Milestone Nominated for Best Use of Search

Milestone Internet Marketing is nominated for the 2016 US Search Awards, in association with Bing. The US Search Awards represents the industry’s highest level of search, PPC, and digital marketing in the country. This is only the fourth year for the US Search Awards, but already seen by many as a the biggest celebration of the industry. Hundreds of top agencies and individuals apply for the awards, the distinguished panel then judges each entry to create the short list of nominees, a true honor, before the award winners are announced on October 12th at Caesars Palace during PubCon.

“We are honored to be recognized by US Search Awards and Pubcon, this is such a prestigious competition allowing us to showcase our innovative digital marketing strategies,” says Milestone President Benu Aggarwal.

Milestone’s shortlisted entries for 2016 US Search Awards include:

 

US Search Awards

To learn more about our award-winning software and digital strategies, please send us an email at [email protected]


Source: Paid Search

Turn Your Hotel Website Into A Virtual Concierge

In this era of instant connectivity should your customers need to call the concierge desk for simple questions? What if your business could answer all their questions directly on their smart phone?

A significant trend in search is that search engines, including Google, want to provide a direct answer to searcher questions versus providing a link to a website with the answer. Google direct answers have increased from showing up in 9% queries in January 2016 to 15% in July 2016, a 67% increase in just 6 months*. Searchers and their heavy use of devices, speaking to phones and to cars, are driving this trend. Voice search is now delivered through Apple’s Siri, Window’s Cortana and of course Google, and extends your business’ visibility by providing your answer and url in the direct answer box.

The below example highlights when a customer asks a search engine a quick question, “Does the hotel Nikko have an airport shuttle”. The search engine, with the help of the hotel website, is able to directly answer the question rather than having the searcher click off of the results to find the answer on a webpage.

FAQ Module Hotel Nikko

Why do you want your business to show in the quick answer box?

Simple- this box is the new #1 position, not lost in the mix of the other results. It is important to note that just because a company is ranked in the top position of search results does not automatically highlight their business in the direct answer box. Thus, if you are in the 4th position in search results, the direct answer box is a great way to get to the top of the page. Additionally, Google includes a link within the box to the website, allowing people to go to the source of the information to learn more. So, you are not only answering questions for your current guests but reaching new customers who are likely in the discovery phase of their customer journey.

How do I get in Google’s direct answer box?

Google updates and products revolve around the user experience, providing a correct answer to a searcher is of utmost importance. Thus, we have comprised a few key metrics for the direct answer box.

  • Content

Your website needs to contain answers to the frequently asked questions searched by your consumers. These questions can be determined through research on social media channels, review sites, your concierge, and the front desk staff. Many businesses already have a FAQ sheet created for training new employees, use this same content for your digital customers and search engines.

  • Technical website

Schemas are certain tags to your data that allow search engines to quickly index and understand what the content is on the webpage. In order to send the relevant context signals to Google about the questions answered on the website, your content needs to be wrapped with schemas. In the client example shared above, Milestone created a Website FAQ Concierge to wrap the most frequently asked questions with schemas. Thus, when the searcher asked “Does the hotel Nikko have an airport shuttle?” Google was able to quickly pull the content wrapped with schema and deliver the answer directly, ultimately providing a great user experience on the mobile device.

  • Authoritative site

Search engines need to have confidence in your website to provide the correct information to the searchers. There are multiple ways of increasing authority, overall strategy should include a strong network of digital partners and links, pages with strong engagement, mobile-friendly, and have a good overall user experience. Your webpage needs to rank relatively high for the search queries to be in the answer box, most are in the top 5.

Take Advantage of this Opportunity- Website FAQ Concierge

Built on the Galexi™ Content management system 6.0, Website FAQ Concierge is a web based module that helps answer user generated question from search. The Website FAQ Concierge module is a technical method to allow your business to be shown in the answer box. This module allows your website to answer the growing voice search questions, and works for your mobile and desktop websites.

Key features:

  • Each category and question/answer has a unique URL
  • Each question/answer has been marked up with schemas
  • Support for up to 6 categories of questions (can be increased)
  • Support for up to 10 questions per category (can be increased to 20)

Below you can view what the Website FAQ Concierge has implemented on the hotel’s website, this is the page from the link highlighted in the direct answer box.

FAQ Module Hotel Nikko Website

Milestone continues to implement solutions for the latest trends, if you have any questions how to leverage the voice search trend or the Website FAQ Module comment below or email us.

*STAT Search Analytics Study


Contributed by:

Gaurav Varma, Product Marketing Manager


Source: Paid Search

Atmospheric Re-Entry!

re-entry_v

Here is a preview of an animation i’m working on. Playing around with Element 3D and Saber to create the fiery streaks!

This past week has been super productive, finishing VFX for Intercept, doing daily renders and preparing for another DMALA meeting in Los Angeles on October 18th. Going to be a blast!

Circuit City #Element3D #MotionDesign2

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Sep 8, 2016 at 12:27pm PDT

Source: Video Copilot

Finally, Twitter Implements the New Character Counts

Twitter took the internet with much excitement today by making live some rather important changes. Starting today (September 19th, 2016), any media attachments like photos, videos, polls will no longer be counted towards Twitter’s character count limits. Twitter is also testing an option where corporate handles [email protected] will be excluded from the character count when a user replies to a tweet. These changes to the tweet structure were announced in May 2016 but the actual changes were finally made live today.

Twitter Social Anouncement

Source: https://twitter.com/twitter

How Does this Impact Users?
Hospitality businesses can take advantage of this opportunity by showcasing rich content even more and unleash their creativity. It is often said that images sell rooms, you are now able to add media without taking away characters. Also, now you can have longer conversations, as the username will not take up valuable characters. If you use Milestone’s social media management software platform, MediaConnect360, simply start typing as the system is ready for the longer character count today. Below is our “extended” tweet for this article, eager to see if the longer tweets result in more engagement.

Twitter Update

If you are not already using a social media platform, research your options as users are increasingly going to social sites for the latest information from businesses- i.e. hours of operation, daily specials, and local events. MediaConnect360 has helped many hotels efficiently organize their social media strategies, processes, and content and increase their social reach. If you are interested in reaching your users across social channels contact us, read additional social posts on our blog, and/or browse our website.


Source: Paid Search

Circuit City

circuits_instagram

Making circuits! After trying to create something large, I thought I should try to make something small!

I started by taking a circuitry texture and placing it on a plane in Element 3D. I used the texture in the Glossiness channel and the reflection channel to give the pathways a metalic look. Next I built the circuits using various primitives like box and cylinder at various sizes and placed them around the board near the components of the texture. I couldn’t help myself and I ended up adding some motion design elements like the power core and microchips. It’s amazing how some random object suddenly looks like a fancy heat-sync in the right context.

And finally for the micro look, I turned on some camera depth of field!

I’ve included the circuit texture below so you can try it out!

chips_0004_Layer 2 chips_0000_Layer 6 chips_0001_Layer 5

board_E3D

circuit_Texture

Source: Video Copilot

Key Strategies to Maximize Your 2017 Budget [Webinar Recap]

 

The Milestone team presented a comprehensive webinar, Key Strategies to Maximize Your 2017 Budget, this week to alleviate budgeting concerns and unknowns for your 2017 digital plans. If you are tasked with creating your hotel’s marketing budget you will find value in watching! This webinar covers important hospitality goals (such as decreasing dependencies on OTAs) and the digital campaigns to budget for to attain your marketing goals. We highlight checklists for each digital section for hospitality properties, a great way to not let anything slip through the cracks!

Tammie highlighted Think With Google in the webinar, we encourage you to spend time reviewing articles regarding mobile and micro-moments.

Thank you to Tammie Carlisle and Bob Kippola who hosted the webinar and everyone who joined!


Source: Paid Search

Cloud City

cloud_city-fix

Continuing the Element 3D fun! This started as a desert scene and soon turned into a cloud city! Typical. Part of the fun of these render projects is just creating random stuff and designing without a specific goal. It’s actually been really challenging and exciting to try various techniques.

In this scene, I used an aerial cloud photos with some dust stock footage to create a wispy cloud city. The trick was placing dust in front and behind the objects so they pop out a bit. This design was broken into two copies of Element 3D. One for the BG buildings and one for the front pieces. This made it easy to place smoke between the layers.

