Tag Archive | "Attention"

DuckDuckGo a new ‘default search’ option for Chrome, is it time to start paying attention?

The upstart search engine’s visibility has been growing.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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5 Steps to Protect Your Attention and Become a Better Thinker

“I didn’t have enough time.” More and more, when I hear this common explanation for why something didn’t get done,…

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5 Timeless Ways to Earn Your Audience’s Time and Attention

Brian Clark wrote the words in that quote a few years ago, in a reply to a comment on this…

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The Content Path: Moving from Attention to Action

We work so hard to get attention. We craft our headlines to make them irresistible. We strive to display enticing images that make a great first impression. If we’re Copyblogger readers, we think about finding that perfect balance of meaning and fascination that will pull our audience right into our content. But what do we
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Capture and Hold Audience Attention with a Bold Proclamation

Quick Copy Tip

If you’ve studied copywriting, you know the purpose of the headline is to get people to click and start reading. And your opening copy needs to continue that momentum all the way to the offer or conclusion.

One way to do that is to make a bold, seemingly unreasonable assertion in your title or headline. A proclamation so jarring that the right person can’t help but keep reading, listening, or watching to see where you’re going with it.

As far as I can tell, copywriter John Forde (whose site tagline is, not coincidently, “Learn to sell or else …”) was the first to define the Proclamation Lead:

A well-constructed Proclamation Lead begins with an emotionally-compelling statement, usually in the form of the headline. And then, in the copy that follows, the reader is given information that demonstrates the validity of the implicit promise made.

This type of lead works for both sales copy and persuasive content. Let me give you a couple of examples.

Forde illustrates the Proclamation Lead with a direct mail report that is ultimately selling an alternative health newsletter. Written by Jim Rutz, the piece immediately startles and tempts the prospect with a bold statement:

Read This Or Die

Today you have a 95% chance of eventually dying from a disease or condition from which there is already a known cure somewhere on the planet. The editor of Alternatives would like to free you from that destiny.

The copy continues not by jumping to the offer, but instead by backing up the proclamation. In the process, the piece systematically removes the objections raised in the reader’s mind about the scientific validity of the bold assertions.

If you feel that example is a little too “direct marketing” for your audience, consider this from respected best-selling author Austin Kleon:

Steal Like an Artist:

10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

It’s the exact same technique for a completely different target market. The intent is to startle people interested in becoming more creative, while concurrently tempting prospects to further explore what Kleon means by “steal.”

The first example is copy designed to make a sale. The second example is content (a book) that is the product itself. But the reason why both “sell” is the same.

The key to these bold headlines and leads is the immediate emotional response provoked by the assertion. More importantly, that emotional trigger leads to immediate motivation to investigate further — and that’s what every copywriter aims to achieve right from the beginning.

That’s because implicit in the proclamation is a promise. In the Rutz and Kleon examples, you’re promised that you’ll learn about hidden cures to common diseases and the way creativity really works, respectively.

How do you come up with these types of bold beginnings? John Forde says they’re found via research, not conjured up out of the ether — and I agree.

For example, people often assume creativity comes from introspection, perhaps during long sessions of gazing out the window.

But if you research how artists throughout history actually work, creativity is much more about starting with something already out in the world — often the work of someone else — and making it into something new.

Austin Kleon discovered that truth, and then boiled it down to its shocking essence. After all, it was Picasso who famously said, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.”

That said, the proclamation approach is not always the right one for every situation. For example, I could have titled this article:

Read This Unless You Want to Starve

But that would have been lame, so I didn’t. There are plenty of other headline and lead approaches that also work well, so that headline wouldn’t be accurate or appropriate.

If you find a counterintuitive truth that’s relevant to your persuasive aim, however, you might just see if you can turn it into an almost unreasonably bold assertion that works wonders. But remember, don’t steal specific copy approaches (in the artistic sense) unless you’re sure you can perfectly tailor them for your audience or prospect.

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5 Digital Marketing Trends You Should Be Paying Attention to in 2017

When it comes to digital marketing, content is still king. Content marketing comprised 20.3% of the digital marketing techniques implemented so far in 2017, although big data (crunching numbers to reveal buying patterns, for instance) is quickly gaining a foothold in online commerce.

The point is, businesses that still do not see the significance of digital marketing to boost their presence and revenue will end up being left behind by the competition.

According to a report from Statista, digital ad spending in the U.S. is expected to grow to $ 118 billion in 2020 from just a shade under $ 60 billion in 2015. That’s more than double in just five years. In the global scale, the amount is expected to reach over $ 250 billion by 2018.

