What You Need to Know About Apple’s New Privacy Policies and the Impact On Your Digital Advertising

We all know that apps collect our data. We also know that just about no one reads the existing and very long privacy policies that are full of legal jargon to see exactly what is being done with our data. So late last year, as part of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14, Apple set out to rectify that. They introduced a new requirement for all software developers that publish apps through its App Store that they must include privacy labels. These look a lot like nutrition packages that are printed on the side of food packaging. The new labels indicate in an easy-to-read format exactly how data is going to used. 

  • Privacy Label — already released, it requires every app to give users an easy-to-view summary of the developer’s privacy practices that includes how an app uses their data — including whether the data is used to track them, linked to them, or not linked to them.
  • App Tracking Transparency — set to be released this spring, it requires apps to get the user’s permission before tracking their data across apps or websites owned by other companies.

The new privacy labels began appearing in the App Store in December 2020. At top-of-mind for advertisers is whether or not the new privacy labels will influence users’ choices and how this will influence their digital advertising strategy, potentially limiting campaign measurement and attribution on Facebook. Will the new requirements stop users from downloading the app? We don’t know yet. 

When a user opts-out of data tracking, that means apps cannot gather data to share with  data brokers.  What this trickle-down effect means for digital advertisers is that there is less robust data to back targeted advertising. And, data brokers are just the beginning. There is a vast network of apps, social media companies, websites, etc., that rely on capturing vast amounts of user information across different platforms. According to Apple, the average app has six trackers, which in most cases allow third-party data collection and link data from many different sources.  

Facebook’s Response

While the scope of these changes and their affects are far reaching, entangling the entire mobile-app ecosystem, many advertisers are looking for alternatives – as they rely on Facebook to run and personalize ads on their own platforms and other third-party apps.

Most recently, Facebook responded to the Apple changes saying it would shutter conversion-lift studies, instead providing “alternative options to help you effectively test and optimize your ads in response to the limitations resulting from Apple’s updates.” These studies were used test and control groups to measure returns on ad campaigns. They also helped advertisers gauge a user’s propensity to buy after seeing ads on the platform. Without targeted ads and lift tests going away, small businesses won’t be able to reach their customers as well as before. Some are predicting a regression in the industry and a return to older measurement techniques like geo matched-market testing. I have seen rumors online that Facebook is running a beta test for such a tool.

Looking Forward

As with all change, not every outcome is necessarily bad. These privacy changes could lead advertisers to engage in different approaches like media-mix modeling and insight garnered from a variety of sources. Facebook’s look-a-like program is an excellent targeting strategy.  Building a database and using e-mail is a tried-and-true retargeting method of reaching customers and prospects.

If you need assistance navigating through these changes, let’s talk.

Have Facebook’s Targeting Changes Affected Your Digital Marketing?

While these changes happened in fall 2020 when Facebook announced major  alterations to its ad targeting tools, we are still feeling the effects now. We see the impact of these changes with both existing ad campaigns as well as new ones. Perhaps you’re in the same boat and are wondering how you need to adjust your digital strategy to ensure Facebook is still delivering results for you.

If you’re like me, you may have asked yourself why Facebook decided to make changes to its ad targeting. This has been a slow build, which began back in early 2019 when Facebook was sued by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for violations of the Fair Housing Act. According to HUD and other organizations like the ACLU and NFHA,  Facebook’s ad targeting tools limited the housing options reaching certain protected classes by enabling advertisers to target ads based on age, location, education status, etc. 

Facebook responded with a vague announcement that it would make changes to its targeting and advertising tools by the end of 2019. They offered no further insight as to when these changes would go into effect. It came as a shock to many of us then when Facebook, without prior announcement, decided to implement several changes that had immediate effects on existing campaigns and all of the digital advertising on Facebook moving forward. 

Here are the Facebook Targeting Changes

  • The list of interests we had grown so accustomed to and relied on is now greatly shortened. There are no longer targeting options for jobs, housing, employment, and credit ads. 
  • There is no longer an option to do demographic targeting based on traits like age, ethnicity, and income.
  • Radius targeting has also been impacted. Now, there is a 15-mile minimum radius. It used to be a one-mile minimum radius.

These changes create much broader Facebook ad audiences. This creates greater competition among ads because more people are seeing a greater variety of ads. Your ad must fight harder now to get noticed. 