I also used the E3D Fog and Ambient occlusion to create distance separation. There are probably a bunch of ways I could lay the scene out but the nice thing is once it is setup you can experiment with various arrangements!

cloud_city_progression

 

city_component

 

Source: Video Copilot

Arctic Station Progression

arctic-_v2

I wanted to try to create something large-scale with Element 3D. And it can be pretty tricky! Having lots of smaller details in addition to large details helps give objects a sense of scale. I started with some pistons from the Motion Design 2 collection. Then added things like pipes and mechanical components at various scales to give the object more small details. Also adding some normal map textures with various details helps give simple objects more greebles!

Things to try:

  1. Start with the large shapes
  2. Add some medium details
  3. Figure out your camera angle
  4. Add even more micro details: Lights, Pipes, Greeble
  5. Use texture to add grunge. The size of the grunge will help sell the scale!
  6. I moved the horizon down so it looked like the camera had to pan up!
  7. Doors, latters, crates are also good items to use that will give thingsperspective.

The lighting is similar to the recent rooftop tutorial. I used a parallel light with ray-trace Shadows and AO. Here are some progressions of the angle of the shot and a deviation from industrial to sci-fi. I think adding blue lights turns it into the future.

screen_captures

versions_arctic

"Video Copilot" #throwback

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Sep 4, 2016 at 11:16am PDT

Source: Video Copilot

What a Twist!

IMG_3839

Here are a few more daily renders I created while getting over this cold!

twist_wires

To create the wire I built a simple group of wires using several cylinder primitives. Then using a second group I created some smaller twists and scattered them along the line. In order to add a twist to the entire object I used the UTILITY export option to export and OBJ and re-import it as a single object. Then used the bend option. Making sure to turn on “Dynamic Deform” in the objects surface normal’s.

Tri-Force #Element3D

A photo posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Aug 31, 2016 at 6:45pm PDT

Logo loop! #Element3D #echo Check out the breakdown at videocopilot.net

A video posted by Video Copilot (@andrewkramer) on Aug 30, 2016 at 11:08am PDT

Source: Video Copilot

Melrose Georgetown Hotel Increases Revenue with Award Winning Website

Considering a new hotel website? Perhaps your website is performing “okay”and the thought of a digital overhaul is exhausting? Rather than thinking of the initial “pains” think of the continuous rewards. Increasing your luxury rooms and suites sold, your group business, and overall bookings is a reality with a new website, read how the Melrose Georgetown Hotel was able to transform their website and revenue streams.

Melrose Hotel Website

The Melrose Georgetown is a AAA 4-star boutique hotel in the heart of Georgetown, blocks from the White House. Luxury, historic, and iconic are top of mind when thinking of the hotel.

Problem:

  • The site was not producing enough revenue and traffic demanded by this type of property and location.
  • New traffic, especially from the organic source, was low.
  • Needed to attract luxury and boutique hotel guests for the DC market in addition to government travel, even though these stays are not at rack rate.
  • Needed to increase local residents for the outlets on site.

Large Scale Solution:

  • Fully responsive design
    • Allows people to easily find what they are looking for on the website, no matter what device they use.
  • Galexi CMS platform
    • Schemas built into the content management system platform increases organic search presence
  • Event calendar, powered by MediaConnect360
    • Attract the large volume of search from visitors coming to Washington, D.C. in the summer months and keep the website fresh and engaging for search engines
  • Added Photo Gallery to top navigation
    • Images increase time on page and conversions, and searchers expect to be able to view professional photos in a click.

Continuous Optimization Strategies:

  • Added a “Book Now” button to each room type on the accommodations page
    • Easier for users to immediately convert to buyers, increased conversion and click-through rates to the booking engine
  • Optimized Accommodations page to target “Rooms & Suites”
    • Drive more qualified visitors that have the intent to book luxury rooms and suites
  • Updated H1 tags with more compelling messaging on Home, Location, Rooms and Services
    • Achieve better optimization, user experience and helps define page intent for search

Long-Term Results:

Remember, changing your website will not just be an immediate bump in traffic but an investment for seasons to come. The website launched in May 2015, below is performance data comparing the performance from the year prior and post website launch.

  • Organic Revenue Increased 37%
  • Organic Traffic Increased 32%
  • Mobile Sessions Increased 171%
  • Mobile Goal Completions Increased 18.1%
  • IAC Awards Outstanding Website Recipient
  • The Communicator Award of Distinction Recipient

Summary:

The Melrose Georgetown recognized the need to increase organic traffic and direct revenue streams. Partnering with Milestone provided the strategies and software needed to compete for the seasons to come. Now, more searchers are aware of the Melrose Georgetown hotel, able to quickly view images of the unique property, check availability, and book easily across devices.

To learn more about the Milestone software used by the Melrose Georgetown please contact us directly or view Galexi CMS, MediaConnect360, and NAPtune.

 


Source: Paid Search

Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

Blogging with a purpose increases market share, consumer engagement, revenue growth, and ROI. Of course, you want to do that.

I mean, just look at this:

image07 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

But a lot of people I know are still stuck on the fundamental question:

What do we blog about?

For brands, the question is easy enough to answer.

You need to understand: 1) what you’re selling, 2) to whom you want to sell, and 3) what blog topics are relevant to both.

For individuals or other organizations who want to start a blog to monetize, the question can be a bit trickier.

About a year ago, I came up with an idea. I wanted to show you how to generate $100,000 a month from a new blog.

I picked a topic and have been making progress toward that goal.

But what if you haven’t picked a topic yet?

That’s why I wrote this article. A great blog has to start with a topic.

These are the types of articles, topics, and approaches that have demonstrated massive success in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

1. Listicles

Marketers have a love/hate relationship with listicles.

They’re among the most popular articles online, used by Buzzfeed, defended by the NY Times, and even discussed at this year’s SXSW tech conference.

Some people think listicles lack quality. And that could be true for some of them. Listicles, like any form of content marketing, have their pros and cons.

image03 3 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

But let’s face it, people love to read listicles. It’s not just a trend. It’s scientifically proven!

That’s why the article you’re reading right now is a listicle.

2. How-tos

People generally hate reading instruction manuals. When was the last time you snuggled up with a glass of wine and the instruction manual to your toaster?

How do people figure out how to do stuff?

They Google it.

WikiHow became insanely popular based on how-to articles alone.

image02 3 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

You might be surprised to see the kind of things people are Googling.

If you can find your niche audience, cater to their curiosities, and give them some helpful answers, you can’t help but create a popular blog.

3. Politics

Politics are popular during every election year. Whether national or local, find a political topic to discuss, and join this conversation.

Politics can be dicey, however. People tend to get really polarized around political topics, so be prepared to handle some controversy.

4. Bacon

Everyone loves bacon.

Huffington Post is one of the most popular blogs online, and it has an entire archive of bacon articles.

image01 3 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

It’s not a trend going away soon, so get on board.

5. Recipes

Recipes are a great way to draw traffic to your blog.

There’s always a new diet fad, e.g., today’s Whole30 is yesterday’s Atkins, so there’s always new recipes to be discovered.

6. Beginner guides

Before you can convince someone that you know the advanced stuff, start with 101 beginner guides.

My own beginner guides have been very popular.

image10 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

Everyone has to start somewhere. Beginner guides are often the way bloggers build organic search traffic at the start, and they can even be done using infographics like this guide to Sharepoint.

image04 1 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

7. Ultimate guides

Subject matter experts, on the other hand, are always seeking out the most credible ultimate guides for their areas of expertise.

The term “ultimate guide,” however, is a bit overused. You can use some alternate terms if you want, such as these from Business Casual Copywriting:

  • Essential Guide
  • Complete Guide
  • Uncensored Guide
  • Last Guide to ____ You’ll Ever Need

If you’re an expert on something, creating an ultimate guide is an ultimately awesome way to do some ultimately popular blogging. 1f609 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

8. Frequently asked questions

Be warned that posting answers to frequently asked questions online won’t stop people from asking anyway.

They do, however, serve as a resource for people, and they are often featured on e-commerce websites—but overlooked on blogs. FAQs are blogging gold in any age.

Google’s algorithm uses FAQs, questions, and other popular topics as part of its Knowledge Graph. If you’re lucky, you might score a top spot in this coveted place.

image00 4 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

9. Interviews

The best way to set yourself apart from the ocean of bloggers is to gain insight from industry experts.

Whether it’s with people on your team or from other companies in the industry, set up interviews on websites like helpareporter.com to gain valuable knowledge from a professional.

10. Personal stories

While personal stories may not be the keyword-filled anchor pieces you want, they’re still valuable additions to any blog.

Through sharing personal stories, you give readers a chance to relate to your business on a personal level, which helps build brand affinity.

11. Charity and activism

Any type of charitable actions, events, or activism you support should be blogged about.

