Posts Tagged ‘Search Engine Marketing’
As marketing becomes more data-driven, it’s vital to use data to keep up with trends, competitor strategies, and developments in your market. To that end, 94.7% of all marketers love blog posts about marketing statistics.
For example, 93% of marketers use social media for business. But how do marketers and consumers view social media differently? How do top executives use social media? Small businesses? Rapidly growing companies? B2b vendors? What are the best days and times for Facebook updates? What’s the average click-through rate of a link shared on Twitter? What tactic do 92% of SEO professionals view as effective? What percentage of queries on Google each day are new to the world (i.e., won’t show up in keyword research tools)?
Find the answers to these questions and many, many more here in 101 vital social and digital marketing stats for (the rest of) 2013.
Social Media Facts and Statistics
93% of marketers use social media for business. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Social media has reached middle age(d). The fastest growing segment of social media users is now adults aged 45-54%. 55% of this age group now have a profile on at least one social network. (State of Search)
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most popular social networks with search engine marketers. The second-most popular tier includes YouTube, blogging and LinkedIn. The least popular major networks are Flickr, Tumblr and StumbleUpon. (B2B Infographics)
Marketers aren’t like ordinary people. (A pause here while you absorb the shock of that statement). While 86% of marketing professionals have “liked” at least one brand on Facebook, just 58% of consumers have done so. And the gap is even more dramatic on Twitter, where 61% of marketers but just 12% of consumers follow at least one brand. (Thought Reach)
Furthermore–75% of social media users “object to major companies and platforms using their personal information for commercial purposes.” And just 12% admit to having their purchases influenced by Facebook “Likes” or Google “+1s”.(Relevanza)
How big are these networks? As of January 2013, the five largest social networks based on active monthly users were: Facebook (1 billion), YouTube (800 million) and Google+ (343 million) followed by Twitter and LinkedIn with 200 million active monthly users each. (TECHi)
Social media users are more social than non-social-media-using-internet-users in real life too: social networkers are 18% more likely to work out at a gym or health club, 19% more likely to attend a sporting event, and 26% more likely to give their opinion about politics and current events. (TECHi)
Half of all social media users under age 35 follow their online friends’ product and service recommendations. (TECHi)
Three-fourths of marketers planned to increase strategic efforts on social media and social networking sites this year, with 68% also focusing more on SEO and 63% on blogs. (eMarketer)
One in five married couples met online. But…20% of all divorces are blamed on Facebook. Coincidence? Hmm. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
As universal as business use of social media can seem to be, 26% of companies still block access to social media sites in their workplaces. 31% have no social media policy in place. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
54% of consumers say that “smaller communities have greater influence on a topic than larger ones.” (MarketingProfs)
Social media…to engage or to advertise? Turns out agencies are slightly more likely than in-house marketers (81% vs. 75%) to advertise on social networks, while corporate marketers are significantly more likely to utilize “free” social media tools (89% vs. 71%). (Heidi Cohen)
70% of brand marketers (and 60% of agency professionals) view social media advertising as more valuable for building brand awareness than for driving direct response. (Heidi Cohen)
But–contradicting the statistic above–66% of brand advertisers want to see a measurable sales bump from social media advertising. (Heidi Cohen)
How C-Level Executives Use Social Media
82% of buyers say they trust a company more when its CEO and senior leadership team are active in social media. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
77% of buyers are more likely to buy from a company if its CEO uses social media. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
And yet – 36% of executives say their CEO “either does not care, or cares little, about the company’s reputation in social media.” (Polaris B)
It helps having a woman at the top. Female small business CEOs are 78% more likely to say social media is highly valuable to their firm’s growth (20.8% vs. 11.6%), and 43% less likely to say it isn’t valuable (14.2% vs. 25%). (Marketing Charts)
Email is still the most effective way to reach top executives; 90% say they check their inboxes regularly. 64% use LinkedIn on a regular basis, while 55% say the same for Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
