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Rank Your Website using Crowdsearch.me

Crowdsearch.me is a service that browse and click with dwell time to help rank your website.
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Facebook Adds 1 Million Advertisers in 7 Months

Facebook announced this week that more than 5 million businesses are advertising on the social network each month. That's up from 4 million monthly advertisers in September 2016 and 3 million in March 2016.

Big brand advertisers make up much of the ad spend, but to attract small businesses, Facebook has a set of tools such as audience targeting, a mobile design studio and online courses available so far in 10 languages.

Recent changes driving the increase in advertisers include a "one click" option in Facebook's ads manager to reinstate high-performing ads.

In an interview with Reuters, Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said that the number of ad buyers was an important milepost, showing that Facebook has room to grow despite its massive scale. Facebook's 5 million advertisers are just 8% of the 65 million businesses that are active on the network.

Among the 5 million advertisers, some 75 percent of them are outside the United States, and its fastest-growing markets are India, Thailand, Brazil, Mexico and Argentina, the company said.

The post Facebook Adds 1 Million Advertisers in 7 Months appeared first on WebProNews.

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Advertisers Less Excited About Snapchat

On the heels of Snapchat's historic tech IPO a few days ago, which was second only to Facebook, comes less promising news for the social and messaging app leader. A survey of 1,600 marketers published by RBC Capital Markets and Ad Age shows that return on ad dollars from Snapchat falls far behind the company's chief rival Instagram. So far behind that even ad revenue from AOL isn't much worse.

Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Yahoo, AOL and YouTube, Snapchat only outperformed AOL in terms of ROI, scoring a 3.43 out of a possible 8 points, according to the survey (AOL scored a 2.88). Google (6.98) and Facebook (6.72) led the pack, performing nearly twice as better than Snapchat, RBC said.

Poor targeting, unreliable performance measurement and a decrease in both user engagement and open rates as are a few reason reasons why their advertisers saw their ROI slump with Snapchat.

While those results seen by advertisers are detrimental to Snapchat's revenue growth, the aggressive direct competition from Facebook could be what keeps advertisers from increasing even test ad spends with Snapchat. The recent launch of Messenger Day, seen by some as a SnapChat Stories clone, has already snagged over one billion users for Facebook. Combining that with Instagram's 300 million daily active users, Snapchat has a big challenging in building on its expected 2017 seventy million user market share.

Simply put, if Snapchat doesn't show advertisers some real revenue gains in the next 12-18 months, the company's key revenue driver could slowly start to go, like Snachat pics, poof. The company's projected ad revenue forecast has already been cut by almost 4%.

Snapchat has been a compelling success and its users have fully embraced it's creative, engaging camera sharing tools. There is always going to be a direct push back from competition when you have built a great digital experience. While continuing to be groundbreaking and inventive on the user end, Snapchat will likely do some major revamps on the advertising product end. Expect some big sales and marketing hiring news in the coming weeks from Snapchat.

The post Advertisers Less Excited About Snapchat appeared first on WebProNews.

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What exactly is a marketing cloud, and do you need one?

The term 'marketing cloud' has gained significant traction in the last few years as major software companies have sought to monetise the growing importance of technology for marketing teams.

But what exactly does this sometimes fuzzy term mean, and are companies actually benefiting from the type of all-singing and all-dancing solutions increasingly being developed by the likes of Adobe, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce?

ClickZ Intelligence has published a new piece of research entitled 'What the Hell is a Marketing Cloud, Anyway?' which, as the name suggests, seeks answers to these questions.

The report is based on interviews with senior client-side executives across a range of brands and a survey of almost 200 marketing professionals about the extent to which their businesses are capitalising on this technology.

For the purposes of the survey, carried out in September 2016, we defined a marketing cloud as 'an integrated suite of marketing tools which are available to marketers as web-based services'.

Read on for a summary of the key takeaways from the report.

The marketing cloud is having a positive impact

There is good news for vendors and their clients in that the majority of responding organisations (52%) claimed to be using marketing cloud technology, and a further 27% of companies said they were considering this.

Furthermore, the research found that responding organisations are generally very positive about the marketing cloud, with 82% of respondents saying that marketing cloud technology has had a positive impact on their organisation's marketing.

The overwhelming majority of respondents (84%) also agreed that an integrated suite of marketing tools has a positive impact on customer experience compared to only 5% who disagree. Similarly, 88% agreed that an integrated suite of marketing tools has a positive effect on business performance compared to only 3% who disagreed.

As the chart below shows, the reasons most commonly cited for using marketing cloud software are 'reduced complexity' (44%), a 'single data source' (40%), 'better customer experience' (38%), a 'unified user interface' (36%), 'better visibility of return on investment' (32%) and 'improved ROI' (30%).

Methodology note: respondents could check up to three options

Analytics are the bedrock of an effective marketing technology suite

Within the marketing cloud, a number of capabilities were considered by respondents to be critical, including CRM (59%), marketing automation (49%) and personalisation/targeting tools (46%).

However, the largest percentage (68%) felt that customer and digital analytics were the most critical core product within a unified suite of marketing tools, underscoring the importance of consistent and insightful data for underpinning the best marketing cloud offerings in the market.

Is there a downside to a marketing cloud?

The research also sought to understand whether there were disadvantages of using a single technology supplier.

While aiming to solve many of the current challenges marketers face, marketing clouds aren't always the answer to everything. Few would expect a single, largely generic (though modifiable to varying degrees) technology solution to solve every single individual problem specific to each brand. As a result, executives felt its biggest failing was not to be 'best of breed' in all areas (36%).

You can download the report now to read in more detail about the essence of the marketing cloud, and also which vendors are most commonly being deployed.

The research also found that many marketers believe that vendors were not as transparent as they could be, despite educational efforts by vendors purporting to shed some light on the chaotic world of marketing technology. Over a third (35%) 'somewhat' disagreed that vendors were open about the pros and cons of the marketing cloud, and a further 5% 'strongly' disagreed.

Despite some suspicion of the way software companies are marketing their cloud offerings, giant strides have undoubtedly been taken by vendors to create more joined-up platforms following a string of acquisitions – some of which have taken longer than others to be truly integrated.

Senior executives interviewed for this research were keen to stress that marketing technology is not a panacea, although it can certainly make businesses more efficient.

Pete Markey, Brand Communications & Marketing Director at Aviva said he welcomed the ongoing use of automation in marketing, but warned against marketers hitting autopilot as the technologists take over.

“We're all thinking about future-proofing. It's not bad having a single provider as long as you have a sense of how technology is going to develop into the future. You don't want to outsource your intellectual property. You don't want technology to do the thinking for you to the point where you're not keeping up with how you do what you do. Technology is a tool. It's down to the marketer to protect the strength of their organisation.”

 

Fill in the form below to download your free copy of the marketing cloud report.

 

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Mobile ad fraud: how agencies and advertisers can spot, combat and kill it

Ten steps to help advertisers, agencies, ad platforms and publishers get on top of mobile ad fraud, with tips from the experts and guidelines to follow.

With mobile rapidly approaching half of digital advertising, the fraudsters that have plagued web advertising are now targeting mobile ads – particularly the “download or app” ads, which have become a cash cow for the ad industry.

In this column we ask: what do advertisers, agencies, ad exchanges, ad networks, demand-side platforms DSPs and other adtech providers need to do to stop mobile getting to the same state as web ad fraud?

What is mobile ad fraud?

Mobile ad fraud occurs where mobile ad impressions or click-throughs are triggered by a robot.

This might be a piece of malicious code that is operating on a legitimate user device, maybe downloaded with a dodgy native app. Each time the ad is served/clicked the fraudulent ad network or fraudulent publisher makes money, even though no human has seen the ad.

Ten steps to spotting and combatting ad fraud. Step 1. Get your head out of the sand

The industry is still divided between those that have a position on ad fraud and those that don't. The nothing-to-say camp is still by far the biggest. In the interest of diplomacy, we will avoid naming and shaming the leading global media agencies, ad networks, et al that were contacted for comments, but delivered none.

Instead, here is a list of the companies that do have a position on mobile ad fraud, and helped with this column:

Yodel Mobile; M&C Saatchi Mobile; GroupM; Conversant Media; Voluum; JICWEBS/IAB UK; Integral Ad Science; Forensiq; MRC; WFA; Dhar Method / Botlab.io.

Step 2. Ad fraud is everyone's responsibility – advertisers, agencies/intermediaries and publishers

With ad fraud, it's too easy to point the finger of blame at someone else, but it is everyone's responsibility to put measures in place in house to ensure fraud is kept to a minimum and to encourage, coax and force all partners to do the same.

Advertisers appear to be the least prepared to accept responsibility. This is crazy considering ad fraud is costing them money, business and, if they are collecting and pursuing fake leads, potentially harms reputation and causes privacy issues also.

A survey of US advertisers conducted by Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and White Ops for the Bot baseline report, published January, found that only 17% felt it was the advertiser's responsibility to combat fraud; while 26% of respondents felt that combatting ad fraud was the joint responsibility of the publisher, agency and advertiser.

Only 40% of advertisers had an anti-fraud policy in place. 55% used an anti-fraud detection vendor and 43% used a fraud prevention vendor.

