What We Can Learn from the Death of Facebook’s Sponsored Results

Farewell, Facebook Sponsored Results… we barely knew you. Although these ads were first launched in August 2012, Facebook is decided to pull the plug. In an official statement from Facebook:

In keeping with the goal of streamlining our ad products, starting in July, advertisers will no longer be able to buy sponsored results. We’ve seen that most marketers were buying sponsored results to advertise their apps and games, and we already offer mobile app install ads and page post link ads on desktop to achieve these same goals.

From the very start, there were strong supporters and opponents of having ads in searches. Some said that the ads were destined to fail, while some businesses saw small success from early campaigns. Here are a few things we can learn from Facebook’s efforts:

The Need to Monetize
Like their archenemy, Google, Facebook’ success is based on advertising. Although Facebook is free to use, users can expect some degree of advertising as the price of using the social networking site. The debate comes when asking the question when is there too much advertising? Facebook has seemed to have answered that question because not only were Sponsored Results killing the user experience, but they were failing to monetize these ads effectively.

Listen to Customers
Users were already complaining about inundated with regular Facebook ads. It’s another thing to take that next step and begin to integrate these sponsored advertisements into their social feed and search results.

Advertisers (aka the money makers) were also failing to see the right amount of ROI on Facebook Ads. And this doesn’t just go for small businesses. Big companies like GM have openly commented about how Facebook Ads weren’t a right fit for their marketing mix.

Testing is Important
Facebook’s next step involves developing new and better formats for ads so that they are fully able to take advantage of the new Graph Search. Another reason Facebook’s Sponsored Results didn’t work well as its other ads is that it wasn’t targeted to each specific user but rather, what they happened to type in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Without trying, you’ll never know what you can achieve. This isn’t a post to toot Facebook’s horn but rather, a takeaway for the complicated world of paid ads. Facebook took a risk with Sponsored Results but knew when to end the ads because they weren’t working out for users or businesses. The key is knowing when to stop and move on to something bigger and better. And as Albert Einstein once said, “You never fail until you stop trying”.

Elevating Your E-Commerce Site

Many times, there are misconceptions that there aren’t a lot of things you can do to improve your e-commerce site. Sites with many products might have difficulty looking beyond their products and at their actual site. Focusing on the basics, here are some things you can do elevate your site:

Make Contact Forms Appealing – Have you thought about getting rid of some unnecessary fields in your forms? Having less clutter can help improve your contact forms’ conversion rate as this study shows, up to almost 50%! For example, did you know that about 50% of top 100 retailers ask customers for the same information twice?! Additionally, fewer fields can also help establish trust as your customers don’t feel like you’re invading their privacy and only gathering relevant/necessary information.

Utilize User-Generated Content (UGC) – Reviews, testimonials, product reviews, Q&A are types of content that you can easily add throughout your e-commerce site. These snippets can be added via microformat codes to be integrated into search results or they can have their own dedicated section. Having UGC is yet another way to boost credibility and enhance the consumer experienced.

Make it Easy to Link to – If you’re on a retail site, it’s not unusual to see “ahwe3&67xjshw=” and other characters in the URL. Whenever possible, it’s important to have SEO-friendly URLS. This helps with users bookmark your site and encourages sharing, whether it’s via Facebook, Pinterest or even e-mail.

Improve Security – Security is an important issue when it comes to online shopping. Many people are afraid of having their contact information or even credit card information stolen. Unfortunately nowadays, this is becoming more of a pressing issue. There are some necessary steps you need to take in order to ensure your customers’ security like: using SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate, never automatically storing credit card information and using reliable a checkout gateway (like Paypal and Google
Checkout). Having prominent disclaimers showcasing your security is up to date is equally important.