How the Inc. 500 Fastest-Growing Companies Use Social Media
Only one-third of the companies in the Inc. 500 say they can adequately determine ROI for the social media spending. (Relevanza)
Yet 35% of marketers say ROI is the most important measure of inbound marketing success. 24% say marketing’s influence on sales and 16% cite conversion rate as the key metrics. (Marketing Charts)
90% of Inc. 500 companies use at least one major social media platform. And 62% say social media is either “somewhat” or “very” necessary to their growth. (Heidi Cohen)
But just 44% of Inc. 500 companies maintain a blog. “This low number is a surprise since blogs drive social media, content marketing and search.” (Heidi Cohen)
How Small to Midsized Businesses (SMBs) Use Social Media
21% of small businesses plan to increase spending on social media advertising this year. (eMarketer)
92% of small businesses say that social media is an effective marketing technology tool. They are evenly split on the effectiveness of social media for attracting new customers vs. engaging existing customers. (e-Strategy Trends)
A whopping 95% of small businesses view blogging as an effective marketing technology tool–second only to email marketing. 15% say blogging is most effective at engaging existing customers; 11% value it more for attracting new customers; and 69% say blogging is equally effective for both objectives. (e-Strategy Trends)
Facebook Facts and Statistics
Obsession? 23% of Facebook users check their accounts five or more times every day. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
But it’s vital for businesses to have a Facebook presence: 80% of Faceook users prefer to connect with brands on Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
47% of Americans say that Facebook has a greater impact on their purchasing behavior than any other social network. (State of Search)
Facebook = mobile. More than half of all Facebook members have used the social network via a smartphone, and 33% use a phone as their primary means of Facebook access. (State of Search)
67% of b2c marketers have generated leads through Facebook. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
33% of milennial consumers are more likely to buy from a company if it has a Facebook page. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The best time and day for Facebook postings? Saturdays at noon. To maximize sharing, post to Facebook 3-4 times per week. (Visual.ly)
56% of Facebook users check in at least daily. 7% say they would check a message “during an intimate moment.” Awk-ward. (TECHi)
Half of all mobile web traffic in the U.K. goes to Facebook. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
48% of consumers who follow brands on Facebook do so in order to take advantage of sweepstakes and promotions. 18% follow to complain about a product or service. (MarketingProfs)
67% of the Inc 500 use Facebook, a decline of 7 percentage points from 2011. Facebook “demands dedicated resources” but doesn’t always show a comensurate return. (Heidi Cohen)
While 75% of internet users over age 45 prefer to share information using email, 60% of those under 30 say the same for Facebook. (Relevanza)
LinkedIn Facts and Statistics
97% of business executives have used LinkedIn. (Search Engine Journal)
LinkedIn rules for business owners. Asked which social media tool had the greatest potential to help their firms, 41% of small business owners chose LinkedIn. More CEOs chose LinkedIn than chose Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Pinterest combined. (Marketing Charts)
LinkedIn is the “social platform of choice” for companies in the Inc. 500, the index of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. 81% of these firms use LinkedIn, compared to 67% on both Facebook and Twitter. (Relevanza)
80% of LinkedIn users are at least 30 years old. (Relevanza)
Twitter Facts and Statistics
On Twitter, frequency (and quality) matter: 71% of all tweets are ignored. Just 23% generate a reply. (Search Engine Journal)
Worse, 56% of customer tweets to companies are ignored. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
69% of follows are based on recommendations from friends. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
34% of marketers say they have generated leads using Twitter. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
53% of Twitter users have been using it for less than one year. (State of Search)
50% of Twitter users are more likely to purchase from brands they follow. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The average click-through rate (CTR) for a link shared on Twitter is about 1.6%, BUT—the average CTR drops as one’s number of Twitter followers increases. Accounts with 50-1,000 followers generate a better-than-6% average CTR; the rate drops to less than 0.5% on average for accounts with 10,000 or more followers. (Bit Rebels)
