Search – ClickZIntroducing Shift, our brand new London event, 24-25 MayHow to market your mobile site or app without spending a fortune on adsHow do Facebook’s ads drive search traffic?Killing Google’s brand one phone call at a timeHow brands can benefit from consumers’ drive for self-improvement Fri, 12 Feb 2016 09:56:04 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Fri, 12 Feb 2016 09:49:27 +0000 ... read more]]> All the experts, analysts and geeks here at Search Engine Watch and ClickZ are very proud to present Shift, a new two-day event taking place at 155 Broadgate, London on 24 – 25 May 2016.

Shift is all about altering the minds and business models disrupted by digital, and recognising the imperative need to transform.

At the event, 500+ senior business and digital marketing strategists from a huge array of global brands will meet to compare notes, source suppliers, get quick answers, sharpen their strategies, help each other and discuss the impact of digital on the future shape of business. Your business!

What can you expect from Shift?

Two days jam-packed with best practice advice, new research, challenging opinions and relevant, up-to-the-minute case studies. The idea is simple: Shift is all about turning the tables to take disruption head-on.

There’ll be 50+ speakers, all in top echelons of the C-suite from brands as diverse as BBC, Travelex, Etsy, Heathrow, Vodafone, Nissan. They’ll be delivering guidance and insight across our three concurrent streams – Customer Acquisition, Customer Experience and Retention, Digital Transformation – covering the following topics:

Shift London topics

The Industrial Revolution lasted 100 years. By that measure, the Digital Revolution has 85 more years of fast and furious disruption coming our way, but the opportunities are limitless if you are ready to (Read more...) up and face transformation head on.

Come meet the drivers of digital change. Book your place today.

]]> 0 Wed, 10 Feb 2016 14:27:35 +0000 ... read more]]> Making the most of what you’ve got: email, SMS, social media, brochures, packaging, SEO and ASO and optimizing your mobile site design to make the most of them.

If you want to avoid spending the majority of your project budget on advertising and public relations (PR), it is essential to start planning how you will use organic methods to promote your mobile-friendly site or app early and incorporate this strategy into your mobile design and build.

There are four categories of marketing media:

  1. Paid media – i.e. advertising
  2. Earned media – e.g. press and blog coverage (generally achieved via PR)
  3. Owned media: digital and physical – e.g. email and packaging
  4. Shared media – e.g. social media

The previous column discussed paid media and public relations  and introduced the concept of distribution-driven development.

This week, it’s the turn of shared and owned media, including search engine optimization (SEO) and app store optimization (ASO) and testing your campaign.

Plus Jim Hennessey, director of consumer marketing for the hit US Multiple Sclerosis fundraising event, MuckFest, gives us a masterclass on digital and social media marketing.

Three years ago, the MuckFest MS social channels were a silo, far away from being a component of our marketing and revenue generating programs. In 2013 we had no event registrations attributed to social media. In 2015, more than 35% of our registrations were from social media.

Find out MuckFest did it, below.


Owned media – physical

Depending on the type of business there will be a wealth of ‘free’ vehicles for promoting your mobile site or app.

These include brochures, business cards, product packaging store/office posters and placards including the store window, as in this case study from Adidas Neo:

  • All of these physical media should promote, overtly or subtly, your mobile venture, by including a short URL and/or QR (quick response) code to the mobile-friendly site or app store listing for native apps.
  • Plan ahead to ensure that the next design and print run of each marketing material will include a hyperlink.
  • Co-ordinate marketing efforts so the campaign is backed up with a unique landing page with information on the mobile site.
  • Don’t just advertise the fact that you have a mobile site or app, give people a reason to visit such as to check out nutritional information, enter a competition or place an order.

The following Burger King menu recently dropped through the letter box (ignoring the No junk mail notice), which drives people to online ordering with a QR code and URL.

Note the use of both give the recipient the choice – don’t assume everyone has a smartphone or knows how to scan a QR code.


As part of its commitment to deliver nutritional information about its products, Nestlé has committed to add QR codes to product packaging  that link to more information about nutrition on the mobile-friendly site.

