Featured Snippets: A Data Driven Way to Rank Faster

If SEO were an Olympic sport, it would be race walking.

Everyone is after that first place slot – but it’s a long, slow, and strategic path to getting there.

By now, just about every marketer knows the basics of how to rank.

Find and target the right keywords.

Create high-quality content that your audience is looking for.

Prove time and time again that Google should value your content – and that it’s worth showing off to their users.

It’s a tedious and time-consuming process.

And if you do happen to make it to the top slot, it can be snatched away by a competitor at any moment.

Do you ever wish there was a shortcut that would allow you to breeze right past the competition and secure your slot at the front of the pack?

There is an underutilized market that might allow you to leapfrog your competition in a ranking list.

Featured snippets.

Featured snippets can act like your race track to first place.

By targeting this up-and-coming feature, snippets can help you rank highly in less time.

What are featured snippets?

When searching on Google, have you ever noticed the text boxes that jump out and answer your question before you ever even make it to a website?

Well, that is a featured snippet.

These descriptive boxes flip the traditional Google search result listing around.

Rather than giving you the headline, URL, and website first, you get the information, otherwise known as the “snippet.”

Featured snippets can come in many different forms.

First, we have the paragraph featured snippet.

Do a quick Google search of “why is the sky blue,” and you’ll be met with this result:

why is the sky blue google search results

This box breaks down exactly what makes the sky blue is an example of a featured paragraph snippet.

The paragraph featured snippet is the most basic of all the snippet forms.

However, it’s the standard response to questions like “who is…” and “why is…”

For “how to” questions, you’re likely to get a list featured snippet.

Let’s say you clogged your drain and you’re looking for some help before calling the plumber.

You jump on to Google and search “how to unclog a drain.”

These are probably the results you’ll get…

unclog a drain google search results

Like the paragraph featured snippet, a list featured snippet provides the details first.

While less common, how to questions may also bring up a new kind of featured snippet – a video.

Let’s do a quick search for “how to braid hair.”

how to braid hair rich snippets on google search

The featured snippet you’re given is taken straight from YouTube. You can watch the content right on the results page.

You’ll also notice that the snippet offers additional options to make your search more specific.

These are known as refinement bubbles.

Refinement bubbles help to narrow down your search without needing to start the search over.

Another popular type of featured snippet is the table.

You’re most likely to see a table featured snippet after searching for comparisons or statistics.

Here is the result when you search “biggest growth industries” in Google.

biggest growth industries

As you can see, the CollegeBoard table is pulled directly to the top of the SERP.

Featured snippets like these now appear in about 30% of Google results.

However, featured snippets can cause some complications when it comes time for Google users to go back to your site.

According to a study from Ahrefs, only about 8.6% of clicks go to the featured snippet.

Compared to 19.6% of clicks to the first natural search result, this is a major difference.

average ctr of featured snippets

However, those 8.6% of clicks can still drive a massive wave of traffic to your website if you were previously struggling to reach the top of a SERP.

Featured snippets also have the added benefit of making your content competitive for voice searches.

With an estimated one billion voice searches each month, it’s an area you can’t afford to ignore.

When a user performs a voice search, the response played back to them is often a featured snippet.

In fact, Moz did a study to see how many featured snippet searches would deliver a voice response.

Pulling 1,000 searches that contained featured snippet results, they performed voice searches to see if the response matched.

71% of the time, the answer was yes.

However, they then broke down these results based on type.

Text snippets were 87% likely to be featured as a voice response.

List responses appeared about half the time, while tables only came up about a third of the time.

snippets with voice results by type

When we think about the nature of voice search, this isn’t too surprising.

While lists and tables make for great visual results on a traditional search engine, the ease of reading a snippet makes text much more practical for voice search.

As more and more individuals purchase voice-powered smart speakers, the need for appropriate responses will only become more important to brands.

However, there is no guarantee that you’ll land a featured snippet slot.

Like all things SEO, getting your content placed in a featured snippet slot takes some planning.

Here are the steps you need to follow to secure a featured snippet slot of your own.

1. Create content that answers a direct question

Featured snippets typically appear as a result of a direct question.

Moz posted a study on featured snippets where they compared results using the following question starters.

featured snippet questions

They found that most of these questions delivered paragraph featured snippets.

Questions beginning with “does,” “why,” and “are” resulted in paragraph featured snippets about 99.9% of the time.

“How” and “have” questions resulted in list featured snippets while “which” questions were the highest for table featured snippets.

Let’s take a look at the featured snippet that appears when you search “how to tie a tie.”

how to tie a tie rich snippet on google

When you type this question into the search bar, you’re given a featured snippet.

However, let’s look what happens when you simply search “tie a tie.”

tie a tie google search rich snippet

The results are much more basic.

Rather than the featured snippet, you’re given images and traditional results.

Simply targeting keywords associated with questions isn’t enough. To land the featured snippet placement, you need to be sure to include a direct question.

Let’s look at the way some other questions turn up on Google.

Say I want to learn more about who Mark Cuban is. I go to the search engine and just type in “Mark Cuban.”

This is my result.

mark cuban search result

While I’m able to pull some key information from this listing, the snippet isn’t the primary resource.

However, let’s turn my search into a question.

Here is my result for searching “Who is Mark Cuban.”

who is mark cuban rich snippets

By simply adding the “who is” to my search, we get an entirely new featured snippet.

Again, you’ll notice that the source of the featured snippet is not the same resource from the first search.

To secure the featured snippet placement for yourself, you want to be sure you’re targeting direct questions – not just keywords that may appear within the question.

If you’re trying to secure a list featured snippet, focus on “how to” questions.

Use “which” when trying to target table featured snippets.

Stick to the basics. “Who,” “how,” “why,” “when,” and “where” are all great places to start.

One way to cover a number of questions at once is through an FAQ or Q&A page.

Moz was able to help an orthodontist increase organic sessions to their website by 46.10% by targeting featured snippets through a Q&A.

organic sessions

A FAQ or Q&A page can help you cover many questions without overwhelming your visitors.

By providing short, scannable responses to questions you get asked frequently, you can provide high-value content to your target audience while also increasing your chances of getting a featured snippet slot.

However, you want to be strategic about the questions you target.

Which brings us to our next point…

2. Find the ranking opportunities unique to your audience

What is one of the key best practices when doing SEO?

Keyword research.

But what is one of the most important things to consider when doing keyword research?

Your audience.

If the keywords you target aren’t used by your audience, you may turn up in a search, but you’re not going to get any clicks.

Featured snippets work the same way.

Targeting just any slot is a waste of time and resources.

Instead, you want to get your featured snippets placed at the top of searches your audience is already looking for.

You can identify these ranking opportunities in a few different ways.

First, start with keyword research.

To rank for a featured snippet, you need to be among the Top 10 results for that keyword 99.58% of the time.

To identify snippets you may be able to be featured for, consider what keywords you’re already ranking highly for.

Next, think of a basic question that applies to your industry or business.

For this example, let’s use “what is AI.”

Here are our results.

what is ai google search results

While this doesn’t show a featured snippet, what we do get are some additional questions people are also searching for under “People Also Ask.”

Users can click one of the “People Also Ask” questions and get a short response.

what is ai software google question

These “People also ask” questions can be a great place to start learning about what your audience is looking for.

There are a few different ways you can find the questions your audience is asking.

One of the best places to look is on Quora.

Quora has 190 million monthly users, all asking questions, providing answers, and engaging in conversations.

Here is what you find when you search “what is AI” in Quora.

what is ai quora

In addition to a response, you’re also shown a list of related questions.

Like the “People Also Ask” section from your Google search, these questions can give you an idea of what people want to know.

Another great place to generate potential questions is Answer the Public.

By typing in a keyword, Answer the Public will generate some question responses.

artificial intelligence answer the public

However, these questions are computer-generated without considering important metrics like search volume or popularity.

Based on these suggestions, you’ll want to do additional research to see what questions are actually being asked by your audience.

You can also use the SERPStat tool to pull some additional data about questions.

search questions serpstat

The content marketing section of the tool can break down different search questions associated with the keyword you’ve searched.

This can help you better understand which questions are actually being used and how frequently they’re appearing.

SERPStat also allows you to see which keywords are already displaying featured snippets.

Within the Keyword Selection tool under SEO Research, you can filter results to see only those already featuring snippets.

This can help you hone in even more on the keywords you should target.

Doing the proper research before determining which snippets you’d like to target can increase your chances.

However, you need to remember that you’re trying to connect with your target audience.

Pay close attention to their unique needs or search behavior.

In addition to knowing what keywords and questions are popular with search engines, take a minute to look through social media or other platforms that can give you direct access to your target audience.

The more you learn about your audience, the more likely you are to reach them through a featured snippet.

3. Maintain extremely high-quality content with the right formatting

If you’ve ever done SEO before, you know that keyword placement alone isn’t enough to rank in the top spot.

In fact, there are dozens of on-page, backlink, off-page, and domain factors that are considered in where a piece of content ranks.

On-site factors include everything from domain authority to affiliate links – and this is just the tip of the SEO iceberg.

ranking factors analyzed

However, each factor revolves around one thing – user experience.

When Google decides which results should make the top of the list, it looks at which pieces are most likely to help the user.

The same applies to featured snippets.

If you want your snippet to be featured, you need to produce the best response to the question.

As we mentioned in the first point, your response should be in answer form.

You’ll also want to make sure your response is clear, to the point, and your steps are not extremely detailed.

The results for “how to screenshot on a Mac” are a great example of how you can do this.

take a screenshot google search

Within this featured snippet, we’re able to see the entire four-step process of how you can take a screenshot on a Mac computer.

Each instruction is direct and concise, allowing the user to get the full amount of information right within the SERP.

You’ll see that some steps have an ellipsis.

This indicates that there is additional information that goes with that step, but it isn’t necessary for the instructions.

Keep this in mind when writing out your instructions. Start each point with a sentence that is capable of standing alone.

When formatting this content on your website, you’ll also want to display it as the featured snippet type you’re trying to target.

Here’s what that same bit of information looks like on the Apple Support website.

screenshot directions for mac

While you’ll see there are some additional bits of information, it’s more or less formatted the same as the snippet.

This is particularly crucial for table snippets.

With paragraph snippets, you don’t need to have particular formatting to get featured.

You do, however, need to use concise writing.

Here is a featured paragraph snippet that appears when you search “who is Elon Musk.”

elon musk rich snippet

Within this one paragraph, you get his full biography.

If you’re hoping to target paragraph snippets, then try to fit all your information into two or three sentences.

To further increase your chances, use an H2 header containing the question you’re trying to rank for.

Then immediately after, provide a short and concise response that also contains your targeted keyword.

Structured data, sometimes just called Schema markup, can also help you rank for a featured snippet.

However, you don’t need to have structured data to be ranked.

Structured data just helps Google understand what your content is about. The easier it is for Google to see your value, the more likely you are to rank highly.

You can use the Google Structured Data Markup Helper to get started with your markups.

4. Know the other available answers, then do better.

So, you’ve landed the coveted featured snippet position.

You can finally relax, right?

Nope.

Just like traditional SEO, a featured snippet can be snatched away from you before you even get comfortable.

With competitors making their own strategic movements to land that “0 placement,” you always need to be aware of what they’re doing.

Even if Google deems you the most worthy of that slot for a little while, they’ll constantly be searching the web trying to find someone who can answer the question better.

If you’re not paying attention to the responses your competitors are generating, they may surpass you.

However, SEO competitors aren’t necessarily your business competitors.

This is especially true when users are looking for questions.

Here’s an example.

content marketing serp

When you search “content marketing,” you can select between two posts – one from my site and one from Wikipedia.

While Wikipedia may not be one of my direct business competitors, when it comes to fighting for SEO rankings, we might as well be enemies.

If you’re only monitoring your direct business competitors, more generic response or information pages may sneak up behind you.

There are a few ways you can identify and track these SEO competitors.

First, let’s go back to Google “People Also Ask” questions.

Here are some related questions when searching “what social media is most popular.”

first form of social media

While neither of these responses answers the question of the most popular social media, they’re still responding to the same audience and industry.

Both Small Biz Trends and Statista should be seen as competitors within this space – even if they’re not necessarily your business competitors.

Once you have a list of a few potential competitors, you’ll want to keep your eye on them.

Now, you don’t need to check every blog post they upload.

You don’t need to spend hours trying to scan their social media profiles.

Instead, you can set up alerts so you’ll be notified whenever there is new content on a particular topic.

Google Alerts is your best friend when it comes to tracking specific topics or individuals.

Let’s say you’re Statista wanting to defend your feature for the question “how many users are on social media.”

You might set up a Google Alert that looks a bit like this:

google alerts for social media

Every time a new post containing the phrase “how many users are on social media” is uploaded, Google will send you a message or deliver the content to an RSS feed.

Here is an example of some of the results you may get.

how many people on social questions

Google Alerts also gives you some options to create an alert that fits your unique needs.

If you’re looking for only results in a specific language, only blog posts, or even only posts coming from a certain region, you can narrow your alerts down.

