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Beginner’s Guide to Google Business Profiles: What Are They, How To Use Them, and Why

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9 Local Search Developments You Need to Know About from Q2 2022

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Google Business Profile is both a free tool and a suite of interfaces that encompasses a dashboard, in-SERP editing, local business profiles, and a volunteer-driven support forum with this branding. Google Business Profiles and the associated Google Maps make up the core of Google’s free local search marketing options for eligible local businesses.

Today, we’re doing foundational learning! Share this simple, comprehensive article with incoming clients and team members to get off on the right foot with this important local business digital asset.

An introduction to the basics of Google Business Profiles

First, let’s get on the same page regarding what Google Business Profiles (formerly Google My Business) are and how to be part of it.

What is Google Business Profile?

Google Business Profile (GBP) is the branding of a multi-layered platform that enables you to submit information about local businesses, to manage interactive features like reviews and questions, and to publish a variety of media like photos, posts, and videos.

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What is GBP eligibility?

Eligibility to be listed within the Google Business Profile setting is governed by the Guidelines for representing your business on Google, which is a living document that undergoes frequent changes. Before listing any business, you should consult the guidelines to avoid violations that can result in penalties or the removal of your listings.

You need a Google account to get started

You will need a Google account to use Google’s products and can create one here, if you don’t already have one. It’s best for each local business to have its own company account, instead of marketing agencies using their accounts to manage clients’ local business profiles.

When a local business you’re marketing has a large in-house marketing department or works with third party agencies, Google Business Profile permits you to add and remove listing owners and managers so that multiple people can be given a variety of permissions to contribute to listings management.

How to create and claim/verify a Google Business Profile

Once the business you’re marketing has a Google account and has determined that it’s eligible for Google Business Profile inclusion, you can create a single local business profile by starting here, using Google’s walkthrough wizard to get listed.

Fill out as many fields as possible in creating your profile. This guide will help you understand how best to fill out many of the fields and utilize many of the features. Once you’ve provided as much information as you can, you’ll be given options to verify your listing so that you can control and edit it going forward.

Alternatively, if you need to list 10+ locations of a business all at the same time, you can do a bulk upload via spreadsheet and then request bulk verification.

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Where your Google Business Profile information can display

Once your data has been accepted into the GBP system, it will begin showing up in a variety of Google’s local search displays, including the mobile and desktop versions of:

Google Business Profiles

Your comprehensive Google Business Profile (GBP) will most typically appear when you search for a business by its brand name, often with a city name included in your search language (e.g. “Amy’s Drive Thru Corte Madera”). In some cases, GBPs will show for non-branded searches as well (e.g. “vegan burger near me”). This can happen if there is low competition for a search term, or if Google believes (rightly or wrongly) that a search phrase has the intent of finding a specific brand instead of a variety of results.

Google Business Profiles are extremely lengthy, but a truncated view looks something like this, located to the right of the organic search engine results:

Google Local Packs

Local packs are one of the chief displays Google uses to rank and present the local business information in their index. Local packs are shown any time Google believes a search phrase has a local intent (e.g. “best vegan burger near me”, “plant-based burger in corte madera”, “onion rings downtown”). The searcher does not have to include geographic terms in their phrase for Google to presume the intent is local.

Most typically these days, a local pack is made up of three business listings, with the option to click on a map or a “view all” button to see further listings. On occasion, local packs may feature fewer than three listings, and the types of information Google presents in them varies.

Local pack results look something like this on desktop search, generally located above the organic search results:

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Google Local Finders

When a searcher clicks through on the map or the “view all” link in a local pack, they will be taken to the display commonly known as the Local Finder. Here, many listings can be displayed, typically paginated in groups of ten, and the searcher can zoom in and out on the map to see their options change.

The URL of this type of result begins google.com/search. Some industries, like hospitality have unique displays, but most local business categories will have a local finder display that looks like this, with the ranked list of results to the left and the map to the right:

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Google Maps

Google Maps is the default display on Android mobile phones, and desktop users can also choose to search via this interface instead of through Google’s general search. You’ll notice a “maps” link at the top of Google’s desktop display, like this:

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Searches made via Google Maps yield results that look rather similar to the local finder results, though there are some differences. It’s a distinct possibility that Google could, at some point, consolidate the user experience and have local packs default to Google Maps instead of the local finder.