This was stated in the Nestlé Corporate Social Responsibility Report 2014, and reiterated in 2015.


Owned media – digital

Companies have a number of digital media channels – email, SMS and social media – at their disposal. All of which should be use to drive mobile users to your mobile site with a simple click on a hyperlink.

Use of mobile email is growing rapidly, with more than half of marketing emails opened on a mobile device, according to Adestra.


Social media has become synonymous with mobile – at the beginning of 2016, Facebook had 1.44 billion mobile monthly active users, out of 1.59 billion total monthly users.

SMS is often forgotten by marketers amid trendier media. This is shortsighted, considering SMS is a uniquely mobile media, ubiquitous to all mobile phones and still very popular with consumers.

Plan how you will use these channels to target the most relevant subscribers. A quick checklist:

  • Aggressively recruit target users to your CRM programs with incentives.
  • Check the right permissions are in place to deliver marketing messages.
  • Ensure that your marketing emails and social media messages are mobile friendly.
  • Segment the subscriber base so only the relevant are targeted. Only promote your iPhone app to known iPhone users.
  • Analyze message content and timing to maximize response rates.
  • Schedule messaging. Tools such as Hootsuite and Buffer allow the scheduling of social media posts.
  • Plan to incorporate your promotion into your existing messaging schedule to avoid over-burdening your clients with extra messages.
  • Remember your customers won’t be as excited about your upcoming iPhone app as you are, so don’t start emailing until it’s ready.

The following untargeted email was sent out in January 2016 to subscribers to the Quartz daily news service.


Sharing – social media, email, SMS

An engaged social media following can have a big impact on web traffic: when fans share content they tend to do so with a link which drives additional visits.

The social media strategy should influence site design and content strategy in a number of ways:

  • Facilitate sharing, by having the right tools embedded into the site in the right place: see best practices for sharing buttons .
  • Monitor what content is shared by readers of rival sites using tools such as BuzzSumo.
  • Provide excellent content that is easy to share e.g. images, video.
  • Provide compelling/exclusive offers that people will want to share.
  • Encourage sharing, by promoting user-generated content on your site and social channels.
  • Reward the most active and influential fans with flattery and special offers.
  • Record and analyze all results to optimize content and engagement strategy.

MuckFest MS case study 

MuckFest MS  is a muddy 5K fun run with obstacles that takes place in 11 cities in the US and has raising over $20 million to date to help fight Multiple Sclerosis.

The digital and social strategy is run by Jim Hennessey:

In 2013 we had no event registrations attributed to social media. In 2015, more than 35% of our registrations were from social media.

What changed?

  • We developed an overall marketing strategy that emphasizes the reciprocal benefits of all digital marketing efforts to each other – for example, social media integrated with email communications and website – both web content and user experience (UX).
  • Invested in audience-building efforts on key social channels (Facebook, Twitter) to reach viable prospect audiences in our event markets.
  • Integrated keyword strategy across all channels.

In 2015, more than 55% of our customers used mobile as their access point, and 80% of those customers say social media is one of the top three daily smartphone activities.

So we re-imagined website UX – including the visual style and the messaging flow from social media to the site.

The site is not simply “responsive.” It is designed to be mobile first, using ‘cube based coding’ which allows each cube of copy to stack and be prioritized by platform.

This is done by coding during the development process to deliver a better UX for our audiences. Check out how our city pages on different devices. uses social content as a primary component for our site’s messaging. For example, we use curated social content for customer reviews and endorsements.

Another key component is the ability to quickly highlight viral social content on the, such as when in January 2016 BuzzFeed’s The Try Guys made a MuckFest video.

What’s next?

  • Creating on-going engagement with our active social media community and leverage them to accelerate our digital messaging efforts. See: The MuckSquad.
  • Continue to evolve use of digital video, with more videos, using different types of content and various lengths that can be used in either paid or non-paid. See: David’s Story 

Search engine optimization (SEO) 

Virtually all successful websites are reliant on search for a large proportion or majority of their traffic. Mobile sites/web apps are no different.