You’ll want to create a few different alerts around the featured snippet questions you’re targeting.

In this case, you may also want to establish alerts for phrases like “social media users,” “number of Facebook users,” or “how many users on Twitter.”

Conclusion

Slow and steady may win the race when it comes to traditional SEO, but featured snippets are here to shake things up.

As snippets become more and more popular and new forms of featured snippets are rolled out, the competition will only grow.

By appealing to these newer areas of SERPs early on, you can leapfrog your competition – getting you more search engine traffic faster.

How have you used featured snippets to increase awareness or website traffic?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Is Facebook Organic Reach Really Dead? Here’s How to Break Through It for More Social Engagement

Every now and then, the overlords of the Internet decide to change things up in the digital marketing world.

And with how fast things change, it can sometimes be easy to miss a noteworthy tidbit of news.

One such tidbit recently came to light, and it’s definitely worth your attention.

Namely, Facebook has started taking steps to change the Organic Reach of pages on their platform.

And that has some implications for everyone.

It doesn’t matter if your Facebook Page shares memes, connects a community, or is a landing page for your brand.

You’re going to see some changes, and chances are they will come sooner rather than later.

To help cut through the clutter and keep a clear picture of the path ahead, I’m going to lay out what’s actually changing.

And at the end, we’ll give you some insightful ways to come out ahead.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to take action accordingly and still have a healthy Facebook presence.

But first, let’s talk a bit more about what Organic Reach actually is, and why it’s changing.

What is Facebook Organic Reach?

Organic Reach on Facebook is simply a measurement of how many people can find you on Facebook for free.

It’s much like organic rankings on a search engine, although in the case of Facebook it’s based on aspects like popularity, post frequency, and other contributing factors.

And when you think about the current state of Facebook, it seems logical that Facebook would be making some big changes.

With more and more content being generated and shared, plus with how the News Feeds curates the content you see, it’s natural that Facebook would need to fine-tune their system from time to time.

And so Facebook is making changes.

Specifically, they’re changing Organic Reach to look and feel a little more like the Paid Reach measurements.

jaspers market organic reach on facebook

The newer look really only changes a few minor elements, but the numbers will look bad nonetheless.

Previously, Facebook counted Organic Reach as any time an unpaid post appeared in someone’s News Feed.

Now, Organic Reach will only give you a hit if your unpaid post actually enters a person’s screen.

The changes don’t affect how your post is shown to anyone, nor does it really change anything about how posts are displayed at all.

It just affects how Organic Reach is tallied, but that makes a difference.

The seeming paradox then is that you can expect your Organic Search traffic to take a big hit, but that particular metric should be a lot more accurate.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, there’s a good reason for the death of Facebook’s Organic Reach:

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands, and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

He goes on to discuss how Facebook will be changing to mitigate this issue.

Specifically, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be better geared to curate content that builds meaningful relationships.

And it’s worth mentioning that Zuckerberg himself lost about $ 3.3 billion because of this decision.

But what exactly is this “death” in terms anyone can understand?

More importantly for you, how might this affect your business?

To give you an idea, you have to look back a little bit.

Because as of June 2016, the Organic Reach of a Facebook Page had fallen to a mere 2%.

facebook reach annual decline

That’s a crazy drop from just four years prior, and Facebook and Zuckerberg still think that there’s too much Organic Reach for a Page.

So it’s pretty clear that if 2% reach is too much, we’re nearing the end of an era in terms of Organic Reach being the best viable option for spreading your brand on social media.

And the implication is pretty clear for business owners.

Your page is going to have less Organic Reach.

And with Reach dropping, you can fully expect that engagement is going to go with it.

So at this point, you’re probably wondering if there is any hope beyond the doomsday hype?

The answer is yes.

Because Organic Reach is not totally gone, and it probably won’t ever be.

The key here is to simply understand the changes taking place in the Organic Reach algorithms.

The consensus is that Facebook waging war against low-quality content, which means there are still avenues you can take that will help your Organic Reach.

You simply need a different strategy than saturation.

So now that you know what’s going on, let’s look at some ways you can use these changes to your advantage.

Tip #1: Focus on quality, not quantity

First and foremost, you need to understand that Facebook is changing to emphasize quality over quantity.

I’m going to repeat that for emphasis: Quality over quantity is the first place to start.

There’s been a long-running misconception that posting more or less on Facebook equates to more reach, but that’s as ludicrous as treating a “Like” as a useful metric.

You’re just making things worse for yourself if your goal is to post as frequently as possible, especially with the new changes.

And posting infrequently doesn’t do you any favors either.

Because the data points to a truth that couldn’t be further from a quantity-driven approach.

First of all, studies have shown that a moderate amount of posting seems to edge out posting too much or too little.

facebook one post per day

So when there are fewer posts, it becomes less likely that a post gets lost in your audience’s feed.

Which means your Organic Reach is going to do better with just a few, high-quality posts.

But don’t get carried away thinking high-quality posts can still be posted as often as possible.

Because the data still points in the opposite direction.

Buffer conducted some tests that help prove this point beyond any doubt.

average facebook posts per day

They started by evaluating how many posts were being created per day on their Page.

As you can note, over the course of 2016 and into 2017 they say a fairly significant drop in how many times they posted.

To be precise, they were posting at half the peak rate by the middle of 2017.

And oddly enough, this trend helped them increase their Organic Reach:

average facebook reach

They went from capping out with an Organic Reach of ~70,000 to a top reach of ~170,000.

That’s a 100,000 Reach spike that can be directly related to the frequency with which they posted on their Page.

And what’s more, they also saw a boost in direct engagement from this study as well:

average facebook daily engagement

This is a powerful illustration of how simply posting less and focusing on quality can improve your overall Organic performance on Facebook.

And this isn’t just a fluke.

It starts and ends with original and share-worthy content that will actually engage your audience.

Which means you need to focus less on pumping out content and focus more on crafting something that’s truly shareworthy.

You’ll see better Organic Reach, and you won’t regret it.

Tip #2: Know what your audience is looking for

A high-quality post isn’t just going to come from nowhere.

It starts with a more concerted effort to offer higher-quality content around your brand as a whole.

That means finding topics that are meaningful and then generating something that’s both shareworthy and relevant.

The more specifically targeted your approach, the better off you’ll be.

facebook targeted approach

Small changes go a long way in improving quality, and the ultimate application is up to your unique brand.

The only way to truly know what “quality” means for your Page is to create some, test it, and then start making changes.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t have any other direction before you just start creating content.

One place you can start is simply by knowing which posts are right on Facebook, such as video.

Sharpie does a great job of creating interesting video that generates views and shares throughout their audience.

Here’s a recent example of one of their videos that partners Sharpie with NBA star Chris Paul:

Even if you can’t partner with a celebrity, you can use video to help boost your Organic Reach and increase engagement.

And success on Facebook through video isn’t just speculation either.

There are plenty of success stories, like this one from Audi:

audi success on facebook

Even in the highly competitive automotive industry, they were able to boost their lead generation by almost 12%.

And if that doesn’t convince you, I highly recommend you go check out more success stories.

It doesn’t even have to be long video either, as Facebook recently launched their own Boomerang application.

And whether you use video or not, just remember that high-performing and popular Facebook posts are a mixture of entertaining and educational.

Don’t mistake that as an either/or situation.

You need a mix of both if you want to succeed.

Most importantly, I recommend looking into what online audiences are actually consuming these days.

content consumers pay attention to

You might love creating and sharing your podcast for a blog post, but you’ll get more facetime with a sharp video or even just a simple photo.

And then there’s also the problem of engagement baiting, which Facebook has started to crack down on.

baiting on facebook

You might think it’s okay to ask for Likes, Shares, or “votes,” but the dark days of those posts are behind us.

Facebook now filters posts like these and gives them a lower priority than posts with more engaging content and imagery.

So all things considered, you have a lot to consider when you’re trying to pin down what your audience wants to see.

But if you put in the effort, you can develop a system that keeps your brand in the spotlight without dipping into your ad budget.

Tip #3: Consider your timing

You may have heard the news already, but there is such a thing as an “optimal time” when you’re posting to Facebook.

It just depends on a few essential elements.

The basics are pretty simple though.

Knowing when Facebook tends to be most active overall can help you time your posts accordingly.

facebook best times to post

Studies show that sharing at different times will affect Likes, Shares, and overall engagement statistics.

You can also try to take advantage of multiple spikes like this, but remember you want quality over quantity.

One or two posts per day will do just fine.

If you post at the right time, it’s more likely that your audience will actually be on to see your post.

That by itself could increase your Organic Reach and help you engage with your followers.

But keep in mind that performance can be industry specific as well, so do your homework before you simply start changing all of your posting times.

And once you check your own industry’s trends, make sure that the information you uncovered accurately matches your own audience by examining your own Facebook Page’s Insights tab.

facebook post insights

Your goal here is to simply avoid posting at times when your audience is unlikely to see posts.

If there’s a verifiable time when engagement and Reach dips, you might not want to share your best content at those times.

And there are a lot more studies on this topic than just the ones above.

Kissmetrics has put together research that verifies the science of timing posts.

saturday best day to post on facebook

All of this research points to one thing in regard to Organic Reach.

Namely, that it’s best for you to let the Facebook algorithm focus on delivering one piece of content to your audience.

This approach mitigates the need for Facebook to filter and select your strongest content.

If you only ever share your best content at the best times, Facebook will still work well for you.

The trick is just to know when to post on Facebook.

Do your own research, and then use the results you find to your advantage.

Tip #4: Variety helps, so start curating

Curation can be a tricky topic.

Why would you want to put another brand’s content on your page?

Isn’t that counterintuitive?

You may be surprised, but it could actually help.

Recent studies suggest that the curating on Facebook can solve many common issues faced by marketers:

curation can overcome challenges

As long as you’re mindful of brands and companies that have a strong following or high brand loyalty, you can leverage a strategic tag to increase your own engagement.

So it’s a good idea to start sharing more curated content in addition to the content you create.

Curating content is the relatively simple process of finding great content from other sources on the Internet and then sharing it with your own audience.

As long as you know your audience, and find posts that match your target, you can provide supplemental content that still helps your brand’s Organic Reach on Facebook.

It’s also a good idea to add tags to posts like this when and where it’s appropriate.

In essence, this practice “signals” to Facebook that you have interesting content that needs to be shown more often.

As long as you’re following your analytics closely with this type of targeting, you’ll see good results over time.

Tip #5: Stop selling

One of the biggest toe-stubbing moves that can hurt your Organic Reach is trying to sell too much.

And with Facebook essentially turning the tables on solely commercial content, this is a bigger deal than ever.

But think of it in terms of volume alone.

Even in your own industry, you’ve likely found that there’s an increasingly saturated social media network that you have to wade through.

With Facebook focusing more on engagement, simply trying to route traffic to your website can be a mistake.

That means that Facebook is also evaluating intent when it filters content.

This particular trend isn’t exactly in your favor.

And when you tack on that Facebook users are savvy enough to filter out the content that they don’t want to see even if it makes it past the News Feed algorithms, you have a recipe for disaster.

That’s why understanding where social media fits into the sales funnel and focusing on brand awareness will serve you better for Organic Reach.

sales funnel has four stages

Social media is a top-of-the-funnel endeavor, and you have to treat it that way.

Going for a hard sell just isn’t going to work, and that type of content is just going to get filtered out by either Facebook or your audience.

There’s a greater need now more than ever to engage directly with your community.

That means instead of just posting random articles, you need to find ways to have discussions on your Page.

You need to spend more time being active and replying to comments on posts, even unhelpful ones.

Because your audience craves acknowledgement more than anything.

They just want to be heard.

Real-time engagement can help the Organic Reach of your brand more than a sales-oriented post ever could.

That’s why you need to ditch the old sales funnel approach to social media and adopt a more accurate idea of what social funnels look like.

social metrics matrix

Notice how the elements in the top part of this funnel are more relationship oriented.

That’s because your Organic Reach relies on audience building with Facebook, not sales.

And I can’t over-emphasize how important this shift is.

Because business are almost always affected by changes to social networks, which is why the idea is to share content users are interested in and will actually engage with.

You need to worry about sales a little later, preferably once your audience is established and loyal to your brand.

Which oddly enough means you need to be smarter about your Facebook Ads budget.

Because that’s one of the best ways to invest in building your audience with a longer funnel.

You need to embrace Facebook as a pay-to-play game, because it is for better or worse.

paid social media distribution

More and more marketers are coming to Facebook, and it’s already the top source of paid social media in the world by a long shot.

Which means the only way you can play, or win, is to start investing your money in it wisely.

Try boosting posts that have already proven to be strong performers, not just the posts you think will perform well.

That means you need to post content first, then check your engagement.

Then if your audience engagement is strong, boost that post so that it reaches even more people.

In sum, create and boost great content, not just any content.

Because if recent trends have shown us anything, it’s that we’re only going to see an increase in spending on paid digital advertising in the coming years.

digital ad spending surpasses tv

So learning to couple the pay-to-play element with the other tactics in this post is the best way to move forward.