The URL of these results begins google.com/maps instead of google.com/search and on desktop, Google’s ranked Maps’ display looks like this:

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In-SERP vs. Dashboard GBP Management

Until quite recently, the majority of Google-based local business listings were managed via the interface formerly known as the Google Business Profile Manager Dashboard, which looks like this:

Beginners Guide to Google Business Profiles What Are They How

However, small businesses with only one or a few locations are now likely to see this prompt when logging into the dashboard:

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If you choose the “stay here” button, hopefully Google will continue to let you manage your listings within the traditional dashboard, though this dynamic is in flux and could change at any time. If, instead, you choose the “manage on search” button, you will have to search Google for the phrase “my business” or the name of your business, and then manage all of your Google Business Profile functions within search, like this:

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Google is currently testing a variety of in-SERP prompts like the following to guide business owners through the process of editing their listings in the absence of a convenient dashboard:

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It’s my feeling that Google has made this unnecessary complicated, treating small businesses unequally by not giving them the same dedicated dashboard that larger brands enjoy. If you prefer having all your GBP-related assets in a very convenient and organized single dashboard, check out Moz Local.

GBP Insights

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The GBP dashboard also hosts the analytical features called GBP Insights. It’s a very useful interface, though the titles and functions of some of its components can be opaque. Some of the data you’ll see in GBP Insights includes:

  • How many impressions happened surrounding searches for your business name or location (called Direct), general searches that don’t specify your company by name but relate to what you offer (called Discovery), and searches relating to brands your business carries (called Branded).

  • Customer actions, like website visits, phone calls, messaging, and requests for driving directions.

  • Search terms people used that resulted in an impression of your business.

There are multiple other GBP Insights features, and I highly recommend this tutorial by Joy Hawkins for a next-level understanding of why reporting from this interface can be conflicting and confusing. There’s really important data in GBP Insights, but interpreting it properly deserves a post of its own and a bit of patience with some imperfections.

If you’ve lost your dashboard and are now managing your listing in-SERPs, you can still get to insights from the prompt within search that is labeled “promote”, and what you see will look something like this:

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When things go wrong with Google Business Profile

When engaging in GBP marketing, you’re bound to encounter problems and find that all kinds of questions arise from your day-to-day work. Google relies heavily on volunteer support in their Google Business Profile Help Community Forum and you can post most issues there in hopes of a reply from the general public or from volunteer contributors titled Gold Product Experts.

In some cases, however, problems with your listings will necessitate speaking directly with Google or filling out forms. Download the free Local SEO Cheat Sheet for robust documentation of your various GBP support options.

How to use Google Business Profile as a digital marketing tool

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Let’s gain a quick, no-frills understanding of how GBP can be used as one of your most important local marketing tools.

How to drive local business growth with Google’s local features

While each local business will need to take a nuanced approach to using Google Business Profile and Google Maps to market itself, most brands will maximize their growth potential on these platforms by following these seven basic steps:

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1) Determine the business model (brick-and-mortar, service area business, home-based business, or hybrid). Need help? Try this guide.

2) Based on the business model, determine Google Business Profile eligibility and follow the attendant rules laid out in the Guidelines for representing your business on Google.

3) Before you create GBP profiles, be certain you are working from a canonical source of data that has been vetted by all relevant parties at the business you’re marketing. This means that you’ve checked and double-checked that the name, address, phone number, hours of operation, business categories and other data you have about the company you are listing is 100% accurate.

4) Create and claim a profile for each of the locations you’re marketing. Depending on the business model, you may also be eligible for additional listings for practitioners at the business or multiple departments at a location. Some models, like car dealerships, are even allowed multiple listings for the car makes they sell. Consult the guidelines. Provide as much high quality, accurate, and complete information as possible in creating your profiles.

5) Once your listings are live, it’s time to begin managing them on an ongoing basis. Management tasks will include:

  • Analyzing chosen categories on an ongoing basis to be sure you’ve selected the best and most influential ones, and know of any new categories that appear over time for your industry.

  • Uploading high quality photos that reflect inventory, services, seasonality, premises, and other features.

  • Acquiring and responding to all reviews as a core component of your customer service policy.

  • Committing to a Google Posts schedule, publishing micro-blog-style content on an ongoing basis to increase awareness about products, services, events, and news surrounding the locations you’re marketing.

  • Populating Google Questions & Answers with company FAQs, providing simple replies to queries your staff receives all the time. Then, answer any incoming questions from the public on an ongoing basis.

  • Adding video to your listings. Check out how even a brand on a budget can create a cool, free video pulled from features of the GBP listing.

  • Commiting to keeping your basic information up-to-date, including any changes in contact info and hours, and adding special hours for holidays or other events and circumstances.

  • Investigating and utilizing additional features that could be relevant to the model you’re marketing, like menus for goods and services, product listings, booking functionality, and so much more!

  • Analyzing listing performance by reviewing Google Business Profile Insights in your dashboard, and using tactics like UTM tagging to track how the public is interacting with your listings.