Crowdfunding sites such as KickStarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe, and the like appeal to the good in people, and showing you’re active in these communities can build your readership. Even an occasional Change.org petition can help the brand image.

12. People features

Featuring select people—customers, professionals, authorities, leaders, etc.,—is a great way to add personality to your blog and create a sense of connection.

One of the most popular blogs doing this today is Humans of New York.

image05 3 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

Occasionally featuring a real person—including photos, quotes, and other personal information—is a great way to produce strong engagement with your audience.

13. Product reviews

Not only are product reviews a trusted resource online that will draw traffic, but they are also a revenue stream for bloggers.

If you want to monetize your blog instantly, this is a smart move.

By linking to product pages through affiliate links like Amazon Affiliates, you can monetize a blog almost entirely on product reviews. Make sure you go niche, since this provides the greatest platform for credibility and expertise.

14. Sourced news

A great way to get media attention is to report on any type of sourced news. Long before the Internet, newspapers ruled the roost, and sourced news is still appreciated by news junkies.

With the right type of curation, selection, and commentary, this is a niche you can dominate.

15. Gifs and memes

It wasn’t just listicles that made Buzzfeed so popular.

Memes and gifs are widely used on the site too.

Gifs give people the experience of a video and usually provide a ton of entertainment.

16. Myth-debunking

Every industry has facts and fiction, which is why shows like Mythbusters got so popular.

We love learning what we’ve been doing or thinking wrong this whole time, so popular bloggers debunk myths.

17. Virtual reality

VR is a growing industry that’s only going to continue getting larger as time goes on.

image06 3 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

Analysts predict it’ll reach $3 billion in investments by the end of 2016, so jumping on the bandwagon now could drive early adopter traffic.

18. Internet of things

Smart and connected devices are everywhere these days, and IoT experts blogging about IoT topics draw readers.

If you choose an IoT niche, you’ll have to prove your mastery of the subject matter. The niche is full of people who know what’s up.

19. Automation

For B2B businesses, automation is the buzzword of the day, so any posts regarding ways to automate something is Internet gold.

Automation, of course, is broad. You’ll need to select a type of automation in order to drive truly valuable traffic.

20. Troubleshooting guides

I’m always on the lookout for reliable troubleshooting tips.

Troubleshooting guides speak to the pain many content seekers are looking to eliminate. They want to solve a problem, which is exactly what a successful troubleshooting guide will do.

21. Contests

A great way to draw interest in a blog while rewarding readers is by holding a contest.

Contests once got a bad rap as being scammy or cheap, but they are on their way back as a valuable traffic-driving technique.

24. Advice

Both Lifehacker and Lifehack rose to prominence by featuring valuable advice to readers on just about every subject.

Life advice, regardless of the subject matter, is a valued commodity.

25. Productivity tips

People want to do more faster and are always on the lookout for tools, technology, or tips to help them get more done. Productivity tips are the bread and butter of many online blogs.

26. Travel

No matter how connected we get, travel will always be a popular topic for online searches.

With 126 million passports in circulation in the U.S. today, you know people are traveling—or at least they want to.

image08 1 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

We all want to travel somewhere exotic and new. Any advice on how to do it cheaply is always appreciated.

27. History

History lessons are a great way to fill a blog with useful information.

Long-time bloggers often get caught up on current events, so occasional forays into history help create consistent content.

28. Funny stories

There will always be a place for humor in this world.

Posts that make people laugh get shared on social networks. There’s a reason why Buzzfeed, The Onion, Clickhole, and BoredPanda are among the world’s most popular websites.

image09 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

29. Parenting tips

There will always be parents around, and any parenting tips are appreciated.

Blogging moms have conferences and conventions around the country, teaching people to follow in their footsteps and growing a sustainable industry.

Dad bloggers are also coming into their own as popular and respected places of information.

30. Upcoming events

You can always tell when an event is coming up by the buzz in the blogosphere. Whether it’s global events like the Olympics or local events like a concert or book-reading, events saturate many of the most popular online searches.

31. Internet stars

Partnering with and featuring the biggest Internet stars helps grow your following, so many content creators are partnering up in order to stay competitive. If you don’t know who PewDiePie and The Fine Bros are, it’s time to do some homework.

32. Tech support

Companies that offer technology services, hardware, or software will often include technical support within their blogs.

Microsoft, Google, and Facebook have extensive knowledge bases online, and they’re only growing along with everyone else’s.

33. Gift ideas

Right about now, blogs around the Internet are preparing holiday gift guides to help guide consumers to the right presents to buy for their colleagues, friends, and family during the holiday season.

Affiliate links can help create revenue for these cornerstone articles.

34. Best-ofs

The best ____ of 2016, the 2000s, this century, and of all time are all great articles to read.

WatchMojo built an entire business on top 10 lists, and many others are following suit. Including best-of lists focused on everything within your industry is a great way to draw reader attention.

35. Respond to readers

People have always been interested in getting advice from publications, whether it’s from old-school advice columnists such as Ann Landers or new-school ones such as Dan Savage.

Responding to readers makes you a real person having a real conversation and allows you to address individual concerns to prove you care.

Conclusion

Popular topics come and go.

You might pick a technique today only to find it went into disfavor the next day. That’s part of the excitement and drama of blogging. You’ll deal with it, pick up your traffic, and move on.

The topics, techniques, and tactics listed above are virtually guaranteed to make you the world’s most popular blogger.

Maybe you’ve got all the traffic you need. Maybe you have the audience you want. Maybe you’re content.

But if you want to see some improvement, it couldn’t hurt to try a few of these.

What blogging ideas will you be using that have the promise to be popular?

 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular  Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular  Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular

 Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular
Source: QuickSprout

The post Top 35 Blogging Ideas That Are Guaranteed to Be Popular appeared first on JZ-ART.

Source: JZ-Art

10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

writing 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

You’ve probably faced this before.

I know I have.

You’ve run out of ideas.

Maybe you’ve been blogging along for, I don’t know, maybe three or four years. Maybe it’s only three or four months.

And now you’re done. Why? Because you’ve written everything there is to write about the subject.

You’ve exhausted all possible avenues, topics, approaches, angles, possibilities, and techniques. It’s over. Your blogging career has to die because you don’t have anything else to say.

It’s no use trying to fake it and continue to post recycled fluff just to keep your audience placated, because they will wise up fast.

If you’re out of ideas, you’re out. You can’t just—boom!—make yourself write new stuff on demand.

What do you do?

It’s time to step back and strategize.

I’ve been blogging for a long time. Ten years is a long time, right?

And I still haven’t stopped. I’m not just blogging here, on Quick Sprout. I’m also posting a lot of articles on NeilPatel.com, maintaining columns on Huffpo, Forbes, and Inc., and sharing guest articles with other marketing sites.

Yes, I deal with the same topics, but I have to provide fresh and unique content all the time.

Here are some of the ways I come up with interesting topics in order to keep readers engaged, informed, and coming back for more.

1. Don’t just read. Analyze all angles of the news

Staying up-to-date with the latest events in your industry is not always a matter of a quick Google search.

Google News only indexes a limited number of websites for its web searches and even fewer for its News aggregator.

image01 2 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

Start with the most basic search, and compare your SERPs and headlines to other news sources.

It helps tremendously to research the demographics of your favorite news websites and determine some of the most recognized brand names in the industry as well as well-known commentators associated with that industry.

Take note of the movers and shakers of your business, and follow their movements.

Follow them on social media to see not only what they are posting but also what they’re reading and what they’re sharing and retweeting.

You’ll see what’s on their minds, and knowing the thought process of influencers in your industry, you’ll be able to anticipate tomorrow’s news.

2. Stay tuned into the voice of the people through social media comments

Don’t stop looking for ideas after reading the most respectable and popular publications. Why? Because some of the best conversation starters are trending on social media.

They may not come from a reliable news source, but do these topics generate interest? Absolutely!

More Americans actually get their news from Facebook and Twitter than they do from network programming.

image05 2 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

Some of the most absurd “guilty pleasure” posts trending on Facebook (you know, ridiculous headlines like “Child Sues Mother for Deleting All Her iPad Apps” or whatever) are great places to collect ideas.

Have you seen this meme that says, “I just came here to read the comments?”

image03 1 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

Well, sometimes I do visit websites just to read the comments!

Why? I gauge what people are thinking about trends, the questions they ask, and what’s inspiring them to comment.

People really speak their minds, holding nothing back! I’ve been shocked by the things I’ve read.

Ask questions about the stories and articles you read.