Since you can’t just rest on your laurels and coast off of Organic Reach anymore, you have to take action.

Tip #6: Consider an alternative route

The final piece of advice that I want to leave you with revolves around a rather unsung element of Facebook: Groups.

From a marketing point of view, Facebook Groups have been relatively incognito due to how a sort of risk-reward equation that always tipped more toward risk.

It was just easier to post on your Page, pay for your ads, and ignore Groups.

But now, they’re looking more attractive.

And this makes sense. A Group around your brand is one that consumers will have to opt into.

Which means they get notifications and engage with your brand at a deeper level.

Plus, they’re free, which can’t be beat.

And Facebook has been giving quite a bit of attention to Groups lately:

With more than one billion Facebook users involved in Groups, we may well be looking at a new frontier for social media marketers.

It may take time to lay the groundwork and build your community, but there’s no denying the potential power of your own Group.

They could be the ultimate answer to the Organic Search issue.

Conclusion

The truth of the matter is that Facebook Organic Reach is not dead.

It’s just different than what you’re used to.

Facebook has changed the game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still play it well.

You just have to realize that your metrics only look different. In reality, your Organic Reach is more accurate than ever, which is a good thing.

But these changes require that you take a new approach to maintaining and improving your social engagement.

A simple change like focusing on quality over quantity is by far the best places to start.

But more than that, try to find the format that fits your audience. Use blog posts, images, and especially video to engage to the fullest.

Then take strides to post your best content at the right time on the right day of the week.

You can also start to curate content that your audience will be interested in, which tells Facebook that your content is shareworthy.

Overall, just focus on brand building, not sales.

And remember that Facebook is now a pay-to-play system for marketers. If you want to win, bring your checkbook.

Finally, start considering Groups as an alternative for opt-in engagement. You could be suprised by what you find.

At the end of the day, your Organic Reach rises and falls on how well you execute the strategies in this post.

All you have to do now is find a way to stick with these changes.

What methods have worked best for keeping Organic Reach up for your brand?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

Why Understanding Your Customers is the Only Marketing Strategy You Need

We all want to be “successful” marketers.

But what does success in marketing even mean?

Sure, we can track analytics.

We can count how many social followers we have.

We can watch our number of website visitors grow.

But how do we know what is really successful?

When it comes down to it, there is only one judge for a successful marketing campaign.

The customers.

There are dozens of “how to” guides and “best practices” marketers can follow.

But the truth of the matter is, if your audience doesn’t connect with it, it doesn’t matter how successful it was for another company or brand.

To truly develop a “successful” marketing campaign, understanding your customers is the only thing you need to do.

What is a customer-centric marketing approach?

Customer-centric marketing uses personalized messages, products, content, and more to ensure the consumer is getting exactly what they’re looking for.

But a customer-centric approach needs to go beyond just your marketing.

It requires creating a “customer-centric organization, not just a customer-centric marketing department,” says IDC research analyst Gerry Murray.

Putting your customers’ needs first can help improve relationships with your audience and retain customers.

This is because customers like to feel like they’re being given special treatment.

In fact, 90% of consumers found personalization appealing, while 80% said they’d be more likely to do business with a company that offers personalized approaches.

the appeal of personalization

With a customer-centric marketing approach, companies stop trying to tell their shoppers what they need.

This kind of traditional marketing has become unappealing and untrustworthy.

With 2 in 10 consumers stating they don’t like online ads, it can be complicated to reach shoppers with traditional marketing.

ad sentiment

This is where a customer-centric strategy works a bit differently.

Instead of pushing products and hoping someone will buy, customer-centric businesses craft their messaging, products, and content around the unique needs of their target audience.

Let’s take a look at Southwest Airlines.

Airlines notoriously have a reputation for having poor customer service.

Southwest Airlines, however, has been able to remove themselves from this stereotype to provide a customer-centric marketing approach that their customers love.

They don’t stuff their planes full of TV screens, big seats, or fancy meals and then demand extreme prices for these unnecessary luxuries.

Instead, they offer affordable pricing and won’t charge you ridiculous fees for things like baggage or wanting to change your travel dates.

By giving them what they want – not what marketers think they want – they can gain more attention and see higher conversions.

This has put Southwest Airlines at the front of the airline industry when it comes to customer satisfaction.

customer service rankings of US airlines

Now, compare that to United Airlines – a company who hasn’t had the best year.

Who could forget the time they forcefully dragged a passenger off a plane or when they ordered a family to put their dog in an overhead compartment?

United Airlines has struggled to put their customer’s needs at the forefront of their business – and it’s definitely cost them.

Due to their scandals, 67.3% of customers feel at least somewhat negative about the airline with 53.7% feel less willing to purchase a ticket from United Airlines.

Because customers have other options and feel undervalued or even threatened by the company’s lack of attention, they’ll turn elsewhere.

The importance of knowing your customers well

There are over 82 million blog posts published each month – just on WordPress.

blog posts published each month

Month after month, more and more companies and individuals are taking advantage of blogging.

However, consumers don’t have time to waste on low-quality content they don’t connect with.

And they don’t have to.

If one article doesn’t fit their needs, there are dozens more they can turn to.

The best way to stand out is by creating unique content relevant to the needs of your target audience.

In fact, 58% of content marketers said audience relevance was the biggest contributor to success.

audience relevance biggest contributor

When you can create content that fits the unique needs of your target audience, they can develop trust and familiarity with your brand.

This can make them more loyal to your company and products.

Having loyal customers who make repeat purchases can be a major benefit to your bottom line.

And, there’s proof.

Loyal customers end up being worth ten times their original purchase.

loyal customes worth 10x more helpscout

This is because loyal customers are easier to sell to.

This dramatically reduces the amount of time that customer needs to spend being nurtured and convinced.

Instead, they can jump right back into the sales funnel.

In fact, past customers have a 65% chance of converting compared to a 13% chance for new prospects.

repeat customers easier to sell

By paying attention to your customers’ needs, you can reduce your marketing costs while bringing in more sales and profit.

Loyal customers are also more likely to support you in getting new business.

When a customer is happy with their brand, they’ll want to share their experience with their friends and family.

These recommendations can help boost your trust with new leads and can get you more sales.

In fact, 82% of Americans say they look for recommendations from friends and family when they’re considering a purchase.

why are online reviews important

When you stop trying to guess what your customers are looking for and start listening to what they’re telling you, you increase revenue while creating long-term relationships.

It’s a win-win.

Take a look at Harley-Davidson.

When you buy a Harley, you’re doing more than just buying a motorcycle. You’re becoming part of a tribe.

This kind of cult brand goes beyond simple brand loyalty.

Harley-Davidson built its reputation as a brand for individuals who don’t play by the rules, but they went beyond that to make it their mission to bring like-minded individuals together.

By introducing their Harley Owners Group chapters, local Harley fanatics could get together for rides, charity events, and more.

At its peak, HOG had over 1 million members.

Harley-Davidson didn’t simply create a brand their customers loved.

They created a lifestyle.

How to get to know your customers better

You’re not going to get to know your customers overnight.

Your customers are dynamic people.

As their needs change, you change.

Amazon’s CEO and Founder, Jeff Bezos, describes his approach to customers like this:

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”

As one of the most customer-centric companies in the world, it’s safe to say Amazon knows a thing or two about getting to know their audience.

To help you pull a page from Amazon’s book, here are five tips to get to know your customers better.

1. Build out your buyer persona.

A buyer persona is a guide to the individuals you are trying to attract.

Typically, a buyer persona would describe one ideal customer or client in great detail.

Here’s a pretty basic buyer persona template from HubSpot.

hubspot buyer persona

Within this persona, you can outline some pretty basic information about your target audience.

This includes their basic demographics and background, and some unique identifiers.

However, if you really want to make your customers the focus of your marketing, you’re going to want to get much deeper than this.

Compare HubSpot’s template to this example from Iron Spring Designs.

iron springs designs buyer persona

While it still covers a lot of the same information as the basic persona, it dives much deeper into who the character really is.

Once you’ve created your basic buyer persona, think of how you can take it a bit further.

What challenges does your customer face?

What are they scared of?

Who influences their choices and how they live their life?

A lot of this information may not seem relevant to your brand and business, but getting the full picture can allow you to establish deeper connections.

Here’s another great example of a persona you can pull from.

kelli buyer persona

However, when creating your buyer personas, you can’t simply create a customer from thin air – especially if you already have a loyal customer base.

Think about Gap’s 2010 rebrand.

The clothing company, known for their basics and staples, decided to go for a younger, trendier crowd – all while neglecting their current customer base.

And people weren’t happy.

While you can use your customer persona to shape the direction you want your business to go, you can’t simply drop your old customers in favor of the new ideal clients you’ve thought up.

Instead, create multiple personas that can coexist.

Remember, creating personas shouldn’t be a one-and-done type deal.

To truly understand your target audience and who they are, you need to watch how they evolve.

Come back and revisit your buyer persona every few months, or after a major shift in your industry occurs.

2. Listen to them on social media.

Our customers’ social pages are a bit like their journals.

Except that they’re willing to display everything in public.

By properly listening to your audience on social, you can learn a lot about what they’re looking for and how they feel about your brand.

However, if you’re strictly looking at mentions, posts, and comments directed at your business, you’re missing out.

Social listening – which differs from simple social monitoring – provides businesses with insights about how they’re meeting (or missing) client expectations.

Let’s take a look at Chipotle.

The incredibly popular food chain has had a bit of a rough year, with multiple food safety scandals.

So, it’s no surprise that food safety is at the center of the majority of conversations about them on Twitter.

chipotle tweet conversations

However, Chipotle can also see that their customers are just as concerned about things like guac and queso as they are about their food safety.

To get a real idea of who your target audience is and what they expect out of you, you need to go beyond simple mentions to do so.

You can start by simply searching your company name within social platforms.

Here’s a simple example of a Domino’s customer on Twitter.

dominos customers on twitter

Although the user didn’t post directly to Domino’s account, they can still find this information from the search bar.

However, social listening tools can give you stronger insights and faster results.

Mention, for example, is a great tool for monitoring your brand anywhere online.

nasa on mention software

The dashboard gives you insights about who is posting about your brand, as well as where they’re located and what kind of influence they have.

While it is important to pay close attention to the conversations you’re not directly involved with, it’s also crucial to connect when your audience comes to you.

42% of customers expect a brand to respond to them on social within an hour.

Actively watching for questions, comments, or feedback can give you insights into your customers while also getting a feel for the problems your audience may be experiencing.

Check out this response from Comcast, given not even a minute after the customer mentioned their problem.

comcast cares twitter reply

Remember, social can act as a two-way street.

Don’t be afraid to get involved in conversations, ask questions, and follow users you think can teach you more about your audience.

3. Create and send out surveys.

If you want to know something from your target audience, why not ask?

Surveys can provide you with direct insights or opinions that you wouldn’t have otherwise been able to collect.

However, surveys aren’t the easiest things to get your audience to participate in.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve your survey response rate.

First, keep your survey simple.

Check out this example from The Yard.

would you recommend the yard

This survey is about as easy as it can get.

Recipients aren’t faced with a long survey that would take a serious time commitment to fill out.

Instead, all they need to do is click one button, and The Yard gets a better understanding of if their members are happy.

These kind of embedded surveys can improve survey engagement dramatically.

Take a look at this case study from Get Feedback.

Get Feedback decided to A/B test two similar email surveys, one containing a link to a web survey and another with embedded responses.

They found that the embedded survey actually increased starting engagement by 210% and saw 125% improvement in survey completion.

survey engagement ab test

The embedded survey also had 66% fewer unsubscribers, indicating that users enjoyed this type of survey much more.

When creating your survey or quiz, you also want to humanize your messaging.

By saying things like “it would really help us” or “we’d love to hear your feedback,” you’re showing that there is a real purpose behind the survey results.

You can also improve responses by featuring a progress bar.

Here’s another example from SurveyMonkey.

survey monkey social media question

Notice along the bottom how survey participants can see how close they are to being finished.

This progression bar lets them know when the survey will be over, making them more likely to finish it through.

However, Survey Monkey found that a progress bar doesn’t always help.

completion rate bar ab test

For longer surveys, a bottom visual scale, top number, or bottom percent improved completions while bottom numbers and top perfects hurt.

On the other hand, top percents and top numbers reduced completion for short surveys while all bottom placements helped.

If you’re going to use surveys as a way to get to know your target audience, you want to make the process as painless as possible for participants.

Keep questions short and to the point.

Also, be sure to analyze your results from surveys and how participants engage with them.

If you notice that participants are dropping out halfway through, consider what you can do to change this moving forward.

4. Look at the content they’re engaging with.

Whether it’s blog posts, videos, infographics, or images, customers are engaging with different forms of content consistently throughout the day.

In fact, U.S. adults are spending over 12 hours a day consuming media.

To better understand what they want and need, you need to be paying attention.

First, it’s important to see what kind of content of your own they’re connecting with.

The best way to do this is with your Google Analytics.