My team has been working diligently to understand and master the Facebook targeting changes. We have been adapting our approach for our clients, leveraging our digital expertise to create updated best practices. All is not bad news. While Facebook’s changes did limit some of the functionality of certain targeting tools, it is still very possible and feasible to use Facebook ads as an effective part of your ad mix. You will, however, need to rethink your Facebook strategy. Here’s what we recommend:

1. Evaluate Your Current Digital Media Strategy

Are you getting the results you want? Where do you need to make changes to get the results you want from Facebook? Too often businesses become complacent and don’t make changes to their digital ads like they should. Now is a good time to see if you have fallen into this trap and if you have to take steps to reinvigorate your strategy. 

2. Optimize Your Ad Copy and Design

If you want to attract the best prospects, your ads must cut through the clutter and speak to your target audience with clear and focused messaging. Facebook ads don’t come with much geography, so use the little space you have wisely: think high-impact copy, high-quality images, and a clear benefit.

3. Switch to a Look-A-Like Model

In some cases Facebook allows you to use a Look-A-Like model. This is a great option, but it can get a bit tricky. Your Look-A-Like database must match your target market, and then you must understand how to work with Facebook so they will allow you to use it.

4. Place Your Targeting Radius Strategically

Even with the new 15-mile targeting radius minimum, you may still be able to effectively target by location. We’ve also discovered a workaround you may want to try for your location. Try centering your target over rural or less densely populated areas. You only want the outer part of your circle to include the area you are really looking to target. This little trick helps bring down the number of unqualified prospects and puts your ad in front of your target location.  

As you navigate this new Facebook terrain, please e-mail me if you need any guidance.

How Google Changes Will Affect Your Digital Strategy

Google announced plans last week to end support for third-party cookies.  Third-party cookies fuel much of the digital advertising ecosystem. Other browsers have already begun a phased removal of third-party cookies. This is a significant blow to the advertising industry and will definitely affect your digital advertising strategy. Let’s discuss why this is a big deal.

Third-party cookies are placed on a website by someone other than the owner of the website – this is the third party. The cookie collects data for the third party, enabling businesses to monitor online user activity and develop behavioral targeting by tracking users across domains. This enhances their success at marketing the right message to the right user at the right time because they are seeing a full picture of behavior across sites and not by just looking at data from when the user interacted with the owner’s site. 

Third-party cookies are a powerful way to help drive sales up and increase website traffic. Here’s how:

1. Target Messaging

Data can be gathered from online purchases, frequently visited websites, Internet searches, etc., to better understand and predict consumer behavior. Using this information, marketers can target the right consumer and feed them relevant content. 

2. Optimize Results

Third-party cookies provide the ability to track and value all marketing touch points specific to each consumer, which leads to campaign optimization. This also leads to the ability to measure the impact of each gathered touch point and approach with a higher degree of accuracy. This insight into how individual channels are performing against one another helps determine where to spend marketing dollars for optimum results.

If Third-Party Cookies Are So Great, Why Are They Going Away?

Good question. It’s because of enhanced data privacy laws that aim to make things more transparent about how consumer data is being gathered, used, and shared. They also work to give consumers greater choice and control over how their data is used. This move has led some businesses to implement permission-based third-party cookies. Others are choosing to phase third-party cookies out completely and are seeking new solutions.

What Will Replace Third-Party Cookies?

While there is no one single solution as of yet, there are several workarounds coming: 

The Privacy Sandbox – This is Googles solution that works to protect consumers while also helping marketers. Google will create targeted groups based on anonymous data that can be used by marketers to target, retarget, measure, optimize, etc. 

Authenticated Traffic Solution – This solution is by LiveRamp. It will gather real-time, consented user data without the use of cookies. The single opt-out option for platforms and publishers offers greater control and privacy for consumers while still providing targeted information to marketers. 

It’s important to remember that third-party cookies while incredibly valuable, they are one part of the marketing whole. For example, businesses that put the time in to building their CRM database already understand the value of the first-party and zero-party data they collect. Another option along those lines is direct partnerships with publishers and businesses to collect first-party and zero-party data about customers to target them directly. 

The demise of third-party cookies has been in the works since the beginning due to consumer privacy concerns. It’s taken awhile to get to this stage. I’m certain additional solutions will be offered, and Google will eventually create a new standard for marketers to adopt that will be an effective replacement for third-party cookies. 

