Pinterest Shoppers Buy More than Other Users

Marketers are always looking for the best ways to attract new customers, and that is especially true on Black Friday.  In addition to being one of the biggest shopping days of the year, however, it is also going to be one of the bigger advertising days of the year.  With millions of marketers trying to get their products in front of perspective customers, it is important to know where to go to get the best return on investment.

Businessman drawing ROI (return on investment)

According to Pinterest, their users are going to be shopping more on Black Friday than the average users.  This means if you can get your ads shown on that page, you’ll have an increased chance of it converting into a sale.

Pinterest has released new stats that support this claim as well.  Of course, most marketers know that when done properly, Pinterest can really do a great job at generating sales.  The trick is to make sure you’re marketing to the right groups of users (of course, that is the trick with any marketing).

According to the information released, Pinterest users are spending four times more than the average user on things in the ‘toys and games’ category. This is a massive number when you really think about it, a 400% increase over the average internet user.  That’s not all though.

Their users are three times more likely to spend money on housewares, clothing and accessories.  2.2 times more for electronics and media.  Another interesting point is that those using Pinterest are 50% more likely to spend the most on their Black Friday shopping at specialty stores and local businesses.

This is all very interesting information that can help marketers learn where they should be investing their ad dollars.  For an affiliate marketer who is promoting a wide range of different products, for example, putting ads up on Pinterest may be a great idea.  These ads can be for those categories mentioned above and can help to generate a much higher ROI than would otherwise be possible.

Of course, many different platforms will have great results, but finding those areas where you can get even a small bump over the competition can help in many ways.

If you’re not already an advertiser on Pinterest, it may not be too late to get your account set up and ads running for Black Friday.  You’ll have to hurry though as this major shopping event is just around the corner.

Study: Marketers Don’t Understand Social Media ROI

Simply Measured has recently published the results of a new study that provides a lot of information and insight into the way marketers are using social media. The study looked at things such as what marketers hope to get out of social media programs, where they feel they are successful and where their struggles are.

Measuring Social Media Effectiveness

One key area that the study covered is how effective a social media campaign really is.  When asking marketers what the most challenging part of running these types of advertising campaigns, there were quite a few interesting answers.  You can see the results from the chart below.

As you can see, measuring the return on investment for this type of marketing is clearly the most difficult thing for marketers. While this is a big problem for marketers, there are others that may be even harder to overcome.  Tying social activities and business outcomes, for example, is often going to be a bigger challenge, even though fewer people are reporting that as a problem.  This may be because this issue is either a big concern or not at all.

Some companies, for example, naturally fit in with social media so tying their activities to their business outcomes is very simple.  Other companies, however, don’t naturally fit into a social media platform. This can make it more difficult to get the results you’re looking for or even plan out an effective strategy (which is the third most difficult area according to the study).

Social Media Marketing Goals

Setting proper goals is a big part of running a social media campaign.  If you don’t have the right goals in place, you’ll never be able to accurately access the return on investment.  For 71% of brands in the study, building a stronger brand awareness is their number one goal.  This makes since because social media is an ideal place to do just that.

Driving website traffic came in second place with just 48% of businesses reporting that as a ‘top three goal.’  You can see how the different companies in the survey responded to this question in the chart below:

There are certainly quite a few different goals listed here and getting a good understanding of them all is important.  While the question only asks about the top three goals, most marketers will have many other things in mind when developing a social media strategy as well.  Getting the best results out of each campaign will rely heavily on understanding the most important areas that you’re looking to make progress.

If you are interested in learning more about marketers and social media, you can view the entire report by clicking HERE.  You will undoubtedly find a lot of useful information that can help you develop a better and more successful long term social media strategy for your brand.

Key Survey Provides Marketers with Insight to Effective Techniques

When it comes to marketing, few things can be more valuable than having a good understanding of what will work best with your particular audience.  Learning which types of marketing techniques will bring in new customers and which ones will drive them away.  This is why a recent survey from Fractl and Moz is so interesting.  The survey asked over 1000 consumers a variety of questions about how they learn about products and decide what to buy.

While the survey is somewhat generic in that it does not break things down based on types of products, age groups or other demographics, it does provide some very valuable information.  Taking some time to read through the questions that were asked and the responses given can be very helpful to any marketer looking to improve the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.  With that in mind, let’s go over a few of the most interesting questions from the survey and their results.

Have You Done Any of the Following in the Last Week?