You can find your company’s top pages by logging into Google Analytics, selecting “Behavior,” then “Site Content” and “All Pages.”

Here’s an example from OptinMonster.

optin monster ab test

Knowing which pages are your most popular can help you understand what kind of content to create going forward.

Look for any particular patterns showing up in your popular pages.

Also, pay attention to the types of content they’re engaging with.

If your audience prefers infographics over blog posts, you may want to work more infographics into your content strategy.

Also, you can head over to a competitor’s social media page to see what posts are getting a lot of likes or shares.

Here’s an example from Thrive Market.

Using this information, you can include recipe posts into your own strategy.

However, you don’t want to copy competitors directly.

Instead, take what they provide and find a way to make it better.

Add new insights, create a better image or video, or go deeper into the subject to provide more value than your competitors did.

However you can, try to find a way to make your content more valuable than what is already out there.

5. Pay attention to the customers not converting.

There is no doubt there is a lot to learn from your customers.

However, there is probably a lot more you can learn from the leads who aren’t converting.

This process can be a bit more complicated than just getting to know the customers who do buy.

After all, you don’t have as much information on these leads as you do your customers.

To identify where you’re losing leads, you want to consider the traditional buyer’s journey.

Here’s an example from HubSpot.

hubspot funnel

First, customers become aware of their problem.

They next consider what options are available for solving that problem.

Finally, they decide how they’re going to get a solution.

Each buyer, regardless of industry, goes through this journey.

However, if you’re getting introduced to buyers in the consideration phase and losing them before they make a decision, you could be doing something wrong.

It isn’t likely that every individual that runs into your content is going to purchase from you.

In fact, conversion rates for content marketing are only about 3%.

But you still need to identify the leaks in your sales funnel.

You should be providing content for every stage of the buyer’s journey.

By ensuring you’re covering all your bases, you can guarantee each individual has the information they need to make it to the end.

You’ll also want to consider areas where you see engagements, but not conversions.

Social is a prime example of this.

If you’re constantly posting new content and getting hundreds of likes and comments, but don’t see any sales, it means there is a serious disconnect going on.

The same is true for your blog posts or videos.

Try to switch up your CTAs, social posts, or even introduce a new form of content.

And you don’t need to get too creative about what you add.

Take this dentist from Indiana, for example.

Dr. Sutor uses Facebook Live to talk about common dental problems – and gets thousands of views.

dentist using facebook live

While these numbers aren’t extreme, they’re an easy way to bring in new potential leads and expand reach.

Make small changes that allow you to properly track how your audience is influenced and make a note of any improvements.

As you begin to learn what your target audience doesn’t like, you can give them more of what they do like.

Conclusion

When it comes to marketing, stop assuming you know best.

If you’re still trying to tell your audience what they need, you’re never going to sell products.

Today’s shopper understands their needs and the solutions available to them.

They’re well-researched, smart, and unwilling to fall for the traditional sales tactics.

But when you work with them to create and deliver the solutions they want, you can create a loyal following that wants to help you succeed.

How has getting to know your customers improved your sales and marketing?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

The Ultimate Social Checklist: 7 Steps to Follow for Every Post

Promoting on social can feel like a popularity rollercoaster.

One minute, you’re on top.

Your post is taking off – skyrocketing through timelines and racking up likes and shares.

But the next time you post?

Crickets.

The likes are trickling in, comprised mainly of your team members and the intern’s mom.

It’s like everyone forgot about you.

Not knowing how your target audience is going to react can be stressful.

Putting time, money, and effort into creating a social strategy that doesn’t get attention can feel like a waste of time.

Unfortunately, that’s because it is.

Luckily, when you put a little more planning into the posts you share, you can start seeing stronger results.

To help you make the most of each and every post you create, here is a 7-step checklist you can follow.

Step 1: Find a post purpose

Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is important if you want to stay visible and relevant on social platforms.

This is why we see companies in just about every industry taking advantage of popular weekly hashtags like #MotivationMonday or #ThrowbackThursday.

Here’s a tweet from LA Fitness getting in on the Monday Motivation conversation.

Posts like these can help you create some consistency in the way you post online.

It lets your audience know when to expect to hear from you and gets you involved in popular threads.

However, if you’re simply posting to post, you’re only wasting everyone’s time.

Every second, 6,000 Tweets are sent.

If you’re throwing posts out there without any clear intent, you’re just cluttering up an already diluted space.

Each time you post on social, you want to have a clearly defined purpose.

This largely depends on who your target audience is.

According to Sprout Social, different demographics will engage with brands on social differently.

social media stats by demographic

Knowing how your audience reacts to social promotions can help you refine your tactics to better suit their needs.

Each post doesn’t need to sell directly.

In fact, using conversations to get your audience engaged can be more effective than strictly selling.

Consider the 80/20 principle, also known as the Pareto Principle.

This states that just 20% of what you do will bring in 80% of your returns.

In other words, smaller efforts can actually bring you better rewards.

Here’s an example from Walmart that involves no selling at all.

walmart facebook post

After the video of the young boy singing in a Walmart store went viral, Walmart saw this as the perfect opportunity to get into the conversation.

While this post doesn’t even contain a link to Walmart’s homepage, it still has a purpose.

It lets the company have a bit of fun.

Walmart also frequently uses social media to become a part of a larger conversation about hunger relief.

By partnering with Feeding America, Walmart uses influencers to help raise money for a good cause.

Here’s an example from Rosanna Pansino, a YouTube-famous baker.

rosanna pansion instagram post

Again, Walmart isn’t using their social media campaigns to sell products directly.

Posts like these can start informal conversations with your customers and help get them engaged with your brand.

Here’s another example of a post that goes beyond strictly selling, this time from Bud Light.

While this post doesn’t mention their brand or products, it plays off an extremely popular continuous campaign that Bud Light runs – their Dilly Dilly campaign.

Bud Light’s Dilly Dilly ads feature humorous stories of medieval knights, kings, peasants and the “Bud Knight.”

Just about every ad includes a story of how Bud Light can bring people together, followed by chants of “Dilly Dilly.”

Soon, Dilly Dilly became an online sensation, getting 175,000 mentions per month across social media and 66,000 hashtag uses just on Instagram.

While this tweet may not attract any new leads, it does appeal to loyal Bud Light fans who are in on the Dilly Dilly joke.

This can strengthen their relationship, remind them of past ads, and gain some engagement.

Before you post anything on social – whether it is as a post or in the comments – think of what you’re trying to accomplish.

Is it customer service?

Is it a promotion?

Is it simply creating a conversation with your target audience?

Define your intent before you press that “post” button.

Step 2: Find an engaging headline/quote to share

Knowing the purpose of your posts is a great start.

But it isn’t enough to get your audience engaged.

Even if you have the best intentions, if your content is dull or boring, your followers are just going to keep scrolling.

On Facebook, you have 63,206 characters per status update to get creative. (Although, you should be sticking to fewer characters.)

On Twitter, that number has recently doubled to 280-characters.

With video platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, you have 10 seconds or 60 seconds per video, respectively.

So, with all this room, there’s no reason you should just be posting the title of your article.

Check out this social post from GoPro.

They didn’t simply throw the video up with a traditional title.

Instead, they made it conversational.

Followers get a taste of what they can expect in the video, but it’s not a overwhelming description.

Quotes are another great way to grab your followers’ attention.

A brief snippet of what they can expect from your content can be just what they need to read on.

Here’s a great example of an extract from Salesforce.

This quote, which was pulled from the video also featured in the post, was able to get almost 125 retweets and 270 likes.

That’s almost 8x as many retweets and over 4x times as many likes as a traditional tweet from Salesforce uploaded the same day.

When selecting quotes that you’d like to target, make sure they provide enough context.

Make sure they provide value even if the user doesn’t decide to check out the rest of your content.

Step 3: Use your brand voice

It’s weird to think that your brand has a unique voice.

But the messaging, context, and vocabulary you use in your brand content can help you establish stronger relationships with your target audience.

A well-crafted brand voice can help you tell stories that build trust and create long-term repeat shoppers.

Taco Bell has one of the most recognizable brand voices on social.

By speaking directly to their defined target audience of young, active, and impulsive customers, they’re able to create genuine connections with their audience.

Check out this post on their Instagram.

taco bell instagram

Taco Bell uses posts like these to generate a “digital art gallery” that encourages followers to share their own content, creating engagement while staying on brand.

MoonPie is another great example of a brand that has brought their personality out on social.

Just one viral tweet launched their popularity as one of the funniest brands on social.

moonpie viral tweet on hostess

In the two weeks following this post, MoonPie was able to earn over $ 380k in earned media value.

A strong brand voice can help you get more social attention in a couple of ways.

First, it creates consistency between your platforms.

Whether a shopper is reading a blog post, your website homepage, or a Tweet, you want to make sure they know who they’re talking to.

Having the same tone and style in each of your posts can help them establish familiarity and trust with your brand.

This can make it easier for them to connect with your social messages, which are often only a few characters long.

However, a brand voice can also help you get noticed.

Let’s take a look at Wendy’s Twitter account.

wendys whole year tweet

The brand is known for coming up with witty, sassy, and unexpected responses to their customers.

And it’s helped the fast food restaurant get some pretty outstanding attention – including becoming a part of the most retweeted tweet ever.

Everyone from Inc. to Buzzfeed to Mashable has written about the brand’s savage comebacks.

But the authenticity behind their messaging is also great for connecting with audience members.

They’re not posing as a bland and boring business.

Instead, they appeal to the young, carefree audience that is most likely to want to buy their cheeseburgers.

The brand voice you develop needs to have your target audience in mind.

Create content they’ll engage with – even if it means pushing some non-audience members away.

Step 4: Use special characters and emojis

Typical text is boring.

If your social posts are text-only messages, they’re most likely going to get scrolled over.

To grab some more attention and get more engagements, you’ll want to add some special characters and emojis to your posts.

Adding emojis can actually help improve social interactions by 47.7%.

Here’s a great example of Cisco using emojis in a recent tweet.

Just by adding two emojis to the end of their text, Cisco adds some additional meaning and context to their post.

It also helps it stand out a bit more.

Cisco only uses two emojis, but they both have a clear purpose.

They add value to the content without feeling overwhelming.

Here’s another good example of emoji use, coming from this Instagram post from Levo League.

michelle obama levo league instagram post

Again, the emojis used are kept to a minimum, each serving a clear purpose.

However, in this example, we see emojis at both the beginning and the end.

Simply adding that little dollar emoji to the start of the text can help followers identify if it’s a post they might be interested in – without needing to read anything at all.

You can also take a page out of Domino’s marketing book and create an entire sales campaign around a single emoji.

With their Easy Order, Domino’s allows customers to order a pizza with just one text or Tweet.

dominos easy order

Users simply tweet a pizza emoji at Domino’s, and they’re able to place a new order.

By changing the way users order pizza, Domino’s was able to increase their stock by 2000% – bringing them above Netflix, Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon.

This kind of creativity sparks excitement and brings something new to an otherwise boring industry.

Be sure not to overdo it when it comes to using emojis.

They should support your message, not make it difficult for your audience to understand what is going on.

You’ll also want to be sure you know what emojis actually mean before you upload them.

Mix up the “crying laughing” with just “crying,” and you look insensitive.

Add an “eggplant” or “peach” emoji, and your post has taken on an entirely new meaning you probably aren’t expecting.

Step 5: Include visuals

Emojis are just the start of making your posts more dynamic.

Other visuals, such as videos, GIFs, and images can dramatically increase engagement on posts.

Videos, in particular, are great for improving engagements.

In fact, a Facebook video typically receives 135% more organic reach than a photo.

Check out this video post shared by NASA on Twitter.

The contents of the video could have easily been shared in just text.

However, the video makes the information much more dynamic.

In just four hours, this NASA post received 1.3K retweets, 3.4K likes, and 60 comments.

Comparatively, it took 19 hours for a tweet with just an image to achieve similar results.

Video allows you to share more information in deeper depth without overwhelming your followers.

If NASA were to present this same April overview in text form, it’s probably be confusing, complicated, and dull for readers.

Instead, the video allows them to show – not tell.

Companies can also take advantage of live video, or video-centric social platforms, like Snapchat or the Stories feature within Instagram.

Gary Vaynerchuk, one of the most popular motivational speakers, frequently uses Instagram Stories and Snapchat to share daily messages and short video clips.

garyvee snapchat

These videos are short, but they can pack a punch.

They’re only a few seconds long and probably recorded on a cellphone, but they appear friendly and personable – which helps Gary blend in with his followers’ friends.

One of Gary’s biggest pieces of advice when it comes to social videos is to document – don’t create.

By just opening up your phone, recording, and sharing with your followers, you’re able to bring them into your day-to-day activities or thoughts without needing to spend money on a major production.

This can create more personal connections and engagements.

Video isn’t the only way to increase engagements.

You can also use custom graphics and images.

Netflix used their own custom graphics during their Netflix Cheating campaign.

Sure, Netflix could have shared this simple stat in a text-post, but the custom graphic helps it to stand out from the crowd.

