Kim Davis – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Fri, 27 Aug 2021 22:08:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Email Marketing Periodic Table: Manage deliverability and optimization like a scientist /the-email-marketing-periodic-table-manage-deliverability-and-optimization-like-a-scientist-349071 Fri, 28 May 2021 14:02:44 +0000 /?p=349071 This new resource gives marketers insights into the building blocks for good campaigns.

The post The Email Marketing Periodic Table: Manage deliverability and optimization like a scientist appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Email has long been one of the most reliable marketing channels for getting your messaging in front of your customers. Whether it’s content in the form of a weekly newsletter, a personalized promotion or an important account update, marketers need to trust that their message will be delivered and that they’ve optimized those messages to get maximum engagement. That is why MarTech is releasing today an updated Email Marketing Periodic Table that tells you everything you need to know about sending emails that your customers want to receive and that inboxes won’t block.

Because email is one of the most complex ways you can communicate with customers and prospects – through different mail clients, different ISPs, mobile and desktop, etc. – there are a lot of obstacles that can get between you and your intended recipients. 

Each element in this table represents a factor that you need to consider to be successful in email. The elements are gathered into categories based on their relationships to one another, and the categories are designated as related to either Optimization or  Deliverability. Further down on the table, you’ll see Toxins, a category for practices that can poison your email marketing efforts, and Traps, which you’ll want to be aware of falling into.

This updated Email Marketing Periodic table adds a few new elements and a new category, Compliance, that addresses recent and ongoing developments tied to state laws, inclusion and more. We have also changed our language to refer to safelists and blocklists, terms which are inclusive and respectful to all.

Digital marketing is indeed an art, but it is also a science. We hope this tool serves as an essential reference for your experiments.

The post The Email Marketing Periodic Table: Manage deliverability and optimization like a scientist appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How Storage Asset Management succeeds with a focus on reviews and social media /how-storage-asset-management-succeeds-with-a-focus-on-reviews-and-social-media-348644 Fri, 14 May 2021 14:09:53 +0000 /?p=348644 SAM relies heavily on customer reviews, managed through Reputation

The post How Storage Asset Management succeeds with a focus on reviews and social media appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Pennsylvania-based Storage Asset Management, known as SAM, has an effective marketing strategy. Unusually, however, the company isn’t really striving to market itself.

“We are actually guilty of not doing a great job of marketing ourselves. All of our growth has been from word-of-mouth and referrals. We don’t actively market ourselves as best we could.” That’s what Melissa Stiles, VP of marketing and sales at SAM, told us. But that growth has been quite tangible, from launching with 22 management contracts in 2010, to running almost 350 contracts today.

Managing and marketing for third-party owners

What SAM does is manage storage facilities for third-party owners (SAM owns none of them). “We do everything, from operations and marketing to accounting, for a facility owner,” said Stiles. “Basically, everything but file their income taxes.”

The main focus of SAM’s marketing, then — about 95%, said Stiles — is marketing the third-party storage facilities they manage, and they execute primarily by leveraging customer reviews through online reputation management platform Reputation.

“I think we’ve been using Reputation for about five years,” said Stiles. “We’ve always been early adopters in the marketing realm, like search, etc. We were one of the first companies to be able to rent a unit online, so we identified quickly that reviews were going to become important. We looked for a company which could help us with a reputation management program, and Reputation met that need for us.”

A focus on reviews and SEO

Reviews help with local SEO, of course, but that’s not the only reason they’re important. “We know that about 50% of our customers have never used storage before,” said Stiles, “so people want to read the reviews before they choose their unit.”

SAM uses Reputation to actively solicit reviews, and also to respond to them “in one place.” To understand how important that is, consider that SAM represents some 76 different brands. That’s because SAM offers owners a choice between being part of their national brand — Storage Sense — or adopting their own branding, often naming facilities for the town they’re in.

“When I first got in the industry, there was a ton of facilities named ‘AAA self-storage,’ because that would put you first in the phone book; now it’s the town and self-storage, because that helps you with your SEO online.”

SAM handles not only reputation management through Reputation, but also builds websites and helps with print marketing and signage. “We’ll build a user-friendly website that allows you to completely do your rental online, we’ll do SEO strategies — on-page and off-page, citation building, listings, etc. — social media, definitely Facebook, Instagram in some cases as well. AdWords and paid media if necessary.”

Related: Read about the growing importance of user-generated content.

Social media too

The Reputation platform handles social media, with messages from all feeds arriving in one in-box. “That’s been a life-saver for my social team. They don’t have to go across each Facebook page.” Seventy-six brands, remember.