If you need someone to help you navigate through this,  let’s talk

4 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Website

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is your website underperforming and if it is, what can you do about it? To help determine the performance of your website, start by establishing the following benchmarks:

  1. What is my site’s domain authority?

Do Google and the other search engines see your site?  Are your pages properly indexed and optimized?  Domain authority helps indicate how well your site performs in a search engine. This tool provides your site with a score between 0-100.   There are several online tools that will look at your site and provide you with this score. Let us know if you need help with this, and we will happily assist you with providing your site with its domain authority.

  1. Where is the traffic to my website coming from?

Google Analytics provides you a tool that will show you where the traffic is coming from.  Generally categorized as free and paid traffic, Google separates traffic by referral (coming from other sites), direct (paid traffic), organic (free search), and social (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter).

  1. What is the net traffic to my website?

Google Analytics provides the number of visitors to your site.  Calculating the number of net visitors is the number of visitors subtracted by the back rate or bounce rate.  The back rate is the number of visitors who leave immediately after they visit the site.  The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions (i.e. sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

  1. What is my site’s conversion rate?

Conversion rate represents the percentage of visitors who complete your desired action.  That could be filling out a form, purchasing a product, or calling a telephone number.  Simply, conversion rate is the number of conversions divided by the net number of visitors to your website.

Establishing these benchmarks is important to setting goals that will help improve the performance of your website.  And, the beauty of website performance improvement is that you can increase revenue without increasing advertising spend!

Our white paper How To Improve Your Website For More Leads and Profit is full of additional ways to turn your website into a powerful lead generator. To request your free copy, click here.

Have you had success turning your underperforming website around? If so, tell us how you did it.

10 Top Digital Marketing Best Practices

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How would you like to gain access to the top 10 techniques used by leading brands to drive quality web traffic, increase website conversion, and fill your pipeline with quality prospects? I thought you would. That’s why I put together an e-book that highlights what’s new in marketing and gives tips you can put to work now to start seeing results right away.

This e-book is a beneficial, quick overview that will assist you in your efforts to master the new world of marketing and deliver results.

Click here to request your free copy of 10 DIGITAL MARKETING BEST PRACTICES.

What are you doing that’s effectively driving web traffic and creating quality leads? Share your tips with us!

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34 Things to Make Your Next E-Mail a Success

Are you doing everything you need to do to make your next e-mail campaign a success? Are your e-mails being opened, read, and responded to? I developed a highly effective checklist of 34 tips that generate leads, build your pipeline, increase quality web traffic, and accelerate deal flow. I’ve grouped the 34 tips into three segments to help you focus your efforts. You’ll find all of this in my informational booklet 34 Strategies To Make Your Next E-mail Campaign A Success. To request your free copy, click here.

7 of the Most Effective Marketing Techniques

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Content marketing is king because it’s such an effective sales and marketing tool. If you think all your content marketing strategy needs to include is a good blog schedule, you’re wrong. And, you’re missing out on some great opportunities. Here are seven effective ways to use your content to drive results.

1. Segment Your Prospects

Now it’s easier than ever to try to cherry pick your prospects using strategic demographic micro targeting. By segmenting your target market into specific groups, you are better able to deliver highly effective, targeted content and convert the kinds of leads you want.

2. Implement The Pillar-Cluster Model

I know, the name makes it sound like it’s going to be complicated, but it’s not really. The Pillar-Cluster Model is a great way to make sure your site has good SEO. Search engines may get confused by all of the individual content pieces shared on your website. This means your content is competing against each other rather than working with each other. This Hubspot graphic illustrates the problem perfectly:

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Search engines want to see overarching themes and how your individual content pieces connect with these themes:

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To implement the Pillar-Cluster Model, start by deciding what your four or five cluster topic pillars need to be. Then create a single pillar page for each that provides a high-level overview of a topic and hyperlinks to cluster pages that address the topic’s subtopics. This signals to Google that your pillar page is an authority on the topic. An added bonus? When your pillar page ranks higher, so do your cluster pages.

3. Develop A Podcast

Online audio content is gaining in popularity and is a good lead generator. If you’re going to take the time to create a podcast, make sure it’s informative and entertaining or no one will listen to it.