In fact, a post with an image can gain up to 12% more impressions than one with just Twitter cards.

You don’t need fancy design skills or a professional graphic designer to create custom graphics.

There are a some online tools available to help you create images you can share on social.

One of the best tools is Canva.

Canva offers dozens of free or paid templates, like the ones featured below.

canva social image

Users can select a layout, add their own images and text, and have a high-quality image to share on social in just a few minutes.

Even if they’ve never designed anything before.

Finally, the last and one of the easiest visuals to add are GIFs.

GIFs act like mini-videos that don’t require the viewer to hit play before they begin running.

They’re mobile-friendly and can help you add emotion to messages.

In fact, 36% of millennials said that GIFs or emojis expressed their thoughts and feelings better than words.

Here’s an example of a GIF used in a tweet from DiGiorno.

Using this GIF is an easy way for DiGiorno to become part of a trending topic and show their fun side.

Better yet, because the GIF isn’t their own, they can add this image to their post just with a simple search.

Platforms like Giphy are already integrated into social networks like Twitter and even Instagram Stories, making it easy to add them to any post.

You can also create your own GIFs to display comparisons and data points.

When adding images to your post, try to make them as unique as possible.

While timely or relevant GIFs can help show you’re on top of social trends, you don’t want to become too dependent on other individual’s work.

This is particularly true when it comes to sharing standard images.

You should avoid using stock images as much as possible.

If you do need to turn to stock photos, then pull them from lesser-known sites or try and find new posts.

Step 6: Use relevant hashtags

The hashtag has hijacked the pound symbol.

When hashtags first started on Twitter, they seemed weird and confusing.

Now, if a post doesn’t have a hashtag, it seems strange.

Hashtags are a great way to link conversations and posts together.

When used appropriately, hashtags can help you get more attention and increase your engagements.

In a study done by Agora Pulse, they found that adding hashtags to Instagram posts increased likes by 70%.

hashtags increase likes

However, there are no consistent rules for hashtagging across social platforms.

The number of hashtags you use and how you use those hashtags can vary greatly depending on the platform you’re engaging with.

On Facebook and Twitter, fewer hashtags actually lead to more engagements.

posts with fewer hashtags

The hashtag sweet spot is at one or two on Facebook, but three to five on Twitter.

Instagram on the other hand, can have upwards of eight hashtags before followers perceive it as spam.

Hashtags can be used a few different ways to increase your customer engagement.

First, jumping on trending topics can help show some brand personality and gain exposure.

Jumping back to the DiGiorno post from earlier, DiGiorno used the #WhatCatsDoWhileWeSleep to participate in a larger conversation.

While each individual responding to this hashtag may not be in their direct target demographic, it can still get attention and help them attract higher engagements.

You can also use hashtags as part of your own personal campaigns.

One of the most popular examples of this is the Share a Coke campaign from Coca-Cola.

share a coke facebook page

The campaign stretches across the company’s entire social platforms, encouraging drinkers to show pictures of their friends sharing a Coke.

When Coca-Cola first brought the Share a Coke campaign to the US in 2014, it helped grow sales volume for the first time since 2000.

This year, they’re hoping to grab even more attention, featuring names that will cover almost 80% of the millennial population in the U.S.

This brand-specific hashtag creates a conversation centered around Coca-Cola.

Each individual using the hashtag is looking to become a part of the Share a Coke conversation.

Another great example of a campaign-specific hashtag is the #OpenYourWorld experiment from Heineken.

With their Open Your World campaign, Heineken created a video that sat two strangers with opposing views down to talk.

Over a series of team-building activities that ended with a Heineken beer, they were able to have meaningful conversations about their opinions and viewpoints –- something that doesn’t happen all that often in today’s day and age.

This social experiment took off, with the video getting over 13 million views on the YouTube channel the first month.

However, #OpenYourWorld differs from the #ShareaCoke campaign in that it’s not entirely unique to the Heineken brand.

Instead, #OpenYourWorld puts user’s posts right in the middle of a larger conversation.

Not only can this increase impressions and reach, but it also makes Heineken a major player in some serious conversations – improving brand image and gaining trust.

Each of your social posts should include at least one hashtag.

Think about what kind of conversation or attention you’re looking to gain and use your hashtags to become a part of a larger picture.

Step 7: Engage, mention, and track

Now that your post is created, you’re ready to upload it.

But that doesn’t mean you’re done.

To bring attention to your post, you need to get engagements started.

86% of consumers say they want honesty in brands on social media.

However, “friendly” and “helpful” were not too far behind.

behaviors consumers want from brands

If you’re focusing too much on being funny or trendy, you’re making it more difficult on yourself to connect with your target audience.

Unfortunately, this means all your planning, designing, and strategizing is just a waste of time.

However, you can increase engagements and ensure your content is noticed by provoking a conversation yourself.

To do this, you want to create a two-way dialogue with your customers.

JetBlue does an awesome job of this on their social media platforms.

jetblue customer service on twitter

JetBlue has been consistently praised as one of the top airlines for customer service.

One of the reasons for this is that they use real people to monitor their social media platforms.

In fact, they employ 25 individuals dedicated just to customer service inquiries on Facebook and Twitter.

Unlike chatbots or automated responses, having real customer service experts monitoring your social platforms can show that you genuinely care about your audience.

Listening to what they have to say and responding – even if it’s just to thank them for their comment – can help improve trust and loyalty with your brand.

You can also use influencers to try and get more attention.

Influencers can put your content in front of their audience.

Here’s an example.

The North Face reaches out to both Girl Scouts and America Ferrera to get them involved in their post.

As partners in the campaign, both parties are likely to share the post with their own followers.

This can get you more attention and help you improve engagements.

Fans of both Girl Scouts and America Ferrara may also become more interested in what the campaign is.

This type of social support can improve your reach and increase the size of your audience.

However, if you manage to get a conversation started, you’re still not done yet.

It’s also important to keep your eye on how your social posts are performing.

Knowing where your posts are attracting attention and where they’re going ignored can allow you to make more strategic decisions in the future.

Pay close attention to the differences in your post and what they may be telling you about your audience and the content you’re creating.

While some changes may seem minor or insignificant, even slight differences in engagement can be a big deal.

You can then use this information to refine your strategy and continue to create social posts that your audience loves.

Conclusion

It takes a lot of effort to become one of the popular kids.

Unfortunately, the same rules apply when it comes to social.

When creating content you’re going to share, think thoroughly about who you’re speaking to, what their interests are, and what unique perspective you can provide.

By better understanding where your disconnect lies, you can start making the right changes to better engage your target audience.

Using this checklist is a great way to rehaul your social strategy so you can create the best posts possible each and every time.

What are some of your favorite social posting tactics?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

6 Google AdWords Hacks To Drive More Local Foot Traffic

Who said retail was dead?

According to the National Retail Federation, brick and mortar retail stores had a net increase of over 4000 store openings in 2017.

For each company that closed a store, 2.7 companies opened stores.

net opening stores vs net closing

Although department stores stayed the same, Superstores thrived.

With e-commerce achieving a sales growth of 24.8% in 2017 compared to the previous year, mark my words, it’s booming.

But consumers are still flocking to local stores. The main reasons in-store shoppers prefer local over online stores are the issues they face with online shopping:

  • they can’t physically inspect the items
  • loss of power to negotiate a better deal
  • shipping costs
  • logistics (waiting for delivery)
  • entering personal information online
  • difficulty in returning items

Local foot traffic is still a major of part retail.

And one of the biggest trends marketers can’t ignore in 2018, is the rise of ROPO.

Research online, purchase offline.

This is the consumer habits of bargain hunters and thrifty shoppers looking for better deals locally.

The purpose of this type of marketing is to drive foot traffic to store and business locations so that they can avail of local promotions or services.

Google AdWords released new innovations that you can incorporate into your campaigns.

These innovations can help you improve your CTR you and make sure your ads are profitable.

Along with the existing features and extensions, I’ve detailed six Google AdWords hacks that can drive more local foot traffic to your store or business.

Hack #1: Location ad extension

When your physical storefront is the main place where conversions occur, you need to include your store address in your ads.

A location ad extension displays your store’s address within the ad.

Here’s what showed when I searched for “computer repair seattle.”

seattle computer repair adwords ad

By including your address in your AdWords campaigns, people are more likely to trust your company.

Showcasing your store as a physical entity gives customers a sense of comfort buying from a business that feels real.

Here’s how to enable location extension in your Google AdWords campaign.

First, go to the Google My Business homepage and click “Start Now.”

google my business starts now

Next, you’ll need to search for your business, if it already exists and claim it.

google my business map

If you cannot see your business, make sure you verify your business with Google before actioning this step.

Once your Google My Business account and listing are live, go to your AdWords account to link your accounts.

Find the “Ads & Extension” tab and click on it.

Next select “Extensions.”

ad extensions step 1

Click “create ad extension.”

create adwords ad extension

Select “Location extension” from the drop-down menu.

location extension adwords

You’ll be then prompted to use your locations from your Google My Business account.

select a google my business account

Your location ad extension should now be enabled. And your business location should be now shown in your ads.

This simple hack gives your online ad a physical location.

To get more shoppers in the door, Google has made location extensions and store visit measurement available on YouTube.

The following is a location extension example, from a YouTube ad by IHOP restaurants.

location extension examples

By including location extensions in TrueView in-stream and bumper ads, viewers can engage with your brand and see your store’s location, business hours and directions to the store.

Implementing store visit measurement into your YouTube campaigns, you can see what ads and extensions are performing best and driving in-store foot traffic.

Hack #2: Promotion extension

You don’t need to invent complex marketing campaigns to drive more foot traffic to your store.

By accommodating the needs of mobile users, you can boost more sales.

You can also increase local foot traffic by implementing promotions in your online advertising campaigns.

A promotion ad extension displays your store’s current promotions within the ad.

promotion ad extension

This will show details of a percentage discount beneath your ad as showcased in the image above.

And it can also show prices on products in-text ads.

best hair salon adwords extensions

You can add additional details to your promotion, e.g., promo codes or minimum order values.

Using promotion extensions in your ads can drive awareness to your deals and promotions. You can also choose what device you’d prefer your ads to show on, e.g., targeting mobile users.

The ability to schedule the promotion for particular times or days during periods of high-volume foot traffic can generate higher click through rates.

Wordstream reported that their clients saw an increase in CTRs of almost 10% from using promotion extensions.

new promotion extensions hold highest ctr

How to add a promotion extension to your AdWords campaign, follow these steps.

First, sign into your Google AdWords account.

Then, follow the steps mentioned in Hack #1, to navigate to the ad extension drop-down menu.

This time you’ll want to select “Promotion extension.”

promotion extension adwords

Next, you’ll be prompted to set up your promotion.

For this example, I’ll set up a Mother’s Day promotion on flowers.

Click “Occasion” and select from the drop-down.

mothers day occasion adwords setup

Next, enter in details of the promotion.

You can choose the promotion type, whether its a percentage, monetary or “up to _” discount.

Enter the item and your website URL.

promotion type adwords

Next, select the dates you want to run the promotion for.

select promotion dates

In the “advanced options” you can select to target only mobiles or extend your promotion.

And you can also target specific times, to optimize your ads for store open-hours and higher foot traffic times.

More on that later.

ads extensions advanced options

Next, you’ll want to save your promotion.

save choices in adwords

Google will then review your ad. Once confirmation is received, your ad will be live.

Running AdWords promotions can also improve your ad’s relevance and quality score.

By increasing your CTR, you have a better chance of your ideal customer seeing your promotion.

Creating more awareness of in-store promotions you’ll drive more customers to your store.

Promotion extensions are only available in the new AdWords interface. These new innovations were built exclusively for the new AdWords experience.

Google also provides a Best Practices guide to help you get the most out of the new interface and optimize your ads.

Hack #3: Click-to-text message extension

Offering instant communication with potential customers is an excellent way to drive local foot traffic.

According to Google data, 65% of consumers would consider using messaging when scheduling an in-person appointment.

Or when looking for information about a product or service.

Grand View Research forecasts a rise in the use of chatbots.

With the chatbot market value expected to increase to $ 1.25 billion by 2025, the chatbot industry is expected to witness significant growth.

Innovations in AI and machine-learning technologies will enhance features of chatbots.

chatbots future

A click-to-message extension (or simply, message extension) is an additional link incorporated in your ad. This link connects customers to your business by text message.

Here is an example of message extension in an ad for “car dealers.”

car dealer text us adwrods

If a customer wants to book an appointment, they can easily click on the link and be brought to their messaging app to text for an appointment.

Or, if your business receives a lot of phone call traffic using this method can convert that traffic into local foot traffic by getting them to arrange an appointment.

It can you save time and eliminate “tire kickers.”

Not everybody likes to make a phone call, and the ability to text instead gives another channel of communication to your customers. Letting them feel in control.

To create a message extension in your campaigns, first, you’ll need to sign into your Google AdWords account.

Next, follow the first few steps mentioned in Hack #1 to navigate to the ad extension drop-down menu.