“Google [My Business] released its messaging feature [for desktop] a few months ago,” said Stiles, “and we’re amazed by the amount of people that use it, and Google’s app isn’t great. When you’re managing this many pages, you see a notification and then have to figure out which page it came into. Reputation’s tool has been great at pulling that all together. We can see the metrics behind it too — how long was our response time, are we getting more customer service messages or sales, etc.”

Stiles uses SpareFoot, a nationwide storage discovery site which she describes as the Expedia of storage, but also relies on local outreach by having representatives build relationships with centers of influences likely to be good sources of customers — apartment complexes, for example.”

To build websites, SAM partners with The Storage Group for its vertical expertise, but everything else is done internally by a marketing team of eight.

And that’s how SAM has grown without trying too hard to market itself. “We’ve done a good job of focusing on our stores,” said Stiles. “Driving success for our stores has encouraged our owners to keep on buying, or to recommend us to someone else.”

The post How Storage Asset Management succeeds with a focus on reviews and social media appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Events of the future will be hybrid and “always on” /events-of-the-future-will-be-hybrid-and-always-on-348478 Fri, 07 May 2021 13:05:03 +0000 /?p=348478 In-person will return, but the virtual genie can't be put back in the bottle

The post Events of the future will be hybrid and “always on” appeared first on Search Engine Land.

“Reinventing Live,” the new book by Denzil Rankine and Marc Giberti from Anthem Press is a comprehensive analysis of the past, present and future of events. But it’s really the future marketers are focused on right now, whether as event organizers of attendees.

Most marketers expect live events to return next year. But does that mean saying goodbye to the virtual environments rapidly constructed in 2020, and will brands be as willing as ever to pay the cost of live event attendance — including the carbon footprint of business travel?

We dug deeper into these questions in conversation with one of the book’s authors, Denzil Rankine, founder and Executive Chairman of AMR International, a strategic consultancy for the events industry.

We’re going back to in-person, right?

“We’re going to have a mix,” he said. “We’re going to find that some versions of events are working very well online; businesses are having an impact, making money, and so on. And certain models — for example, one-to-one meetings work that way.”

Some in-person events will certainly return, but there will be fewer of them, and attendance is likely to be reduced. “We’re going to find that some of the digital only events are going to continue, and then of course anything face-to-face will need to be supported by digital tools. It’s clear how it’s going to pan out — it is to me, anyway.”

This doesn’t mean that some events organizers aren’t looking to abandon digital. “I think a lot of people will try to,” he said, “because they’ll just say, ‘oh, that was a nightmare.’ Some people only like to read newspapers on paper; they’ve got ink in their blood. And you’ve got that in the events industry too.”

The return of events will be a mix. “In a few years time,” said Rankine, “we won’t even be talking about virtual or hybrid. We’ll just be talking about events; it’s a given that you’ve got all these digital extensions.”

The cost of in-person events

There may be obstacles to holding successful virtual events which are independent of organizers and attendees. In addition to the negative environmental impact associated with unnecessary air travel, the people at brands who hold the purse-strings — and perhaps don’t attend events themselves — will be highly conscious that businesses continued to function last year without the need to expense flights and hotel stays.

“The same with offices,” said Rankine. “Let’s never go back to an office. It’s going to be the same answer. People are going to go back to offices, but they’ll be smaller, time spent in the office will go down, and people will do more home working. Of course bean-counters will get in the way, and of course some people will continue to get on airplanes because that’s what they like doing — you’ll see all the extremes.

An always-on event strategy

One thing brands worked hard at before the pandemic, often with little success, was sustaining and engaging with the community of attendees year round, in the months between big live shows. Rankine thinks getting this right will be critical in the future.

“365 is ambitious and tricky,” he conceded. Where there’s a 365-day workflow, however, it may become a realistic goal. “Where you just come at it from ‘we just had the annual celebration, let’s do something else, let’s stay in touch’ — that’s tougher. And part of the reason is that the people organizing it are event people, and they’re not thinking with the right tools.”

Digital platforms can be leveraged to create a seamless extension from events, with engaged communities. It’s also worth considering partnering with business media already reaching the right audiences. “Take baby steps. Don’t think you can get there overnight.”

View virtual sessions from MarTech Spring 2021 here

The limits of virtual networking

One thing which has become apparent to event organizers and attendees under the pandemic is that although many people say they value networking opportunities, virtual networking turns out to be not very satisfying.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” said Rankine, “but never say never with software. I can’t think of any platform that’s perfect for networking. One-to-one does seem to work, but organizing that at scale doesn’t work. Walking around a bar and saying, ‘oh, you should meet so-and-so,’ we’re a long way from that.”

