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”.

X Marks the Spot: Where to Put Contact Forms

Conversions, customers and contact forms go hand in hand (in hand). The worst thing you can do is to not show any contact information all. The next worst thing is to put your contact form in a bad spot that hinders user experience.

When it comes to contact forms, you have plenty of options and can even choose a combination:

Pop-ups: These can either be really effective or really annoying. Barging in on a visitor who has just landed is extremely distracting. It might even encourage them to leave. On the other hand, there are different options to choose from… such as, contact forms (or third party live chat windows) that slowly fade into the screen after a visitor has been on the page for X amount of time.

The advantage of this is that you can even review Analytics for time spent on page and adjust when the contact form pops up to retain more visitors.

Header: Having a contact form at the top of the page is helpful because it’s the most logical place people will look. At the same time, it is also taking up space for something else that could be more important. Make sure to keep in mind what language you use, as it’s one of the first things visitors will see if it’s at the top. (“Contact Us”, “Submit”, “Send” etc.)

Sidebar: Contact forms in this space are often smaller than in the header or on a page of its own. This is perfect for a simple, short contact form that requires minimal information. Perhaps, it’s just a small form for a Newsletter Signup or to request a free download. Even though these aren’t technically contact forms, they’re still helpful ways to provide useful information to relevant visitors.

Footer: Contact forms at the bottom of the page often serve as a reminder to visitors to make contact before leaving. It can be helpful or overly aggressive and cluttered, depending on your design. Like the sidebar contact form, make sure to keep it short and sweet if you’re just trying to capture some of those straying visitors.

Dropdown menus: Sometimes, contact (or evaluation) forms are rather lengthy or require space for open ended questions. In this case, you’ll want to to keep the form on a page of its own. It’s still important to have this information in an easy-to-find place in your drop down menu. You can also use a short footer or sidebar contact form if you still include something that’s visible on every single page.

There’s no one “best” place to put your contact form. You can test different forms on similar pages, use eye tracking studies, or even ask for feedback to find out what your customers like. What’s your personal preference on contact pages? Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about forms, conversions or SEO friendly web design.

Yelp! I Need Somebody (Help, Not Just Anybody)

Customer reviews and testimonials have always been important and Yelp is one of the first sites that come to mind. Potential customers may visit your Yelp page even before they come to your website or place of business. Here are some tips to help with reviews:

Make it easy for customers to find your business on Yelp by officially claiming it and filling it with all the right information and categories. Name, address and phone number changes could lead to duplicate listings, which is confusing.

Add your listing to crucial places like your website, Facebook profile, email signature and more. Also add stickers and decals on your windows, counter etc.

Encourage natural customer reviews. This means absolutely no fake reviews, incentives or compensation. Yelp’s filter is good at detecting and hiding fake or suspicious reviews.

Reach out to active and power users. Like the title of this post suggests, getting a positive Yelp review is great. But ideally, you don’t want just anyone to leave a review. And there’s a good reason too. If a n00b signs up for a Yelp account and leaves your business a positive review (and no reviews for other businesses), it might not even show up due to Yelp’s filter. If possible, you want those good reviews to come from someone who has authority in the local community and influence across different social networking sites.

Although this sounds difficult, it’s where being a business owner helps. Encourage Yelp check-ins for specials and coupons, this way, you can actually interact with customers and dig a little deeper to find out if they’re active on Yelp. Providing excellent service is key regardless.

Don’t appear too desperate or pushy for reviews. Instead, create open engagement by encouraging happy customers (and hopefully active users) to visit your Yelp page.

Stay on top of the mobile game. If you’ve used Yelp’s phone app, you’ll know that the “local” aspect isn’t completely accurate. Most of the time, top reviewed business listings will get preference, unless you specifically set the filter to display businesses by physical location.

Helpful Articles:
What We Can Learn About Taking Criticism & Reputation Management
Yelp in Your Words: Negative Review? Stop, Drop and Roll
- 11 Things You Didn’t Know About Yelp
5 Tips To Get More Online Customer Reviews
Buy Reviews on Yelp, Get Black Mark

How the Year of the Snake Can Help You Better Understand Your Business

Happy Lunar New Year! 2013 is the year of the snake and there is much to learn, even if you’re not a big believer in the zodiac or astrology! Take this as a moment to pause and think of all the great things that are in store for your website, business and life in this upcoming year.

For people born on a year of the snake, strengths include:
Skill at communicating by saying very little:
This can translate well when it comes to website copy. Say what you mean concisely and don’t mislead visitors by throwing in filler.

A rational and logical approach to problems:
Last year was a tumultuous year for SEO and who knows what this year will bring. This trait will help you stay calm if your site encounters problems and coming up with a logical plan of action instead of stressing for no reason.

Great perception and understanding of themselves:
A deep understanding of your business and mission statement will help you better serve customers and keep them coming back for more. The last thing you want to convey to potential customers is that your business goals are all over the place.