Need help? Moz Local is Moz’s software that helps with ongoing management of your listings not just on Google, but across multiple local business platforms.

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6) Ongoing education is key to maintaining awareness of Google rolling out new features, altering platforms, and adjusting how they weight different local ranking factors. Follow local SEO experts on social media, subscribe to local SEO newsletters, and tune in to professional and street level industry surveys to continuously evaluate which factors appear to be facilitating maximum visibility and growth.

7) In addition to managing your own local business profiles, you’ll need to learn to view them in the dynamic context of competitive local markets. You’ll have competitors for each search phrase for which you want to increase your visibility and your customers will see different pack, finder, and maps results based on their locations at the time of search. Don’t get stuck on the goal of being #1, but do learn to do basic local competitive audits so that you can identify patterns of how dominant competitors are winning.

In sum, providing Google with great and appropriate data at the outset, following up with ongoing management of all relevant GBP features, and making a commitment to ongoing local SEO education is the right recipe for creating a growth engine that’s a top asset for the local brands you market.

How to optimize Google Business Profile listings

This SEO forum FAQ is actually a bit tricky, because so many resources talk about GBP optimization without enough context. Let’s get a handle on this topic together.

Google uses calculations known as “algorithms” to determine the order in which they list businesses for public viewing. Local SEOs and local business owners are always working to better understand the secret ranking factors in Google’s local algorithm so that the locations they’re marketing can achieve maximum visibility in packs, finders, and maps.

Many local SEO experts feel that there are very few fields you can fill out in a Google Business Profile that actually have any impact on ranking. While most experts agree that it’s pretty evident the business name field, the primary chosen category, the linked website URL, and some aspects of reviews may be ranking factors, the Internet is full of confusing advice about “optimizing” service radii, business descriptions, and other features with no evidence that these elements influence rank.

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My personal take is that this conversation about GBP optimization matters, but I prefer to think more holistically about the features working in concert to drive visibility, conversions, and growth, rather than speculating too much about how an individual feature may or may not impact rank.

Whether answering a GBP Q&A query delivers a direct lead, or writing a post moves a searcher further along the buyer journey, or choosing a different primary category boosts visibility for certain searches, or responding to a review to demonstrate empathy wins back an unhappy customer, you want it all. If it contributes to business growth, it matters.

Why Google Business Profile plays a major role in local search marketing strategy

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As of mid-2020, Google’s global search engine market share was at 92.16%. While other search engines like Bing or Yahoo still have a role to play, their share is simply tiny, compared to Google’s. We could see a shift of this dynamic with the rumored development of an Apple search engine, but for now, Google has a near-monopoly on search.

Within Google’s massive share of search, a company representative stated in 2018 that 46% of queries have a local intent. It’s been estimated that Google processes 5.8 billion global daily queries. By my calculation, this would mean that roughly 2.7 billion searches are being done every day by people seeking nearby goods, services, and resources. It’s also good to know that, according to Google, searches with the intent of supporting local business increased 20,000% in 2020.

Local businesses seeking to capture the share they need of these queries to become visible in their geographic markets must know how to incorporate Google Business Profile marketing into their local SEO campaigns.

A definition of local search engine optimization (local SEO)

Local SEO is the practice of optimizing a business’s web presence for increased visibility in local and localized organic search engine results. It’s core to providing modern customer service, ensuring today’s businesses can be found and chosen on the internet. Small and local businesses make up the largest business sector in the United States, making local SEO the most prevalent form of SEO.

Local SEO and Google Business Profile marketing are not the same thing, but learning to utilize GBP as a tool and asset is key to driving local business growth, because of Google’s near monopoly.

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A complete local SEO campaign will include management of the many components of the Google Business Profile profile, as well as managing listings on other location data and review platforms, social media publication, image and video production and distribution, and a strong focus on the organic and local optimization of the company website. Comprehensive local search marketing campaigns also encompass all the offline efforts a business makes to be found and chosen.

When trying to prioritize, it can help to think of the website as the #1 digital asset of most brands you’ll market, but that GBP marketing will be #2. And within the local search marketing framework, it’s the customer and their satisfaction that must be centered at every stage of on-and-offline promotion.

Focus on GBP but diversify beyond Google

Every aspect of marketing a brand contains plusses, minuses and pitfalls. Google Business Profile is no exception. Let’s categorize this scenario into four parts for a realistic take on the terrain.

1) The positive

The most positive aspect of GBP is that it meets our criteria as owners and marketers of helping local businesses get found and chosen. At the end of the day, this is the goal of nearly all marketing tactics, and Google’s huge market share makes their platforms a peerless place to compete for the attention of and selection by customers.