During the work week, Tuesday has the highest CTR (1.8%) and Friday the lowest (under 1.5%). (Bit Rebels)
During the day, CTRs are highest between 8:00-10:00 am and 4:00-6:00 pm. (Bit Rebels)
When planning timing of tweets, keep in mind that almost half of the U.S. population lives in the eastern time zone, and 80% of Americans live on eastern or central time. (Visual.ly)
Maximum CTR on tweets occurs between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Unless you are particating in a Twitter chat, there’s no point in tweeting more than four times per hour. (Visual.ly)
Nearly 40% of top executives say they check Twitter regularly. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
67% of the Inc 500 use Twitter. Though valuable for content marketing and customer service, it is labor-intensive. (Heidi Cohen)
Pinterest Facts and Statistics
Women still constitute 80% of Pinterest users. (Search Engine Journal)
50% of users are parents. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
80% of pins are repins. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Pinterest and Tumblr are among the “stickiest” social media sites, each accounting for, on average, 89 minutes of time spent per month per user. That compares to 21 minutes monthly on average spent on Twitter, 17 minutes on LinkedIn, and just three minutes on Google+. (TECHi)
25% of all female internet users in the U.S. use Pinterest–compared to just 5% male web users. (eMarketer)
Google+ Facts and Statistics
Google+ has attracted users, but not engagement. Non-mobile users spend an average of just three minutes per month on the site, and 30% of users who make a public post never make another one. (Search Engine Journal)
40% of marketers use Google+. Two-thirds plan to increase activity there over the coming year. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
This doesn’t count as an official statistic, but in the process of collecting 100+ social media stats and facts, only the two above related specifically to Google+. For whatever that’s worth.
Blogging Facts and Statistics
B2b companies that maintain blogs generate, on average, 67% more leads per month than non-blogging firms. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
57% of marketers have acquired customers via their blogs, and 52% of consumers say blogs have impacted their purchasing decisions. (B2B Infographics)
Just 44% of Inc. 500 companies blogs – but that is up from 2011. (Relevanza)
Blogs are rated by consumers as the third-most influential category of sites influencing purchasing behavior (after retail sites and brand sites) – yet they garner just 10% of social media budgets (comnpared to 57% for Facebook). (Pamorama)
Blogs are the fifth-most trustworthy source overall for online information (ahead of Google+, forums, online magazines, brand sites, Twitter and Pinterest). (Pamorama)
86% of “influencers” blog. (Pamorama)
23% of top executives say they read blogs regularly. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Content Marketing Facts and Statistics
Content marketing works. 70% of marketers say that content marketing has increased their brand awareness; 59% believe it supports sales growth; and 45% say it has reduced their advertising costs. (iMedia Connection)
92% of SEO practitioners say content creation is an effective SEO tactic, and 76% regularly invest in content creation. (B2B Infographics)
Marketers spend most of their time producing blog posts, article and guides, social media updates, e-newletters, and news releases; they spend the least on podcasts, polls and surveys. (B2B Infographics)
While 90% of companies are engaged in some form of content marketing [http://webbiquity.com/book-reviews/book-review-content-rules/], just 36% believe their efforts are highly effective. (Polaris B)
Images are (important!) content too: 94% more total views on average are attracted by content containing compelling images than content without images. Using photos provides a 37% increase in Facebook engagement and 14% increase in news release pageviews. (Heidi Cohen)
B2B Marketing Statistics and Facts
Social matters in b2b. 53% of b2b buyers follow social discussions about vendors they are considering. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
The role of sales has changed. 67% of the typical “b2b buyer’s journey” is now done digitally. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Google accounts for 90% of search traffic to b2b websites. (MediaPost)
Average conversion rates for different types of b2b web traffic: 1.60% overall; 2.89% for email; 1.04% for referral visits; 1.96% for paid search; 1.80% for branded search; 1.65% for direct visits; 1.45% for non-brand organic search; and 1.22% for social media. (MediaPost)
The biggest challenges for b2b content marketers? 64% struggle to produce enough content, while just over half (52%) find production of “engaging” content a challenge. (imFORZA)