The meaning of hybrid

Hybrid events can mean anything from a global live-stream of an in-person event, to an in-person event with certain digital assets or an event app associated with it. How does Rankine view hybrid? “I think we simply say it’s live plus a digital extension,” he said.

A full-scale live-stream of an in-person event seems daunting, like producing two events at once. “I think it’s the future. A lot of venues are creating studios. We would advise hotels to have (audio-video) facilities available.”

It’s time to jettison old-school events thinking, he said. “Wake up one day, get out of the other side of the bed, get a completely clean sheet of paper and say, ‘how are we going to do this differently?’ and pretend you’re Craig Fuller of Freightwaves” (a highly profitable disruptor in the logistics and transportation space).

“Think about the customers. Don’t just think about the budget and the organizing. You need to come at it differently.”

Read next: Virtual Events — what we’ve learned

The post Events of the future will be hybrid and “always on” appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The business imperative behind inclusion and diversity /the-business-imperative-behind-inclusion-and-diversity-347683 Mon, 12 Apr 2021 21:15:28 +0000 /?p=347683 “Without talent you don't have an agency,” said Dr. Tucker.

The post The business imperative behind inclusion and diversity appeared first on Search Engine Land.

In the second part of a two-part interview, Lauren Tucker discusses the importance of an enriched, diverse talent portfolio. Dr. Tucker (PhD in journalism and mass communication) is founder of Do What Matters, a consultancy dedicated to promoting diversity in the marketing services industry, with a special focus on agencies — but her insights have application across all kinds of business teams.

Improving cultural and social wellness within a business like an agency is an ethical imperative. Right now, employers need to pay attention to mental wellness too. “Agencies are feeling a lot of pressure,” said Dr Tucker. “Their feeling squeezed margins by the growing in-house movement, increased competition from consultancies, more demanding clients. I mean, it has gotten even worse since COVID -— everybody just feels like they need access all the time and they can get it through Zoom or Teams or cell phones or what have you. And then rising employee and customer activism means that there’s a lot of consciousness that has been raised. Throughout, not just the last year but really throughout the last three years.”

Read the first part of our interview with Lauren Tucker

Clearly, some employees are bearing the brunt of burnout, workplace harassment, discrimination, and blocked opportunities more than others. “When you look at the entire industry, it is no wonder that people of color, women, and other disadvantaged groups are feeling the pain. It’s great if you have Chief Diversity Officers, etc, but if you don’t really focus on transformational change that is going to have impact, then you’re really focusing on a lot of things.”

Managing the talent portfolio

But there’s a business imperative behind inclusion and diversity too. “We really frame the conversation around talent,” Dr Rucker explained, “so that managers and leaders and people in the C-suite start to see that, if there is a failure, if they have brought somebody in and that person is not performing at the level that they had expected, then they need to take the responsibility for that hire and they need to start figuring out how to invest in that person’s development and learning. There needs to be a very specific job description of what that person is expected to do on day one, and then you need to make it very clear what do they need to do specifically to get to the next level.”

And of course there’s still a glass ceiling. “I’m still getting people reaching out to me who are at the VP or SVP level, especially women of color — and I will say this very emphatically —  women of color at the VP and SVP level have not gotten the kind of sponsorship they deserve, and not gotten the opportunities they deserve. And when I follow up, I get the same answer which is, you know, she’s really great. She’s really  a utility player. We just don’t know what to do with her. Wow, okay. I don’t think any of these people have admitted or or even understand what they’re admitting at that point.”

One thing they’re revealing, said Tucker, is that they do not understand how to manage talent. “Without talent you don’t have an agency,” she said. “If you are not putting talent at the center of your business, you are missing the key aspect of the marketing communications industry. Robots can’t do this; programmatic can’t do what these people do. It needs talent, human talent — creative innovation comes from human energy, and you must manage that talent.”

Investing in learning and development is essential to recruiting the best talent -— winning the war for talent, Dr Tucker calls it. “Right now we’re looking at a huge uptick in marketing spending, and leaders are going to start to feel the pain if they haven’t managed their talent portfolios, with the same passion that they manage their investment portfolios.”

At smaller agencies, the CEO needs to own responsibility for the talent portfolio.  “I do that with my own company,” said Tucker. “I have an incredibly inclusive team. Some are contractors, some are employees, but I treat them all as part of my team and I know they know more than I do about their areas of expertise. I rely on them to give me advice and counsel, and they feel part of the mission.”