Here are just five of the digital marketing trends to watch for this year:

1. AR & VR Technology

The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality in business applications has never been more promising. After the gaming industry latched on to the new technology to enhance the user experience for gamers, developers have released apps that can help boost businesses. For instance, architects can make use of AR to give clients a virtual tour of what the finished product would be like. In digital marketing, businesses can exploit VR to help customers get a better picture of their vision more than any other type of messaging could.

2. Live Videos

Facebook Live and Snapchat Videos are just some of the platforms that can be exploited by digital marketers. Video content will dominate the scene in the next few years with Cisco predicting that 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2020 will be cornered by videos. Meanwhile, Facebook Live is growing 94% each year in the U.S. with eight billion views daily.

Facebook was embroiled in a scandal when its video platform was used to broadcast several violent attacks, which prompted founder Mark Zuckerberg to announce the hiring of 3,000 more people to police the platform of any offensive content.

3. Apps for Data Visualization

Applications like Data Hero, Tableau, Dygraphs, and Visual.ly have been helping digital marketers package big data for easy consumption not just for businesses but the consumers as well. This is not exactly a new trend. However, for this year, it’s projected that businesses will make sure to exert more effort in using these tools to interpret the facts and figures at their disposal.

4. Viral Videos Won’t Go Away Anytime Soon

Last year, Samsung was the big winner after three of its video ads went viral. By December 2016, they already had almost 500 million views total. Viral marketing will continue to be an effective tool for brand recall. Google’s new updates, particularly on placing more importance on the social status for ranking, will really benefit businesses that invest in quality content. The downside is the short lifespan of viral video marketing. The trick is when to increase engagement, boost traffic, and convert them into income before interest wanes.

5. Content With Short Shelf Life

Businesses might dismiss expiring content as an effective means to build on the brand. After all, Facebook Stories or Instagram Stories only stay for about 24 hours before they are no longer seen again. Of course, this concept was copied from Snapchat, which has a similar feature. Digital marketers are basically exploiting the “fear of missing out,” which is human nature. Nobody likes to be the odd man out when everybody is talking about the latest video or when they grab the latest product, which is the reason why Kylie lip products sell like hotcakes even if they don’t really offer anything new.

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5 Digital Marketing Trends You Should Be Paying Attention to in 2107

When it comes to digital marketing, content is still king. Content marketing comprised 20.3% of the digital marketing techniques implemented so far in 2017, although big data (crunching numbers to reveal buying patterns, for instance) is quickly gaining a foothold in online commerce.

The point is, businesses that still do not see the significance of digital marketing to boost their presence and revenue will end up being left behind by the competition.

According to a report from Statista, digital ad spending in the U.S. is expected to grow to $ 118 billion in 2020 from just a shade under $ 60 billion in 2015. That’s more than double in just five years. In the global scale, the amount is expected to reach over $ 250 billion by 2018.

Here are just five of the digital marketing trends to watch for this year:

1. AR & VR Technology

The potential of augmented reality and virtual reality in business applications has never been more promising. After the gaming industry latched on to the new technology to enhance the user experience for gamers, developers have released apps that can help boost businesses. For instance, architects can make use of AR to give clients a virtual tour of what the finished product would be like. In digital marketing, businesses can exploit VR to help customers get a better picture of their vision more than any other type of messaging could.

2. Live Videos

Facebook Live and Snapchat Videos are just some of the platforms that can be exploited by digital marketers. Video content will dominate the scene in the next few years with Cisco predicting that 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2020 will be cornered by videos. Meanwhile, Facebook Live is growing 94% each year in the U.S. with eight billion views daily.

Facebook was embroiled in a scandal when its video platform was used to broadcast several violent attacks, which prompted founder Mark Zuckerberg to announce the hiring of 3,000 more people to police the platform of any offensive content.

3. Apps for Data Visualization

Applications like Data Hero, Tableau, Dygraphs, and Visual.ly have been helping digital marketers package big data for easy consumption not just for businesses but the consumers as well. This is not exactly a new trend. However, for this year, it’s projected that businesses will make sure to exert more effort in using these tools to interpret the facts and figures at their disposal.

4. Viral Videos Won’t Go Anytime Soon

Last year, Samsung was the big winner after three of its video ads went viral. By December 2016, they already had almost 500 million views total. Viral marketing will continue to be an effective tool for brand recall. Google’s new updates, particularly on placing more importance on the social status for ranking, will really benefit businesses that invest in quality content. The downside is the short lifespan of viral video marketing. The trick is when to increase engagement, boost traffic, and convert them into income before interest wanes.