More than 80% of b2b marketers use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to distribute content. 61% use YouTube and 39% Google+. The least popular channels (all with single-digit percentage use) are Foursquare, Instagram, Tumblr and Quora. (Polaris B)
SEO is for traffic, social is for leads? Organic search accounts for, on average, 41% of traffic to SMB b2b websites, but just 27% of leads. Social media, in contrast, supplies just 2% of visits but 5% leads. And email accounts for just 1% of web traffic on average, but 9% of leads. (eMarketer)
Breaking that social traffic down one level, Facebook accounts for 54% of b2b website social media visits, but just 9% of leads; Twitter, on the other hand, provides less than a third of social visits but a whopping 82% of social leads. (Really?) (eMarketer)
SEO Statistics and Facts
Search produces quality traffic. SEO leads have a 14.6% sales close rate on average, compared to 1.7% for outbound leads (e.g., from direct mail or print advertising). (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Search is the top traffic driver to content-oriented websites, producing on average nearly four times the traffic of social media (41% from search, 11% from social). (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Another study found an even more dramatic advantage for search, with organic search supplying 40% of all traffic (and Google alone accounting for 36% of visits) to b2b websites, while social media accounted for just 5% of traffic. (Forbes)
Keyword research only goes so far: 16% of daily Google searches, on average, have never been seen before. (War of Words: Myth-Busting Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing)
Remeber when Google first started “hiding” the exact keywords used in organic search, and promised this would only affect a small percentage of search traffic? It now hides, on average, keyword data for 41% of all organic searches. (MediaPost)
For b2b websites, on average, the split between branded and non-brand search traffic is 31%/69%. (MediaPost)
6 of 10 organizations plan to increase SEO spending this year. (imFORZA)
One-third of searches are location based. (imFORZA)
71% of marketers say that content marketing has helped inprove their site’s ranking in organic search, and 77% say it has increased website traffic. (iMedia Connection)
Nearly a quarter of U.S. small businesses plan to spend more on their web presence this year–as well they should. As of early 2013, “More than 60% lacked an address on their homepage, and nearly 50% did not provide a contact number…47% were not present on Google Places, and 35% did not have a Bing Local presence.” (eMarketer)
Don’t forget to optimize videos for search. YouTube is the second-largest “search engine” by volume of searches. (WordPress Hosting SEO)
Top brands spend, on average, 19% of their digital marketing budgets on search, vs. 14% on video content and 10% on social media. But the largest share (41%) goes to display advertising. (MarketingProfs)
Mobile Marketing Statistics and Facts
25% of all internet searches last year were made on mobile devices. And 25% of all U.S. internet users are mobile only (includes tablets). (imFORZA)
More than three-quarters (77%) of mobile users use their smartphones and tablets for searching and social networking. (imFORZA)
While mobile marketing is by no means unimportant, it may not justify quite the attention it gets. Marketers have a disorted view of the market because while 90% of marketing professionals own smartphones, but half of consumers do. And while 41% of marketing professionals say they have made a purchase based on information on Facebook, less than a third of consumers with smartphones–and just 12% of consumers without smartphones–have done so. (Thought Reach)
Forget the app, just use email. 33% of consumers say the email is the most effective tool for building loyalty, vs. 26% of marketers. On the other hand, 23% of marketing pros believe that custom apps are most effective at loyalty building; just 7% of consumers agree. (Thought Reach)
Asked how their marketing strategies would change in 2013, the largest percentage of marketers (82%) planned to increase their focus on mobile media. The largest decreases were expected in newspaper and magazine advertising. (eMarketer)
With all of the hype surrounding inbound and content marketing, it’s easy to underrate the continued importance of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, a.k.a. search engine marketing. But as Rebecca Lieb recently noted, “Search, email, blogging, digital PR, and even (brace yourself) advertising have, and will continue to have a place at the table as content marketing grows in importance.”
As vital as natural optimization is, paid search offers three key advantages that make it complementary to organic search:
- • It’s instant. Organic search experiments can take weeks to show results. SEM changes take effect in a matter of minutes.