Minimize bias in the recruitment process

When it comes to minimizing bias in the recruitment process, Tucker again directs attention to operational rather than individual aspects: “Especially focusing on organizational behavior, less on individual consciousness raising and awareness. How are we going to change the system so that we minimize bias? When we minmize bias, we minimize what we call cultural homogeneity.”

With her clients, Tucker seeks to institute an  inclusive talent management process, part of which is inclusive hiring. “We’ve really reworked and revolutionized the way that our clients attract talent, recruit talent.” 

Read next: How Tissa Hami brought performance skills to diversity training

She calls for radical changes to the interview process. “I’m so shocked that we continue to interview talent in that one to one monastic way. Not only is it full of bias, it’s also really inefficient. You’re really succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, that’s when bias, familiarity and comfort comes in. Regardless of how progressive many of these leaders are, they’ll still rely on the people they used to work with, largely white and male, who they feel comfortable with. I think what we need to do is be a lot more proactive in terms of workforce planning, we need to be a lot more proactive in terms of changing the game of recruiting and interviewing talent, so that the process is more efficient.”

She suggests panel interviews using screening questions. “These are things that have been shown to ensure that the people who are hired have the highest probability of job success, but it also reduces, not only the time and the energy that people put into the hiring process. It also reduces the opportunity for bias to come in. Cultural homogeneity, and that is something that the industry can’t afford because it undermines creativity.”

The importance of enriching the talent portfolio

“The industry’s numbers are never really reliable,” said Tucker, “but let’s just say the latest numbers that I’ve seen is that the marketing industry is about 70% white. That is not representative of the marketplace. You must enrich your talent portfolio, and unleash their potential, because you need to focus on creating cultural content that is memorable, meaningful and remarkable to an increasingly multicultural and global audience.  You must embrace a richer talent portfolio that is that is elevating the relevant differences, whether it’s race and ethnicity, or whether it’s gender, it doesn’t matter. It matters that you are cultivating a rich talent portfolio where the differences are representative of the interest, the desires, the dreams of those people in the marketplace.”

If your content isn’t memorable, meaningful and remarkable, said Tucker, “if you aren’t hitting those three things, you aren’t going to connect.  And, you know what? Your competitors are going to eat your lunch.”

The post The business imperative behind inclusion and diversity appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How inclusion can lead to diversity in marketing and communications /how-inclusion-can-lead-to-diversity-in-marketing-and-communications-347629 Sat, 10 Apr 2021 13:31:44 +0000 /?p=347629 Inclusion and diversity consultant Dr Lauren Tucker explains why inclusion comes first

The post How inclusion can lead to diversity in marketing and communications appeared first on Search Engine Land.

In an article published this week by The Atlantic magazine, Adam Serwer writes: “Putting out statements supporting Black Lives Matter or adorning their logos with pride colors is very easy for big corporations, but such gestures do not signal a commitment to fair wages, safe working conditions, or a willingness to pay their share in taxes, let alone racial egalitarianism in all but the most cosmetic sense. They are merely brand management.”

If that’s true, then perhaps it’s as true of marcomms companies as any other. That’s been the experience of Dr. Lauren Tucker, who offers consultancy services to the industry (her Ph.D. is in journalism and mass communications). In a wide-ranging conversation with myself and Carolyn Lyden, director of content at Search Engine Land, Dr. Tucker explained why inclusion management at the operational level comes before raising individual consciousness about diversity. She also drew close connections between inclusion, equity and diversity, and talent management — essential to any agency’s success.

This is the first part of a two part article.

“The mission here is to spread the message. We’re quite evangelistic on our end,” said Dr. Lauren Tucker at the conclusion of a wide-ranging conversation about inclusion, equity and diversity.

She is the founder of Do What Matters, a consultancy dedicated to promoting diversity in the marketing services industry, with a special focus on agencies. But when she talks about diversity, inclusion and equity, she puts inclusion and equity first. “We focus on operations and operational change, so we look to use inclusion-first management as a means of rewiring organizational behavior to make inclusion a default.”

Dr. Lauren Tucker

Inclusion is the first priority

“I call it ‘inclusion, equity and diversity.’ Diversity is the outcome of inclusion and equity. IED: Tucker admits it sounds like a bomb. “A lot of folks feel that inclusion efforts are really only about minorities. Or they’re only about women. But that’s not true. What we’re finding is a lot of the opportunity hoarding that is happening in agencies is because of nepotism or because of cronyism.”