Step 3. Put an anti-fraud policy in place, put someone in charge

All parties in the digital ad ecosystem should appoint an anti-fraud manager – or an ad quality manager, if you want to extend this role to encompass viewability and content adjacency/brand safety. This person will be responsible for:

Preparing the ad fraud policy. Setting the rules of engagement with partners; building an accredited list of partners. Keeping up to date with the various guidelines and initiatives. Education – internal/external – of ad fraud issues/prevention. Re-evaluating how ads are purchased and ROI (return on investment) is calculated – i.e. examining KPIs (key performance indicators). Evaluate measures, tools to detect and prevent fraud. Enforcement – refusing to pay for ads/leads that are suspect. Industry liaison – join the various cross-industry initiatives to reduce fraud.

Many of these points are explained in the steps below.

A great example of this is GroupM UK (which is the umbrella group for the WPP media agencies) where the anti-fraud / media quality strategy has been built and run by Digital Risk Director Bethan Crockett. She is also an active participant in industry anti-fraud initiatives.

GroupM now plans to duplicate the strategy devised in the UK in operations worldwide, across it various media agencies Mindshare, MEC, MediaCom, and Maxus.

Bethan Crockett, Digital Risk Director at GroupM UK, told ClickZ:

“At GroupM we are working towards a zero tolerance approach to online advertising fraud across the industry. We have invested in a comprehensive and proprietary approach to reducing ad fraud. We're already seeing the fruits of these labours on our clients' campaigns and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect our clients and our business.  

We feel there is an industry-wide responsibility for inventory integrity and online ad fraud.  

By working with industry partners and staying away from rogue inventory – we believe that we are succeeding to minimize the challenges of fraud and viewability. Our goal is to standardise this approach around the world.”

Step 4. Read and adhere to the ad fraud guidelines

There are no guidelines for preventing mobile ad fraud, but there are several for web fraud. There are some differences between online and mobile ad fraud, particularly mobile ad app fraud, but many of the principles are the same:

Invalid Traffic Detection and Filtration Guidelines – Media Ratings Council (MRC), October 2015 (PDF) Good Practice Principles for Reducing Risk to Exposure to Ad Fraud – JICWEBS, May 2016 (PDF) UK Traffic Taxonomy for Digital Display Advertising – JICWEBS, October 2015 (PDF) Compendium of Ad Fraud Knowledge for Media Investors – WFA, June 2016, subscription required) Understand ad fraud like a pro in eight short videos – Botlab.io, Jan 2016. Not industry guidelines, per se, but a useful resource. Step 5. Ensure that partners adhere to industry guidelines and have sound policies in place

When you ask experts for tips on preventing ad fraud, they don't tend to focus on the ad verification tools/services available. Instead they focus on company policy and ensuring that partners have the right policies in place.

Shailin Dhar, ad-fraud consultant, Dhar Method:

Advertisers: Ask your agencies for a detailed plan of how they are preventing your budgets from being compromised by fraud. Also remember, cheap media is not conducive to good, effective media. 

Agencies: Audit the supply partners of your trading desks and DSPs (demand side platforms). Ask where they get their traffic. 

Publishers: Don't buy cheap traffic from random networks.

As industry certification programs (Step 10 below) become more established, these could also help with the approval of partners.

Step 6. Insist on transparency and traffic being verified.

The problem is that advertisers rarely buy direct from a publisher anymore. Buying ads – particularly programmatic buying of ads in real time via ad exchanges – today taps into a complex web of intermediaries, where advertisers have little visibility of where their ads run, or which ad networks are fulfilling the placement.

Alex Hewson, head of media EMEA, M&C Saatchi Mobile:

“Programmatic, when run in house, does allow for greater control and therefore greater protection from fraudulent activity – network buys are riskier for advertisers especially where the inventory is not owned and operated by the network themselves, as they may be relying on exchange or affiliate traffic over which thy don't exert the same control. 

Paramount to this is their processes by which this external traffic is vetted and analyzed on an ongoing basis to minimize any issues. It's worth noting that no solution or process is perfect and that we as the agency must work in partnership with our suppliers to tackle this together through an open and consistent dialogue.

We have a thorough approach at M&C Saatchi Mobile which is anchored in a rigorous data analysis process to look for suspicious patterns in the data – very low eCPC's or high click to install rates, for example. This is powered by the reporting solutions offered by the mobile measurement partners (e.g. Tune) where the findings are then shared as part of our partnership with suppliers. Simply put, it is key to have a robust process in place underpinned by technology.”

As advertisers and agencies become more alert to the risk of ad fraud and better at detecting it, they have started to refuse payment and blacklist business when there is evidence of fraud.

Some ad platforms are now offering money-back guarantees but this is met with some skepticism by peers.

Gavin Stirrat Managing Director at Voluum, a performance tracking solution:

“There are many companies that offer post-impression analytics or cash back guarantees. We believe this is an unacceptable compromise that continues to line the pockets of fraudsters and further damages mistrust in the medium.

Our recommendation to agencies and brands is to demand high standards of their buying platform partners such as the pre-bid filtering of inventory for fraud, as we do at Voluum.”

Step 7. Rethink how you purchase mobile media and measure ROI

As mobile ad fraud has become increasingly clever, advertisers have moved away from pay per click/cost per click CPC to more sophisticated cost-per-acquisition (CPA) (e.g. pay-per-subscription) or cost-per-app-installation (CPI). But ad malware is increasingly capable of filling out forms or downloading applications to compromised devices or to a mobile emulator.

This means advertisers have to be more intelligent about how they reward agencies and how they set KPIs for their campaigns.

Jason Cooper, general manager, mobile at Integral Ad Science.

“Globally we have seen that mobile ad fraud has become increasingly sophisticated, for example, methods that go beyond the click and now include location and app install fraud which may have a greater impact on campaign reporting.

Performance advertisers rarely now pay out on a CPC basis with CPI and CPGP (cost-per-game-play) becoming the norm. Uber will only reward a user once they have installed the app and taken their first ride which requires a valid credit card, while Candy Crush only pays media owners once a new user reaches a pre-determined game play point.

For brand advertisers that pay on a CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) basis, a higher CTR might lead to incorrect campaign measurement but there will no impact on spend.” 

Step 8. Tell tail signs that ad fraud is present 

The most obvious tell tail is price. If the costs of ads is cheaper than the going rate, there's a higher chance that it is fraudulent.

The problem comes when advertisers place pressure on agencies to buy cheaper media. Which makes it very important that agencies educate their clients as to:

a) The risk of click fraud, particularly with pay-per-install/cost-per-install ads for mobile applications. b) The real cost of legitimate CPI media.

But there are many more tell tail signs that fraud is present, explains

Ijah Miller, Director, from mobile media specialist Yodel Mobile. He offers the following tips:

Tips for spotting/preventing mobile fraud: Look for valid/invalid/fraudulent clicks according to analysis of IP address – e.g. detecting web hosting, VPN endpoints and repeated IP addressed, as well as irregular country/city origin. Analyse hourly clicks and install behaviour and distribution: clicks and installs are distributed in a known pattern during the active hours of the day, between the busiest hours and the less busy ones. Deviation from the pattern such as detection of just few very active hours in the day can be a result of incentivised traffic or fraud. Analyse hourly conversion ratios: Conversion through ratio (CTR) should normally be stable in the hours of the day. A sharp increase of hourly CTR can point towards incentivised or fraud traffic. Look for valid/invalid/fraudulent installs in line with targeting parameters and click-install delay: Click to install delay varies from app to app, from one tracking vendor to another, from country to country. Yodel partners measure delay for each campaign and detect deviations between traffic sources. Continuously scan known incentivized apps and web sites to make sure that our campaigns are not presented there: Develop an App and Web site scanning process to run checks. You can then open the apps/sites, click on ads and track the redirect chain. Analyse the post-install events behaviour: It's vital for app businesses to share the pattern of behaviour of users that install their apps. Then if CPA results are significant lower than the expected/known post-install events behaviour, it will suggest that the traffic is from incentivised or fraud source.  Step 9. Be vigilant (publishers)

The same vigilance should also be applied by the publishers that are showing the ads.

We have already touched on the perils of buying cheap traffic. Some publishers boost their visitor numbers by buying traffic, from intermediaries, who may use incentives to entice visitors. But there is no certainty this traffic is not simply robots.

Another way for mobile publishers to avoid robots – according to the ANA Bot baseline report – is to block desktop traffic to mobile pages. The report points out that a lot of fraudulent mobile traffic is really desktop traffic.

Step 10. Get certified as compliant with guidelines / only use certified ad partners

Three of the associations behind the guidelines included in step 4 above, now have certification programs. But some are still at nascent stages. Criteria varies, compliance may be through self-certification or independent verification, and certification costs are also unclear.

The most established of these is MRC's US-based program to certify companies that measure, verify and filter out general invalid traffic (GIVT), which includes ad fraud. The MRC recently started accrediting vendors for Sophisticated Invalid Traffic Detection/Filtration (SIVT) – which so far includes comScore, Integral Ad Science and White Ops Fraud Sensor, all three of which cover also cover mobile web traffic (but not apps of yet).

Companies that are evaluating ad fraud detection companies will find this list of GIVT accredited companies (PDF), very useful. It includes details of areas of expertise, including whether they cover mobile web and mobile app traffic. Also check the compliant versus self-asserted list (PDF) to find who has been independently verified.

In July 2016, the US-based Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) announced it had registered 100 companies, including advertisers, agencies, adtech companies and publishers, as “verified as legitimate participants in the digital advertising industry through a proprietary background check and review process powered by Dun & Bradstreet and approved by TAG.”

In November 2016, TAG has also launched a “Certified against malware” seal and malware threat sharing hub to provide intelligence on attacks to industry and law enforcement.

The UK's certification initiative – launched August 2016 – is led by The Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards in the UK and Ireland (JICWEBS).