Weaknesses include:
Being jealous and suspicious:
These are negative personality traits which could prove to be disastrous if it leaks into the spirit of your business. Some examples of this include negative SEO, false and malicious reviews. Although rare, I’ve even seen some instances where business owners accuse Google of having a personal vendetta against their site and rankings!

A tendency to overdo things:
Remember, less is more and keeping it simple will help make your business better. Some owners may overwork themselves or employees and the end result may not even be better. On top of that, they have destroyed morale. When things are looking their worse, it helps to take a step back and analyze whether you really do need to do that one thing.

Transformation
2012’s year of the dragon is considered to be the most favorable and luckiest year of the 12 year cycle. So, it’s not fair that 2013 has a slightly negative connotation. This is considered to be a year of unexpected changes but change doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. It depends on how you look at the situation.
A quote found here can best sum up what to expect this year. So go out and do it!

This year let go of all attachments—emotional, mental, physical, financial, and spiritual- that may be holding you back. Transform them, like the Water Snake, into something of value that will help you move ahead to the next level of your be-ing.

Content Excellence with Coca-Cola

If you think that Coca-Cola is just focused on selling beverages and snacks, think again! Take a look at the video above to get a better idea of Coke’s content marketing vision for today and beyond.

What is content excellence?
The main takeaway from this video is that Coca-Cola is working hard to transfer their achievements in creative excellence to content excellence. The main idea behind this term is to create liquid content (viral) that is linked (relevant to customer interest, business objectives and brands).

In the end, Coke’s changing their method of storytelling in order to provoke conversation and they plan to continue the growth of their brands by promoting content in the community, as well as acting and reacting with their audience.

A change in storytelling
The one thing that small businesses can take away from this video is that Coke is changing the way that they’re telling their story, in short… marketing their goods. Nowadays, with social media and new technology, successful companies can no longer just expect to get by with one-way storytelling. You can’t just shout at potential customers and expect them to be engaged – it’s a two way street. This is where Coca-Cola introduces the idea of dynamic storytelling:

The development of incremental elements of a brand idea that get dispersed systematically across multiple channels of conversation for the purposes of creating a unified and coordinated brand experience

Leveraging user-generated content
Coke’s success can be seen in the amount of positive, user-generated stories. Coca-Cola, the drink and other snacks have become such a staple in our history that people can’t help but share their own personal connections to the products. In fact, Coke says that the amount of user-generated stories exceed those that they put out themselves for most of their brands! Call it what you want – going viral, word-of-mouth advertising, buzz… To achieve this level of positive feedback requires focusing on content excellence by engaging the community. Coke shows that you can’t do it alone and expect success.

Tweet us @emarketed or comment on our Facebook Page to let us know what you think about Coca-Cola’s innovative content marketing strategy!

Thinking About Saying No to GoDaddy?

Were you affected by GoDaddy’s outage this past Monday? Millions of websites were down due to an Anonymous hacker, although GoDaddy claims that the down time was caused by internal errors… Nonetheless, unhappy customers took to Twitter to complain, curse and swear off the service altogether. GoDaddy has offered 1 month of free service to customers but it might be too little, too late for the company.

no to godaddy

GoDaddy has been no stranger to controversy, especially when it comes to their marketing. The company is best known for their spokeswoman, Danica Patrick and putting scantily clad females on screen whenever possible. The downside on relying on “sexy” commercial ads is that it probably isn’t enough to boost GoDaddy’s credibility as a reliable web host. Another point of controversy was when GoDaddy openly supported SOPA until an influx of customer complaints came in. The company quickly reversed its position of supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act.

As an online marketing firm, we deal with many, many different web hosting companies. HostGator is an excellent alternative option that has been reliable for us over the years. Some benefits of choosing HostGator include: affordability, user-friendly control panel, accessible customer support and quality service.


Let us know what you think of GoDaddy, HostGator or any other website hosting services that you would recommend.

Carmageddon & More for Your Targeted Email Campaign

If you live in or around Los Angeles, CONGRATS – you’ve survived Carmageddon! All weeklong, businesses big and small tried to capitalize on this event, from JetBlue’s limited $4 flights to local Pasadena eateries advertising $4.05 specials.

This email above from Amazon is just another example of a retailer trying to solve a problem customers faced this weekend: finding a source of entertainment. They are also doing a clever job of targeting by relating to the customer and relevant events that are happening around the. It makes sense that most people would try to avoid the freeways this weekend so retailers tried to entice them to do other things that didn’t involve traveling far. Or in Amazon’s case, involving any travel at all!

Why Choose Email?
Email has been and continues to be a strong source of marketing for businesses. Studies show that since last year: more emails are being sent, email unsubscribe rates have dropped and bounce rates have also declined.

Take a look at column one in this chart and you’ll see why other small business owners use email marketing campaigns: owners felt that email marketing was cost effective and that it had a high rate of response and sales in comparison to other marketing methods.

The Goal of Targeted Emails
In the end, you’ll want to remind customers that you have a solution to their problem. Establish a clear message (the shorter, the better) and make it easy for the customer to respond or take action.
If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of email marketing for your small business, make sure to contact us today!