- • It’s flexible. You decide which keywords, and how many, you’d like to show up on page one for, including popular phrases for which it may be very difficult to rank organically. You can add and drop keywords on the fly.
- • It’s controllable. You decide exactly which landing page to send traffic to for each keyword–without worrying that a minor edit to the page, or Google’s next algorithm update, will annihilate your ranking. You choose exactly when and where your ads are seen.
Given that PPC advertising is likely to play an important role in your online marketing mix, how can you most effectively target your ads? Maximize the productivity of your ad spending? Design landing pages that most effectively convert? Properly test different creative components?
Find the answers to those questions and more, plus a rant from a PPC skeptic, here in (almost) a dozen of the best PPC guides of the past year.
ABC’s of PPC – A Guide for the Basics! by PPC Hero
Kayla Kurtz presents a creative alphabetical guide to PPC basics, from A for Ad Goups (“Your ad groups should always start out tightly themed, with keywords included that are similar to one another) through Z for Zero Impressions (“How long has that account element been active while seeing no action? Do some due diligence and try your hardest to make it work, but if you have a portion of your account with no impressions…cut bait and move on).
The 8 Questions That Create Perfect Landing Page Copy by KISSmetrics
Michael Lykke Aagaard offers “8 simple questions will kick start your writing and guide you through the process of crafting high impact landing page copy that converts,” starting with understanding the purpose of your landing page and creating a specific call to action and progressing through creating a design that supports the copy.
Display Advertising: Targeting Options 101 by RKG Blog
Michelle Ulizio explains the structure of display advertising, breaking down the options first into user targeting vs. site targeting; then defining three options for each targeting type (for example, Site Retargeting: “By placing special tracking tags on your website, you are able to show display ads across the web to users who visited your site, regardless of what site they are currently browsing”); and finally showing how the two high-level targeting methods can be used together.
How to Handle the AdWords Ad Rotation Changes by Search Engine Watch
Greg Habermann reports on Google’s decision to change AdWords ad rotation settings from “indefinite” to just 30 days, explains how this will screw up head-to-head ad testing (particularly for smaller advertisers with low impression volume and agencies managing multiple accounts), and then suggests some alternatives and workarounds to try until Google comes “to its senses and change this back.”
Sam Owen presents five tips for getting the most out of Google’s Auction Insights tool, from competitive research (“You can also start to try and learn a little about the strategy of your competitors. Perhaps someone is always showing in position 1, but only for 50% of the time—did you just discover a competitor who is day-parting?”) to avoiding underbidding by analyzing lost impression share at the keyword level.
Joe Castro suggests ten ideas for improving the productivity of PPC campaigns, among them filtering to “Pause off active ad groups and keywords with high cost-per- conversion rates or high costs and no conversions,” excluding geographic regions based on conversion rates, and segmenting ads by device type.
10 Quick Adwords Optimizations Tips for All PPC-ers by LunaMetrics
Noting that managing multiple paid search accounts involves substantial effort, but “if you tackle each optimization effort in stages, the work load won’t seem as daunting,” Sarah Peduzzi supplies 10 helpful tips including checking the Search Query Report weekly, continually testing ad copy, and using automated rules for bid adjustments.
5 Quick Ways to Increase Conversions in AdWords by Fathom Blog
Joe Castro (again) tosses out a handful of quick ways to bump up clicks and conversions, including loosening keyword match types, using sitelinks, and bidding on brand terms (“it’s really a no-brainer that your company should be bidding on its name and different variations. Branded keywords are by far your top converting, and you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not bidding on them”).
The Importance of A/B Testing: 24 Marketing Experts on Their Most Surprising A/B Test by The WordStream Blog
Elisa Gabbert shares the answers from 24 marketing experts to the question: “What is the most surprising or exciting result you’ve ever achieved in a multivariate A/B test?” Respondents included Aaron Levy, Brad Geddes, Brad Shorr, Megan Leap, Oli Gardner, and Todd Minz (“We decided to A B test using brand names in the headline [as variables in place of generic product names]…Overnight, this campaign generated so many conversions that I thought something broke in AdWords. It went from nearly zero to the highest performing campaign in the account by about 4-5x”).