As these certification programs become more established and more stringent, it will hopefully reduce the requirement for advertisers/agencies to independently audit each one.

This is Part 37 of the ClickZ 'DNA of mobile-friendly web' series. Here are the most recent chapters: The future of mobile local search part three: tradesmen, home services, verification and guarantees. Where is Google heading with mobile local search? Is Google killing mobile organic search? Accessibility: which Paralympics sites passed the test? Read the reports: DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 1: Planning DNA of a Great M-Commerce Site Part 2: The 12 Pillars of Mobile Design

Andy Favell is a ClickZ columnist on mobile. He's also a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor. Contact Andy via LinkedIn or Twitter at Andy_Favell.

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YouTube Launches Promotional End Screens for Videos

YouTube has launched End Screens for videos, allowing creators to add a clickable promotional page at the end of videos that works on both mobile devices and desktop computers. Previously, video makers would have to upload a promo page and it would only work on the desktop.

YouTube says that you can use the End Screens to:

Point viewers to other videos, playlists, or channels on YouTube Call for subscriptions to your channel Promote your website, merchandise, and crowdfunding campaigns

End Screens are embedded within the video and appear during the last 5-20 seconds. They can include up to 4 elements to promote your content, channel and websites, which on the desktop offers more information on hover or on a mobile device on tap. YouTube notes that other interactive elements, like card teasers, featured content, and branding watermarks, are suppressed during the End Screen.

According to YouTube, elements can feature the following types of content:

Video or playlist: You can select to always feature your most recently uploaded video; allow YouTube to select a video from your channel to best suit the viewer; or pick any video or playlist from your channel, public, or unlisted content. Subscribe: Encourage subscriptions to your channel. Approved websites: Link to your associated website or to approved merchandise and crowdfunding websites. Provide a custom image, title and select a call-to-action. Channel: Promote another channel and provide a custom message.

This feature is planned to get more robust over time as YouTube receives feedback and data on performance, viewer behavior, device and context. They say that the End Screen will not be played when a video is viewed in background mode and for this reason YouTube recommends not pointing to elements or adding crucial content to the end screen part of the video.

Here is YouTube's list of best practices for creating end screens
Feature elements that are relevant to the video. Encourage viewers to click using calls to action for different end screen elements. Make sure you leave enough space and time at the end of the video for an end screen. Make sure you consider the video's last 20 seconds when editing it. Consider timing different end screen elements to appear at different times.
"After testing End Screens with a number of creators, we've incorporated feedback to make the tool work even better," said Muli Salem, Product Manager at Google. "We couldn't be happier to make it available to every creator on YouTube. So how will you use End Screens? We can't wait to see the ideas you come up with."

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Nine lesser-known SEO resources and blogs you might not follow, but should

I was having a conversation earlier today about some of my favorite SEO resources and how I felt like they were flying under the radar.

So I decided to put together a list of my favorites that I feel aren't shared or mentioned enough.

Not because I think these individuals deserve more views, but because I think the SEO community is missing out by not listening to what they have to say.

Bill and Ammon's Bogus Hangout

Bill Slawski and Ammon Johns have this hangout (almost) weekly. Most of the episodes have less than 80 views on YouTube so I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of SEO professionals are not tuning into this, which is a shame because I genuinely think some of the best conversations in the industry happen here.

You can listen weekly on Tuesdays, but I usually watch sometime after the live broadcast, usually days or weeks later, and often multiple episodes in a row. I find it to be great background material to keep learning and thinking constructively while I work.

SEO Theory YouTube Channel

Another video resource which I'm surprised has such low view counts. Michael Martinez has a few different blogs where he writes about SEO (which you have probably read) but I find these videos to be incredibly insightful elaborations on some of the topics he's already written about. Definitely worth a listen while you work as well.

The SEM Post

This is probably the most followed resource in this list. A more general SEO news blog than the others mentioned, but I find Jennifer and the other writers at The SEM Post cover the most relevant news without being overwhelming.

Some of the other general SEO news blogs have a tendency to cover so much news (not that it's a bad thing!) that it can be overwhelming and hard to keep up.

With other “large” SEO publications, you could easily lose hours reading articles which may not apply to you. This blog offers a happy medium so you can get the news you need while still having enough time to get your work done.

Advanced Web Ranking Blog

As the name suggests, this is an SEO blog geared towards experienced professionals. They cover a wide range of topics and most of the information here is highly actionable. Overall, I think they offer a great introduction into advanced SEO strategies for junior professionals hoping to expand their skillset.

OHGM

I've referred to this website as the “obscure technical black metal of SEO blogs” before and I still haven't come up with a better way to describe it. That's exactly what it is. Obscure, fun and technical SEO posts focused more on the search engine side rather than the marketing side of SEO.

RankTank

This isn't as much a blog (though they do have one) as it is a compilation of open source SEO tools but I'm including this because I feel that it doesn't get the love it deserves.

I think a lot of SEO professionals don't realize that they can build incredibly useful tools with Google Sheets for absolutely free, and RankTank can help them do that.

SEO 2.0

I could copy and paste his name, but I'm just going to call him Tad because it's easier for all of us. He has been writing great posts about SEO for a long time, and chances are you've read a lot of his articles already, but I don't see his own blog being shared too often. He offers a fresh perspective on a lot of topics from SEO to social media and content.

NeoMam Studios Blog

Probably the most “content marketing” based resource in this list, NeoMam Studios have really great insight into creating valuable content and getting eyes on it. They also have some of the best (in my opinion) posts about scaling email outreach.

Cre8asite Forums

Even though this forum isn't extremely active anymore (there are a few new posts here every once in a while, but scroll about half way down the first page on most of their forums and that's where the posts from 2016 end), it is still a great resource to browse.

I don't want to say this website is “dead” but you're probably not going to get super up-to-date info here. Nonetheless, it is worth a mention because of its historical value.

Most SEOs try to do a good job staying updated on current topics, but reading what the industry was talking about in the past can be a great way to learn new things too.

At the very least, this forum is a giant rabbit hole to topics you may not have explored before. For as much as SEO changes nearly every day, it's also surprising how much of the conversations have remained the same. Find some threads from before you started working in SEO and I promise you'll learn something new browsing here.

This list started off much more extensive, but I managed to whittle it down to a handful. If a site could be found easily by Googling “SEO blogs” I removed it.

If they had a lot of social media followers, I removed them. If they were ad-heavy or otherwise blatantly promotional, I removed them. If they've been listed in a lot of “SEO resources” posts already, I removed them. You get the idea.

If there are any you think I missed, please let me know because I would love to know about them.

Anthony Randall is a link building dude at Rizolt.com and contributor to SEW.

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Pinterest Launches Promoted Video for Brands

Pinterest rolls out Promoted Video, available only on mobile devices, to make them an even better marketing platform for brands. The trend toward video advertising with social media platforms and the internet in general continues with this Pinterest announcement. According to business intelligence firm L2, Marketers are projected to spend $12.82 billion on internet video advertising by 2018, which is up from $7.7 billion spent in 2015. All of the other major social platforms, Facebook, YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter have already launched video ad platforms. It's about time for Pinterest to jump in, especially considering its focus on ecommerce.

Pinterest, being a very visual medium and already brand focused seems to be a perfect match for video advertising. "Over 100 million people around the world come to Pinterest every month to discover ideas to try," said Pinterest Product Manager Mike Bidgoli in a post. "One of the best tools for bringing those ideas to life is video, so it's no surprise this format has been popular on Pinterest. In the last year alone, we've seen a 60% increase in videos on Pinterest featuring everything from workouts and home projects to hair & beauty tutorials. That's why we're excited to roll out Promoted Video."

Bidgoli noted that of the 100 million monthly Pinterest visitors, 55% use the platform to find or shop for products, according to the 2016 Internet Trends Report. Only 12% of people view other social media platforms as places for ecommerce. Pinterest clearly sees its future revenue source coming from video advertising.

Pinterest has tied Promoted Video with its Featured Pins product in order to differentiate itself from other social platforms that are focused on just views. "While other platforms primarily offer video views, we've coupled Promoted Video with featured Pins below the video," said Bidgoli. "Now the 67% of people who say videos on Pinterest inspire them to take action can experience your brand and then simply click below to do more with your products and services."

Pinterest won't auto-play their video ads in a users feed, it will first play a Cinematic Pin format that they already have to give users a silent teaser of the marketing video. Once people tap on the Pin the full video will open up and automatically start playing with sound. Businesses can run video ads as long as 5 minutes, infomercial style. It will be interesting to see if Pinterest is actually planning on the long-form video marketing concept because of its proven success on TV of driving actual sales. For instance, a person perusing cooking posts could be presented with the Copper Chef ad. Well it convert as good as it does on TV? If it does Pinterest will have discovered a marketing gold mine.

According to Bidgoli, Pinterest will charge marketers based on impressions of the preview Pin on a CPM basis and not just for after click video views. Advertisers will see both the impression numbers for their teaser gif video views, the number of clicks the teaser Pin received, the number of times their full video was viewed at least partially and breakdowns on how far people watched the video (25%, 50%, 75%, 100%) and how many clicks the Featured Pin under the video received.


A Millward Brown study commissioned by Pinterest found that Old El Paso Promoted Video ads were 4x more memorable than a non-video ad. At launch, Pinterest has partnered with bareMInerals, PURINA, kate spade, Lionsgate and BEHR to proved the value of Promoted Video. "We've run several campaigns with Pinterest and consider video a natural evolution on how we want to connect with our Pinterest audience," said Meredith Schaffner, Marketing Manager, Old El Paso. "Our customers come to Pinterest with high intent and the ability to show a recipe and our products through video is a unique opportunity to drive higher performance."