KISS – In the end, this applies to most of the elements of your e-commerce site (or any website for that matter). Elements like your main navigation, search bar, check out process, and method for collecting contact info is crucial. But sometimes, even the most important elements can be overlooked.  There are ways to cut down on this clutter to ensure a smoother and more efficient shopping experience and all it takes is an audit through the eyes of a customer. Keep it simple, stupid!

What Can Your Business Learn from 2012’s Super Bowl Ads?

Did you catch the big game this weekend? Whether you’re in it for the actual game, the food or the half-time show, the advertisements have become a spectacle of their own. Here are 5 commercials and some lessons you can learn from each:

Doritos
Doritos is known for making funny and memorable commercials and this one doesn’t disappoint. Well, unless you’re more of a cat person… This ad combined humor with product placement in all the right places. Lesson learned: Keep your ads short and to the point – customers will remember!

Samsung
Samsung has made fun of “urban camping” before, it what others have called their anti-iPhone ads. This latest ad showcases a larger screen and some cool looking stylus pen, all celebrated in an over the top style. The down point of this product highlight is that they should’ve shown more about then pen and show viewers that it’s not just a regular stylus. Lesson learned: You can make fun of the competition but make sure that your product can stand up to your talk!

Honda CRV
Nostalgia, anyone? This ad received a lot of buzz and mostly positive reviews. It showcases some pretty cool car features, as well as a possible Ferris Bueller sequel. Lesson learned: people love the 80’s and familiar faces.

Toyota
While this commercial tried hard to push “reinvention”, the ad itself did very little to show viewers what was so new about the car. I think ads like this spend too much time on the creative aspect and not enough on sealing the deal with hard facts… or even product details for that matter. Lesson learned: A commercial can’t be considered effective if it does little to remind customers why they should use your product.

Go Daddy
According to critics, this ad ranks dead last. When these commercials first came out, the point was to be sexy, shocking and provocative. But for the past couple of years, this schtick isn’t doing it for viewers anymore. Lesson learned: Don’t beat a dead horse. If your edgy angle is no longer working, it’s time to think of something else. Nowadays, I think these commercials make the company look very lame and outdated. Anyone else with me?

What were your favorite and least favorite commercials? Check them all out here on Mashable and feel free to share your favorite online viral marketing campaign with us.

3 Things to Think About Before Launching a New Site

emarketed portfolioAs exciting a new website launch sounds, it requires a lot of time, research and communication on your part! You don’t have to limit yourself to just 3 questions, or these 3 specifically, but it will help to have a list that you can look to when thinking about your new site.

Do I need to integrate seo web design? – Search optimization isn’t something that just comes later, after the design and building process. Make sure that you understand the SEO capability of your site as it’s being built so that all the necessary elements can be added during or immediately after the design aspect is completed. Think of SEO as an ongoing campaign and not something that just done at the beginning of the website building process, such as the design.

Do you know your customers and what they want? – Do you know your target demographic? Once you’re able to answer this question, you’ll get a better idea of what content will best suit their needs. Remember, there are many trends such as QR codes and even certain social media sites. Will your customers even use these functions? Just because it exists doesn’t mean that you should use it. Case in point: QR codes have been spotted on the BACK of moving buses. Talk about a quick response!

What do I want my customers to do? Remember that your website has to have a point. Do you want to push calls, newsletter signups or contact form submissions? Make it clear so that customers know how to complete the action, but don’t be so pushy that they feel overwhelmed and leave. A good example is Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout blog. If anyone is familiar with it, it used to just be a marketing blog about different topics. Now, a re-vamp as focused the calls-to-action and has made users more familiar with Neil’s services and his other companies.

What type of website do I need? This depends entirely on your industry and business model. If you’re selling goods, an ecommerce store is the way to go. For services, information is key. Feel free to browse competitor sites or even look at our portfolio to see what kind of website will best suit your business.

Whatever questions you decide to use for pre-launch, remember to take that list back out and evaluate it post-launch. There are always things you can use to improve the customer experience and these seemingly simple questions can be the basis of marking your progress!