What Google has developed is a wonder of technology. With modest effort on your part, GBP lets you digitize a business so that it can be ever-present to communities, facilitate conversations with the public which generate loyalty and underpin everything from inventory development to quality control, and build the kind of online reputation that makes brands local household names in the offline world.

2) The negative

The most obvious negative aspects of GBP are that its very dominance has cut Google too much slack in letting issues like listing and review spam undermine results quality. Without a real competitor, Google hasn’t demonstrated the internal will to solve problems like these that have real-world impacts on local brands and communities.

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Meanwhile, a dry-eyed appraisal of Google’s local strategy observes that the company is increasingly monetizing their results. For now, GBP profiles are free, but expanding programs like Local Service Ads point the way to a more costly local SEO future for small businesses on tight budgets

Finally, local brands and marketers (as well as Google’s own employees) are finding themselves increasingly confronted with ethical concerns surrounding Google that have made them the subject of company walkouts, public protests, major lawsuits, and government investigations. If you’re devoting your professional life to building diverse, inclusive local communities that cherish human rights, you may sometimes encounter a fundamental disconnect between your goals and Google’s.

3) The pitfall

Managing your Google-based assets takes time, but don’t let it take all of your time. Because local businesses owners are so busy and Google is so omnipresent, a pitfall has developed where it can appear that GBP is the only game in town.

The old adage about eggs in baskets comes into play every time Google has a frustrating bug, monetizes a formerly-free business category, or lets competitors and lead generators park their advertising in what you felt was your space. Sometimes, Google’s vision of local simply doesn’t match real-world realities, and something like a missing category or an undeveloped feature you need is standing in the way of fully communicating what your business offers.

The pitfall is that Google’s walls can be so high that the limits and limitations of their platforms can be mistaken as all there is to local search marketing.

4) The path to success

My article on how to feed, fight, and flip Google was one of the most-read here on the Moz blog in 2020. With nearly 14,000 unique page views, this message is one I am doubling down on in 2021:

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  • Feed Google everything they need to view the businesses you’re marketing as the most relevant answers to people in close proximity to brand locations so that the companies you promote become the prominent local resources in Google’s index.

  • Fight spam in the communities you’re marketing to so that you’re weeding out fake and ineligible competitors and protecting neighbors from scams, and take principled stands on the issues that matter to you and your customers, building affinity with the public and a better future where you work and live.

  • Flip the online scenario where Google controls so much local business fate into a one-on-one environment in which you have full control over creating customer experiences exceptional enough to win repeat business and WOM recommendations, outside the GBP loop. Turn every customer Google sends you into a keeper who comes directly to you — not Google — for multiple transactions.

GBP is vital, but there’s so much to see beyond it! Get listed on multiple platforms and deeply engage in your reviews across them. Add generous value to neighborhood sites Nextdoor, or on old school fora that nobody but locals use. Forge B2B alliances and join the Buy Local movement to become a local business advocate and community sponsor. Help a Reporter Out. Evaluate whether image, video, or podcasting media could boost your brand to local fame. Profoundly grow your email base. Be part of the home delivery revival, fill the hungry longing for bygone quality and expertise, or invest in your website like never before and make the leap into digital sales. The options and opportunities are enticing and there’s a right fit for every local brand.

Key takeaway: don’t get stuck in Google’s world — build your own with your customers from a place of openness to possibilities.

A glance at the future of Google Business Profile

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By now, you’ve likely decided that investing time and resources into your GBP assets is a basic necessity to marketing a local business. But will your efforts pay off for a long time to come? Is GBP built to last, and where is Google heading with their vision of local?

Barring unforeseen circumstances, yes, Google Business Profile is here to stay, though it could be rebranded, as Google has often rebranded their local features in the past. Here are eight developments I believe we could see over the next half decade:

  1. As mentioned above, Google could default local packs to Maps instead of the local finder, making their network a bit tidier. This is a good time to learn more about Google Maps, because some aspects of it are quite different.

  2. Pay-to-play visibility will become increasingly prevalent in packs, organic, and Maps, including lead generation features and trust badges.

  3. If Apple Maps manages to make Google feel anxious, they may determine to invest in better spam filters for both listings and reviews to defend the quality of their index.

  4. Location-based image filters and search features will grow, so photograph your inventory.

  5. Google will make further strides into local commerce by surfacing, and possibly even beginning to take commissions from, sales of real time inventory. The brands you market will need to decide whether to sell via Google, via their own company websites, or both.

  6. Google could release a feature depicting the mapped delivery radii of brick-and-mortar brands. Home delivery is here to stay, and if it’s relevant to brands you market, now is the time to dive in.