Video Advertising Trend Toward Social

At Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit in London, Nicola Mendelsohn, VP EMEA at Facebook, predicted that the Facebook newsfeed will be all video in 5 years. "It will definitely be mobile. It will probably be all video," Mendelsohn said. "I just think if we look, we already are seeing a year on year decline in text. We're seeing a massive increase as I've said on both pictures and video. So yeah, if I was having a bet, I would say video, video, video."

During Facebook's July 2016 earning call, Facebook executives predicted their future will be video, "We see a world that is video first, with video at the heart of all of our apps and services," said Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerburg. ""Over the past six months we have been particularly focused on Live video. Live represents a new way to share what's happening in more immediate and creative ways."

2016 has been the year of not only more spending on video ads, but a movement of dollars from TV to internet video, following consumers wherever they are. In May for instance, Magna Global, which buys ads for Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola, Fiat and others announced at NewFront that they have agreed to buy $250 million in video ads from YouTube. But that's not the story, it's that Magna is shifting these ad dollars from its clients TV budgets.

Also at the NewFronts, YouTube announced a new way for marketers to take advantage of suddenly viral videos called Breakout Videos, which is part of Google Preferred allowing advertisers to reach the top 5% of videos created by YouTube stars. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stated, "This will allow marketers to feature their brands alongside the next big thing".

Video is also becoming big on Twitter where tweets have incredibly increased by over 50% since the start of 2016!

The post Pinterest Launches Promoted Video for Brands appeared first on WebProNews.

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Google Completes Rollout Of Mobile-Friendly Search Boost

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller tweeted that the boost it earlier posted about favoring mobile-friendly sites is now live for all search results. If your site is not mobile-friendly you will see your Google search referrals go down and if your site works great in all mobile devices you should see some improvement. In essence, if two sites are equally targeted to be a top search result for a given query the site that is the most mobile friendly will show up while the other site will move down the list.

FYI The mobile changes mentioned here are now fully rolled out. https://t.co/fTB3ia6LJ2

- John Mueller (@JohnMu) May 12, 2016

Google recommends that you check your site with its Mobile-Friendly Test tool. You can also read Google's Webmaster Mobile Guide for more information.

The post Google Completes Rollout Of Mobile-Friendly Search Boost appeared first on WebProNews.

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Why user testing is the most important part of mobile development

This article explains the why, when, what, how, where, and who of user testing for mobile friendly websites or apps.

The sooner you find out your what is wrong with your *brilliant* concept, the easier, quicker, cheaper (and less embarrassing) it is to put it right or – if it is a total flop – go back to the drawing board.

That is why it is never too early to start testing and why testing should be ingrained into the design and development schedule.

Why do you need to user test?

Dr David Travis, chartered psychologist and managing director of UK-based user experience and training company, Userfocus:

What are the dangers of not testing? Designing the wrong product that doesn't have a user need; designing a product that people can't or won't use; design teams failing to understand their users and designing for themselves; and/or developing a system for the wrong context.

However you judge the success of your mobile project – whether a mobile-friendly website or an app – the reception it receives from users will be critical.

This means it you have to test to see if it:

Meets an identified need for an identified audience (see this column on audience need) Is fit for purpose (see this column on project viability) Is easy to use (usability). Is enjoyable to use (user experience or UX).

There are plenty of methods and tools that will help highlight issues (e.g. things that don't work properly, or are unpopular with users), but if you really want to know what works with users, you need to test it on real people.

Doug Brams, Principal UX architect, mobile web, The Home Depot:

The Home Depot conducts both qualitative and quantitative research to reveal what users need from our website and app experience. We work hard to improve both the general usability based on known HCI principles [Human-Computer Interaction], but also to understand some of the often subtle platform differences in terms of context of use and key tasks. This helps us present the right information at the right time to create workflow efficiencies and delight our users.

There are many facets to truly understanding our target users so it is important to employ a variety of methods. Some tools such as clickstream analysis, tracking/analytics, A/B testing or multivariate testing and clickstream analysis help to elucidate where problems spots exist with the interface or task flow.

However, these are just clues as to where to look and do not explain why the problem is occurring. Rather than guessing at causality, it is best to follow up with other techniques such as usability testing and user research.

When should user testing start and how regularly should it happen?

Testing should start ASAP. Long before coding begins, perhaps even before you start putting pen to paper. Stop thinking of testing as reactive, testing should be proactive.

Nothing to test? Rubbish.

Test user behavior on and attitudes to your existing mobile-friendly site. No mobile site? Test mobile user reaction to your desktop site. No desktop site? Test on competitors' website or apps.

Raluca Budiu, senior researcher, at US-based user experience training/consulting specialists Nielsen Norman Group:

Test as soon as possible. You can sometimes start testing even before you have the first designs. For example, if you have competitors in the same industry and they do have mobile products, you can start by testing those. In that way you can learn which design mistakes to avoid. You can also do diary studies and field studies to better understand the needs of your users and how they currently do the tasks that your site or app will address.

As soon as you have your first candidate wireframes, test with paper prototypes to make sure that you are on the right track. You don't need to put effort into high-fidelity prototypes in the beginning - just test your flows to make sure they make sense for the users. At the later stages, as you refine your visual design and individual page layout, high-fidelity prototypes become important.

Regular testing should be interwoven throughout the planning, design and development process.

Consider it as three disciplines/teams working in parallel, each feeding and feeding back to the next stage, with all teams discussing and agreeing in a regular meeting at the end of each stage/iteration (these stages are sometimes referred to as a sprint and may last two to four weeks).

A simplified schedule of test, design and development tasks, might look a bit like this:

Nielsen Norman's Budiu:

Leave room for testing when planning your design and development process and interweave testing at various stages in the development.

Use a pipeline model where designers and researchers work on refining the next area of the user interface (UI), while the developers code those areas that have been already tested and for which the team has agreed on a design. Start with the areas of the interface that are difficult to design and/or important to the organization.

Testing advocates love to quote – with good reason – the old adage that the same problem that costs $10 to fix early in the development process; will cost $100 pre-release; and will cost to fix $1000 if discovered post release.

While the origin and empirical proof for this maxim is hard to come by, the logic is as applicable to mobile user testing as any other form of software development.

What to user test

Testing can cover innumerable aspects of your site, from size of a button to content headlines. But one critical thing is to concentrate on testing tasks – both the tasks that are important for the user as well as those that the business wants them to achieve.

Keep it simple and to the point to avoid influencing the outcome. E.g. Your task is to use your mobile device to find/purchase a new bed; a hotel for tonight; a night out.

As the subject carries out the task, you will study:

Usability User experience (UX)

Usability and UX are often confused, and regularly argued over. The first is concerned with how easy people find it to complete the tasks they want to do.

The second is concerned with how much people felt about using it e.g. like/dislike. Often mobile design is a compromise of the two.

This is a subject for a future column, but if you're unclear, consider Thomas Baekdal's analogy: how do you get from A to B? Do you take the wide, straight, fast, but dull, highway – the usability option – or the twisting, engaging, mountain road – the high UX option?

One major difference between usability and UX is the measurability of results. Usability is often more easily quantified: Was the task completed? How long did it take? Was the navigation intuitive? Did they attempt to tap pictures that weren't links? Did they take the expected route? How fast did the pages load? Did it crash? Etc.

Testing for UX is more emotive, often personal to the individual, making it harder to measure. What may be a frustrating, tedious task for one, may not be for another.

Also the user may not be able to quantify why they preferred one site to another e.g. was is it the images, font, colors, navigation, content or a general look and feel? And it can be harder to design UX test without influencing the outcome.

What you test also depends on where you are in the process.

This might be:

A rough pen and paper design (see example pictured below from Nielsen Norman). A storyboard (a cartoon strip of the use journey – see this example from Userfocus). A prototype, using a mockup (wireframe) tool such as Axure and some creative trickery. A beta version of the site/app Using competitor sites/apps

How and where to conduct a user test

A previous column on identifying the needs of your mobile audience touched on the various ways to solicit user feedback – e.g. through surveys and focus groups and to track user behavior through heatmaps and web analytics.

This all provides valuable insights, but the king of user testing is being able to “watch” and “hear” how the user interacts with your site or app.

The tests can be conducted:

Remotely In person e.g. in your office

And will, arguably deliver better results when it is conducted in context:

On the user's own device In their own home In a store Doing a task they commonly perform e.g. shopping.

A common scenario for a user test would be: a camera (ideally a document camera) videos how the user interacts with the site/app on their device and sends this to a monitoring computer. This is often accompanied by the user describing what they are doing – known as thinking aloud.

The following image shows the user test set up recommended set up by Nielsen Norman.

The Home Depot's Brams:

Remote unmoderated usability testing can be done rapidly these days through services such as usertesting.com. The advantage of this is the speed which a test can be done.

However, in my opinion, nothing beats a one-to-one moderated usability study to help explain why issues may be occurring. The downside is you must think of all your questions and tasks beforehand. Live moderated sessions have the advantage of being both more organic as well as allows the researcher to probe deeper when you hear something of interest with follow up questions.

For longer term understanding you need to get out in the field and into users' homes to interview them, conduct shop-along studies or ethnographic research. This helps reveal when in their journey they use your site and where it fits into their thinking, planning and decision process. It also helps identify the trigger points that kick off a session or moments of truth where brand loyalty can be developed.