4. Implement Social Media PR Campaigns

If you’re still just placing your PR on news outlet publications, you’re missing a huge audience on social media. In fact, your prospects spend more time on social media now than ever before. You need to deliver content that will perform well on both social media platforms and publications. Know the audience and provide what they want.

5.  Build Your E-Mail Subscriptions

The data tells us it takes about six to eight touch points to generate a qualified lead. By getting prospects to subscribe to your e-mails, you’re building an interested audience for your content and hopefully a list of hot prospects. Make sure what you e-mail your list of subscribers is relevant and of interest so prospects will be actively engaged and keep reading each time they hear from you.

 6. Resend Popular Posts

Take a look at your blog views and see which ones are pulling the highest. Pick a few of the best performing ones and republish them with some new information added. This helps you build on your organic traffic and conversions these posts are already generating.

7. Conduct A/B Testing

The only way you’ll know which copy, ad, design, etc. works the best to generate leads is to conduct A/B testing. My blog has a few posts about A/B testing on it if you need a refresher. In general A/B testing enables you to test two variables – like two different headlines or two different calls to action – and see which one performs better.

These seven marketing techniques are sure to help you finish the last half of 2019 strong.

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Eight Ways to Optimize Your Landing Pages to Drive Long-Term Lead Generation

SocialMediaMarketingIn marketing we often fall prey to instant markers of a campaign’s success. However, studies show that when done correctly, the content we create today may still be working to generate leads for months and years to come!

Think long-term on the content you create. It shouldn’t only address your current campaign goals. It should also address a broader message that will resonate with prospects for some time to come. You want to generate organic search traffic because it’s the strongest source for leads that are about seven-times more likely to convert to a sale. When prospects find your content via a search, you have a captive audience. Follow SEO best practices, and organic searches will help you generate leads by doing very little.

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However, no message is effective unless it can be found – even long after you’ve stopped promoting it in your e-mail campaigns, on social media, and in your calls to action. Make sure you optimize your content for search engines.  Here are eight ways you can be sure you’re building landing pages that offer long-term lead generation. I don’t go into a lot of technical detail, but anyone handling your website and lead generation should be very familiar with this information.

  1. Your Page Title Should be Short and Keyword Optimized

Your page title is considered the most important element for any on-page SEO. It is where you describe your web page so search engines find it. It is displayed at the top of your browser – usually only the first 60 characters show, so keep it short.

  1. The URL You Use for Your Landing Page Matters

Next in importance is the URL you use for your landing page because it helps share even more information with search engines about your content. Most search engines only show about 65 characters in the URL portion – and some of these will be for your domain name.

  1. Your Heading Tag Should Match Your Page

It’s important to make sure search engine visitors can figure out exactly what you’re offering on your landing page very quickly, before they lose interest and bounce back. Creating a heading that closely matches your page title helps increase your ranking and number of click throughs.

  1. Your Meta Description Must be Clear and Direct

Your meta description is where you describe what is on the page. It’s where you influence prospects to click on your search result. Make it to the point, including a summary of what they’ll see. You don’t want to lose their interest. The more clicks, the higher your Google ranking, which leads to more clicks.

  1. You Need to Optimize Your Images

Search engines can’t easily scan images, but you can still use them to help your page rank for certain keywords. Often search engines take clues about what an image contains from its file name and the alt text you provide.

  1. Test Your Landing Page for Rich Snippets

Rich snippets enhance search engine result listings and give searchers more information on your content. Google offers a free testing tool that will scan your page and let you see what it could look like in search results. For more information on rich snippets, you can read this 2018 post.

  1. Create Forms With as Few Fields as Possible

Most landing pages have forms to capture prospects’ information in exchange for content, a discount, etc. Forms serve a crucial function, but prospects don’t like filling them out – especially if they are long. If they are too long, prospects will leave your page.

  1. Design Your Landing Page So Prospects Link Back to It

To get the highest search ranking, search engines check to see if Internet users are vouching for your landing page by linking back to it from a blog post, e-mail or social media.

By implementing these eight tips, you will be able to create very effective landing pages that bump your position in search engines now and well into the future. This enables you to generate leads well beyond your launch of new campaigns.