This question is quite interesting because it shows what types of activities people are doing when considering making a purchase.  As you’ll see in the chart below, most people are using search engines to find information.  Interestingly, the second most popular option is ‘read an article online.’ This is almost certainly an article read after doing a search, so the reality is that search is critical for both of the top two results.   See the chart from the study here:

How do You Learn More about a Company or Product?

This is another great question and one that can give you valuable insight into your potential customers.  Once again, we see that doing online searches and visiting company website are right at the top.  The key here is to make sure you have the best possible information right on your website so consumers find it when they need it:

What is an Effective Way for a Company to Attract Your Business?

Here is a very direct question and really gets right to the point.  If you know how your consumers are looking to be marketed to, you can make sure you are meeting them where they are so to speak.  Sending consumers discounts, coupons and free items is clearly a very effective option according to the chart below.  After those two, however, search results are one again key to attracting business.  Go through this chart and see which areas you are currently engaging in and which ones you can make improvements on:

You can see the full report HERE if you’re interested in learning more about the results of the survey.  It has a lot of valuable information that you can use to make immediate improvements to your overall marketing strategy.  No matter what type of product or service you are promoting, this can be a very helpful bit of information to take your marketing efforts to the next level.

Two New Products Launching from Google to Improve Ads

Google has recently announced that they are launching two new products to help improve their ads.  The products are designed to help marketers provide their customers with what they want, when they want it and where they need it. The products are called, “Customer Match” and “Universal App Campaigns.”

Customer Match

The first new product, Customer Match, is designed to allow marketers to reach out directly to the highest-value customers using Google Search, YouTube or gMail.  Using this product you will be able to easily upload your own list of email addresses, which can then allow Google Ad Network to target these users while they are signed in.  The targeting is done in a secure and privacy-safe way since the users can still opt out of being targeted like this if they choose.

The example provided in the announcement from Google states, “Let’s say you’re a travel brand.  You can now reach people who have joined your rewards program as they plan their next trip.  For example, when these rewards members search for ‘non-stop flights to New York” on Google.com, you can show relevant ads at the top of their search results on any device right when they’re looking to fly to New York.  And when those members are watching their favorite YouTube or catching up on gMail, you can show ads that inspire them to plan their next trip.”

In addition to targeting people on your existing email list, you can reach out to new customers who are similar to your existing ones based on Google’s massive amount of data.  This can help you to draw in new customers and further expand your email list.

Universal App Campaigns

The next new service, Universal App Campaigns, will allow app developers and marketers to launch a custom campaign that lets you connect directly to app users on search, Google Play, YouTube and the Google Display Network.  This will allow you to get your app in front of interested users no matter where they are or what they are doing.  This can help you to find the right audience for the app you are promoting.

Here is the example from the announcement by Google, “Let’s say you’ve built an adventure game.  With Universal App Campaigns, you have unparalleled reach: you can drive installs on YouTube, the platform with 1B+ users who watch hundreds of millions of hours of content every day.  Your ads can also reach specific audiences across 650k apps and 2M+ websites in the GDN.  And importantly, Universal App Campaigns tap into intent-rich searches like “adventure games” and “puzzle games” that are happening throughout the day on Google Search and Google Play so your app can be seen when people are looking to download something new.”

In addition to getting your app in front of the right people, it is also easier than ever to setup.  You just provide Google with your desired cost-per-install and they will take it from there.  They customize the campaign to get you the results you’re looking for.  They optimize the campaign in an ongoing way to get you the highest possible return on investment.

Whether you’ve used Google for advertising before or not, these two new options will certainly help you take your business to the next level.

Report Finds Improvements in eCommerce Conversion Rates

A quarterly report from Monetate has recently been released for Q2 2015 and it has something of a mixed bag of information for marketers.  First, it found that the conversion rates for eCommerce has improved on all types of devices.  This is significant because over the previous several reports these rates have gone down.  The bounce rate, however, is remaining high, which is something that many marketers will be concerned about. Referral traffic from social networks continued to go up as well as did the average order value, which is always a good thing.

Conversion Rates

The first thing to look at is the overall conversion rate on eCommerce platforms. The report found that conversions for Smartphone’s went up 7%, tablets went up 12% and desktops went up 7%.  This is a nice reversal in the trend over the past several quarters which saw overall conversion rates dropping.  The big jump in tablets is especially promising given the continued growth in tablet use.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate on eCommerce sites, however, stayed at around an overall average of 31.32%.  This is about even with the previous quarter, which may not sound bad until you see that the current rates are at a 15 month high.  Clearly something is not going right.  The bounce rate is something that all marketers struggle to keep as low as possible since the longer a user stays on the site, the more likely they are going to make a purchase. The bounce rate on smart phones is also significantly higher than on tablets or PCs, which is troubling since smart phones are continuing to grow in popularity.