A lot of people, including white males, feel treated like second class citizens, especially at creative agencies. “Inclusion management is really about a rising tide that lifts all boats, making sure that everybody feels that they are contributing to the mission of the company.” This is especially important, said Tucker, for small agencies where the talent portfolio needs constantly to be enriched and nurtured.

Read next: The onus of diversity should not fall on Black marketers

Don’t mistake intention for completion

The background to the Do What Matters mission, of course, is a recent history of businesses feeling compelled to take stances on racial injustice and workplace diversity. But a recent report from Hue, a nonprofit built to amplify voices of color and support career paths in marketing, indicates deep structural problems which are unlikely to be resolved by expressions of solidarity and intent.

Unsafe. Unheard. Unvalued: A State of Inequity” is based on a survey of over 2,000 professionals in marketing, marketing services, communications and other functions. The report highlights widespread awareness of inequity and a desire to see it remedied. But in practice, 75-80% of respondents reported that their companies did not invest in diverse recruitment practices, had not instituted racial awareness training, and had failed to make meaningful progress on building a more equitable environment for employees of color.

Some businesses, said Tucker, are looking to make big changes: “Especially those who are recognizing that there are activist employees and activist customers out there. But they tend to mistake intent for completion and impact. They assume that somehow, by getting buy-in to a new initiative, this will naturally produce change across the organization. We saw a lot of intent, and a lot of furious action; they actually will hire a Chief Diversity Officer, will get Employee Resource Groups to do some research, etc.”

This tends to put the focus on BIPOC employees, on women, or people with disabilities. “I use the metaphor of the canary in the coalmine,” she says. “It’s about, hey, what can we do to get more canaries? How can we resuscitate these canaries?  Maybe we should try different birds.” In fact, the problems are operational and organizational. “Inclusion-first management says, how can we create a more inclusive workplace by changing these systems by really looking at what we’re doing to make sure that everyone in the organization can have the best career of their lives?”

Hiring a CDO isn’t the solution

Hiring a Chief Diversity Officer is not a panacea. “This is really top of mind for me,” said Tucker, “because I’ve had Chief Diversity Officers reach out to me in total frustration. Over the last year, it seems like everybody has decided to hire a Chief Diversity Officer. Don’t get me wrong, these are lovely people. Unfortunately, what it signifies is a bolt-on idea of diversity, equity and inclusion.” 

Many CDOs to be under-funded and unsupported. “As one Chief Diversity Officer said to me, she went to the CFO of the organization, and the CFO said, well I don’t know why this is so important. I mean, I don’t see color. Obviously, what that tells me is that the C-suite has not really bought in and there’s no consensus around what this person should be doing.” The CDO was recruited for no more than “visual performance” purposes.

“These folks are being brought in and hoodwinked, quite frankly, into believing that they will be able to have the impact that I think that I truly believe they know they could have if they had the right support, if they had the right investment levels, and if they had the commitment that is required from the entire C suite.”

Do What Matters requires an ongoing commitment, including a time commitment from senior management when they consult. “I mean we have conversations with the Presidents, and the CEOs and other C-suite members, once a week. We know the conversations around agency performance and organizational structures have to happen at that level, if we are going to see real change.”

Employee Resource Groups have a role to play

“We are helping our clients develop employee Employee Resource Groups,” said Tucker. “But what we have said to our clients is that, instead of hiring a Chief Diversity Officer, what you need to do is focus on talent, and hire a Chief Talent Officer, whose sole responsibility is to manage that talent portfolio, and to advise the C-suite on what needs to be done. Those Employee Resource Groups, the leaders of those groups then become an advisory council for that Chief Talent Officer.”

There are two objectives. The group leaders can help manage the social and cultural wellness of the agency, and they can help the Chief Talent Officer be the voice of the employees to the executive leadership. “But they can also articulate the change narrative that needs to happen within, within the employee base, so that that communication goes both ways.” This, Tucker believes, is the way to leverage the positive aspects of employee activism.

Read next: Brands need to speak out in support of the Black community

In the second part of this article, Dr. Tucker addresses talent management and the need to enrich the talent portfolio and avoid cultural homogeneity.

The post How inclusion can lead to diversity in marketing and communications appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Take the Martech Replacement Survey /the-martech-replacement-survey-347423 Thu, 01 Apr 2021 20:44:08 +0000 /?p=347423 A lot has changed over the last year, but how has that affected the martech stack?

The post Take the Martech Replacement Survey appeared first on Search Engine Land.