Amanda West-Bookwalt busts a common myth about quality scores, writing that “CTR plays a part, but so does ad relevance and landing page experience…(aligning with) the campaign and account quality scores as well as any quality score limitations set on your industry, all of which also influence a particular keyword’s quality score.” She adds several ideas for boosting keyword quality scores.
Why Paid Search for B2B Companies is Dead (or Dying) by Search Engine Watch
As Mark Twain wrote that “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” so pronouncements of the the death of PPC should be met with skepticism. Talk about a myth that needs busting; though Uri Bar-Joseph quotes an impressive array of statistics in his morbid predictions for the future of PPC, the channel is likely to remain a key component of b2b web presence optimization frameworks for some time to come. Unlike SEO, PPC results (as noted above) are immediate, controllable, and highly flexible. Firms willing to commit investment, testing and experimentation are likely to find PPC campaigns a productive, supportive and cost-effective component of their overall online marketing mix.
How To Leverage PPC To Discover High-Converting Keywords For SEO by Conductor Blog
As an example of how PPC can support other online marketing efforts, Nathan Safran notes that “Finding out a keyword converts poorly after spending the effort to work your way up the organic search rankings can be a time consuming and frustrating process, but there is a way to shortcut the process and discover high converting keywords: Paid Search (PPC) data,” then explains how to use PPC data to help focus on the most productive keywords in SEO strategies.
One of the most valuable features of Google Analytics is the ability to drill into detail on traffic sources; not just how much traffic came from search or social media, but how much came from each specific search engine or social networking site.
First off, by definition, direct traffic is all visitors who “arrived at your site directly (by typing the url) or via a bookmark.” Technically, there are other possible sources for direct traffic as well such as clicks on links within an Outlook email signature or Word document, but direct entry in a browser address bar or bookmark click account for the bulk of direct traffic.
Second, direct visitors fall broadly into one of two groups: let’s call them “old friends” and “new friends.” Old friends may include, among others:
- • Current customers (for example, clicking on a bookmarked link to your support page or user community area)
- • Partners (channel, technology, implementation services, etc.)
- • Vendors
- • Investors
- • Employees (accessing the site from outside the corporate network, e.g., from home or on the road)
- • Media and analysts already familiar with your company
“New friends” are (generally) predominantly sales prospects, but also include potential future employees, media who are new to your company, prospective investors and/or partners, vendors and other influencers. The “root” sources for this traffic may be online or offline.’
Online Direct Traffic Sources
PR / media relations: media exposure builds brand recognition. Visitors may type your URL into their browser address bars based on seeing a company profile, product review, news release pickup, subject matter expert quote or other mention in industry media.
Social media: social networking and content sharing also builds brand awareness and credibility. A click directly from Twitter, Facebook or another social media site will be recorded in Google Analytics as a social media visit of course, but there’s now question that some percentage of direct visits are inspired by exposure through social bookmarking and other social media activity.
Industry presence: listings in industry-specific directories, trade show sponsorships, industry association memberships and other similar industry presence links can lead directly to referral site traffic or build brand recognition that leads to direct visits.
Offline Drivers of Direct Visits
Face to face meetings and other “business card events”: the most prominent source of these direct visits is trade shows, but other venues may include Tweetups, conferences at which a company executive or subject matter expert speaks, social media breakfasts or happy hours, business networking events or anywhere a representative of your company is able to give out or exchange business cards with prospective buyers.
Printed media: yes, people do still use media like print advertising, direct mail and sales collateral. In fact, in a crowded online world, a well-crafted direct mail piece can make your company stand out–your prospects’ “real” mailboxes today are likely far less crowded than their email inboxes. An ad in an actual printed publication, a clever direct mail piece (more creative than a simple letter or postcard), or even a leave-behind or brochure handed out at a trade show can often lead to a “direct” website visit.