  • Why did this inspire controversy?
  • What made people comment?
  • What was the biggest issue people commented about?
  • Who else might this event or trend affect besides the person interviewed for the story?
  • What might be the long-term result of these new trends?
  • What does this show us about how people’s attitudes have changed on a given subject over a period of time (several years, for example)?

Maybe the story you encountered on Facebook will spark an idea for a post on “How many parents admit to using iPads to keep their children quiet?”

It’s a related discussion to the original story you read, and yet if you’re an app developer or iPad seller, it’s also more relevant to your audience.

Ideas come from unexpected places. The more you constantly feed your mind, the more ideas will come to you. Write them down as soon as inspiration strikes.

Keeping up with social media news—and just as importantly, the comments of users and how the news makes them feel—is a great place to spark your creativity.

3. Visit some Q&A sites, and borrow their questions

Most questions on Q&A sites are public domain. Your answers can prove to be invaluable.

Industry leaders are always ready to answer a customer’s question, and frankly, it’s just the polite thing to do.

Now, guess where these people go to get a professional opinion on a question they have?

They certainly don’t go directly to your office or your website, do they? They may not even run a keyword search.

No, they just ask whoever is nearby.

The current generation is used to asking questions and getting answers in 30 seconds.

If their friends don’t know the answer, they’ll ask random groups of people. And guess what? Eventually someone answers.

That’s why you have sites such as LinkedIn, Yahoo Answers, and Quora, which discuss thousands of industry-specific questions you can browse.

image04 3 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

Searching these sites is a double advantage for you. You can answer the questions on the site (getting some attention from the mainstream) and then write a new blog post or article by turning that brief Q&A into an entire 500-1000-word discussion.

Expand on the answers already given, and provide more insight on the issue.

Judging from the growing databases of these Q&A sites, you’ll never run out of questions to answer—very often, even with niche topics.

4. Create your own database of customer concerns and questions

Chances are you’ve sold at least a few products, if not hundreds, by now. That means you have plenty of cases to study for your own marketing purposes.

What did your customers say in the reviews? What questions did they ask? Reviews matter, so pay attention.

image00 3 e1472338208144 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

You can generate ideas from their statements, survey information, emails, or testimonials.

I jump on the reviews customers leave to see tomorrow’s trends.

I immediately read all posted reviews to see whether the customer is satisfied or not and whether they left any suggestions for improvement. I use their enthusiasm, positive or negative, to fire up discussion on the web content.

If you have never taken the time to learn your customer’s personality and demographic, start now. Send a survey form along with every product delivery, and give them an incentive for taking the time to fill it out.

This will give you insight into your customer’s mind, and it’s the most direct and effective way to keep producing the content they want to read.

5. Research what your competitors have already done

There’s no shame in learning from someone as equally ambitious and dedicated as you are. Make a list of your closest competitors—for industry as well as for local or long-tail keywords—and take notes on what they are writing about and why.

Now, you don’t want to blatantly copy their entire article. Rather, analyze their topics, and determine ways to expand upon the story.

For example, for a broad topic such as food safety, ask yourself if there is a way to narrow it down to something more specific, like recent changes in the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

If the topic is too niche and you can’t think of a way to adapt it to an original article of your own, broaden the topic to your area of expertise.

There’s no sense, however, in rewriting something that’s already successful and niche-specific.

Coming up with fresh ideas is one-half researching other people’s great ideas and one-half brainstorming ways to make your rendition better.

6. Research the history of your profession and all related professions—offline!

It may surprise you to know there is far more information in book form than there is all across the seemingly infinite Internet.

The Internet makes research easier, but the information found there is not as comprehensive as we might think.

Libraries and bookstores are an underrated source of information, particularly in exploring forgotten or lesser-known histories and studies.

The quality of paperback or hardcover books is generally much higher and more in-depth than that of Internet e-books or articles, which are really scratching the surface of what we know.

Consider quantity alone. According to a very conservative Google Books estimate, about 130,000,000 books are still in existence throughout the world, though the number could be higher than that.

In contrast, Amazon—a place many people consider the definitive source of books—has less than a million e-books and lists 1.8 million print titles for sale (according to a Quora discussion).

Libraries offer access not only to books but also to newspapers, journals, encyclopedias, and archival documents that are simply not online because there’s no interest in them. In these records, though, there is enough research to power up a blog for years on end.

If you really want to establish yourself as an expert in your field and produce thoroughly original content, take your search offline and bring back a gem of knowledge.

7. Interview an expert

Content writers sometimes ignore the option to interview an expert because quoting press statements are easier to use.

If, however, you are in need of a series of interesting blogs or articles, reaching out to a professional in your industry (or related industry) for an in-depth discussion can generate enough information to write a number of individual posts.

Many experts will give interviews free, provided you have a popular blog or are reporting on a niche subject with little available information.

Many experts are eager to give online interviews either to correct what they think is inaccurate information on their subject or to build their reputation and make their name Internet-famous on a given subject.

I remember interviewing a number of leaders in my earlier days, and the issue of payment never came up. Sometimes these experts really love to share their knowledge and have someone listen.

Since they know you’ll publicize the interview, it’s a win-win for them, especially if you keep the interview brief, using phone or video chat.

Profnet, a subsidiary of PRNewsWire, is a site that matches writers with experts (or usually their representatives) in a number of fields.

Some will do brief interviews online or on the phone for free. Some experts might charge a fee, and if it’s a niche in which you can produce a lot of content and get some highly targeted traffic, it may be worth the exchange.

8. Hire young blood

Fresh perspectives are the best way to think outside the box. If you run out of ideas, brainstorm with more members of the team. Owners will oftentimes hire new blood to help in brainstorming sessions.

Even as an individual web content writer, you can tap into young creativity by simply starting conversations with acquaintances in the office or in your circle of friends online.

Many of my websites, such as Crazy Egg, have content from multiple contributors. That’s one reason why the content stays fresh.

Featuring writers from multiple backgrounds and demographics helps bring diverse, and sometimes even opposite, views on the same events we cover.

Another thing that can spark your imagination is hearing personal experiences of your colleagues or friends. People probably tell you stories about their lives all the time, e.g., an exciting commute to work, a weekend adventure, etc.

Do you actually listen and say to yourself, “You know, this would make a great blog topic!”?

You can tell their stories, with permission, or adapt their stories to start a discussion with your readers.

9. Learn to read the work of your enemies

It’s amusing how reluctant we are to listen to our enemies or, in some cases, the “quacks” of a field who we believe are spreading anti-advice.

This is why some people completely block news sites they deem biased or ignore social media users that irk them.

But I think some of the most interesting revelations about any industry come from disagreement. When someone disagrees with you, it’s an opportunity for you to sharpen your debating skills. You brush up on your knowledge of history and science so you can make an accurate rebuttal.

This is actually standard protocol in college when you write a dissertation. By learning the opposing side’s viewpoint, taking into account their objections and their research, you strengthen your own argument.

It doesn’t really matter if you believe the viewpoint or not. Whether spoken or written, it’s a part of your industry. Maybe that means you must correct the misconceptions with your web content.

Be open-minded to new evidence. Test new and outside the box ideas, even if they seem ludicrous.

This is just a part of the brainstorming experience. By spending some time investigating wrong ideas about your industry, you can find the right idea. You will also have greater passion for your industry.

I make it a point to read both sides of an argument before concluding what each side got right and wrong. It doesn’t hurt to play “devil’s advocate” in your industry blog either.

Sometimes, I can come up with a topic after reading someone else’s story that I feel is utterly false and misleading. And guess what? It stirs a great conversation, which gives me ideas for three more posts.

As you can see from this Pew Center graphic, many brand name news outlets are associated with biased viewpoints:

image07 4 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

Bias isn’t a bad thing, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid a biased outlet.

Objectivity is not your concern. Rather, you can generate fresh ideas for new topics by reading opposing points of view on the same subject.

10. Stay on top of industry news

Social media is not the universal channel for industry news.

While social media is important to review so you can learn the voice of the consumer, blog writing it really its own entity.

If you don’t move beyond social media, you’ll frequently pass over some really good stuff because of poor hashtags, too much competition, and bad scheduling.

On the other hand, using a blog news app will help you stay up-to-date with relevant industry blogs as soon as they are updated.

You can subscribe to the RSS feed for fast updates, or you can use a website such as Bottlenose, which is a data discovery program that gives you real-time insights about the trends in your industry.

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This goes beyond just bookmarking and actually allows you to get analytical insights about drivers of brands, consumer trends, emerging risks, and what the competition is doing.