5. Content With Short Shelf Life

Businesses might dismiss expiring content as an effective means to build on the brand. After all, Facebook Stories or Instagram Stories only stay for about 24 hours before they are no longer seen again. Of course, this concept was copied from Snapchat, which has a similar feature. Digital marketers are basically exploiting the “fear of missing out,” which is human nature. Nobody likes to be the odd man out when everybody is talking about the latest video or when they grab the latest product, which is the reason why Kylie lip products sell like hotcakes even if they don’t really offer anything new.

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SEO Has a Younger Sibling: It’s On-Site Search, and It Deserves Attention

Posted by JP_Sherman

On-site search, also known as internal search, is a critical yet undervalued and underrepresented tactic in the search industry. In 2014,eConsultancy released a report that showed that 15% of companies dedicate resources to optimizing the on-site search experience, 42% fold on-site search into other online measurement responsibilities, and 42% of companies ignore on-site search. This report was released more than two years ago and after some extensive Googling, some Duck Duck Go-ing, and some slight Bing-ing, I couldn’t find any reputable site releasing similar, more recent, reports.

Wait a minute… Nearly 84% of companies don’t actively optimize or measure their on-site search?

Consider the following benefits of active on-site search optimization:

  • On average, 30% of visitors will perform an on-site search
  • When comparing revenue gained from people who performed an on-site search vs. people who did not perform an on-site search, the people who performed an on-site search generated more revenue than those who did not.
  • Performing an on-site search is a strong behavioral predictor of intent to convert:
    • People who perform a site-search are twice as likely to convert.
    • People who perform an on-site search are more likely to return to the site with an intent to purchase.
    • In the research, companies had an average overall ecommerce conversion rate of 2.77%. However, the conversion rate nearly doubled to 4.63% from people who used on-site search and found what they were looking for.

Data sources: eConsultancy, ConversionXL

It’s honestly surprising that, in an industry that focuses so intently on data-driven marketing and conversion optimization, we don’t put more effort into on-site search, harnessing users who are engaged and interested in our content and serves. My point is that for a tactic that can become an incredible force multiplier, there’s so little information on it.

Okay, okay, you’re kinda starting to rant. What are my first steps to understanding on-site search?

The first thing you need to understand before starting to optimize your on-site search is what data is being collected by analytics from your on-site search platform. For this exercise, it’s irrelevant whether you’re using Solr, the Google Search Appliance, or a baked-in search platform that came with your content management system.

Ultimately, the goal is to understand “Search Quality” by quantifying it:

When discussing quantifying on-site search, I tend to use the metaphor of resolution. I started playing video games as a kid and that’s continued to today. So, seeing little blocky characters evolve into something incredibly complex is a part of my experience. Clever designers were able to create experiences using only 8-bit resolution. As hardware grew more capable, 16-, 32-, and 64-bit consoles became more mainstream. Each generation of hardware supported greater resolution and the amount of visual information become more complex, more immersive, and more descriptive.

This is how I view measuring and quantifying on-site search. Start by understanding the basic metrics. Start with 8-bit resolution. This is where you’ll start seeing patterns emerge and behaviors evolve. As your experience grows, add more complexity to your metrics, look at the interplays between different types of content, look at how your on-site search results change as your content changes, look at the time it takes for people to find what they’re looking for. It won’t take too long to where you’re looking at your on-site search data at 64-bit resolution.

tumblr_n70ld0yqko1tw0k5bo1_1280.jpg

Image source

As your measurement resolution improves, you can understand the story deeper and with more clarity, and can use that understanding to impact greater change.

Search behavior

Search behavior is the measure of the quantitative actions a user takes on your website. This includes keywords, clicks, and calculated measurements like CTR. Measuring search behavior allows the search professional to see if any changes to the way on-site search works results in a net benefit to on-site search.

How to quanitify search behavior

The simplest metric to use to examine user behavior is CTR.

First of all, there’s an implicit assumption that clicks signal that the user has found something useful and the click is a signal of that found value. Not all clicks are indicators of search success, and there are users that click multiple links on a SERP as a way to refine their search. For now, in our 8-bit world, we need to understand that assumption, yet it’s important to measure overall CTR as a signal of search quality.

When you first start looking at SERP CTR, it’s likely yours will be low. When I first started measuring on-site search, we used the Google Search Appliance and never surpassed a 24% SERP CTR. The first question I was asked was “What’s a good on-site search CTR?” I was able to answer this by examining our different content types (blogs, videos, articles, etc). What I found through customer surveys was that a higher CTR generally correlated with a higher satisfaction with the search experience. The surprising part? Fewer people than expected had a “neutral” experience. This showed me that when it comes to on-site search, people are happy (and remember) a good search experience and people are frustrated (and remember) a poor search experience. The room for a neutral feeling has a very small window. If we had a greater than 65% CTR on our search results, we would be able to show a positive search experience and a greater chance for conversion, assuming that a good search experience meant that the user was able to find what they were looking for.