Old-fashioned word of mouth (WOM): while so much attention today is lavished on social media marketing (and not unrightly so necessarily), the fact is–people still talk. Particularly at the executive level. Whether at a breakfast, mixer, phone call, golf outing, conference or other event, executives and subject matter experts talk. If you’ve captured their interest and are relevant to someone else’s needs, your name is likely to come up. There’s no way to measure the effect precisely, but equally no doubt it affects those direct visit figures.
The segment of direct traffic worth optimizing for is of course prospective buyers. While it’s impossible to separate out this group with precision, it is possible to quantify and analyze the behavior of this group roughly be creating a custom segment in Google Analytics that excludes certain pages more likely to be visited by non-prospects (e.g., the media page, careers pages, and support area of the site) and known customers based on their network name.
Optimizing for direct traffic then requires a mix of online and offline tactics. Utilize best practices in social media marketing and online PR. Be active in industry groups, trade shows, conferences and local events where you can meet people in real life. And considering that paper production is actually up 180% in the past five years, don’t completely over traditional marketing channels like trade media advertising and direct mail.
Optimization projects normally start with keyword research to identify the most promising “head” search terms (short, frequently used keyword phrases), and over time, a site’s rank for these terms is closely watched (and often much fretted about).
Nothing wrong with that—head terms are critical to optimization efforts. But it’s also important to note that when it comes to on-site conversions, the leads often come from multi-word, infrequently searched “tail” terms.
Looking at multiple b2b websites, in the U.S. and Canada, with a combined 150,000+ visits during the first half of this year, it’s clear that head terms drive traffic, but tail terms drive leads:
Okay, that’s a bit of an oversimplification; obviously, head terms are vital to lead generation as well. But the point is, across site after site reviewed, the common pattern was that a relatively small number of keyword phrases (typically 50-60 out of several thousand) drove well over half of all traffic. At the same time, a larger group of head terms drove a smaller share of leads.
This makes sense. Searchers often use broad head terms early in their buying research process and longer, more specific terms as they get closer to a decision. So what are the implications?
1. Use AdWords (and SEM in general). First, head keywords matter, but some terms are so competitive that it’s nearly impossible for a small to midsize company to rank for them. Second, rankings vary between individuals based on factors like personalization and location, and they also vary (sometimes considerably) over time as the search engines continually tweak their algorithms. Finally, some head terms are great for driving traffic but less so for producing leads.
Search engine marketing programs like AdWords enable marketers to identify which keywords actually drive conversions most effectively, and to always have their site appear on the first page of search results for those terms, regardless of variations in organic rank.
2. Use SEO best practices. Specific tactics change over time as algorithms change, but certain basics remain vital: create quality content, utilize all aspects of on-page website optimization, and build quality links (including social links). This won’t guarantee your site a consistent #1 ranking for any specific phrase, but it will optimize your results over time across both expected head and unpredictable long-tail terms.
3. Continually produce new content. Even the best keyword research is, by its nature, point-in-time and backward-looking. Publishing a steady stream of optimized new content, driven by customer and social intelligence, will position your site best to take advantage of new, trending and previously unanticipated head and long tail phrases.
In short, optimizing a b2b website for conversions isn’t simple enough to do in your head (terms only).
As Google’s standard search results page has evolved from displaying ten organic links on the left and eight ads on the right to a more varied page (see example below), featuring more or fewer ads and different media types depending on the nature of the search, the old pattern of organic results receiving 70%-85% of all clicks has also gone by the wayside.
In fact, recent WordStream research highlighted on eStrategy Trends reveals that, for keyword phrases with “high commercial intent,” almost two-thirds of all clicks are now on paid ads. For these types of queries, on average, 41% of clicks go to the top three (ad) spots while just 9% are captured by the top organic search result.
Clearly, Google has been successful at shifting more traffic to paid results (which is where Google earns 97% of its revenue). That makes AdWords a critical component for any company seeking to dominate the first page of search results. Yet I often hear from prospective or new clients that they have used Google AdWords in the past and stopped because it “didn’t work” for their business.