  7. Google has a limited time window to see if they can drive adoption of Google Messaging as a major brand-to-consumer communications platform. The next five years will be telling, in this regard, and brands you market should discuss whether they wish to invite Google into their conversations with customers.

  8. Google could add public commenting on Google Posts to increase their interactivity and push brands into greater use of this feature. Nextdoor has this functionality on their posts and it’s a bit of a surprise that Google doesn’t yet.

What I’m not seeing on the near horizon is a real commitment to better one-on-one support for the local business owners whose data makes up Google’s vast and profitable local index. While the company has substantially increased the amount of automated communications it sends GBP listing owners, Google’s vision of local as an open-source, DIY free-for-all appears to continue to be where they’re at with this evolving venture.

Your job, then, is to be vigilant about both the best and worst aspects of the fascinating Google Business Profile platform, taking as much control as you can of how customers experience your brand in Google’s territory. This is no easy task, but with ongoing education, supporting tools, and a primary focus on serving the customer, your investment in Google Business Profile marketing can yield exceptional rewards!

Ready to continue your local SEO education? Read: The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide.

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Best Practices for Business Growth

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Best Practices for Business Growth

*This article was authored by Meredith Unger, Creative Strategist at Tinuiti

If you find yourself scrutinizing your ads and questioning their performance, the culprit might be your creative. Have you ever pondered why certain ads outshine others or why one format yields success while another falls flat? We have too.

The demand for better, more measurable ROAS is understandably driving advertising budgets towards digital media channels, which is where performance data comes standard. Here all creative can be considered performance marketing, enabling us to transform insights into strategies that drive more cost-effective ad spend across platforms.

In this article, we will break down what creative strategy means and how it is an overlooked but powerful tool in maximizing your ROI. Discover how creative strategy can empower you to optimize your returns through more efficient messaging that resonates with your audience.

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What is a Creative Strategy?

A creative strategy is an organized plan of action for deploying an idea or creative platform. This helps brands develop content in a consistent and methodical way that supports specific KPIs and facilitates overall business growth.

It consists of three major parts: the platform itself (what the idea is for solving a business problem), communication orchestration (where and how pieces of the campaign click together) and tactics (what the specific ad unit executions should look like). 

Creative Strategy vs. Creative Brief

Creative strategy and a traditional creative brief are similar but different. While creative briefs are often seen as perfunctory documents containing target audience information, product value propositions, and specifications; creative strategy blends traditional briefing with insights and relevant industry research to build upon past performance and audience trends. 

In short, creative briefs outline what you need, and creative strategy focuses on how you will make it resonate.

Why is it Important to Implement a Creative Strategy?

Without a creative strategy, your ads may not be any different or distinguishable from your competitors. Creative strategy addresses the “why us, why now” aspects of a message. 

Business Insider conducted an experiment on TikTok to see how many ads they encountered in a two-hour scroll; the results revealed 140 ads within 500 videos during the scrolling period. As you might imagine, viewers will only remember a handful of these ads, and an even smaller number actually purchase anything. 

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According to Nielsen, great creative is the best way to ensure your ad leads to that coveted purchase. One of their studies found that creative was the largest factor (47%) driving ROI and sales over any other advertising element. In an internet full of competing messages, having a good creative strategy is imperative to ensure your messaging reaches your audience and stands out in the sea of sameness.

Across our routines, we are exposed to thousands of ads a day in various formats from billboards, podcast sponsorships, affiliate content, Meta, TikTok, Reddit, Google… the list goes on. Out of all the messages and marketing, how will your brand use its spend and bandwidth efficiently?

6 Best Practices When Developing a Creative Strategy

Now that we see how vital creative strategy is to improving our ROI, how do we make sure we know how to build a strategy that is effective? Below, we will break down our best practices for crafting a creative strategy that drives results.

1. Define Your Goals and KPIs

Determine the business outcome you are most interested in improving. For example, are you looking to increase awareness or boost sales? If you are aiming to increase awareness, what does success look like? For awareness, you might be seeking a certain CPM, impression share, etc. Success might look like decreasing your CPMs by X%.

Having defined goals and KPIs to aim for will help measure the creative’s success and inform the messaging strategy based on where it falls in the funnel.

2. Find Your Target Audience

In order to create copy and imagery that resonates most with the audience, we need to define whom we are trying to reach and add any research about what they currently know or think of our brand. This piece is critical to consider any audience barriers, motivators, or preferences so we can customize our creative to speak most effectively to the main audience.

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Tip: Stick to a maximum of 2-3 key audiences to ensure your message isn’t too broad and watered down.