 

 

Why Customer Reviews are an Important Part of Your Marketing Strategy

 

client-reviews.pngWe can all relate to the importance customer reviews play when we are making a purchase, whether for a high-dollar item or a less expensive one. In fact, consulting customer reviews has become second nature for us, a worthwhile step in the buying journey. So, it makes sense that this practice is spilling over into our business purchases as well. About half of all B2B buyers use reviews before selecting new products or services.

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While still a somewhat new practice in the business world, if customer reviews aren’t rolling in, you can use the ones you do have to their fullest potential by including them in your marketing strategy. This will increase their visibility while helping you build a trust relationship with your customers and prospects. This graph shows you why that’s so important.

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TrustRadius conducted another poll that found 76% of respondents in an active buying cycle used customer reviews during their decision-making process.

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The influence customer reviews wield is evident. Consumers trust peer reviews to give them honest, accurate feedback on a product or service to save them from making a bad purchase. Now that we agree customer reviews are important, let’s talk about how you can incorporate them into your marketing for the greatest effect.

4 Ways to Make Customer Reviews Part of Your Marketing Strategy

1. Keep Your Reviews Honest

There really is no such thing as a bad review. So called bad reviews often times point out limitations that are an important component of the fact-finding mission and an important objection that your sales people will know they need to address. Having this information upfront decreases customer dissatisfaction. It also gives you an opportunity to respond to the unfavorable review with a workaround, update, or great customer service that everyone can view. Your customers and prospects want to see that you care. Show them that, and you win their trust, and that wins you loyal customers.

2. Recruit Brand Ambassadors

It’s likely you have many satisfied, loyal customers. However, it’s also likely that most of them haven’t written a review of your product or service. There is nothing wrong with asking a happy customer to write a review. If appropriate, you can also invite them to record a video testimonial or write a guest blog about their experience with your product or service.

3. Make Your Reviews Easy to Find

You want to make sure your customer reviews are very easy to find. You’ll want to feature customer testimonials – written or video – on your website, in e-mail campaigns, and on social media. Stack the content to get the most bang for your buck.

4. Actively Monitor Your Reviews

Depending on your business, you’ll have reviews on the media you control, but reviews of your product or service may also appear on third-party sites. Make sure you are actively monitoring where your customers are leaving reviews and what they are saying. This enables you to get a complete picture and to respond to positive and negative reviews in a timely manner. Again, it’s all about sending the message that you care about your customers’ experience with your brand.

By encouraging, acknowledging, and promoting customer feedback, you are showing your customers and your prospects that you value their opinions and you want to make their buying journey with you a satisfactory one. Customer reviews are a great way to build trust, which goes a long way toward building your business.

How the Leading E-Mail Innovations Help Marketers

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email-buttonE-mail remains a prominent player for marketers to drive both revenue and engagement. As this medium has seen significant developments and dollars invested in technology, marketers are wise to keep pace and not rely on the status quo for their e-mail marketing efforts. E-mail must play a central role in your marketing.

E-mail drives data, and we marketers know that’s key. The more we can learn about our prospects and communicate with them in meaningful and ongoing ways the better it is for not only getting a sale but also for forming a trust relationship. E-mail is about so much more than just sending a message to a prospect or an existing customer. It’s what marketers do with the data gathered and the e-mail platform capabilities that drives real results.

One of the primary obstacles of using e-mail marketing that I see is a lack of real dedication or buy-in to the e-mail initiatives. Without dedicating the proper amount of time, human and financial resources to your e-mail strategy, it’s likely not to perform well, or worse, fail completely. Just as the e-mail platforms must continue to innovate in the technology they provide, we marketers must also continue to innovate in how we use e-mail to market to our prospects and customers. We must think about what our prospects want to hear, what they need to hear, and how we need to say it.

By viewing your e-mail tactics not as single deployments but rather part of a comprehensive whole, you’re beginning to set the stage for success. How can e-mail be part of your marketing whole? Each component must compliment the other as well as feed this circular marketing message – from e-mail to website to YouTube to Twitter, etc. – the message must be consistent and well orchestrated to tell a story across platforms in a compelling and cohesive way. Push the limits of how you define e-mail and how you use it. Innovate!

To provide you with a little inspiration, here are some e-mail examples I like because of their simplicity. They each do a good job communicating a clear message, offer specific and highly visible calls to action, provide a few opportunities to click for info, and stay true to their brand image.

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