Then, select “Message extension.”

message extension adwords

Now, enter your business name and contact number.

Add the message extension text and your desired automated reply that your customers will be prompted with, in their messenger app.

enter business and text details

AdWords will automatically create an example of how your ad may look in a campaign.

And also how the automated text may appear in their messaging app.

mobile ad example

Click to save your ad, and it’ll go through Google’s review process.

save choices in adwords

Creating a message extension that sets-up an appointment or consultation, is a simple yet effective way to get the right people to your store or business.

Message reporting allows you to record the performance insights of a click-to-message campaign.

You can see how often a user will start a chat with you after seeing your ad, also referred to as a “Chat Rate.”

Maisie Harris, Chief Marketing Officer at LeadRival, discovered that their chat rate more than 2x the conversion rate for the online lead form.

That meant routing people through messaging was the best way to help increase lead volume.

Wordstream shows a creative way you use message extensions as a form of lead generation.

texting via ads on adwords

The method uses message extensions to get a prospect on the phone rather than answer questions directly.

Career Path Training Corp. added a “Click Here to Text Us.” They saw over 30% of texts received turn into a qualified lead.

By showing click-to-message extensions in AdWords campaigns that target high-intent keywords and/or brand words, you’re essentially targeting hotter leads.

This type of campaign should aim to engage the prospective customer and get them on the phone to speak directly.

For lower-intent keywords, you can set up a click-to-message extension that answers their questions automatically.

Hack #4: Optimize ads during store open-hours and high-traffic hours

I’ve touched on some of the mistakes you can avoid in your AdWords campaigns.

Not linking your ads to the right landing pages, for one. Or not grouping the right keywords and ads, for another.

With your advertising budget on the line, you’ll want your ads to show for the customers you actually want to see them.

And during hours that are more effective to those people, e.g., during store open-hours or lunch hours. This is often referred to as day parting.

Here is an example of an AdWords campaign for restaurants targeting consumers with lunch specials, during specific lunch hours.

restaurant menu on adwords

By using the feature of ad scheduling, you can set which days of the week and time you want to run your ads on.

Ad scheduling is not an exact science. But by implementing it, you can save your ads from underperforming.

Do this by increasing your ad budget, through bid adjustments, for these specific hours.

Bid adjustments allow you to run ads all day, but with an increase in volume for set hours. Plus, there are scripts to help you automate the process.

Here’s how it works.

First, you’ll need to create an ad campaign that you’ll apply the scheduling too.

Check out this article to create a campaign.

Once you’ve created one, access the campaign you want to adjust in AdWords.

Next, click on the Campaigns tab.

campaigns tab adwords

Then, click on your campaign.

click on campaign in adwords

Your next step is to click on the “Ad Schedule” tab.

ad schedule adwords

You’ll need to focus in on a precise time during the ad week – ”Day,” or even “Hour.”

For this example, I’ll select “Hour.”

ad scheduler adwords

You’ll be given access to the hourly metric data.

Here, you can see how many people are clicking on your ad during your hours of business. You can also determine whether the patterns coincide with higher foot traffic times.

Check patterns to make sure that they’re consistent.

Once you’ve figured out what time is the best to run your ad, you can now set your schedule.

To do this select “Ad schedule” again, and click “Edit Ad Schedule.”

edit ad schedule

You’ll arrive at the following screen where you can manually enter the time of day you’d like to adjust your bids for.

edit your schedule adwords

On this page, you can select all days to apply the change to or individual days, by selecting from the drop-down menus.

For this example, I’ll apply adjustments to each weekday, between 2 pm and 5 pm.

day adjustments in adwords

On the table below you can set bid adjustments for the specific time intervals, you have already stated.

You can increase your bid amount when your ad campaign is showing at its best-performing times.

Click on the box beside the day and time you want to adjust. Then select the dash under the “Bid adj.” column.

choosing times in adwords

Now, you can adjust by increasing or decreasing the percentage of the bid for this day and time.

increase bid adjustment

Best practice is to keep track of how your campaign is performing. Take note of what days and times you receive the highest amount of foot traffic.

And use this information to evaluate whether your campaigns need further tweaking.

Hack #5: Use geo-targeting ads for specific locations

If you’re not optimizing your AdWord campaigns for geo-targeting, you’re losing out on driving local foot traffic to your store.

Geo-targeting identifies your ideal customer’s location depending on their IP, WiFi or GPS data.

BIA/Kelsey estimates, annual U.S. mobile ad spending will grow from $ 33 billion in 2016 to $ 72 billion by 2021.

That’s a 17% compound annual growth rate.

The location-targeted mobile ad spend is projected to grow from $ 12.4 billion in 2016 to $ 32.4 billion in 2021.

That’s 38% of overall mobile ad revenues, growing to 45% by 2021.

location targeting in adwords

Geo-targeting also allows companies to record consumer behaviors based on their location.

You can custom your ads to geo-target consumers based on their locations, such as commercial areas and airports.

Acquisio used this to target people who visited clinics or hospitals within a 50-mile radius. It was their most effective AdWords strategy with 0.18% CTR and 6,480,280 impressions.

You can also geo-target consumers by income.

Croud did this for a luxury retail client by applying positive bid modifiers to the top 10% tier.

In the first month, they saw an increase in average order value for the top 10% tier, which is now 101% higher than the account average.

cpa cr adwords

To set up geo-targeting in AdWords:

First, open AdWords and select the campaign that you created earlier.

click on campaign in adwords

Next, click the “Settings” tab.

settings tab tab adwords

From there, select the “Locations” drop-down menu.

locations in adwords

Next, click “Advanced Search.”

enter another location adwords

Now you can enter the name of the exact postcode or street name you’re targeting. You can choose a location which will select the entire postcode.

Or you can select a street and set a radius for your geo-targeting

Initially, your primary focus should be the area that your store is located.

For example, if you want to target West 34th Street in Manhattan.

First click “Radius.”

Next, adjust the radius to “2 miles” and enter the street name.

Then click “Target.”

(If you choose the “Location” option, you’ll also notice the “Exclude” button. This allows you to exclude an area from your geo-targeting.)

choosing radius in adwords

AdWords will generate a geo-target zone of two miles in my desired location.

Once you’re satisfied with the results, click “Save.”

radius google adwords

From there, you’ll return to the “Settings” page.

Click “Save” once more to save your campaign changes.

save targeted location adwords

With geo-targeting, you can follow the process above, add multiple locations and tweak the radius to suit.

You could have a brand-awareness ad campaign target the whole NYC area, while a different “promotional” campaign could target local foot traffic, within a one-mile radius.

You can also record the performance of each radius through distance reports. These reports record how far customer was from your store or business when they saw your ad.

You can use this information to help find the best radius to target.

Hack #6: Local inventory ads

Google Shopping and text ads grew 20% from 2016 to 2017, while the total revenue increased 64%, from 2016 to 2018.

This means that retailers are still interested in using in Google Shopping as an advertising channel.

Sidecar’s 2018 Google Shopping Benchmark Report tells us that one trend to watch for is the bridging of online and in-store experiences.

Consumers want the best of both worlds: E-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores.

Google uses local inventory ads and Google Shopping to help accommodate customers who research online and purchase offline.

When consumers click on your ad, they arrive on a Google-hosted page for your store, called the local storefront.

There, shoppers can view the store’s information:

  • In-store inventory,
  • Store hours
  • Directions
  • Promotions

local inventory ad local storefront

Local inventory ads allow you to synchronize your inventory in real-time, so shoppers know if you have that item they’re looking for.

By bringing your local store online, you can target online customers with local ads and drive in-store sales.

Adding local inventory ads to your AdWords is a little more complex than setting up ad campaigns.

You’ll need:

It also requires a product feed creation and inventory management skills.

Luckily, Steve Costanza’s post on Sidecar simplifies this process.

First, you’ll need to enable local inventory ads in your Merchant Centre account.

Go to your Merch Center dashboard and click the 3-dot icon on the top right of your screen.

3 dot icon next to mail icon

Next, click “Merchant Center programs.”

merchant center programs

Scroll down to Local Inventory Ads and click “Get Started.”

local inventory ads

Then, confirm the qualifications are met and click “Enable.”

enable local inventory ads

Next, you’ll be brought to configuration to select your store’s country.

Click on the large “+” button.

configuration adwords

And add your store’s country.

ad store country in adwords

You’ll be prompted to enter your details, and click “Save.”

inventory google my business

If you are based in Europe, you’ll need to verify your About Page. If this doesn’t apply to you continue to the next step.

Here, you’ll need to create a local product inventory feed. This tells Google which products are found at which locations.

This beginners guide from Google will walk you through the process.

(It is essential to keep this feed up-to-date.)

Once this is done, it’s time to register you inventory feeds and submit them to your Merchant Center.

To submit your API files. Click here for Google’s quick-step tutorial.

Next, you’ll need to request inventory verification.

To submit your inventory verification contact, follow these steps:

Click “Local inventory ads” on the left side menu of your Merchant Center dashboard.

local inventory ads 1

Select the country relevant to your store and complete the shipping cost and policy details.

Next, click the “Request Verification” button.

shipping cost and policy url

Once you’ve created and submitted your feeds to Merchant Center, a Google representative will reach out and schedule a store visit to verify your inventory is current and accurate.

Finally, you’ll need to enable local inventory ads in Google AdWords.

If you haven’t set up a shopping campaign already, you’ll need to create one.

Follow this guide to set yours up.

Synchronising your inventory feed with your AdWords campaigns can let your potential customers know what products you have in stock.

When they search for a specific product, your ad will show up beside their search. That’s if you’ve optimized your ad to compete with competitor bids.

Putting the physical address of your store alongside these ads is a great way for customers to find out where you are located.

Conclusion

People love the convenience of online shopping, but they’re also lured to the more tactile experience of in-store shopping.

Research tells us that 54% of online shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

What’s more intriguing is that 39% of in-store shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase.

Trends are also telling marketers and store owners that customers enjoy having the choice of buying online, in-store or researching online to purchase in-store.

With this information, it’s essential to accommodate these needs in advertising campaigns.

Simple additions to your AdWords campaigns such as adding your physical store address can build trust with shoppers.

Let them know when a promotion is on at no additional cost.

Including click-to-message extensions so your customer can text you directly can eliminate the fear of calling some customers may have.

Optimizing your ads to target consumers within a set-time of a day when they can shop or by targeting them hyper-locally, can have a huge effect on driving local traffic to your store.

Running local inventory ads can showcase what products are available in store when a customer searches for items nearby.

Recording data from your customer’s behaviors and using it in your AdWord campaigns will give your store a big advantage in driving local foot traffic.

Especially over competitors who don’t.

Bridge the transition from online shopping and browsing to in-store purchases to give your customers options. Let them feel in control of their shopping experience.

What AdWords hacks have you used to drive more local foot traffic?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

The Marketer’s Guide to Instagram Stories: Building Your Brand and Generating Sales

Out of all of the different facets of digital marketing, social media tends to change with the most immediate and drastic results.

There is always a new platform emerging for marketers to look into and master to stay ahead of the trends.

And with algorithms on big platforms like Facebook always evolving, you have to stay on your toes as you figure out how to engage on them.

However, through all the change, there is one thing that remains consistent:

Users want to engage with brands in a personal way.

For this purpose, Instagram stands apart from all other platforms. It’s one of the best places for you to promote brand engagement with your users.

It’s grown by 1,400% in just the last five years. With growth like that, it’s a no-brainer for marketers to implement Instagram into their social strategies.

In particular, Instagram Stories makes easy for marketers to engage with users, humanize their brands, create leads, and generate customers on the platform.

They’re a great tool for showing potential customers (and existing ones) why your brand is relatable or interesting.

So, how do you get the most out of Instagram Stories?

That’s what this guide is here to help with. It will give you ways to use Instagram Stories to build your brand and convert leads and sales.

1. Show what makes your brand fun and relatable

All marketers know that social media engagement is important. It’s one of the best ways to develop trust from prospects.

And the more they trust you, the more likely they are to become loyal customers.

While all social media platforms are great avenues for driving audience engagement and ultimately sales, Instagram is on a whole different level.

Of the 700 million users on Instagram, 500 million users are active on a daily basis.

Instagram also excels in terms of engagement. 68% of users regularly engage with brands on Instagram while only 32% of users regularly engage with brands on Facebook.

Why? Because features like Instagram Stories make it easy for brands to show themselves in a fun and interesting light. It’s easier than ever to humanize a brand.

Tarte Cosmetics does this well. The brand regularly travels to exotic places for photo shoots of new products or company bonding trips. And when they travel, they bring their followers along on the adventure.

From showing products that they’ve staged for shoots in Bora Bora to showing team members on a mother/daughter retreat in Hawaii, Tarte uses Instagram Stories to give followers insight into what it means to be a “Tartlet.”

tarte cosmetics instagram

Lululemon is another great example. Being a popular fitness clothing brand, the Instagram team at lululemon regularly takes followers through their own personal fitness journeys using Stories.