Alltop provides a free service and, a bit more to the point, shares the top business blogs and the most trending news stories.

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You can also create your own virtual magazine rack of top websites, magazines, and blogs. Better yet, you can even share your rack as a URL for easy interaction.

Conclusion

Lastly, remember that your brain is constantly working.

Even during sleep, it can subconsciously give rise to new ideas.

If you’re feeling drained and out of fuel, take a break and sleep on it.

Let your mind dwell on the idea over time, and make subconscious connections while you attend to something else. Before you know it, inspiration will strike you.

As long as you keep taking in information, you’ll always be capable of generating great content.

What are your techniques for coming up with interesting topics?

 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes  10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes  10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes

 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes
Source: QuickSprout

The post 10 Content Writing Tips That Will Help You Find Interesting Topics in Minutes appeared first on JZ-ART.

Source: JZ-Art

Jetstrike Render Breakdown!

ac130 crop

I think the Aviator was on TV this weekend so I was inspired to make this image and here is a little breakdown:

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BREAKDOWN:

  1. First thing I did was load this model from the Jetstrike collection and convert the materials to a physical shaders.
  2. I was going to just place the ship over a cloud background but I noticed it looked like the aircraft was emerging through the clouds so…
  3. I took some dust stock footage and placed it around the craft with Mesh warping. Making sure to put some in front and behind.
  4. I used a Z-Depth pass to blend the ship into the cloud layer.
  5. As a final touch I added some fog to the render to simulate mist.
  6. For motion blur I animated the Turbines with the Jetstrike Rig controls with some additional radial blur.

Beauty

smoke_elements

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BG

Source: Video Copilot

How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data-Driven Formula

A few years back when I first started NeilPatel.com, I spent $66,372.09 on paid advertising through LinkedIn, Google AdWords, Retargeter, Perfect Audience, and StumbleUpon ads.

You might say that’s a lot of money.

It was. But I learned some valuable lessons.

I learned which platforms and networks work best for targeting which audiences with which ads.

Some of my takeaways?

LinkedIn, for example, provided an excellent return on B2B ads, while Google still reigned supreme for B2C. StumbleUpon’s conversion rate for paid products was woefully low.

The top three paid ad spots on Google’s SERPs, for example, get 41% of the clicks. Even the best SEO techniques will only expose you to 59% of the viewing audience, and Google’s knowledge graph and infoboxes are quickly cutting into that as well.

Marketing professionals across the board agree that pay-per-click advertising works. The hard part is getting set up with a solid PPC plan to serve as your foundation.

We need to know how much to spend, when to spend it, where to spend it, and how to spend it correctly.

Those are tough calls to make, especially if you’re a paid advertising newbie. The paid platforms can be complicated and confusing. What do you do with all these options, data, and metrics?

image04 2 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

To answer these questions and be successful, instead of playing a guessing game, we need information and cold hard data.

How PPC works

First, a quick lesson in PPC, which you probably already know. I’m including it for the newbs (and a refresher for the pros—it never hurts!).

Google and other search engines allow you to purchase ad views on their platforms on a pay-per-click pricing model. The actual price is determined by the number of searches and ads running for a particular keyword or phrase.

A popular search term, such as “insurance,” can cost $59 per click to advertise, meaning you’ll have to pay Google $59 for every lead it gets to your website by displaying your ad at the top of the search results for the terms you bid on.

This isn’t your typical example, however, as “insurance” is actually the most expensive PPC keyword by a large margin.

These costs can be mitigated (and conversions improved) by targeting specific demographics, affinity groups, geographic locations, and mobile devices, which are generating more and more search traffic.

image01 1 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

Of course, search engines aren’t the only platforms for paid ads. Social networks and video ads are rising in popularity, as explained in this Search Engine Land article by Pauline Jakober.

Video ads in search results aren’t a reality yet, but with Alphabet owning both Google, the world’s largest search engine, and YouTube, the world’s largest video platform, it’s only a matter of time.

Determining CAC and LTV

CPC isn’t the same as your customer acquisition cost (CAC). What ultimately determines your CAC is your website’s conversion rate.

If each web visitor costs $59 to obtain and you’re only converting 50% of your visitors, the customer acquisition cost for your PPC campaign is actually double your CPC, or $118 in the example of insurance.

This doesn’t take into account the rest of the marketing budget either, which also includes radio, print, television, social media, billboard, event marketing, and other customer outreach initiatives.

The CAC is calculated by dividing all marketing expenses by the number of customers acquired in the same period. For example, if a company spent $10,000 on marketing in a year and acquired 10,000 customers as a result, its CAC is $1.00.

Balancing the CAC with the customer’s lifetime value (LTV) is how you create a successful business model.

image06 1 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

So long as the LTV is larger than the CAC, your marketing efforts are working, and you have a sustainable business model.

When the CAC rises above the LTV, you’re in trouble.

Because understanding this concept is critical, here’s a graphic to help make the lesson sink in:

image03 2 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

To calculate the LTV of a customer, you need to know how much each customer spends in an average purchase, how many purchases the average customer makes in a certain time period (day/week/month/year), and how long the average customer sticks around.

Profit margins, discounts, customer retention rate, and gross margins are all factored in to the final formula, which you can find here.

In the case of an insurance company, if an average policy costs $1,000 ($100 is profit), and the average customer is retained for 3 years, you’re making $300 for every $118 spent on your PPC campaign, which is close to the actual average.

Businesses make an average of $3 for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords.

I’m sure you want to double your money. We all do. But if everyone is advertising for the keyword “insurance,” they’re missing quite a bit of traffic. You need to check associated keywords.

Extending keyword searches

There are millions of searches for insurance every month, but you have no idea whether those people are looking for medical, life, business, home, phone, or auto insurance.

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It’s still worthwhile to advertise on a single keyword, but with such a high CPC, you shouldn’t pour all your budget into that one highly competitive keyword.

image07 3 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

“Car Insurance,” “insurance quotes,” “auto insurance,” “compare car insurance,” and “car insurance quotes” all have different prices for different search volumes. Spreading your budget across all these keyword phrases increases the chances that your ad is seen by people searching the web in different ways.

At this point, your overall CPC will be determined by the cost and frequency of each individual search term. You can afford to buy some traffic for “insurance” and “auto insurance” so long as it’s balanced out with “compare car insurance,” “insurance quotes,” and “car insurance quotes.”

You now have a potential pool of customers that’s three times the size of your original pool, which maximizes the reach of your ads.

Continue this research into five- and seven-word long-tail searches for the best results. For example, phrases such as “Best car insurance company in Arizona” or “Cheapest car insurance for 2005 Ford Mustang” are great ways to target specific regions or car owners.

The longer a search term, the more specific information a customer is typically looking for. While searches may be lower, bids will also be lower, allowing you to obtain some customers for $5 and others for $50 while still maintaining a low CAC.

Portioning budgets for each keyword is critical as this is one of two places where smart marketers maximize their ROI. The other is targeting specific customers using Remarketing lists for search ads.

Targeting the right customers

A few years ago, Google moved beyond focusing on just keyword searches to looking at contextual information about customers.

The most valuable result from this change was RLSA—remarketing lists for search ads.

RLSA lets you target customers who have visited your website previously.

image02 1 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

Bounce rates are high on websites, but just because a customer leaves doesn’t mean they’re not interested. Shoppers may visit a site 9 times before purchasing, so the more they visit, the further down the conversion funnel they may be.

Take a look at this sales funnel:

image05 1 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

For every 5,000 visitors, only 100 inquiries are received, so why waste ad money on those 100 when you should be focusing on converting the other 4,900?

Using RLSA, you can optimize bids to increase your ROI. Tirendo Tires, for example, increased sales by 22% and conversions by 163% simply by raising their bids on previous homepage visitors.

World Travel Holdings increased ROI by 30% by using RLSA to target previous site visitors for broad search terms (like “insurance” in the example above).

By adding the remarketing tag to your website, you allow Google to further segment your visitors and hyperfocus your PPC ad campaigns.

Of course, the downside to these PPC ad platforms is you can’t determine who is already a paying customer. I constantly receive ads for products and services I’ve already purchased, which I know is wasting the advertiser’s money.

You also have to be wary of disgruntled customers and employees who may purposefully click your ads without making a purchase. (Seriously, people do this in order to drive up the cost of your ad spend.)

Segmenting and targeting ads in any way is an essential step toward optimizing them and getting the most bang for your marketing buck.

Conclusion

PPC is still one of the most popular methods of advertising, with over $500 billion spent annually on it.

