in ad revenue, up 49% from the $26.85 billion it made in 2016.
The story is the same for Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. Ad revenue is big, big bucks. But as an SMB, you don't have to spend millions, or even thousands, to get in on that action.
On Facebook, you can work with sponsored posts, in-feed video or image ads, or more traditional banner ads. Instagram? Sponsored posts, Stories, or video ads. Twitter? Promoted tweets and hashtags. YouTube? Video and banner ads. LinkedIn ads? The #1 rated platform by marketers for B2B leads. You're spoiled for choice. Where does your market hang out online?
And let's not forget Snapchat. Its growth may have slowed recently, but it's still a tremendously popular platform for tweens, teens, and millennials. It provides traditional ads, Stories, geofilters, and lenses to spread awareness, increase engagement, and have fun. It may not seem so at first glance, but Snapchat and business can be a match made in heaven.
Social ads don't strike social users as ads at all. They're part of the experience. It's marketing in a more organic, natural, and unobtrusive way. The hardest part is choosing the right platform and the right ad type to reach and resonate with your customers, not deciding whether you should try it in the first place.
Global social ad spend doubled from $16 billion in 2014 to $31 billion in 2016, and is expected to have grown another 26% in 2017. Big bucks. Big results. And nary an ad-blocker to be seen, because the ads are part of the platform experience itself.
That's winning the advertising game the 2018 way.
You've no doubt noticed the proliferation of in-app ads over the past few years. Any time you download and install a free app, you're most likely going to be subjected to at least a few ads. It's only fair, right?
Apps are big business. As the saying goes, there's an app for that. Gaming, entertainment, finance, travel, reviews, meditation, exercise, and on and on. You need something, anything? An app exists to help you with it.
And in 2018, in-app ads are the fuel that drives the mobile app engine.
As you can see in the graphic above, video ads, display ads, and native ads account for 56% of app revenue sources. Developers need to make a living, too.
But it is a very fine line. If you've ever encountered an in-app ad, you've also likely been annoyed by one. There's only so much space on a smartphone or tablet screen. Losing any to an ad can be irritating and frustrating.
So what's the secret sauce? Many marketers and developers are seeing positive results with rewarded video ads.
App users are offered a choice: watch a brief video ad in exchange for an in-app reward (a free upgrade, additional life, downloadable template, exclusive content, etc), or skip it. No coercion. No aggressive sell. It's entirely up to the individual whether they watch or not.
But those that do agree are actually seeing your ad. Typically 30 seconds or less, the videos play while the user patiently waits and watches. It's a captive and willing audience for marketers.
As with any type of advertising, actively work to improve it over time. Monitor. Tweak. Manage. Improve.
Perhaps the original ad-blocker killer, content marketing is still going strong. Even without the existence of blockers, it would still be a crucial cog in your digital marketing efforts.
Providing valuable, targeted, and useful content for free is a great way to spread awareness of your brand, increase engagement, build authority and expertise, and generate both goodwill and leads. Creating and sharing blog posts, infographics, videos, podcasts, and more is the ultimate method for winning in the digital arena.
It's not salesy. It's not pushy, or aggressive, or in-your-face. But pound for pound, content marketing delivers like no other. According to the Content Marketing Institute:
Content marketing is a long game. It's not based on clicks or conversions, per se. Use it to engage, connect, and build relationships that you can leverage into sales and revenue down the road. When it comes to business in 2018, just getting known is more than half the battle.
And because the ad is the content itself, blockers won't block, filters won't filter, and your audience is being advertised to without realizing it. They get something valuable from you, and you get to deliver your message to them.
If you market online at all, content marketing should be a cornerstone of your strategy whether you're concerned about ad-blockers or not.
I could go on in great detail about other methods to slay the ad-blocker beast, but I'm sure what we've already covered is more than enough to get you started. Suffice to say, there are other channels to explore:
Keep looking, and you'll find plenty of additional tips, tricks, and channels to beat the blockers.
If you're only pushing ads the traditional ways – popups, banners, sidebars – you're doing it wrong.
Advertising is changing. Evolving. Understand why people are blocking to better understand how to win them back. The idea isn't to sneak past the blockers anymore, but rather to make them unnecessary.
People are using them because of performance – some studies suggest ad-blockers can reclaim 24 hours annually by making sites load faster – privacy, and security concerns. Keep that in mind when designing and launching your ad campaigns.
They don't like repetitive display ads. They don't like retargeting ads that follow them around.
They don't like popups, before-content ads, and banners.
In the United States, 54% of ad-blocker users feel ads are annoying and/or irrelevant, 48% believe there are just too many ads, and 47% feel that they take up too much screen space.
The good news? 83% of respondents in a Hubspot survey agreed that not all ads are bad, but they want the ability to block the obnoxious ones.
The solution? Make sure your ads are not the obnoxious ones. Pay attention to what they hate, and create accordingly.
How have you adapted to the ad-blocking age? What methods have you used to get your message across?
About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.
Targeted Laser SEO provides SEO for surgeons, lawyers, and medical entrepeneurs, medspas, and spas. With an emphasis on local SEO and affordable SEO service packages for our clients, we are able to combine cutting-edge and innovative strategies to help our clients get ranked online in the most advantageous positions.