Screenshot from 2016-11-15 12:07:02.png

Higher-resolution metrics on CTR can include different elements of the SERP:

  • Filter Section CTR
  • Promoted Section CTR
  • Category Result CTR
  • Sponsored Result CTR
  • Natural Search CTR

Screenshot from 2016-11-15 12:11:07.png

SERP Source

Understanding how all of these SERP elements influence clicks can identify opportunities for CTR optimization with either better results or a better UI. This is probably the most superficial metric to measure behavior — I haven’t even mentioned keyword refinements, revenue per search, revenue per keyword, or conversions gained through search. All are very important to measure the overall success of on-site search, but probably deserve their own article.

Search findability

Findability is the measurement of how a user finds the content they’re looking for. Findability is directly tied to the content’s rank for particular keywords. When the on-site SERP shows the results, knowing which piece of content the user clicks on, combined with the average rank of that content, can reveal if good content is being clicked, thus making it “findable.”

How to quantify findability

I take a fairly simple approach to measuring findability. I take a look at it from a content-level perspective. For each piece of content, I measure the SERP impressions, the amount of times a piece of content shows up in the top ten results. I look at the average rank, then measure the CTR of the piece of content. Using this information I can identify pieces of content that show up a lot in the SERP and have a low CTR. Looking at the average rank tells me if, on average, the content is seen. If it has an average rank of less than 10 (such as “content 2” in the table below) there’s a reason why it shows up frequently but rarely gets clicked on, despite being in a good ranking position. Conversely, when I look at “content 5,” I see that it has high impressions, low clicks, high rank, and a low CTR. I then take a look at this piece of content to see if I can make it rank a bit higher in our on-site search. If I see the CTR improve, then I’ve increased its findability as well as its value.

Screenshot from 2016-11-15 13:51:52.png

A higher-resolution version of findability would include the number of keywords that trigger an impression and a visibility scoring model that would describe how “visible” a piece of content is. Factoring in clicks and CTR into the visibility model would give you an overall findability score that could quickly identify valuable content that is not found and non-valuable content that is frequently found.

Screenshot from 2016-11-15 14:00:09.png

Result set quality

Determining result set quality is answering the question, “How good are the results for given keywords?” For example, if a common search term on your site is “shoes” and your top result is the page where the user can filter down to the right kind of shoe, and that page is in the pathway to a good conversion rate, then that’s a good result for the keyword. However, if the results for “shoes” are more general — “athletic shoes,” “red shoes,” “ballet shoes” — and the results for this keyword have a poor conversion rate, then the result set quality can be improved.

I use a fairly simple method to make sure that my results are performing according to the best interests of the company. I look at the number of times a SERP appeared and then measure the number of times that SERP resulted in a conversion or a consumption (a user reading a page that doesn’t have a call-to-action on it). Then, looking at the successful events that occur after a SERP occurs, I have a metric that I can track, trend, and show the value of on-site search.

Screenshot from 2016-11-15 14:22:53.png

Which metrics are core to measuring on-site search?

At the most basic level, these are the metrics we’ll need to start measuring on-site search. Many of the nuances we’re measuring in SEO applies to onsite-search as well. While most of these metrics we likely already know, I want to describe them in the context of on-site search.

  • Query
    • A query is a package of information that is sent to the search platform. While “query” and “keyword” can generally be interchanged, keywords and keyword phrases have meaning because they’re a part of language. A query is a packet of information because it is the “thing” that is sent to the search engine to be parsed, recognized, and compared against a body of documents.
  • Keyword
    • A keyword or keyword phrase is the representation of user intent, expressed in words. A query is an abstraction of the keyword phrase. Keywords and phrases are essentially bags of words to be compared against other, larger bags of words.
  • Instance/Impression
    • An instance (also impression) is the number of times or the frequency that a keyword or keyword phrase is entered into the search bar and sent to the search engine.
  • Click
    • In the context of on-site search, a click occurs when a piece of content returned by the search engine is clicked.
  • CTR
    • The click-through rate of on-site search is measured by clicks/instances. CTR is a calculated metric, but critical to understand the success of individual keywords as well as the overall health of the search engine.
  • Rank
    • Rank is a measurement of the position of content in the SERP. Rank can be expressed in two different ways. Rank for keyword is the number where a piece of content sits for a given keyword. Average Rank measures the average of where a particular piece of content ranks over a set of keywords.
    • Examples:
      • For keyword “x,” document “y” is at rank 4
      • For document “y,” the average rank is 2.3 for keywords “a, b, c, d, & e”
  • Conversion
    • For content found through on-site search, a conversion is the number of times the user completed an action such as a purchase, lead gen, or consumption.
    • Conversion is a quantitative metric that is binary. The user either converted or they didn’t.
  • Consumption
    • Consumption is a qualitative measurement for content that doesn’t have a clear conversion point. For sites or pages that are information-oriented (rather than conversion-oriented), it’s generally described as “it is likely that the user consumed this document.”
    • Examples:
      • A user scrolled to the bottom of the content and spent more than “x” time on page
      • A user shared the document via social media
      • A user commented on the document
      • A user viewed this page after search and before conversion.
  • Search with No Results/SNR
    • A search with no results is a search that didn’t match any documents, resolving in 0 results on the SERP.
  • Unicorn Searches
    • A keyword query that has an instance of 1 for a given time range.