3. Look Back at Prior Performance and Research Competitors

When it comes to creative strategy, looking at past performance is crucial for determining how to move forward and build upon what we know. If you have not done a lot of creative testing up to this point, you can still learn directionally from what worked or didn’t in the last few months.

Best Practices for Business Growth.webp

Take a look at 3-5 top and bottom performers based on the same key KPI and audience you are trying to reach for this project. It can also be helpful to take a look at what your competitors are doing and summarize your findings to help distinguish your message and answer any comparison questions before the audience seeks them out.

4. Break Down Your Advertising Campaign by Deliverable and Funnel Position

Include important nuances and specs for your production team so that each creative is right-sized for the platform. Ideally, you want to create messaging for the platform vs. resizing from one and retrofitting for all others. This is also a good place to remind them of where each deliverable will live in the funnel or campaign so the messaging fits the desired action.

Here is where you can start to assign specific tests to iterate on within the campaign to learn how your audience reacts to certain creative elements.

5. Right-Sizing The Strategy Against Your Budget

Once you have the creative strategy, asset mix, specs, and testing planned, you will need to determine what budget is best to fit the number of assets for the period of time you want them to run.

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If you have a smaller budget, you may want to pare back the number of assets and tests you run at one time to make sure enough spend gets to the test versions. If you have a large budget, it might be a good time to play with more intentional tests and determine which channels need the most support.

6. Determine Your Ideal Timeline

Now that you know what, how, and why you want to produce new creative, determine when you need it and how long it will take to be ready to launch. Sometimes the best plan is the simplest. If time doesn’t allow for multiple tests, prioritize the most impactful variations and plan accordingly.

Your timeline should include any content refreshes you expect based on channel fatigue. For example, if your campaign is running on TikTok, you may want to stagger your creative so you can refresh it more often throughout your flight.

7. Gather Insights and Repeat

Once the project is kicked off and your creative is live, the process is just beginning. In order to build upon your creative strategy for the next time, keep a pulse on the performance throughout your campaign run and recommend any adjustments as needed to the creative to boost performance. Once the campaign wraps, collect data and analyze which variations were winners and what you should hold off on and test again at a later date. Iterate and repeat the process.

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The right creative agency should help guide the messaging and formats that will work hardest for each channel and placement based on facts and performance, not guesswork. By analyzing past performance, marketing teams can learn what messages, media types, and imagery led to improved KPIs performance while tailoring their approach for the next creative campaign. Strategic messaging, testing, and insights are absolutely imperative when forming a plan for creative that delivers real results and pushes past the clutter.

Conclusion

With new platforms and ad types popping up daily, a well-crafted creative strategy is necessary to keep from falling behind your competitors. As we discussed, creating effective ads goes beyond where you put them and how much you spend; it relies on the balance of art and science. Creative strategy will allow you to define your goals, understand your target audience deeper and harness insights from you and your competitors past performance. 

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But the job doesn’t end with creative execution. Creative strategy relies on continuous adaptation and iteration to find the right message and format for your brand. Just as the platforms and mediums evolve, so must our approach to our creative. Creative strategy is all about looking deeper, digging into the data and ultimately making sure your creative drives the coveted return on investment. 

Want to learn more? Check out our recent examples of creative client success or contact us today!

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Optimizing Zoom’s digital experience for explosive growth

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Optimizing Zoom's digital experience for explosive growth

In February 2020, Zoom had millions of weekly visitors to their site, all of whom were coming to Zoom.us to do a handful of activities. Flashforward a month later to March, and Zoom’s traffic spiked to tens of millions of visitors every week. Those visitors arrived to not only use Zoom for a couple of work calls per week, but to entirely reinvent how they interacted with colleagues, partners, teachers, students, and even friends and family.   

Zoom used this opportunity to transform its users’ experience into incredible growth and customer happiness across geographies and verticals. How did they do it?  

At Opticon ’23, Alex London, Head of Digital Zoom and Jay Dettling, CEO of Hero Digital, joined Alex Atzberger, CEO, Optimizely to share how Zoom re-built their entire digital ecosystem. 

Keep reading to learn how Zoom partnered with Hero Digital and Optimizely to transform its customer experience and drive stellar results including these early wins: 

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  • Page load improved by 60% 
  • Speed to market improved by 50% 
  • Conversion improvement of 10% 
  • Publishing time from days to minutes (reduced by about half) 

The Year the World “Hopped on a Zoom Call” — & What Came Next

In March 2020, Zoom watched as web traffic, sign-ups, users and attendees grew from millions to hundreds of millions virtually overnight. Not only did its customer base and user group skyrocket, but its core use cases did, too: online meeting rooms were now used to host weddings, game nights, and math classes. At the same time, corporate brainstorms, sales calls, and even government processes requiring the highest security clearances moved to  Zoom to continue working as normally as possible. 