The only change is that mobile users may search for different things. Location, proximity and immediacy may be more important to a mobile user than a desktop searcher.

SEO is not a dark art. Search engine spiders mimic the behavior of mobile users, so the key to SEO is to anticipate what mobile users want and optimize the content and navigation accordingly.

One of the first steps in the development process should be an extensive audit of the existing web properties, evaluating customer search behavior and the performance of competitors.

Let this influence site design, content and marketing strategy (outlined in this article). Clearly this will be more effective than using some SEO/keyword tools shortly before launch and jamming some keywords and metatags into irrelevant content.

Most importantly, the better the SEO, the less you need to spend on paid search advertising. But as website traffic influences rankings, advertising will be unavoidable for newcomers.

Andrew Martin, senior inbound marketing executive, Cambridge University Press:

Evaluating search behavior is crucial. If you’re going to re-launch your site to be mobile first, then your desktop old site will be generating a ton of search data in your Google Search Console. You can filter this data by device to see the split for desktop, mobile, or tablet, and the kinds of things that you rank (well or badly) for already.

If you’re taking a phase approach to your development, this information will be particularly useful, by showing you your existing mobile search performance, and therefore allow you to prioritise site or content areas that you’re doing well in already, or show aspirational areas where you need a boost to improve your position and CTR.

Obviously, if you’re a mobile user, you want to see a mobile site – not some tiny text, broken or restricted desktop site. Note that the majority of searches now take place on mobile devices.

Consequently, if you’re a mobile site owner you want to feed that hungry, curious audience, with your most relevant content.


App store optimization

App store optimization (ASO)  is the equivalent of SEO for native apps. It is partly about how the app ranks when people search the store of a relevant app and partly about how compelling it appears to the user.

  • App store rankings are believed to be influenced by numerous things including title, description, keywords, popularity – downloads and continued use – reviews and frequency of updates.
  • Users are influenced by icon, title, description, including quality of screenshots and videos used, and reviews.

Done effectively, app store optimization should deliver better long-term results than paid advertising.

Gary Yentin, CEO and Founder, App-Promo, Toronto:

Currently, ASO has the best return on investment (ROI) but that is over time. For immediate impact, paid media delivers the best ROI.

However ROI of paid advertising varies. It depends both on what the life-time value (LTV) of the customer is, and when the paid media campaign is launched.

Paid media acquisition costs vary with supply and demand and tend to be higher in Q4 (during the holiday season).

ASO tends to deliver better ROI since rates and inventory are not subject to this fluctuation and it delivers longer term results.


Test, test and test again 

Digital marketing is an imprecise science because every situation is different. This makes it essential that marketing programs are constantly measured and tweaked to maximize optimal results.

Gary Yentin:

It’s important to plan early and have a sufficient budget allocated, and test, test, test. It not terrible to make a mistake. If the budget allows for testing, you can then learn and make changes towards a successful campaign.

A straight-forward methodology to trialing different approaches is A/B testing, sometimes called split-testing. Marketers should be familiar with using A/B testing for digital ads, where two slightly different versions of an ad are shown alternatively to different website visitors and the results recorded.

But A/B testing can be applied to most marketing channels. The key is to come up with a hypotheses – would it improve X if we changed Y? (X is a desired result and Y is a variable).

This is the ninth part of the ClickZ ‘DNA of mobile-friendly web’ series.

Here are the others:

  1. Six mobile strategy questions.
  2. How to identify your mobile audience. 
  3. Why prioritize mobile-friendly web.
  4. Web apps: advantages of native apps in a web browser.
  5. How to test the viability of your mobile project.
  6. Assessing the technical and operational feasibility of your mobile project
  7. Show me the money: proving your mobile site or app will deliver ROI.
  8. Formulating the go-to market strategy for your mobile project.

Andy Favell is ClickZ columnist on mobile. He is a London-based freelance mobile/digital consultant, journalist and web editor.

Contact him via Linkedin or Twitter at Andy_Favell

]]> 0 Mon, 25 Jan 2016 14:00:50 +0000 How do Facebook’s ads drive search traffic?