Referral Traffic

Some good news is that referral traffic that comes from social networks is up about 50%.  This is a huge growth, especially considering the fact that social networks were already a huge source of traffic a year ago.  While social media traffic is not necessarily going to convert at the highest of rates it is a great source of potential customers, especially if they are coming from targeted advertising.

Average Order Value

Another piece of good news is that the average order value (AOV) is up significantly from the previous quarter.  Today the average order on an eCommerce site is $118.26 in Q2 2015.  In the previous quarter the AOV was $116.57.  Related to this is the revenue per session, which went from $3.69 to $3.93 year over year.  Given the sheer number of visitors and purchasers that visit eCommerce sites these little jumps can translate to huge increases in total profits.

If you’re interested in seeing the full report you can view it HERE.

Sex & Violence Don’t Actually Sell!

When it comes to marketing, most people believe in the popular adage “Sex Sells.”  According to a recent study, however, that might not be the case.  The study was published in the academic journal, “Psychological Bulletin” and looked at behaviors after people watched television programming that included sexual and/or violent content.  The results were surprisingly similar, and not at all what many people would have expected.

Brad Bushman, who published this meta-study and is a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University said that, “It never helps to have violence and sex in commercials.  It either hurts, or has no effect at all.”

The studies specifically showed that those brands that use sex or violence are remembered less often than other brands, and when they are remembered it is less favorably.  These two factors go against all the goals of marketing efforts.

Within the research it was found that the same is true for both men and women.  This basically nullifies the idea that using sex to advertise to men is effective.  Even if it does get their attention at first, it is unlikely that it will cause them to want to buy a product or even remember the product.  This actually makes since given the fact that when you think about ‘sexy commercials’ you think about beer, but not necessary a specific brand.

There is also ‘reverse’ evidence that supports the study.  This shows that ‘family friendly’ commercials are very effective.  Many major companies including Wal-Mart have been moving toward the more ‘PG’ rated advertising and with great results.  Wal-Mart did research and found that when they advertised on family-friendly programming the results were 18% better than when it was on questionable programming.

Of course, the type of programming an ad is run on will also have a big influence on how the ad is seen.  While the study itself is primarily focused on the most effective types of ads themselves, it is also important to keep in mind that.  This applies to more than just television advertising as well.  If you are using digital marketing you will want to make sure your ads are appearing on sites that are in line with your overall advertising strategy.

Zero SEO Budget for 79% of Marketers

A new report was recently published from Hotwire that surveyed 300 senior decision makers at some significant companies.  The study looked at how companies are budgeting their marketing dollars for their businesses.  The most surprising statistic is that 79% of all the marketers surveyed reported that they don’t budget any money at all for their SEO efforts.

Given the fact that it is hard to go more than a few minutes without hearing about how important SEO can be for effective marketing, this came as something of a surprise.  The report suggests that most marketers are spending their budgets on paid advertising such as display ads and PPC.

The reasoning often given for this is that paid advertising is much more predictable.  Most companies, especially those that have larger marketing budgets, like to have a predictable return on investment for their marketing dollars.  With proper analysis, most companies can confidently predict that for every X amount of dollars they spend on paid digital marketing they will make Y dollars back.  This can leave very little room for a less predictable item like SEO.

Problems with SEO

When you look at SEO from a simple budgeting point of view, there are several reasons why many marketers are hesitant to invest in this area.  The following are some key issues that need to be overcome in order to justify spending money on SEO:

  • Long Term Investment – No matter what the latest so called SEO expert says, you can’t have effective SEO done in just a few days or even weeks. SEO is a long term game and can take weeks or months to get any real results.
  • Constantly Changing – Even if you invest money into SEO today, Google or the other search engines can make a change tomorrow that will render your efforts ineffective. This is why it is so important to only focus on ‘white hat’ SEO strategies no matter how effective the latest SEO fad seems to be.
  • Questionable SEO Industry – The SEO industry is filled with people who claim to be experts but are really little more than people who are looking to make a quick buck. You can see this on sites like Fiverr and others where everyone claims to be able to produce high quality results almost overnight.