Analyzing the user research from lots of users can help you begin to truly understand their motivations, inspirations, and aspirations. From all this data you can produce useful artifacts such as customer journey maps and user personas. These can become tent poles to help anchor your design thinking.

Who and how many people to test with

One of the most important lessons in user testing is to keep it simple. Often conducting multiple short tests with a few participants will be more effective than expensive and complicated studies with large groups.

The other advantage of small user tests is it provides empirical proof to back up your pitch to senior management, explains Joe Pendlebury, mobile user experience consultant who has advised major UK retailers.

In usability testing sessions, I've found that you start to receive repetitive feedback with any more than five participants. Sometimes, even four is enough. Whilst face-to-face sessions are well-recommended, they are time-consuming to prepare, set up, facilitate and moderate. With remote user testing, you can have a test up and running, and be receiving feedback from participants, within minutes.

In addition, as these remote sessions are often recorded, you have visual feedback available on demand, to present back to internal stakeholders. This is an extremely powerful tool to have in your inventory, and can greatly help with decision-making, and seeking UX buy-in, at a much senior level (such as with C-level execs).

Often overlooked as a testing resource is the company's employees:

When you're looking at the same thing, day-in, day-out, it's easy to reach a point where you think you've found and addressed all the bugs you need to. Chances are, you've not even touched on half of them. That's where internal beta testing can come in handy.

Distribute what your build to internal employees and ask them to test the app/site on their device. Offering some sort of incentive (such as a £5 or £10 gift card for every previously unknown bug found) will drive participation in the program.

Test, test and test again

No test or testing method is infallible, which makes it imperative to have a number of testing methods in your arsenal.

The Home Depot's Brams:

An important aspect of testing is to take each finding with a grain of salt and employ multiple methods to look for patterns to get closer to the truth.

This is Part 15 of the ClickZ 'DNA of mobile-friendly web' series.  

Here are the recent ones:

Formulating the go-to market strategy for your mobile project How to market your mobile site or app without spending a fortune on ads The pros, cons and politics of hybrid mobile apps  Digital transformation: what it is and why it was the unofficial theme at MWC  Connected cars offer valuable opportunities for marketing your brand today Everything you need to know about building apps for connected cars Enterprise mobile apps: best practice tips and common mistakes to avoid
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Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift Super Sexy on Beach Vacation

Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift recently celebrated their one-year anniversary by taking a tropical beach vacation. The pics they shared from their trip feature the couple in their super sexy swimwear.

Although he didn't caption this one, Calvin Harris likely realized the photo required no words when he posted it to Instagram.

A photo posted by Calvin Harris (@calvinharris) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:07pm PDT

This shot features both Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris, and it looks like they're about to embark on a jet ski ride.

A photo posted by Calvin Harris (@calvinharris) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:14pm PDT

Calvin Harris caught Taylor Swift looking fine in her tiny bikini in this photo.

A photo posted by Calvin Harris (@calvinharris) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:19pm PDT

The "Style" singer shared a very sweet photo on her Instagram page, in which she referred to Calvin Harris by his real name--Adam Wiles.

Taylor Swift + Adam Wiles

A photo posted by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on Mar 15, 2016 at 5:02pm PDT

Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift began dating on March 6, 2015. Earlier in March he presented her with a gold locket with 3.6.2015--the actual date of their one-year anniversary--engraved on it.

Taylor Swift has dated Calvin Harris longer than any other man she's dated. Do you think the two are in this for the long run? Might Calvin Harris and Taylor Swift tie the knot one day?

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Sponsored: TradeKing.com $4.95 trades

Open a TradeKing Account and Get $100 in Free Trade Commissions, No Minimum Required!
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Sponsored: The 3 Week Diet

8 Rules of Fat Loss. Warning: Fast Results! Click Here to Watch Video...
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eBay CEO: We're Seeing The End of Retail As We Know It

UPDATE: After years of huge losses and store closings, Sears warned investors that it has "substantial doubt" it will stay in business. Sears also owns Kmart.

As noted here recently, the well-established retail giants have seen significant loses the past few years. This downward trend hit a breaking point at the close of the holiday shopping season in a way that will very likely alter the retail industry this year and forever.

"The fourth quarter of last holiday season was a really important moment," eBay CEO Devin Wenig told CNBC's "Closing Bell" from the Shoptalk Conference in Las Vegas. "I think it was an inflection point where that was the end of retail as we know it. And I do think the restructuring of this industry is going to happen faster than a lot of people think.... the fourth quarter is the moment that people will look back on and say, 'That's when the current structure of the industry was irretrievable.'"

Wening continues, "I'm not sure all the retailers are going to even make it, in a healthy economy, to this holiday season," Wenig said. "And I do think you are going to see drastic changes in store footprints and what stores do."

While the eCommerce industry saw another record holiday shopping season with gains over the previous year, retailers including JCPenny, Macy's, HHGregg and Sears have announced a large number of stores closings.

Wenig said he doesn't think stores are completely going away, but that stores must be a "mini distribution center" to succeed.

"I think the complete death of stores has been greatly exaggerated," Wenig said. "The consumer wants stores. The entire world will not be online. But there are both capacity and utility issues in retail. People don't like poor store experiences."

The post eBay CEO: We're Seeing The End of Retail As We Know It appeared first on WebProNews.

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Brand TLDs vs .com: why the world's biggest brands are making the switch to their own web extension

New Top-Level Domains (TLDs) are becoming more popular in the last couple of years, so here's everything you need to know about them.

Please note: this content is produced in association with Neustar.

What are New TLDs?

TLDs are the suffix component of domain names, and recent deregulation has seen legacy TLDs such as .com, .net or perhaps extensions such as .co.uk now facing competition from hundreds of new options that allow domain names to be created by consumers in extensions such as .club, .luxury or even .nyc for New Yorkers.

These changes have also paved the way for over 550 of the world's largest brands to apply for their own branded extensions – think .ibm instead of ibm.com – where IBM would own all the domains to the left hand side of the dot and create shorter, potentially more memorable URLs.

Who applied for a .brand TLD?

As a result of the hefty application fee (almost USD $200k), you can pretty much guess the types of organizations that have taken the plunge on this digital asset.

From tech giants such as .apple, .google and .microsoft, through to the majority of top tier banks such as .citi, .hsbc and .chase, the big end of town has secured these .brand TLDs.

Other notables include big players in retail (.walmart, .nike, etc.) automotive (.ford, .ferarri, etc.), sport (.nfl, .mlb and .nfl).

Why might .brand TLDs be so important?

.brand TLDs are quite a shift from the simple brand.com model that we're all accustomed to, but industry experts claim significant benefits both to marketers and to consumers.

These include greater flexibility in domain name selection, simplified calls to action in advertising and the ability to reduce reliance on third parties for customer acquisition such as social media or search.

However, for consumers perhaps the benefits aren't so clear and significant education is required.

One potential benefit for consumers is that .brand TLDs offer simplified navigation which we haven't seen in the online world since the halcyon days of Windows 2000. Back when websites had two or three navigation options each and you could find whatever you wanted within one or two clicks (assuming you knew how to get to a website that is) because websites were so much smaller.

Now even the best-designed corporate website has hundreds of products, variants, and geographic content presentation intricacies which have driven the significant growth in the use of search as the means of navigating the web.

But for large brands making this shift already, their hope is that .brand TLDs have the ability to allow us to simply add a 'dot' and get straight to what we want via domains such as jets.nfl or airmax.nike.

Examples of .brand TLDs

There are nearly 600 .brand TLDs and while many have not yet begun to use them in major advertising campaigns, there are numerous live examples on the web.

There are a number of household brands like Canon, which announced in May 2016 the launch of its own TLD, transitioning its existing “www.canon.com” domain to “global.canon”. Similarly showing technical leadership is European banking giant Barclays Bank which transitioned from www.barclays.com to www.home.barclays.

Other .brand TLD owners have begun their TLD usage in more measured steps, such as BMW who celebrated its 100th anniversary with the launch of a site championing its plans for the next 100 years of car design, cleverly located at www.next100.bmw.

Powerhouse digital organization Google applied for 101 TLDs including matches for the majority of its best known products like .gmail, .chrome, .youtube, .android and lots more. In late 2016, Google started rolling out domains like www.blog.google and www.environment.google as the first steps in its .brand TLD strategy.

Some organizations are also finding ways to introduce their .brand TLDs without transitioning or building new content, but still allowing for clearer, more memorable calls-to-action. An example of this is Microsoft, which has created the simplified domain www.surface.microsoft which redirects to the existing site at www.microsoft.com/en-ca/surface.

These are just a handful of the thousands of .brand domains currently being used but already trends are developing and some of the world's largest and most recognized organizations are beginning to innovate in the way they build domain names and use them in their marketing and digital strategies.

Stay tuned for part two of our introduction to .brand TLDs as we look deeper at the potential benefits of .brand TLDs and what they mean for the future of digital.

If you want to learn more, join our webinar hosted by ClickZ Intelligence, Neustar and other industry experts on 28th February. We will cover everything you need to know about branded TLDs, exploring their history, benefits, limitations implications and everything in between.

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11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

Why do you blog? You want your content to be discovered and read by as many people as possible, right?

But often your reach is limited. You're limited by the size of your existing audience.

Every day, people are bombarded with more content than they will ever have time to read. Most people are both incredibly busy and have the attention span of a goldfish (guilty on both counts!).

So how do you make your content go further and make sure lots of people read your stuff?

Image via Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn Pulse can help you do just that.

What Is LinkedIn Pulse?