It can be exciting to envision massive ROI and all the extra sales you’ll be able to make by simply toggling some ads and letting them run.

Before spending any money on a campaign, however, it’s important to understand what keywords and searches have the best conversions for your site. Targeting these searches with ads moves you to the top of the search results, giving you optimal visibility.

Beyond just search terms, it’s also important to target customers at specific points in the sales funnel.

The actual cost of your PPC campaign isn’t as important as the ratio of CAC to LTV. It’s okay to spend a little more if you are marketing a more expensive product or a company with higher retention rates.

So long as your overall marketing budget doesn’t outweigh the lifetime ROI from customers, you’ve built a sustainable business model.

How much are you spending on paid search? Are you getting a solid ROI?

 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula  How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula  How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula

 How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data Driven Formula
Source: QuickSprout

The post How Much Should You Spend on Paid Ads? Here’s My Data-Driven Formula appeared first on JZ-ART.

Source: JZ-Art

5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

I’ve been watching Facebook closely for a long time.

I’ve tested hundreds of ad iterations.

I’ve worked hard to build organic reach for myself and my clients.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: Facebook is awesome. But it’s also tricky.

Why? Because the algorithm is constantly shifting, forcing marketers to up their game, readjust their techniques, and reorient their strategies.

Here’s the thing. If you have a social presence for your business, Facebook has decided that your organic reach needs to shrink.

Again.

You know, of course, that this isn’t the first time the social giant tweaked its algorithm.

In June, Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management for News Feed at Facebook, shared a post that detailed how Facebook was updating the news feed.

The core of the update is to prioritize posts that come from friends and family while reducing the onslaught of content from businesses and other publishers. Facebook wants users to see more posts from actual people, not businesses doing marketing.

The gist of the algorithm remains the same.

image00 7 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

But the variability is increasing. Mosseri explained:

It will vary a lot by publisher mostly based on how much of their referral traffic or their reach is based on people who actually share their content directly…

If you’ve got strong engagement from your audience and they’re shouting your name from the rooftops as they share your content, or generate content around your brand, you’ll be far less impacted by the update.

But most of the businesses I work with aren’t enjoying that level of stellar engagement.

This is what it boils down to. If you want to improve your reach and engagement, you’ll need to find ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) since that’s what friends and family will see first.

What I want to communicate is pretty simple: User-generated content is one of the most effective forms of content marketing available today.

User-generated content is the future of content marketing.

UGC will act as dynamite to your social media presence, accelerate your onsite content efforts, increase engagement, boost conversions, and build up a wall of defense against any algorithm the world throws your way.

Let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road—your fans helping your site become a conversion-generating machine.

Why you should put your money into user-generated content

There are a lot of benefits to UGC, and those benefits can be significant. And that’s primarily because you’re not limited to social media when it comes to working with customers to acquire and leverage it—though that’s where a bulk of your gains can come into play.

Consider for a moment that more than half of the adult users on Facebook have around 200 people in their immediate networks, according to Pew Research.

image13 2 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

That social network graph looks something like this:
image02 5 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

If the algorithm wants all those people to see content from their connections first, it’s in your best interest to get your audience producing or creating content about you.

And that’s not just for the sake of a little (or even big) boost in visibility.

Consumers fully admit they find branded information from their peers trustworthy—85% of consumers, to be exact.

image04 5 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

That’s because the vast majority of them find that kind of content to be helpful when they make a decision about whether or not to make a purchase.

Nielsen’s study on this subject showed that 92% of consumers trust content and the opinions of their peers over any other kind of advertising.

image01 4 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

UGC also has influence over that trust, according to data shared by Yotpo:

image09 5 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

UGC is the best way to beat an algorithm that wants to topple and bury your promotions amid pictures of babies, beards, and breakfast platters.

But you’re not limited to Facebook in leveraging it.

With variations in engagement time across different social channels, you can see where there are opportunities to use user-generated content to drive up engagement as well as increase consumer trust.

image12 1 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

Some brands are having a lot of success on other social channels and digital properties with UGC.

Below are a couple of examples of brands that leverage UGC using different channels.

A touch of wanderlust

National Geographic asked users to capture unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world. The hashtag campaign (#wanderlustcontest) brought in tens of thousands of submissions branded to NatGeo.

image10 1 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

And, of course, among those public submissions were some truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring photos people were all too happy to continue sharing.

Ignite user creativity

Nissan’s luxury car brand, Infiniti, ran a campaign promoting its Q30 model, aiming to leverage the content of its fans to help promote the vehicle. The New Heights contest had users print out a marker card that would display the vehicle in 3D when used with their mobile app.

Fans were encouraged to show off the vehicle in unexpected places by snapping pictures and sharing them with a branded hashtag via different social channels.

image07 7 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

These two great examples of building campaigns and visibility from user-generated content had a couple of things in common:

  1. They both revolved around contests. While this is a good way to encourage action among your followers, it’s not always necessary to give something away in order to source user-generated content.
  2. These two campaigns were actively asking their fans to provide the content.

This aspect—the asking—is the most important part you need to remember.

Why? Because the majority of brands simply don’t ask. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

It’s just that simple.

So, what’s the simplest and most effective way to get UGC?

Ask your users to provide it.

If you want UGC, ask your followers to provide it

Brands don’t want to be pushy, but with UGC, you’ve got to approach it like you approach a call to action (CTA).

With a CTA, you’re telling your audience explicitly what you want them to do. It’s been proven time and again that without a clear call to action, you lose conversions.

But only about 16% of brands take the same approach with UGC, expressing to fans just what kind of content they want to see. Without that kind of direction, consumers aren’t sure what’s okay to share.

In fact, 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what they should include when creating and sharing content.

You don’t need to give away a luxury or big-ticket item when you make the ask, but you do need to ask.

Don’t sit and wait for your fans to provide you with gold.

Here are some of the best ways you can start sourcing and leveraging user-generated content for your brand and social channels.

1. Curate user-generated content with Yotpo

I’ve long felt that Yotpo is an impressive platform for sourcing reviews, engaging customers, and utilizing customer feedback to promote growth.

Now, it’s even better than ever.

Yotpo has stepped up its game with the recent launch of the Yotpo Curation tool.

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This tool allows you to collect relevant Instagram photos from fans and influencers, displaying them on a single dashboard.

From there, you can tag products and handle rights management (including engagement with the original user to say thanks), inject the photos into your product pages, and even sell from your timeline.

This simplifies the tedium of trying to manually source user-generated images and lets you quickly benefit from the social proof tied to UGC.

In one survey conducted by Yotpo, 77% of consumers admitted they preferred to see consumer photos over professional shots:image03 5 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

That’s a clear indication of what you should have on your product pages.

Imagine the impact of having quality reviews alongside images showing off your products being used by actual customers.

It would provide a significant lift in conversions when you consider that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site displaying user reviews. A study conducted by Reevoo showed that reviews alone, without any other UGC, lift sales by 18%.

The Yotpo tool turns your customers into brand ambassadors right on your product pages, plus you can create your own shoppable Instagram galleries or post that UGC to other social channels.

2. Build a community

When I talk about building a community, I’m referring to a gathering of people. Literal people in online gatherings.

You may view your social channels as individual and separate communities, but they’re really not. At least not without some kind of organization.

There are a lot of ways to build communities, e.g., Facebook groups, subreddits on Reddit.com, or communities built into your website.

A community you create and manage can give your fans a sense of belonging and make them feel connected to your brand. They’ll share a mix of personal content as well as content related to the brand as they engage with one another.

Through this engagement, you’ll see things like images, videos, and testimonials crop up that are ripe for the picking.

That user-generated content feeds back into the community, encouraging others to generate more of it, and it helps anchor prospective customers who were on the fence about making a purchase.

Giant Vapes is one of the largest online retailers of e-liquid for electronic cigarettes. It also operates a Facebook community, roughly 25,000 members strong. Members regularly share the products they’ve purchased, industry news, their opinions about interactions with the company, praise over shipping and deals, and more.

image05 3 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

3. Give them customization and unique experiences

Customization provides your fans and customers with a sense of real ownership. They’ll naturally want to share with their friends and family what they’ve created, and you can play on that desire by asking them to do so.

Whether it’s a customized piece of clothing, a bag, or a vehicle, customization often leads to some great user-generated content.

And sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

Scores of people got excited about the announcement of Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker. Players create their own Mario levels to play on their own or share with the community. Fans, new and old, went crazy when it launched, and YouTube was flooded with the creations of streamers, generating a lot of visibility for the brand and the game.

image11 1 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

This video has almost 12 million views to date.