Is SEO worth the Investment

This study really brings into question whether or not it is a good investment to spend money on SEO.  Clearly most marketers who responded to this survey do not think that it is.  When done properly, however, it can produce some very lucrative long term results that anyone would be happy to have.  As a marketer, it is your job to evaluate whether or not these long term results can justify investing your marketing budget into this area.  Personally I think the long term benefits of proper SEO warrants at least a modest investment into this area

Facebook & Google Both Testing new Features for On Site Shopping

In the past several days there have been very interesting announcements from both Google and Facebook.  While unrelated to each other, they are both beginning some testing on new features that will allow people to make purchases right on their respective sites.  Facebook is testing the option to effectively put a ‘store’ right on a business page, and Google is experimenting with a ‘buy button’ within the search results that will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

While they are both in the testing phases right now, it is good to get familiar with them early so if (or more likely, when) they roll out to a wider audience, you can begin to capitalize on them right away.  There aren’t too many details on what types of things will be able to be sold, many people expect that marketers will be able to promote their own products or affiliate items using these features, which will present significant opportunities.

Facebook’s Shopping Pages

Reports show that Facebook is looking to build “Shops within Facebook Pages” so that you can sell items directly to ‘friends’ or other followers.  This is a smart move since it will help to keep people on their page much longer than would otherwise be possible, and it will also make it much easier for marketers and brands to generate sales more quickly.

Marketers are already using Facebook to get their products in front of their audience, so it just makes sense for Facebook to give them the opportunity to make a sale within the social network.  This will also benefit users since it will be much easier to make a purchase.  Much of the information that they need to fill out will be able to be automatically added directly from Facebook’s database of user information.  During the testing phase, Facebook is not taking a cut of any sales or anything like that, which is nice.  So far, it seems that they don’t plan on requiring any commission even after it rolls out.

Purchases on Google

In a similar but unrelated report, Google has also announced that they are testing a feature called, “Purchases on Google.”  This feature has been rumored to be coming for quite some time, but this is the first time it is actually out there in a live environment.  Google is working with a very small number of high volume retailers to test out their system, which will allow people to make purchases much more quickly and easily.

The feature is designed to help improve the purchasing experience on mobile devices.  When you do a search for something, the ads that show up may contain a buy button (or something similar) that will take you to a branded page to make a purchase. Once there, much of the information will be filled out for you, potentially even payment information if you have it on file, so you can make a purchase with just a few taps.  This, of course, will be much easier than trying to type everything in on your mobile device.

The testing phase is expected to expand over the coming months and continue through the holiday season.  At that point Google will evaluate its success and likely begin rolling it out to additional marketers and brands.

Both of these new features could be significant opportunities for all types of marketers.  Keeping an eye on them is going to be very important for the long term success of most businesses today.

Two New Ad Types from Facebook Designed to Generate Direct Leads

Facebook has recently confirmed that they are testing two new types of advertisements that are designed to help marketers generate leads and even direct sales.  These ads will have a similar appearance to their existing ad formats, but with some important enhancements that are likely to help marketers and brands with optimizing their marketing efforts significantly.

Lead Ads

The first new ad format is being called ‘Lead Ads’ and is made specifically for mobile devices.  They will have the normal ad format including headlines, descriptions, text, images and a call to action button.  The difference, however, is that when users click the button it will populate an in-app form.  This form will be filled out automatically by information that Facebook has on the users.

The fact that it automatically fills everything out will make it much easier on the users, which should dramatically reduce the ‘abandonment’ issue that so many marketers face.  Once the in-app form is populated (which is virtually instantly) the user simply hits submit.  This is perfect for generating new email list sign ups or other similar advertisements.

You can see how the Lead Ads will work in this image from Facebook:

New Facebook Ads

Buy Product Ads

The next new ad type is called, ‘Buy Product Ads’ and this is one that is likely to generate a lot of buzz for marketers and larger brands.  It is set up to allow customers to complete a full purchase right form within the Facebook app.  Like the Lead Ads, users will see a fairly traditional looking advertisement for a product they may be interested in.  Rather than tapping to be brought to another website to complete the purchase, however, they can simply tap a buy button.

When they hit the buy button it will take them to another form within the app where their information will already be filled out.  Users will even have the ability to keep a credit card on file with Facebook so this information can be completed as well.  The user will simply have to review the form to make sure everything is correct and then they can complete the purchase with another tap.

For many businesses and marketers, this type of ad will create a great opportunity.  While it can be effective for almost any type of product or service, those with lower price points will likely perform best.  This type of Facebook ad will make it very easy for people to make ‘impulse’ purchases without having to take the time to think it through.  Things like T-Shirts or other fun items can benefit greatly from this type of ad.