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn's version of a personalized newsfeed. It is also available as a standalone app. Pulse allows users to see the biggest headlines and read top industry news of the day.

According to recent figures, LinkedIn has more than 1 million publishers; more than 150,000 posts are published every week; and the average post reaches LinkedIn members in 21 industries and nine countries.

You'll see a mix of curated content on LinkedIn Pulse:

Stories that people in your network and/or people in your industry have shared. Trending stories from your extended network. Posts from LinkedIn's publishing platform – including “Editor's Picks,” content written by influencers, publishers, and individuals.

We'll focus on the third type of content for the remainder of this post.

Why You Should Use LinkedIn Pulse

You should publish posts on LinkedIn for the same reason you publish content on your own site as well as third-party publications and blogs like Medium.

Exposure.

If you're going to invest time and money in creating content, you want it to be consumed.

By publishing content on LinkedIn, you're increasing the odds that more people will discover and read your content.

However, finding success on LinkedIn Pulse, like any other channel, requires a strategy.

You'll also have to put in the needed time and effort to make your investment worthwhile.

Depending on how many connections you have, the posts you publish on LinkedIn can easily get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousands views, on average.

But sometimes LinkedIn articles become unicorns – they can get 50,000, 100,000, or even millions of views.

Wish you could get that many views? You can!

Here are 11 hacks to help your content blast off like a rocket on LinkedIn Pulse.

1. Keep Your Titles Short

If your headline is too long, LinkedIn might truncate your title. That means people who are scrolling through the app or their newsfeeds will see only part of your headline.

Make your headline as concise as possible without neglecting important headline elements that increase clicks – such as using the right keywords, an emotional hook, and a promise (i.e., telling readers what they'll get out of reading your post).

2. Use an Eye-Catching Image

If your headline fails to do the trick, the second most important element that can persuade readers to click is your article image.

Definitely avoid using boring images in your content, such as:

Generic headshots. Company logos. Anything that will make a reader squint. Anything that screams “I'm a stock photo!” We've seen them all a thousand times before – the highway signs (Opportunity Ahead; Innovation, Next Exit), the happy and diverse business team working around the computer, and the business handshake of trust, to name just a few.

Here's a great example of an eye-catching image:

Now that's an image that stands out from the rest and makes we want to click!

3. Grow Your LinkedIn Connections

Every time you publish a post on LinkedIn, your connections will see an alert in their notifications.

But to really make ripples, you need a large audience of first-level connections.

For any of the stuff we're talking about throughout this post to really work, you'll need to make as many connections as you possibly can.

This means improving your LinkedIn profile (to sell yourself to potential connections) and expanding your LinkedIn network (this includes connecting to people you know as well as people you don't yet know).

Here's how to write the perfect LinkedIn connection request.

4. Publish Frequently

LinkedIn is a bit of a numbers game. You can't just publish a post once every six months. That won't help you.

I publish at least twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You should probably only publish on weekdays during work hours – LinkedIn is a professional network, so not much happens after hours or on the weekends.

My whole LinkedIn Pulse strategy is powered 100 percent by republished and syndicated content. I've never once originated a single piece just for LinkedIn.

Don't worry about duplicate content issues or the potential impact on organic search rankings if you pursue a content repurposing strategy. As long as you make it clear the article has been published before with a note that links to the original article, Google is good at figuring out which is the original source and which is the copy.

5. Get Featured on Channels

LinkedIn Pulse has more than 100 individual channels. Some of the most popular channels are for Leadership & Management, Big Ideas & Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Social Media.

Getting your posts featured in one of these channels is essential to success. Pulse exposes your content to a massive audience.

At most, you can have 25,000 connections on LinkedIn (though most people don't come anywhere close to this number). But these Pulse channels have millions of followers.

If you want a post you're writing to get featured in Social Media (and potentially be read by those 14 million channel followers), then spend some time looking at what types of stories get featured. Figure out what types of article you need to publish if you want a shot at being featured.

6. Do Some Old-School SEO

Content optimization is one super simple way to help get your content featured on a Pulse Channel.

To categorize your content, LinkedIn Pulse does an analysis of the text of your article.

This is like SEO tactics of the dark ages, when all you had to do was include your keyword in the title and use the right words a few times throughout the post.

7. Ask a Pulse Editor to Feature Your Story

Want to get a story featured on LinkedIn Pulse? Then you'll have to tweet at them.

Yes, seriously, you'll need to head to Twitter to get something featured on LinkedIn.

All you have to do is send a friendly tweet to @LinkedInPulse. Like so:

8. Give Your Post a Paid Boost

Although getting your post featured on a Channel is awesome, it isn't enough. You need to help your post go red hot.

After your content gets attached to the channel, you need to quickly drive lots of traffic to it. This will help push your post to top of channel, as opposed to being just listed on the channel in fifth position (or wherever it ends up being shown).

You have to get to the top spot. How?

Spend a few bucks (no more than $50) on Facebook and Twitter promoted posts. This will help quickly drive lots of traffic to your LinkedIn post.

The LinkedIn Pulse algorithm will reward your content if your post generates a bunch of traffic and engagement within a few minutes.

The best part? You don't have to pay to drive traffic for long. The social media ads will simply act as a catalyst.

Once your social media ads have helped your article get to the top, the traffic will be self-sustaining for a while as LinkedIn's users go to their favorite Channel to see what's trending.

9. Promote Your LinkedIn Page

Although you're limited to having 25,000 connections on LinkedIn, there is no limit on how many followers you can have.

What you should do is promote your LinkedIn page from other pieces of content.

For example, are you linking to your LinkedIn profile from your Twitter profile? That's just one way you can help amplify your LinkedIn presence.

Think about it: you're getting thousands of profile visits on Twitter every month. Even if only a small percentage of those click on the link to your LinkedIn profile, it increase the odds of further amplification on the network.

10. Repost Content

LinkedIn won't penalize you for reusing the same content you've already published on their platform. There are no duplicate content filters.

If a post you published didn't generate any engagement a few months ago, and you think it should have done much better, why not publish it again?

There are two things you should change, however: your title and image. Most likely, your old headline was too boring or your image wasn't interesting. Now you know better!

11. Only Syndicate Your Unicorns

Not every piece of content you write belongs on LinkedIn. So don't syndicate everything – especially if you're publishing more than two articles per week around the web.

Focus on your best stuff. Only use content that performed remarkably well elsewhere, whether it generated a lot of traffic for your blog or engagement on another social network.

Your best content has already proven itself on one platform. That means it has a higher probability of doing well on LinkedIn as well.

TL;DR

If you aren't yet using LinkedIn as part of your content strategy, you definitely should. Use these 11 hacks to use the LinkedIn Pulse algorithm to your advantage and send your content into outer space.

By the way, one other platform that will help your content go further is Medium. The strategy for getting your content to trend is kind of the same for both places. However, one thing I like a little more about Medium is that it's more of meritocracy – there are no anointed Influencers.

Have you tried LinkedIn Pulse yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

This article was orginally published on the Wordstream blog and it's repeated with permission

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Facebook is bringing its Audience Network to television

By some estimates, Google and Facebook are capturing upwards of 80% of every new dollar spent on digital advertising.

But with the pool of dollars spent on television ads still being slightly greater than the pool of dollars spent on digital ads, it's no surprise that both companies are trying to find ways to tap into television ad budgets.

This week, Facebook's efforts in this area will enter a new frontier, as the world's largest social network will begin delivering video ads to consumers using over-the-top TV devices like Apple TV and Roku.

As Recode, which broke the news of Facebook's initiative, observed, the company's effort could bring a new level of targeting to ads in this space.

“That's because Facebook can use the same targeting data that powers the rest of its advertising network to the set-top boxes, even though those apps aren't directly connected to Facebook.”

Facebook's connected TV ads will be delivered through the company's Audience Network, which was launched in 2014 as “a new way for advertisers to extend their campaigns beyond Facebook and into other mobile apps.”

In effect, Audience Network is Facebook's version of Google AdSense, and it's an increasingly important asset for Facebook as it addresses ad load challenges that could become a real problem in 2017.

Facebook has partnered with A+E and Tubi TV to deliver ads in their apps. Initially, it won't sell inventory to marketers. Instead, it will serve up house ads for Facebook services or nonprofits it works with.

To target ads, Facebook will use the IP addresses of connected TV devices to identify the Facebook accounts that are likely associated with those devices.

Success is not guaranteed

While Facebook's targeting capabilities will obviously be attractive to marketers and content owners alike, it remains to be seen whether the company's efforts to stake out a position in the market for over-the-top TV devices will be successful.

As AdAge points out, Facebook shuttered LiveRail, the video ad exchange it purchased for half a billion dollars two years ago. And Facebook will almost certainly find itself competing with the makers of the over-the-top TV devices themselves, such as Apple.

So while Facebook's Audience Network seems like it has the makings of a contender in the space, the battle over television ad budgets will be hard fought.

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Pinterest Grows to 150 Million Users, Up 50 Million in Last Year

Pinterest continues to grow in popularity, having gone from 100 Million monthly users in September 2015 to 150 million today. Pinterest is also losing its status as a platform that is primarily for women, with men now making up 40% of all users, which is a 70% increase over last year. Even more amazing is that over 50% of all millennials in the US are now on Pinterest!

"As a Pinner once said to me, “Pinterest is for yourself, not your selfies”-I love that," said Ben Silbermann, CEO & Co-Founder of Pinterest. "Pinterest is more of a personal tool than a social one. People don't come to see what their friends are doing. (There are lots of other great places out there for that!) Instead, they come to Pinterest to find ideas to try, figure out which ones they love, and learn a little bit about themselves in the process."