To meet the incredible demand for new use cases and services, the Zoom team had to ideate, test, and ship new products and features on a timeline that the internal teams refer to as “at the speed of Zoom.” Their success meant that their brand entered a hallowed hall of exclusive brands whose names made the transition from noun to verb. It was the year of: “Can we Zoom?” 

Getting there wasn’t just about building and launching products and features;  that was only half the battle. To scale and continue delivering happiness to customers, the team needed to ensure they told the story of Zoom across all customer touchpoints. 

Their goals

  1. Reimagine and rebuild the entire digital stack (including attribution models, analytics systems, acquisition, and localization) 
  2. Move from an existing agnostic, one-size-fits-all model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases 
  3. Improve their speed to market to continue moving “at the speed of Zoom” 

The Tactical Challenges of Reimagining Zoom’s Digital Stack 

Zoom’s overarching goal was to put the story at every single touchpoint of the customer journey. Given the dramatic change in their business, building a new site for Zoom would be incredibly complicated. Yet, if they succeeded, they’d generate demand, better enable purchases, and support its users.  

So how did they do it? Before making the leap, they looked to their strategic partners — Hero Digital and Optimizely.

 

 

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Zoom needed a new digital foundation to achieve all of its goals at scale. More importantly, their new foundation needed to untangle serious web traffic complexity.

Zoom has four primary visitor types — all arriving on Zoom’s marketing website by the millions. They include: 

  • Individuals and SMEs buying Zoom online 
  • Demo requests 
  • Product support requests 
  • Users and attendees accessing Zoom’s website as part of their workflow 

To add even more complexity, the teams needed to account for multi-lingual requirements for 20+ languages across the globe. 

“How do we build for these four levels of complexity? And how quickly can we move to tell our new platform story?” – Alex London, Head of Digital at Zoom

Before anything else, Zoom needed to build a new design system, and Hero Digital stepped in to help. Together, they built a minimum versatile component library that would scale across the website, mobile, ads, and anywhere else Zoom encountered customers. The initial minimum library featured 38 components with 29 variants and 8 page templates. 

Zoom also had to untangle the domain and subdomain issues of their own making. The past choice to build their digital foundation on ‘Zoom.us’ and create new subdomains for customers (coming in north of 10k subdomains) meant speed and ranking were complicated. Essentially, Zoom was competing with 10k+ sites that Zoom itself had created.  

Resolving this problem by choosing to unify content on a single domain, Zoom, Hero Digital, and Optimizely got to work. 

Hero Digital’s Foundation + Optimizely’s Architecture = Moving at the Speed of Zoom

By partnering with Hero Digital and Optimizely, Zoom reimagined its complete customer experience and upgraded to a best-in-class technology platform that combines AI-accelerated workflows with experiment-driven digital experiences. 

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The team deployed the Optimizely Digital Experience Platform, featuring Optimizely Content Management System, Content Management Platform, and Experimentation, as the architecture to bring their foundation to life and scale faster than they could ever imagine.

Component Library + Optimizely CMS  

One of Zoom’s goals was to move from its existing agnostic model to a global, flexible digital experience to cater to personas, geographies, and use cases. To do that, they needed a modern content management system. 

In the first phase of the build, the team focused on Zoom’s marketing site, now untangled but still over 200 pages. They established a foundation on Optimizely’s Content Management System to create a foundation with a migration plan over months. 

Even in the earliest stages, the results were huge because the CMS meant Zoom can could now push global changes in just minutes. They save hundreds of hours of work across the company by: 

  • Eliminating the devops processes, which previously took days or weeks to work through
  • Reducing publishing processes by half even with new added governance steps

 

Optimizely’s Content Marketing Platform

Improving speed to market was Zoom’s third goal. With the first two goals unlocked by their phased migration to Optimizely’s CMS, they needed to not only unblock the velocity but also the creativity and collaboration in producing new content. Zoom’s teams receive 80-100 requests a week for new content across their digital properties. 

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For Zoom, the re-build of the intake process for content requests was a key component of speeding up their processes. They built in guard rails and governance processes that when used within the CMP, reduced publishing time to minutes rather than days.

 

 

Now, with the first three goals— a reimagined digital stack, a flexible digital experience, and improved speed to market—accomplished, Zoom will focus on its next digital phase: experimentation and personalization. 

How could a digital experience platform help you navigate the next phase of your business? Learn more from the experts with access to The Forrester Wave: Digital Experience Platforms, Q4 2023 report.