A lot of things have changed for over the last year, including of course for marketing and marketing ops teams. In a new survey conducted by Advanis for Sitecore, 80% of U.S. marketers said their responsibilities had significantly increased in the past year, against a backdrop of pressure from management, unrealistic deadlines, and sharp changes in strategy.

The survey revealed that marketers also feel pressured by changes in consumer behavior. Based on a sample of 1,000 consumers, the survey found that no less than 70% of consumers will leave a website if they can’t find what they want in a few clicks. It’s beyond doubt that assume that changes in buyer behavior have raised the pressure on B2B marketers too.

Read next: What a long strange year in digital marketing.

Martech is only one element in this picture, but it’s an important one. Digital transformation, which has become much more than a buzz phrase, has surely required many marketing teams to elevate their technology stack. That might mean leaning into solutions which can get up and running and deliver value quickly. It might mean accelerated innovation in the tech stack. Some companies might be under strict budget constraints, while others might have felt that 2020 was the year to bet the house.

Look at the results from last year’s survey.

We’d like to dig deeper into how the business environment over the last 12 months impacted martech decisions, but we need your help. Have you replaced any applications in your tech stack in the past year? Have you moved from homegrown legacy applications to commercial solutions (or vice versa)? And what impact have those changes had on your team?

Which brings us to the Martech Replacement Survey. It only takes three minutes to complete, and the results will help us all, as a community of martech users and martech watchers, to understand how what Microsoft’s Satya Nadella called “two years of digital transformation in two months” looks like over the whole of the last year.

Please take the survey here.

The post Take the Martech Replacement Survey appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Digital-first commerce boosts Shopify’s earnings /digital-first-commerce-boosts-shopifys-earnings-346239 Thu, 18 Feb 2021 17:21:31 +0000 /?p=346239 Meanwhile, physical giant Walmart reports disappointing earnings.

The post Digital-first commerce boosts Shopify’s earnings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The Ottawa-based global ecommerce platform yesterday announced striking financial results, with Q4 revenue up 94% YoY. Merchant Solutions revenues grew 117% (these are solutions Shopify offers in addition to its subscription platform, like payments and shipping).

Sales on the Shopify platform surpassed $5 billion during the holiday period. Full year revenue for 2020 showed an 86% YoY increase.

Major changes in consumer behavior. These results for a high-profile ecommerce enabler, while striking, are unsurprising given major changes in consumer behavior caused by the pandemic. Research from Publicis Sapient shows almost three-quarters of consumers purchasing online more than usual last summer (a trend likely to have persisted: 48% interviewed said they would continue to shop online in the future).

The research also indicates an opportunity for brands to acquire new customers through ecommerce experiences, with 74% purchasing products from retailers new to them.

Shopify responds. Shopify launched a number of initiatives in 2020 to promote digital transformation for merchants. In Q2 2020, it extended its free trial period from 14 to 90 days. It incorporated gift card capabilities in all its plans, as well as introducing buy-online-pickup-curbside and local delivery.

It also launched Shop, a free all-in-one mobile shopping assistant.

Meanwhile, Walmart falters. In contrast to Shopify’s success, Walmart saw a fall in shares in today’s pre-market trading as it reported Q4 earnings which fell short of Wall Street expectations.

Walmart has traditionally been a big-box retailer with almost 5,000 physical locations in the U.S. alone. It does, of course, have an ecommerce presence too, but it showed disappointing growth in Q4 (69%, the smallest increase since the pandemic hit).

This came against the backdrop of extra expenses involved in running physical locations during the pandemic, including sanitization, cleaning, and bonuses to staff.

Why we care. For the present, and for much of the foreseeable future, there’s a strong case for digital-first commerce. As consumers become accustomed to online shopping and delivery for products they would have previously purchased in-store, it’s in doubt whether they will revert to pre-pandemic habits once it’s safe to do so.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

The post Digital-first commerce boosts Shopify’s earnings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Breaking down President Biden’s data-driven social media strategy /breaking-down-president-bidens-data-driven-social-media-strategy-346129 Mon, 15 Feb 2021 19:11:48 +0000 /?p=346129 Biden social media director Sarah Galvez explains how Measure Studio and gave her team the tools they needed to drive a winning strategy.

The post Breaking down President Biden’s data-driven social media strategy appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Just days before the 2020 Presidential election, we reported that Joe Biden was outperforming Donald Trump on social media by certain key metrics. Despite the penetrating volume of Trump’s Twitter feed, Biden was earning more interactions per tweet, and far more interactions per user.