That’s a long list of ways to measure on-site search. How can I apply these to understanding it?

While measuring the “On-Site Search Pillars” of search behavior, search findability, & result set quality is the ultimate goal to truly understanding on-site search, the most basic pillar and arguably the most important one is search behavior. Understanding customer behavior as they interact with on-site search is likely the very first thing we’d want to start measuring to get actionable information.

Here are five ways to start understanding and optimizing your on-site search.

1: Keymatch critical keywords

Keymatching is a system that’s available in most enterprise search platforms that generally puts up to three recommended results at the very top of the SERP, right above the natural results. Keymatching is non-algorithmic and often includes a way (like Google AdWords) to match keywords to content. Usually there’s a visual element to separate it from the natural results, such as “recommended results.” Think of keymatching as Adwords for your own site. You can promote new products or increase the visibility of highly converting products. See the keymatch for “heartbleed” on Red Hat’s Customer Portal SERP. Right below the recommended results (keymatch) are the natural results:

heartbleed.png

For example, when the heartbleed vulnerability was identified, I created a keymatch for specific terms that, when searched, would trigger our keymatch system to display our Heartbleed Detector app. Based upon our search volume, we knew that people would want to check to see if they were vulnerable first, then look for a solution. We used our keymatch system to make the top of the funnel very clear.

Another strategy that’s more focused on ecommerce is to keymatch terms that match to promotions or sales you’re having. For a site that’s selling apparel where all their socks are on sale, keymatching will give the user the information that all socks are discounted.

2: Get a good overview of the health of your on-site search.

To do this, look at the overall on-site search CTR. Don’t worry about what it is at the moment; this is about understanding how well things are performing in the real world. Use this metric to get a strategic view of how search is performing. If you see that your on-site search CTR is lower than you want it to be, look at the top keywords searched, then repeat the searches on your on-site search.

It’s very likely that your top searches are “high volume but low intent” keywords. You might be looking at top-of-funnel keywords like “shoes,” “insurance plans,” or “sci-fi movies.” Is there a good landing page on your site so that the user can funnel down to what they’re looking for? Generally, these low-intent keywords are from people who may not know what they’re looking for, but will know it when they see it.

Use either a keymatch system or a boosting system to push top-of-funnel pages to the top of the search results. If you don’t have these types of pages, you’ll know that you’re going to need them. What’s a boosting system, you ask? Boosting is a term that adds relevancy to a piece of content or even content types to rank higher in the natural SERP.

For example, imagine that the term “red shoes” resulted in on-site natural results for different types of red shoes. However, data shows that people looking for “red shoes” convert at a much higher rate for the imaginary “Red” brand that has a shoe line. One way we can improve the natural search results for this scenario is to boost the brand “Red” for queries including “red shoes.” While you can force content to the very top, keep in mind that boosting is a broadsword solution that may cause collateral search damage and unintended consequences to your search results. However, if the data supports such a broad change, using a boost in your on-site search platform is a good tool to use smartly.

3: Look at individual pieces of content in the context of on-site search performance.

From the perspective of an individual piece of content, it will likely show up for a variety of keywords. Looking at the data from on-site search at the content level will reveal what keywords trigger that piece of content to show up in the top 10 results.

The first step is to look at how much traffic that piece of content gets from on-site search. Secondly, look at the clicks and CTR. Notice that in the following example, most keywords deliver a decent CTR except one. This piece of content delivers no clicks, no revenue, and ultimately no value to the user. This is a powerful signal to the business to look at why this piece of content ranks for that keyword. Sometimes, on-site search can deliver poor or irrelevant results. The solution here is to either fix the content so it delivers value or use your ability to de-boost that piece of content for that keyword.

url.png

Clearly, this content works with other keywords, so the problem may not be the content, but the fact that it ranks for a keyword that has no relevance to the content. To understand on-site search’s weight in generating revenue, compare the revenue and conversion rates with other marketing channels such as SEO, email, direct, or social.