From live yoga practices to cooking healthy meals, the brand gives great insight into how employees are working toward the same goals as their followers.

Just recently, lululemon took viewers on one employee’s daily run through Austin, Texas.

You experience the route she took, the music she was listening to, and the trials she had along the way. Instagram Stories like this make it very easy to relate to a brand.

lululemon instagram stories

2. Take advantage of Instagram Stories features to interact with your audience

Instagram Stories give marketers a variety of ways to facilitate easy interaction with users.

With features like geographical location tagging, hashtags, polls, gifs, stickers, and more, growing your following and facilitating brand engagement is simple. You just need a little creativity.

Features like hashtags and geotagging make it easy for users to find you based on location and interest.

If you’re a local business, geotagging is vital when it comes to your interaction on Instagram Stories.

Each time you enter a city, Instagram aggregates Stories that other users have geotagged in your location.

This is a great opportunity for small businesses and city tourism brands as they can utilize geotagging to show Instagram users exciting things taking place around them.

Carrigan Farms, which is in the small town of Mooresville, North Carolina, takes advantage of geotagging to show users in the area the fun activities visitors can take part in at the farm.

With a huge water quarry on the property, Carrigan Farms visitors can jump off of cliffs into the deep, clean water.

Capturing and sharing videos of these activities on the farm’s Story with geotagging brings awareness to others in the area of the fun they could have on the farm.

mooresville instagram stories

Hashtags make it easy for users to find your content based on topic.

Many brands or celebrities will have a hashtag that they use across social media so that anyone looking for content about the brand or person can easily find it.

For instance, Justin Timberlake just recently canceled shows up north due to the massive snow storms.

In addition to his publicity team notifying showgoers of the cancellation via email and his website, he posted to his Instagram Story.

Using hashtag #MOTWTOUR, he added another way to notify his fans who have been following along with his tour on social media about the cancellation.

justin timberlake instgram story

Items like gifs and stickers enable brands to add to images and videos that they share on Instagram Stories.

Lake Norman Surf Co., which is on Lake Norman in North Carolina, offers wakesurfing lessons. The brand regularly uses stickers and gifs to demonstrate their light attitude.

Just recently, Lake Norman Surf Co. shared a video of the lake water and used a sticker to show the temperature. They did this to remind their followers that wakesurfing season is coming.

lake norman instagram story

The poll feature, which Instagram recently rolled out, is a creative way to create easy interactions with followers.

As a marketer, you always want feedback from our prospects and customers.

Polls on Instagram Stories provide a way for you to get that feedback from fans while making your audience feel like your brand is empowering them.

Companies can utilize polls to ask fans anything!

Ask about their opinions on new products, how often they’d like to receive brand emails, their favorite kinds of sales, what kind of content they’d like to see from your brand on social media, and so on.

Perhaps you’re a clothing company, and you’re wondering if your fans are ready to see summer transitional pieces or if they are still looking for winter/spring clothing. In that case, use a poll.

Or maybe you’re an outdoor adventure gear company, and you’re wondering if your fans prefer to see behind-the-scenes stories from product shoots of if they prefer to just see the new products.

Ask them in a poll.

For instance, HomeGoods and Kurgo will often show items in their shops and ask followers which color they prefer.

kurgo red or black instagram

This is an interactive way to get followers interested in new product rollouts. They might come in and purchase the color of the item that they chose from the poll.

homegoods tan cream instagram

Some sports teams and leagues will even use polls that ask fans who they think will win the big game.

nba tip off instagram

These are fun ways for followers to engage with a brand and feel important.

3. Host Instagram takeovers with Instagram influencers

Adding Instagram influencers to your social media marketing strategy is an invaluable way to both increase your follower base and drive sales.

You can classify Instagram influencers in the micro (1,000 to 100,000 followers) level or the macro (100,000+ followers) level.

types of influencers

There are many types of influencers. You can find celebrities, TV stars, bloggers, and even animals!

dogs of instagram

There are two ways that an Instagram Takeover can work: An influencer can take over your account for a day, or your brand can take over their account for the day.

Leading up to a takeover, both the influencer and the brand regularly remind followers when it will be taking place.

This builds the hype and reminds users where to tune in. Here’s an example from Kurgo.

kurgo stories instagram

Another dog brand that regularly hosts Instagram Takeovers is BarkBox.

The popular dog box subscription brand will allow major dog accounts on Instagram to take over the account for the day.

During the takeover, you get a hilarious inside look at a day in the life of that pup.

mazie instagram takeover

Throughout the day, they add plugs for BarkBox products from the BarkShop that users can purchase, and they typically offer a coupon for followers to subscribe with a free starter box.

4. Increase your lead generation and sales by adding links

At the end of the day, we’re digital marketers. If our efforts aren’t generating leads and sales, we’re not impacting the company’s bottom line.

So how do all of these visual storytelling and humanizing tactics impact lead generation and sales conversion?

Well, storytelling boosts conversions by 30% when you use it to answer customer questions.

If you’re not telling good stories, you need to get on board. As many as 78% of enterprise marketers believe that their team is very or extremely effective when it comes to storytelling.

brand storytelling effectiveness

With the new “Swipe Up” link feature on Stories, Instagram has revolutionized the way brands can convert users through social media.

The “Swipe Up” feature allows brands to add links to pictures and videos that they share on Instagram Stories.

This makes it simple to move a prospect through the sales funnel directly from Instagram. All that a user has to do is swipe up with their finger.

swipe up instagram

Here are three ways to generate leads and sales using this feature.

1. Share your web content to generate leads and sales.

By now, it’s old news that content is king.

And generating remarkable content is important for SEO, lead generation, lead nurturing, customer retention, and lots more.

Instagram gives marketers another great way to get their content in front of new prospects, existing leads, and customers. How?

Brands can share a relevant photo or video with Instagram Stories and link to any piece of content – a blog, a page on the site, a YouTube video, an e-book, and more!

instagram see more on our blog

This lets a brand bring users back to their website to interact with the company on a deeper level. And it works.

During March of 2017, over 120 million Instagram users visited a website, got directions, or contacted a business to learn more about them from Instagram. That’s a lot of interaction with businesses in one month!

Explore Canada does an excellent job of using links in Instagram Stories to drive users to its blogs.

The tourism company partners with many country-wide travel groups and implements links on Instagram Stories to share travel guides.

The example below uses links in Stories to bring users to a blog post that offers tips for planning a trip to the Great White North. At the end of the blog, they give the reader an opportunity to reach out to a travel agent, thus securing the lead.

explore canada instagram story

These types of tactics are great for getting users to engage with your website and convert to a lead.

You can also use Stories to promote an immediate sale from Instagram.

In fact, at least 30% of Instagram users have purchased a product that they first discovered on Instagram.

Why is that?

Because 62% of consumers use social media when deciding whether or not they want to purchase a product or service.

This makes sense since photos influence purchase decisions even more than videos do.

influence purchase decisions

One of the most valuable features that Instagram Stories gives marketers is the ability to include a link that brings users directly to the purchase page of a product.

This feature eliminates the need to visit a company’s website, find the item you saw on Instagram, and then make a purchase.

Instead, it facilitates the impulse buy. It puts the product right in front of a user with the swipe of a finger.

Pottery Barn regularly uses Instagram Stories to drive users to its products.

In this example, Pottery Barn uses Stories to show beautiful pictures of new products from the collection with Jamie Durie, HGTV’s beloved Australian landscape artist.

After enticing users with a few behind-the-scenes pictures of the collection, they invite users to ‘See More’ by clicking the link to browse products.

pottery barn instagram

Target also uses Instagram Stories to promote impulse buys.

Across the brand’s two platforms, Target and Target Style, the company shows products that designers have staged. Followers can to swipe up and purchase.

target style instagram story

2. Utilize Instagram influencer and brand ambassador endorsements.

Let’s come back to Instagram influencers. Right now, 95% of influencers report Instagram as their favorite social media platform to work on.

So, how does influencer marketing on Instagram work?

In a nutshell, brands build relationships with Instagram influencers and brand ambassadors by offering them a free or discounted product to promote with Instagram Stories and in their feed.

They also give the influencer a coupon code so that their followers can shop at a discount.

It’s relatively easy to attach a dollar amount to enlisting an Instagram influencer, too. You can use digital marketing tactics like custom URLs or give influencers tracking URLs to use in their Stories.

While enlisting Instagram influencers is common throughout all industries, marketers especially use them within the beauty, fashion, and fitness communities.

Past Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise contestant Jen Saviano is constantly promoting brands as an Instagram influencer through her stories.

Jen has a whopping 203,000 followers on Instagram.

jensav11 instagram followers

And according to SocialBlade, that number is only going to increase.

total instagram followers for jensav11

She uses her feed and stories to promote a variety of products that range from clothing to makeup, jewelry, vitamins, furniture, food subscription boxes, and more.

She posts a product she loves with a coupon code and a link to shop in her Instagram Story daily.

jensav11 instagram story

Fashion blogger Katy Harrell is another example. With 187,000 followers, she is constantly modeling for clothing boutiques, offering clothing reviews, sale updates, and coupon codes.

Boutiques nationwide work with mumuandmacaroons to have her share updates on her Instagram Stories about their businesses and products.

With her Southern drawl and honest reviews, it works.

fashion blogger instagram

Plus, rather than seeking out Instagram influencers to promote products and sing praises, some brands hold casting calls for brand ambassadors.

MVMT, the popular jewelry and watch brand, recently held a casting call for brand ambassadors.

In addition to reviewing a candidate’s Instagram’s influence, the company essentially has an application and interview process.

mvmt ambassadors wanted instagram

Since most Instagram influencers rely on companies using them to grow their individual brands, they are always looking for businesses to work with.

3. Implement ads on Instagram Stories.

As the number of users on Instagram continues to grow, so does the number of ads on the platform. In 2017, the number of ads grew by 28% in just six months.

number of instagram #ad posts worldwide

In a year, the number of ad posts doubled. And it’s easy to understand why:

They work.

Instagram uses Facebook’s advertising system, which has unparalleled targeting ability.

You can target ads based on an audience’s interests, behaviors, demographics, language, location, and more.

And since Instagram and Facebook share the same ad platform, brands can choose whether they want their ad to run on Instagram Stories, in the Instagram feed, or on Facebook.

When ads run on Stories, users often don’t even realize that they’re seeing them. The ads flow smoothly as the user transitions from one story to the next.

La Mer, a high-end skin care line uses Instagram ads to reach users of a certain age who have shown interest in similar brands.

The brand uses a short film to express the type of woman who uses La Mer.

The ad includes a link at the bottom that allows viewers to swipe up and shop the skin care line.

lamer instagram story

4. To implement Instagram Stories well, be prepared to respond to direct messages.

In order to implement Instagram Stories to build your brand and convert more leads and sales, companies have to be prepared to respond to a heightened influx of direct messages (or DMs).

A direct message is a message that a user privately sends to your business account on Instagram.

At the bottom of each Instagram Story that does not include a link, users will see a message bar. This tool enables a viewer to easily DM the brand.

dm send to instagram

While this is feature is an excellent way to narrow the gap between brands and followers on Instagram, it can be detrimental to a brand if they aren’t diligent about responding.

Everything on Instagram is at the touch of a finger for users. It’s easy for them to get the content and information they crave on this social platform.

So, if a brand isn’t quick to respond to a DM, the user who sent it will go elsewhere to find the answer.

That’s why it’s important for marketers to be aware of their customer response times on Instagram.

As you begin actively using Instagram Stories, you need to put a strategy in place for responding to direct messages from followers.

Conclusion

Understanding how Instagram Stories works and the benefits marketers can gain from it is half the battle. Now, what you do with the information is what matters.

With its unique visual storytelling ability and strong conversion methods, marketers in any industry and any consumer base can use Instagram Stories.

It’s a weapon you need to have in your social media arsenal.

Take advantage of the ease of engaging with fans by using Instagram Stories to build your brand.

Show what makes your brand fun and relatable. Implement the features within Stories to easily engage with your audience and help people find your brand on the platform.

Build relationships with Instagram influencers to expand your brand and gain the stamp of approval from a trusted source on the platform.

Then, grow your leads and sales using the link feature.

Put your web content and products at the fingertips of your prospects and buyers on Instagram Stories.

Utilize relationships with brand ambassadors and Instagram influencers to have them promote your products and services and encourage fans to shop.

Test the waters within Instagram Ads to discover the ROI of putting some of your marketing budget toward Stories.

Don’t forget to have quality response times as your brand’s Instagram becomes a regular gateway for consumer conversation.

And as you go forth building out your social strategy on Instagram Stories, keep in mind that no marketing action is worth taking if you can’t measure the results.

Be sure to utilize tracking URLs, custom coupon codes, and lead/customer sourcing to determine how your use of Instagram Stories is impacting your overall marketing strategy and goals.

How will you use Instagram Stories to grow your brand and increase your leads and sales?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog

8 Need-to-Know E-Commerce Image Optimization Hacks

Ever wonder why your product image doesn’t show up when you do a Google search for your product?