 

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

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The Role of Enterprise Mobility Management in Modern Businesses

In today’s fast-paced business environment, Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) has emerged as a critical facilitator for enhancing operational efficiency and competitiveness. EMM solutions streamline workflows, ensuring that enterprises can adapt to the rapidly changing digital landscape. This blog discusses the indispensable role of EMM in modern businesses, focusing on how it revolutionizes workflows and positions businesses for success.

EMM solutions act as the backbone for securely managing mobile devices, applications, and content that facilitate remote work and on-the-go access to company resources. With a robust EMM platform, businesses can ensure data protection and compliance with regulatory requirements, even in highly dynamic environments. This not only minimizes the risk of data breaches but also reinforces the company’s reputation for reliability and security.

Seamless Integration Across Devices

In today’s digital era, seamless integration across devices is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for maintaining operational fluency within any organization. Our EMM solutions are designed to ensure that employees have secure and efficient access to the necessary resources, irrespective of the device being used. This cross-platform compatibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing for a unified user experience that supports both the agility and dynamism required in modern business operations. Leveraging cutting-edge technology, our solutions provide a cohesive ecosystem where data flows securely and effortlessly across mobile phones, tablets, and laptops, ensuring that your workforce remains connected and productive, regardless of their physical location. The adoption of our EMM solutions speaks volumes about an organization’s commitment to fostering a technologically forward and secure working environment, echoing its dedication to innovation and excellence.

Enhanced Productivity

EMM facilitates the seamless integration of mobile devices into the corporate environment, enabling employees to access corporate resources from anywhere. This flexibility significantly enhances productivity by allowing tasks to be completed outside of traditional office settings.

Unified Endpoint Management

The incorporation of Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) within EMM solutions ensures that both mobile and fixed devices can be managed from a single console, simplifying IT operations and enhancing security.

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Advanced Security Protocols

Where cyber threats loom larger than ever, our EMM solutions incorporate cutting-edge security protocols designed to shield your organization’s data from unauthorized access and breaches. By consistently updating and refining our security measures, we ensure your assets are protected by the most advanced defenses available. This commitment to security not only safeguards your information but also reinforces your company’s reputation as a secure and trustworthy enterprise.

Data Protection

EMM solutions implement robust security measures to protect sensitive corporate data across all mobile devices. This includes encryption, secure VPN connections, and the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, thereby mitigating potential data breaches.

Compliance Management

By enforcing security policies and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards, EMM helps businesses avoid costly fines and reputational damage associated with data breaches.

Driving Operational Efficiency

In the quest to drive operational efficiency, our solutions streamline processes, reduce redundancies, and automate routine tasks. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies, we empower businesses to optimize their workflows, resulting in significant time and cost savings. Our approach not only enhances operational agility but also positions your organization at the forefront of innovation, setting a new standard in your industry.

Automated Workflows

By automating repetitive tasks, EMM reduces manual efforts, increases accuracy, and speeds up business processes. This automation supports operational efficiency and allows employees to focus on more strategic tasks.

Real-time Communication and Collaboration

EMM enhances communication and collaboration among team members by providing tools that facilitate real-time interactions. This immediate exchange of information accelerates decision-making processes and improves project outcomes.

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Testimonials from Industry Leaders

Leaders in various industries have witnessed tangible benefits from implementing EMM solutions, including increased productivity, improved security, and enhanced operational efficiency. Testimonials from these leaders underscore the transformative impact of EMM on their businesses, solidifying its vital role in modern operational strategies.

Our commitment to innovation and excellence propels us to continually refine our EMM solutions, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of technology. This dedication not only solidifies our standing as industry leaders but also guarantees that our clients receive the most advanced and effective operational tools available, tailored specifically to meet their unique business challenges.

Looking Ahead

The evolution of EMM solutions continues at a rapid pace, with advancements in technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT) further enhancing their capabilities. These developments promise even greater efficiencies, security measures, and competitive advantages for businesses willing to invest in the future of mobility management.

Our proactive approach to integrating emerging technologies with EMM solutions positions our clients at the forefront of their industries. By leveraging our deep technical expertise and industry insights, we empower businesses to not only adapt to but also lead in an increasingly digital world, ensuring they remain competitive and resilient amidst rapid technological shifts.

In conclusion, the role of Enterprise Mobility Management in modern businesses cannot be overstated. Its ability to revolutionize workflows, enhance security, and drive operational efficiency positions it as a foundational element of digital transformation strategies. We invite businesses to explore the potential of EMM solutions and partner with us to achieve unprecedented levels of success and innovation in the digital era. Together, we can redefine the boundaries of what is possible in business operations and set new benchmarks for excellence in the industry.

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