Still in Testing

Both of these two ad types are still in testing phases, but are expected to progress into wider use before long.  They will obviously have important uses for many marketers and will help Facebook to attract new advertisers. If successful, these types of ads can be very beneficial to Facebook, marketers as well as the consumers.

Traditional TV Ad Spend to be Overtaken by Internet Ads by 2020

According to a recently released report from ZenithOptimedia, the total ad spend for digital advertising will surpass that for television by 2020.  This is a major milestone in digital marketing since TV has long been the dominant place where brands would spend their advertising dollars.  For those who advertise on TV, however, it isn’t all bad news.  The growth in this area will continue to be fairly strong, but not nearly at the level expected for digital ads.

There are already seven countries that digital ad spend is larger than TV (Canada, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK).  Prediction suggest that by 2017 China, Finland, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand will join that group.  This will account for about 28% of total ad spend globally.

Not surprisingly, mobile ads are leading the growth for the digital industry.  From 2014 to 2017 mobile ads are expectred to enjoy a growth of about 4.82 billion dollars.  This accounts for about 70% of all ad growth in all industries globally.  They will move from 5.1% of total ad spend to 12.9%, which is a huge move.

Desktop ads are also expected to continue to grow, but at a pace more in line with television ads. Outdoor advertising, radio advertising and cinema will also see modest growth over the next several years.  Print ads for magazines and newspapers are expected to drop, which is not surprising given the fact that fewer and fewer people are using print media today.

Commenting on the study, the CEO of ZenithOptimedia, Steve King, said “The Internet is quickly establishing itself as the dominant advertising medium.”  He later said, “The amount of time viewers spend watching online video on their laptops, tablets and smartphones is increasing rapidly, and advertisers are shifting their budgets online to follow them.”

While this is certainly true, it is important to note that while ad spend is moving toward digital, the TV and other verticals are continuing to get bigger.  A more accurate statement would be that overall ad spend is continuing to grow rapidly with digital ads getting the bulk of the new money coming into this industry.  However it is worded though, the facts remain that digital advertising is clearly the way of the future.

Any marketers or brands who aren’t taking advantage of this powerful medium will struggle to stay relevant going forward. By 2017, the report predicts that internet ad spend will only be 4% smaller than TV ad spend globally.  This year it is sitting at 11% lower, so that will be a major growth over just the next couple years.

If you are interested in reading the full report you can see it here.

Your Facebook Pages are Becoming Irrelevant

For years marketers have been using Facebook pages to help build a targeted audience that they could directly promote their products and services too.  These pages were also great for building brand recognition and even developing a ‘relationship’ with the customers.  Unfortunately, Facebook has just announced that they will be rolling out three new updates to their News Feed algorithm, which will reduce the likelihood that these pages will be seen by potential customers.

Social media facebook dis-like

The updates are designed to give users an improved overall experience by displaying more content from their “friends” and less from the pages they follow.  This move is, according to Facebook, done because of surveys they have performed on their users.  The users apparently have said that they prefer seeing a greater number of posts from ‘real people’ who they are friends with than posts from Pages, even if they are actively following the pages.

It is not completely clear at this point just how much of an impact the algorithm changes will have on the traffic going to these pages, but most experts seem to think it will be quite significant.  Facebook, of course, is attempting to downplay the impact this could have, but it is clear that this is a big change for Page owners.

In a blog post published on the Facebook page you can read, “The impact of these changes on your page’s distribution will vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.  In some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.  Overall, pages should continue to post things that people find meaningful and consider these best practices for driving referral traffic.”

It is important to note that this update is not targeted against the ‘link bait’ type of pages, which Facebook has been battling for some time.  This update will likely impact all the most active pages on Facebook, even those who already follow the specified best practices laid out by Facebook.

While Facebook has an obligation to cater to their actual users, there is really no question that this update is going to harm the marketing efforts made by page owners.  All marketers who use Facebook pages will want to make sure they are well aware of this update, and take steps to try to find alternatives for driving the traffic that they need.

Of course, this update will not affect paid advertisements.  If you need a quick way to regain traffic to your page, paying for the Facebook ads may be an effective option to consider.  This, after all, is likely what Facebook really wants from this update.

Eggs in One Basket

This is yet one more example of why it is so important to diversify all your marketing efforts.  If you have all your marketing efforts focused on Facebook pages, for example, you will likely be struggling to regain the losses you will experience due to this update.  Marketers who are diversified, however, shouldn’t have nearly as dramatic an impact on their overall marketing efforts.