4: Use searches with no results to enhance content

If you have people searching for things that deliver no results and the frequency is significant, this is a great way to give your content team information on what to write about next. For example, the site ThinkGeek had an April Fool’s joke about a Tauntaun sleeping bag. I talked to someone at ThinkGeek and they mentioned that even though the product wasn’t real, they started seeing several hundreds of searches for that product on their site. What was surprising to them was that the searches not only increased, but continued well after the April Fool’s joke. As a result, they actually made that sleeping bag and it became a customer hit. While it wasn’t only found via on-site search, the consistency of mentions in social media, on-site search, and customer service convinced them to actually make it.

Image result for tauntaun sleeping bag

5: When it comes to UI/UX, test snippet UI, test SERP UI, test everything

Don’t accept the out-of-the-box search UI. Test putting images or embedded videos into the snippet. Test putting linkable “top level” breadcrumb navigation into the snippet. Create good A/B tests to see what will increase clicks and conversions. Talk to internal stakeholders, talk to your users, and find out how they use search. Once you know what your critical business goals are around on-site search, testing the UI can significantly increase CTR and conversions.

Great, thanks… Now I want to do all the things. Where do I start?

I know that I’ve covered a lot of topics that really require a lot of nuance, a lot of industry-specific idiosyncrasies, and other considerations to on-site search. Because there’s not a lot of current information or even communities that surround on the non-development side of on-site search, I can understand that there might be questions about how do I start using this information.

My advice: start by understanding what your search platform is. Do you use IBM Websphere for your ecommerce platform? Do you use Apache Solr? Google Search Appliance? Elasticsearch? Look deeply to what the features of your ecommerce or search platform has. If you haven’t already, hook up your analytics platform to your on-site search and start collecting data. I’ve found that many times, when companies have set up their analytics, they don’t apply basic metrics to their on-site search. Look at the data you have and start setting up experiments. Try to make a piece of content rank higher in your on-site search. Experiment with meta-keyword tags (yes… Google and other search engines ignore it, but generally, on-site search engines still love meta keywords). Start small experiments to prove that you can increase revenue by making small changes. Once you understand your search platform, once you’re seeing small changes you’ve made that have positive results, dig deeper. Share your experiences (I’d love to hear them) and find people to collaborate with. I cannot claim that I know everything, but what I hope to have done is created a small group of enthusiastic people who can work together to create even more information on this oft-ignored, but oh-so-useful subject.

Some acknowledgements:

Red Hat isn’t just about open source technology, it’s about being an open organization. With that open and collaborative mindset, I want to share my thanks and deep appreciation to some people who helped me with this article. Linda Caplinger, Jairus Mitchell, & Thomas Stokes are brilliant people who provided feedback, suggestions, and welcome critiques.

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Why No One Pays Attention to Your Marketing – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Ever mass-deleted a bunch of impersonal emails from your inbox? Brand fatigue is a real threat to your marketing strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses why brands become “background noise” and how you can avoid it.

Why No One Pays Attention to Your Marketing - The Painful Pitfall of Brand Fatigue Whiteboard Friday

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat a little bit about why no one is paying attention to your brand, to your marketing. It’s the perilous pitfall of brand fatigue.

Brand fatigue sucks

So you have all had this happen to you. I promise you have. It’s happened in your email. It’s happened in your social streams. It’s happened through advertising in the real world, online and offline.

I’ll give you an illustration. So I sign up for this newsletter. I decide, “Hey, I want to get some houseplants. My house has no greenery in it.” So I sign up for Green Dude Houseplants’ newsletter. What do I get? Well, I get a, “Welcome to Our Newsletter.” Oh, okay.

And then maybe the next day I get, “Meet Our New Hires.” Meet our new hires? I’m sure that your new hires are very important to you and your team, but I just got introduced to your brand. I’m not sure I care that much. To me, you’re all new hires. You might as well be, right? I don’t know you or the team yet.

“Best Summer Ever Event,” okay, maybe, maybe an event. “Edible Backyard Gardens, you know, I don’t have a backyard. I was signing up for a houseplant newsletter because it was in my house. “See Us at the Garden Show,” I don’t want to go to the garden show. I was going to buy from you. That’s why I’m online.

Okay, thanks.