Digging a bit deeper, it usually turns out it wasn’t the tactic that was ineffective, but rather the execution of the AdWords or other search engine marketing (SEM) program. SEM can be a productive channel for selling virtually anything more expensive than a candy bar and less costly than a commercial jet. Here then are seven common mistakes to avoid when setting up and optimizing an AdWords campaign. Steering clear of these potholes and using SEM best practices greatly increases the odds of success with AdWords.
1. Using both search and Google’s content network right away. Content network ads perform very differently from search ads and need to be managed separately, with their own budget and unique ad copy. It’s best to use search on its own for a while to determine which keywords, calls to action (CTAs) and ad messages are most effective before expanding advertising to the content network.
2. Not testing. Too often, campaigns are set up with an initial list of keyword phrases, a single static bid for all keywords, a single ad, and a single landing page. Then, if that particular combination of elements doesn’t produce great results, AdWords is deemed a failure. But it’s extremely rare for a campaign to produce optimal results right out of the gate, and therefore critical to test every element of the campaign on an ongoing basis to continually improve results. Of course, sometimes advertisers do test and still fail to meet objectives because of the next mistake to avoid, which is…
3. Not understanding the analytics. Marketers too often get hung up on the wrong objectives, like maximizing click-through rate (CTR) or minimizing the average cost per click (CPC). True, all other things being equal, a higher CTR and lower CPC are good things, as they mean more clicks for fewer dollars, but they should not be the primary focus. The single most important metric in a paid search campaign is cost per lead (CPL) (sometimes alternatively referred to as cost per acquisition or CPA).
A keyword with a low CTR and a $10.00 CPC may be much more valuable than another with a high CTR and $1.00 CPC if the former converts at a significantly higher rate than the latter, thereby producing conversions (generally leads or sales) at a lower CPL.
4. Using the wrong keywords. No matter how extensive the upfront keyword research is, the initial list compiled for an AdWords campaign will very rarely be optimal. And even if the list turns out to be very solid, it is likely to change over time as market and search trends change, so ongoing monitoring and optimization remains imperative. Keywords with a high conversion rate should be bid up into one of the top ad spots. Keywords with a lower, but still respectable, CPA should be bid with a target of making a low ad spot on page one of search results. Keywords with a very low CTR or quality score should be re-examined. And “campaign killer” keywords—those that produce lots of clicks and therefore lots of cost, but few if any conversions—should be identified and deleted as quickly as possible.
5. Writing poor ad ad copy. Even when using best practices for writing search ad copy, it’s impossible to know exactly what combination of words within the scant 95-characters permitted by AdWords will resonate most effectively with your audience. That makes it essential to test multiple ads, and to continue replacing the poorest-performing ads with new variants in order to optimize results over time.
6. Not dayparting. Dayparting is simply the practice of scheduling ads to run during certain hours of the day and not during other hours. It’s surprising how often this is overlooked, and ads are simply set to run 24/7. Running ads at 2:00 a.m. on a Saturday may make sense for open-all-night restaurant, but is highly unlikely to produce productive clicks for an enterprise software vendor.
7. Poor CTA or landing page design. If a landing page is attracting clicks from relevant keywords but few of those are converting into sales or leads, the problem could be that either the call to action itself isn’t appealing (for example, a white paper download may be more appealing to prospects than a free trial), or that the landing page design isn’t effective (e.g., too much or too little copy, too many form fields, or unnecessarily complex layout). There’s no way to know which is the culprit without testing multiple CTAs and tweaking landing page design to optimize conversions.
Google AdWords and other SEM programs may not be ideal for every company. But with search results page display changes being made by Google and other search engines to emphasize paid results over organic, at least for “commercial” searches, it’s important for any business that relies on online lead generation or sales to evaluate.
Only by avoiding common AdWords mistakes, following established best practices and testing, testing, testing can businesses be sure whether shortcomings in AdWords results are a problem with the medium itself—or with the execution of those programs.