According to a new study released by Facebook this past December, Cross-Channel Planning: Making Search Work Harder, Facebook’s ads do drive search traffic – sometimes.

This study summarized 23 “conversion lift” studies – which are Facebook’s bid to provide the digital ad business with a more holistic alternative to traditional last-click attribution – from July to September 2015.

Participants in the study came from a variety of consumer sectors – including automotive, financial, and travel – with spend above $10,000 a month that were also willing to share traffic and conversion data with Facebook.

Here are highlights, plus my own take on what the data means.

Only one in four campaigns sees any Facebook-search effect

A mere 25 percent of campaigns studied actually saw any statistically significant increase in search referral traffic.

Across the entire group, search lift in search referral traffic was 1.8 percent with a standard deviation of six percent.


Does this mean that three out of four search marketers are wasting their time buying Facebook clicks? Possibly. Unfortunately, the study doesn’t say much about this high failure rate.

Was the lack of search referral traffic due to the nature of the business, the campaigns, the ads themselves, or some other unknown variable?

Obviously, some brands are more likely to drive search referral traffic than others, so it would have been more helpful if Facebook had revealed additional information about the profile of each business.

Also, if other marketing mix models are any guide to interpreting results, there may be a requirement of a very high investment in social advertising in order to overcome the background noise from other marketing and drive measurable search lift.

My teams see a much tighter correlation between paid media outside search and lift in search volume when the display/social/video budget is significant in relation to search.

Facebook can depress paid search CPCs

Even with the foregoing question unanswered, it’s clear that some brands can use Facebook to achieve some efficiency in paid search. Facebook’s data shows that some marketers can use Facebook to drive down paid search cost per clicks (CPCs).

“When Facebook paid media was introduced into the marketing mix, consumers were more likely to search for branded keywords and in some cases less likely to search for unbranded keywords.

For (one advertiser) 97 percent of the incremental paid search visits were in the form of branded keywords. As a result, we saw that Facebook ads make search ads 1.8 percent more efficient, largely as a result of this change in consumer search behavior.”

My guess is that to a lesser extent the brand created through social (and other forms of paid media) also increases the click-through rate (CTR) and therefore the quality score of generic keywords, resulting in a cost savings.

“For brands in Automotive, Financial Services, and Retail, we found that Facebook paid media caused statistically significant lift in lower-funnel KPIs these advertisers care about, including online and offline sales. Lift in these KPIs varied widely, ranging from flat to 79 percent. For one large retailer, the majority of this sales lift came from increased basket size.”

If the study data is valid, it will likely be celebrated by search marketers, who are always looking for a way to reduce click costs.

Why this matters

Facebook’s study is intended to put the company in a better position to argue that any increased share of budget it receives will be offset by lower CPCs – at least among those industry verticals buying lots of unbranded keywords. Only time will tell if this argument is successful in terms of prying loose more budget for Facebook campaigns.


What is clear – at least in my mind – is the idea that many marketers who’ve not yet experimented with Facebook paid media should be testing the effects of paid social spend and determining for themselves what the effects are on CPC. And more importantly, return on investment and return on advertising spend.

As you likely know from reading my ClickZ columns, I’m a big believer in the power of Facebook Custom Audiences. I have seen it used to great effect and believe it to be the wave of the future, along with similar products now offered by Twitter and Google as well.

It’s also critical for traditional search marketers to begin to regard paid social with more respect than it’s been traditionally accorded and coordinate appropriately. Copy, creative, campaign timing, and messaging should be aligned across Google, Facebook, and any other platforms required for reaching one’s target audience.

For some, measuring the direct effects of Facebook on search marketing KPIs may prove a challenge, but that’s only an argument for making sure that the marketing models are sophisticated enough to take full account of the real relationship between social and search that Facebook’s study points to.

There are also really powerful ways of targeting in Facebook using both custom audiences and other targeting parameters in conjunction using  the Audience Overlap feature, which I’ll cover in the future column.

Homepage and article images via Pixabay and Flickr.

]]> 0 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 15:30:51 +0000 Is the solicitation of SMBs by automated robocallers a threat to Google’s advertising revenue? How can the search giant protect itself?