Wonder if that big product image on your new landing page might cause slower loading speeds for your customers?

What about conversions? Are your web conversions suffering because you haven’t optimized your images?

Images that aren’t optimized can negatively affect site performance, and therefore, conversions.

And what about customer retention?

Boosting customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 95%.

And it’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one!

Most marketers aren’t coders or designers. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t understand the basics of the tech that plays such a huge role in your conversions and retention.

This means you should absolutely know how to optimize an image.

Here’s why understanding image optimization is so important:

Because images account for more bytes than any other part of a website, especially e-commerce sites, their size and complexity can make or break your web performance.

And that impacts your customer retention and conversions.

This is why optimizing images is one of the best ways to improve website performance and SERP rankings.

Take a look at the graph below from HTTP archive. As of March 2018, images make up 50% of website content.

http archive

As you can see, image optimization should be a top priority for any marketer, particularly marketers looking to convert visitors to buyers on their website.

In this article, I’m going to teach you the top eight ways to optimize your images. These optimization hacks will improve your conversions, SEO rankings, customer retention, and more.

1. Get familiar with different file types

You can’t make a decision on which file type to use if you don’t understand what the file type is, right?

PNG, JPEG, GIFs.

Marketers know these file types exist. And we all love a good GIF.

But again, marketers often aren’t developers or design experts. And the more tech-driven marketing becomes, the more critical it is to get familiar with some of the basics.

The goal with these file types is to understand which ones will give you more bang for less space.

Since it’s all about decreasing load time for your customers, you need to know which file types will work best for the images on your site.

Let’s look at some pros and cons of the three main file types.

JPEG or JPG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

JPEGs are often the file type of choice for photos and images because they mix blue, red, and green light – allowing for the display of millions of colors.

Other file types often don’t allow all colors to show in an image.

Another huge benefit of a JPEG file is that you can adjust the file size.

When you adjust the file size of a JPEG, you’re also adjusting the quality. Higher quality equals higher file size. But, you can often find a nice balance of image quality to size.

It’s vital that file sizes are not too big. This causes slow loading times, sending your customers away and increasing your bounce rate.

When should you use a JPEG?

  • Most likely on all your product images
  • Photography images
  • Images with many colors

Like these product pictures from Zappos:

zappos mens sneakers

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

A couple of years back when Apple and Android incorporated GIFs into phone keyboards, the tiny videos became everyone’s favorite way to express themselves.

But GIFs are more than just fun little videos — they’re compressed versions of photographs or videos. These little, compressed videos only allow 256 colors to show in the image.

A high-quality image might contain thousands of colors.

This means that GIFs aren’t the best choice for images with lots of color variation. But, GIFs are the only choice for animation as they allow for animation without the huge file size.

When should you use a GIF?

  • For all animation
  • Small images (like thumbnails or icons)
  • An image with only a couple of colors (like your logo)

Like this one for Google:

google logo gif

PNG (Portable Network Graphics)

PNGs are newer than JPEGs and GIFs. They’re typically larger in file size than JPEGs but better in quality. They also allow for some flexibility because they have two different file types:

  1. PNG-8: A smaller file which allows for the same 256 colors that GIFs do.
  2. PNG-24: This type allows for millions of colors. This is also the best format for images where quality is more important than file size.

When should you use PNG files?

  • When image quality is more important than file size

Like these photographs from Zena Holloway’s website:

zen holloway website

Pro tip: Use JPEG for colorful and robust images, use PNG for simple images. Use GIF when something must be animated.

E-commerce marketers should almost always use JPEGs for product photos. Just take a look at the file type comparison below.

file type comparison

JPEG offers a solid balance between the file size and quality.

2. Get the image file size right to increase conversions

There’s a huge difference between “image size” and “file size.”

When we say, “image size” we’re referring to the dimensions of the image, like 852 x 852.

image size tesla womens hoodie

When we say file size, we’re talking about the amount of space required to store the image on your server.

The larger the file size, the longer it takes the image to load.

An image can have large dimensions and still be 2MB or less.

File size is a big deal. It can make or break the performance of your site because every single image must download each time your site is visited.

Your goal is to keep your images at 1 to 2 MB in size. The smaller your image size, the faster your load speeds, meaning a lower bounce rate and more happy customers.

How to resize an image file so that it’s optimized for web performance:

If you don’t have photoshop, no worries. Pixlr is a quick way to resize an image file.

First, go to PIXLR and click on the editor:

pixlr editor

Then launch either the Pixlr Editor or Pixlr Express. If you’re just doing a quick resize, Pixlr Express works great.

pixlr express

Next, upload your image to the editor.

Finally, adjust the size by saving the image. As you toggle the image-quality bar, notice that the file size also increases or decreases depending on the quality you choose.

pixlr photo editing

When it comes to finding the right file size for the quality you need, you might have to play around with it for a bit.

Try several sizes on, and go with the smallest file size that still looks good.

Once you’ve got that size-to-quality ratio figured out, then you can apply it to similar images in your store.

It might be a good idea to write this ratio down somewhere.

3. Name your files correctly to improve SEO

What you name your images matters to search engine web crawlers.

Many marketers don’t change the name of a picture from the random number or code assigned by our computers or phones.

It’s important to name your image in a descriptive, to-the-point manner so that search bots can understand what the image is showing.

For example, the puppy image on the left has a much better name than the one on the right:

corgi puppies file name

Nothing against image 89374504, but it doesn’t tell us, or Googlebots, what the image is.

A great image name is descriptive, contains the keyword of your image (like corgis for adoption in NYC.

If you’re selling blue suede shoes, then blue suede shoes should be in the image name.

Keep it straightforward and descriptive to get the best SEO results from your images.

4. Keep your site accessible to all customers with alt tags

Alt tags are descriptions given to an image that exists within your website’s code. This essentially means that what’s in the image is written into the code of your website.

Alt tags help in 3 key ways:

  • Visually impaired people using screen readers know what the image is because of an alt attribute. When they hold their cursor over the image, the screen reader can literally read the alt attribute description to them.
  • It’s a line of code that tells the browser what’s supposed to be there if an image can’t load properly. This comes in handy if your site’s having loading issues.
  • SEO crawlers read them which helps improve your SEO.

For example, the alt text for this limited edition Golden Citrus Foaming Hand Wash is “foaming hand wash.”

method foaming hand wash alt text

The main goal with alt attributes is to make sure they are descriptive, simple, and to-the-point. Much like the file name.

Setting An Alt Text In WordPress

When you upload an image into a website hosted on WordPress, you’ll have the option to give it both a title and an alt attribute.

alt text in wordpress

If you don’t create your own alt tag, then WordPress will automatically make the alt tag the same as the title.

This might be good or bad, depending on what you might need to convey to a visually-impaired customer.

For example, if your image name is blue-boots, you may want to add a few more details to the alt attribute. Like, blue-hiking-boots-mens-size-10.

If you want to change or add an alt attribute, then simply navigate to the image settings and rename the attribute.

Alternate attributes are a must for anyone looking to fully optimize their website. They improve user experience and also help with SEO.

5. Use sitemaps to get your images noticed by Google

Does your e-commerce store contain image galleries? What about pop-ups like a call-to-action or email signup?

These days, consumers love infographics, memes, and videos. Guess what? You should add those to your sitemap too.

A sitemap allows you to optimize these images and videos for Google’s algorithms.

So what’s a Sitemap? To quote Google:

“A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content.”

It allows search engine web crawlers, like Googlebot, to crawl your site intelligently.

In other words, it’s a file that contains a map of all of your site’s content.

Here’s an example of a sitemap:

example sitemap code

For video entries you should include:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Play page URL (location)
  • Thumbnail URL
  • Raw video file URL and/or the video player URL

For image entries you should include:

  • Location (Location, or the URL where the image is located is mandatory. All other bullets are optional but recommended)
  • Title
  • Description
  • Caption
  • License

Below is a sample video sitemap from Zappos:

xml video sitemap

If you have tons of images and videos, then you may want to create separate sitemaps for each type of content.

Sitemaps are essential, and you should absolutely add your images, videos, etc. if you’re looking to get your content noticed by Googlebots, Bingbots, and other search engine crawlers.

If your site is hosted on WordPress, you can use Yoast SEO which will automatically add your content (images, videos, etc.) to a sitemap.

If you don’t have Yoast SEO already, it’s easy to install.

Then to have Yoast SEO add your content to a sitemap, just make sure the enable button is on and save changes:

xml sitemaps yoast seo wordpress

6. Optimize your thumbnails to drive upsells

Remember when you bought that awesome cell phone case just after you upgraded?

You probably found that case at the bottom of the purchase confirmation page just after your payment went through.

That thumbnail image upsold you! These images are a great way to advertise other products to your customers either once they’ve made a purchase or while they’re browsing other products.

Check out how Amazon uses thumbnails at the top to entice customers to click on similar or related products.

amazon thumbnails

An upsell is an add-on, upgrade, or additional product that a seller introduces to you after an initial purchase.

Thumbnail images are often displayed, many at a time, at the bottom of a page. Like these displayed at the bottom of a J.Crew shirt product page.

jcrew shirt page

The goal is usually an upsell. You should absolutely display related products below or above the cart or purchase page and entice your customers to click.

But, if those thumbnail images don’t load, you’re missing out on a ton of potential business.

Once a customer has arrived at your site, through say, a Google ad, you’ve already paid to get them there. So, the more they buy, the lower your customer acquisition cost.

So, just because they’re tiny, don’t disregard your thumbnail images as less important to your business profitability.

They need to be super small in file size. Less than 70 KB is ideal.

They’re best as JPEG or GIF files. Use Pixlr if you need to resize your files.

And don’t forget to name your thumbnail images. They need solid names and alt attributes just like your product pics.

Getting these thumbnail images optimized will help you improve SEO and hopefully increase the amount of profit you generate from each web conversion.

7. Capture both the technical and aesthetic aspects of images

It’s important to understand both the technical and aesthetic aspects of images on an e-commerce site.

1. Technical images: These are the images where you want to focus on image size, file type, resolution, etc. Something like this:

mast milk chocolate

You want your product images to be quality JPEGs that aren’t too large in file size (like we discussed above).

2. Aesthetic images: These are the images where you should focus on product styling, background color, etc. Take this image, for example:

mast milk chocolate image variant

Just take a look at the shadow effect and clean grey background.

8. A/B test images to improve conversions and retention

Marketers love a good A/B test, right? Well, your images should be no exception to the rule.

Too many images, too slow of a load time, or the wrong image angles can lose sales for your company.

Here are some best practices for testing images:

Quantity: Test between many and a few images per product, per category, per page, etc. You can even test how many thumbnails to feature below each product.

Testing quantities will allow you to determine what’s best for your customers.

File size vs. quality: You can test if higher quality and slower loading times effect conversions for your site.

For example, if you have a more expensive product, like designer handbags, your customers may be happy to wait for a higher-quality image to load.

That way they can zoom in and out and see every detail of it before purchasing.

Test which images your customers like: Maybe your customers prefer to see both the top and side of your newest shoes.

Or, perhaps they convert more often when they’ve got fewer angles to study. You’ll never know until you test.

Remember, when you’re A/B testing that it’s important to test only one variable at a time.

For example, if you’re going to test the quantity of images you have on a category page, then don’t test image quality at the same time.

If you test more than one variable at once, you’ll never know which variable resulted in higher or lower conversions.

Check out this article for a more thorough guide to A/B testing.

Here are a few of my favorite image optimization tools

With all of these new image optimization hacks, you’re going to need some tools to help you accomplish your goals.

Here’s a list of my favorite tools to help you along your journey.

Image size and quality

Pixlr: As I mentioned above, can use this free tool to edit images, and to increase or decrease JPEG file size or quality.

ImageOptim: Decrease file size by compressing your images without losing quality with this tool. (Mac only)

Kraken: Upload your images in bulk, compress them all at once, and download as a zip file to save time.

WordPress Plugins

Yoast SEO: Optimize your image SEO and site accessibility by automatically assigning an alt attribute.

ShortPixel: Optimize your image size within WordPress

EWWW Image Optimizer: Automatically optimize images when they’re uploaded to your site.

Conclusion

It’s easy to see why there are tons of tools out there for image optimization. It can have a huge impact on your business.

E-commerce businesses, in particular, need to pay attention to their image size and file names.

This is because e-commerce sites typically have more images than other business types and also rely on their images to earn a conversion.

Start with a descriptive image name and alt attribute that will keep your images crawlable by Googlebots and also improve site accessibility.

Then implement a sitemap to give search engine crawlers even easier access.

Keep your images at the smallest size possible without sacrificing quality to improve load time and help convert more of your traffic.

Optimize your thumbnails and use them to upsell your customers.

Finally, A/B test to improve conversions and customer retention. But be sure to only test one image variable at a time so you know which changes are making an impact.

Implement these eight image optimization hacks, and you’re sure to see improvements in your rankings and revenue.

What image optimization hacks work best for your business?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.


The Kissmetrics Marketing Blog