In the same vein of creating unique experiences, Hello Games is seeing images and videos of their game No Man’s Sky showing up all over the web, including a subreddit devoted to the game (a user-created community).

No Man’s Sky features a universe boasting over 10 quintillion procedurally (randomly) generated planets, each with creatures and alien plant life different from the last. That guarantees unique content, and fans have been quick to share images and videos of their discoveries since its recent launch.

image08 1 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

When you give your audience something they’ve never experienced before and the chance to create something unique they feel they own, they’re more likely to share that experience far and wide. That builds a lot of trust and provides a lift in conversions.

4. The UGC contest

I touched on contests above with a couple of examples, but in recommending this approach, I wanted to add one more because of the success of the campaign.

Back in 2014, Starbucks invited fans to decorate their white cups with customized art. Fans were asked to submit the images through Twitter with the #whitecupcontest hashtag for a chance to win. There were thousands of entries, and, of course, a constant stream of buzz that drove customers to their local stores.

I’m mentioning this contest specifically because it pulls in elements from my last point: let users customize and do something unique.

You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to add customization to your product line.

Sometimes, you just need to give your customers a blank canvas and set their creativity free.

5. Use videos on product pages

Yotpo can strap a rocket onto your conversions with user-generated images, but don’t let the rocket run out of fuel.

If you can get your fans and customers generating videos of your products in use, those should be added to your product pages as well.

Explainer videos are great, but there’s nothing that sells a product faster than a video showing real, happy customers, who are 100% satisfied with their purchase.

Here are some quick stats that show how effective product videos really are:

  • 90% of users admit that seeing a video about a product helps them make a purchase decision
  • 36% of customers trust video ads; imagine the trust you gain from earned media
  • 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product after watching a video online
  • Product videos can increase conversions by as much as 20%

Conclusion

Aside from those five tips, it goes without saying that you should absolutely be using product reviews on your website and social channels such as Facebook.

Leverage that social proof, and find creative ways to team up with your customers.

A large portion of your audience are happy to create and share content for you—they just need to know what you’re looking for.

Tell them how to help, inspire them to get creative, and watch your conversions climb steadily as your collection of UGC grows.

Are you using user-generated content right now to build trust with your audience and increase your brand’s visibility? What techniques are you using, and what’s the most successful?

 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions  5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions  5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions
Source: QuickSprout

The post 5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions appeared first on JZ-ART.

Source: JZ-Art

Maximize Your 2017 Hotel Marketing Budget

Hotel Budgeting Webinar

Date & Time: Thursday, September 8, 2016 11am PT

Duration: 1 Hour + QA

Cost: Complimentary

Webinar Session: Key Strategies to Maximize Your 2017 Budget

Leverage Today’s Trends to Gain Market Share in 2017

Join this webinar to understand the latest digital trends that will affect your business in 2017 and how to budget for next year’s success.

This webinar will allow you to maximize your budget by creating a marketing plan that engages customers and search engines. Our experts will discuss how to accurately measure your current digital performance, as well as your competitor’s performance, the impactful trends and strategies to consider for next year, and a comprehensive budgeting tool that will ensure nothing slips through the cracks! We recognize each property requires customization based on marketing goals and budgets, thus we will highlight important variances during this webinar.

Webinar Key Takeaways:

  1. Digital Marketing Review- tools and methods to understand performance
  2. How to digitally prepare your property for 2017
  3. Budgeting for 2017, for various types of properties

After this webinar you will be able to budget for the highest returns in 2017 by understanding your current digital performance, competitor performance, and trends affecting the overall marketing landscape.

Panel:

  • Chris Rockett, Senior VP Sales
  • Tammie Carlisle, AVP Customer Solutions
  • Sara Linton, Product Marketing Specialist (Moderator)

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR


Source: Paid Search

Impact Your Rank and Revenue with Top Search Strategies [Webinar Recap]

 

We have this week’s webinar recap ready for you! Our search team hosted an educational 30 minute webinar to discuss the best ways to get your business to rank higher on the search engines and increase your online revenue. This webinar covered topics such as how users search today, the capabilities your website platform should contain for easy indexing by search engines, mobile testing and content, relevant links and directories to allow searchers find your business on and off line, and the impactful updates to make in Google My Business.

Additionally, please find the remaining questions and answers from the webinar below,

How do you set up back links?

First, for an understanding of backlinking we suggest watching our Milestone Minute video, Backlinking Basics.

There are many different ways to set up backlinks. You can claim your business listing on internet directories, like YellowPages, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. You can get your business listed in more niche-specific websites, like Resortsandlodges.com, Spafinder, etc. Ensuring that your map profiles (Google Maps, Apple Maps, and others) link to your website is another option. Local linkbuilding for hotels can also involve working with hospitals, local universities, conferences, local event listings, and other businesses that may work with people from out of town, who’ll need a place to stay.

Where do you answer direct questions?

The best place to do so is in the FAQ section of your website. Compile a list of the most common questions that your customers are asking about your business, and provide answers for each one within the FAQ page.

Editing the Knowledge Graph (Clarification)

Many elements of the Knowledge Graph are editable by business owners/managers: Name, Address, Phone Number, Website, Photos, Map Placement, Social Media Links. For all of those fields, edits may be submitted directly through the Knowledge Graph. Two primary areas are not editable by business owners/managers: Description and Amenities. Changes to these sections require a call to the Google My Business support.

A big thank you to Aaron, Terry, and Jake for this great webinar!

If you enjoyed this webinar, register for our next webinar on September 8th, “Maximize Your 2017 Hotel Marketing Budget


Source: Paid Search

9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Let me be upfront with you.

I’m not a web designer.

I work with some amazing web designers. I know a few things about web design. But when it comes right down to it, I’m not a designer.

What am I? I’m a marketer.

Why am I talking about designing a web page, specifically a pricing page?

Here’s why. Web design and marketing overlap. A lot.

When you get into a discussion about web design, you can’t help but talk about psychology. And when the page being designed is a pricing page, psychology plays a huge role.

What kind of psychology? Customer psychology.

Customer psychology is the study of the way people think, act, decide, and make purchases.

It has everything to do with motivation, mind tricks, color, placement, filtering, eye tracking studies, and, yes, web design.

That’s why I’m confident in my ability to design a great pricing page.

I constantly A/B-test my pages to make sure I’m choosing the most optimal design, and most of the design choices you see throughout my web properties is based on simple psychological principles.

Psychology is common in marketing and design, regardless of the industry. Look at a casino, for example.

image06 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Every inch of that building, from the carpet and floor designs to the signs and turns was designed to psychologically keep people in the building spending money, not focusing on time and outside responsibilities.

Web design is the same way. And when it comes to the pricing page, these psychological principles are extremely important.

Here are a few of the tactics I use when designing pricing pages—one of the most important steps in your conversion funnel.

1. Devalue money in the viewer’s eyes

Since we’re on the subject of Las Vegas… Another trick casino owners use is the idea of mentally devaluing money.

When you step up to a table, they exchange your money for chips.

image01 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Why? There are several reasons. One is that it makes it easier for dealers to count, but it also detaches people from the value of their money. It’s easier to gamble away two chips than $2,000.

A lot of people are in debt, and, while it’s great that you run a business, you need to get people to stop thinking about their bills.

The average user who looks at your pricing page might have in the back of their mind their consumer credit card debt.

image13 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Maybe you’re not running a casino. How do you get people to stop thinking about their debt problems and instead focus on the value of your product, regardless of the price?

Let me give you an example.

Cornell researchers recently partnered with the Culinary Institute of America to research this concept of devaluing money on restaurant menus. Two different study groups were given two different menus, one with a dollar sign next to the pricing and one without.

image07 2 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

The group given the menus without the dollar sign spent more money. Why? Because they weren’t put off by the high $ price.

One example I’ve shown elsewhere is this pricing page. Notice the small dollar signs?

image15 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

That’s not a mistake.

The same thing is happening here:

image11 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

The dollar sign serves as a trigger to remind people of the value of money. What they should be thinking about is the value of your product.

A simple removal or minimization of the dollar sign will make your pricing page more compelling, more powerful, and more psychologically potent.

2. Color-coordinate everything

Research from the US National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health indicates colors are perceived in different ways by different people based on experiences, genetics, context, and other factors.

Still, there are brands of every kind that use specific colors within their logos.

image10 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

If you’re at the beginning stage of building your company, choose a color scheme that matches the emotion you’re trying to evoke.