How to cause brand fatigue

It’s not just the value of the messaging. It’s the frequency that it happens at. You’ve seen this. I’m on an email list that I signed up for, I think it’s called FounderDating. It’s here in Seattle. I think it’s in San Francisco. I thought it was a really cool idea when I signed up for it. Then I have just been inundated with messages from them. I think some of them are actually worthy of my participation, like I should have gone to the forum. I should have replied. I should have checked out what this particular person wanted. But I get so much email from them that I’ve just begun to hit Delete as soon as I get it.

We’ve actually had this problem at Moz too. If you’re a Moz subscriber, you probably get a new email every time a new crawl is completed, and a campaign is set up, and you have new rankings data. Some of that’s really important, right? Like if you’re paying attention to this particular site’s rankings and you want to see every time you get an update, well yeah, you need that email. But it’s actually kind of tough to opt in to which ones you want and with what frequency and control it all from one place.

We have found that our email open rates, engagement rates have actually drifted way, way down over time because, probably, we’ve inundated you with so much email. This is a big mistake that Moz has made in our email marketing, but a lot of brands make it in tons of places. So I want to help you avoid that.

1) Too many messages on a medium

Brand fatigue happens when there are too many messages, just too many raw messages on a medium. You start to see the same brand, the same name, the same person again and again. Their logo, their colors, the association you have, it just becomes background noise. Your brain goes into this mode where it just filters it out because it can’t handle the volume of stuff that’s coming through. It needs a filtration mechanism. So it starts to identify and associate your brand or your logo or your name or a person’s name with “filter.” Filter that out. That goes in the background.

2) Value provided is too low or infrequent to deserve attention

It also happens when the value provided is too low or too infrequent to deserve attention. So this might be what I’m talking about with FounderDating. One out of every maybe five or six messages, I’m like, “Oh yeah, that was interesting. I should pay attention to that.” But when it becomes too infrequent, that same filtration happens.

Too few of the high value messages means you’re not going to pay attention, you’re not going to engage with that brand, with that company anymore. All of us marketers will see that in the engagement rates. No matter the medium, we can look at our numbers and see that those are going down on a percentile basis, and that gets really frustrating.

3) The messaging can’t be effectively tuned or controlled by the user

So this is the problem that Moz is having where we don’t have that one email control center where you say how often you want exactly which messages updating you of which notifications about which campaigns, and newsletter and da, da, da. So your message frequency is either all the time high or very high and so you’re, “I don’t like any of those options.”

Very frustrating.

How NOT to cause brand fatigue

Now, I do have some solutions and suggestions. But it’s platform by platform.

Email

Start very conservative with your email marketing and highly personal. In fact, I would actually recommend personally sending all the messages out to your first few hundred users if you possibly can, because you will get a great rapport that you develop individually with person by person. That will give you a sense for what your audiences like and what kind of messaging they prefer, and they’ll know they can reply directly to you.

You’ll create that highly-engaged experience through email that will mean that, as you scale, you have the experience from the past to tell you how often you can and can’t email people, what they care about and don’t, what they filter and don’t, what they’re looking for from you, etc. You can then watch your open, unsubscribe and engagement rates through your email program. No matter what program you might be using, you can almost always see these.

Then you can watch for, “Oh, we had a spike.” That spike is a good thing. That means that people were highly engaged on this email. Let’s figure out what resonated there. Let’s go talk to folks. Let’s reach out to the people who engaged with it and just say, “Hey, why did you love this? What did you love about it? What can we do to give you more value like this?”

Or you watch for dips. Then you can say, “Oh man, the last three email newsletters that we’ve sent out, we’ve seen successive declines in engagement and open rates, and we’ve seen a rise in unsubscribe rates. We’re doing something wrong. What’s going on? What’s the root cause? Is it who we’re acquiring? Is it new people that signed up, or is it old-timers who are getting frustrated with the new stuff we’re sending out? Does this fit with our strategy? What can we fix?”

Be careful. The thing that sucks about brand fatigue is a lot of platforms, email included, have systems, algorithmic systems set up to penalize you for this. With email, if you get high unsubscribes and low engagement, that will actually kill your long-term chances for email marketing success, because Gmail and Yahoo Mail and Microsoft’s various mail programs and whatever installed mail your targets might have, whatever they’re using, you will no longer be able to break through those email filters.

The email filter that Gmail has says, “Hey, a lot of people click Unsubscribe and Report Spam. Let’s put this in the Promotions tab.” Or, “Hey, a lot of people are clicking Report Spam. You know what? Let’s just block this sender entirely.” Or, “Gosh, this person has in the past not engaged very much with these messages. We’re going to not make them high priority anymore.” Gmail has that automatic high priority system. So you’re getting algorithmically turned into noise even if you might have had something that your customers really cared about.