Not only was Biden winning on Twitter, but his campaign was making an impact on YouTube and even on Twitch. And, of course, he won the election. But this wasn’t a social media campaign based on flair and instinct: it was tightly driven by social analytics. No-one can better explain how that worked in practice than Sarah Galvez, Director of Social Media and Audience Development at Biden for President.

Sarah J. Galvez

“I started out like many millennials as a consumer of the internet and social media,” Galvez told us. “I think I started my Twitter account in a computer lab while I was in high school. I became obsessed with YouTube in particular, and in college started creating content for YouTube for the admissions and communications office — directing, writing and producing — and learned a lot about how to use social media for a specific purpose and goal, which was helping people to understand what it was like to attend an all-women’s college in Massachusetts.”

Dropping everything for Hillary Clinton

Moving to Los Angeles, she started working at Maker Studio, a Disney subsidiary, focused on working with YouTube creators. She helped creators understand back-end analytics, and optimize content based on those analytics. “When Hillary Clinton decided to run for President, I dropped everything to go and work as a field organizer in Iowa or Ohio.” Then she decided to cold-call the campaign, and managed to convince them that it was imperative to have someone focused on audience growth, particularly in the video space.

Read about how engagement trumps headlines.

She was invited to join what turned out to be the first ever audience development team on a political campaign. Since then, she’s cycled back and forth between politics and the private sector, where her clients have included Bloomberg Philanthropies, Planned Parenthood, Hardpin Media, and Harmony Labs. “I’ve also worked at a couple of super-pacs, including the largest Democratic super-pac in the country, Priorities USA Action.”

Re-vamping Biden’s social strategy

She joined the Biden campaign to help it pivot from the primaries to the general election. “I came in, re-vamped the team and the strategy, pulled in a bunch of people from outside of politics — places like Paramount Pictures and ABC, to make a strong team of strategists who were doing organic social content every day.”

It was important, Galvez said, to bring in people who were fresh to the campaign to supplement political operatives who had been through the 2016 cycle, and then the long grind of Trump’s first term. “It allowed us to bring in new ideas, and innovative and creative thinking.” She also broke down responsibilities for social platforms into component parts: for example, treating Instagram stories separately from Instagram.

“The woman we brought in to help us with our video and live strategy was a huge fan of Twitch,” said Galvez, “and started thinking about new and interesting ways to do it — new ways which didn’t always include putting a candidate on there who is a 77-year-old man who wouldn’t authentically be on Twitch.”

Gen Z and millenials, she said, can sniff out inauthentic content very quickly. What’s more, in some cases the platform algorithms are set to surface content which is raw and unpolished.

Biden meets Twitch

“As a result, we had to be conscious that everyone knew who Joe Biden was, and that he probably wouldn’t be scrolling through Twitch on an everyday basis. But you know what Joe Biden really loves? He has always been a huge proponent of Amtrak and infrastructure. There’s a whole community who just watch train streams — cameras on the back of a train, aesthetic and low key.”

Biden was set to undertake a train tour between Ohio and Pennsylvania . The team put a camera on the back of his train, with a soundtrack of lo-fi hip hop music, and streamed it on Twitch: authentic Joe Biden, optimized for the platform. “It’s about mixing the two worlds in a way that makes sense, rather than just trying to force something on the audience.”

In addition, a partnerships team, headed by Christian Tom of Group Nine Media, focused on digital influencers, while a completely separate surrogates team worked with high-level celebrity influences and elected officials.

Driven by the data

We asked Galvez what success metrics she was using to optimize these various initiatives. “The KPI depended on what the actual piece of content was. If it’s a fund-raising tweet, we’re going to optimize to getting donations through the door. But on an everyday basis, we were very focused on shareable content in particular; we knew that if people were sharing it, we were getting that megaphone and amplification, whether it be a re-tweet or a share on Instagram. A campaign is a very hectic environment, and there’s not a lot of time to stop and do a full analytics pull.” For quick daily snapshots of performance, Galvez leaned heavily on Measure Studio.

Galvez had known Measure’s co-founder and COO Thomas Kramer since her days at Maker Studio. “I knew he had a platform which could help us out.” The team was under constant pressure to report on how specific pieces of content were performing, and Galvez didn’t have time to spend an hour or two assembling data.

We asked Kramer about the evolution of Measure Studio. “I started in digital ten years ago, managing paid media campaigns on YouTube, and from there went to Maker Studio where I focused on organic growth for some of the top YouTubers, and then later for those Disney brands which were struggling on YouTube while they were succeeding on other platforms.”