There was a time when Geocities ruled the web and websites commonly looked as though they were drawn by crayons. Thankfully, we’ve progressed, so basic black text on a white background is considered standard for text (with a few exceptions).

Headers and buttons, however, can vary greatly. Amazon uses a yellow color for the “Add to Cart” button on its pricing pages.

image14 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Walmart uses a red-orange.

image02 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Best Buy utilizes bright blue and yellow for different options.

image17 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Whatever you choose, make sure it speaks to your brand and is consistent all the way through to avoid confusing customers at a crucial step.

3. Size matters

Size does matter when designing a pricing page.

Here’s the simple truth. You want people to see the important parts first because that’s what needs to stick with them the longest.

Let me go back to this pricing page to show what I mean:

image00 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

What’s the first thing you look at when you see this page?

Probably the center column, focusing on the “Growth” package at $400 a month.

Why? Because it pops with a vivid blue against a very light gray backdrop.

Plus, it’s bigger than the others. Size is important. It’s also centrally located.

All of these are key differentiating features that psychologically emphasize the importance and superiority of that plan.

Where exactly does size matter?

  • Headlines
  • Call-to-action buttons
  • Price boxes (as pictured above)

As explained in Psychology in Action, larger fonts make messages enter our brains faster as we don’t have to struggle to see them.

This split-second difference of time and attention puts the page into a logical and cohesive, Feng Shui-like, order for browsers.

4. Limited time offers

If someone thinks their time to act is limited, they’re more likely to take action quickly rather than delay it.

Several studies have looked at how limited time offers affect our brains. Sites such as eBay and Groupon have practically built empires on the concept.

Essentially, it boils down to supply and demand.

When you create scarcity, the perceived value of an item goes up. It’s called a theory of psychological reactance, which explains why we hate to miss out on a golden opportunity when presented with it.

You’ve probably heard of fear of missing out, or FOMO, right? Same idea, different angle.

image16 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Amazon uses this technique to great effect with constant inventory reminders on every item: “Only 10 left in stock – order soon.”

It’s a great call to action.

image12 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Even though we know one of the world’s largest fulfillment centers will definitely replenish its supplies of literally everything, will it happen soon enough? Can we wait and will it be more expensive next time?

Dr. Eldar Shafir, from Princeton, and Dr. Sendhil Mullainathan, from Harvard, explored how people’s minds work when they feel they’re lacking something. The perception of scarcity leads them to make mistakes or bad financial decisions, spending more money than they should.

Psychology Today’s author Shahram Heshmat notes,

Scarcity orients the mind automatically and powerfully toward unfulfilled needs.

It also motivates us to prioritize our choices, e.g., we’re more frugal with toothpaste when the tube is close to empty, and we rush to purchase a product or service to obtain a deal.

5. Discounts and VIP membership

People love feeling like they belong. Costco, Sam’s Club, and AAA are just a few of the memberships you can get these days to feel like you’re part of a country club.

Everyone wants to be a VIP, so offering VIP membership bonuses and discounts encourages customers to keep spending money at your business. Instead of buying just one roll of paper towels, you can subscribe and save.

image18 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Or buy 10 and get one free.

These promotions increase clicks because, as Ian Newby-Clark explains in Psychology Today,

We are social creatures who yearn to be included. We want to be a part of the group and strive for goals set for us.

It’s like a drug: belonging to something bigger than yourself provides a sense of purpose and meaning to our lives.

Marketing Profs has a great article describing how the inclusion of fans into a community motivates them to support a brand both as customers and ambassadors. I suggest you take a look at it as it’s a great read.

As psychologists point out, our social identity is defined by the groups we belong to. This is why Xbox and PlayStation fans, for example, are so prone to debating their platform’s superiority.

image04 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

The NFL, along with all other major sports organization in America, uses this psychological principle to its advantage.

Fans show up sporting their team’s colors and mascot costumes because it makes them feel like they belong.

image05 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Above: Seattle Seahawks fans surround a Cleveland Browns fan Sunday, Nov. 30, 2003, at Seahawks Stadium in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

6. Offer tiered pricing

As Talia Wolf points out,

Tiered pricing opens the door to all sorts of psychological techniques.

Hyperbolic discounting occurs when different pricing models provide different benefits, allowing us to personalize our shopping experience. Companies such as BuzzStream and CloudFlare employs this technique:

BuzzStream pricing plan
1 869780 resized 870w screenshot www.buzzstream.com 2016 01 28 22 42 59 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

CloudFlare pricing plan

1 96109 resized 870w screenshot www.cloudflare.com 2016 01 28 00 29 50 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Choice-supportive pricing, anchoring effect, and the decoy effect can also be employed to your advantage. With tiered pricing, anything is possible.

Amazon has about a dozen varieties of Prime combined with rewards cards, affiliate bounties, and subscription services to give you payment options beyond just “cash or credit.”

Tiered pricing is becoming even more popular these days with the growth of the software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model.

By subscribing for longer terms, people know they can often save money and thus seek out these types of deals.

Rational choice theory is a framework to model social and economic behavior. It states individual actors choose the option that maximizes their interests and provides the greatest benefit.

A tiered pricing model provides customers with purchasing options that are all, ultimately, with you.

7. Doorbusters work

Retail has long utilized doorbusters to get people in the doors. These savings are responsible for Black Friday leaking further into Thanksgiving every year. Once you have people in the door to buy a low-priced item, you can upsell them better, more expensive products.

Any pricing page should also have a “recommended” and “similar” section. These personalized offers help lead consumers to buy the right item for them, increasing trust in your e-commerce brand along with the ROI.

It should be noted, however, you should avoid the classic bait-and-switch scam that will get you in trouble with the FTC and ruin the reputation of both you and your brand.

It’s also worth mentioning that many analysts think Black Friday is about more than just the doorbusters.

image08 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

Professor Jane Thomas at Winthrop University says:

It’s more of a tradition than anything else. People ritualistically line up at brick-and-mortar stores the Friday after Thanksgiving while a growing number wait for Cyber Monday the following week online.

There’s also a psychological difference in the way we perceive prices such as $13.99 vs $14.00. The item priced at $13.99 is more likely to sell because even though it’s only a penny short, it’s $13 and change instead of $14.

Although consumers initially hit a website looking for a cheap deal on SEO services, soon they realize they’re also missing social media, video, CRO, PPC, and many other aspects of marketing.

They want more.

That’s the value of the doorbuster.

The initial doorbuster brings them to you for a killer deal. You get them in and then convert them to buy more stuff.

8. Get smaller yeses first

Much like with the doorbuster sale, you want to lead people by convincing them to agree to smaller things before hitting them with the big ask.

Zendesk does a great job of leading customers through smaller yeses first:

image03 1 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

While the option is there to buy, Zendesk wants you to try the free version first because they’re confident you’ll come back as a paying subscriber once you’ve experienced the platform.

Who doesn’t like free stuff?

By convincing customers to say yes to the smaller ask first, you make saying yes to the bigger ask much easier.

It’s all part of the psychology of negotiation,

explains Heidi Grant Halvorson, PhD.

Making the pie bigger for everyone increases the maximally efficient outcome 79% of the time.

You don’t have to necessarily give out anything for free either. As explained above, even month-to-month subscriptions are a smaller ask than a year-long contract, so providing different levels of the same offer will do the trick.

9. Provide choices

As explained above, offering both payment and product choices is a great way to improve revenue on pricing pages.

A customer is buying a TV, do they need a warranty? Cables? A stand or mount? A DVD Player, home stereo system, or Chromecast?

Give people options for bundles, add-ons, and other available sizes, colors, and brands. But don’t give them so many options that they get overloaded.

In 2000, researchers S.S. Inyengar and M.R. Leper conducted a study allowing supermarket shoppers to sample the different flavors of jam available for purchase. The test compared the impact of having 24 jam flavors to choose from versus having only 6.

Only 3% of those who sampled the 24 flavors went on to purchase the jam, compared to 30% who sampled only 6 flavors.

Too many options will inhibit your customers’ ability to make a clear decision.

Conclusion

Psychology is important in web design and marketing. How people perceive a brand is directly impacted by the appearance of every landing page, including the pricing, checkout, and confirmation pages.

By A/B-testing different versions of those pages, while implementing the psychological principles discussed above, you’ll be able to optimize conversions and revenue streams from your online marketing.

What psychological techniques help you design your web properties?

 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page  9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page  9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page

 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page
Source: QuickSprout

The post 9 Psychological Insights I Use When Designing a Pricing Page appeared first on JZ-ART.

Source: JZ-Art

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