He added, "Personally I can't wait to see what new ideas all these people bring to Pinterest, and find out what happens when they give those ideas a try. Thank you all so much for being here...each and every one hundred and fifty million of you!"

Pinterest is a Huge Business Marketing Opportunity

The company also noted that Pinterest now provides 10 billion recommendations daily, more than 150 million visual searches happen monthly, and there are more than 1 million businesses on the service with “tens of thousands” actively advertising.

They say that they now have over 75 billion pins and an amazing 75% of them were posted by businesses.

"Growing the number of people on Pinterest by 50% over the last year is pretty impressive especially when you consider that Pinterest is more a personal tool than a social one," said Jon Kaplan, Head of Global Sales for Pinterest. "People don't invite all their friends to join, and they don't log in to see what their friends are doing (there are lots of other great places out there for that!). Instead, they come to Pinterest to discover and do the things they love, and learn a little bit more about themselves in the process."

Pinterest is now able to offer marketers precise information what products people are searching for the most and who those people are and they are willing to let marketers link into that data.

"With so many people around the world saving and searching for ideas on Pinterest, we now know more about what's trending-and with which audiences-than anyone else," says Kaplan. "As a business, this means you have millions of new opportunities to connect your ideas and products to the people who are most interested in giving them a try."

Marketing with Pinterest

Pinterest is a unique marketing opportunity for both large and small businesses. Pinterest can be used as a traffic driver like many other search and social platforms, but Pinterest can also uniquely be used to inspire and engage audiences with your brand.

Babylist, a unique baby registry service that allows you to put anything on your registry from ANY store, used Pinterest to rapidly grow brand awareness and engagement with their exact targeted audience. To reach the 43 million people on Pinterest preparing for a baby, BabyList optimized their website for Pinterest and included Pin-worthy content in every blog post from the start, according to the Pinterest ad team.

"We were surprised at just how many new registries Pinterest drove for us," said Brittany Murlas, former CMO of Babylist. "I would describe our overall success on Pinterest in two words: Explosive growth."

According to Pinterest, within the first 5 months of using Promoted Pins, they saw a 70% increase in account signups and a 40% increase in revenue and heir content has been saved by more than 50,000 people to baby-specific boards.

What's Next for Pinterest?

According to Kaplan, Pinterest is evolving into a "truly worldwide (platform), with more men, more ideas and more sophisticated technologies to help get the right ideas to the right people.

The post Pinterest Grows to 150 Million Users, Up 50 Million in Last Year appeared first on WebProNews.

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How to Fight Our Caveman Impulses to Create a Positive Customer Experience

This is not your granddad's customer service advice says Adam Toporek, author of the book, Be Your Customer's Hero: Real World Tips and Techniques for the Service Front Lines. Toporek recently was on C-Suite TV where he talked about how organizations should train and motivate their front-line employees in order to increase sales.

Front-line employees are the employees that are the first to deal with customers such as the cashier, those working on the service floor or anyone dealing with customers face to face in the store, phone or email. It's the first level of dealing with the customer at the lowest level in the organization.

Motivate, Don't Educate

I think education is really focused on imparting knowledge. With front-line employees knowledge isn't enough, you need to be showing them how to use that knowledge and showing them how to understand their own feelings and their own emotions. The motivational part is actually about getting them confident with the tools and the techniques so they feel more motivated to want to go out and do a good job.

A lot of front-line employees really have difficulty with the challenges of front-line service. And when they do they sort of turtle up and shell in and you want to bring them out of that and give them that confidence.

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience

Customer experience is the entire journey, the entire experience a customer has with the organization. Customer experience involves a marketing piece they may get or an email, it's not just a point in time. Customer service in the traditional lens is a part of customer experience. It's more about that one to one interaction and helping to serve you in the moment.

But that may not be the entire experience. Let's say I'm working at a bookstore and I'm behind the counter, the customer service would be while I'm helping you. Customer experience may be were the isles cleaned, were they neat and organized? All of that feeds the experience or as we talked about the customer journey.

Mentality and Mindset

Mentality and mindset is what I really wish I knew and understood when I was young and on the front-lines. Not only understanding the customers mindset but what makes them tick and why they do what they do. Also my own mindset, why am I taking something personally, why can't I depersonalize the situation, why am I getting upset when I don't need to be? So many front-line people, they're not experienced in the world or in business in a lot of cases and they don't have these skills and this lens on how we all think.

We Still Have Caveman Brains

If you look at it from the standpoint of experience, what does every experience have in common? The are all filtered through this imperfect organ called the human brain, so it behooves us to understand how that human brain works. The good news is that we live in the golden age of psychology. We've learned more about neuroscience and what makes humans tick in the last few decades than we have probably ever known before. The bad news is what we have learned is that we are all basically irrational. Our mind is designed to take shortcuts.

If you look at sociology, society, digital technology, all of these things have evolved very rapidly, but our brains have evolved pretty slowly. We still have, unfortunately, caveman brains which are designed to make snap judgements to survive. These snap judgements aren't that firm when it comes to customer experience.

Making Our Caveman Brains Work For Us

Here's how you can apply these principals to customer experience. We've all heard of first impressions and their is a ton of research on first impressions and they all basically say the same thing. No matter what the study is, first impressions happen subconsciously and they happen very quickly.

There is another principal called confirmation bias and that is the principal that we all want to be right, which is why politics is so much fun. What we do is ignore the evidence that tells us we're wrong and we accept the evidence that tells us we are right. When you combine those two things that's an important factor when you are designing a customer experience. You take a first impression and you combine that with confirmation bias and what do you have? You have a bad first impression and you are already in the hole.

The human brain is trying to tell them that that first impression and what they already believe is correct. Similarly, there is something called negativity bias which is why the evening news always leads with something like 'your microwave is going to kill you'. We are attuned to negative information, we are always looking to what's a threat. We give more credence to negative information than to positive information, meaning if you give a bad experience it is going to be weighted heavier than a positive experience.

What I find fascinating from a customer experience standpoint is that you can use all these psychological principals and evaluate each touch point, each place where you come in contact with a customer and say how are we violating them, how are we prepared if we set those off? How are we prepared to deal with that or our team trained for that?

The Customer is the Customer

Customers can not only be wrong, they can be nuts and mean at times, all kinds of different things. The problem with the traditional concept of 'the customer is always right' is that the principal behind it got lost and the phrase carried over. That was from a time that their wasn't customer service and they were trying to teach people that the customer is valuable, their opinion is valuable.

We try to look at it as the customer is the customer. That means that you and the customer are not on the same level. It's called customer service and we are there to serve the customer. They are our focus and they are not there to give to us. They should be decent of course and there are some lines they shouldn't cross, but big picture, it's customer service and we're there to serve.

We know what a customer is in modern times and if you are a customer centric organization, what you are doing, your actions, your processes, your systems should all be revolving around the customer.

The post How to Fight Our Caveman Impulses to Create a Positive Customer Experience appeared first on WebProNews.

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Are remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) the future of PPC?

Paid search is a pretty awesome channel, but it's not without its challenges.

As the chart below illustrates, the cost per click (CPC) in certain highly competitive verticals can get super expensive – we're talking more than $100 per click in some cases, for industries like law and finance.

(This is Bing data, but it's a similar story in AdWords.)

Another challenge is that conversion rates really haven't changed much in 15 years, whether you're selling washing machines or alarm clocks. It's around 2.5%.

Finally, we know that desktop search query volume peaked in 2013 and that more searches are happening on the smaller, more competitive screens of mobile devices.

As marketers, we want to get more for less. We want more conversions and we want them to cost less so we can maximize our profits, right?

I frequently get emails like this:

Larry, how do you make money with PPC today?

If my cost per click goes from $1.50 to $4 with a Quality Score of 9 or 10, and it takes 75 to 100 clicks to make a sale, the cost of acquisition goes from $150 to $400. I can't believe I'm the only one in this boat!

Is there a way we can overcome these big challenges – knowing that in the near future search, inventory will remain flat, CPCs will keep being expensive, and conversion rates won't change? Can businesses in competitive industries stay the course? Is there a way we can turn this ship around and make sure we get more for less?

Will RLSA save the day?

With RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) you tailor your paid search campaigns based on whether users have previously visited your website (or app) and which pages they viewed.

So is RLSA the superhero technology we've been waiting for? Let's look at some data.

In this account, we can see two campaigns that have the exact same keywords. It's just that one is targeted to existing site visitors (through remarketing) and the other is targeted to new visitors.

Notice how the RLSA campaign has a third the cost per conversion ($36 vs. $100)? That's because that audience is already familiar with your brand.

See how the click-through-rate (CTR) for RLSA is double (4.8 percent vs. 2.2 percent)? That's because they're familiar with your brand.

And notice how the average CPC for RLSA is about half as expensive ($1.45 instead of $2.80)? That's because of the higher Quality Score (in turn because of the higher CTR).

This is all very interesting. You have this technology that basically lets you find the conversions and clicks from people who are going to click through at twice the rate, half the costs, and triple the conversion rate.

Awesome, right?! Well…

RLSA may be super, but it's no hero

There's one problem: RLSA doesn't create new volume. It actually cuts volume substantially. You're only getting about a tenth of the volume.

And to make things worse, if you look at the previous month, RLSA added nothing in terms of total conversions (245 this month vs. 250 last month).

Looked at in these terms, RLSA is kind of a shell game. It's segmenting the cheap conversions out of a bucket of conversions that used to include both cheap conversions and expensive conversions.