Knowing a content strategy is working

This led to an interest in the challenges growth strategists like Galvez have in working with data. Disparate data across multiple platforms is burdensome to track, and Kramer came across digital publishers, brand marketers, and performance-based marketers like Galvez, who were looking for data solutions that existing social media management platforms were not providing.

“There are a lot of solutions out there for really two things,” said Kramer. “One is social media management in general — your Sprouts and Hootsuites, hyper-focused on how to make publishing and workflow around publishing easy — and the second is social listening tools like Tubular Labs.” These are great tools, said Kramer, but are limited in the information they provide on social content performance.

“A lot of people are focused on whether they did better or worse than a competitor, but a healthier way to look at the growth game, in my opinion, is how do I do a little better than I did last time.” That’s the philosophical underpinning for Measure Studio, said Kramer.

One thing Measure Studio doesn’t do is attempt to combine the metrics from different platforms to provide, for instance, overall engagement scores. “That’s just smoke and mirrors,” said Kramer. “Each of these platforms is unique in the way people consume. The content is unique. The affinities between different content types — like hip hop music on the back of a train — is unique. We focused on bench-marking performance uniquely per format and per platform.” It’s more important to know how to make a successful Instagram story than know how a piece of content performed in aggregate, across platforms.

A large part of Biden’s win

To manage scheduling of content, Galvez’s team used a project management tool, “Particularly towards the end of the campaign, we had days when we were publishing once or twice every hour around the clock,” Galvez said.

“One of the final things I’ll say,” she continued, “is that in 2016 there were a lot of conversations about the tools used on both sides to win it or lose it. For us, what it came down to was not talking about big, fancy tools, but really good content strategists given the exact tools needed to understand what was performing well and what wasn’t.” This time around, the winning combination was: “Good tech, good smart people, a really sound message, and message discipline. This propelled us to great growth and engagement online during the election season, and was a large part of the reason Joe Biden won the Presidency.”

The post Breaking down President Biden’s data-driven social media strategy appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Online shopping hits new records over the holiday weekend /online-shopping-hits-new-records-over-the-holiday-weekend-344197 Mon, 30 Nov 2020 16:49:33 +0000 /?p=344197 Friday was the biggest online shopping day ever. Cyber Monday is poised to beat it.

The post Online shopping hits new records over the holiday weekend appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Last month, we asked some industry experts whether economic uncertainty or increased comfort with online shopping would be the headline for this holiday season. It looks like we know the answer. As online shopping soared, in-person store visits fell by over 50% compared with 2019.

In October, Taylor Schreiner, Director of Digital Insights at Adobe, told us in an interview: “It’s very hard to predict with precision what’s going to happen. The biggest question in my mind is, how bad is the personal employment and disposable income situation going to become?”

On Black Friday, in a release, he said: “We are seeing strong growth as consumers continue to move shopping from offline to online this year. New consoles, phones, smart devices and TVs that are traditional Black Friday purchases are sharing online shopping cart space this year with unorthodox Black Friday purchases such as groceries, clothes and alcohol, that would previously have been purchased in-store.”

The data in this article is derived from Adobe’s analysis of around one trillion visits to U.S. websites.

A Thanksgiving record. Thanksgiving Day this year saw an increase of over 20% YoY in online sales, hitting a record consumer spend of over $5 billion — and almost half those transactions were conducted on smartphones, another record. The data also shows a strongly increased conversion rate for retailers offering curbside pickup for online purchases. This should be seen against a background of increased difficulties in offering swift and inexpensive shipping.

Read more about how supply chain and shipping impacts CX here.

More of the same on Black Friday. The day after Thanksgiving saw records smashed too, with an almost identical YoY increase in online sales (21/6%). Consumers spent some $9 billion, making it the second largest online spending day in U.S. history, with 40% of spending coming through smartphones.

One statistic held big promise for Small Business Saturday: on Friday, small businesses saw sales increase well over 500% compared with a typical day in October, success which continued with revenue growth of almost 300% on Saturday, based on the same comparison.

How is Cyber Monday looking? Adobe predicts that today will be the largest online shopping day in U.S. history, with consumers spending between $10.8 billion and $12.7 billion.

Why we care? It looks like mass consumer adoption of online shopping has thrived in the continuing, and likely worsening, health and economic crises. These figures underline the wisdom of those brands that invested heavily in the e-commerce experience this year, as well as those brands that launched new e-commerce initiatives. Unfortunately, the figures are also consistent with a K-shaped recovery, in which increased spending by some consumers does not reflect prosperity across the population.

Here’s our look back at a long, strange year in digital marketing.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

The post Online shopping hits new records over the holiday weekend appeared first on Search Engine Land.