Blog or other content platform

This is a really interesting one. I would strongly urge you to read Trevor Klein from Moz’s blog post about the experiment that we and HubSpot did around how much content to produce and whether lowering content or increasing content had positive effects. There are some fascinating results from that study.

But the valuable thing to me in that is if you don’t test, you’ll never know. You’ll never know the limits of what your audience wants, what will frustrate them, what will delight them. I recommend you don’t create content unless you can have a great answer for the question, “Who will help amplify this and why?” I don’t mean, like, “Oh, well I think people who really like houseplants will help amplify this.” That’s not a great answer.

A great answer is, “Oh, you know, I know this guy named Jerry. Jerry runs a Twitter account that’s all about gardening. Jerry loves our houseplants. He’s a big fan of this. He’s particularly interested in flowering cacti. I know if we publish this post, Jerry will help amplify it.” That’s a great answer. You have 10 Jerrys, great. Hit Publish. Go for it. You don’t? Why are you making it?

Watch your browse rate, your conversion rate, and conversion rate…. I don’t mean necessarily all the way to whatever you’re selling, your ecommerce store products or your subscription or whatever that is. Conversion rate could be conversion rate to an email newsletter or to following you on a social platform or whatever.

You can watch time on site and amplification per post to essentially get a sense for like, “Hey, as we’re producing content, are we seeing the metrics that would indicate that our content marketing is being successful?” If the answer to that is no, well we need to retool it. It turns out there’s actually no prize for hitting Publish.

You might think that your job as a content producer or a content marketer is to make content every day or content every week. That’s not your job. Your job is to have success with the metrics that are going to predict and correlate to the strategies you need as a business to acquire customers, to grow your marketing channels, to grow your brand’s impact, to help people, whatever it is that your mission is.

I highly recommend finding your audiences’ sweet spot for both focus and frequency. If you do those things, you’re going to do a great job with avoiding brand fatigue around your content.

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media

Last one is social. I’ll talk specifically about Twitter and Facebook, because most things can be classified in there, even things like Instagram and LinkedIn and the fading, sadly, Google+ and those sorts of things.

Twitter, generally speaking, more forgiving as a platform. Facebook has more of those algorithmic elements to punish you for low engagement.

So, for example, I’ve had this happen on my personal Facebook page where I’ve published a few things that people just didn’t really find interesting. This is on my Rand Fishkin Facebook page, different from the Moz one. It turns out that that meant that it was much harder for me next time, even with content that people were very engaged around, to reach them.

Facebook essentially had pushed in. They were like, “You know what? That’s three or four posts in a row from Rand Fishkin that people did not like, didn’t engage with. The next one we’re going to set the bar much higher for him to have to climb back up before we decide, ‘Hey, we’ll show that to more and more people.’”

Lately I’ve been having more success getting a higher percentage of my audience into the impression count of people who are actually seeing my posts on Facebook by getting better engagement there. But that’s a very challenging platform.

Users of both, however, are pretty sensitive, nearly equally sensitive. It’s not like Facebook users are more sensitive. It’s just that Facebook’s platform is more sensitive because Facebook doesn’t show you all the content you could possibly see.

Twitter is just a super simplistic newsfeed algorithm. It’s just, who posted last. So Twitter has that real time kind of thing. So I would still say for both of these, aim to only share stuff that gets high engagement, especially as your brand.

Personal account, do whatever you want, test whatever you want. But as your brand’s account, you want that high engagement over and over again because that will predict more people paying attention to you when you do post, going back and looking through your old social posts, subscribing to you, following you, all that sort of thing, considering you a leader.

You can watch both Twitter Analytics and your Facebook page’s stats to see if you’re having a dip or a spike, where you’re having success, where you’re not.

I actually love using Twitter and a little bit LinkedIn or Google+ to see what gets very high engagement and then I know, “Okay, I should re-share that on Twitter because my audience on Twitter is very temporal.” Two hours from now it’s going to be less than 1% overlap between who sees a Twitter post now and who sees a Twitter post 2 hours from now, and that’s a great test bed for Facebook as well.

So if I see something doing extremely well on Twitter or on Google+ or on LinkedIn, I go, “Aha, that’s the kind of thing I should post on Facebook. That will increase my engagement there. Now I can go post and get more engagement next time and build up my authority in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm.

So with all of this stuff, hopefully, as you’re producing content, sharing content, building an email subscription, building a blog platform, you’re going to have a little less brand fatigue and a little more engagement from your users.

I look forward to chatting with you all in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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