You're just cherry-picking the 10% of cheap conversions out of the pile you would've gotten anyway, and looking at them in isolation. It's all well and good to get those conversions, but you're still basically stealing all the cheap conversions from your existing campaigns.

While this may be interesting if you're limited by budget (e.g., you only have $100 to spend), most marketers want to see more quantity at better costs. RLSA delivers on cost savings, but it actually cuts down on the amount of conversions. It's almost like all you're doing is applying a repeat visitor vs. new visitor segmentation on your conversion set.

So what's a marketer to do?

The ridiculously awesome new way forward

So we all know the issues with RLSA.

But what's the solution?

What follows won't be a solution for everyone. This applies only to certain verticals that have very high CPCs where there's a lot of competition and where conversion rates are challenging. This strategy will be especially game-changing if you've got a small marketing budget and you want to make sure that budget goes as far as possible.

The crazy new idea is to only do RLSA and completely forget about doing unbranded vanilla search ads.

Then, use the power of social media ads to dramatically – I'm talking 10x to 100x – increase the size of your cookie pools.

If you can increase the size or your remarketing pool by 10x, then it stands to reason that you'll get 10x more conversions. That means instead of getting only 10 conversions, you'll get 1,000!

This is an abridged version of Larry Kim's post as published on WordStream, for more information visit Larry's blog.

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Homeland Security To Subpoena Techdirt.com Over Article Comment

Techdirt published a story Wednesday about an Arab man being pulled over by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBC) in Indiana, seizing $240,000 and then refusing to give it back. A reader calling himself "Digger" posted a comment that caught the attention of CBC because it vaguely suggested the death of their agents.


As everyone knows comments on the internet are often over the top and full of hyperbole, as Techdirt pointed out in an article today where they also wrote about being called by the CBC over the identity of Digger. They were told that they will be served a subpoena demanding the information.

This raises a lot of questions about governments relationship with the media, the right of a news publication to protect the anonymity of its commenters and what constitutes a real threat. To me, it was just the commenter blowing off steam and was not a real threat. After all, he didn't say that he was going to shoot an agent, he inferred that the man who is suing the government probably knows people who would. I think it was a stupid and foolish comment considering he's talking about government agents, and because of that it is serious.

However, the CBC in my opinion should be able to see that his comment wasn't an actual threat and therefore isn't worth their time. My two cents.

The post Homeland Security To Subpoena Techdirt.com Over Article Comment appeared first on WebProNews.

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Our #1 Best-Selling Drone--Meet the Dark Night of the Sky!
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How understanding psychology can help increase ecommerce sales

There is a constant struggle for ecommerce brands to identify the consumers’ needs and fill them in the most appropriate way, therefore any strategies to achieve it are always welcome.

It’s not a new method to turn to human psychology to create a better design and user experience, as it offers valuable insights about a brand’s target audience, its thinking and its criteria for purchasing decisions.

Image by Gerd Altmann, CC0

Every human being may be unique, but we can still observe how a series of psychological triggers affect a consumer’s purchasing habits.

How do we decide which brand to trust in a web that is full of options?

The analysis of several different ecommerce sites helped us determine the most common psychological patterns that may lead to increased sales, provided that they are used in an appropriate way.

Urgency

The fear of missing out (also known as F.O.M.O.) is real and it creates an urge to stay up-to-date, even at unrealistic levels. Ecommerce sites often use the psychological trigger of urgency, in order to speed up a user’s purchasing decision.

When there’s a countdown of existing stock, or an offer for a limited time, consumers feel the need to hurry up and claim the deal before it disappears.

It’s the loss aversion that leads to an increase of sales, provided that it’s presented in a timely, relevant way.

Social Proof

Human beings are social by nature and tend to rely on the power of the community.

As consumers tend to adopt a natural distrust towards branded promotion, it turns out to be more effective to promote a site, a product, or an offer with the help of a social ambassador, or even a group of everyday people that want to share their experience with others.

Ecommerce sites should embrace the social recognition and the influence a consumer’s opinion may stimulate, by showcasing reviews, endorsements, or any opinion that may increase trust.

Reviews don’t have to be perfect, as this is not necessarily convincing the user to rely upon them. In fact, a review that even mentions a negative point is considered more realistic, and thus, it’s more appreciated by users.

Authority

As with social proof, the trigger of authority builds trust between a brand and a user, this time by focusing more on the experts’ opinion and their reviews for a product.

The opinion of an expert may serve as the push for a hesitant user and that’s why an ecommerce site should seek for such endorsements.

What’s more, it is often common for ecommerce sites to increase trust by displaying the logos of their prestigious collaborations, which makes it even better when the logos are easily recognisable and appreciated among users.

Reciprocation

Engagement is a long sought goal for brands and it’s not easy to achieve it without being appealing (and relevant) to users.

The trigger of reciprocation is about rewarding people that turn into customers with further special offers and gifts that will motivate them to create a bonding with a brand. After all, every business is looking for a serious and long-term relationship with customers and loyalty is the key to the success.

Commitment is an additional trigger that entices people to try out a brand’s product, whether it’s a free trial or an offer, with the hope to turn the trial into a sale.

The user acknowledges that the acceptance of a gift, or a sample, is the first step to potential commitment, providing that the product meets the expectations.

Thus, there is reciprocation once again, with the satisfied customer feeling the need to give back to the brand, either by buying a product, or by promoting it through social media. In either case, it’s a win for the brand.

Community spirit

People are naturally seeking to be part of a community, a group sharing the same interests, beliefs, and ideas with them and this sense of inclusion makes them feel more confident about their perception of the world.

This psychological trigger helps people feel closer to a brand that understands them and makes it easier for them to invest in its products.

Weekend Society for example is a clothing company which heavily relies on its community and everyone fascinated by the idea of wanderlust.

According to its about section:

“Weekend Society is devoted to the wanderers, the wild ones, and those who believe there is still a bit of mystery in the world.”

The trigger gets even stronger when signing up to the newsletter, by calling for all the weekenders to find their “weekend state of mind.”

At that point, a visitor who wants to feel part of the community will subscribe to the newsletter, feeling happy to be part of this group of people.

Offering the right number of choices

It’s easy to present an unlimited number of products, waiting for people to pick their favourite ones, but it’s easier to make consumers feel paralysed by the large number of choices, which will lead them to abandon the purchasing process.

People are not comfortable with decisions that involve numerous options and a complicated process, and that’s why it’s important to focus on the psychology of the user and the design which will enhance the consumer’s experience as much as possible.

See for example the page below. There are so many psychological triggers in just one page that the results may not be as effective as they hoped they’d be.

How about mastering one strategy at a time instead of applying them altogether?

Test, test, and test

A brand will only understand the consumer’s psychology through constant testing, examining all the parameters that could increase the sales in the most organic and effective way.

Even if a trigger seems to work at some point, its success may be temporary, which creates the need to further investigate the nature of the human psychology and the methods it can be studied in order to benefit an ecommerce business.

Going beyond psychology

The application of psychology to ecommerce marketing and design may lead to impressive results, but this doesn’t mean that it’s capable of increasing sales with a magical wand.

It is important to integrate psychological triggers to the wider user experience and marketing efforts, always placing consumers at the centre of attention.

Thus, it’s a  proper understanding of the target audience, along with the right use of all necessary triggers, that will gradually lead to an increase in sales.

You can learn more about acquiring customers at our new two-day event Shift, taking place in London on 24 – 25 May 2016. Book your place today.

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Alaska Airlines Applies To Add Flights To Cuba

Alaska Airlines has joined several other American airlines in seeking to fill the travel void between the US and Cuba.

Since President Obama's efforts to re-establish a relationship with Cuba after nearly half a century of tension, many airlines are happy to try to get their brand in Cuba.

John Kirby, Alaska Airlines vice president of capacity planning, said in an Alaska Airlines press release, "Together with our 14 global partner airlines, Alaska Airlines offers more than 110 nonstop destinations from Los Angeles."

It continued, "As the largest West Coast-based airline, we're well positioned to offer our customers convenient access to one of the Caribbean's most popular destinations."

From our past. To our future. #iFlyAlaska #AvGeek #flywithahappyface

A photo posted by Alaska Airlines (@alaskaair) on Feb 23, 2016 at 8:01pm PST

Alaska Airlines has proposed two daily flights to and from Cuba.

At least eight airlines have submitted applications to add flights to Cuba, including Alaska Airlines.

Taking you from Rose City to the Midwest. We launched new flights to Kansas City, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Omaha today! : Port of Portland #FlyPDX #AvGeek #iFlyAlaska #Skywest

A photo posted by Alaska Airlines (@alaskaair) on Feb 18, 2016 at 6:35pm PST

Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Silver Airways have all applied to add stops in Cuba.

However, those who have actually been there and experienced traveling to Cuba might contend that Cuba isn't quite ready for wave after wave of new tourists.

For example, Julio Ortiz, who left Cuba in the late 90's and now visits every once in a while said that in December he traveled back to Cuba and things didn't go real smoothly.

He said, “We’re talking about chaos.”

Roses are red. Violets are blue. We look forward to flying with you! Happy Valentine's Day!

A photo posted by Alaska Airlines (@alaskaair) on Feb 14, 2016 at 8:46am PST

He continued, “There’s not enough infrastructure in Cuba that can handle more than 100 flights a day. It’s impossible. All the tourists are going to go — once.”

That doesn't sound like something the normal American tourist would be too eager to deal with.

What do you think about Alaska Airlines and other major carriers wanting to expand into Cuba?

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