“Today we have guaranteed free first-page positions available for your business from Google. Press one to connect to operator to get your first-page Google listing.”

As a business owner, I receive an average of five calls a week that promise me first-page Google positions. The prerecorded messages make it clear that the offer is for free positions – not the paid advertisements.

If my schedule is light at the time of the call, I will often connect and torture the sales rep with questions until they hang-up out of utter frustration (yes – I am a self-proclaimed “local listings narcissist”).

Like I have stated in the past, small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are typically sold advertising; they do not line-up or access self-service websites like Google to buy advertising.

SMBs rely on third-parties like marketing service firms or agencies by nature to procure SEM advertising with tools like Google Adwords and SEO services for website and local listings optimization, in order to increase local lead flow and customer service access.

With more than $60 billion in annual revenue, for all of its success, Google generates the majority of their advertising revenue from a relatively small amount of businesses. SMBs have always been Google’s greatest opportunity and largest business disappointment. This fact has provided vast opportunity for both reputable and unreputable firms to target SMBs advertising and optimization dollars.

Some firms act as trusted agents to SMBs and provide guidance and thoughtful execution of services. While other unreputable firms simply collect a couple of hundred dollars in monthly fees from the SMB and do little or nothing in terms of service, until the SMB fires the firm out of frustration.

Enter the world of the robocallers

banksy-robot-coney island-flickr-10546981384_cc91ea4342_o

In order to survive within the second method, the unreputable firms need to continually sell new clients to offset the one firing them. To do this, disreputable firms have turned to unscrupulous sales methods to profit from SMBs.

Robocallers use prerecorded telemarketing sales messages to solicit interest and then connect to one of their sales staff for the close (or kill). Federal law contained in FCC’s Telephone Consumer Protection Act stipulates rules surrounding robocallers:

 “Making it an abusive telemarketing act or practice and a rule violation not to ‘promptly’ disclose seller’s identification, purpose of call, and nature of goods or service, followed ‘immediately’ by a disclosure of opt-out information.”

Yet I still receive multiple calls a week from companies misrepresenting themselves and their relationship with Google.

Why is this such a problem for Google?

According to Brand Finance’s 2015 Top 500 Most Valuable Brands report, Google is number three on the list, with an estimated $76.6 billion brand valuation.

Anything that tarnishes the Google brand is bad, especially when firms misrepresent themselves as Google in their pursuit of local SMB advertising and promotion dollars.

Google strikes back

On Wednesday, September 16, 2015, Google filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Northern District of California against Local Lighthouse, a Tustin, C.A. based local SEO.

The suit stipulates that:

“On July 29, 2014, Google sent Defendant a letter after receiving several complaints regarding Defendant’s telemarketing calls. Google told Defendant that consumers had complained about incessant, unsolicited automated telephone calls, misrepresentations of Defendant’s relationship with Google, and false guarantees of first-page placement in GOOGLE search results. Google demanded that Defendant immediately cease all such actions and bring its practices into compliance with Google’s Third Party Policy.”

While this is now old news, the first shot was fired.

han shot first - flickr-14063653395_4cd842c1a7_o

On the same day, Google published an article in its Public Policy Blog titled Protecting People From Illegal Robocalls, which outlined the scenario:

“You’re eating dinner with your family when the phone rings, and you see a phone number that you don’t recognize. You answer and hear a recording:

‘It’s extremely urgent that we speak to the business owner! We’ve tried to reach you numerous times. Our records indicate that your Google Business Listing has not been claimed…'”

The solution?

In my opinion, it is time for Google to move to protect their brand and put an end to SMB confusion on the Google My Business and Google Maps local listings. The best way to do this is to move the product to a paid offering and license or certify agents, much in the same way they currently go to market for the Adwords products.

Directory listings are a well understood product in the minds of SMBs, as they recall the Yellow Pages listings and ads they used to channel billions of advertising dollars into. By better controlling the local listings product and providing sales channel partners with “rules of engagement,” Google would not only handsomely profit, but also protect a $76.6 billion asset.

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