What Ice Cream Flavor Would Your Blog Be?

nullMmm mint chocolate chip, vanilla or even… bacon? Maybe it’s because I’ve been watching too much of the Food Channel, but have you ever thought of your blog in terms of ice cream? The types of different  flavors are countless and customer demand is limitless!

People learn and like things through experience, so you can maximize user experience by giving your customer what they really want. When visitors come to your website or blog, you don’t want them to be bored by just a one dimensional site. You know the ones I’m talking about, just text to no end for the sake of having content. That would be very vanilla

What are some things that make your blog stand out? Is it your knowledge of hot industry topics? Infographics, user polls, personal stories or interaction with readers? Ultimately, these are the things that will help you establish credibility in your community and industry so that users will come to you when they need a product/service you provide.

Nowadays, people are interested in something new that will really catch their attention. This is where social media and video marketing come into play. Think of these as the sprinkles and tasty toppings that go well with your ice cream blog. You don’t want this content to overpower your blog, but just enough to make your content a little more interesting.

And everyone likes free samples! So of course, you can do the same with your content – whitepapers, downloads and email newsletters are a great way to entice your customers so that they come back for more of the real thing.

It’s amazing how you can make sugar, ice and milk turn into something that’s so much more. Like ice cream, blogs are a great thing. So, when it comes to your blog, don’t just think of it as a blob of words. Mix it up with different components of content to make it a blog that people actually want to read!

Attended: CalTech/MIT Enterprise Forum’s Crowdsourcing Seminar

The latest from the CalTech/MIT Enterprise Forum provided insight on the power of “crowdsourcing”. The seminar entitled, Crowdsourcing for the Entrepreneur: Unlocking the Power if Online Communities showcased an exceptional panel of speakers, including representatives from Microsoft, Profounder, and Salesforce.

What is Crowdsourcing?

The morning began with a general overview of what crowdsourcing is, and why it’s a useful tool that should be utilized in all businesses. Using this form of outsourcing is not only a problem solving mechanism, but also a way to access low cost marketing opportunities.

As it turns out, feedback is the still the most constructive way to product improvement and achieving customer loyalty. It’s no surprise that asking consumers to provide thoughts and opinions is an easy way to build on existing products and services – but Peter Coffee of Salesforce reinforced this idea with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.

Positive engagement with the people who are actually using your product, will allow the crowd of users to get what thecrowdsourcingy want by voicing real, quality feedback, therefore creating the knowledge you need. When customers are happy, the product gets better and the loyalty is effortless. Several of the panelists suggested an “idea exchange” to coincide with the feedback analysis of crowdsourcing. Letting the crowd discuss your product in a forum setting can lead the way to new markets and new customers.

Another aspect that came up during Q&A with the panel was how to direct crowdsourcing and how it can show results. We already know most marketing strategies are an investment, but crowdsourcing is one of the only tools that is cost efficient and works off the assets you already have, customers. According to the panel, making sure there is a clear direction for your crowdsourcing technique can show a powerful result. What will keep your existing customers loyal?

Ultimately, adapting to local and different markets is what is going to drive business. Take the iPad for example. Apple used its existing laptop customers’ complaints and suggestions to envision a whole new product that came with an entirely new market. It’s this type of information that can keep your company innovative.

Now, how can you use a crowdsourcing tool to fuel your business? Find out what works, what people want from an existing product, and what will keep customers referring their friends.

Do You Need Help with Social Media?

Before you hire a social media marketing company, there are a few things to consider.

Social Media Misconceptions

facebook scam

First off, it’s important to understand that using social media doesn’t guarantee success. It’s incredible how many times I’ve heard people say something along these lines, “I’ve heard you can make A LOT of money using Facebook and Twitter, but I don’t know how”. Remember those Google scams from the early 2000s? – “I’ve made thousands with Google by working from home!” Perhaps, scams like these are the reason why people have this idea implanted into their head. And now, these have moved on into the world of Facebook and Twitter. So, if you ever see anything like this ad below, remember to avoid it!

If you don’t have enough time or manpower to put effort into your social media accounts, how can you expect your campaign to succeed?

Areas of Expertise

If your industry requires special attention, it’s important to bring up concerns and questions that you might have. Social media isn’t the same across the board. For example, handling social media for health-related businesses greatly differs from from promoting e-commerce sites or local businesses. Managing a health business’ campaign can be more complicated than just advertising the sales and other promotions of a more traditional business. Ideally, you would hire a firm with experience and success with businesses in your industry.

Do Your Research

Social media is NOT like other aspects of online marketing of SEO, PPC or web design/development. Perhaps, the scary thing about it is the element of the unknown and needing to have time and resources to monitor these social interactions. Why do you think big corporations have entire teams of people dedicated to social media? Before you hire someone to handle your social media campaigns, it’s important to ask yourself what you’re getting yourself into. Perhaps, the saddest story I’ve heard is that of a relatively big business who signed a contract to outsource their social media marketing. Hundreds of dollars later, all they got were a handful of irrelevant and disconnected Facebook updates. Social media is neither an afterthought or a business live saver, so make your decision wisely!